Lying back on a sun lounger under a mass of billowing sails is a big draw while on a cruise with tall ship sailing specialist Star Clippers, but there are also multiple opportunities on each voyage for learning a new skill or for immersion in some of the world’s most beautiful sailing destinations.
Learn to tie knots like a sailor
Fine-tune your sailors’ knots with a free lesson on deck from the crew and master the art of a bowline and a clove hitch. The Balearics is a fine inspiration for sailing fanatics; the islands are some of the Mediterranean’s most popular sailing areas among yacht owners, not least the Spanish royal family.
Shin up the mast of a tall ship
Harness up and shin up the steel rigging supporting the ship’s mast to the first crow’s nest like a professional deck hand. The 360 degree views and photo opportunities from aloft are spectacular, looking down onto the teak decks far below and up into a mass of rigging and billowing sails. There’s a chance to climb the mast, no experience required, on every voyage, weather permitting.
Waterski in the Greek islands
Each of the three Star Clippers ships carries watersports equipment and a fleet of powerful inflatable Zodiac craft. Waterskiing and wakeboarding are offered free of charge, subject to sea conditions, in every port where the sports team are able to set up on the beach; a great opportunity to have a go at no cost at a sport which would be expensive in an hotel.
Paddle a kayak in Cuba
Star Clippers’ ships carry kayaks, lasers and windsurfers, all of which are available for guests to use, free of charge. This Cuba itinerary mixes culture with gorgeous, unspoiled beaches, where the limpid water presents an ideal opportunity to learn a new watersport. There’s plenty of time in Havana either side of the voyage to absorb the fascinating culture and majestic colonial architecture.
Master the art of paddleboarding
A relatively new craze, paddleboarding is peaceful, has zero environmental impact and is great for strengthening core muscles. Each of the three Star Clippers ships carries boards; you start by kneeling and once you’ve got your balance, stand up. Relatively flat sea is required for beginners but you’ll often see paddleboarders in Croatia and Montenegro, both excellent locations for gentle watersports.
Admire the underwater world in the Grenadines
Each of the three ships has a large supply of masks, fins and snorkels, all free of charge for guests to use. Where possible, a guided snorkel safari is offered by the watersports team. There’s no better place to snorkel in the Caribbean than the Grenadines, where abundant marine life teems in crystal-clear waters of the Tobago Cays National Park, in which Royal Clipper spends a day.
Navigate the Atlantic using the stars
Every day, Captain’s Story time on the ship’s bridge gives an insight into a different aspect of sailing, including an introduction to celestial navigation, a talk on wind and information about the different sails. Guests are welcome to help the crew raise the sails and practice sailing manoeuvres – and on a transatlantic voyage, there are plenty of opportunities, as the ships depend largely on the warm trade winds to make the crossing.
Chill out on deck with sunrise yoga
Several times a year, Star Clippers offers themed yoga cruises with a qualified and highly experienced instructor on board who conducts classes in the morning and evening, free of charge, and meditation sessions. Tuition is in English and German and no experience is required. There are eight departures in 2015, from Palma, Rome, Cienfuegos in Cuba and St Maarten in the Caribbean.
Learn from a master of mixology
Learn how to make your favourite cocktails with a dash of panache, through demonstrations by the friendly bartenders in the Tropical Bar. There’s not better time to study the art of the perfect rum punch than late afternoon in the Caribbean, as the sun begins to set and cocktail hour approaches.
Cultural immersion in the Mediterranean
Star Clippers offers optional shore excursions in every port and this Grand Mediterranean voyage from Athens to Malaga takes in some of the great historical sites of the region, including Syracuse in Sicily; the Maltese capital, Valletta; Cartagena in Spain, a magnificent port more than 2,000 years old; and Motril, gateway to the Alhambra’s Palace in Grenada. Late October is the perfect time to explore; usually still warm, but with none of the summer crowds.