SINGAPORE – Overseas proposals and birthday trips may have been scuppered due to the coronavirus pandemic, but a sunset cruise aboard luxury sailing ship Royal Albatross is a unique and dreamy alternative.

Birthday celebrations take place almost every night and proposals about once a week on the sailing ship, which resumed sunset dinner cruises this month.

My 5pm cruise on a Saturday evening, the ship’s most popular time slot, is fully booked at 50 persons, down from an average of 130 pre-pandemic.

Boarding starts about 45 minutes before departure from a berth outside Sentosa’s Adventure Cove Waterpark, so come early to pick your seat.

Tables at the bow offer an unblocked view, while those at the stern are close to the popular and highly Instagrammable flying seat, an elevated bench backdropped by the horizon.

It is grey and drizzly, like many other September evenings, but awnings keep the rain out – though they also obscure our view of the four masts and 22 sails the ship is known for.

Built in 2001 in the United States, the ship’s sails and rigging were designed by master rigger Jim Barry, who is behind the ships featured in the Pirates Of The Caribbean movies.

In 2008, it appeared in The Dark Knight as the private yacht of Batman’s alter ego, Bruce Wayne.

The same year, chief executive officer and founder of Royal Albatross Peter Pela bought over the ship, pumping in millions of dollars and about 360,000 man-hours to transform it into the luxury sailing ship of the present.

It is money well spent, for the yacht sails beautifully. It slips noiselessly from the dock and we glide past familiar landmarks such as Universal Studios and Singapore Cruise Centre with ease.

We pass Sentosa’s trifecta of beaches, yachts berthed at One15 Marina and bungalows at Sentosa Cove. It all feels very Crazy Rich Asians.

Amid the gawking, waiters serve a three-course dinner – my smoked salmon roulade, pan-seared halibut and cappuccino mocha mousse are tasty, if not the most memorable. A menu revamp is under way, helmed by a new chef who will include more Asian influences into the dishes.

Between the food, view and posing for pictures, there is plenty to keep guests entertained. Nobody seems to mind that entertainment such as a live band or watching adventurous guests take on the mast climb (and sometimes propose up there) have been temporarily halted.

Instead, we wave at sun-kissed leisure seekers on pleasure craft and people camping and fishing on St John’s Island.

Golden hour descends on our return journey to Sentosa. The 2½-hour sail is over too soon.

After all other guests have disembarked – group by group, in accordance with safe distancing measures – staff bring out a bouquet for a woman. Her partner goes down on one knee.

And of course, she says yes.

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