Fun Facts About Tall Ship Cruising With Star Clippers

Sailing on one of Star Clippers’ graceful tall ships conjures up images of romance and mystery; of sea-faring legends and long voyages to far-off, exotic lands. Styled on the tea clippers of the 19th C that literally `clipped’ the waves as they plied the oceans, Star Clippers’ three tall ships today offer an exclusive and exhilarating cruise experience. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions from guests on board Star Clipper, Star Flyer and Royal Clipper:

Can guests take part sailing the clippers?

It’s almost unheard of these days for guests to enter the bridge of a commercial cruise ship, but Star Clippers has an open bridge policy while sailing. Guests can discuss navigation techniques and learn about the instruments, take the wheel and help haul ropes.

How much do the sails weigh?

Surprisingly, the thousands of square feet of billowing sails weigh relatively little. On Star Clipper and Star Flyer, the sails weigh about two tons, while on the larger Royal Clipper, it’s double this.

What can guests learn on board?

Apart from learning sailing techniques, guests are invited to take part in knot-tying sessions, learn fruit carving, and or take part in deck-top yoga at dawn and sunset when guest yoga instructors are on board. For the more active the Sports Crew offers complimentary instruction in water-skiing, kayaking and sail boarding.

How much time do Star Clippers’ vessels spend sailing?

In the Caribbean, where the wind is most predictable, the ships operate under wind power up to 70 percent of the time, thus minimising use of the auxiliary engines, which also power the air-conditioning and provide electricity for the day-to-day operation of the ship.

How many bottles of champagne do guests consume each year?

Around 65% of those who sail with Star Clippers will return to find a bottle of champagne in their cabin. Sipping champagne is a popular way to leave port, while many pop corks to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries on board. Around 14,000 bottles are consumed each year,

When was the first modern day Clipper launched?

Star Clippers initially launched two identical four-masted barquentines, the 360’ Star Flyer, which set sail in 1991 and her twin, Star Clipper, in 1992. 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 400’ long, masted, fully square-rigged vessel with 42 sails, the largest sailing vessel of its kind in the world. In 2018, Star Clippers will launch Flying Clipper, a near replica of the dramatic France II ordered in 1911 at La Gironde shipyard Bordeaux, which was the largest square rig sailing ship ever built. She will carry 300 passengers and be powered by 35 sails totalling more than 6.350 m2.

How high can guests go during mast-climbing? 

Guests can climb to a height of around 15m, to the first crow’s nest, when the uniformed sports crew supervise mast-climbing for guests of all ages, harnessed and attached to the rigging, to ascend to a spectacular birds-eye view of the teak decks, plunge pools and surrounding ocean.

What kind of fuel do the clippers burn?

When Star Clippers ships consume fuel, it is a less-polluting grade. All three vessels only use very pure, high-quality low-sulphur gas oil. The company was awarded the International Air Pollution Prevention Certificate and Star Flyer was the first ship in the world to receive this certificate, followed later by Star Clipper and Royal Clipper.

How many countries do Star Clippers’ ships visit?

Star Clippers’ ships have a higher draft than most commercial cruise vessels, they are smaller and more manoeuvrable, enabling them to access ports and harbours that larger vessels cannot navigate. In total, Star Clippers’ three vessels will visit 25 countries and territories in 2017-18.

These are: France, Italy, Spain, Greece, Croatia, Slovenia, Malta, Canary Islands, Portugal, Madeira, Montenegro, Monaco, Turkey, Morocco, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Cuba, Caribbean, Azores.

How much varnish does it take to keep the wood looking shiny?

Star Clippers gets through approximately two tons of varnish each year to keep Star Flyer and Star Clipper protected from the elements, and looking pristine, and around three tons for Royal Clipper.

Are the sails raised by computer?

There are no computerised sails on Star Clippers. The Captains and the crew are very experienced square-rigger sailors who are trained both on modern technology found on Star Clippers’ ships and the old-fashioned, traditional methods proven over the generations. Some winches are electric-powered but muscle-powered winches are widely used as well.

How are the undersides of the ships kept clean?

Star Clippers’ 3 ships go into dry dock every two to five years where one of the jobs is to clear the underside of barnacles. Sometimes this is done when the ship is still in the water, using an eco-friendly anti-fouling agent. Barnacles may seem small when you see them along the shoreline – but living on a ship, they can grow as big as tennis balls.

How far can the ships heel?

Royal Clipper’s five-masted, fully square-rigged design is such that she does not heel at much of an angle but Star Flyer and Star Clipper are able to lean over safely much further, just as the original racing clippers of the 19th century did. The maximum heel preferred when there are passengers on board is ten degrees but both ships have been put through their paces and achieved a much more exciting angle. Both have raced in the Classic Regatta in Antigua, for which the decks were cleared of furniture and the guests on board given special race training.

What is the music that echoes across the decks every time a ship leaves port?

It is a Star Clippers tradition to play 1492 – Conquest of Paradise by Vangelis (since copied by many other cruise lines). The crew have heard this music literally thousands of times but guests love it and hearing it always evokes memories for them of departing under sail from some of the world’s most beautiful ports,

Why don’t Star Flyer and Star Clipper have figureheads?

Star Clippers’ president Mikael Krafft explains: “We used to have a five-metre-long golden eagle on both Star Flyer and Star Clipper, however one was washed off during a storm and had to be replaced. We lost the figureheads twice more on these ships, and it was decided not to replace them as it was very expensive and they obviously did not want to stay!”

Who is the mystery lady on Royal Clipper’s bowsprit?

The figurehead on Royal Clippers is Marie Krafft, Mikael Krafft’s daughter and today Director of Sales for the company. It’s been in place for 12 years and is made of Douglas Fir. Mikael Krafft explains: “Marie had to go to the craftsmen’s workshop so that Claus and Birgit Hartmann could take a moulding of her face. They make their living creating sculptures and figureheads for ships. It was a very proud moment when these two artists gave the Marie figurehead to the Royal Clipper in Rotterdam.”

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