Star Clippers is the perfect answer for people who say they'd never go on a big cruise ship. This Monaco-based line operates three beautiful, square-rigged sailing ships, combining the creature comforts of modern cruising with the undeniable romance of 'clipping' along under sail, the engines cut, nothing but the winds and currents propelling the ship to its next destination. Star Clippers' ships turn heads in every port, where they're inevitably the most beautiful and eye-catching vessel, and being on board is like sailing on your own private yacht.
The two smaller clippers carry 170, while Royal Clipper, the flagship, takes 227. Guests come from all over the world and share a love of sailing, the open air, adventure and small, off-the-beaten-track ports. Star Clippers explores the Mediterranean and Aegean in summer, with all three ships sailing the Caribbean in winter, out of St Maarten, Barbados and Cienfuegos in Cuba. Twice a year, they cross the Atlantic, an unforgettable experience of two weeks, alone on the ocean, with long, lazy days for reading, yoga classes on deck, sampling the wares of the Tropical Bar and even 'posting' messages in bottles.
Activities on board include yoga (a recent addition, with several themed cruises per year); mast-climbing up to the crow's nest, with dazzling views down over the ship; watersports, using the ship's stock of windsurfers, kayaks, dinghies and snorkelling gear; and in the evenings, anything from riotous music quizzes to talent shows. A voyage on Star Clippers is informal, and you make a lot of your own entertainment, but the romance of sailing on such beautiful, unique vessels is something that stays with passengers forever.