What’s on your bucket list? A ride on the Orient Express? Rafting through the Grand Canyon? Following Marco Polo’s Silk Road? How about a voyage on a legendary four-masted windjammer that is still sailed by hand, with a rich history and heritage that spans almost 90 years?
If your fondest dreams are more about the journey than the destination, a trip on a historic sailing ship in the Caribbean may be just the adventure you’re looking for.
Finding an authentic sailing ship for your nautical adventure is not out of reach. Sea Cloud Cruises sail the traditional way — by hand. The Sea Cloud is designed for up to 64 passengers, with a crew of about 60. You can watch the ship’s sailing crew climb the rigging and work the sails as you journey to smaller ports and unique destinations in a luxurious, intimate setting — and you can even volunteer to help work the ropes, if you like.
A 360-foot windjammer with 29 sails and a main mast towering to 184 feet, the tall ship was built in 1931 as a private yacht for heiress and founder of General Foods Marjorie Merriweather Post and husband Edward F. Hutton. Shipboard guests included the rich and famous, such as author James Michener. The ship was restored in 2011 by a group of German businessmen seeking to retain the original opulence and beauty of the ship.
Guests can enjoy collections of photos from past journeys for a peek into the ship’s history, or peruse the ship’s log for tales of voyagers who made vast fortunes. Every journey provides an “Open House” cocktail hour where guests can view all the staterooms, including the luxurious cabins created for the heiress and her husband. Other cabins have more modern furnishings, most with picture windows, and some with doors opening to Caribbean breezes on the Promenade Deck. Travelers enjoy impeccable personal service, with many crew members staying with the line far over 10 years, and some even more than 30 years.
While the settings may be the ultimate in luxury, the on-board experience is informal, with no assigned seating at meals, a casual dress code and an intimate atmosphere. American and European guests mingle and relax while enjoying Michelin-star quality meals out on the deck or inside the gorgeous dining room, featuring fresh seafood and produce obtained during the voyage at Caribbean ports like St. Barts, the British Virgin Islands or Bequia Island in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The Caribbean has been Sea Cloud’s destination since the beginning, so the long-lasting contacts between the company and local suppliers provide the best quality products for unforgettable meals. The smaller size of the ship allows her to visit lesser-known ports of call, far from typical tourist destinations. Often small Zodiac boats are used to let passengers visit quiet island beaches or indulge in a little snorkeling. The Caribbean offers ideal sailing due to the east-to-west prevailing trade winds, making it the perfect destination for the Sea Cloud yachts.
On most of the 7- to 14-day Caribbean itineraries, half the day is spent sailing, allowing guests to enjoy the pure beauty of the sailing ship and revel in the journey. For those who love to sail, it’s a dream come true. Passengers can visit the ship’s deck any time, stopping at the bridge to speak to the captain or the officer on duty, 24/7. The engines only run when needed, such as for maneuvering, using low-sulfur diesel, so the entire trip is a great example of sustainable tourism. Travelers seeking a longer voyage can travel the crossing from Europe to the Caribbean, which is a two-and-a-half-week trip, and the adventure of a lifetime for the true sailor.
The Sea Cloud spends summers sailing the Mediterranean, but winters are prime for some of the best sailing in the world — following in the wake of buccaneers throughout the islands of Lesser Antilles and other unique Caribbean destinations. The best way to truly appreciate the Caribbean is on an authentic sailing ship.
A second ship, Sea Cloud II, is more modern but still sailed the traditional way, by hand, with 23 sails and a 188-foot main mast. The Sea Cloud II carries up to 94 guests, with a crew of about 65. The company will christen a third ship in summer 2020.
To learn more, visit SeaCloud.com. View stunning videos at SeaCloud.com/en/yachts/films and take an onboard visit with a virtual tour: SeaCloud.com/en/yachts/virtual-tours or call 1-888-732-2568 for more information.