The Western Mediterranean aboard Sea Cloud

Sea Cloud is an elegant 360-foot, four-masted barque, with a snow-white hull, endless mahogany brightwork, and polished bronze fittings. The brochure in our cabin says it all: “Sea Cloud’s unique charm and charisma remain true to the romantic spirit in which she was conceived more than 70 years ago. To sail aboard her is not only to occupy a museum-quality heirloom, but to relive the splendor and gracious lifestyle of cruising in the grand tradition.”

Built at a time when the greatest attention was paid to detail and fine craftsmanship, Sea Cloud is decorated with original oil paintings, antique furniture, rich wood paneling, and gold, brass and bronze fixtures.

We enjoyed a tour of the original staterooms, which are larger and more luxurious than the ones that were later added above deck. These spacious, elegant interiors include fireplaces (no longer working), wood paneling, marble bathrooms with gold fixtures, and original oil paintings. Even the hallway is impressive, with a spiral stairway, sitting area, display of china, and small bureaus.

We descend into the depths of a warren of immaculate, interconnected chambers for our engine room tour. There are consoles and canisters, hoses and pipes, ladders, wires, polished brass fittings, and big metal boxes with labels like Reintjes and Geprüft. I counted 6 control panels and 45 dials in the first compartment alone. Very impressive, until the chief engineer confides, in a voice barely audible over the roar of the engines, “Very little of this works. The computer has taken over.”

We learn that the original electric engines were chosen because they were quiet enough not to disturb passengers, but today the ship runs on two 8-cylinder, 1,000 horsepower diesel engines. The ship uses 3.5 tons of fuel a day, and has a capacity of 380 tons of fuel. When she’s under sail all the way, Sea Cloud can cross the Atlantic in 14-16 days.

The immense sea shows her whitecaps today.  Our crew has hoisted the sails, and all around are blue and white, sea and sail and sky. The officers look crisp in their uniforms, and—although the Mediterranean swells are relentless—the passengers look very relaxed.

Temperatures are in the 70s, and there’s a cool breeze. We are reading, sunning, and writing postcards; in the background are the gentle murmur of voices, the clink of china, and the restless sea.

To discover where she goes and when, please visit the Sea Cloud site.

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