The historic and majestic Sea Cloud redefines luxury at sea.
By Nathaniel Stillman
The Sea Cloud takes us back in time to the good old days of luxury travels: her wooden decks, spacious parlors, and more than 30 sails on four huge masts are the essence of classic elegance. Built in 1931, the Sea Cloud has been the coveted dream of several millionaires, part of the US Navy fleet and the protagonist of more than one historic international event. Now, Sea Cloud Cruises makes it available to anyone who wants to experience a unique and unforgettable adventure at sea.
It all started when Edward Francis Hutton, one of the wealthiest Wall Street businessmen and his wife, Marjorie Merriweather Post, heiress to the Postum Cereal Company and Founder of General Food Corporation, commissioned the construction of the largest, most elegant and luxurious private yacht of its day to the German shipyard Kiel. The original name of the spectacular vessel was Hussar II. Merriweather Post devoted at least two years to decorate it with exquisite furnishings: Carrara marble fireplaces, Sèvres porcelain, sterling silverware and gold taps. The total cost would amount today to three million dollars. For two years, the couple sailed on this magnificent yacht to the Galapagos Islands, Hawaii, Alaska and Monte Carlo until 1935, the year of the couple’s divorce.
As the sole owner of the yacht, Merriweather Post renamed it Sea Cloud. Shortly thereafter, the billionaire heiress married Joseph E. Davies, a successful lawyer and diplomat who played an important role in the Versailles peace negotiations that ended World War I. When Davies was appointed U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union, the Sea Cloud accompanied the couple in their new adventure. Docked in the city of Leningrad (today St. Petersburg), the ship was used as a floating embassy for elegant and exclusive festivities. The celebrities that sailed on the Sea Cloud included European royalty of the era, such as Elizabeth of Bavaria, Queen of Belgium; King Gustav V of Sweden and the Dukes of Windsor, Edward and Wallis.
By the late 1930s, the waters of the region were becoming increasingly dangerous due to military proliferation, so in 1941, not wishing to undersell the boat, Merriweather Post temporarily ceded it to the U.S. Navy, which renovated it to be used as a weather station. Three years later, the army returned the vessel to its rightful owner, who in 1955 decided to sell it due to its high maintenance costs. Her friend Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, President of the Dominican Republic, bought it for $500,000 and renamed it Angelita in honor of his daughter. Thereafter, the boat witnessed, firsthand, the momentous events that took place in the Caribbean nation. After Trujillo's assassination in 1961, his family tried to flee to Europe aboard Angelita, but the Dominican government intercepted the yacht. The body of the former strongman was found inside the Sea Cloud, but the $95 million in gold that supposedly were smuggled by the family were never found.
The yacht became the property of the Dominican government and was converted into a training ship. Then, in 1978, it was sent back to the Kiel shipyard for restoration where it was renamed Sea Cloud, once again. Finally, in 1993, its current proprietor, the German businessman Herman Eble, purchased it. Eble is the owner of the shipping company Treunhand Hansa, which oversees the management of Sea Cloud Cruises.
Sea Cloud cruises currently operates exclusive travel aboard the legendary sailboat. Throughout the year, the Sea Cloud sails the Caribbean, northern Europe, and the Mediterranean and even offers the opportunity of transatlantic crossings.
The atmosphere aboard the Sea Cloud reflects Marjorie Merriweather Post´s love for luxury and extravagance. The vessel can comfortably accommodate 64 passengers in 32 cabins, distinguished by Merriweather Post’s timeless elegance, which maintains the splendor of yesteryear, especially in the two majestic suites designed especially for her first owners. The eight original cabins and the new staterooms boast amazing ocean views and all the comforts necessary for a one-of-a-kind luxury adventure.
The Lido bar, located on the sunny promenade deck, and the elegant restaurant aboard with its beautiful wood paneling, brass ornaments and nautical paintings are the meeting places for travelers who share the common dream of sailing the world in total exclusivity. With a crew of 60, each passenger receives careful personalized attention at all times: while they have a cocktail at the bar or enjoy the sun, the breeze and the landscape relaxing comfortably on deck.
Sailing aboard this luxury yacht is a fascinating experience akin to the spirit of traveling with the highest modern standards and the historic elegance, characteristic of the Sea Cloud. ■
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