At Anchor in the Land of Yachts

The Euro-splendour of Gustavia, St. Barths. Photo © 2019 Aaron Saunders

Gustavia, St. Barths; Friday, January 18, 2019

As far as I’m concerned, this eight-day voyage from Antigua to Barbados aboard Sea Cloud Cruises’ Sea Cloud represents the perfect combination of time spent in port, and time spent underway.

Aboard Sea Cloud, that means setting sail at every possible opportunity – which is just what happened this morning at 0900. No matter how many times I see this ritual performed, it never fails to impress. Crewmembers scurry up the falls attached to the masts and begin unfurling the sails. Lines are coiled carefully on the deck, waiting for the commands to be given. Everything is done by hand, save for the electric winches mounted to the decks. Lines are coiled around these, which help take some of the manual labor out of making them taut.

Before our arrival in Gustavia, St. Barths this afternoon, guests onboard Sea Cloud were treated to a morning of interesting and relaxing diversions. Breakfast buffet was served once again in the Restaurant, followed by a bridge tour conducted first in German, then in English half-an-hour later. A lecture on the History of the Caribbean was given in both languages, and a lunch buffet was served at 1230.

Gustavia: a yachtsman’s paradise. Photo © 2019 Aaron Saunders

Of course, this is a ‘make-your-own-fun’ kind of cruise. For me, that meant reading, writing and conversing with my fellow guests – none of which gets old or even remotely boring. Of course, Sea Cloud isn’t for everyone. For those who want a quiet, reflective cruise experience in the Caribbean, however, it is the icing on the cake.

This afternoon we dropped anchor off Gustavia and joined a cavalcade of private luxury yachts, each more glamorous than the last. Two other sail-cruise ships also joined us at anchor today: Windstar Cruises’ Wind Surf and Star Clipper’s Star Flyer.  Both feature sails; both are very different from Sea Cloud. Although modern, Star Flyer does come close to equaling Sea Cloud in terms of grace, but she can’t replicate the history packed within this hull.

This is my first time to Gustavia. I have to admit, it may not be my kind of place. Sophisticated and very French, it is also extraordinarily expensive. The town harbour is packed with mega-yachts, and the average shopping experience is limited mainly to high-end brands like Bvlgari, Cartier, Hermes and Louis Vuitton. Entering one clothing store on the opposite end of the harbour, I found a ceramic mug with an anchor and the word, “Gustavia” that went for €79. A street map of Gustavia was €13. At another store, ballcaps pushed €40.

A beer at a local pub went for almost €8, but the grocery store down the street had Red Stripes from Jamaica for €1.50 a bottle.

Add to that the fact that it was really hot outside and I was missing my home-away-from-home, and it doesn’t take much to suppose that I went back to the Sea Cloud and felt immediately better.

Movin’ on up: Cabin No. 4, one of Sea Cloud’s gorgeous original staterooms from the 1930’s. Photo © 2019 Aaron Saunders

When I returned to the ship however, I was met with welcome news: Cabin No. 4 was now repaired and ready for me. I packed up a few things from Cabin No. 10 at the stern and brought them forward to my new digs. Cabin Stewardesses Marion and Jessica brought the rest. I didn’t even need to remove my shirts; they simply took the hangars and placed them in my new closet.

Decidedly nautical, Deluxe Original Cabin No. 4 is styled after an English manor and measures 237 square feet. Photo © 2019 Aaron Saunders

Deluxe Original Cabin No. 4 is located on the port side of the ship, on Main Deck. Styled after a room in an English manor, it is 237-square feet and has an additional 43-square feet reserved for the marble-clad bathroom. It also has not one, but two closets and features a total of three porthole windows: two in the main living area, and one (frosted) in the bathroom.

It is sumptuous and gorgeous; just one of ten distinctive staterooms on Main Deck that harken back to the ships construction in 1931.

An electric fireplace provides an extra dose of illumination, and carpets, drapes and soft furnishings feel new and fresh. There is a curious little double-doored vestibule entryway that also houses a small pantry. If you’re looking for your lifejackets or a Coca-Cola, it’s tucked away in there.

While the furniture in here isn’t unique to the ship, it is antique furniture from the period when Sea Cloud was launched. However, in keeping with modern times, the room is fully air conditioned and has a number of European-style 220V electrical outlets spread throughout. Storage space is amazing, with two full closets (including one with a chest of drawers) and plenty of drawer space in the main living area.

A small knob located behind the bed allows for three channels of music to be piped into the room.

Like all cabins aboard Sea Cloud, you won’t find a TV here – and that’s a-okay with me. This ship, with its opulent surroundings, is entertainment enough.

Sea Cloud at anchor in the setting sun off Gustavia. Photo © 2019 Aaron Saunders

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

Sea Cloud: Trade Winds of the Caribbean

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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