Want to feel like a pirate? Or the "king of the world?" If you’re cruising on one of the three Star Clippers ships, don’t miss the chance to climb up the ship’s mast. I tried it while at anchor in the Mediterranean off Bonifacio, Corsica, on Star Flyer. The 360-foot sailing vessel has four masts reaching a height of 226 feet, and cruisers on the lookout for a unique sailing experience can ascend a rope ladder halfway up the ship’s foremast to the crow’s nest.
What It’s Really Like
After being strapped into a harness, I set off to climb the nearly 40 feet — or four stories — up to the crow’s nest. Looking up from the main deck, the climb seemed easy ... I even thought climbing to a higher platform would be doable! But, I'm not too proud to say that it was more challenging than I anticipated and scarier than I expected.
I never felt unsafe. The rope ladder, which is tethered to a thick metal safety cable, started off wide and became more narrow as I reached its top. At the top, I squeezed through the “lubber’s hole” (a narrow cutout at the base of the crow's nest) onto the netted platform and I was rewarded with a 360 degree view — from 75 feet above sea level — of the surrounding port and the ship’s impressive rigging, which includes 16 sails totaling 36,000 square feet. Skies were a little cloudy and it was very windy, but the breathtaking view was worth the climb.
The activity is unique to Star Clippers and can be done on all three of the line's ships — Star Flyer, Royal Clipper, and Star Clipper. Guests are offered the opportunity to climb the mast at least once during a cruise, weather permitting. (The activity was canceled twice during our sailing due to high winds and rough seas.)
No prior climbing experience is necessary and the ship’s sports staff members strap guests into harnesses and give everyone a quick tutorial. The crow’s nest can fit five climbers and one crew member at a time. Best of all, the activity is complimentary.