Today was a beautiful day at sea! Taking advantage of a stunning day, Captain John Svendsen made us a beautiful presentation of a step-by-step setting-up of the sails while we got to see it unfold right in front of us…all happening in real time. All morning, we sailed quietly under the power of the wind while accompanied by playful dolphins. At noon, we had a delicious lunch served outside on the lido deck. We enjoyed the Mediterranean weather with the Pellegrino wine acquired during yesterday’s visit. In the afternoon, we had some presentations on the history of the area and the incredible history of the ship itself, which included visits to the original staterooms.
Nicknamed “Indio” (Indian) because of his powers of observation and quiet nature, José has almost two decades of experience working as a naturalist and photography guide; as well as being recognized as an expert birder and nature photographer in Cost...
Our first full day aboard Sea Cloud has been an interesting one to say the least. We were greeted in Naples with unseasonably cool and wet weather. While we are on the cusp of the Mediterranean summer, it felt more like autumn. This was due to a strong weather system off the southwest of Sicily, with 40+ knot winds and the rough seas that come with it. It even prompted authorities to implement some emergency measures – commercial shipping was unable to enter or exit ports due to safety concerns. Thus, we had to alter our plans, which originally took us along the west and southwest coasts of Sicily, right into the thick of it! Instead, we arranged an alternative itinerary that took us to the Sicilian capital of Palermo, keeping us relatively sheltered along the north coast of the island and clear of the wildest weather. In the morning, while still on approach to Palermo, we began our expedition program with Captain John Svendsen giving us an introduction to the forecasting software that allows us to peer into the future and avoid hectic conditions. Many different weather phenomena – wind speed, wind gusts, swell, precipitation etc – can be overlaid on the map, showing us where we don’t want to be tomorrow, or even a few days from now. When we saw the “purple dragon” storm cell lurking off the southwest coast, we knew we didn’t want to be anywhere near it! The morning program continued with certified photo instructor Jose Calvo taking us through iPhone photography, highlighting the many different functions and techniques we can use to capture our memories. After our buffet lunch, expedition historian David Brotherson gave a presentation on the Phoenicians, those often overlooked yet important intermediaries whose trade networks brought goods and ideas from the East into the Mediterranean world. In the afternoon, we headed ashore for a tour of the Sicilian capital. Founded by Phoenician merchants almost 3000 years ago, Palermo became the island’s capital during the Arab era in the 9th century. In the late 11th century, the Normans conquered Southern Italy and Sicily, creating a kingdom that lasted for many centuries. At the crossroads of Mediterranean trade routes, the multiethnic cosmopolitan population the Normans ruled is manifested in many beautiful and utterly unique ways. The UNESCO Heritage list architecture blends the Norman Romanesque columns and arches, with Byzantine mosaics, and Arabic geometric patterns. The architecture of Norman Sicily is truly at the crossroads of material culture.
Our last full day together on Sea Cloud was spent cruising the serene blue waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea. We had brief visits from some charismatic breaching dolphins. While the sun was blazing and the air was humid, our expedition leader and captain decided this weather begged for a cool down. Captain Svendsen and Bay Watch patrol Simon Kwinta guided guests off the gangway ladder into the refreshing saltwater pool created for them just off the portside of Sea Cloud . It was a perfect day of relaxation in between packing and prepping for the day of travel to follow. Our time together on board closed with a hazy pastel sunset on the Amalfi coastline while we navigated our way back to Naples.