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Cruise Review

Tradewind Voyages: Inside Golden Horizon on a cruise from Dover

Tradewind Voyages has announced plans for Golden Horizon's Mediterranean debut

New cruise line Tradewind Voyages has made waves with the head-turning Golden Horizon, which recreates the golden age of sailing.

Cruise expert Jeannine Williamson joined the inaugural round-trip Dover cruise to experience the ship first hand. Cruise Trade News invited her to take part in a Q&A to share her experience with agents.

What was it like sailing on Golden Horizon?

In short, gorgeous. If clients harbour romantic fantasies of running away to sea (if only for a short time), then Golden Horizon fits the bill. The interior is filled with gleaming brass, polished wood and nautical paintings. Outside the expanse of wooden decking is interspersed with equipment and neatly coiled ropes to set the masts.

When they unfurl for the first time at sailaway, to music specially composed for Tradewind Voyages, it’s a thrilling moment. Whenever wind conditions allow the ship sails and the company is aiming to sail for 70 per cent of the time across the season. It’s worth pointing out that passengers can’t get involved with tasks such as raising the sails – it is too technical an operation – but there is an open bridge policy where people are welcome to chat to the captain and officers and ask questions.

How about the cabins?

All 140 cabins are sea facing and come in three main types – porthole cabin, deluxe balcony and owner’s suite – across 14 categories. They can accommodate up to two adults and two children – a limited number of youngsters aged nine and over are allowed on sailings – and range from 11 square metres (118 square feet) for single cabins and 12 square metres (130 square feet) for the porthole cabins.

For luxe-loving clients there are four owner’s suites, situated forward on the upper deck, which measure up at an expansive 53 square metres (570 square feet) and come with perks including a butler, 24-hour room service, daily canapés, complimentary laundry, minibar and bathroom with a bathtub.

All cabins have a lovely retro-style with lots of wood fittings and blue carpets with a nautical knot detail, combined with modern amenities including USB chargers, tea and coffee making facilities, plenty of storage space and good-sized bathrooms with quality Noble Isle toiletries.

Tradewind Voyages: Inside Golden Horizon
Golden Horizon’s grand two-deck dining room is visually striking.

What are the public areas and facilities like?

The centrepiece is the grand two-deck dining room linked by curving staircases – it creates a real sense of occasion. Bars include the inside piano bar, with a namesake white grand that is played by the resident pianist at different times during the day, an al fresco pool bar and cosy Debeljak’s bar (named after the owner) tucked away next to the reception area. There’s a well-stocked library and games room, shop, gym and spa with two treatment rooms, a hair and beauty salon, steam room, sauna and a novel snow grotto when you want to cool off.

Any standout features on the ship?

Aside from the ship itself, USPs include an innovative dive pool where guests can have a taster dive to find out what it’s like and go on to take a PADI-certified course. Also there is the marina platform that extends from the back of the ship and offers complimentary snorkelling, paddle boarding, kayaking, sailing and windsurfing. Motorised Seabobs, which take passengers above and below the water, are available at extra cost.

Is there an activities programme?

The real star of the show is the ship and activities are low-key compared with large ships. That said, there’s always plenty to do with a daily programme that starts with a yoga class and ends with music in the piano bar. In between you can expect talks – often on a maritime theme – and activities such as a knot tying lesson and deck quoits, quizzes and upbeat tunes from the musical duo. For-fee shore excursions are offered in each port of call and include sightseeing tours and more energetic walks.

Tradewind Voyages: Inside Golden Horizon
The on-board library is a good place to unwind during a voyage.

What is the dress code?

During the day the dress code is casual, including shorts, jeans and comfortable shoes for walking tours and beachwear on the sun deck. There are no formal nights with Tradewind Voyages and the evening dress code is elegant casual. A note for female clients; stilettos are not allowed and high heels are discouraged for safety reasons.

What’s included?

All meals and snacks on board, wine with lunch and dinner in the main dining room, most watersports when available, wifi and tips.

Where is Golden Horizon going to sail?

Itineraries are driven by three factors – hidden beaches, cultural immersion and the sailing experience. After the UK summer season the ship will sail on global voyages in Europe, the Mediterranean, Arabia, Indonesia and Australasia.

The stylish piano bar on Golden Horizon.

Have you heard any agent feedback?

Luxury Cruise and More cruise product and marketing director Scott Anderson told me: “Golden Horizon will suit singles and couples who enjoy good food and service but who are looking for a smaller ship experience, without the formality of a six-star line.

“Accommodations are comfy and keep the nautical touch with polished brass and dark woods, and the cabins with portholes are particularly charming. I was really impressed to see six dedicated single cabins, that were very spacious and will sure to be popular. The ship will also appeal to clients from a sailing background who will really appreciate the ropes, sails and rigging aspect of this cruise holiday.

“The watersports platform will really enhance the experience when in warmer waters such as the Caribbean as clients can get scuba lessons in the dive tank, plus there’s snorkel equipment for all guests along with wetsuits, kayaks, paddle boards and more. However, my top tip is to check with Tradewind to see if they have permission to operate this as it won’t be available on all voyages.

“Overall, this will be a popular cruise option for a post-Covid client as it’s smaller, with fewer guests, no crowds and is very ‘outdoorsy'”.

Anything else travel agents should know?

The final word goes to Tradewind Voyages chief executive Alan McGrory, who explained: “Our philosophy is all about the sails and to use them as much as possible. Our experience is all about the ship [as] a destination in itself. It is a beautiful sight and when it is sailing it is spectacular.

“From feedback so far people love the vessel and can’t believe how big it is on the inside compared with what you see on the outside. We are looking to attract clients across the board, including a younger demographic in the 30 to 40 age group who would normally go to a resort that offers what we are able to offer in terms of watersports. Then there are people from 50 and 60 years old upwards who are looking to relax but are energetic people that are interested in the ship itself and the size of it.”

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