Monaco, known primarily for its royal family, its reputation as a haven for the vastly wealthy and its James Bond-like sophistication, goes nuts for auto racing.
It's hard to overstate the importance, not to mention the cool factor, of the Formula One (F1) Grand Prix races, for example, which draw international attention to the tiny principality every year, while sorely straining the hospitality industry in its attempts to accommodate everyone.
In fact, the general rule is to book a year in advance and never mind trying to find reservations at restaurants and other Monaco venues.
One way to handle the challenge is to opt instead for the annual Historic Grand Prix, a series of races featuring seven categories of historical automobiles. Cars range from prewar models to vintage F1 and sports cars dating from the early 1950s to the late 1970s.
The Historic Grand Prix offers visitors a chance to see museum-quality cars race through the Circuit de Monaco without the massive crowds associated with F1 events.
An interesting way to see the races is aboard the Royal Clipper, Star Clippers' modern vessel designed to look like the historical tall ship Preussen. The ship offers a roundtrip sailing departing Cannes on May 12, timed to coincide with the Historic Grand Prix races. The Royal Clipper will dock in Monaco May 13, offering deck-side views of the races, which wend through the streets of the picturesque principality. It will then move on to Lerici, Sardinia and Elba in Italy; Bonifacio, Portoferraio, Palombaggia, Porticcio Beach and Ajaccio in Corsica; and, finally, back to Cannes.
The weeklong trip is priced from $1,845 per person, double.
Auto racing fanatics who really just want to see the F1 Grand Prix races and won't settle for anything less can opt for a cruise aboard Star Clippers' Star Flyer, which departs Barcelona May 19 and calls at Monaco May 24 for the FI Grand Prix trials, or the May 26 sailing, which docks in Monaco May 27 for the finals. Pricing for these sailings starts at $1,690 per person, double.
In all, Star Clippers operates the Star Clipper and Star Flyer, both modernized, 170-passenger clipper ships, and the 227-passenger Royal Clipper, which is the only five-masted, full-rigged sailing ship currently in service.
All three ships feature teak decks, swimming pools, dining, deck-side bars and piano lounges.
The brand's newest vessel, Flying Clipper, will debut at the end of 2018 and will accommodate 300 passengers in 150 cabins.