Sea Cloud Spirit
How to sail the world and soothe the soul

Sea Cloud Spirit – All about the ultimate luxury sailing yacht

It has been a long time since I felt so far away from everything and so close to myself as I did recently on the luxury sailing yacht »Sea Cloud Spirit«.

It’s one of three luxury yachts of the Sea Cloud Cruises that sail every year in the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, and as well in the North- and Baltic Sea.

I talked to General Manager Daniel Schäfer about his take on sustainable luxury travel, and why all three yachts are always welcome in the harbours of the world – unlike most of their competitors.

»Our ships are powered exclusively by sail whenever the wind allows. But our sustainability approach is far more complex than that.«
Daniel Schäfer – Managing Director Sea Cloud Cruises
Where was the Sea Cloud Spirit built and was it difficult to find a modern shipyard that could create a sailing ship of this kind anyway?

The Sea Cloud Spirit was built in Vigo in northern Spain. In fact, particularly in Spain, we found a number of shipyards that still have the know-how we needed, and in the end, it was a choice between two nearly equivalent shipyards.

The Spirit was launched last year. How much time passed between the initial idea and the christening of the ship?

A little longer than planned, but that wasn’t down to us (smiles). The idea for the Spirit was born more than ten years ago, but it took a lot of patience to get everything going, and then the pandemic hit. It was a long journey, but well worth it in the end. Everything came full circle in September last year, at the ship’s christening in Mallorca.

The Sea Cloud Spirit
The Sea Cloud Spirit follows in the footsteps of the Sea Cloud and the Sea Cloud II. What experiences with these two were you able to incorporate into the design of the Spirit?

We deliberately built the Sea Cloud Spirit a little larger. It’s a size that allows us to offer cabins with balconies which is extra private outdoor space. We also have some cabins on the Lido Deck where you can leave the windows open at night.

This may sound insignificant, but for ships of this size, it’s fairly difficult to realise due to safety considerations. On the Sun Deck, our guests have access to a fitness studio with state-of-the-art equipment, and there is a sauna, a steam bath, and rooms for wellness treatments on the Cabin Deck.

The Sea Cloud Spirit is also the first ship in our fleet with an integrated lift. So, you see, we have made a conscious decision to invest in amenities that are competitive in the classic cruise ship market. Despite this new generosity the Sea Cloud Spirit has retained the character of a private sailing yacht.

Who is your ideal Sea Cloud Spirit customer?

Everybody, of course! (smiles) But in the end, our aim was to attract a younger clientele, and we are pleased to appeal to both customers aged 45 and over, as well as to long-standing regular customers who have been cruising the seas with us for years, and even decades. These guests have one thing in common, they share an appreciation for a sustainable and decelerated way of traveling.

The Sun Deck
The Bar at the Lido Deck
‘As little impact as possible’ is the Sea Cloud Cruises motto. How do you achieve this?

Our ships are powered exclusively by sail whenever the wind allows. And even when we need engine power, we use particularly low-sulphur marine diesel. It’s the best choice of diesel, which the competition does not use, unfortunately. Our energy consumption is relatively low because we have installed very economical, state-of-the-art engines. But our sustainability approach is far more complex than that.

In what way?

We always conduct ourselves as respectful guests wherever we go. We arrive at a port with a deliberately small group of culturally interested, wealthy guests who are keen to discover the destination in a truly appreciative way.

For us, and equally, for our guests, it’s extremely important to support the local community. We consciously purchase local food, we invite local artists for activities on board, and we don’t squeeze every dollar out of our partners. It’s all part of the so-called ‘soft and sustainable tourism’.

The Fitness Studio at the Sun Deck
The Wellness Area
The Lounge
Treatment Room in the Wellness Area
Talking of which, is the Spirit allowed to visit Venice?

We are one of the few ships still allowed to sail there, yes. Common sense has finally prevailed, and the big ships have been banned. Our ships and guests, however, simply belong there, it’s a perfect match.

What activities on board and ashore await guests on the Sea Cloud Spirit?

We have a diverse range to choose from: anything from yoga classes on board to inspiring lectures and concerts. We often stop en route for swim and sup breaks. Of course, the activities on shore depend entirely on the local offerings. This could involve a trike or a buggy tour on the Canary Islands, or we might book the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao exclusively for our guests in the evening.

Last year, for example, we were able to reserve the Palazzo Gangi in Sicily exclusively for our guests. It’s where the famous novel ‘The Leopard’ is set, and it’s very rare to receive access to this location. But the best entertainment of all is, of course, the sailing experience – it doesn’t get any better than that (smiles).

The Sun Deck
Around 85 staff work on board the Spirit. How many Hamburg headquarter staff support the ship to make sure everything runs smoothly?

In Hamburg, we have a team of 45 who look after nearly everything we need for daily tasks. This means that we have outsourced hardly any services at all. In this respect, we are not only a cruise operator, but we have chosen to be a classic shipping line that acts autonomously.

Sea Cloud Cruises is also a member of the “Feine Privat Hotels” (Fine Private Hotels) community. What are the special challenges of a luxury hotel under sail?

Of course, the logistics are a unique challenge, as we have to plan a lot in advance. For example, we take regular container deliveries from Europe and all over the world to ensure we have excellent quality of goods on board. Just recently, we were confronted with new customs regulations in Spain which made it impossible for us to bring the planned items on board. In this situation, we were saved by the British port of Gibraltar, where we were able to solve the problem at short notice.

But despite the many challenges in our daily operations, we are thrilled to be able to follow the sun and the ideal wind to choose our destinations. So, the additional logistical effort is definitely worth it.

Your ships can be chartered privately or to corporate clients. Which tour was the most memorable for you?

One tour that comes to mind was with the Sea Cloud II around Malta. Our charter customer arranged for a stage to be set up on the upper deck for performances by the ‘Circus Roncalli’, so his guests enjoyed a unique artistic experience. Many of our charter clients put a lot of effort into creating extraordinary moments on board, and we are of course always delighted to help them realise their wishes.

In addition, it’s always a pleasure to host wedding celebrations on our yachts. But sometimes, customers simply want to sail from the moment they embark until we dock in the port, and we fully appreciate that of course.

The Sea Cloud Spirit
The Sea Cloud
The Sea Cloud II
Do you have a personal favourite route?

To be honest, the Caribbean is just perfect. You have consistent winds and it’s not too hot. For our crew, it’s almost like a second home. They know every bay and every island, and they have their special local connections. And, for example, when we take a zodiac to one of the islands in the evening with our guests and walk the last two metres through the water to the beach, where a barbecue is waiting for us, that is a very special moment.

But it’s just as beautiful in the Mediterranean when we cruise through the Aegean, for example, or when we sail the North and Baltic Seas. Even if you’ve previously travelled to destinations like these – entering a harbour or bay with a sailing ship always changes your perspective and has its very own magic.

Thank you, Daniel!

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