After two false starts, Tradewind Voyages’ five-masted square rigger, Golden Horizon, embarked on its first sailing from the British port of Portland this week with Sydney still on the schedule for later in the year.
The five-night ‘Dress Rehearsal’, operating at 50 per cent capacity in line with England’s Covid restrictions, will sail along the south coast of England to Cornwall and back before embarking on a series of voyages around England’s shores.
But the much-anticipated Australia circumnavigation of the world’s biggest tall ship, originally built for Star Clippers but never sailing for the Monaco-based line due to a dispute with the Brodosplit shipyard in Croatia, remains on schedule…though the new wave of COVID outbreaks in NSW have sparked concerns.
“No update on the 2021/2022 Australian season, so all is as scheduled. However, as you’ll be aware, it’s a fluid situation out there, especially in NSW at present. Here’s hoping it will all remain as is with the voyages,” a line spokesperson told Cruise Passenger on Friday.
The 272-passenger Golden Horizon is due to arrive in Cairns on December 21 this year, after which it is scheduled to embark on four voyages around Australia, the last of which, Fremantle to Bali, is due to depart on February 4.
With Australia’s international borders not likely to open until 2022, however, there’s a chance the Golden Horizon could follow the money to, say, the Caribbean. She is scheduled back in Australia in December 2022, when four voyages are planned along the east coast and around New Zealand.
The venture has encountered some rough waters in the countdown to the maiden voyage, some related to the challenges of launching during a pandemic. CEO Stuart McQuaker, who had been with the Croatian-owned company from the beginning, left the company in June, along with two other senior executives, both industry veterans.
Like all cruise lines operating in British waters, Tradewind Voyages had to rearrange itineraries due to call at Scottish ports, thanks to the continuing refusal of the Scottish government to accept cruise ships.
Then, the original ‘Dress Rehearsal’ shakedown voyage, due to depart on June 22, was cancelled, due, the cruise line said, to the extension of the UK government’s rule that ships could sail at no more than 50 per cent capacity.
The original ethos of the company was to sail the world propelled by ocean currents and the tradewinds, with unusual itineraries and several long sea passages on offer. Covid, and politics, it seems, may force Tradewind Voyages into a more conventional schedule for the time being.