Club Med's Yacht Just Started Sailing All-inclusive Cruises, After a $10-million Makeover — Here's What It's Like on Board

Club Med touts the vessel as the largest sailing yacht in the world.

Aerial overview of the Club Med Yacht 2 out on the water

Courtesy of Club Med

Gazing out at the vibrantly blue water, noshing on French gorgonzola, a crusty baguette, and a crisp glass of sauvignon blanc, while staff in blue-and-white-striped shirts buzz around me, I couldn't help but think, am I in the south of France?

No, I was, in fact, in the middle of the Caribbean Sea aboard Club Med 2, which just got a $10,800,000 renovation by the all-inclusive beach and ski resort brand. The ship embarked on its inaugural Caribbean journey with 90 percent French clientele from St. Martin (I boarded later, from the British Virgin Island’s Tortola for the final three nights of the cruise). And yet, I found myself in a mini France, because the 73-year-old brand is headquartered in Paris and French is the primary language spoken by Club Med’s GOs (the acronym for gentile organisateur, which translates to “nice organizer”). All signs are in English and French, and when I flipped on my cabin TV, I was greeted by Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga singing in dubbed French.

After a transatlantic launch in October 2022, the 184-cabin, 368-passenger, five-masted yacht just completed its first Caribbean itinerary. It’s the only Club Med yacht and, according to the hospitality brand, the largest sailing yacht in the world. On March 31, Club Med 2 relocates to the Mediterranean for sailings through early fall. (And no, you haven’t missed Club Med 1. It’s been sailing as a Windstar ship since Windstar bought it in 1998.)

Club Med’s North American and Caribbean CEO and president Carolyne Doyon, a Montreal native who works out of the brand’s Miami office, explains that Club Med 2 was put into service in 1992, and only refurbished once (in 2008). So, the 614-foot yacht was in desperate need of an update. 

The Club Med Yacht 2 out on the water

Courtesy of Club Med

“We believe it’s the right time,” Doyon says of relaunching the yacht. We were dining together at Le Monte Carlo, the fine-dining restaurant, on a sea day. “Following COVID, people are more in touch with their surroundings.” In an earlier brand presentation, she said it best: “Luxury has evolved. Now luxury is much more experiential.”

Affluent travelers, she says, seek out well-being–focused and eco-friendly travel opportunities; this yacht is mostly powered through its sails, with some help from the engine. One deck hosts 10 water activities, such as windsurfing and kayaking. There’s even a Hobie Eclipse mini sailboat. Eco-friendly promises include no plastics, reducing fuel consumption by 30 percent, cutting down on food waste, and choosing only natural or organic partners, such as French beauty brand Sothys for in-cabin toiletries and spa products.

In one of the spa’s four treatment rooms, the aroma of lemons (courtesy of Sothys) filled the space as I listened to faux birds chirping during a 50-minute massage. In one of those small-world moments, I’d actually traveled to the therapist’s town in France, reminding me why we travel: to discover these connections. The spa also provides salon services such as haircuts and manicures.  

Interior of the Le Yacht Club Lounge on board the Club Med Yacht 2

Courtesy of Club Med

A partnership with Yoga by Heberson’s Heberson Oliveira — who teaches yoga in Paris — provides each sailing with five yoga, meditation, or breathing classes daily. During a class on the sundeck, Oliveira encouraged us to be one with the sea and cup our hands like a seashell while in a meditative pose.

Club Med 2 aims to focus on doing what other ships can’t. “That we are smaller means we can go into ports they cannot, like Venice,” Doyon says.

“We want to internationalize the product. It’s mainly European [now],” Doyon continues. “North Americans love the all-inclusive concept. It’s a no-tip policy. It’s all included. [Even] Champagne — real Champagne — not prosecco.” Only shore excursions or premium alcohol carry an additional fee.

A dining room on board the Club Med Yacht 2

Courtesy of Club Med 

There are no closet-like interior cabins. Every cabin features two porthole windows and more storage than I’ve seen on other cruise ships. There are 10 suites—with two baths each—and an owner’s suite.  None of the cabins have balconies but with 29,000 square feet of brand-new teak decks you don’t have to fight for a lounger.

The Le Cannes Bar on board the Club Med Yacht 2

Courtesy of Club Med

Four-hour excursions happen in the mornings and afternoons. “Our guests want something exclusive,” says shore excursions director Saida Dridi. “It’s a small group [including] a guide and an escort from the ship, helping them and trying to make them happy.” When I ask about her favorite excursion, Dridi’s face lights up. It’s to the San Blas Islands community in Panama where Indigenous community members welcome Club Med 2 guests.

We docked at Catalina Island in the Dominican Republic, where Club Med takes over the beach and serves empanadas, drinks, and grilled fish. Oliveira led a yoga session and designed poses to always face the sea. Sure, the beach is upside down while in a downward dog, but it’s still the beach and not a gym wall.

Refurbishing the ship took two months. It’s a combination of little things (like USB ports by the bed or quieter machines at the gym so spa guests below aren’t subjected to noise) and a total makeover of Le Monte Carlo and Saint Tropez restaurants, and the Yacht Club Lounge. At Le Monte Carlo, shades of blue, yellow, and white are accented by nautical décor, plus mirrored walls reflecting the sun rays. It’s what designer Sophie Jacqmin dubs “chic but cozy.”

The Le Saint Barth Bar on board the Club Med Yacht 2

Courtesy of Club Med

View from the pool deck on board the Club Med Yacht 2

Courtesy of Club Med

Club Med 2 is not a cruise ship. It’s a sailing ship,” says cruise director Jean-Charles Thillays, who is (thankfully) not organizing cheesy talent contests or trivia nights. There are themed dress nights — all-white, bohemian-chic, etc. — but no “formal” evenings. On the all-white night, Portofino Bar’s aft-side deck felt magical, with white tablecloths, glowing white balls floating in one of the two saltwater pools, acrobats performing, and every guest wearing breezy white clothing.

Perusing the Saint Tropez restaurant with Normandy, France, native Amélie Brouhard, Club Med’s vice president of marketing for North America and the United States, she shares that the chefs on board were recently trained in plant-based cuisine. And it’s not Impossible burgers or a salad bar; Trinidad aloo channa, a fragrant curry, is one example at Saint Tropez. One morning I drank an orange detox juice at Saint Tropez, although I’m pretty sure my pain au chocolat canceled it out.

Food here is fresh, healthy, and inventive. “Sometimes when we are at a port, the executive chef will go to the market and get some fish and vegetables,” GO Luka Sanz said on a ship tour, about Le Monte Carlo. “The idea is to work with fresh, local products, like food from Cuba. Also, you will find French cheese because of the French consumers [on board] and we like our French cheese.’

As a veritable cheese expert with a cheese book to my name, I studied the cheese selection at Saint Tropez closely, when a GO walked over to help me out, proving the “1.5 GOs to every two passengers” ratio the brand touts. Only he doesn’t just plate the cheese for me, he tells me a story of growing up in the region where comté is made.

That’s the kind of service you get on Club Med 2.

Sailing costs aboard Club Med 2 start at $1,200 per person for a three-night voyage departing from Nice, France, in September, while seven-night Caribbean sailings start at $6,096 per person.

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