My amazing trip of a lifetime to join Star Clipper in Thailand began with a flight with Turkish Airlines via Istanbul from London Heathrow. The first leg was a 3.5 hour flight, followed by a 9 hour flight down to Phuket. I did have a short connection in Istanbul but be warned, it can be some walking distances in between each gate so do give yourself plenty of time.
On arrival in Phuket most of the Star Clipper guests transferred to the Seaview Hotel for an overnight stay as this is where you meet on embarkation day. It is just across the road from Patong Beach at the southern end and bars and clubs of bustling Bangla Road are only a 15 minute walk away. The hotel is a little tired and I would recommend that if you are staying more than the 1 night before the cruise to stay somewhere else.
I was fortunate enough to stay at the chic 5* Sala Phuket Mai Khao Beach resort in the unspoiled northwest corner of Phuket overlooking the Andaman Sea a 20 minute transfer from the airport. The Beach here was absolutely stunning with no sunbeds or parasols to spoil the beach. The hotel has 2 beachfront swimming pools, a spa, one bar and one restaurant. I stayed in the lead in room which was a Deluxe balcony which were located on the 2nd floor, with an open-air bathroom (which took time to get use to), and a full-size daybed on the balcony. I was fortunate to also see a Sala pool villa which again has the day bed and open-air bathroom but comes with a private pool and 2 sun loungers and lush tropical gardens.
The day of embarkation meant that we had the transfer to the Seaview hotel, on arrival at Patong beach, I could see Star Clipper out in the Ocean. From a distance, I thought to myself, is that it? But boy was I about to change my mind.
A quick tender boat to the ship and I was aboard, a quick check-in process and I was shown to my cabin (109). This was on the lower deck with a porthole but was very adequate for my stay. There are 6 categories of staterooms and I can help in which one I think will suit you best.
The highlight of the first day and every day for me is the sail-away. Everybody is on deck with a glass of fizz/cocktail/drink and with the hoist of the sails to the tune of Vangelis and the sun setting truly touched my heart.
When I was on board there was only 110 guests (can take 170), so you soon to get to know all your travelling companions which included Australians, Germans and Swiss along with all the crew who work extremely hard but who are always cheerful and always spoke. You could help hoist up the sails, visit the bridge, help sail, climb to the cows nest, it made me feel like being part of one big family.
The Star Clipper has 2 small pools, 1 restaurant, a tropical bar, a piano bar and a library and life aboard feels blissfully relaxed. There are talks throughout the cruise which are very informative and given with great passion. Entertainment on board is very low key and the highlight for me was the talent night where crew members plus guests if they wish to join in entertain you followed by a bit of dancing by everyone even the Captain Sergej who danced away to Gangham Style.
The 7-night itinerary that I sailed was the Northern Route, Phuket - Ko Surin - Ko Samilan - Ko Rok Nok - Langkawi - Ko Kradan - Ao PhangNga/Ko Hoong – Phuket.
Ko Surin is a national park comprising five islands about 60km offshore. It lies just inside Thai waters on the Myanmar border. The spectacular shallow reefs around these islands offer some of the best snorkelling and diving on the Andaman coast.
Ko Samilan - diving enthusiasts rave about the Samilan islands and their incredible underwater panorama, also a climb to the top of the distinctive rock formation overlooking the north end of the bay is well worth the effort. (The Samilan islands are hugely popular in the morning and can be overcrowded so the afternoon is much quieter).
Ko Rok - one of the highlights is the stunning powder white beach.
Langkawi - is the biggest island in Malaysia with tax free shopping, water sports and an active night life. From here we did our own arrangements and jumped into a taxi to take us to the steepest cable car ride in the world. An experience I will never forget as I do not like heights!
Ko Kradan - is the most beautiful island belonging to Hat Jao Nai national park. Dugong (sea cows) can be spotted regularly between the mainland and the islands.
Ao Phang Nga - one of the main attractions here is to visit James Bond Island - one of the locations featured in the film 'The Man with the Golden Gun'.
As you can see from the itinerary, most of the destinations are isolated beaches and the Sports team from the Star Clipper are on hand with snorkel equipment, kayaks, paddle boards and water skiing.
On the day of disembarkation again everything runs very smoothly with suitcases being collected from your cabin before 4am and the next time that you see them is at the Sea View hotel.
All the destinations that we visited were by tender and all had wet landings so a word of advice make sure you pack some wet shoes.
We had a post night at the Anantara Mai Khao with a quick stop at the Anantara Layan Resort on the way for lunch in which we had a Thai cooking class and cooked our own lunch of a soup and a curry which was different especially having well looked after with food on the Star Clipper! The 6-bedroom sea view residence that we inspected was amazing, call in and I will tell you more.
My room at the Anantara Mai Khao was a pool villa so it came with a private pool and an al fresco bathtub and shower, the room was huge and to think that this was the lead in room.
I dined at the Fire.Sea.Salt restaurant where I had a fish and meat banquet and needed the complimentary golf cart to take me back to my villa.
There is so much to say and I could carry on, would I go again, a great big YES. A great experience, being part of a family, please call me or pop in and see me so much more to tell. Thank you Star Clipper!