Cannes, France — Our cruise on Star Flyer comes to an end Saturday morning. Just as we embarked, we will disembark — by tender. Not once during our eight days sailing the Mediterranean did Star Flyer tie up alongside a dock, and that alone says something about this cruise.
A sailing on Star Flyer is unlike an ordinary cruise on ships large or small. Sure, any small ship can drop anchor in snug harbors and dispatch passengers ashore by tenders, as Star Flyer did in each port we visited this week. But Star Flyer does something that most ships don’t do: She recaptures the romance of sailing.
Though it would be overly ambitious to characterize Star Flyer as a pirate ship, the sailing vessel did manage to bring out the Jack Sparrow in many of us this week, especially on the next-to-the-last night, when we dressed as pirates and betted on crab races. The races, we were told, have been a tradition on sailing ships for centuries.
By week’s end, Star Flyer represented to many of us what the Black Pearl represented to Captain Jack Sparrow. In “Pirates of the Caribbean,” a movie that aired on our stateroom televisions during the first day on board, it was apparent that Sparrow had great affection for his sailing ship.
My own affection for Star Flyer and getting in touch with my “inner pirate” emerged slowly as the week unfolded. Being a weather-dependent cruise for the most part, our voyage was not blessed with fair winds and clear skies on all of the days, and I found myself, along with a few others, feeling a bit like the skies, overcast and cloudy, during one day in port.
But as we sailed away on that same day, the clouds broke and the blue sky emerged. Sailors hoisted sails and a fair wind filled the cloth. No motor. We were sailing.
The captain gave turns to allow passengers to steer the vessel. A German lady widened her stance and gripped the wheel, turning gently to the captain’s instructions. For a moment, she pretended to be a captain or an officer or perhaps a pirate.
Nearly all activities take place outdoors. There is little, aside from dinner, for indoor entertainment.
On Star Flyer, passengers commune with the sea and stars. On one night of our cruise, a sweater-clad couple descended from the upper deck. The woman said to a group of us standing nearby, “The stars are beautiful tonight.” I leaned back and looked up. Indeed they were, like tiny diamonds perched against a black felt cloth.
While few, if any, of us were swashbucklers, nearly all embraced the sailing spirit. Following an entertaining fashion show where staff presented themselves in sailing apparel, the gift shop was busier than usual the next day, as buyers purchased the blue-and-white striped sailing shirts and other nautical clothing. Sailors, no doubt.
On Star Flyer, you can certainly imagine yourself to be a sailor — or a pirate. That’s something not easily achieved on ships without the sails. If Jack Sparrow were ever inclined to jump ship from his beloved Black Pearl, he would find a happy home on Star Flyer. I know I did.
Your Questions Answered
A few people have written me to ask if Star Flyer would be comfortable for those with limited mobility. In answer to that, there are no elevators, and the stairs can be tricky. The tender can also be challenging for those with limited mobility, and the 20 or so narrow steps from the tender to the gangway, could be difficult.
Others have asked about accommodating a vegetarian lifestyle on board. On two nights, I’ve ordered the vegetarian main courses, and they’ve been excellent. Vegetarians can make requests in advance should they wish, but there’s no need. There were vegetarian options at every meal.
Speaking of food, it has been excellent. For menus the company consulted with Michelin-starred chefs, and to give you an idea of the cuisine, on my first night, I started with ceviche, followed by lobster bisque, then watermelon sorbet and, for the main course, lighted crusted salmon and vegetables complemented by a delicious and not-overpowering horseradish sauce.
On the first night of my cruise, I sat among experienced enologists and harsh critics: thirsty Belgians. Bottled in attractive blue bottles, the house Bordeaux wines (priced at 14 euros per bottle) evoked pleasant smiles around the table. Clearly there would be no need to venture down the wine menu to the higher-priced wines.
For more information:
If you missed Avid Cruiser’s first post about Star Flyer, click on On Star Flyer: What, No Bvlgari?
Want to see Star Flyer under sail? Click on Blowin In The Wind: Star Flyer Under Sail
To learn more about Star Flyer’s ports of call, click on the links in the table below.
Star Flyer May 8, 2010 Western Mediterranean – Tyrrhenian Sailing
|Monday||Strait of Bonifacio (Morning Sailing)|
|Monday Afternoon||Costa Smeralda, Sardinia|
|Tuesday||Giglio, Italy Altered due to weather to Santo Stefano|
|Thursday||Monte Carlo, Monaco|
|Friday||St. Tropez, France|
Star Clippers website: http://www.starclippers.com/