Who hasn’t fantasized about having a “King of the World” moment at the bow of a masted sailing ship?
Okay, maybe that fantasy is mostly about Leo DeCaprio, and sure, he was on an ocean cruise sailing that didn’t end very well, but still.
Sailing is a totally unique experience, unlike either big ocean cruises or smaller river cruises. For starters, these masted ships don’t ply rivers, they ply larger waters, from the Aegean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean. (They use the wind generated over large, open bodies of water, after all.)
This means – depending on the body of water – you’ll feel the waves a bit. Mind you, it’s not an “I’m gonna hurl!” kind of feeling unless you’re extremely seasick-prone. It’s typically just a faint, gentle rocking that, at night, lulls you to sleep in the most magical way.
The ships are also generally larger than river cruise vessels. (For the purposes of this article, we’ll use the Royal Clipper – home to our 2020 Mediterranean cruise – as our template.) The Royal Clipper holds 227 guests verses around 120-160 for most river cruise ships. This added size allows for some wonderful additions, like three small swimming pools and 19,000 square feet of deck space, which provides room for a ton of chaise lounges and means you could stage Anything Goes up there and pretend you’re Reno Sweeney.
But the best features of sailing ships are the totally unique experiences you can have onboard. And here are some of the best:
The sight of all 42 sails when they’re raised is breathtaking. Go to one side of the bow or stern for the best photo angles. And better yet, make sure you have your camera (or phone) when you go ashore – the distance allows you to capture the full ship in all its masted glory.
(photo credit: USA Today)
The marina platform, which lowers from the stern of the ship, allows for all kinds of awesome watersports: wind surfing, water skiing, kayaking, wakeboarding, snorkeling., even deep-sea diving.
There are nets you can lay in (like a hammock) on the top deck alongside the bowsprit, which give you the feeling of flying over the water. Exhilarating and unforgettable.
You can climb the mast (using a safety harness, of course), which will make you feel like Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean, but without all the crazy makeup (unless, you know, you’re into that). Atop the masts are passenger lookouts, conveniently outfitted with a comfortable settee. Talk about a photo op.
(Photo credit: Popular Cruising)
The three-story grand atrium, inside the ship, is a wonder in a boat this size. Many of us have been on ocean cruise ships with these atriums, but in a much smaller sailing ship, it’s unusual, and it’ll give you the feeling that you’re sailing aboard a grand, private yacht.
(photo credit: Popular Cruising)
The Captain Nemo spa and health club has underwater portholes, where you can gaze at sea life as you work out or get a massage. Spend a few minutes trying to figure out who will be your dinner.
And finally, last but not least, is the hunky crew. Raising all those masts takes a lot of deckhands, and some of our guests turn these moments into a delicious spectator sport.
I sense your interest is suddenly piqued. At this moment, there is still space on our 2020 Royal Clipper sailing. But it won’t last.
But thanks to digital photography, those pictures of the deckhands will.