The Star Clipper is a Civilized, Exciting Way to Sail the Med
By Max Hartshorne
Traveling anywhere by sailing ship has a whiff of intrigue and mystery. And a journey on the azure blue Mediterranean aboard a luxurious sailing ship that didn’t get us seasick was even more of a thrill.
Have you heard about these new cruise ships like the Star Clipper? Well, they’re not new now but they herald a completely different kind of cruise experience for the traveler willing to give up the perks of Carnival, Norwegian, and Princess.
I’d swap out four thousand nine-hundred additional passengers for a more intimate sail with just over 100, plus 70 crew any day.
Meet the Captain of the Star Clipper on our Travel Podcast.
Our sailing journey began in Civitavecchia, Rome’s cruise port, which is located about 90 minutes north of Fiumicino Airport. The Star Clipper was tied up, awaiting a new group of passengers, the capacity is around 170 but for our cruise, there were just 104.
It was a small enough crowd that people became familiar, we didn’t spend the whole week having to meet new strangers.
Part of what I liked about the Star Clipper is what it doesn’t have:
|Beauty Salon/Barber Shop||No|
The Star Clipper’s main dining room was spacious, the cozy library offered a little getaway escape, and above decks, the open bridge invited us to ask the captain questions and watch the sailors deftly handle the lines and man the tiller. It was all so intimate, and so easy.
Spectacular Ports of Call
Another major aspect of any cruise is where it’s going. And with this early June excursion, we were headed to some of the most spectacular ports in the world. Ajaccio, Bonifacio, Calvi, Corsica, Alghero Sardinia, and Porto Ferraro Elba.
Happily, in half of them, we were able to bring the ship right to the dock which made getting off much easier than in the ports where the Clipper uses the lifeboats as tenders.
Star Clippers ships currently sail in the Med (Europe and Africa, as they call on Morocco) in summer, and Central America and the Caribbean in winter.
The line also offers repositioning cruises in the fall and spring that provide a longer amount of days of sailing when they head to Central and South America every year.
The thing that I found enjoyable about this cruise was how every day there was something interesting we could discover just by signing up for the excursions.
These are usually from around 9:30 am until 1 or 1:30, so it isn’t a daylong slog, more of a little break with a memorable attraction, activity or museum to explore and talk about back on the ship.
Corsica and Sardinia: Both Wild
Both of the main islands we visited on this cruise deserve much more attention, and it is remarkable how beautiful both Sardinia and Corsica are and still in 2023, relatively lightly populated. Corsica (France) is one-third the size of Sardinia, (Italy) and both are known for miles and miles of nature and untouched coastlines.
Some of the memorable excursions of this trip from Rome to Cannes included a stop at a small boutique winery in Alghero, Sardinia where they grow a variety of grapes called Cazio that are unique to the island.
They also bottle their own virgin olive oil and it’s all organic.
Excursions to Villages in Corsica
Outside of Calvi, Corsica, our small group filled half a bus for an excursion climbing up into the hillside to a small village with striking views. The bus lurched around treacherous curves until we reached a small village where we retreated into a cool bar inside the rock walls to sip some local liqueurs made with lemon.
In Elba, we rode a funny-looking stand-up kind of lift called cable baskets to reach the top of Monte Capanne and were treated to outstanding 360 views of the villages and the Med.
Wow! Elba is a magnificent island and like its two other big brothers, very much not destroyed by beach-loving tourists, not yet.
Hokey and Fun Entertainment
The ship’s evening entertainment never lacked imagination or creativity–this in spite of having no performers on board except the very talented sailors, cooks, engineers, and one musician from the Philippines who played every instrument.
We discovered a fellow passenger from Vancouver Canada who was a strong singer and guitarist. He entertained us all on several occasions, with people joining in to sing familiar songs in the lounge.
Later in the week, we enjoyed a home-grown fashion show, a pirate’s night (people really brought costumes along), and then a talent show.
On other sailings, the line brings aboard local singers, dancers, and others who can bring the local culture with them. But we were quite happy with the homegrown talent we watched in the Main deck, the main gathering spot midship.
We got to cheer on our favorites during the talent show, like our wonderful waiter Hero from Indonesia, who belted out a ferocious New York NY, and some passengers who could actually sing and play the piano pretty well.
But every act was greeted with wine-fueled cheers, it was fun knowing staff and fellow travelers’ names.
After all, there were only around 150 people on board in total.
The author’s trip was sponsored by the cruise line, but the opinions are his alone. Find out more about Star Clipper’s three gracious sailing ships to the Eastern and Western Mediterranean, Caribbean, and Central America. www.starclippers.com 800 442-0551 for Reservations