Norwegians Anett and Tor signed up for their first sailing on Christian Radich in 2018. Their four-day leg from Sunderland to Esbjerg was part of that summer’s Tall Ships Race. Despite some minor apprehension, they both had a marvellous time and their message to those mulling a similar escape is simply: ‘Plan early and go for it.’

 

Both Anett and Tor have busy jobs working in Oslo for a global media group. “We wanted to have an ‘active’ vacation, and to do something different,” Anett says. “On land we like getting to know new places but we’ve not been sailing or on a cruise. We’ve always admired tall ships, so we thought why not Christian Radich?”

 

She confesses they already have a link to the ship having helped to host a party on board every other year during the Nor-Shipping industry exhibition. “Loads of people want an invite but we have to be very strict due to the limited space. It’s like a can of sardines but very jolly.”

 

But sipping cocktails on deck and sailing on the ship for real are very different. The couple really didn’t know what to expect and were very excited as their departure date loomed. “The only thing I was a bit sceptical about was being able to sleep OK, as you’re all assigned a bunk. But it turned out to be no problem. With all that sea air I promise you’ll sleep like a log.”

 

The competitive aspect of taking part in a popular race made things even more fun. “The crew’s enthusiasm infected all of us,” Anett says. “They were full on to win the race outright but when that wasn’t possible, the next best thing was to beat the other Norwegian ships!”

 

Going up the masts is entirely voluntary. “I was impressed how many amateurs climbed the rigging and got to work on the sails. Watching them manoeuvre 20 to 30 metres up was quite something. I’m afraid Tor and I bottled out of that bit. Maybe next time!”

 

But it’s certainly not all work, work, work. “Everyone has their own shift – four hours on, eight hours off, four hours on – so there’s plenty of time to relax, socialize with fellow ‘sailors’ and just enjoy the sights and sounds of the sea. There’s no internet, so make sure to bring a book along too.”

 

The couple particularly appreciated the mix of nationalities on board. “People came from all over Europe and we ranged in age from 16 to 70. It was a great bunch of people.”

 

She suggests it suits just about everybody – couples, families, groups of friends – although she reckons 15 as a minimum age is about right. “Most of the tasks are physical, so you also need to be at least normally fit. Accommodation-wise there’s not much privacy, so if that’s an issue, it’s probably not the right vacation for you.”

 

Anett emphasizes that Christian Radich is a big ship and that the majority of people onboard (at least on their trip) will be amateurs. “Safety is everything and obviously it’s important to follow orders given by the crew. The level of discipline is higher than you might expect but that just made the whole experience even more different and fun. It felt completely natural and we had total confidence in the captain and his team.”

 

You certainly won’t go hungry. Both Anett and Tor were really impressed with the food. “A buffet breakfast, generous lunch and two-course dinner were served every day below deck. But of course, no alcohol. I enjoy a glass of wine now and again but didn’t miss it at all.”

 

Early planning is essential, she adds. “Christian Radich is very popular and quickly gets sold out. It’s definitely not a last-minute thing. Four days was the perfect length for us,” she says.

 

Anett says the entire trip is a lasting memory. “It was 10 out 10 and exactly what we wanted. We went home feeling refreshed and I’ve been spreading the word!”

 

Will they be back? “Absolutely. We had wanted to sail up the coast of Spain and Portugal last summer but then came corona. We’ll try again this summer if it’s possible or failing that, next year. Yes, we will definitely be doing it again!”