We Spent the Night on The Star of India

Off The Beaten Path

By Courtney Daly-Pavone September 4, 2019

*This Article Is a 4 Minute Read

Built in 1863, The Star of India is the world's oldest active sailing ship. She's circumnavigated the earth twenty-one times. These days her role is educational museum and she stays dockside at the Maritime Museum in the Embarcadero

The Star of India offers overnight programs. Recently, we spent the night aboard this historic ship!

Here's What Happened...

The Star of India Overnight is a living history program. Instructors are in character at all times, and the experience is set in the time period of the 1800's. Participants play the role of sailor, and are put to work moving cargo, raising sails, and swapping decks. This isn't a Princess cruise, or theme park experience.

If you love history, time travel, anything nautical, or have an adventurous spirit than you'll love this program!

Several families were on board, and every child remained entertained, and engaged throughout the course. Since you are working the entire time, I must forewarn you that this experience is not for the meek. They even sell T-shirts in the gift shop that read: "I survived the Star of India Overnight." Somehow I missed seeing that garment before embarking on this journey, but I still had a fantastic time, and my son was deliriously content on board the ship. In fact he was so pleased, that he didn't want to leave the next morning. This was a true bonding experience, one we will never forget.

What We Loved

My son who is nine loved the time travel aspect, ghost stories, and working on the vessel. He liked eating sailor food like "rat stew" and "mush" (beef stew and oatmeal).  

As a history buff, I loved putting myself in the shoes of a young sailor, learning about their stories of hard work and survival. 

In Their Shoes...

19th century accommodations include sleeping on the floor, and vigorously working. 

You realize how spoiled we are nowadays with central air conditioning, 450 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets, Wi-Fi, and limitless food options! 

Life was hard in the 19th century, and many did not survive a trip overseas. Learning that the emigrants that traveled on The Star of India had left England to move to the unknown lands of New Zealand and Australia with little more than a steamer trunk, and no knowledge about where they were going sounds like an insane gamble. Imagine their journey which took months in the unknown rough seas. They were only allowed above deck for fresh air ten minutes each day. They spent most of their time below deck playing music, cards, even soccer!

The history we learned was so inspiring it's lead to new areas of interest for my family!

We left the 1800's to return to 2019. Going out of our comfort zone, trying something new, and being immersed in a time gone by was truly unique and totally worth it!

Tickets for Family Overnight are $75 per participant age 5 and up and include meals and accommodations. Space is limited. Adults must accompany youth under 18. For reservations and more information guests can visit or call the Museum’s Education Department at 619.234.9153 ext. 138. 

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