UK-based start up, Tradewind Voyages, has revealed the name of its chartered vessel – the world’s largest square-rigged sailing ship – as Golden Horizon and its inaugural season of itineraries.

Carrying 272 passengers with a crew of 159, the ship will start offering ex-UK voyages in northern Europe from May to August 2021 before sailing to the Med, Asia and further afield.

Golden Horizon is a near replica of the 1913-built ocean vessel France II and will retain its historic charm, notes Tradewind Voyages’ CEO Stuart McQuaker.

The ship is currently at Brodosplit Croatian shipyard, the owner of the vessel and where it was constructed.

Nine UK sailings

A highlight of the first season will be a British maritime-themed voyage, with the ship anchoring off Cowes for the traditional regatta fireworks display. The itinerary also visits  traditional maritime communities along the south coast, the Scilly Islands and the Channel Islands.

In total, nine voyages will be offered from the UK with seven departures from Harwich and two from Glasgow.

Northern European itineraries will feature Denmark, Iceland, the Norwegian Fjords and the Baltics on a mix of durations mainly 7, 14 and 21 days (round trips to St Petersburg and up to Svalbard) with 10 and 11 day sailings also.

Silk Route eastwards

In September 2021, Golden Horizon will sail into the Med including a stopover in Croatia where the owner of ship DIV Group is based, and then through the Suez Canal and follow the historic maritime Silk Route to Jakarta, and on to Bali.

Itineraries in late 2021 and planned into 2022 will feature a circumnavigation of Australia starting in December 2021, the Indian Ocean, Japan, Alaska, the Americas and the Pacific Islands.

6,300 sq mtr of sail

Whilst Golden Horizon has engine power the philosophy is to sail with the winds and currents utilising the 6,300sq mtr  of sails where possible particularly on the longer routes. The intension is to be under sail for around 70% of each season, states the company.

McQuaker, a former Royal Navy officer who also held executive positions at Saga plc and Saga Cruises between 2014-2018 told Seatrade, ‘Uniquely, all her voyages are planned on the basis of the prevailing winds and currents around the world, often following the traditional trading routes; a real maritime experience.’

He continued, ‘the 162mtr long ship will appeal to active adults who want to travel the world in a new way. Families will not be excluded but it is not going to be a child-friendly product.

‘There will be a sophisticated enrichment and wellbeing programme and, for those who wish, the opportunity to take advantage of various complementary water sports available from its marina.’

The main dining room will have capacity to seat all passengers at one time for lunch and evening dinner with sittings spread across a few hours.

The alfresco Horizon Bar in the ship’s aft will offer grills and light lunch/suppers for those wanting a more casual setting.

English speaking sourcing

Target source market for the first season is primarily UK and English-speaking markets, McQuaker told Seatrade.

The management team includes sales and marketing director Jeremy McKenna, head of marketing and distribution Amanda Norey and product director Oliver Hammerer who have all held key positions in UK-based cruise and cruise retail companies.

‘There are currently 15 employees in total of which more than half have not met face to face yet,’ noted McQuaker, as the company start up, product development, initial itineraries planning and brochure have all been drawn together under UK lockdown, ‘which has been an amazing achievement,’ he added.

Talks are now in progress  with perspective deck & engine and hotel ops third party shipmanagers, he disclosed.

Fleet expansion

Tradewind Voyages is planning to add further newly designed sailing ships to its fleet over the coming years, with the design process underway.

Tradewind Voyages’ programme goes on sale in September 2020.