One man’s passion for the sea has created the winds that fill the sails of Luxury Tall Ship Royal Albatross. Highway speaks to Mr Peter Pela, AA Member and Founder-CEO of Tall Ship Adventures Pte Ltd.
What is The Royal Albatross?
The Royal Albatross is a traditionally rigged Barquentine Tall Ship with square sails, whose design dates back to the 17th and 18th century. Formally known as Windy Il and operating from Navy Pier in Chicago, she sailed on Lake Michigan during the summer months taking guests for short sailing experiences and occasionally participating in tall ship races. Today, the Royal Albatross, Asia’s only luxury Tall Ship is berthed in Singapore and was recently awarded Singapore’s Most Outstanding Attraction Experience (Winner, Singapore Tourism Awards, 2022).
How did The Royal Albatross come about?
It was really a stroke of fate that saw me cross paths with this magnificent Tall Ship. I was exploring new career options after deciding to leave the IT industry at the age of 50, when I decided to pursue my passion for water activities such as fishing, diving and sailing. I was looking out for a suitable yacht and it was during my time in Chicago that I discovered Windy II was for sale. I remember thinking to myself how magnificent she would be in Singapore and the rest was history.
What were some of the challenges you faced as you transformed the ship to become the attraction it is today?
Singapore is one of the world’s busiest shipping ports – a very different environment compared to the lakes in Chicago. So, initially the Singapore authorities would not entertain allowing more than 60 persons on board. To be a commercially viable venture in Singapore, I needed a sailing capacity of up to 130 passengers, which meant having to take on major safety upgrades to international passenger ship certifications.
As the saying goes – in for a penny, in for a pound. So I took on the challenge to obtain all the necessary international certifications, which turned out to be a long voyage indeed! We are talking about an extensive modification to the vessel such as replacing the entire rig, strengthening the hull, installing watertight bulkheads, extending the keel, new decks and designing a new interior. It was a massive passion project and learning curve for me as I did not have a strong nautical background. After five years versus the planned 2.5 years and millions invested, the reconstruction was finally completed and we launched her in Singapore in 2014 as the Royal Albatross.
What are your most memorable moments onboard The Royal Albatross?
We’ve had many celebrities on board but the most memorable moment was hosting Her Royal Highness Princess Anne on board which was the finale to a charity event we supported that raised over $500,000 for the Mission of Seafarers.
What sets the Royal Albatross apart from the contemporary cruises that Singaporeans are familiar with?
The Royal Albatross is a one-of-a kind, uniquely Singapore maritime experience and Asia’s only Luxury Tall Ship. Our cruises are short, typically lasting around three hours from sunset, sailing around Singapore’s southern coastline with semi-fine dining and live entertainment on our open breezy decks under the stars. It’s an extremely romantic and memorable experience. With only a handful of Tall Ships left in public service worldwide, being able to sail on one is exceedingly rare.
What gave you the idea for the World’s first Dog Cruise?
Having two rescue dogs of my own, I understand that fur babies are part of the family and an experience of a lifetime is always better shared with those you care about. Unlike contemporary cruises, the Royal Albatross is not only pet-friendly, but also holds special Pet Cruises such as the world’s first Cat Cruise and the world’s first Dog Cruise. For pet lovers, it’s a unique way to bond with your fur baby and share a special experience with your entire family. The doggies love the experience, as it’s all about them with a seat at the table (high-chairs provided) and enjoy three-course fine-dining menu (complete with caviar).
I always envisioned a sail on board the Royal Albatross to be an unforgettable experience of a lifetime in terms of it being unique, luxurious, enjoyable and romantic – thereby creating a lifelong memory. Many of our clients are celebrating, so we have attractively-themed packages for all manner of events, occasions and important life moments with friends, colleagues, families and couples.
It is heartwarming that our guests constantly leave us glowing reviews on social media with 98% of our customers rating us 5/5 which we are exceedingly proud of. As word goes around, it has contributed to many of our accolades - 24 in fact (to date) including some pinnacle industry awards such as those voted in the top 1% of global attractions (TripAdvisor 2022) as well as Winner of the Most Outstanding Attraction Experience in 2022 in the Singapore Tourism Awards and the winner of this year’s Luxury Lifestyle Awards for the Best Luxury Experience in Singapore!
What is a must-try activity for first-time sailors of the Royal Albatross?
I would recommend the Royal Albatross’ seven-course degustation menu for the ultimate culinary journey and gourmet dine-and-sail experience. The food is truly amazing. For birthdays, we do offer celebratory packages and we specialise in setting up the perfect environment for a marriage proposal. If you’re looking to impress (and get a ‘yes’), look no further than the Royal Albatross!
Singaporeans are known for their love of good food, so what is special about the Royal Albatross’ Dining Experience? Please tell us more!
What is exciting about our dining experience is that we take pains to craft an epic foodie journey with our selection of international classics inspired by the Golden Age of Sailing and the Singapore Story, all served with a distinctive Singaporean twist. All of our food is sourced from certified Halal suppliers, freshly prepared and cooked on board by our own team of Singaporean Chefs, then served on our upper deck under the stars surrounded by water. The mood lighting makes the setting very romantic! Our unique Royal Albatross four-course and seven-course degustation menus feature divine dishes inspired by the best recipes and ingredients from Spain, India, Latin America, France, Singapore, Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam and Australia.
Here are samples of some of the mouthwatering dishes we offer on board:
- Sauteed Garlic Prawns with Roasted Peppers, Toasted Crostini, Avocado Puree polished with Balsamic Glaze
- Sous Vide Scallops with Grilled Octopus, Trout Roe with Fondant Potatoes, Cauliflower Puree accompanied with Chimichurri Sauce
- Boston Lobster with Somen immersed in decadent Laksa Gravy
- Pavlova, Soil, Mixed Berries, Macaron & Vanilla Gelato Ice Cream
- Flaming Baked Alaska (my personal favourite)
What is it like to be an AA Member?
I am delighted to be a member of the Automobile Association of Singapore, which is a one-stop destination for all my motoring needs. With the AA’s multi-faceted services, I know AA has my breakdown needs totally covered, so all I need to do is to focus on my passion for driving my car around beautiful Singapore. Of course, we all hope that we won’t breakdown; but it’s always a possibility so it’s great to have the peace of mind that I’m covered should it happen.
Is there anything else you would like to share with AA Members?
I would just like to personally shout out and invite all the AA Singapore members on board the one-of-a-kind Royal Albatross – Asia’s only Luxury Tall Ship! Our dine and sail experience is truly unique and creates priceless and unforgettable memories on board with your loved ones. I hope AA Singapore members will make the most of the exceptional 15% discount we are offering them when they book with us.
For AA Members:
Special discounts await AA Members when you make bookings with The Royal Albatross! Enjoy 15% off the following Royal Albatross experiences with promo code:
- Sunset Dinner Cruise
- City Lights Dinner Cruise
- Breakfast Cruise
- Cat Cruise
- Dog Cruise
- Pirates Ahoy!
Make your bookings here: https://www.aas.com.sg/?s=royal+albatross
Enquire with the friendly staff at https://www.tallship.com.sg/ and find out how they can help you craft a most memorable maritime adventure as you answer the call of the high seas!