Sea Cloud Cruises
The Line in a Nutshell
Germany-based Sea Cloud Cruises caters to a well-traveled clientele looking for a deliciously exotic, five-star sailing adventure, and an international one too: Typical Caribbean cruises draw about 30% American passengers, 30% German, 20% British, and the rest from elsewhere in Europe. A trip aboard one of the line's sailing ships -- the 2,532-ton, 64-passenger Sea Cloud, or the 3,849-ton, 94-passenger replica Sea Cloud II, or the up-and-coming 138-passenger Sea Cloud Hussar -- will spoil small-ship lovers forever. Sails to: Caribbean (plus Europe).
Weeklong Sea Cloud cruises in the Caribbean run from $4,375 to $9,025. Sailings aboard Sea Cloud II run from $4,195 to $7,565. Typical per diems for each ship are $615-$1,185. Sea Cloud sometimes charters its ships to other entities.
In 1931, Wall Street tycoon E. F. Hutton commissioned construction of the four-masted sailing ship Hussar from the Krupp family shipyard in Kiel, Germany. Outfitting of her interior was left to Hutton's wife, heiress and businesswoman Marjorie Merriweather Post, who spent 2 years on the task, eventually drafting a full-scale diagram showing every detail of her design, down to the placement of antiques. After the couple's divorce, Post renamed the vessel Sea Cloud and sailed her to Leningrad, where second husband Joseph E. Davies was serving as U.S. ambassador. World War II saw the vessel commissioned to the U.S. Navy, which removed her masts and used her as a floating weather station. After the war, the vessel passed through numerous hands: first back to Post, then to Dominican dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Montinas, then to a number of American owners before she was purchased by German economist and seaman Hartmut Paschberg. A lover of great ships, Paschberg and a group of Hamburg investors put up the money for an 8-month overhaul that restored Sea Cloud's original grandeur, full of marble, gold, and mahogany detailing. Today, the line is owned by the Hansa Treuhand Group based in Hamburg, Germany. The ship has cabins for 64 passengers, the luckiest (and richest) of whom can stay in Post's own museum-like suite, with its Louis XIV-style bed and nightstands, marble fireplace and bathroom, chandeliers, and intricate moldings. The other original suites are similarly if less sumptuously furnished. Standard cabins are comfortable, but lack the suites' time-machine quality. Still, everyone aboard gets to enjoy a taste of the past in the main restaurant, with its dark-wood paneling, brass trimmings, and nautical paintings.
The larger, three-masted Sea Cloud II is a modern reinterpretation of the classics, built in 2001. Her elegant lounge has rich mahogany woodwork, ornate ceiling moldings, leather club couches, and overstuffed bucket chairs, and she has several opulent suites, one with burled wood paneling and a canopy bed. On both ships, standard cabins are very comfortable and designed with true yachting elegance. Those on II have small sitting areas, and all cabins have TV/VCRs, telephones, safes, hair dryers, bathrobes, and bathrooms with showers and marble sinks. At press time, the 138-passenger Sea Cloud Hussar was under construction and slated for an early 2011 debut; the three-masted, fully rigged sailing ship is expected to be even more extraordinary than her sisters.
Sea Cloud is not currently sailing in the Caribbean.
Sea Cloud II sails the Caribbean from Barbados, Curaçao, Puerto Limon (Costa Rica), Havana (Cuba), and Santo Domingo (winter).
The dining room on each ship accommodates all guests in a single, open seating, and fine wines and beer are complimentary at lunch and dinner. Breakfast and some lunches are provided buffet-style, while the more formal dinners are served on elegant candlelit tables set with white linens, china, and silver. Most men wear jackets nightly, though the 2 formal nights on each cruise are not black-tie affairs -- jackets and ties work just fine. Most cruises also feature a barbecue night out on deck.
These being small sailing ships, organized activities are few; it's the ships themselves that entertain, and watching the crew work the rigging, as well as visits to less touristed ports such as Les Saintes, Dominica, Bequia, Tobago, and St. Barts. Usually only 1 day of each cruise is spent at sea. Outside decks of both ships are covered with lines, winches, cleats, brass compasses, wooden deck chairs, and other ship accouterments, providing a wonderfully nostalgic and nautical setting. Sailing lectures are given on every cruise, though passengers are not allowed to handle the sails. Cloud II also has a library, a small gym, a sauna, and a swimming platform. Evenings may consist of piano music and mingling over cocktails. Other activities may include talks by resident guest lecturers; local musicians who come aboard for a few hours; and "open houses," during which guests enjoy champagne and caviar on the Main Deck before touring each other's cabins (with the residents' permission, of course).