On the Star Flyer October 31-November 8, 2019
Malaga, Tangier, Cadiz, Safi, Arrecife & Lanzarote, Puerto del Rosario & Fuerteventura, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
I was looking for a cruise to the Azores and Canary Islands for sometime and I was browsing the travel sights and came across the The Star Clipper Tall Ship cruises, and Instantly I have to sign up. The itinerary did not include the Portuguese Azores, but since it included Morocco, I decided to get on it and make separate travel plans for the Azores later. I was also excited to get on board this Tall ship for a repeat of the excitement of sailing that I remember from a Galapagos sailing in the early 1990’s. The price was steep but I found a friend to share the cost. It was the only way to go and we booked the last room available, otherwise the next opening will be in two years.
The embarkation would be from Malaga and in my haste to book the trip, I did not check the disembarkation port before I booked my transcontinental flight. After booking all the pre- and post cruise flights, I discovered that the disembarkation port was in Las Palmas, in the Grand Canary Island which necessitated cancellation of flights from Malaga to London, and adjusting the dates so I could travel from Las Palmas to Malaga then to France for my post-cruise visit and returning to Malaga from London for the flight back home to Newark. The flight to Newark-Malaga RT was under $400 that it was worth traveling to Newark from Cape Charles and visit my brother and hitch a ride with him back to Cape Charles on my return. I took the bus to Newark overnight from Exmore which got me there with 14 hours to kill before my evening flight to Malaga. I disembarked in New York and left my luggage on storage near the Penn Station and revisited favorite places before taking the train to Newark early in the evening. It sounded complicated but it was really easy for me, since I have done traveling this way, but some may find this itinerary grueling. I spent the day in NYC checking out the new addition to the High-Line at Hudson Yards, and had a nice lunch at the Mercado Little Spain, browsed the expensive and beautiful shops at the mall and checked out the Vessel, checked out if there was anything going on at the Shed which I could book for another trip, and simply just relaxed on the High Line park benches and enjoyed the urban ambience, and walking the length to its entrance in Chelsea and the Meatpacking District, then back to Penn station for my flight from Newark later in the evening, where I will be joined by my friend.
The flight was smooth and on schedule, and arrival at Malaga was on a beautiful morning. I had been to Malaga several times, but there was always something new to explore. This time a more in depth look at the historic center and discovering the delights of its city squares, soaking in the atmosphere, and eating tapas, then exploring the port area and visiting our Tall Ship, magnificent in its mooring on the harbor with its masts lighted up in picture perfect form. I spent the day looking for halloween costumes to wear at check-in the next day, but there was nothing in the shops. Unlike in the US and Mexico, Halloween and El Dia de los Muertos, were not marked with trick or treat events and costumed parties here. I found an Indian feather headdress adorning a mannequin which I persuaded the store owner to sell to me.
In the evening I climbed the gangplank to my Star Flyer Tall Ship, the only one among all the passengers wearing a costume headdress in homage to Halloween, and called attention to myself during dinner with smiles and approval.
The sail away was attended with pomp and circumstance, with the captain barking commands to the sailors putting up the sails accompanied by Conquest of Paradise, Vangelis’ majestic music from the movie 1492. This was my favorite during the journey, it had become a pleasant ear worm in weeks after the cruise which transported me back to its memories.
The cruise experience was different from the big ship liners which were literally floating cities with up to 6000 passengers, and equipped with stabilizers one did not feel the water at all. I loved the feeling underfoot of the wave rolling with the ocean and seeing the tilt of the ship against the horizon, and feeling the sensation akin to being drunk. And being a smaller ship one was always in view of the water. I kept waiting for the sails to pick up the wind and experience the sudden jolt of speed that was so breathtaking in the small sailboat for 12 passengers in the Galapagos, but it never came. The Star Flyer, after the sail away had deployed only a few sails and used its engine to maintain speed in order to keep its port of call schedule. And so the Star Flyer failed to deliver the sailing sensation that I thought I’d experience on a grander scale. The Galapagos sailboat remains the ultimate for me in having a real sailboat experience, where I felt the sail catching the wind and the boat picking up sudden speed which is akin to the sensation of plunging and your belly being left behind, like in a roller coaster, oh so exhilarating and exciting. I remember that experience took my breath away and I conjured adventures of legendary voyages during the early days of exploration. That was my expectation on this, to have an approximation of the sailing experience of the explorers, but I realized that no modern cruise experience will deliver that, and not even this Tall Ship, and I settled into enjoying the exotic ports that the ship called on.
The cruise was small and you could get to know most of the passengers. More than half had been repeaters, some on their 20th sailing, and had known each other from past trips. A few single women who were not retired were traveling together and there was a young couple and a family with children, but the bulk of the passengers were retired active seniors, mostly couples. Some were continuing on to cross the Atlantic to the Caribbean, to reposition for its winter sailing in warm weather. I became intrigued with the idea of taking a repositioning cruise to the Azores from the Caribbean, and spending the time completely at sea without the distraction of calling on any port, working on the novel that I had such difficulty completing. The passengers will not be distractions either, for most would be repeaters and I found them to be not so inclusive, preferring the company of their previous acquaintances, and I could be undisturbed in my focus on the novel. That was the advantage of cruising, you could choose however you’d like to spend your time socially or in solitude, and have your meals and entertainment totally taken cared of. Like one of the repeaters told me, that cruising is so much less hassle than spending the time on a land holiday or on the beach, and you get to visit different places without packing or unpacking. With these inducements, I may change my mind about cruise traveling yet.
At the end of the cruise we explored Gran Canaria before flying to France, then to London on the Eurostar, and back to Malaga overnight for our flight back to Newark in the morning. My companion caught the bug towards the end of our trip and was sea sick on the ship. We were glad to arrive in Cape Charles with my brother driving from Newark.