Luckily our ancestors from the sixteenth century and up were plenty smart. They found the Atlantic had very reliable “wind roads” — which they used to sail to the Caribbean relatively safely. The trade winds — and they’re so useful precisely because they’re very predictable.
Each new season we can be sure the trade winds bring us to the land of the free.
We start here
We set sail from Gibraltar, but the Canary Islands is the natural port of departure for this crossing since from there we can take advantage of the trade winds that will push us towards the Caribbean coast. Warm winds, crystal clear cerulean waters and the reflection of the moon on midnight waves. These islands are anyone and everyone’s perfect sailing destination. The total distance of this journey is about 3,700 nautical miles. It will roughly take Discovery three to four weeks to cross the Atlantic.
The right time to cross the Atlantic from Europe to the Windward Islands begins when winter starts in Europe. We will leave during the second half of November so that we can make landfall in the Caribbean before Christmas. The crossing of the Atlantic is quite a journey. It’s the second-largest ocean in the world, after the Pacific, and covers about 41 million square miles, which is 20% of the Earth’s surface.
The gorgeous coral island of Barbados comes first and covers just 166 square kilometers where it lies far out to sea, 98 miles east of the West Indies. Alongside its endless white sand beaches, Barbados’ epic shoreline hides secret caves and underground lakes.
Above ground — but underwater — you’ll find some unparalleled snorkeling opportunities here, often featuring friendly sea turtles. That’s not to mention the island’s beautiful tidal pools, and incredible surf spots. But aside from these gorgeous natural phenomena, Barbados has a very rich culture and history.
Next is little St-Lucia lies at the heart of the Eastern Caribbean chain offering up beautiful palm-fringed beaches, expanses of untouched rainforests and, of course, the iconic Piton mountains. St Lucia is known for is champagne sunsets and clear starry skies, making it the dream destination for a romantic couples holiday. On a trip along its shores, you’ll come across waterfalls and mineral baths.
Something new and unexpected hides around every corner. You’re sure also to find that the locals are incredibly hospitable and that you’ll be well taken care of wherever on the island you end up.
Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçau: The archipelago of fun in the Caribbean are just on our way to Colon. These Caribbean islands trifecta is famous for embracing different cultures and having some of the most iconic vistas in the tropics. Aruba is famous for its lively Caribbean spirit, while Bonaire is known for its quiet and remote vibe, and Curacao has colorful architecture and picture-perfect beaches.
San Blas Islands
We will sail through the magical landscape and culture of Guna Yala. In this island world of over 300 islands, better known as the San Blas Islands. We immerse in untouched nature. If you wish, we take you on a jungle hike or take a dinghy to one of the rivers to feel the special charm the subtropical jungle oozes. We sail to islands packed with palm trees, which are surrounded by a powdery sandy beach and lined by a wonderful reef to snorkel.
A voyage through the Panama Canal is filled with views of lush terrain and calm waters. This marvelous achievement of modernity is best witnessed from the bow of the ship, where you'll see the revolutionary mechanism of the canal at work when it elevates the vessel.
As we make our way between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, we’ll pass by Soberania National Park, a region of protected rainforest and you may even spot one of the many species of rare birds that inhabit the forest.
You'll see three lock systems as you make your way through the canal: Miraflores, Pedro Miguel and Gatun. From Discovery, you'll get great views of Soberania National Park, a 55,000-acre area of protected rainforest that's home countless species of birds, mammals and reptiles. See if you can catch a glimpse of an orange-chinned parakeet or a white-faced capuchin monkey.
Coconut [Milk Run]
Sailing into the South Pacific has the reputation of being that much further, wilder, more exotic, and more remote than any previous boating a lot of us have done. From the shores of Panama to reaching the harbor in New Zealand or Australia some 7,000 miles later, the clock is ticking to explore the numerous islands sprinkled across this vast expanse of blue before the cyclone season comes round again.
The Pacific is a lot of water to cover and we are choosing to take more than one season over our cruising adventures in this magnificent place. Discovery’s westwards sailing track across the Pacific is named the Milk Run.
The Milk Run takes us through the Galapagos Islands, the Marquesas Islands, the Tuamotu Islands and the Society Islands or French Polynesia. From the beautiful land and seascapes to the welcoming spiritual energy, a journey of discovery in these remote spots lifts mind, body and soul.
Polynesian culture encompasses ancient traditions and the connection between the people and their exotic surroundings. Feel inspired, as so many writers and artists have done before as you explore the exotic heart of this unforgettable place.
Going from the Galapagos to the Marquesas is by far the longest stretch of the journey, taking you across about 3,000 nautical miles of open water. This 3,000- mile leg may be the longest in a westbound circumnavigation and will generally take around three weeks to complete.
Following an 800-mile run from the Marquesas, our Milk Run continues through French Polynesia touching the Tuamotu Islands and the dramatically high and rugged Society Islands. The Tuamotus are only a day sail from each other, and most of the Societies are the same.
The run from the Tuamotus to the Societies is only about 200 miles. Leaving French Polynesia, the Cook Islands are next — perhaps the most widely spread and sparsely extant country in the world. Voyagers visiting the Northern Cooks with us will call at Samoa before continuing to Tonga.
Still relatively unknown by many tourists and travellers, the Solomon Islands bring together adventurers looking for WWII history, rich cultural traditions, unique natural wonders and stunningly diverse wildlife. When you’re not enjoying the pure beauty of the unspoilt white sand beaches, we will take you out to the clear blue waters to see a spectacular underwater volcano and beautiful protected reefs.
Exploring the archipelago of 80 islands that forms Vanuatu will give you a taste for more. You can take in some exquisite diving, including the wrecks of SS Coolidge and Million Dollar Point, as well as snorkelling, volcano hiking and fishing.
to be continued....
The Cook Islands, Tonga and Fiji are just some of the many highlights, so don’t be tempted to rush back home too quickly and sign-up for our 5 years odyssey since crossing the world’s largest oceans is a life-changing challenge.
Rather than focusing too much on the length of the journey, consider it a chance to settle into your adventure and appreciate the solitude of the sail. It’s worth taking the time with us to explore and you’ll find you can spend months, even years, adventuring with us.