Scenes from the Ship

Porthole Cruise Magazine - - Beach On -

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.

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