Scenes from the Ship
BETH AND SHEILA MANAGED TO EXTRICATE themselves from their busy careers and make the longhaul schlep from the East Coast of the United States all the way to Singapore, where I live, and then take a short flight north to Phuket. After one night in the pretty Amari Phuket hotel along Patong Beach, just minutes from the docks, we were aboard Star Clipper unpacking our bags in our snug cabin, managing to stow all of our stuff in the surprisingly ample storage space — well almost everything. One of us (who shall remain nameless) was a bit of an over-packer and her sleeping bag and special pillow didn’t fit into any of the drawers. Meanwhile, the anal-retentive member of our trio (whose names starts with H) was focused on figuring out how to keep our bath towels from mingling (wrap a pink hair band around one corner!). Before long, friend Number 3’s voice rose above the din: Let’s get a drink!
A precursor to our daily pre- or post-dinner routine, we got our libations from the Tropical Bar, the ship’s hub, and then went to the top deck to watch the sailors deftly maneuver coils of rope and winches to unfurl the sails that would help get us under way (along with engine power when needed) on our 533 nautical-mile voyage around the Andaman Sea, where everywhere we looked, gorgeous ancient rock formations popped out of the water like mushrooms.
As the sails inched up, the stirring and solemn theme song from the film 1492: Conquest of Paradise was broadcast to set the mood of days long ago when tall, fast ships ruled the waves. Nearly every passenger was on deck, heads tilted up, lost in thought, searching the mysterious and beautiful twilight sky through the labyrinth of lines as the sails flapped in the wind and the rigging creaked and moaned. So enamored of the moving scene, Sheila would head up top most mornings with her Earl Grey to meditate and soak up the sun rising on the tall ship.
A small international ship such as Star Clipper is inevitably a social affair. As the week wore on we began sharing meals with new friends from the United States, Australia, England, and Germany, feeling as if we’d known them longer than a few days as we celebrated another great day in Thailand.
Tipsy from a couple of glasses of wine, after dinner we’d head up to the Tropical Bar for a night cap and to sit in on
Star Clippers’ signature repertoire of summer camp–style entertainment. The best was Pirate Night, a fun party with silly contests and dancing emceed by the hilarious cruise director, Monica. Before midnight, we’d be in our cozy room lulled to sleep like babies in a cradle as Star Clipper swayed and pitched its way through the Andaman Sea.