My Bonny lies over the ocean

Cross the Atlantic on board a SEA CLOUD SEA CLOUD SPIRIT makes its premiere voyage.

A vast ocean before us

With its first Atlantic crossing, the SEA CLOUD SPIRIT sets off with the same zest for discovery that once inspired great seafarers. As it did back then, only the wind propels this luxury tall ship across the ocean. But the voyage does not just take passengers to foreign continents. It also guarantees relaxation, the chance to make lasting friendships, and promises unforgettable experiences for our guests – and maybe even to yourself.

Following the rhythm of the waves – the true rhythm of life

Every few seconds the ship rises then smoothly falls. The sea surges past the bow with the same pleasant, steady rhythm. This gentle rolling motion and the sound of the waves forge a new sense of time on deck — one that is much closer to the true rhythm of life than the cycles of seconds and minutes that usually govern our days. “I’m so glad I finally did it,” says my neighbor on the lido deck, who like me has been gazing at the horizon for hours.

The dream of a lifetime: to cross the Atlantic Ocean by sail

My fellow passenger – let’s call him Peter – works at a German law firm. And finally, he has made his dream come true of crossing the Atlantic by sail. Every year in November, the Hamburg-based shipping company SEA CLOUD CRUISES offers passengers this opportunity. Our ships sail from Las Palmas on Gran Canaria on a trip to the Caribbean that takes just over two weeks. “I’d always thought that being self-employed, I’d never have time for something like this,” he says, shaking his head. “What nonsense.”

Two weeks retracing Columbus’ route

Transatlantic trips – knows as “trax” in shipping company lingo – have been part of SEA CLOUD CRUISES’ itinerary for years. Passengers and crew members refer to them as “crossings”. From mid to late November, the SEA CLOUD ships set course from Las Palmas on Gran Canaria for the Caribbean. The route retraces Columbus’ voyages and takes a good two weeks. Back then, it took the explorer over two months. SEA CLOUD and SEA CLOUD II have regular passengers who return over the years. And this year for the first time, the new SEA CLOUD SPIRIT will sail in their wake. 

Our captains’ skill and sporting ambitions

As different as our three ships are — the four-masted SEA CLOUD, the SEA CLOUD II barque, and our new three-masted full-rigged ship SEA CLOUD SPIRIT — these three windjammers have one thing in common. “Our captains put all their skill and sporting ambition into sailing without motor power for as long as possible on the approximately 2,400-mile route,” says Nautical Director Adam Pazdzioch. The record is currently held by Captain Sergey Komakin with the SEA CLOUD. On a 2019 transatlantic crossing, he covered more than 2,300 nautical miles — approx. 4,260 kilometers or 96 percent of the distance — by sail alone. Finally, on day seventeen of the trip, Komakin started the engine for the last few miles into the harbor.

The discovery of slowness: with each nautical mile, your sense of well-being grows

The sailing features of the SEA CLOUD SPIRIT make it highly likely that the bar will now be raised even higher. This is not a regatta, mind you. “It’s like The Discovery Of Slowness”, laughs Peter as we reflect on what makes this trip special, and he mentions Sten Nadolny’s bestselling novel. The novel’s hero — a fictionalized version of polar explorer John Franklin — is so grounded that he manages to lead a life founded on patience and serenity.

“How long has it been since I was this calm?”

Since La Palma receded into the distance behind us, Peter’s cell phone has lost its connection to the outside world. For the first few hours after coverage disappeared, he regularly took it out and looked despairingly at the display. The next morning, he gave up hope, a dejected expression on his face. But in the evening, he remembered his wife had placed Nadolny’s novel on top of his suitcase with a smile. He has already read the first chapter and begun to understand why young Franklin didn’t join in ball games with his friends but preferred to hold the rope for others. “How long has it been since I was this calm?” says Peter, amazed. “Such a good feeling.”

Lasting friendships can develop on our crossings

Feeling deep calm is nothing like feeling bored. Because there’s always something to do on the ship and something to notice at sea. “Always something to do” doesn’t mean that passengers have to work on board. It’s about how people interact. “The longer we’re on board, the more exciting the conversations become,” Peter says, with respect for the talks he’s been having with our fellow travelers. Anton, a bartender on transatlantic crossings for over 20 years, has watched how people relate: “It starts with the usual small talk, but conversations quickly get deeper.” If there’s anywhere for lasting friendships to develop, then it’s on the SEA CLOUD crossings.

Memorable encounters with whales and sleeping turtles

But what else besides waves is there to see? How did that catchy 1980s song go again? “The ocean is a desert with its life underground.” Peter says he was afraid of spending two weeks staring at grey-blue emptiness with just the blue sky above. He thought he’d sleep most of the time because of the monotony. But a friend who had been on a crossing said as they reached the airport: “Trust me, you’ll see things you never expected,” adding cryptically, “you just can’t look for them — they’ll find you.” On the evening of the fifth day on the Atlantic, Peter’s eyes are shining. “The whales”, he says, “that was a once-in-a-lifetime thing.”

Respect for nature

Dolphins circled our ship a few times showing off their skill and elegance. Then one early afternoon, whales appeared port side. “There she blows!” Even Captain Ahab would have appreciated these gigantic beasts. As if we didn’t exist, they just drifted slowly past. Peter was tempted to jump into one of the inflatable boats and sail alongside these prehistoric giants — but respect for nature is one of the principles of SEA CLOUD CRUISES. “At the latest when you spot turtles sleeping on the water, that’s when you understand the fascination of the Atlantic,” says hotel manager Rene Kronsteiner, who has also escorted several crossings.

Guests can enjoy every comfort in the Atlantic Ocean

A hotel manager in the middle of the Atlantic? Yes, our route might follow Christopher Columbus’ journey to the New World. But the modern-day version differs in one significant respect: The famous explorer had to use his supplies very sparingly. SEA CLOUDS passengers, on the other hand, can enjoy every comfort—including fine dining in the on-board restaurant. Fresh water is not in short supply either, produced from seawater through reverse osmosis. Peter seems to be thinking exactly the same thing: “Have you ever had such a carefree feeling as here on board?”, he asks, and, not waiting for an answer, adds, “We don’t have to worry about a thing. The service is heavenly, and we can just sit back and enjoy.”

Every ship adopts its own rhythm — making life aboard pleasant and comfortable

What sailors call the on-board routine makes for a pleasantly relaxed feeling. Each ship takes on its own rhythm shortly after the journey starts. No one has to set the pace, but everyone follows it. The common heartbeat of the crew and passengers makes life more enjoyable and comfortable. This routine is only interrupted once when, after many days of gently rocking on the waves, the captain starts the engine to enter the port.

„Qué será, será, whatever will be, will be. The future’s not ours to see. Qué será, será.“

Even the most beautiful journeys have to come to an end. “The guests never want us to dock. They all want to keep sailing forever,” smiles Rene Kronsteiner. Right then, a beautiful clear voice floats across the Blue Lagoon — a favorite spot at the ship’s stern. Julia, the cheerful young lido bartender, has broken into song: “Qué será, sera — whatever will be, will be. The future’s not ours to see. Qué será, sera.” Peter listens, lost in thought: “No, we can’t see the future. But we can enjoy what we have here.” And the beauty of it is, it can be repeated. Our crossings set off every November — now with three ships.

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