It was evident from the start that this tall ship cruise was a 5-star experience. There were 81 guests, mostly Germans. The ship’s language is English, so the captain gives his orders in English. Although, there were only 10-12 English speaking guests, we did not feel left out or uncomfortable. Many of the Germans spoke enough English to carry on a brief conversation. We had 2 guide/interpreters/lecturers on board, one for English speaking guests and one for Germans. These guides were well traveled and very informative. Unfortunately the English speaking guide met with a medical problem half way into the cruise, so the German speaking guide expanded her role to include some English lectures.
While boarding, we were greeted by the cruise director and others, who gave us a card to use for cabin entry and shore excursions (so they could account for all guests). While in our cabin, unpacking, our housekeeper came by to introduce himself and ask us of any needs. There was ample storage space for clothing, luggage, toiletries, etc. Even our lowest-priced room category was roomy, with a table and 2 chairs. We did not feel cramped, even in the beautiful marble bathroom, with a shower stall that had a removable, adjustable height shower head. Our cabin was tended to twice a day, always with fresh washcloths and towels. And when returning to the cabin after dinner, we had a hard copy of our itinerary for the next day
The captain had the crew set sail on our first day out from the port in Colon, Panama. Although not all sails were set, it gave us the feel of the sailing experience. There was only a window of about 2-3 hours to do this before the Panama Canal transit, which was very interesting. Our lecturers/guides told us of its history and how things worked along the way, as we observed from the “monkey deck” (on top of the bridge).
The open bridge while underway was a thrill for me as I am a sailor. I talked to the captain and his chief officer (a woman) and learned a lot. Watching the crew climb in the rigging and set sail and douse sails, as well as the sailing without the engines was definitely a highlight of the cruise.
Our journey along the pacific included daily stops for shore excursions, hiking in rain forests, snorkeling (3 different sites), a botanical garden, and 2 relatively longer sailing days, with full sails. The wind and weather was cooperative – it was perfect. The gentle rocking of the ship was very conducive to good sleeping, while at anchor, or underway. There were times while underway and walking on deck that you needed your “sea legs”, but I would not call it rough seas.
The adventure gave us many things to see: fish, including a white-tipped shark, turtles, birds, monkeys, butterflies, flowers, plants, centuries-old trees, and gorgeous views and sunsets. When we came back to the ship from the shore excursions, we were greeted with a warm, wet, lemon-scented washcloth and a glass of fresh juice.
The air conditioning in all of the indoor areas of the ship was very adequate.
The bridge and engine room tours were also interesting (even for this middle-aged woman). The ship clearly has back-up systems and safety features galore.
Most dinners were 5 courses and in the dining room, with outstanding food and service. They did take a while, about 2 + 1/2 hours. I liked this as it gave us a chance to know the people we sat with. The staff learned our names and tastes – whether we liked sparkling water or “still” water, red or white wines. Our waiter was the best – we sat in his section every night. Even the maître’d and hotel manager occasionally served us and knew our names. The breakfasts and lunches were buffet style, and always included fresh local fruits and a variety of cheeses, breads & crackers. They make their own breads on board. The menus were varied to include international dishes. Most were delicious (people have different palates, so not everyone will love everything).
The dress was tasteful and stylish to casual. Some women wore sundresses during the day as well as in the evenings. Also dressy blouses with jewelry and capri or long slacks or pantsuits were common for dinners. The men mostly wore Bermuda shorts during the day and some wore jackets at the dinners, while others opted for polo or long sleeved shirts. The exception being the Welcome and Farewell dinners, which were dressy. Some women wore long gowns, but most wore tea length or short cocktail dresses with a summer flair. And others wore dressy pantsuits. The men wore suits, jackets, ties. Cotton is a big favorite, as well as other breathable fabrics for comfort in this tropical setting.
I enjoyed listening to the pianist, who played every afternoon-evening at a keyboard on the Lido deck-dining-bar area.
To summarize, this was a major highlight in my lifetime experiences. I loved all of it and I did not want to get off the ship at the final port.