I travelled this winter to Phuket in Thailand to join the Star Clipper for a unique sailing adventure through Thailand and Malaysia.
Before joining the ship, myself and my colleagues stayed a night at the Sala Phuket Mai Khao Beach Resort, a beautiful tranquil hotel. We enjoyed many local dishes from the buffet at the beachside restaurant. This was organised by ITC/ Inspiring Travel Company who creates tailor-made and bespoke travel experiences.
The following day we transferred to Patong to join the Star Clipper. The Star Clipper is 360 feet long and takes 170 passengers, although on this voyage there were just 110 of us. Stepping onboard was like going back in time to the days when tall ships ruled the ocean. After a 5-course meal in the open sitting restaurant it was time for the sail away. This I soon discovered takes place every day at sunset. Already I got the sense of how relaxed and friendly this sailing experience was going to be. There was a mix of ages and nationalities but all, crew included were of a similar mindset, happy to get involved and talk to each other. Several of us even got involved by helping to hoist the main sail.
The Star Clipper offers an authentic, natural sailing experience and use traditional sailing whenever conditions allow.
Entertainment was not your glitzy affair but good fun, well organised and different every night. Jerby, a one man band was always involved at the start and end of the night: on vocals, playing keyboard, guitar and even harmonica as well as being a DJ. There was a pirate night with crew and passengers dressing up, a quiz night, film night, fashion show with merchandise from the onboard shop and Thai dancers. One of the best nights onboard was the Talent Show night. This was a shared experience between guests and crew, Captain Sergej even got involved by playing guitar. He also joined in after all performances with the Macarena with most of the guests and a lot of crew!
There were also some very interesting talks from our cruise director Peter. He informed us about the Clipper ships, their history, how they operate and also about the local area and people. Peter also produced factsheets every day with more of this information which was delivered along with the newsletter every day. Fact sheet topics included: slavery in the Andaman sea, Moken Sea Gypsies, should a captain abandon a sinking ship, history of windjammers and bird nest collectors of Ao Phang Nga. One of Peters most moving talks was of his experience during the 2004 Tsnami whilst onboard a Clipper ship and its devastating impact afterwards.
Over the course of the cruise we visited Ko Surin, Ko Similan and Korak Nok with opportunities for water sports, snorkelling and diving. These are small picturesque islands involving a tender to shore and a wet landing.
We also visited Langkawi, taking the cable car up to Gungung Machinchang for a panoramic view of many of the 99 islands surrounding Langkawi . I also braved the Skybridge.
I went on the speed boat excursion to Koh Panyi, stopping for lunch in this typical Muslim village built on stilts, and James Bond Island, where The Man with The Golden Gun was filmed.
On the last day I was able to take the tender away from the ship whilst the sails were up and to see from a distance the Clipper in all her majesty.
On leaving the ship we transferred to the Anantara Layan, a spectacular hotel and took part in a cooking class. We stayed overnight at the Anantara Mai Khao, another totally stunning hotel, all rooms have private pools.
I enjoyed my first time in Thailand and interreacting with the very welcoming people. I am certain I will return to this beautiful country. I also absolutely loved the Star Clipper experience. The laid-back feel and activities organised so you get to know the ship and how it operates, the area you are sailing in and the crew and fellow passengers. In the end you all leave as friends.