A false dawn for Golden Horizon: How the first voyage of the biggest tall ship in the world was scuppered by Covid restrictions

Gone with the wind: Golden Horizon’s first voyage has been cancelled

Update: Tradewind Voyages has now replaced its round-Britain voyages with a series of sailings from Dover. For details, please click here

The billowing sails of the biggest tall ship in the world were due to make a dramatic entrance into Portsmouth Harbour next Monday, June 21.

Golden Horizon, the new ship from Tradewind Voyages, was scheduled to begin a six-day ‘dress rehearsal’ cruise the next day along the south coast, returning the following Monday to sail to Harwich in preparation for its official inaugural voyage on July 1.

But the UK government’s decision to extend Covid controls until July 19 – meaning cruise ships could only sail at 50 per cent capacity – put paid to the sold-out ‘dress rehearsal’ voyage. And other factors, such as Scotland banning calls by cruise ships, meant a rethink on plans for the inaugural round-Britain cruise.

Tradewind Voyages, which operates the ship, is due to make a statement on the full effects of the changes on Thursday. But passengers on the ‘dress rehearsal’ trip have already had messages cancelling their cruise.

The company told them: ‘We have taken the decision not to operate the dress rehearsal on June 22 and will be contacting all affected guests over the next 24 hours to offer potential alternatives so they may experience Golden Horizon in a safe way.’

The first public sign that something was amiss came when Golden Horizon, a 272-passenger square rigger, left Malaga on the way from its shipyard in Croatia to the UK. Its Automatic Identification System showed that it was due to arrive in Portland, Dorset, on June 23 – not Portsmouth on June 21, as planned.

A check on the Portsmouth cruise ship arrivals and departures board showed that the calls for Golden Horizon on both June 22 and 28 – for its trip to Harwich – had disappeared. The ETA for its arrival at the Essex port on June 30 is listed as ‘TBC’.

Update: In a statement issued today (June 16), Tradewind Voyages said: ‘In light of the Prime Minister’s update earlier this week and the extension of the Government’s restrictions, some of our voyages have been affected. Our team are working round the clock to create new voyages for our guests to experience Golden Horizon safely and in line with Government restrictions. We will advise guests of our revised voyage plan and how they may be impacted as soon as itineraries have been confirmed.’

See also:

Golden Horizon to sail inaugural voyage from Harwich

Star Clippers awarded ‘substantial damages’ in row over Golden Horizon

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