I’m not a fan of traditional cruises. I don’t mind if you are—really I don’t—it’s just that personally, they’re just not my cup of tea. I get anxious just thinking about being in the midst of 6,000 people (like the behemoth, Oasis of the Seas) while trapped out in the open of a body of water, far from any escape route leading me back toward land. That’s exactly why I like Semester at Sea and Enrichment Voyages; the ship’s capacity is just 836 people (and many times, there are far less people than that sailing). Or the Holland America cruise we went on to Alaska; that has around 1,200 passengers and is about my max in terms of cruising.
So when the owner of the travel agency with which I am affiliated invited SVV and me along on a scouting trip with her and her husband over Thanksgiving, I took one look at the Star Clipper website and needed no more information. The ship was perfect, and Carol and Steve are the ideal travel companions. (My dad has been a long-time friend and colleague of Steve’s but this was SVV’s and my first trip with our new favorite people. Hopefully, the first of many…)
But why did I love the Star Clipper so much? Let me count the ways…
- It was small and intimate. No getting lost in the crowd. No running into people your every turn around the ship. It’s an environment that fosters meeting your fellow sailors and striking up friendship with others. On our cruise, there were 117 passengers, though the tall ship can accommodate 180.
- There were no children. Now despite my own vow not to have kids, I love rugrats. My four- and two-year-old “nieces” are probably the coolest chicks I’ve ever known, and I have many friends’ children who I like to claim as my own. But on a vacation? NO WAY. I want peace and quiet. While Star Clippers has no policy against children, there’s no kids’ club or other activities that cater to the under-18 set, so it’s pretty much all adults, all the time. (Though that said, there were the middle-age “Howlers,” a rambunctious group on board from the Midwest who were probably more immature than any child I’ve yet to meet…)
- You get to watch the crew raise the mast and sails each time you depart from port. They even play a Russian pirate-like music each time you take off that you will be singing in your sleep. Well, that or Lonely Island and Michael Bolton, one.
- Speaking of pirates … I will forever love Jack Sparrow, and I’m not going to lie: Being on my own real life version of the Black Pearl was pretty darn cool.
- You stop in many smaller ports that can’t be reached by big ship. This also means, often we were the only tourists on the island (such as in Îles des Saintes and Guadeloupe), which is my favorite kind of way to explore.
- It won’t break your bank like a private charter. Surprisingly, for a ship this small and nice, Star Clipper is also really affordable.
- Almost all the cabins are the same. Whereas on a big cruise ship, we always go for the cheapest (interior cabin on the bottom deck), which happens to be the smallest as well, I toured all the cabin levels on the Star Clipper, and aside from a handful of suites, nearly all the cabins are about the same size.
- There’s absolutely nothing lovelier or more relaxing than laying on a deck chair outside and breathing in the balmy Caribbean night air.