Southeast Asia Cruise on the Star Clipper: Part 1

Photograph of the Star Clipper.
Body: 
These words greeted me earlier this year when boarding the Star Clipper. It was going to be a completely different type of cruise…
 
And then in the evening I shall hear the song and tramp of the sailors, the clink of the capstan, and the rattle of the anchor chain coming merrily in. We shall breakout out the jib and the foresail, the houses and lights of the harbor will glide slowly past us as she gathers steering way, and the voyage will have begun. As she forges towards the headland she will clothe herself with white canvas; and then, once outside, the sounding slap of the great blue sea as she heels to the wind, pointing North.
 
My itinerary was a seven-night Southeast Asia cruise, which sailed from Phuket to the islands of Koh Surin, Ko Similan, Ko Rok Nok, Langkawi, and Ko Kradan and ended in the stunning Ao Phang Nga Bay. Southeast Asia comprises one of the southern provinces of Thailand, which consists of the country’s largest island of Phuket, along with 33 smaller islands off its coast. It lies off the west coast of Thailand in the Andaman Sea.  
 
The Star Clipper is a four-mast ship that mostly depends on winds to arrive to the next destination. It carried only 170 guests and had the intimate and casualness of close friends sailing on a personal yacht.  This way of cruising gave me an appreciation of how simple and intimate travel used to be and how something as simple as the sounds of the wind and the ship can ease all of life’s worries. Many other cruise companies offer significantly larger ships with capacities averaging of over 3,000 passengers. In comparison to the intimateness of the Star Clipper, the bartender knew all our names and drinks by the second night, as well as all the officers and the very gregarious crew members. It really was a cruise like no other.   
 
The region’s heartland is characterized by the sheer limestone cliffs which pierce the horizon, providing stunning views from the road and enhancing the dramatic intensity of the landscape. Even more spectacular is the Andaman Sea itself; the translucent turquoise water is so clear that in some places you can see to a depth of 100 feet. Home to the country’s largest coral reefs, it is without doubt the best diving area in Thailand and by far the most spectacular snorkeling I have ever experienced.
 
Mornings were an extremely relaxing time of the day with filling up at the breakfast buffet while the Star Clipper gently sailed to the next island. A continental breakfast with croissants, toasted English muffins, and sweet Danish pastries were served each morning. Full breakfast with fresh tropical fruits, crisp bacon, grilled sausage, smoked salmon, and omelets were also served, cooked to order, in the dining room. 
 
Afternoons were spent taking tender boats to empty beaches with sand as soft as powder. Snorkeling can often be done right off the beach with schools of fish all around you.  Snorkeling gear is complimentary as well as all water sports like kayaking, standup paddle boarding, and kite surfing.  Water skiing and scuba diving is additional, and a full-time dive master is onboard every sailing.  Fish in hues of blue, black, yellow, pink and green were all around me. At some points I found myself screaming while snorkeling and pointing to the fish out of sheer excitement.  I was surrounded by Clown Anemone Fish, Moorish Idols, Rainbow Parrotfish, Powder Blue Surgeonfish, and so many more I just could not identify but will remember forever.