(7:30 p.m. EST) -- When Windjammer Barefoot Cruises (WBC) went out of business in 2008, it left a void in the cruise industry. No other cruise line was offering the same style of casual, laid-back cruise experience on a real sailing ship in the Caribbean -- until now.
On November 15, Island Windjammers will embark on its first-ever cruise onboard the 12-passenger Diamant (formerly sailing for Angermeyer Cruises in the Galapagos). The fledgling cruise line was formed by former Windjammer Barefoot Cruises passengers, who were loyal to that line's crew and looking for a new casual cruise alternative. The new line will offer six-night cruises from Grenada to six Grenadine islands: Carriacou, Union Island, Bequia, Tobago Cays, Mayreau and Palm Island.
Although Island Windjammers is loosely modeled on Windjammer Barefoot Cruises, company president Liz Harvey emphatically asserts that the company has no official connection with the defunct cruise line. "We are taking the very best of the old Windjammer Barefoot Cruises and putting our own new spin on it," says Harvey. Like the old line, the new one will offer a casual vacation experience, with no dress codes, minimal programming, and a focus on friendship and fun. Many of the crewmembers are former WBC crew, including the ship's captain.
However, Island Windjammers will move away from the drunken debauchery for which the barefoot cruises were infamous. "We may have evening activities like make your own rum swizzle, but there will be no Pirates & Pimps parties," says Harvey. And the management team is completely different, though all are former WBC passengers -- including Harvey, who raised more than $40,000 to send stranded crewmembers home when Windjammer Barefoot Cruises collapsed, and Cynthia Basham, who is the founder of the "Flotilla" online community for WBC fans.
Although Island Windjammers is starting small, it has big plans. "The plan from the beginning has been to get a larger vessel," says Harvey. She hopes to expand the fleet and the ports of call on offer, so more people can experience casual cruising. Right now, the company is focused on getting started with the one ship it has.
If you're tired of "froufrou" ships or intrigued by the thought of a different cruise experience, here are all the relevant details about planning an Island Windjammers vacation. The six-night cruises start at $1,699 per person in the high season (November 15, 2009 to May 29, 2010) and $1,599 in the low season (May 30 to November 13, 2010). Fares for $1,299 are available on select dates. Single travelers can be paired with a roommate or pay 175 percent of the fare. Children younger than age 6 are not allowed onboard; children ages 6 to 12 pay 50 percent of the adult rate. Cruise fares include all meals, gratuities, draft beer, wine and soft drinks. Snorkel equipment is available for rent for $20 a week, and the line is partnering with dive companies to offer snorkeling and diving trips in port. Minimal shore excursions are on offer, mostly in Grenada, as the other ports are small and easily explored independently.
While some people may complain that the prices are too steep for casual cruising, Harvey counters that the price is quite reasonable for an all-inclusive Caribbean vacation. For more information or to book a cruise, call Island Windjammers at 877-772-4549.
--by Erica Silverstein, Senior Editor
Image appears courtesy of Island Windjammers, Inc.
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New Cruise Line, Old Concept: Windjammer Reborn?
November 11, 2009