Turkey and the Greek Islands on Star Clipper
Ann, one of our cruising specialists, was recently invited to experience Star Clipper in the Greek Islands and she shares her amazing experience with us.
Ever since I started selling cruises I have wanted to experience a tall ship cruise. During May I was able to fulfil this wish and I wasn't disappointed in any way.
I joined the Star Clipper, one of the ships in the Star Clipper fleet, in Bodrum, Turkey for four nights, visiting Dalyhan River, Santorini and Hydra. My first sight of the ship in the port of Bodrum was amazing and I was surprised at her size, which is quite small but very impressive. She caused a lot of interest amongst the other ships there and I felt very proud when I boarded!
We were checked in and then shown to our cabins. To welcome me in to my cabin was a plate of petit fours, grapes and a bottle of water, which was a lovely touch. Cabins were styled in keeping with the ship, featuring rich blues and golds, with dark wood. My cabin was a category 2 which also had a third fold away bed. Although not huge, it was perfectly large enough certainly for two people as you would not spend a lot of time in the cabin and there was plenty of storage for clothes. The bathroom was compact and the shower was along the lines of a wet-room which made the most of the space. They also had their own branded toiletries which were replenished. There was a daily information sheet in the cabin with information on the next port of call as well as the meal times, the daily programme and other interesting facts about Tall Ships from days of old.
The outside areas had two small pools with plenty of loungers for relaxing. The crew were maintaining the ship when not sailing and it was interesting to see them mending the ropes, painting where it was needed as well as fixing the beautiful teak deck. They definitely took pride in the ship, making sure she looked her best at all times.
Sail away came and everyone gathered on the sun deck to witness and hear this. The haunting music of The Conquest of Paradise by Vangellis was played as the sails were slowly raised. We celebrated our first sail away with a cold glass of prosecco - magical.
Most of the meals are served in the dining room which is also decorated in keeping with the era of the ship. Breakfast and lunch are buffet style with a vast array of hot and cold dishes to choose from, in keeping with the international guests on board. The evening meal is served from 19.30 and open seating. You are able to choose from the a la carte menu and again I was very impressed with the standard of food served. Although drinks are not included with the meals, they are priced very similar to UK restaurant prices, a small bottle of water costs 1.80 euro and a gin and tonic 5.50 euro.
There was no formal entertainment on board, however the Cruise Director gave a talk each morning on the Sundeck relating to the port we were about to visit or about bygone tall ships and their captains. In the evening, there may be a quiz or a film shown and on one evening the crew put on a show which was very entertaining!
There are excursions offered for the ports of call, bookable on board which will give you the opportunity to see more of the areas that you visit. They are hosted by locals to the area who are happy to answer any questions that you may have.
After a good night's sleep and excellent breakfast, we boarded the tender ship to take us to Dalyhan River Beach. This was a two leg journey, the second being by Zodiac. This was a beautiful and peaceful location however if you wanted to be more energetic then you could try your hand at some of the watersports provided by the ship. We used the kayak to try and see some of the famous turtles that breed there ' it's a long time since I've done this as my arms later told me!
Once back on the ship we had yet another beautiful lunch, and the afternoon was spent on the deck relaxing by the pool as we sailed towards Santorini. On arrival at Santorini the following day, we sailed in to the Caldera and Peter the Cruise Director explained how Santorini as it is today came to be. We were then taken ashore by the tender boat from Santorini and not the ship's tender boat. The shore excursion took us down to the South of the island and Akrotiri, then to the highest point of the island for a fantastic photo opportunity and up to the North of the island to the famous town of Oia with its blue domed churches. We finished in Fira where we took the cable car down to the port ' this supplements the donkeys that will take you up and down the very steep hill!
Once back on the ship, we then got ready for the Captain's Dinner. This meal means you can dress up a little more if you wish and most people did which is quite nice. Overall the dress code for meals is smart casual and for the rest of the time on the ship it's casual.
Hydra was our next port of call, the island where there are no vehicles. Transport is by donkeys and horses and you can hire these to take you around the island. Whilst we were moving to our anchor point, Peter the Cruise Director gave us information on the island's history. This is a very pretty and peaceful Greek island.
Sail away this night was done at 10.00pm which proved to be very emotional, as the ship was illuminated with lots of lights along her outline. The haunting music and the sails being raised meant quite a few tears were shed by the majority of the passengers!
We arrived at our final port of Pireaus at approximately 7.00am. We had our last meal together before leaving the ship to go and visit the St George Lycebettus Hotel in Athens. This is the hotel used by Star Clippers for their pre and post hotel stays and I can certainly see why ' it's in a fabulous position overlooking Athens and the food was excellent.
No time is lost by the crew in turning the ship around for the next passengers, and I felt very envious of them. I would have gladly stowed away just to spend more time on this very special ship.
Review by Ann, Blue Water Holidays