Welcome to my corner……of the world! It’s a great pleasure to join The Travel Mechanic team as a monthly guest blogger!
I invite you to travel along with me through my blog articles and many pictures. My love for travel started at a very early age through the wonderful opportunity to live, grow up and go to school in England. The experience was life-changing, and it was the catalyst for my long-time passion of exploring the beautiful and interesting places that other people call home.
“It’s not so much the destination as it is the journey.”
I don’t generally quote Jack Sparrow, but this line from Pirates of the Caribbean is a perfect fit for my own journey aboard the Star Flyer, one of three ships of the Star Clippers company. A magnificent four-masted clipper ship, it is an experience reminiscent of a bygone era –an age of elegance. Picture polished teak and brass appointments, a white baby grand in the piano bar, ultra-crisp white table linens in the dining room along with three stemware goblets and seven pieces of flatware at the dinner service.
My eleven-night journey from September 2 to 13 took me from Athens, Greece to Venice, Italy. Our daily ports of call included Mykonos, Santorini, Katakolon and Corfu, Greece. We crossed the Adriatic Sea to Kotor, Montenegro and then visited Dubrovnik, Korcula, Hvar and Mali Losinj, Croatia. Our cruise ended in Venice where we spent three days getting our land legs back! The beautiful Greek islands and the cities and islands of the Croatian archipelago were magnificent and fascinating places to visit and they will be the subject of another blog.
Right now, however, I want to share with you my experiences aboard this tall ship. I can assure you that this was one of the great adventures of a lifetime!
ABOUT THE SHIP
This is a sailing yacht and sailors and deck hands are very much in evidence. The ship accommodates 170 guests and 72 crew. A highlight each day is the “sail away” ceremony when sails are hoisted to the strains of majestic music. It is an event that draws you to be part of it –especially if you have a festive flute of champagne in hand!
Attire on shipboard is casual, and during the day, shorts, jeans and casual tops are allowed in all areas including the dining room. However, at dinner, slacks and shirts with a collar are required for men. Jackets are not required. Ladies may wear dressy slacks, capris, dresses or skirts. Most people wore something a little fancier for the Captain’s dinner, but nothing glitzy. It’s a comfortable atmosphere.
COMFORT ON BOARD
I approached the journey with some trepidation because of my concern about motion sickness. I read all that I could about ways to control it, and these are the devices and products that I found most helpful.
The products: Natural Ginger Tummy Drops (gluten free) and Ginger gum are soothing to a queasy stomach. I brought a package of Bonine and took only one. I didn’t like the effect the next day. I understand that for many people, however, it can be very helpful.
The devices: Sea-Band acupressure bands to wear on the wrists. It’s amazing how these simple knit bands control mild discomfort. However, for the most effective control of motion sickness in my case, the Reliefband was invaluable. Worn like a watch, this device uses mild electrical impulses for “neuromodulation“. In plain English – it works! At about $100, it’s a bit of an investment – but one that is worth its weight in gold. In rough water or on the tenders going into port, I wore both. A personal re-chargeable fan provided circulation of air in the cabin (which was well air-conditioned) and made a big difference.
ON BOARD DINING
Now that we feel good, let’s talk about food! I found the dining on the ship of high quality and variety. There was as much as anyone could want, but it was easy to enjoy different foods and not overeat. The variety appealed to the many different tastes of Americans and Europeans. An early-bird continental breakfast is available in the piano bar with freshly baked rolls, breads and pastries accompanied by butter, jams, Nutella and peanut butter! Do you know how unusual it is to find peanut butter in Europe? Coffee and tea are available from early morning to late evening. A full buffet breakfast features excellent oatmeal, waffles, pancakes, crisp bacon and soft bacon, sausages, an omelette and egg station, a wide variety of fresh and cooked fruits, cold meats and salads, lots of rolls and pastries.
TIP: Make a little peanut butter and jelly sandwich to take on your shore excursion in case you forget to have lunch!
The lunch buffet features different themes from Italian and Oriental to salad lunch and beach party. A couple of lunches were served in the Tropical Bar on the main deck. There is a
freshly-made soup every day at lunch and dinner, and I quickly learned that, no matter what, get the soup! Each one was delicious – from lobster bisque to squash and carrot to French onion. Typical lunch entrées include beef bourguignon, seafood platters and baked chicken. There is a carving station each day with meats such as roast turkey, lamb, prime rib of beef and baked salmon. There is an expansive salad bar and cold cuts. Desserts include cakes and pies; and my own favorites were the baked fruit crisp and cobbler. I actually had lunch on the ship only two or three times since I was generally on a shore excursion.
Dinner is a seated and served four course meal with open seating. Since the tables are for six or eight, the head waiter will seat you with guests who speak the same language if you are dining alone. Before entering the dining room, there is a table displaying the starters and entrées to help make your menu choice. Typical starters might be seafood in phyllo parcel or chicken satay. Entrées included rack of lamb, filet of beef, sole in butter sauce and a vegetarian option. There was always a delicious soup, a salad, sorbet intermezzo (some guests had that for dessert), a choice of several cakes and pastries and a cheese course. I liked the fact that the servings were quite modest in size, but you could have as much as you liked. For example, if the rack of lamb included two chops, you could ask for four. Or you could choose filet of beef AND seafood. There was always steak and French fries available as well as pasta. Coffee and tea are included, but cappuccino is an extra cost. All beverages, including cocktails, wine, beer and soft drinks are additional, but they are quite reasonably priced. There are beverage packages which can be purchased pre-cruise. The Captain’s dinner is an elegant and festive five-course event with premier menu options including lobster tail, Chateaubriand, champagne and flaming baked Alaska. A special cake accompanied by an appropriate song was presented to each person or couple celebrating a birthday or anniversary. Each night there were several celebrations including one for my sister-in-law’s birthday!
If you are interested in taking one of these cruises, comment below!