The sail away on a cruise is always a special moment. But, setting off on a voyage on a tall cruise ship with the sails rippling in the warm breeze against a backdrop of blue skies and crystal waters evokes a sense of romance and adventure at sea.

While reminiscent of historical sailing vessels, today’s tall cruise ships and yachts are designed with modern facilities and luxury interiors to suit today’s cruisegoer. Read on to see our top picks for modern cruise ships with sails.

Orient Express Silenseas – Accor and Chantiers de l’Atlantique

In 2023, the Orient Express legend grew when world hospitality leader Accor, partnered with Chantiers de l’Atlantique, unveiled the world’s largest passenger yacht, Orient Express Silenseas. This revolutionary new vessel is set to launch in 2026.

On board, Orient Express Silenseas will treat passengers to many opulent designs inspired by the golden age of the French Riviera. Its interiors and décor designed by renowned French architect Maxime d’Angeac, include 54 luxurious suites, two swimming pools including a lap pool, two restaurants and a speakeasy bar.

Orient Express Silenseas will sail with a revolutionary technological design known as ‘SolidSail’. This involves three rigid sails with a surface area of ​​1,500 metres. The sails will be able to provide up to 100% propulsion in suitable weather conditions. For a more environmentally friendly voyage, a hybrid formula will combine wind power with an engine running on liquefied natural gas.

Golden Horizon – Tradewind Voyages

Heralded as the ‘world’s largest square-rigged sailing vessel’, Golden Horizon embarked on her inaugural season in 2021. Tradewind Voyages partnered with the Croation Brodosplit shipyard to bring her to life.  She has been built as a near replica to French sailing ship France II, which originally set sail in 1913.

Her five masts and 35 sails are impressive to say the least, and the ethos of Golden Horizon is to offer sustainable voyages and follow the wind. She has the aim of sailing without engines for 70% of the season. Interiors are awash with historical touches and nods to nautical heritage with the main dining room featuring sweeping curved wrought-iron balconies and a central skylight.  Each of the 140 cabins and public venues feature wood-panelling and marble interiors as well as maritime artwork throughout.

Sea Cloud Spirit

Launched in 2021, Sea Cloud Spirit boasts an elegant interior blended with a classical yacht-style feel, largely in part to her exterior – 4,165 square metres of billowing sails – which take the crew almost an hour to hoist by hand.

Her maiden voyage was a long-awaited 10-year journey. However, with Hamburg based Partner Ship Design overseeing the interiors, she was became a three-mast, full-rigged ship ready for luxury cruise travellers when she launched in 2021. Sea Cloud Sprit features a passenger lift connecting the various decks, something that is rare on smaller cruising vessels.

Le PonantPonant

Ponant built Le Ponant in 1991 as a gracious, sleekly designed three-masted yacht.

One of the most intimate cruise ships on the list with just 16 cabins. In fact, she went through a full refurbishment in 2019 and cabins were reduced down from 32. Le Ponant exudes luxury and ‘private yacht’ features.

French designer and architect Jean-Philippe Nuel put his refined touches to the ship during her refit; the cabins, public spaces and newly-added spa are all designed with modern furniture to compliment the light furnishings.

Want to learn more about the ins and outs of cruise design? Cruise Ship Interiors Design Expo Europe is the largest event in cruise ship interiors. Find out more about this action-packed event here.

Written by Kelly Ranson