I Love Star Clipper Cruises

The magnificent Star Clipper, on which I am about to sail for 12 days!

The magnificent Star Clipper, on which I am about to sail for 12 days!

My most recent visit to Montenegro was a port call while cruising on the tall ship, Royal Clipper. As a travel agent I usually organize a few group cruises or tours each year and I accompany my clients when possible. Our Royal Clipper cruise began in Rome and made port calls in Sorrento, Taormina Sicily, Corfu, Kotor Montenegro, and four places in Croatia including Dubrovnik. Then it made a dramatic early morning entrance into Venice. It was a fantastic voyage indeed!

Next month I’ll be reprising that adventure, but this time on the Star Clipper and this time I’ll begin in Athens. For my last travel-agent-tour* I’ll be leading a group of 28 adventuresome travelers. I’ve arranged for some of my group to tour Athens and Pelopennesia for four days prior to boarding the ship. Then we’ll sail to Mykonos, Santorini, Olympia (Katakolon) and Corfu (all in Greece) and on to Montenegro and Croatia for five days before arrival in Venice. I plan to write about my experiences during that journey on this blog so please return here often.

Royal Clipper, Star Clipper and a third ship, the Star Flyer, comprise the fleet of a European company offering a luxury yachting experience on true clipper ships. The owner of Star Clipper Co., Mikael Krafft, had these ships built to offer an authentic yet modern tall ship sailing experience. Star Clipper’s passengers come from Europe and North America. Making new friends from distant places is part of the fun.  Life onboard includes excellent meals served by a happy staff on a ship with no “formal nights.”

In winter the ships are based in the Caribbean and in summer in the Mediterranean. Daily port calls are made to ancient places in Europe during the summer cruises. Beautiful beaches in the Caribbean are the destinations of the winter cruises when snorkeling, scuba diving and other water sports are featured. Each evening the ships sail away to a new port to the stirring music of Vangelis’s Song of the Earth. As the sails are unfurled by an expert crew the captain takes the wheel and steers us out of our small port. (At times when the ships are at sea passengers take the wheel briefly. Passengers also enjoy daily “captain’s story time” talks and climbing to the passengers’ crow’s nest.)

The three ships of the Star Clipper fleet are true clipper ships.  The five masts of the Royal Clipper hold more than 50,000 square feet of canvas in 42 sails. At 439 feet in length, the ship accommodates just 227 passengers.  The Star Clipper and Star Flyer are 379 feet long and carry only 170 guests.

Standing on the top deck under the full sails and under the stars is unforgettable.

Learn more about Star Clippers cruises here:

Passengers who sailed the same itinerary my group will be enjoying in September made a very professional video which you can see on the Star Clippers blog by clicking here: http://www.starclippersblog.com/2014/07/video-from-athens-to-venice/.

To view the Star Clipper website, click here.

* This is my last tour and cruise as a travel agent. When this cruise ends in Venice, I will be retired!

Perast and Kotor, Montenegro



The chapel of Gospa od Škrpjela (Our Lady of the Rocks) lies just off the shore of the village of Perast at the place where the Bay of Kotor widens, stretching its wings like a butterfly. The people of Perast, fewer than 500 of them, live in stone houses that have been home to their families for hundreds of years.  The village hugs the shore, caught between the bay and high mountains. Time spent wandering around Perast – particularly with camera in hand – is a glimpse into the past.  A very tall church tower marks the center of the village, surely an important landmark for centuries of seamen. The lion of St. Mark, the design of buildings, the tall church tower are all reminders that this place comprised of old stone buildings was constructed by long-gone Venetians. Water taxis and other small craft are tied up at the shore. In summer local people enjoy the tiny beach.

Sailing east and then south, passing other small villages appear along the shoreline, we arrive in medieval Kotor.  Here the cathedral proudly announces in large numerals its founding in the year 809. The old town is squeezed inside a small, triangular space inside ancient walls.

Once I arrived by ship in Kotor just before the sun rose. The far side of the town is protected by an ancient wall, outlined in lights. The wall climbs the mountain, reaching from sea to sea. The dim mountainside, the twinkling small lights and the pink sky made an enchanting view.



The European Stability Initiative’s page on Montenegro includes video as well as more detailed history of the country.  Begin here.

See time-lapse video of Kotor as night falls and the wall lights up: http://grantourismotravels.com/2010/05/06/just-an-afternoon-in-kotor-montenegro/

WikiVoyage.org’s page with helpful information about Perast

Wikipedia has several pages on this region.  Click here to read about Kotor and here for Perast. In addition there is Wiki page is about the Natural and Culturo-Historical Region of Kotor.


On the Bay of Kotor, Montenegro

Our Lady of the Rocks chapel seems to float.

Our Lady of the Rocks chapel seems to float.

As we sail into the Bay of Kotor, Al and I are among the first on deck. With cameras in hand, we eagerly await a pair of small chapels that occupy man-made islands in the bay.  Two years ago we toured the island-chapel called Our Lady of the Rocks when another cruise ship brought us to Montenegro for a day, and now we are returning on the magnificent Royal Clipper, the world’s largest fully-rigged sailing ship.  With newer, better cameras we are anxious to capture perfect memories.

We sail a long while into the bay, a bow-tie shaped estuary that leads to the heart of tiny Montenegro. At the center of the bay, as we turn to the east, we see two tiny churches rising out of the water.  On the shoreline appears the old Venetian town of Perast.  As we round the prettier church, the one that’s open to sunlight and shows much activity, the captain sounds the horn of our clipper ship, and the priest in the chapel, expecting us, returns the salute by ringing the bells: “Welcome to Montenegro,” they say.

One story is that that the island on which Our Lady of the Rocks is located was made over the centuries by devout mariners who, after finding an icon of the Madonna and child on a rock in the sea on July 22, 1452, swore that they would drop a rock at the site after every successful sea voyage. As time went by, the islet gradually emerged from the sea and the small baroque chapel was ultimately built upon it. Each year on July 22 the people of the town remember that long ago discovery. Another island holding a small monastery is adjacent to the chapel-island.  It is as dark and uninviting as Our Lady is light and welcoming.

To be continued…