Mediterranean 2001: Star Clipper

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Friday September 14th

Seawall near the Sunbay Park Hotel
Seawall near the Sunbay Park Hotel
Most of this day was spent on the train heading south and just as well for it rained hard much of the time.

But by time we reached Civitavecchia, the rain had stopped. We took a cab to the SunBay Park Hotel, situated on the coast just south of town.

A potentially disastrous problem had occurred on the train with Al's laptop. If it could not be fixed, he could not download photographs from the digital camera and would be unable to use the camera.

We went into town to see if we could get some new equipment from either of the two computer stores. Rain again. A downpour. A torrent. Unfortunately, neither store had what was needed. Then trouble finding a taxi. So we were soaked by the time we got back to the hotel. Fortunately, by dinner time, Al had figured out a way to solve the computer problem.

This brightened our spirits, and we weren't too disappointed by a lackluster dinner in the hotel.


Embarking from Civitavecchia on the Star Clipper
Saturday September 15th

Il Porto di Roma Traffic Il Porto di Roma Traffic
(Star Clipper to the Right)
Star Clipper sailor
The day dawned sunny again, the blue sea looking wonderful from the hotel. We checked out at 11:00 and took a taxi to the port. We were dropped where the Star Clipper was docked, way, way out on a lonely pier. Unfortunately, it would be 4:00 before we could embark, so we had to wait several hours in a waiting room. The town was too far away to walk to with our luggage, so I stayed with the bags and read and starved. Al came and went with his camera.

The ship was just a few feet away but all we could do was look. And it looked magnificent. Four masts, the highest rising 226 feet; 16 sails comprising 36,000 square feet of canvas. 360 feet long with a beam of fifty feet. Beautiful, beguiling, alluring.

Some of the crew could be seen on deck preparing the ship for us, its next guests. Others drifted in from time to time during the afternoon. And then, finally, time to board. We were greeted with champagne, signed in, got our boarding passes, and were taken to our cabin by Anton, our Indonesian steward. Because we booked the cruise late, ours was an inside cabin with bunk beds on the lower (Commodore) deck. But roomy enough and comfortable. We unpacked and explored the ship. There were music and snacks on the Tropical Deck, cocktails in the Piano Bar, a Scandinavian Buffet in the dining room.

Boarding continued until 9:30 PM. The passengers were primarily German and English. Because U.S. airports had been shut down for several days after the murders, the Star Clipper had 15 empty cabins; the only Americans on board were those who had left the county before September 11.

Finally, at 10:00, we cast off from the dock and set sail. The harbor pilot was on board to guide the ship toward the sea, under motor. Then, as we cleared the harbor, the top sails dropped, the jibs and stay sails rose. They caught the wind and finally, under a clear and moonless sky, we were under sail. All this was accompanied by the music from the movie "1492" but surprisingly it did not seem schlocky. It was actually rather inspiring. Finally, the silence of sailing: only the sounds of the wind in the sails and the water lapping against the ship. As we turned south, the lights of Rome were visible in the sky on the port side. Then, as Rome receded, we were alone on the sea under a canopy of stars.


A Day at Sea on the Star Clipper
Sunday September 16th

No porthole, no light. So we slept until 7:30. Al went on deck with his camera while I cleaned up and had breakfast. We were at sea all day. Captain Ingemar Hansson introduced himself and his officers and staff. The crew, which represented 20 different countries, was extremely friendly. Always willing to answer passengers' questions or to explain any aspect of sailing.

A leisurely day, for lying in the sun around one of the two swimming pools, reading in a deck chair or in the library, taking a tour of the bridge, or climbing a mast. I spent most of the day reading. Al spent his taking photos and reading. We also signed up for three shore excursions.


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