Cruises: Top 10 Small Ports in the Baltic, Caribbean, and Mediterranean

 Star Clipper fully rigged tall sailing vessel

Star Clipper fully rigged tall sailing vessels can sail into smaller ports that large ocean liners can't access.

Off the Beaten Track

Have you ever disembarked from an ocean liner at some exotic locale only to find yourself surrounded by hundreds – if not thousands – of other sea faring travelers? With several ships often arriving within hours of each other, that is often what happens at some of the world's more popular ports of call.

Star Clippers suggests booking itineraries on smaller cruise lines with boats that don't hold as many people because they can sail into more remote locations with harbours that the big ships can't access.

Better yet, what about fully masted sailing vessels?

High Service Standards

“Guests can enjoy the romance of sailing on board a true tall ship in a relaxed atmosphere with high standards of service provided by an attentive crew,” a press release issued by Star Clippers says.

“All three [of our] ships have expansive teak decks, swimming pools, informal dining, a convivial Tropical Bar on deck, and a comfortable piano bar and are large enough to offer first class accommodation and dining, but small enough to call into intimate ports, untouched by large cruise ships."

The Royal Clipper accommodates 227 passengers and has a crew of 106. The Star Flyer and Star Clipper hold 170 guests each and have crews of 106.

Comments courtesy of Star Clippers.

Top Two Small Ports in the Baltic  

Halmstad, Sweden A small port along Sweden’s Golden Coast lying amidst a maze of islands and rocks deeply indented by the sea and a favourite haunt of the sailing and fishing-addicted Swedes. Featured on Star Flyer’s Warnemunde to Oslo itinerary, August 12, 2012  

Marstand, Sweden Another popular sailing spot, the coast dotted with tiny, wooded islands and quiet anchorages. Setting for Sweden’s Match Cup Sailing Week, Marstrand is a small island, a ten-minute ferry ride from the mainland, and only non-motorized vehicles are allowed. It’s guarded by a 17th century fortress and is home to some surprisingly smart boutique hotels and places to eat. Featured on Star Clipper’s Oslo-Copenhagen itinerary, May 26, 2012  

Top Five Ports in the Mediterranean  

Ponza, Italy Visited by wealthy Italian weekenders who have homes there but otherwise unspoiled and rarely touched by the larger cruise lines. There are plenty of authentic bars and restaurants in the pretty town. Featured on Royal Clipper’s Rome-Rome itineraries throughout Summer 2012  

Dalyan River, Turkey An anchorage attracting only the smallest ships. Take a flat-bottomed boat ride along the river, which is lined by reed beds, to see spectacular Lycean tombs cut into the rocks above, while keeping an eye out for the turquoise flash of a kingfisher. The excursion here includes a stop at a natural outdoor thermal pool with therapeutic mud baths. Featured on Star Clipper’s Southern Cyclades itineraries throughout Summer 2012  

Hvar, Croatia Famous among the yachting fraternity but not visited by many cruise ships, other than very small or very upmarket vessels. Hvar is one of the smartest marinas along the Croatian coast, with a great nightlife scene in summer. Stony beaches mean the water is crystal clear, with some wonderful swimming spots from tiny, pine-fringed beaches. Featured on Royal Clipper’s Venice-Rome itineraries throughout Summer 2012  

Limnos, Greece As sleepy as a Greek island as you could hope to get, with decent swimming and snorkeling and a laid-back town overlooked by an amazing ruined castle, with extensive battlements snaking over the mountaintop. Featured on Star Clipper’s Yachtsman’s Paradise itineraries on June 23 and August 18, 2012

Monemvasia, Greece A fortified medieval town clinging to a towering hunk of rock that’s linked to the mainland by a causeway. Cross the causeway and climb the path to the upper town, a maze of narrow, cobbled streets, and the fortress for amazing views. Featured on Star Clipper’s Northern Cylades itineraries throughout Summer 2012.  

Top Three Small Ports in the Caribbean

Ile des Saintes A beautiful anchorage off the coast of Guadeloupe, only accessible to the smallest ships. There’s a tiny town, with some waterfront shops and bars and surprisingly chic and arty shops, and a crescent-shaped beach half an hour’s walk across the saddle of a hill. Featured on Royal Clipper’s Windward Islands voyages from November 2012 to March 2013  

Saba The smallest island in the Netherlands Antilles group, Saba is the remains of a dormant volcano, jutting abruptly out of the blue Caribbean Sea. This little known speck of land, with only 1,500 residents, is both remote and romantic, favoured by divers and honeymooners.  Featured on Star Clipper’s Leeward Islands voyages throughout Winter 2013  

Isla Iguana, Panama An exquisite beach on a tiny island populated by frigate birds, lizards and butterflies. The snorkeling is superb and there are no facilities at all, which keeps it free from litter and tourists. Take a walk through the rainforest to the more exposed side of the island, where there’s a frigate bird hatchery. Featured on Star Flyer’s Costa Rica to Panama itinerary, March 24, 2013  


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