At Sea and On Land, A Classic Paradise

Sea Cloud at anchor off Moskito Island, BVI. Photo © 2019 Aaron Saunders

Moskito Island, BVI; Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Once again, my morning aboard Sea Cloud Cruises’ Sea Cloud began as it did yesterday: with a sumptuous breakfast in the main lounge, followed by a cup of coffee out on the gorgeous teak-lined promenade deck.

After a quick stop at Spanish Town in the British Virgin Islands to drop off guests taking an excursion to Virgin Gorda, Sea Cloud got underway again and sailed through a brief but intense early-morning rain storm. I’d seen the line of clouds coming towards the vessel and took that as the cue to go down to my stately Cabin 10 to change books. No sooner had I arrived in the room than I could hear the rain pounding down on the deck and see what looked like a veritable North Atlantic storm through my dual porthole windows.

Start your morning with a stroll around Sea Cloud’s teak Promenade Deck..Photo © 2019 Aaron Saunders

…and stop for an al fresco cup of coffee. Photo © 2019 Aaron Saunders

On the subject of that: you truly don’t need a balcony, or even a picture window, to enjoy a cruise. On a ship like Sea Cloud, having porthole windows in the cabins on the main deck only adds to the romance of being onboard. It is worth noting, however, that cabins on the upper decks mostly have full-sized picture windows.

The rain passed within ten minutes and I went back up on deck to watch our final anchorage off Moskito Island. Moskito Island is owned by Virgin Group’s Sir Richard Branson, who also owns and makes his home on nearby Necker Island.

Look out! A rare 10-minute downpour served as our welcome to our Moskito Island anchorage. Photo © 2019 Aaron Saunders

We wouldn’t be graced with a visit from the Virgin impresario today, but we were treated to an altogether special experience: a beach day on secluded Moskito Island.

I’ve been on a lot of cruises, and I’ve seen a lot of “beach days” on my itineraries over the years. Nothing, however, has been quite so charming and relaxing as this. I got a bit worried when I saw SeaDream Yacht Club’s Sea Dream II anchored with us. I pictured a beach crowded with two ships (albeit small ships) worth of people.

Sea Dream Cruises’ Sea Dream II at anchor near us. Photo © 2019 Aaron Saunders

But over on the beach, it was just the fortysomething guests from the Sea Cloud, invited to a sumptuous beach barbecue in the heart of paradise.

With a steady breeze blowing to keep things cool, guests were offered complimentary beer, wines and rum punch, along with liberal amounts of water. The buffet feast included sausages, salads, seafood, and everything in-between, plus dessert, all carted over from the ship by the vessel’s talented galley staff.

I’ve taken a lot of Caribbean cruises. A Caribbean cruise on a big ship is a party-hard, heavy-drinking affair. There’s loud music. Bob Marley plays on repeat. You’ll hear One Love a lot more than one time.

Our crew prepare the zodiacs…Photo © 2019 Aaron Saunders

…so that we can head ashore. Photo © 2019 Aaron Saunders

Here, there is nothing. No loud music, no Bob Marley, no boozy guests. Well, okay, pleasantly-boozy guests. People here get drunk in the way that Ernest Hemingway famously wrote people go bankrupt: slowly, then suddenly. Even the music played at a reasonable volume on the beach was limited to modern contemporary hits, like Panic! At the Disco’s High Hopes.

When you strip away all the steel drum music and loud pool games and other diversions, you’re left with Sea Cloud: a quiet, reflective vessel with a quiet approach to the Caribbean. It’s not for everyone, obviously, but it is wonderfully refreshing.

Photo © 2019 Aaron Saunders

Welcome to Moskito Island! Photo © 2019 Aaron Saunders

A true beach paradise if there ever was one…Photo © 2019 Aaron Saunders

…this could be the ultimate cruise private island. Photo © 2019 Aaron Saunders

Best of all, not another soul could be found on the island. Photo © 2019 Aaron Saunders

Back onboard, I found an amazing photo album in the ship’s Lounge, filled with photographs taken by a photographer of Sea Cloud back in 1932, when she was the Hussar. She looks very different with her jet-black hull, but those graceful lines are still there. I was able to note, too, just how faithful the company’s restoration of her interiors has been. Purchased in 1979 by a consortium of German investors, Sea Cloud has operated faithfully as a cruise ship ever since.

Sea Cloud’s promenade deck in 1932…Photo © 2019 Aaron Saunders

…and today. Photo © 2019 Aaron Saunders

The main cabin corridor in 1932…Photo © 2019 Aaron Saunders

and the same corridor as it appears today. Photo © 2019 Aaron Saunders

I am completely enamoured with this ship, but Sea Cloud is not for everyone. It isn’t the right venue for families with kids, who will be bored stiff by the quiet nature of the onboard experience. It isn’t for those who need constant entertainment and stimulation; reading and conversing with your fellow guests constitutes entertainment here.

Sea Cloud also isn’t a good choice for guests with mobility issues of any kind. There are numerous steep staircases around the ship that have to be navigated on a daily basis, and doors with high weather seals require guests to constantly keep an eye on their footing. The ship has no elevator, and getting on and off will almost always require either a zodiac or a tender ride ashore. On this particular itinerary, Sea Cloud is at anchor for every port of call except for our embarkation in Antigua and our disembarkation in Barbados.

Night falls aboard Sea Cloud…Photo © 2019 Aaron Saunders

…as we head to our next port of call. Photo © 2019 Aaron Saunders

However, Sea Cloud is a great choice for couples and solo travellers. It is perfect for those who value ships with lots of maritime history and an international crew and guest experience. It is amazing for those looking for a mindful Caribbean cruise experience.

In this way, Sea Cloud is perfect for showing you the Caribbean that you never knew existed; one far away from the bustling ports of St. Thomas and Nassau and the like. This is the Caribbean as it used to be.

This is Sea Cloud’s Caribbean.  

Follow along with our Voyage Report in the Southern Caribbean aboard the legendary Sea Cloud:

Sea Cloud: Trade Winds of the Caribbean

DAYPORT
Day 1Embarkation in Antigua
Day 2At Sea
Day 3Moskito Island, BVI
Day 4Jost Van Dyke, BVI
Day 5Gustavia, St. Barths
Day 6Gustavia, St. Barths
Day 7Cabrits, Dominica
Day 8At Sea
Day 9Disembarkation in Barbados
 

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