Steady winds with gusts over 45 knots were in the forecast, which meant that our intended port of Dubrovnik was closed by local authorities, so our expedition leader and captain put their heads together for an alternative plan. A day at sea is always a gift on board the majestic Sea Cloud, as it provides an opportunity to showcase the ship’s talented crew and expedition staff. Captain Svendsen invited guests who had their sea legs up to the lido bar for coffee, which included a look at the week’s weather, stories of his path to becoming a captain and important mentors along the way (particularly his grandparents and traditional Hawaiian watermen), and an in-depth personal account of how he survived the sinking of the Bounty where he served as chief mate and was rescued by Coast Guard helicopter during Hurricane Sandy. The rest of the morning was spent with shipmates relaxing on the outer decks and getting to know each other, and certified photo instructor Sue Forbes offered a walking photo workshop of the ship.

During the afternoon, historian Rebecca Ingram lectured on, “The Ottoman Empire and the Balkans: From Millet to Nation State,” setting the stage for our upcoming destinations of Montenegro, Albania, and Greece with a brief intermission for a fabulous rainbow pointed out by a guest. The bridge team timed our approach to the Bay of Kotor to align with sunset and golden hour, and once the local pilot was on board, guests were awestruck at the famous, fjord-like “Black Mountains” lined with defunct submarine tunnels, idyllic beachside resorts, and numerous pleasure crafts sharing the waters with us. Sea Cloud navigated her way through narrow channels as guests enjoyed oysters and champagne on deck to welcome them to the country of Montenegro.

After coming alongside, expedition leader Paula had organized a surprise of traditional klapa folk musicians to come on board and serenade guests before dinner. The music is part of a centuries-old tradition, and listening to the intertwining melodies was a beautiful welcome indeed. A few guests braved the incoming thunderstorm to take in the nightlife of Kotor, with palpable excitement in the air for a country that many were visiting for the first time.