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Sea Cloud (Photo: Sea Cloud Cruises)


Barbados -- or B'dos, as the locals abbreviate the name -- was a British territory until 1966 and remains greatly influenced by the United Kingdom. Brits on holiday make up the largest number of visitors to the island. Driving is on the left-hand side of the road, and afternoon tea is a respected ritual. Anglican churches are the anchor of all 11 parishes, although, in recent years, more evangelical churches have become the choice of many Bajuns.

But those of all nationalities will feel at ease there. The Bajuns are open, friendly people, proud to share their home with visitors. There's little crime and a general sense of safety and well-being.

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  • Day 2

A visit to Dominica (pronounced Do-min-EE-kah) promises to be unlike any other stop on your itinerary. Prepare to slow down, take in the scenery, breathe fresh air, sample fruit right off the trees and experience nature in a way unique to few places on earth.

This "Nature Island" measures 29 miles long by 16 miles wide and encompasses about 290 square miles of untamed rain forest; dense, lush vegetation; waterfalls; freshwater pools and bubbling hot springs, heated by the active underwater volcanoes surrounding the island. Much of the interior can only be reached on foot.

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Iles des Saintes is comprised of eight tiny islands, only two of which are inhabited. Both of those islands are open to tourists -- one has a number of restaurants and shops and the other is more remote. Both are mostly unspoiled and stunningly beautiful, with crystal clear waters loaded with coral reefs ideal for diving and snorkeling.

--By Shayne Thompson, Cruise Critic contributor

Deep in the Southern Caribbean is a tiny green island, just seven miles square, once known as "Island in the Clouds." Life moves slowly here; days are long, languid, leisurely. Most visitors arrive not by cruise ship but by sailboat, anchoring alongside fishing boats in natural bays fringed by white beaches and tangled foliage. Like their ancestors, many islanders still make their living from the sea -- fishing, lobster diving, boat building and working on yachts and cargo ships -- and live in small, sustainable homes with no running water. Shops offer not duty-free goods but genuine local handicrafts, from pottery to scrimshaw (etchings made in whale bone).

Where is this idyllic hideaway? It's not some Caribbean island of decades ago, before the onslaught of mass tourism and mega-ships; this is modern-day Bequia (pronounced BECK-way), the second-largest island in the nation known as St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Bequia does welcome some cruise visitors, but only from the likes of SeaDream Yacht Club, Island Windjammers, Silversea, Windstar and Star Clippers -- all lines with ships small enough to anchor alongside the yachts in Admiralty Bay and tender passengers to shore. With the construction of a small airport in 1992, the island is now more accessible to visitors than it was in the past, but it remains refreshingly unspoiled, just the way locals -- and visitors -- like it.

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  • Day 6

Your first look at St. Lucia's lush coast from the deck of a cruise ship is likely to include the island's most dramatic geologic feature: the Pitons, two striking volcanic peaks that rise a half-mile off St. Lucia's southwestern coast. The island's beauty has earned it the nickname "Helen of the West Indies."

Though St. Lucia has plenty of visitors (including those from cruise ships and a steady influx of honeymooners), parts of the island have largely remained unspoiled due to the locals' commitment to protecting the rainforests and other natural resources. A decent percentage of the island -- some 19,000 acres -- is protected as part of the St. Lucia National Rain Forest.

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Antiguans like to boast that they have 365 beaches -- one for each day of the year. And while no one counts to ensure the accuracy of this catchy marketing claim, the squiggly shaped island indeed is full of beachy gems, each with its own unique appeal.

Part of the West Indies, Antigua was first occupied by the peaceful Arawak Indians around 200 B.C. They stayed until the arrival of the Caribs, an Amazonian tribe, whose name was derived from the Spanish word "caribal," meaning "cannibal." Then, the island was known as Wadadli until 1493 when Columbus, who never made landfall, sailed by and named the island in honor of Maria de la Antigua, a saint he worshipped in Seville.

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Cruise Critic Editor Rating:
6 reviews
Why Choose Sea Cloud?

World's most luxurious tall ship

World's most luxurious tall ship

Built in 1931 for heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post

Built in 1931 for heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post

Interiors restored to their original splendor

Interiors restored to their original splendor

Sea Cloud Overview

Only a select few vessels in the world have the mystique to turn everyone's eye and generate excitement and envy whenever they sail into port. An authentic remnant from another era, the square-rigged, 1931-built Sea Cloud is just such a vessel. Managing to combine the luxury and intimacy of a private yacht with the history and romance of a sailing ship, some consider a voyage on Sea Cloud to be not only one of the best cruises in the world, but one of the top travel experiences available anywhere.

Built for American cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post, the Sea Cloud was at that time the largest private yacht ever constructed. Mrs. Post spent years designing the ship and spared no expense in its fitting out. Just to make sure everything was perfect, a Brooklyn warehouse was even rented where she constructed full-scale mock-ups of the interior.

Sailing as Mrs. Post's beloved yacht until 1955, Sea Cloud had a remarkable career entertaining royalty and being used on diplomatic missions for one of Mrs. Post's husbands. During World War II, despite the initial objections of President Roosevelt who felt that she was simply too beautiful to be sacrificed, the ship was loaned to the U.S. Coast Guard and saw service against German U-Boats. Stripped of her masts, painted gray and fitted with anti-submarine guns, she served as a weather observation platform in the Atlantic.

Eventually sold to the dictator of the Dominican Republic, the ship's career was more checkered until it was bought in 1978 by a German group of investors who cared about it as much as Mrs. Post did. After a significant refurbishment, Sea Cloud entered passenger service in 1979 with a capacity of 65 passengers and 61 crew, a ratio that no accountant with a major cruise line would permit.

Today, Sea Cloud still feels very much like a private home and boasts some of the most attractive public rooms and cabins at sea. Days are tranquil and relaxed, either spent on deck under sail or at anchor in some of the smallest and most exclusive ports in the Caribbean or Mediterranean. Food and service are generally exceptional, with meals often served on deck. The ship's loyal staff (repeat passengers are quickly recognized), the friendly camaraderie between like-minded passengers, and the magic of the billowing sails create an experience that is impossible to duplicate.

Sea Cloud's most remarkable feature is its four masts, 29 sails and the tangled web of lines stretching skyward 178 feet to support the rigging. Unlike the modern, electronically operated Windstar Cruises ships, or Star Clipper's racier reproductions, Sea Cloud is genuine, and all sail setting is done by hand. Eighteen crewmembers scamper up the rigging and perform dazzling acrobatic acts, suspended over the ocean -- and your head -- as they furl sails.

With sailing one of the main reasons people choose Sea Cloud, the engines are used as little as possible, and itineraries created to allow for sufficient time underway. On my March sailing in the Caribbean, we often cruised with the engines off and just the sails pulling us along as the ship heeled gently under the wind. Because of the extra manpower required to operate the sails, they come down at 6 p.m., and the vessel motors during the evening.

Sea Cloud is maintained to the highest standards, and few ships can match the beauty of her teak decks, constantly gleaming brightwork and numerous details. In fact, the level of detail in the construction is so great that every vantage of the ship seems beautiful, and every coil of line on deck becomes a piece of art. Seen from afar with sails furled, the rigging is fascinating in its complexity, but with sails set, it is an evocative call to the past.

Reviewer's Note: Rating Sea Cloud was difficult! Judging by Cruise Critic's general guidelines, Sea Cloud doesn't offer enough amenities to warrant five stars (there are no balconies or alternative eateries). But this is one case (actually it's not the first case -- SeaDream's ships have also won a five star rating without many of the usual bells and whistles of luxury ships) where the overall experience might be justified in putting five stars. Much of the ratings have to reflect the uniqueness of the ship in some bit.

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Cruise Reviews

Sail Date: July 2016
I love sailing and wanted to visit Hermitage and experience educational lecturers on board Food was good on 2-3 occasions better food on Oceania line although not a sailing ship Cabin was cozy but it greeted me with a dead flower-not ... Read More
I love sailing and wanted to visit Hermitage and experience educational lecturers on board Food was good on 2-3 occasions better food on Oceania line although not a sailing ship Cabin was cozy but it greeted me with a dead flower-not a good first impression and tissue on head floor-not good impression either Service aboard was good but not up to 5 stars Sails were up only 2 and half days-disappointing for those of us who were there to enjoy sailing square rigger Good rating overall but at 5 star prices, I expected 5 stars! Enjoyed speaking with ship doctor as I am also a physician. Oceania line does not allow passengers to touch utensils which is excellent infection control in a number of buffet settings. Although no diarrhea -many passengers came down with colds-yes respiratory but can be passed from nose to hands to silverware and onto next passanger Read Less
Sail Date: May 2016
A first rate experience all around on Sea Cloud II. Everything ran so smoothly. Super comfortable cabins and amenities. Gracious and skilled crew. There is nothing as exhilarating as seeing the crew set the sails! Friendly, ... Read More
A first rate experience all around on Sea Cloud II. Everything ran so smoothly. Super comfortable cabins and amenities. Gracious and skilled crew. There is nothing as exhilarating as seeing the crew set the sails! Friendly, bi-lingual staff members who cater to your every comfort. Tom Hook, the cruise director, is such a professional. Always efficient without seeming to break into a sweat, always gracious. Talented musician who got the passengers involved in sing alongs. WONDERFUL food - what a creative chef. Always obtained fresh vegetables, fruits and fabulous fish from whatever ports we stopped at. The portions were perfect - never a huge sickening plate of food. Thoughtfully planned excursions ashore and every thing went perfectly when we arrived in a port. We look forward to returning for another Sea Cloud experience. No wonder that there were several guests who had cruised on Sea Cloud before. I highly recommend without reservation! Read Less
Sail Date: June 2014

An elegant grandmother, Sea Cloud is a four masted beauty from 1931. She has all the richness and character of a family possession designed by Marjorie Merriweather Post, and to this day it feels like her family ship and as a guest on ... Read More

An elegant grandmother, Sea Cloud is a four masted beauty from 1931. She has all the richness and character of a family possession designed by Marjorie Merriweather Post, and to this day it feels like her family ship and as a guest on board like you are a guest of the family. The service is warm and personable to a degree unmatched by any of the larger ships I have ever been on.

The Sea Cloud II is the delightful granddaughter of the Sea Cloud. Built in 2001 she has three masts instead of 4 and all the modern conveniences while still preserving the traditional sailing rigging. Like the Sea Cloud, she has real sails that are raised and lowered by hand and a five star service that is polished yet familial.

So how do I compare the two ships? Both are extraordinary in terms of size, service, food, wine, etc....However, Sea Cloud has 10 beautiful original cabins all finished with original antiques and all a nice size. The other cabins are nice but not special as the original ones. If you have the money, splurge. On Sea Cloud II all of the cabins are really beautiful, from the very smallest with bunk beds to the owner's cabin, they are all tasteful with light and cheery colors, beautiful marble bathrooms, and excellent craftsmanship in all the little details. Sea Cloud II hold a few more people than Sea Cloud but the key is to know who is on the ship that week.

I have spoken (though not personally experienced) Americans that have been on board when the ship was operated by Sea Cloud Cruises and the other passengers were almost entirely German. The people I spoke with were not thrilled with the experience. There are however other choices:

I traveled on a golf trip with Kalos Golf (who only uses the Sea Cloud II) and it was excellent. The itinerary was well designed and everything was included. They even had golf carts trucked around to meet us as the local courses did not have them. On days when I did not want to play golf there were other options, though they were not great. If you like to play golf and want to travel with Americans this is 100% the way to go.

Lindblad charters the original Sea Cloud (and not the Sea Cloud II) and again there are mostly Americans on board. Their trips have a natural history focus and they (as well as Kalos) like to fill every bed on the ship. Again there trips are high cost but high quality. I ever mind paying a premium price for high quality. The oceanographer on our cruise very knowledgeable even about things like deep sea plankton!

The third option is Academic Arrangements Abroad which charters both ships and does different itineraries all over that have a cultural focus. The advantage is that they work with the country's top non-profits so you get lecturers from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Harvard, Yale, and various garden clubs and other private clubs, among others. The best thing about their cruises is that they are open to the public but never advertised and they limit the number of passengers so the service levels are even higher and all the touring is free and excellent.

So to answer my original question which of the two ships is better? You would have to say that they are both incredibly beautiful ships with great service, why not try both? Depending on your language skills and you interests, you might be better off picking a specific charterer than going directly to the cruise line.


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