Our Southeast Asia travel experience was assembled with “Bucket List” opportunities in mind. Eating street food in Bangkok, watching the sun rise over Angkor Wat, and tall ship sailing the Andaman Sea. All truly amazing experiences that lived up to our every expectation. I’m happy to announce, The Star Clipper Bucket List Achievement box is now checked!
You might think all cruises are alike, thousands of people jammed into a gargantuan ship overwhelming every port of call they visit. For the most part, I would agree, but there are exceptions. Tall Ship sailing is one of them. The Star Clipper is a 360ft sailing vessel, equipped with 4 masts and sixteen sails. Should the wind fail, a diesel engine is available. With space for 170 passengers and a crew of 72 you never feel crowded.
This remarkable tall ship is a throwback to a bygone era, a romantic sailing vessel with its polished brass, mahogany railings, and teak decks. You may feel you have gone back in time, except for the modern-day comforts of your spacious cabin. Rest assured the ship is equipped with state-of-the-art navigation with never a compromise to your safety. On deck, you’ll feel the wind in your hair, an adrenalin rush delivered to you by Star Clipper and this very special bucket list achievement!
For me the advantage of tall ship sailing is obvious, the limited number of passengers draws everyone together. Open seating for all meals leaves you free to meet new people. You’ll make new friends while swapping your favorite travel adventure stories. Every activity is designed to draw people together, from the evening entertainment on deck to the daily cocktail specials as you mingle around the indoor/outdoor tropical bar. As the ship prepares to set sail, the theme from “Conquest of Paradise” plays over the ship’s speakers! Calling all to gather on deck with cocktails in hand. The captain and first mate call out their orders as the crew raises the sails, on our way to the next port of call.
Star Clipper Ports of Call are always interesting. Many of the ports are simply not accessible to the large cruise ships. The ship’s lifeboats serve as tenders quickly shuttling passengers back and forth between the ship and that day’s port. Beach days are always fun with every accessory provided, including snorkeling equipment, paddle boards, and kayaks. SCUBA enthusiasts will be excited to know a dive master is on board leading dives on all Thailand and Indonesian cruises.
Our first port of call is offshore the beautiful Surin Islands highlighted by spectacular beaches and crystal clear emerald green water.
[Courtesy of Phuket.com]Surin Island is in Mu Koh Surin National Park, found some 60 km off the west coast of Phang Nga province, and 100 km north of the Similans, is an archipelago of 5 islands: Koh Surin Nuea, Koh Surin Tai, Koh Ri, Koh Khai, and Koh Klang. The excellent diving, snorkeling, hiking and game fishing are what most visitors come for, and those hoping to find a quiet refuge from the tourist traps and urban centers will be delighted with the islands’ lack of “development”. Those seeking convenience, comfort and 5-star service had best choose another destination – or travel there on a luxury liveaboard cruise.
Our 2nd day was highlighted by a beach visit to Ko Similan. We are surrounded by beautiful scenery with smooth rock formations that resemble a giant sail. The snorkeling is amazing!
[Courtesy of Phuket.com] Similan Islands are located just 84 km northwest of the bustling crowds of Phuket. Koh Similan is one of the best-known island groups in the Andaman Sea, largely because of the wonders that wait beneath the clear blue waters that surround it. Generally counted among the 10 most interesting dive areas in the world, this little archipelago has also become a favorite destination for yachts and tour boats.
Ko Rok Nok
It never ends, one beautiful beach destination after another! Amazing snorkeling, more fish than you could ever imagine. Incredible!
[Courtesy of Phuket.com] The two Rok Islands – Koh Rok Nai and Koh Rok Nok – are tiny paradises 30 km south of Koh Lanta. Small, rugged and mostly unspoiled, they are home to an impressive coral reef system, pristine white-sand beaches, a small ranger’s station, a restaurant and very little else. While there is some accommodation available so that you can stay on the island, this is mostly in the form of tents and a few bungalows.
The first excursion of our cruise, a jungle trek in Langkawi Malaysia followed by kayaking through mangrove forests in the Kilim Nature Park.
[Courtesy of Phuket.com] Peninsula Malaysia runs from Singapore to the Thai border with approximately 400 miles of coastline forming the eastern boundary of the famous Malacca Straits. Navigation through the straits is not difficult with a few shallow areas which are well buoyed and lit. Commercial shipping traffic is very heavy and a good watch is essential day and night. The once legendary piracy in the Malacca Straits is less of a problem today. Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia introduced tough anti-piracy measures in 1992. There have been reports of a few cases concerning commercial shipping, but many yachts make the passage without problems. Patrol boats from both countries will be encountered in their respective waters.
Today is our picnic on the beach, prepared by our Star Clippers crew! Following lunch, we explored the island and were very excited to find the Paradise Lost Resort and their super cheap beer!
[Courtesy of Phuket.com] Probably Trang’s most beautiful island. Designated National Park with a small portion converted to private rubber and coconut plantations, Koh Kra Dan is lovely. It has one of the finest white sand beaches in the south, with soft sand that resembles talcum powder. The water off Koh Kradan plays host to hundreds of couples who tie the knot each year .. underwater! The famous mass underwater weddings are held here every year around Valentine’s day. The first underwater wedding took place in 2000 and was recorded in ‘The Guinness Book of Records’ as “the largest underwater wedding ceremony.”
Ao Phang Nga/Ko Hong
Our final excursion of our Star Clippers Cruise, the exploration of Phang Nga Bay with a visit to James Bond Island and the floating village of Ko Panyee.
[Courtesy of Phuket.com] James Bond Island is a famous landmark in Phang Nga Bay. It first found its way onto the international tourist map through its starring role in the James Bond movie ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’. A distinctive feature of this famous bay is the number of sheer limestone cliffs that vertically jut out of the emerald-green water.
Your Star Clipper, Bucket List experience is not limited to just Thailand and southeast Asia. With 3 tall ship sailing vessels and a fourth on the way, you can sail almost anywhere in the world. Sail the Greek Isles, the Adriatic and Mediterranean Seas. Sail the Caribbean, from Cuba to Aruba and on through the Panama Canal. Truly an adventure in the making with plenty of opportunities to extend your experience with land-based bookings.
Star Clippers Cruises are perfect for anyone with the slightest adventurous streak, a romantic couple’s getaway, a honeymoon, friends traveling together, and even solo travelers. You will never experience anything like it and quickly learn why Star Clippers has developed such a loyal following with many of their guests sailing again and again. Destiny awaits on this exhilarating journey, experience your very own, Star Clippers Bucket List Achievement!
Thank You, Angela & Keith Harmison, for your contributions!
The Beer-Centric Traveler writes for Play Harder Tours… Please email Bill@playhardertours.com and start your travel planning today! For a complete list of recommendations please email with “Star Clipper” on the subject line. I’d love to hear your suggestions too.