Will Windjammer Sail This Weekend?
More Trouble for Windjammer?
Readers Respond to Windjammer Woes
Windjammer -- Is it Over?
Update: With Legacy's December 8 and December 17 voyages canceled, Windjammer is once again inviting guests to rebook on a post-April 2008 voyage -- or request a refund of the cruise fare paid (air costs not booked directly with Windjammer will not be covered). See below for more information.
(November 21) -- Since we reported last week that Windjammer Barefoot Cruises canceled yet another three voyages, we've received many e-mails from cruisers wondering how, when and if they'll get a refund. Understandably, simply rescheduling on a future sailing isn't an acceptable alternative for the many readers who've watched the financially strapped cruise line struggle to stay afloat since it ceased operations in September.
Well, we can't guarantee that you will get your money back -- based on some of the angrier notes in my inbox, it seems you may have better luck shaking dollar bills out of a broken vending machine -- but we can recommend where to start.
If your cruise has been canceled and you want your money back....
Windjammer passengers should call reservations at 800-327-2601 to request a refund. Be forewarned, though, that there is no timeline as to when you can expect a check. Cruise Critic reader Elaine Daniels, who was supposed to sail on October 27, writes in via e-mail: "We have followed their directions requesting a refund via fax (would not respond), a letter sent USPS and a certified letter. I received a return receipt so I know they received it. This is robbery! There is no other word for it!"
If you have contacted Windjammer and have not received a refund or are unsatisfied with the company's response, your best bet would be to contact your credit card company to dispute the charges. detabbert posts on our Windjammer forum: "MasterCard is working with us to refund our money. Windjammer is still not answering the phone." And ilndsfme reports success, too: "I contacted my credit card company (Chase) and explained the situation. They sent me some paperwork for details and I got a credit on my account within a few weeks."
One caveat: All credit card companies have different policies; SailorJM posts: "Our credit union put our money back into our account, since we paid with our Visa card for our September 29 cruise that never happened. It is a provisional refund, as the credit union and Visa continue attempts to contact Windjammer. I am not sure what happens next, but our credit union has been very responsive. Unlike Windjammer."
If you've got tickets for a future cruise and can't get answers....
The Attorney General's office in Florida is welcoming consumers to call in complaints and concerns about Windjammer; call 866-966-7226 within Florida, 850-414-3990 from elsewhere. You can also file your information online. You might also consider filing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.
If you are looking to cancel a future cruise you may want to try the same avenue we've recommended to those displaced on canceled voyages -- though there are, again, no guarantees. Your travel agent may be able to do this on your behalf.
If you're considering a Windjammer voyage....
For true fans -- and those who don't mind a little risky business -- Windjammer is apparently still selling cruises. Just last week, the cruise line issued an electronic newsletter advertising discounted cruises in January and February on Legacy. Payment is due in full at the time of booking -- via PayPal, we might add. Whether or not those cruises will sail, though, is anyone's guess. And as we previously reported, it seems highly unethical for a cruise line to sell cruises it isn't prepared to deliver.
Beyond the Fleet
The financial problems seemingly go beyond the fleet of sailing ships. We have received several e-mails from readers who invested in a timeshare via Windjammer -- a ship that was intended to sail the Greek Isles and South Pacific -- and have been disappointed.
Catherine Robinson writes in: "On August 22, 2004 my husband and I purchased a timeshare from Windjammer, which was supposed to give us 10 weeks on a new ship, the La Mer. To date, the ship is not operational. We've sent two letters to Windjammer requesting a refund, and have received no response."
Melanie Spickelmier, too, has a lot to lose: "Way back in May 2004 my husband and I invested in the Association De La Mer Timeshare program for $17,000," she tells us via e-mail. "They had purchased another boat (The La Mer) that was supposed to be refurbished and sail one year in the Greek islands and the next in the South Pacific. Since we purchased this the ship is still in dry dock somewhere in Trinidad (or so the rumor has it) and I have had to use four of my timeshare cruises (the total is 10) [onboard] the other ships. If Windjammer goes belly up I not only lose this cruise but the other five they owe me."
Cruise Critic's repeated calls to Windjammer representatives for more information have not been returned.
It's important to note that among the disgruntled are those who support or at least sympathize with Windjammer. Cruise Critic reader Dick Weber writes in via e-mail: "I have been a small business man most of my life and sympathize with the family trying to keep the business going in spite of various legal problems. The one sibling that has jumped in to try and make sense of the mess and piece the business back together is probably sincere in his efforts....
"I do wish the family well and hope that [they] can pull off a miracle and get one ship sailing again until cash flow allows the second ship to rejoin the fleet etc. It's sad when a line like that falters because they did once have a viable business that pleased a lot of people."
We'll keep you posted.
--by Melissa Baldwin, Managing Editor