ABOARD THE STAR FLYER — Dawn on Monday, October 27 found us bound for the open Atlantic and 13 days of sailing – without sight of land. I must confess that I was becoming a bit nervous about the crossing, wondering how I would take to the repetitive, day after day process of inching at 8-10 knots across the Atlantic. I’ve always loved cruising but had never taken a voyage that involved more than two or three consecutive days at sea.
Talking with fellow passengers — 35 of whom had made one or more crossings, on Star Clipper vessels for the most part – I was reassured to some degree that the long crossing would be a rewarding and memorable experience.
I needn’t have worried about there being plenty to do during the voyage. Energetic Cruise Director Matt, assisted by sports team leaders Aneta and Erik and musician Charlie, devised a non-stop daily schedule of activities and entertainment. Mornings got underway with a stretching/exercise class directed by Aneta, a buff young Polish lass with aspirations of becoming a licensed captain, followed by a mile-walk with equally trim and athletic Erik, also from Poland.
Typical of the long list of activities – most of them interactive – were knot tying lessons; mast climbing exercises that afforded a spectacular view and great photos of the ship from some 60 feet above the deck; handicraft seminars with Christine that attracted a large coterie of lady knitters; deck golf, a hybrid variation of putting and shuffleboard; “aquagym” exercises in the pool with Erik; treasure hunts; “Atlantic Trivia,” that was Matt’s own adaptation of Trivial Pursuit, and daily lectures. Alas, there also were a few unimaginative, if not downright banal, activities such as napkin folding and fruit and vegetable carving.
Lectures, most of them delivered by 20-year veteran former Star Clipper Captain Klaus Mueller, drew turn-away crowds. Captain Klaus, who retired from the helm last year, is a tower of knowledge about all things nautical and is able to make sense, in lay terms, of such subjects as stellar navigation. He’s quite the historian too and regaled us with stories from the glory days of the clipper ships – and of pirates, who have had a major impact on shipping worldwide from Phoenician times to the present.
Cocktail hour at the Tropical Bar was accompanied by entertainment from pianist and vocalist Charlie. Classically trained from age 9 in his native Hungary, Charlie soon realized he’d have a better chance of earning a living by switching to popular music. He’s subsequently developed an extraordinary playlist of hit tunes from the 1940s forward and delivers them brilliantly – always to a round of applause.