(6:13 p.m. EST) -- While the rest of the cruising world was celebrating the arrival of Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas, the largest cruise ship ever built, another, smaller cruise line was quietly closing its doors. In a letter on the cruise line's Web site dated November 13, Canadian Sailing Expeditions' owners announced that the line had ceased to operate due to financial difficulties.
The cruise line focused on sailing expeditions in eastern Canada, Quebec and the Caribbean. It balanced its no-frills ships with an emphasis on the culture, history and nature of the destinations on its itineraries.
Canadian Sailing Expeditions, which started out by chartering third party-owned tall ships, had high hopes for its future. So high, in fact, that it purchased a commercial fishing boat, stripped it down to its lower hull and rebuilt it as a three-masted sailing ship, which it named Caledonia. Unfortunately, the planned 2007 launch was delayed two and a half months.
This "resulted in a negative domino effect on cash reserves for the company," according to the online statement. Canadian Sailing Expeditions entered into CCAA (bankruptcy protection) in June 2008. In January of this year, the cruise line joined forces with "with other parties in a new venture to create a consolidation in the small ship sailing cruise sector."
Although the consolidation project is ongoing, the company could not maintain the resources necessary to keep Canadian Sailing Expeditions afloat during the recent economic crisis. The cruise line states that it will return all deposits made for future voyages; however, it gives no details about the consolidation project that used up all its capital.
Efforts to reach Canadian Sailing Expeditions for comment were not successful. The line's closing is a blow to windjammer cruising fans, who seem to keep losing their favorite cruise lines (Windjammer Barefoot Cruises went out of business in 2008).
However, there is a bright spot in all of this bad news: new cruise line Island Windjammers has recently come on the scene. Its first cruise set sail on November 15.
--by Erica Silverstein, Senior Editor
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Canadian Sailing Expeditions Closes Shop
December 3, 2009