If you think about a cruise, do you immediately think of gigantic ships with thousands of passengers, sailing calm seas? A cruise with the Star Clipper is a completely different experience. It is a beautiful sailing ship with a maximum of 170 passengers. It is a four-master like her sister ship Star Flyer. The third ship owned by the shipping company is the five-master Royal Clipper. A journey with one of these majestic ships is a real adventure.
We sailed the Maya route, but they have since stopped doing it as the seas are very rough here. My husband had first-hand experience of this, which meant he missed breakfast the first morning.
We arrived in Cancun, Mexico one day before we set sail. The next evening, we were expected in the harbour to embark. We were warmly welcomed and brought to our beautifully laid-out cabin. The mahogany panelling, copper railings and beautiful decorations meant that you are transported back to a time when travel was only for the happy few.
After sunset, sails were hoisted and we were on our way to sea. The masts were beautifully lit and the music Conquest of Paradise was played in the background. A magical moment!
The first day was a full day at sea so we had plenty of time to explore the ship and meet our fellow travellers. The ship has a very comfy bar, a small pool and a cosy library where regular readings were held. But most fun is of course sitting outside on the teak deck. You can sit at the bar, or in a seat near the pool, but the best spot is in the nets along the bowsprit. With a bit of luck, dolphins will jump right underneath you.
The food on board is top quality. Breakfast and lunch are in the form of a buffet and you eat à la carte in the evening. Dinner has “open seating”, meaning that you sit down where you want – you can have an intimate dinner for two, or you can join other guests. Anything is possible. Looking for a snack between meals? No problem. There is a buffet with sweet treats in the afternoon, and a late-night snack is available after 23h.
Fancy burning off some calories? Join in with the morning fitness or climb the masts (weather permitting).
As I mentioned, the Star Clipper doesn’t sail this itinerary anymore, so you will have to find an alternative way of getting here as these places are well worth a visit.
Star Clipper sails in the Carribean, Mediterranean and South East Asia. You can also embark to cross the ocean and (my favourite) you can sail through the Panama Canal.
The first day we stopped in Honduras, Cayos Cochinos. This archipelago comprises of 15 islands and is situated just off the coast of Honduras. The 2 largest islands are Cochino Grande and Cochino Pequeno (also calles Cayo Menor and Cayo grande) . In the past, pirates would leave pigs here so that they could pick up some fresh meat on the way back. This is why the islands are nicknamed “pig’s island”. It is a beautiful location for snorkelling or diving. There is a plethora of multi-coloured fish, the water is crystal clear and the reef is part of the 2nd largest coral reef in the world (Meso-American Barrier Reef). National Geographic claims it is every maritime biologists’ wet dream.
These islands only have one hotel, the Turtle Bay Eco resort.
The next day we drop anchor at Roatán. This is the largest and most touristy island of Honduras. The town has 2 cruise harbours, and so it gets a tsunami of visitors once in a while.
If you’re not into snorkelling or diving, you can still see the reef by touring in a glass bottom boat. Tabyana Beach at West Bay is one of the most beautiful beaches of the island.
You can swim with dolphins in a large bay at the Roatán Institute for Marine Sciences. I’ll leave it up to you do decide whether or not this is a good idea.
The next stop brings us to Belize where we visit the Maya ruins of Xunantunich. A considerable bus ride is followed by a boat trip and a long walk but it is worth the effort. There are ruins that are better conserved, but this location, in the middle of the rainforest, is wonderful. From the top of El Castillo (74m high), you can see the border with Guatemala.
There are also some amazing dive sites in Belize. The Great Blue Hole is one of the most famous dive sites in the world.
We sail to our next stop in Belize and pass Coco Plum, a mini island with an adults-only resort. If you are looking for a very exclusive and intimate honeymoon destination, go here.
We take a taxi to bring us around Belize city. It was founded by British loggers in the 17th century. It was the capital city of Belize until 1970, but the government decided, after hurricane Hatti destroyed the city in 1961, to move the capital from the vulnerable coast to a safer place further inland. Belmopan is the new capital.
You can book snorkelling trips to areas where you are certain to meet stingrays and nurse sharks. You have a better chance of seeing sea cows near the mangroves. Belize’s Barrier Reef is part of the 2nd largest reef complex in the world which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996.
Lovers of Maya culture can visit Altun Ha, which lies 10km outside the city.
After a short stop at Cozumel, a small island off the coast of Mexico, we are left back at Cancun. We enjoy a few days at the beach and get used to solid ground beneath our feet again.
After a final trip, in a speedboat through the mangroves, it is time to go home.
This cruise gave us a glimpse of the region and has convinced us to come back again. Cruising a tall ship is an amazing experience. We will book another trip for sure.
Have you been on a tall ship cruise? Share your experiences below.