Bunbury Mail

Under sail: Let the wind take you to your next adventure at sea

Star Clippers flagship Royal Clipper sails past the island of Hvar in Croatia. Picture supplied
Star Clippers flagship Royal Clipper sails past the island of Hvar in Croatia. Picture supplied

This is branded content for Star Clippers.

Imagine you're dining in Portofino. Candles flicker on the tables of your ristorante, you've just savoured a plate of the local speciality, trofie al pesto, with a glass or two of Vermentino from one of the region's famous wineries.

You've spent the afternoon exploring the spectacular coastline and swimming in crystal clear waters and now it's time for sleep. You gaze out into the port and there sits a tall ship, your home away from home, its white sails aglow and the deck strung with dress lights with the crew preparing to harness the wind to sail to the next magical Mediterranean port.

Back on board, you sip a glass of champagne on deck as Vangelis' Conquest of Paradise plays, the stirring soundtrack as the ship gets underway.

"It's a daily ritual onboard; everyone comes up on deck as you set sail, and the music plays," says Roger Condon, who has made many voyages on these graceful tall ships as a cruise expert with Star Clippers, the Mediterranean-based company that offers this unique experience.

"Some people get a bit teary, it can really evoke the emotions, with the music crescendoing. Just being a part of these voyages is a special feeling, you actually feel really proud of your ship because they're are so beautiful as they come into a port."

Family-owned Star Clippers and its fleet of beautifully-crafted replica sailing ships has been providing travellers with the opportunity to discover the romance and traditions of the era of sailing ships for more than 30 years.

Experience the magic of sunset on board a Star Clippers' ship.
Experience the magic of sunset on board a Star Clippers' ship.

The ships include the flagship, Royal Clipper, the world's largest square-rigged ship in service with 5000 square metres of sail, as well as Star Clipper and Star Flyer, both 115 metres long and each carrying just 166 guests in pampered comfort.

Onboard, the ships hark back to the grand age of sailing, with their expanse of teak decking and decor of gleaming mahogany panelling, polished brass and rich velvet furnishings, Belle Époque fireplaces, and Edwardian libraries.

While the decor evokes a past period, the amenities are everything the modern traveller expects with elegant and supremely comfortable state-rooms and good wi-fi, scrumptious food, and warm and friendly service from the crew.

Small and relaxed

While the Star Clipper ships make a big impact wherever they go, as small ships they offer the advantage of being able to sail into many ports large cruise ships can't. It means not only do the clippers visit the most iconic hero destinations, they can also access other lesser visited and idyllic places away from the larger crowds, and come closer into ports to anchor.

"It also means they're able to stay in port longer than the bigger ships long after the day visitors have left," says Mr Condon. "So you have longer on shore exploring the ports. It's a very European style of taking your time around the Mediterranean, and extremely relaxed."

Star Clippers' ability to get closer makes for some awe-inspiring travel experiences. Imagine sailing down Venice's Grand Canal past the Piazza San Marco and the golden lions and Renaissance glories of the Doge's Palace before docking just 15 minutes walk away.

Star Clipper and Star Flyer.
Star Clipper and Star Flyer.

"The big ships are banned from coming into Venice but Star Clippers' ships can still sail down the Grand Canal and so close to the Doges Palace you can almost touch it," says Mr Condon.

"One of the most memorable moments I've had travelling has been going through the Panama Canal with Star Clippers. On a small ship the walls tower above you and then you are lifted by the water up into the sunlight."

Cruises on the ships range from three days to grand voyages of 16 nights with itineraries designed to ensure passengers can make the most of their trip, by minimising time at sea, and visiting many fascinating ports with the choice to take part in organised shore excursions or to explore for themselves.

Star Clippers has recently released its latest brochures for its Mediterranean sailings for 2025 and 2026 with journeys to special ports in France, Italy, Croatia, the Greek islands, Malta, Montenegro, and Turkey.

Imagine spending seven days starting in Rome before setting sail from the port of Civitavecchia to Amalfi then on to Sicily, sailing around the Aeolian Islands including Stromboli with the backdrop of its famous active volcano, around the Ponza Islands, and discovering snorkelling heaven in Palmarola, part of the Pontine Islands.

A Star Clippers' ship anchored at the town of Amalfi. Picture supplied
A Star Clippers' ship anchored at the town of Amalfi. Picture supplied

Or maybe ten days beginning in Valletta, the picturesque tiny walled city capital of the island of Malta, and then to Cagliari on the Italian island of Sardinia, to Spain's Mahon, known for its gracious Georgian buildings and as the home of gin, where the first distillation of gin from juniper berries took place, then to Palma de Mallorca with its enormous Gothic cathedral that towers over the port, as well as Motril, in the Spanish region of Andalucia on the Costa Tropical, nestled at the foothills of the Sierra Lujar mountains.

"It's such a unique way to see these wonderful places, on these ships, under sail when they can, and able to get really close to the towns and stay longer," Mr Condon said.

"With few full days at sea the passengers get time to experience the destinations and delve deeper into them. The Mediterranean is Star Clipper's playground, they really know it well and get you into ports that others don't. For example, they sail down the Amalfi Coast but don't just stop in Sorrento like everybody else. The ships anchor into Amalfi itself and stay late nights so you can dine ashore without the crowds."

Star Clippers currently has an Early Bird Saving Offer of up to 30 per cent on select 2025 & 2026 Star Clipper sailings, valid until 31 January 2025. For more information visit starclippers.com/au/.