Monday, 25 May 2015

Star Clippers announces a return to southeast Asia for winter 2016/17

#expeditioncruising
Tall ship sailing specialist Star Clippers will operate a winter season in Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore from December 2016 to April 2017. This marks the line’s return to the region for the first time since March 2010.



The 170-passenger Star Clipper will end its summer season in the Mediterranean and sail via the Suez Canal and Sri Lanka to its winter home port of Phuket, where it will operate seven-night round trip cruises on two different routes from 2nd December 2016, as well as some voyages to Singapore.

There are two itineraries, northbound and southbound, as well as seven departures that either begin or end in Singapore. Star Clipper will explore the many islands scattered off the coast of Phuket, accessible only by water, with some of the most beautiful beaches and dazzling marine life in the world. There will be numerous opportunities for sunbathing, snorkelling, other watersports, exploring on foot and taking photo safaris in the ship’s Zodiacs. Ports of call include:

Northbound from Phuket

Ko Surin National Marine Park, a cluster of five forested islands with exquisite beaches and spectacular underwater life

The Similan Islands, an archipelago of coral and granite with crystal-clear water and diverse wildlife

Ko Rok Nok, an uninhabited island with incredible reefs

Langkawi in Malaysia, with beautiful beaches and temples

Ko Kradan, a laid-back beach resort

Phang Nga Bay, offering spectacular scenery of forested limestone towers and hidden coves

Southbound from Phuket

Ko Butang, with gorgeous beaches and world-class snorkelling

Penang, with diverse colonial heritage

Ko Adang, a tiny, unspoiled island in the Tarutao National Marine Park

Ko Rok Nok, an uninhabited island with incredible reefs

Phang Nga Bay, offering spectacular scenery of forested limestone towers and hidden coves

The Similan Islands, an archipelago of coral and granite with crystal-clear water and diverse wildlife

Mikael Krafft, Owner and President of Star Clippers says: “We have been waiting a long time to resume these popular itineraries and are now returning to Southeast Asia to explore beaches, islands and anchorages not visited by any other cruise ship. We know from 15 years of past experience, when we based a ship in this region every winter, how popular these voyages are with nature-lovers and those who enjoy the sensation of sailing on a graceful tall ship in the tropics.”

Meanwhile, Star Flyer will continue to operate in-depth Cuba voyages from Havana and Cienfuegos for the winter of 2016/17, interspersed with longer cruises taking in St Maarten and the Panama Canal. Royal Clipper will sail from Barbados all season, exploring the Grenadines and the British Virgin Islands, with two extended 14-night voyages to the ‘ABC Islands’ (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao) and extended voyages to accommodate Christmas and New Year.

Star Clippers’ winter 2016/17 programme goes on sale in June 2015.

Star Clippers operates three of the world’s largest and tallest sailing vessels. Visiting ports often untouched by larger cruise ships and offering passengers the activities, amenities and atmosphere of a private yacht, Star Clippers is recognised as one of the premier speciality cruise lines.

Passengers can enjoy the romance of sailing on board a true tall ship in a relaxed atmosphere with high standards of service provided by an attentive crew. All three ships have expansive teak decks, swimming pools, informal dining, a convivial Tropical Bar on deck and a comfortable piano bar and are large enough to offer first class accommodation and dining, but small enough to call into intimate ports, untouched by large cruise ships.

The two smaller ships, Star Flyer and Star Clipper, take 170 passengers each, with a crew of 74, while Royal Clipper carries 227 with a crew of 106. A fourth ship will be delivered in the second half of 2017, carrying 300 with a crew of 150.

For more information: www.starclippers.com and 1300 295 161

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Star Clipper in the Aegean Sea: 7-night Southern Cyclades cruise

#expeditioncruising



For more details, call Cruise Express on 1300 764 509 or visit www.cruiseexpress.com.au.
http://search.cruiseexpress.com.au/cruiseline/star-clippers
For bookings and further details, see Star Clippers specialist Cruise Express

Saturday, 23 May 2015

From aboard Star Clipper: Ancient Kaunos, Turkey.

#expeditioncruising

Shore Excursion: Kaunos River, Turkey

Recommended for me by cruise director, Peter Kissner, this excursion involves embarking on one of the local boats with a guide to venture along the passage through the reeds to the ancient city. Kaunos was a city of ancient Caria and in Anatolia, a few kilometres west of the modern town of Dalyan, Muğla Province, Turkey.

Local excursion boat
In the high season, as many as 12,000 guests can visit this delicate ecological region daily using as many as 500 of these excursion boats. Each of these little vessels seat 10-20 passengers. I'm told electric boats are planned to replace these using shielded propellers.

Our guide is Şan (pron: Shon) whose family have been local fishermen for generations. Like so many places around the world, locals have been displaced by big greedy satellite-guided boats from who-knows-where which appear out of nowhere and haul in great loads of fish before disappearing and leaving fish stocks all but empty. 

Şan at home on his beloved river
Şan now supplements his family's income considerably by guiding in the mid-year season. As a former Greenpeace activist, he is more than willing to share some of the challenges the community faces in dealing with the combined issues of ecological threats, mass tourism and development. Already one major resort development has been thwarted and replaced by more manageable, low rise construction which is seeing people from all over Europe and the UK buying up the relatively cheap properties and spending months at a time in wider Dalyan region.

The reed beds and marshlands are breeding and feeding grounds for loggerhead turtles which, I'm told, travel all the way from Mexico to lay their eggs. The clear, filtered waters also sustain mullet in sufficient quantity to maintain a small local fish farming industry that has been developed over many years.

The village of Çandir supports about 100 families and appears to be thriving on the back of tourism. Şan expects the Arab countries to be supplying the next wave of tourists. 

Rock tombs of Kaunos
Further along the river we go ashore to see the ancient ruins of the old port which contain remnants of both Greek and Roman periods with some portions dating back as long ago as 2500BC. There's an amphitheatre, a windmeter and stunning rock tombs above the town which to the untrained eye would look for all the world like those in Petra, Jordan. 

Greek-Roman amphitheatre
Before we head back to Star Clipper, some guests go ashore on the sand spit for a bit of beach time, while elsewhere there are kayaks and paddleboards provided by the ship's watersports team.

Today's alternative shore excursion was to the local mud baths which also included a bit of interpretation along the same river, but I'm content in my choice and have benefited enormously from genuine local insight from Şan and feel the satisfaction of an authentic local connection.

Rod travelled as a guest of Star Clippers and Cruise Express.

For more details, call Cruise Express on 1300 764 509 or visit www.cruiseexpress.com.au.
http://search.cruiseexpress.com.au/cruiseline/star-clippers
For bookings and further details, see Star Clippers specialist Cruise Express

Meet the cruisers: Kathy and Steve

Kathy and Steve from Newcastle NSW aboard Star Clipper
One of the great things about about cruising on any ship is meeting new people.

Here on Star Clipper in the Aegean Sea, it's still possible to meet adventurous Aussies enjoying one of the great cruising playgrounds of the Mediterranean between Greece and Turkey.

Kathy and Steve are early retirees who sold their business near Newcastle and are now enjoying the fruits of their labour.

This active and energetic couple have made several cruises including P&O, Hurtigruten, Royal Caribbean and even a crewed yacht voyage in the Whitsundays. But it's this small ship variety that clearly appeals to them most.

"The Star Clipper experience is definitely a couple of rungs up the ladder from what we've done before," says Steve.

As is so often the case, Kathy is the one who will does the research and budgeting.

"I was looking for our next adventure and came across Star Clippers," says Kathy, "there was a bit of a deal being offered by the agent, so I rang them and locked it in. We are also extending with another small ship cruise in Croatia."

The pair are unanimous in their praise for Star Clipper's dining and activities programs. Even with a little more than 100 fellow guests, they say the extended time in ports delivers a real "seen there" experience as opposed to simply being there.

"Even though we are price conscious travellers," says Kathy,"we're more likely to go the small ship route in future. We don't feel we have to do exactly what our friends are doing and really travel to please ourselves."

And what's next on their adventure list?

"Oh, Antarctica for sure, we're just working out which ship offers the best package."

More converts to the fast-growing small ship cruise market. Happy sailing Kathy and Steve.

Star Clippers to Build the World’s Biggest Square Rigger

#expeditioncruising

Tall ship sailing specialist Star Clippers has announced that it has started building a fourth ship to add to its fleet of graceful square-riggers; its first new-build since the launch of Royal Clipper in July 2000. The new vessel, yet to be named, will be the biggest and most ambitious to date and will be launched in the second half of 2017, carrying 300 passengers, measuring 8,770 tons and powered by more than 6,350 sq m of sails.



The new ship will technically be a five-masted, square-rigged barque. While the company’s flagship Royal Clipper is modelled on the legendary German sailing ship Preussen, the new member of the fleet will be a near-replica of the even more dramatic France II, commissioned in 1911 and the largest square rigger ever built. Just as the original France II eclipsed Preussen more than a century ago as the world’s largest square rigger, the Star Clippers new build will replace its sister, Royal Clipper, as the largest ship of its kind afloat today.

Mikael Krafft, founder and owner of Star Clippers, says: “We have already built the five-masted full ship Royal Clipper, which is very much influenced by the Preussen. This time, we intend to build a ship inspired by France II, an ambition I have had for a long time. The ship’s rig will be identical to France II and dimensions will be very similar, although we have added various features that will make this the most magnificent passenger sailing ship afloat.”

As well as the generous deck space only found on a sailing ship, the new vessel will have three pools, one that funnels sunlight through the ship’s atrium into the elegantly appointed dining room. There will be a watersports platform in the stern for use when the ship is at anchor and a variety of cabin grades, including 34 suites with balconies and four luxurious owner’s suites. A restaurant in the light-filled atrium will accommodate all passengers for open-seating dining. Regular guests will be delighted to discover their favourite hallmarks of all Star Clippers ships, such as the cosy library, the bowsprit net and the popular, al fresco Tropical Bar, where evening entertainment takes place. While the ship will have ecologically sound, high-tech engines, it will, like its sisters, rely on wind power and its sails wherever possible.

The new ship will be delivered in the second half of 2017 and will initially sail the company’s most popular itineraries in the Mediterranean and the Caribbean. Sales are expected to open in 2016.

Fast facts:
Shipyard: Brodosplit shipyard, Split, Croatia
Tonnage: 8,770 grt
Hull: Steel
Passengers: 300 in 150 cabins
Crew: 140
Sail: area 6,350 m2
Rig: Five-mast barque
Facilities: Three pools; massage and beauty treatments; watersports platform with equipment; library; function room; piano bar; Tropical Bar; deck bar; sports bar; open seating dining
Cabins: 150 cabins including 34 suites with balconies plus four owner’s cabins.

Star Clippers operates three of the world’s largest and tallest sailing vessels. Visiting ports often untouched by larger cruise ships and offering passengers the activities, amenities and atmosphere of a private yacht, Star Clippers is recognised as one of the premier speciality cruise lines.

Passengers can enjoy the romance of sailing on board a true tall ship in a relaxed atmosphere with high standards of service provided by an attentive crew. All three ships have expansive teak decks, swimming pools, informal dining, a convivial Tropical Bar on deck and a comfortable piano bar and are large enough to offer first class accommodation and dining, but small enough to call into intimate ports, untouched by large cruise ships.

The two smaller ships, Star Flyer and Star Clipper, take 170 passengers each, with a crew of 74, while Royal Clipper carries 227 with a crew of 106.

Company history

Star Clippers was founded in 1989 by Swedish entrepreneur and classic boat connoisseur, Mikael Krafft, initially operating two identical four-masted barquentines, Star Flyer, which set sail in 1991 and her twin, Star Clipper, launched in 1992. At 115.5 m long, with 3.365 m² of sails apiece, and carrying up to 170 passengers and 74 crew, both are modern, high-tech, re-creations of the classic clipper sailing ships that dominated the oceans of the world in the 19th century.

The vessels were the first sailing clippers to be built since 1910 and heralded a renaissance of a golden age of sail. In 2000, Krafft added a third vessel, Royal Clipper, a fully square-rigged vessel with 42 sails. Royal Clipper holds the Guinness World Record as being the biggest five-masted ship in the world.

Biography: Mikael Krafft

Born in Stockholm, Sweden, on January 13, 1946, Mikael Krafft, the owner of Star Clippers, grew up in the port of Saltsjobaden in the archipelago adjacent to Stockholm. His area was home to one of the finest yacht builders in the world, the Plyms Shipyard.

“Every little boy was interested in boats,” he says. “Nearby, there was a shipyard that had built sailing yachts for the Tsars of Russia. I used to play there. One day, a beautiful sailing yacht was launched for the head of Fiat, the Italian car manufacturer. I can still smell the varnish and the word. Someone said, ‘That one's going to sail like a clipper’. I was curious. I started to learn about clippers. When I was 10, most boys were into football, but I read books about clipper ships.”

His first job was carrying varnish and mixing wood stain for the old-timers at the yard who would tell him tales of the great sailing ships that once dominated the high seas. Those stories often included the records set for speed and beauty by Pommern, a four-masted steel barquentine, anchored as a national historical museum at the Swedish-Finnish Island of Aland, in the surrounding Baltic archipelago.

By the time Krafft was 10, his father had given him an 18-foot (5.5m) wooden sailboat and his lifelong fascination with sailing was underway. It was only a matter of time until he started sailing his boat across the open seas to Aland, without a compass. The island was 20 miles away, halfway to Finland. The towering masts of Pommern waited for him at crossing's end, guarded by museum watchmen, at Mariehamn.

The guards were not swift enough to stop a determined young sailor from climbing her rigging. He returned again and again, learning every foot of the great ship.

Krafft graduated from the University of Stockholm with a degree in Maritime law and studied further in France. He practiced law in both France and Sweden. In the late 1970s, he became the Managing Owner of a small Swedish shipping company, the L. Jeansson Company, founded in 1875. This company purchased the Ragne Shipping Company as well as the ship brokering company Scandocean.

In 1986, Mikael Krafft sold his interests in Sweden. He, his wife, Ann, and their two children, Eric and Marie, moved for a time to Brussels. He founded the White Star Group of Belgium, which was mainly involved in major real estate developments within the Benelux countries.

Since the early days, Krafft has been a passionate sailor. As his business interests developed, he also took the opportunity to become the owner of one beautiful sailing ship after another, each built by Swan of Finland and usually modified to his ideas.

The yacht he built was a total custom vessel, delivered in 1986. This was the 128-foot staysail schooner Gloria. He also launched Doriana in 2005, a magnificent, 39-metre schooner, lovingly restored under Krafft’s watchful eye.

The idea to form Star Clippers came during a leisurely Caribbean cruise, while anchored one sunset off St Martin in 1987 aboard Gloria. Suddenly, as Krafft recalls, "All the pieces came together." His long nourished clipper ship dream fell into place: he would build not one but two, and thus have a viable business proposition, a real cruise line. He knew in his heart passengers would rally to the concept of comfortable sailing on traditional major clipper ships, built to uncompromising yacht safety and appearance standards.
Three years of intense research followed, some of it studying carefully preserved original plans for ships of the mid-19th century. There were mountains of design modifications to make because of the availability of materials not existent long ago, and scores of engineering innovations.

Construction started in 1990 at a fine Belgium shipyard, the Belgium Shipbuilders Corporation Yard at Ghent. The result was 360-feet (115.5m) Star Flyer, commissioned in May 1991, followed a year later by her identical twin, Star Clipper. “Star Flyer and Star Clipper are actually much bigger than most clipper ships were,” says Krafft. “Technically, they are rigged barquentines, with a full mast square rigged and the remaining masts rigged for and aft.

“I wanted them to have the feel of a private yacht, which is why the cabins are like those on my own yacht.”

Star Clippers was so successful that in 2000, Krafft launched a third ship, Royal Clipper, modelled on the legendary five-masted tall ship, Preussen, acknowledged by Guinness World Records as the world’s biggest square rigger. “I had always been fascinated by Preussen,” says Krafft. “It was bigger and beamier than the clippers, and unique, a highly developed sailing machine. I had a model of it when I was younger. I thought, ‘One day, I will build that’.”

2015 sees plans afoot to build a fourth ship, modelled on the tall ship France II. Krafft continues to run Star Clippers, alongside his daughter, Marie; his son, Eric. His wife, Ann, is also instrumental in the company. Star Clippers’ headquarters are in Monaco.

For more information: www.starclippers.com and 1300 295 161


Friday, 22 May 2015

Explore the South Pacific with Silversea Expeditions

#expeditioncruising
Explore the tropical paradise of the South Pacific with Silversea Expeditions



Experience the undeniable beauty and fascinating underwater wonderland of the South Pacific over 12 days on a speciality Scuba-Diving Expedition voyage aboard Silver Discoverer.

Departing Lautoka on 14 October 2015, Silver Discoverer sails through the breathtaking isles of Fiji, porting in Levuka, Leleuvia, Taveuni, the Lau Islands and Fulanga, each laced with ribbons of white sand and sapphire-blue lagoons.

Continuing her journey, Silver Discoverer uncovers the wonders of Tonga, the Cook Islands and the stunning islands of Bora Bora and Tahiti in French Polynesia. Here, guests have the opportunity to go swimming, snorkelling or scuba diving in tranquil crystal clear waters and observe the vibrant marine life of colourful reef-fish, sea-cucumbers, rays, reef-sharks and sea turtles. Onshore, guests can explore the ancient marae stone temples or hike to traditional villages through lush-green rainforests and extinct volcanos, all the while learning about jungle medicines or spotting tropical birds including noddies, frigatebirds and boobies.

This voyage concludes in Papeete, Tahiti with guests disembarking on 25 October 2015.

As part of Silversea Expeditions’ speciality scuba diving voyage programme, guests that meet the scuba diving requirements* are offered the opportunity to explore some of the world’s most spectacular diving locations. The programme is complimentary, however space is limited.

Book this Silversea Expeditions voyage by 30 June 2015 and select a two-category suite upgrade or 50% savings on a second suite.

Prices are per person starting from AU$12,850 in an Explorer Suite based on double occupancy. Silversea Expeditions’ fares include: all shore and Zodiac excursions hosted by an expedition leader; all-suite accommodation with butler service; gourmet meals with menus inspired by Relais & Châteaux; complimentary wines, Champagne and spirits served throughout the ships; an outstanding expedition team of expert guides and lecturers; and all gratuities.

This voyage is subject to availability. Terms and conditions apply. For more information, contact your travel professional or Silversea Cruises on +61 2 9255 0600 or 1300 306 872 or visit www.silversea.com/expeditions.

*Silver Discoverer scuba diving requirements:
  • All guests must hold an Advanced Open Water Dive License or equivalent;
  • Guests must obtain Medical Dive Travel Insurance;
  • Certification must be active and logbooks must show evidence that each guest has been diving within 12 months prior to the cruise;
  • All guests must pre-register with Silversea prior to the cruise; and
  • Guests must bring their own SCUBA BCDs, regulators and dive equipment. The ship will provide weight belts and tanks.

The Seychelles cruises aboard Variety Cruises M/Y Pegasus featured amongst the 10 Best Cruises on Small Ships in THE TIMES and THETIMES.CO.UK

#expeditioncruising

The Seychelles cruises aboard Variety Cruises M/Y Pegasus named by THE TIMES and THETIMES.CO.UK as one of the 10 best cruises on small ships Variety Cruises' seven-night cruise around the Seychelles islands, operated on a year-round basis by the 21-cabin M/Y Pegasus, is featured amongst the 10 Best Cruises on Small Ships in THE TIMES and THETIMES.CO.UK.



“It is with great honour that we receive such recognition from THE TIMES” said Mr. Lakis Venetopoulos, President of Variety Cruises. “It was back in 2012, when the M/Y Pegasus launched her inaugural island-hopping cruise across the Seychelles islands. The effort and hard work of our team and our partners to establish the niche small ship cruise product in the Seychelles, have
positioned the company as the best way to explore the stunning Seychelles islands by sea.”


About Variety Cruises

Variety Cruises is the fastest expanding company in the Small Ships niche market and has, since 1968, been offering travelers from all over the world the ultimate Small Ship Cruise experience in Greece.

Variety Cruises’ upscale Yacht and casual Motor Sailers provide an intimate and relaxed environment; a comfort filled starting point for the discerning travelers as they visit well known and unique ports of Greece. Variety Cruises’ experiential itineraries embrace each destination by allowing guests ample leisure time in each port to discover the local nightlife, culinary traditions and culture.

Variety Cruises’ ships dock right in the heart of the destination and offer multiple swim stops right off the vessel in secluded bays, always combining the world's most famous destinations with the off-the-beaten track locales inaccessible to large cruise ships.

Cruise destinations for 2015 and 2016 include Greece and the Greek Islands, Turkey, Seychelles, Costa Rica and the Panama, Cuba, as well as brand new visits to the Canary Islands, the Cape Verde Islands and our return to the Red Sea.