(2:09 p.m. EST) -- Fans of traditional, small-ship sailing now have another option to consider, with Sea Cloud Cruises set to debut a new ship in summer 2020. The Hamburg, Germany-based luxury cruise line -- whose cruises cater to American and German passengers and focus on smaller, less touristy ports -- today revealed plans to build Sea Cloud Spirit, a 136-passenger, hand-steered vessel it says will "set new standards in the luxury sailing cruise market."
Like its sister ships Sea Cloud and Sea Cloud II, Sea Cloud Spirit will feel like a timeless sailing ship, with a modern twist. (Fun fact: Sea Cloud was built in 1931 and was used as a weather ship by the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Navy during World War II.) Sea Cloud Spirit will be the line's first ship to offer balcony cabins. Of the 69 total cabins, 29 will have balconies; the rest will have windows.
The ship also will boast an expanded fitness and spa area, with three treatment rooms, a Finnish sauna, a steam bath and a salon. For added convenience, it will be equipped with an elevator -- a rare feature on ships of this size.
Sea Cloud Spirit is expected to offer Mediterranean itineraries. Additional details -- including dining and public areas, as well as where else it will sail -- have not yet been revealed.
"Sea Cloud Spirit is arriving at the right time," said Sea Cloud Cruises' managing director, Daniel Schafer. "Sea Cloud and Sea Cloud II are enjoying a high demand from both independent travelers and in the charter market. An expansion of the fleet, especially in the Mediterranean, is expected and demanded by many guests.
"With an extended capacity of 136 guests, we can also serve our charter market better with additional offers. However, despite the greater capacity, [the] intimacy of a private-yacht will still be preserved and sailing can be experienced in an authentic manner."
Sea Cloud Cruises added that due to a close cooperation with its ship builder, Metalships & Docks S.A.U. in Vigo, Spain, Sea Cloud Spirit will be ready to start sailing in 2020. An official launch date has yet to be determined.