SUNSETS AT SEA- A USER’S GUIDE

Sunsets at sea. Even the notion of them is border line seductive. No matter how many you have seen, they still draw out hordes of awestruck passengers like so many moths to a flame. There’s really nothing quite like them, is there?

Some are deep and mellow, others long, languid and intense. In between are all the colours of the rainbow. Sometimes quite literally. And many of them seem to resonate on the human psyche on some deep, totally unfathomable level that defies any kind of rationality.

But the almost hypnotic lure of an ocean sunset should not really be all that surprising. Usually shorn of the pollution that blights the land, they are among Mother Nature’s very best designer couture. But, for maximum enjoyment, there are always props and, sometimes, a soundtrack- or just as often a blissful lack of one- that can take this natural early evening treat and elevate it to almost gourmet standard.

And so, culled from more than thirty years of cruising and crossings, here are some of my most memorable sunsets. Whatever else you do, don’t try to copy this at home……

Firstly, to the Caribbean, and spiffy little Seadream Yacht Club. Fold yourself gently into the bubbling, welcoming hot tub on the fantail of small, perfectly formed Seadream II as the ship skirts past the vast, jagged peaks of Saint Lucia’s soaring Pitons.

Enjoy a smooth, beautifully styled strawberry daiquiri as the shimmering ball of the sun sags into the ocean, turning the entire sky into a magnificent, mesmerising curtain of deep, fiery orange. Watch the slow rolling swell become a burnt umber carpet as those lush, green peaks turn black and massive against the flaring, crimson tinted twilight. The sound of the ocean slapping playfully against the Seadream II’s hull is an audio backdrop without equal.

Spring is when the Mediterranean is truly at its best, before the heat and the crowds of summer conspire to curdle the cream. Winter is shaken off like some damp, dishevelled overcoat as cafes and open air bars mushroom along sun splashed quays like flowers bursting into bloom.

I recommend the upper deck panorama terrace of the sultry, highly styled Silver Wind for your Med masterpiece. For maximum, platinum chip slouch mode perfection. sprawl across one of those freshly varnished wooden steamer chairs that sprinkle the blinding expanse of white teak deck. The blue cloth mattresses all but fold themselves around you.

Often, not a cloud will stir in the sky. The slow, mellow twilight folds from rose coloured to a dozen shades of rich, liquid gold. A dark, sinuously swirling ocean turns a shade of gunmetal. The warm, soft breeze makes the hairs on your neck stand on end. Anything less than a glass or two of glacially chilled Moet at such a moment would verge on the criminal.

Let’s skip smartly over to Bermuda. It’s never a bad idea. Take in a mellow Atlantic sunset en route to what is arguably the most beautiful island on the planet. Your transport of delight is Regent’s sumptuous Seven Seas Navigator.

I can personally recommend the balcony of suite 705 for your sunset treat here.  Have room service bring up some succulent cold Maine lobster, with a little crab on the side. Enhance with Grey Goose vodka, topped up with cranberry in a highball glass. Don’t forget the lime- it sharpens the taste to perfection.

Lounge on one of your balcony chairs, and load up some vintage Al Green as your soundtrack. It fills the ether like fine perfume. Banks of skittish, slowly darkening clouds drift like ghostly galleons across a blush, lilac brushed canvas of sky. Ideally wear a bathrobe to get the full, fabulous tingle of the breeze as it washes over you. Each bit of this is like a delicious ingredient in an incredible feast for the senses. On a scale of one to ten, this one is a full eighteen.

Summers in the Baltic provide a riotous feast of rich, vibrant sunsets during the high summer months. Here, I recommend the gorgeous Palm Court on the sublime Crystal Symphony for your evening’s visual enhancement.

Vast, floor to ceiling windows curve in a graceful embrace of one of the most perfect public rooms on any ship anywhere. They flood the room with a tremendous, technicolour visual palette perhaps unmatched anywhere. Bands of blue, gold, white and electric green light shimmers at midnight on a horizon as sharply defined as a knife edge. One of Crystal’s tremendous lemon drop martinis is a zesty treat- watch as prisms of light from outside sometimes dance on the rim of the glass. The soft, cool notes of a tinkling baby grand piano float seductively among the cosmos and the conversation. And Crystal does this subtle, under stated kind of mood melding with fabulous flair and panache.

French Polynesia is a world away, and the sunsets are fittingly splendid and surreal. Here, you can lounge on the aft, upper deck terrace of the magical little Paul Gauguin, a fantasy island as gorgeous as anything else in these waters.

You’ll find yourself locked in the embrace of a flaring purple sunset, as banks of huge, fluffy clouds pile up on top of each other, and the reluctant, reddish ball of the sun descends slowly between them like some ageing actor, bowing out after giving the performance of a lifetime. Below you, a five man canoe slices through a sea of blazing straw, leaving a wake that curves back like a feather dropped into the ocean.Sample hors d’oevres- the shrimp ones are incredible- and a matchless chocolate martini as you surrender to the magic. It’s almost perfection.

As a soundtrack, anything by Michael Buble works, but Quando, Quando, Quando is just exquisitely tender; almost ethereal and heartwarming in its beauty. Everything about this kind of evening stays with you long after you physically leave it behind.

So, there we go. Snapshots. Memories. Inspiration? You decide. But above and beyond anything else written here, why not get out there yourself? Find and define your own little jewels of moments. Because, when all is said and done, true leisure is only sweet after work well done. And, at the end of everything else, you’re worth it. Enjoy!


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