The Mediterranean Star

Star Clippers flagship 5-masted vessel, the Royal Clipper set sail from Cannes on her last voyage of the Western Mediterranean summer season, before heading off to the sunnier waters of the Caribbean.

I was lucky enough to be one of the almost 200 passengers onboard.  (The maximum capacity is 227 guests and 106 crew, but since there were many solo travellers onboard the ship was full without reaching capacity).

You may have seen the Royal Clipper on TV documentaries, recorded in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest square-rigged sailing ship in service. Thanks to hi-tech powered controls, her impressive 5,202 square metres of sails can be handled by a crew of just 20!

Our first sailaway from Cannes on the Cotes d’Azur was emotional and memorable, setting the tone for the trip to come.

The hoisting of the sails by the crew was carefully choreographed, with changing coloured laser lighting on the sails enhancing the display. The music of the film 1492:Christopher Colomb, by contemporary Greek composer Vangelis, played in the background, and made us all feel like we were great ocean-faring explorers, heading off to conquer the world!

We were bound for Portofino on the Italian Riviera, and some less-visited ports and islands on the French Riviera, like the islands of Corsica and Porquerolles. Being a tall-ship we anchored in sheltered bays, sails down, and went ashore by tender boat to explore or simply enjoy the beach and the ship’s water sports facilities.

Shore excursions were organised for some of the ports of call, such as a coach trip up into the coastal mountains of Corsica to visit the cobble-stoned, mediaeval villages perched high on hilltops, safely away from pirate and conqueror invasions!

For other ports, we were free to wander or hire bicycles to get around.

Life on board could be described as comfortable, low-key and friendly with all the services of a larger cruise ship. Just don’t expect broadway-style shows for entertainment and a choice of fine-dining restaurants, but rather spectacular sunrises, a relaxing piano bar, Captain’s story-telling time and a single 3-4 star quality restaurant serving international cuisine for all tastes.

Contact: Chris Riou, Newport Travel

Ph: 9997 1277 or email info@newporttravel.com.au

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