Sailing Ship Sea Cloud
Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic is known for cruising with small ship adventure travel, which are designed to be comfortable, safe, efficient and resourceful platforms from which to discover and experience the world. But before we ever owned a ship, we began a love affair with a legendary, stunningly beautiful and authentic sailing ship that is unmistakably a cruising destination unto herself: the sailing ship Sea Cloud. The improbable investment into her refurbishment in 2009 has rekindled this love affair, and Lindblad-National Geographic now charters her for the full square-rig sailing experience in tried and true cultural expedition geographies like the Greek Islands, Turkey, the Dalmatian Coast, and the Windward Islands with Caribbean adventure cruises. But Sea Cloud as an authentic and legendary sailing ship remains the main event.
When you approach her for the first time, your heart begins to race with anticipation. Could she possibly be as impressive as the photos and videos you’ve seen? And as you walk the dock toward her 60 foot long bowsprit proudly emerging from her golden eagle figurehead, and you see the height of her masts, the size of her yards, and the magnitude of her rigging, you cannot help but be mesmerized. You’ve arrived at Sea Cloud and she is much more grand, elegant, and nautical than you ever could have imagined.
The first thing that strikes you when you are onboard are the vast teak decks and teak benches, then the polished brass capstans and portholes, then the confusion of lines and cables, all somehow an orderly web from which you cannot take your eyes. Sea Cloud is not only a real sailing ship, but an impeccably maintained ship, polished and varnished with the pride of a legendary vessel. The four masts with their proud yardarms are a dimension that you could never have fathomed, and you understand that you are on board a true tall ship, a windjammer, a square-rigger, a clipper built to sail and impress.
Sea Cloud is a bigger ship than one expects, stretching the full length of a football field from stem to stern (360 feet, or 109.6 meters). Her main mast reaches the heavens at 188 feet, or 62 meters. She has a total of 30 sails that include square sails on her first three masts, gaff sails on the aft mast (spanker or jigger mast), three jibs on the bowsprit, and eight triangular staysails that hang from the stays which support the masts. These sails are set in varying combinations depending on the wind conditions, and every sail plan is like looking at a different constellation. She has over ten miles of lines, all of which have a purpose. Every time you turn your head there is a new and captivating geometric configuration of lines. “I swear I’m not going to take another shot of lines and rigging,” as you continue to click away.
Built to enjoy the thrill of sail, Sea Cloud has enchanting deck areas from which to enjoy the experience of cruising under sail. The famous Blue Lagoon is a cushioned semicircle on the elegant stern of the ship, where you can gaze up at the masts and sails while hearing the gentle splash of the wake behind you. The Monkey Deck on top of the bridge is for those that want to feel as if they are up in the rigging, surrounded by sails and looking down at the jibs ahead. In front of the bridge is an expansive foredeck, with plenty of room to watch the foremast and bowsprit activity while cruising under sail, and for shade there is the Lido Deck and the Promenade Deck.
The Lido Deck with its canvas cover also serves as the social hub of the adventure cruise ship, overseen by the attentive Lido Bar. Lunches and occasional dinners are served on the Lido Deck, where lectures and presentations are also held. But in keeping with the ship’s historic elegance, breakfast buffets and most dinners are served in Sea Cloud’s original dining room and lounge, whose grace and nautical finesse belie the quality and detail of the staterooms. Sea Cloud is an elegant ship through and through, but it is important to know her with the casual air of a sailing ship and not the black-tie formality of which she is capable.
Sea Cloud is a yacht through and through. Sea Cloud is a ship with a soul. And once you’ve been on Sea Cloud under full sail, you’ve started your own love affair.
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