Daniel Schaefer is the CEO of Sea Cloud Cruises, which operates two tall ships and is building a third scheduled to launch next year. The line, based in Hamburg, Germany, sails primarily in the Mediterranean, the Baltic and the Caribbean. Schaefer spoke with cruise editor Tom Stieghorst about the Sea Cloud Spirit, due in August.
Q: What will be different about your third ship?
A: The Sea Cloud II is the base for the Sea Cloud Spirit, but it's even a little bit bigger. From 94 guests, we're jumping up to 136, which is still very small compared to everything out there. But for us it's quite a bit more passengers on the ship. We also have added a lot more space to the ship. What's really unique about it is that for the first time ever, we have balcony cabins on a sailing ship. There are 25 cabins where you can have a private balcony: 22 junior suites and three owner's suites. On the deck above, we have seven more cabins where you can open up the window.
Q: Why is that important?
A: This is a big deal, actually, for sailing ships because they are quite small and you have a safety issue. On big ships, it's nothing special to have balconies and windows you can open, but on a sailing ship because you are so close to the water this is not so common. This is a big deal for us and also for our repeating customers, because they want to sleep with open windows and have fresh air at night. It's not really about sitting in your cabin and being on a private balcony but having fresh air in the rooms.
Q: Besides the balconies, what other changes did you make to the Sea Cloud Spirit's design?
A: There is a lift on the Sea Cloud Spirit. You will not find this anywhere else on a sailing ship. We separated the fitness room from the wellness area and brought it up to the Sun Deck, so the guest will have the opportunity to do their fitness and have a great sea view the whole day. We expanded the wellness area. We're having two treatment rooms. There will be a hair dresser. We're having a Finnish sauna and a steam sauna.
On the other two ships, we have this fine dining restaurant. By adding a bistro service to the Spirit's Lido Deck, people will have the chance to decide: Do they go to [our] fine dining restaurant, or do they want a more casual, relaxed bistro on the Lido Deck?
Q: Will it call in the U.S.?
A: The Spirit will be built to [U.S. Public Health Service] standards, so we can go to U.S. harbors. So we are able to include, in the Caribbean, the U.S. Virgin Islands -- and Miami, even -- which expands our possibilities on the Caribbean side.