There’s something unbelievably majestic about a tall ship cruising silently from the port for the deep blue of the Mediterranean sea.
No motor noise fills the air, just the low whoosh of ropes pulling through winches as the captain directs his crew.
Following in the footsteps of ancient mariners, I’m cruising rugged Mediterranean coastlines from Athens to Malta with Star Clipper’s Star Flyer, exploring small ports in southern Greece and Sicily to finish in Malta.
It’s a world where century-old towns tumble down cliffs into picturesque harbours filled with yachts at anchor. Sailing on a tall ship with Star Clipper, the choice will be learning how to raise the sails or relaxing in the bowsprit net suspended over the startling blue sea.
It starts with an exploration of ancient Athens and finishes as I trace my heritage through the islands of Malta to a small street in Gozo where my grandfather was born.
More about tall ship cruising
- Cruising the Mediterranean
- Sailing on Star Flyer
- Down below
- Getting there
Cruising the Mediterranean on a tall ship
The Sicily and Greece Star Flyer route leaves from Athens which gives travellers the chance to explore this fascinating city before departure.
Ancient Athens was the birthplace of democracy and the epicentre of western civilisation. Modern Athens is filled with the remnants of this civilisation which makes fascinating viewing. The city is still dominated by 5th-century BC landmarks, including the Acropolis, a hilltop citadel topped with ancient buildings like the collonaded Parthenon temple. There is just so much to see here.
The first port is Monemvasia, a preserved Byzantine fortified port on the Greek coastline. Once 60,000 strong, it is now home to just a few hundred. It looks like a massive rock from the sea, and it’s not until you land and walk the pathway to the castle entrance that the town inside the rocky ruins is revealed.
Still, in Greece, the next stop is Pilos a historically significant town with a castle amongst pine-covered hills.
On to Syracuse in Sicily which was once the largest city in the world. There are plenty of medieval lanes, old-style cafes and a baroque piazza to explore.
After a day at sea, the ship docks at Valletta, the capital of Malta. Valletta is a walled city established in the 1500s by the Roman Catholic order of the Knights of St John.
Sailing on Star Flyer
Star Flyer is a four-masted barquentine built as a cruise ship and operated by Star Clippers Ltd of Sweden. This luxury vessel is a sister ship to Star Clipper.
This type of cruising offers an active holiday rather than an abundance of food, tempting buffets and lazy days relaxing. There may be just three guest decks on this vessel that is considerably smaller than conventional cruise vessels, but there are no elevators and, Star Clippers’, but it’s easy to walk a mile a day up and down the steps past the restaurant, cabins, library, bars and along the open air teak decks.
Down below on a tall ship
My cabin 109 was an outside stateroom on the Commodore Deck which meant we had a porthole just above water level. It had a fixed double bed close to the wall, so there was only entry from one side and end. Next time I would choose a room which offered access from both sides of the bed on the Clipper Deck, avoiding rooms that open directly into the dining room.
There’s a reasonable amount of storage available, a compact marble ensuite, air conditioning, a hairdryer, private safe, television, DVD player, and telephone. Star Flyer’s electrical output is 110 volts.
The next Sicily & Greece Star Flyer sailing leaves Piraeus, the Port of Athens on October 16 and reaches Valetta on October 23. Find out more from Star Clippers.
Here’s where you can stay in Malta.
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Disclaimer: Ed+bK travelled as a guest of Star Clipper