Our accommodation on board was a Junior Suite which was elegant and spacious. The bathroom contained a Jacuzzi bath with a shower over and L'Occitane products were provided, and we had a walk in wardrobe with plenty of hanging and drawer space as well as a comfortable sofa. The bed was exceedingly comfortable!
Sea Cloud Spirit is only two years old and very unusually for a ship of this design, the Junior Suites and Suites have a full balcony with two chairs and a table. This was a lovely space to enjoy an early morning coffee from the coffee machine provided in each category of accommodation on board.
The elegance of the ship was apparent everywhere you went, with plenty of wood, brass and glass décor; it was spotlessly clean. A very comfortable library provided a calm space in which to relax, large potted green plants were on each stairway and the pictures hanging all over the ship were evocative of this style of cruise.
Two days after embarkation on the beautiful Sea Cloud Spirit, we had our first full day at sea and the moment we were all waiting for. At 9am on the Sun Deck we watched with admiration as the deck crew of 18, comprising 16 male and two female crew, climbed the rigging to each of the masts. Safely equipped with Carabiners they split out onto each boom and edged along the length releasing the ropes containing the 44,000 square foot of sails.
Once they were all safely back on deck they then started to haul on the ropes to raise the sails, a wonderful spectacle to watch, on this, the largest sailing ship in the world. The whole exercise took an hour and was mesmerising.
Once the wind caught the sails the creaks and groans of the masts could be heard, together with the slight flapping of the sails, no engine noise, I loved it. Each evening the deck crew repeated the exercise, in reverse, to haul in the sails and secure them to the booms. The intention is to sail under sail as much as possible but sadly the wind wasn't strong enough to let us do this.
With the exception of St Tropez where we spent a whole day, each port was visited in the morning, typically between 9am and 1pm, before we headed back on board for sailaway under sail for the remainder of the day.
Each morning a full breakfast buffet was served in The Restaurant, a beautifully elegant and comfortable dining room able to seat all guests in one sitting. For those of us that preferred to be out on deck, the Lido Bar had a simple breakfast available to be enjoyed in the sunshine.
When we returned from our visits to the various ports, lunch was served on the Lido Deck. The food offered was of such high quality, and during the voyage we were treated to fresh tuna and swordfish - freshly prepared on deck - steak, a pasta station, salads, soups and desserts, as well as freshly-prepared sashimi from each fish accompanied with soy sauce and wasabi.
Two gala dinners were held in The Restaurant, with the captain hosting his own table where he invited guests to join him. The set menu, with a choice of three dishes for the main course, provided an opportunity for a more formal, waiter-served dinner; the wine was also of very high quality, especially the rosé from Provence!
Every lunch and dinner on the Lido Deck was accompanied by a pianist/DJ and one evening various members of the crew formed into The Sea Cloud Spirit Shanty Singers. Songsheets were provided and included a fisherman's song from the Philippines and a well-known German Shanty together with eight songs that we are all familiar with. Everyone joined in and this was followed by the more confident singers among the crew entertaining us, karaoke style! This was great fun and all guests had a great time.
The Hotel Manager accompanying our cruise is also a highly qualified sommelier and after dinner one evening he held a wine tasting in the lounge of some wines that he purchased during our visit to Corsica. While this was conducted in German, the Cruise Director sat with the English speaking guests to provide a translation, the Head Chef also joined us; it was a very enjoyable experience.
During the day lectures were provided, one on the history of the original Sea Cloud, which launched in 1931, was particularly interesting. Talks were also given by a guest lecturer about the moon and the night sky. One morning he invited guests to join him on the sun deck at 5.30am to watch the stars - sadly I didn't make it!
On our arrival back on the ship from Portofino, a platform was lowered to enable sea swimming with a roped-off area for sun mattresses bobbing away on the sea, and later that afternoon, once the sails were set, two Zodiacs were lowered and guests invited with their cameras to take a cruise around the ship - a perfect opportunity to see the whole ship under sail.
Our last evening on board was while we were anchored off the port of St Tropez and this was designated as White Night. The Lido Bar was set with table cloths on all the tables and another fantastic meal was provided including a huge parmesan cheese where the chef swirled the pasta inside to coat in the cheese, as well as a cheese table, with the Hotel Manager serving an incredible array of French cheese.
The ethos of Sea Cloud is that all crew and officers are one family - there are 83 in total comprising 19 nationalities. The friendliness on board between themselves and with the guests was testament to this. They provided an exceptional, caring, happy environment and I had a wonderful time cruising with them.