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‘Star Clippers had record year in 2010 – and we are ahead of that in 2011’.

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Fay McCormack, the new General Manager, UK, talks to Sydney Paulden

Last year was a record year for Star Clippers on the UK market. The cruise company’s UK General Manager, Fay McCormack, however, can’t take the credit as she has only been with the company for about six months. But she has been in charge during 2011 and this year’s figures are also on the up – even better than 2010.

Fay has come into the clipper cruise sector from TUI Travel. She was attracted to the job ‘because these tall ships offer a combination of cruising, adventure, good eating and so many great ports of call around the world’.

Star Clippers have three of the world’s biggest and tallest sailing ships. They are the identical sister ships Star Clipper and Star Flyer (that at one time were actually skippered by identical twin brothers!) and the even larger Royal Clipper. The big news from Fay is that a fourth ship is already designed and will start building just as soon as it gets its slot in the shipyard.

The two sister ships, each 4-masted, are 360ft long and 50ft across the beam. They can each carry 170 passengers. Royal Clipper, the world’s largest fully-rigged ship, is 439ft long and 54ft wide and is 5-masted. When sailing into port under canvas with the wind in its 42 sails it is a sensational attraction. It can carry 227 passengers. All the ships are available for corporate charter with sufficient advance notice. Having a small draught, they can sail into harbours that cannot be reached by the large cruise vessels.

‘But our schedule of cruises are ideal for smaller corporate groups’, says Fay. ‘We can make special provision for dining and can allocate private areas for a meeting, in, for example, the ship’s library or in the dining room that is free for hours at a time. Staterooms can be single or double occupancy, so that partners can readily share in an incentive award.

‘We find that many of our passengers are experiencing being under sail for the first time, whilst many others have already enjoyed it and are back for more. The average age tends to be in the late 40s or early 50s.

‘The ships sail at night, whilst passengers are at dinner and then having a sleep. By the time they are eating breakfast the ship is moored at a new, exciting destination, ready for them to disembark and spend most of a day exploring a new region or going on an excursion.’

Star Clippers generally offers cruises in the Mediterranean in the summer and in the Caribbean in the winter, but there are often enticing variations.

‘In the summer of 2012’, says Fay, ‘Star Flyer will be in the Baltic, sailing out of Hamburg. There will be the possibility of three or five night itineraries, which could fit nicely into some company schedules.’

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