The cruise industry has undergone huge growth in recent years, with cruise lines investing hundreds of millions of pounds in new vessels to cater for the ever-growing number of people who want to take a holiday at sea.
Royal Caribbean in particular has spent big on a number of large vessels, with ships like the Symphony of the Seas - currently the largest ship in service by gross tonnage - capable of carrying thousands of passengers keen to enjoy everything that a cruise holiday has to offer.
Alongside luxurious accommodation, these modern day goliaths of the sea feature a huge range of facilities that are more than a match for any traditional holiday resort on land - including a varied selection of fine dining, stunning shows straight from broadway and an amazing list of fun-filled attractions that range from waterslides and surfing simulators to laser tag and zip lines.
But what if you have a desire to take a cruise holiday that harks back to a simpler time, when ships quite literally set sail from one port to another under the power of the wind and famous names like James Cook and Christopher Columbus were travelling the globe on voyagers of discovery?
Many people might look at the idea of a sailing holiday and think it means boarding a small ship and using your own skills and knowledge to go off alone, tackling the oceans in cramped accommodation and being left to fend for yourself - something which is unlikely to appeal to all but the most enthusiastic of travellers and certainly not suitable for someone with no knowledge and experience who is simply looking for a holiday.
Luckily, there are a number of vessels that are still at sea that provide the romance that comes from travelling under sail, but which also offer the many and varied facilities and amenities that you would be looking for from a modern day ship.
Typically carrying a few hundred people at most, these ships provide a unique cruise experience unlike anything you can expect to get from 'big brands' like Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line and Holland America Line.
Star Clippers are one cruise line that specialises in cruises under sail, offering trips on three special fully-rigged sailing ships. Whilst the Star Flyer and Star Clipper are four-masted vessels that can carry 170 passengers apiece, Royal Clipper can carry nearly 230 passengers and was the first five-masted, fully-rigged ship to be built for more than 100 years when it was launched.
Onboard, you can enjoy all manner of things to see and do that blend traditional sailing experiences with more modern, action-packed activities.
You can enjoy the daily treat of watching the crew raise the sails by hand to allow you to continue on with your journey, and - if you’re lucky - can even get involved yourself by helping to pull the ropes or by taking a trip up to the crows nest.
Lying back on the wooden decks with a drink in hand as you glide across the water under the power of the wind, imaging that you yourself are following in the footsteps of some of the world’s great explorers.
However, at the same time, you’ll be able to enjoy the very best in fine dining, relax in top quality accommodation that wouldn’t be out of place in a top 5* hotel and enjoy a range of activities that include everything from a night listening to live music, to diving off a special platform to take part in a range of watersports.
If you want the romance of a trip under sails, but also want the luxury that would come from a private yacht, then a cruise on a traditional sail ship will be very much up your street.