Sailing the Caribbean Onboard Sea Cloud Spirit

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Step onboard the iconic Sea Cloud Spirit to experience the Caribbean from one of the world’s most unique sailing yachts. Read more about this magical journey. 

A voyage aboard one of the world’s most beautiful and unique sailing yachts, the three-mast, fully rigged Sea Cloud Spirit, is a magical journey—unlike any other cruise you’ll ever have on another ship.

There’s a sense of romance and nostalgia on a sailing ship that you won’t find on other vessels—and a closeness to the sea, especially when you can almost touch the ocean from the balcony in your suite.

Sea Cloud Spirit in St. Vincent, Grenadines. Photo by Gwen Pratesi

Sea Cloud Spirit’s Ties to the Past

If you’re unfamiliar with the brand, Sea Cloud Spirit is the third ship for the German-owned Sea Cloud Cruises. The original ship, Sea Cloud, is one of the most storied yachts afloat. She was initially built for Marjorie Merriweather Post, the American businesswoman, philanthropist, and heiress to the Postum Cereal Company. Her husband, Wall Street broker E.F. Hutton, commissioned the building of the yacht known as “Hussar” in 1931. It was the largest private sailing yacht ever built at that time.

The line’s second ship, Sea Cloud II, was launched in 2001 and accommodates 94 guests. Sea Cloud Spirit, the third and newest vessel, set sail in 2021 as the largest ship in the fleet, at 453 feet long and with the capacity to carry up to 136 guests. She’s the only ship of its kind in the world built as a traditional masted ship that’s sailed the old-fashioned way—by hand.

Sea Cloud Spirit with its sails unfurled. Photo by Gwen Pratesi

A Traditional Windjammer with Elegant Interiors

Sea Cloud Spirit is a beautifully appointed ship with luxurious suites and public spaces. Sailing yacht guests are welcomed aboard and to their stateroom or suite with a bottle of Pommery Champagne branded with a sketch of Sea Cloud Spirit. You’ll also receive a warm welcome from a gracious attendant who will see that you have everything you need throughout the week.

You receive a warm welcome to your stateroom from your attendant. Photo by Gwen Pratesi

My accommodation for the eight-night voyage in the Caribbean was a spacious Junior Veranda Suite that featured furnishings in glistening dark wood tones and rich fabrics. Colorful nautical-themed artwork (that included pieces of recycled sails) by German artist Heinke Boehnert complimented the color scheme, and there was a walk-in closet and a private balcony. The large marble bathroom was outfitted with a jetted tub and shower, polished gold hardware, a gold sink, L’Occitane toiletries, plush towels, and plenty of space for personal items.

I stayed in a beautiful Junior Veranda Suite. Photo by Gwen Pratesi

While my suite was lovely, I didn’t spend much time in the room except to sleep. When I wasn’t listening to lectures in the lounge, having meals indoors or on the deck, working in the library (my favorite space on the ship), or going ashore to explore a few new-to-me islands in the Lesser Antilles, I was outdoors with fellow passengers at the heartbeat of the ship, the Lido Deck.

My favorite indoor space to work was the library. Photo by Gwen Pratesi

The Lido Deck

With just 55 guests on the ship for this voyage, it felt more like we were sailing on a private yacht, especially with an attentive crew of 85 to attend to everyone’s needs. Almost every guest spends most of their time on the Lido Deck throughout the day as the outdoor Lido Bar & Bistro is where a light breakfast, a buffet lunch, and dinner (either a buffet or sit-down meal) are served most evenings on the ship. The outdoor deck is also where we had lively entertainment every night with a DJ and dancing and an evening of Shanty songs sung by the crew.

The German-owned line attracts many German guests who prefer dining outside, especially during their vacation in the Caribbean during winter. Dinner is also offered in the main dining room on other sailings (and those with more guests).

Dinner is offered in the main dining room on some sailings. Photo by Gwen Pratesi

Unfurling the Sails

The most memorable experience on board the ship is watching as 18 sailors skillfully climb the towering, nearly 200-foot masts each day to unfurl the ship’s 28 hand-hoisted sails. During the nearly hour-long event, the sailors below masterfully secure the ropes on the teak-lined deck as the teams work together in this perfectly orchestrated process.

Setting the sails on the Sea Cloud Spirit. Photo by Gwen Pratesi

As each sail fills and catches the wind, the ship begins to heel and glide through the waves until the wind entirely powers her. It’s a thrilling moment when the elements take control of the vessel, guided by the captain at the helm, the bowman with his sailors, and the positioning of the sails.

The bridge on Sea Cloud Spirit. Photo by Gwen Pratesi

And when I saw the ship sailing fully masted against the backdrop of the volcanic island of Dominica, in all its splendor—something guests can do once each sailing on a Zodiac photo safari from the ship—it took my breath away.

Sea Cloud Spirit sailing with full sails. Photo by Gwen Pratesi

In the evening, as the sun sets, you can head outside on the deck again (as I did every night on my sailing)—with a glass of Champagne in hand—to watch the sailors climb the rigging to furl the sails for the evening.

Even though I’ve sailed on a windjammer before, this daily performance was not to be missed. The crew set and furled the sails as sailors would have done on old-fashioned sailing ships of days gone by. It was part of the magic of the cruise. Masted ships operated by other lines have automated sails, so Sea Cloud Spirit is unique, especially for a new vessel built in 2020 as a true sailing ship.

Other Amenities on Board Sea Cloud Spirit

The sun deck is one of the best spots to relax, read a book, take a leisurely nap, or watch the twice-daily show of setting and unfurling the sails. The beautiful teak deck features traditional wooden lounge chairs with cushions or covered daybeds, perfect for napping during lazy afternoons at sea.

You can relax on the sun deck, which is a great place to watch the unfurling of the sails. Photo by Gwen Pratesi

Sea Cloud Spirit also has an impressive spa (for a ship its size) with two treatment rooms, a Finnish sauna, a steam bath, a foot bath, and showers. Outside the spa, you’ll find a small boutique that offers Sea Cloud Sprit branded clothing, gifts, and other items.

The spa onboard the Sea Cloud Spirit. Photo by Gwen Pratesi

An indoor fitness area on the Sun Deck was also quite a generous space for the ship. It has treadmills, bicycles, a weight bench, free weights, and other equipment for exercising with an ocean view.

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The Itinerary

While the ship is magical, so are the destinations. The advantage of sailing on a small ship is visiting ports inaccessible by larger vessels.

While I had been to most of the destinations on the itinerary, such as Saint Martin, where we boarded the ship, and the islands of St. Lucia and Dominica, there were several new-to-me islands and places worthy of a return visit. Some of the highlights were the Tobago Cays Marine Park in the Southern Grenadines; Bequia, a small island in Saint Vincent and Grenadines; and Terre-de-Haut, the largest of the nine islands in Îles des Saintes in Guadeloupe.

Petit Bateau in the Caribbean. Photo by Gwen Pratesi

If you’re interested in stepping back in time to experience the romantic era of sailing, Sea Cloud Spirit offers itineraries in the Caribbean, Europe, and the Azores. Many voyages feature notable guest chefs or speakers, visits to museums or vineyards, or other special offerings.

We invite you to explore Wander With Wonder for more of our favorite cruises, including more small-ship cruises.