The former CEO of Tradewind Voyages has revealed he quit the job because he had ‘lost all confidence in the owner and his close team to deliver Golden Horizon to the standard required’.
Experienced cruise executive Stuart Mcquaker was taken on when the Suffolk-based company was set up to operate the world’s largest tall ship, following a legal dispute between Star Clippers, which originally ordered it, and the Croatian yard Brodosplit, which built it.
Brodosplit is owned by Tomislav Debeljak, after whom one of the bars on the ship is named.
Mr Mcquaker resigned from Tradewind Voyages in early May saying publicly he was proud of what the line had achieved in 17 months and adding that it was the ‘right time to move on to new opportunities’.
Two other executives – product director Oliver Hammerer and Jeremy McKenna, the sales and marketing director – also left the company.
However, Mr Mcquaker, who was succeeded by new CEO Alan McGrory, has now broken his silence following the ‘arrest’ of Golden Horizon in Dover after only its second-ever voyage.
In response to an invitation to comment, he told me: ‘I left because I lost all confidence in the owner and his close team to deliver Golden Horizon to the standard required by the charter agreement (with Tradewind Voyages) or to buy into the product vision and philosophy that the early TWV team created.
‘Given that he owns the vessel, the management company and TWV, my position was clearly untenable.’
Golden Horizon was ‘arrested’ in Dover but was released after Star Clippers received the repayment of a debt, said to be 7million euros, from Brodosplit. The new management at Tradewind Voyages said: ‘There are no outstanding payments, everything has been settled. The ship is continuing her voyages, as planned.’
Aside from the legal dispute, the debut of Golden Horizon has faced other hurdles. A ‘dress rehearsal’ voyage from Portsmouth along the south coast was cancelled when the Westminster government extended Covid restrictions, including a limit on cruise ship numbers. Similarly, the round-Britain inaugural had to be ditched when the Scottish parliament banned cruise ships from calling at its ports.
A rescheduled ‘dress rehearsal’ voyage was also cancelled because of a delay in delivery of furnishings that ‘would have affected the guest experience’, a spokesperson said.
Finally, the ship set sail on July 7, from Portland, Dorset, to Falmouth, Fowey, Dartmouth and Poole.
I joined Golden Horizon on its second voyage, leaving Portland on July 13 and arriving in Dover two days later.