Inaugural Voyage Sets Sail On Freedom Day
England’s ‘Freedom Day’ on 19 July 2021 coincided with the inaugural voyage of Golden Horizon along the south coast of England. Maddie Taylor, Tradewind Voyage’s Marketing Manager, joined other guests onboard as our magnificent tall ship sailed out of Dover.
It was an emotional moment when Golden Horizon sailed out of Dover on ‘The Inaugural Voyage’. The tug boats motored beside us in a grand farewell as The Ocean’s Journey (a piece of music composed especially for Tradewind Voyages) bellowed over the tannoy with gusto. The sails hoisted, catching gently in the breeze on one of the hottest days of the year so far.
For many of our guests, it felt like a defining moment of freedom. After 16 months of lockdowns, limited hugs and missing family and friends, worries seemed to be carried away on the ocean’s currents.
Holidays and life as we know it are slowly returning and the excitement of going on an adventure had a few sobbing on the expansive deck as the sun cast its light on the waves left in the ship’s wake. Other guests were beaming with happiness as they sipped Champagne and took it all in. Sailing away from the iconic White Cliffs of Dover was one of those monumental experiences you won’t forget in a hurry.
The route was a round-trip from Dover, taking in both Cowes and Plymouth en route. One couple we spoke to had just bought a flat in Poole and, while sitting on their balcony, had seen Golden Horizon sail past on a preliminary voyage. They knew they had to be on board this incredible replica of the 1913-built France II and a few days later, after some Googling and booking, they were standing on deck for The Inaugural Voyage.
It’s easy to see why the ship stood out among the yachts and cruisers gracefully sailing past Poole. Golden Horizon is the world’s largest square-rigged sailing ship, an ode to the charm, adventure and romance of history’s tea clippers and Cape Horners.
The captain welcomed the guests onboard, telling us how the ship is a destination in itself and, whenever the wind allowed, the sails would guide us to our next port of call. He enthused about the ship, encouraging guests to ask questions and chat to him under the billowing sails.
Being one of the first guests felt like a privilege and the camaraderie onboard was palpable, with everyone chatting over drinks, in corridors, on deck and at dinner. The average age onboard was around 60, with teens heading to the spa for a facial or a go in the ice room and hammam, while some older guests relaxed with a coffee in the elegant library.
Stepping into the spectacular dining room, we gazed up at the curved wrought-iron balconies sweeping towards a stunning central skylight and took our seats among the maritime art hanging from wood-paneled walls. The friendly, masked staff went about the tables pouring wine into sparkling glasses and served delicious fine-dining dishes in front of hungry guests. Masks were worn by guests for embarkation and disembarkation, but it was optional while onboard. In the elegant dining room, you not only got a taste of the very finest cuisine, but a taste of normality, too. The room was abuzz with an upbeat atmosphere, with laughter accompanying the delicious local dishes, each with a healthy twist.
After dinner, guests dispersed to different bars, many choosing Horizon Bar to make the most of the sunset. On course for Cowes, the musical duo took to the stage and the dance floor filled with people jiving and twisting, all keen to celebrate the occasion in style.
After being lulled to sleep by the gentle movement of the ocean, guests woke to an early morning yoga session or a not-so-early breakfast in the dining room. On deck, guests played quoits and relaxed around the pools, many signing up for a Dive Taster session in the Dive Pool. There were insightful speakers, too, including David Graham who gave a talk about Cowes and Plymouth before a merry whisky tasting session in Debeljak’s Bar.
The amazing weather allowed us to drop Marina in Plymouth and offer paddle boarding from the back of the ship, with the stunning Plymouth Sound as our backdrop. Changing guidance by the Cruise Authorities were all part of the course. A shore excursion on the Isle of Wight was replaced with a racy rib ride in Cowes harbour; but everyone took the voyage in their stride. Guests seemed keen to get to know each other and a real conviviality was felt onboard, especially during the quiz night which sparked some healthy, fun competition.
As guests headed for bed each night, they found gifts in their cabin to mark the occasion. A commemorative plate one night, beautiful cognac glasses the next. On the last night, the captain threw a cocktail party and thanked the guests for being part of the Inaugural Voyage, a very special sailing with an equally special group of guests.
In the final few hours, as we sailed back towards Dover, people said goodbye to new friends and requested the song ‘An Ocean’s Journey’ to remember the voyage when they got home. To my delight, many said they couldn’t wait to book one of our worldwide adventures and would soon be back onboard the stunning Golden Horizon.