36 Island Windjammers Vela Cruise Reviews

Island Windjammer had been on my bucket list for quite a few years, and we finally had the opportunity to join the Vela and cruise the windward islands from St. Lucia. Admittedly, we have cruised the mega ships about a dozen times in ... Read More
Island Windjammer had been on my bucket list for quite a few years, and we finally had the opportunity to join the Vela and cruise the windward islands from St. Lucia. Admittedly, we have cruised the mega ships about a dozen times in the past, and when I saw the sign onboard “If you’re not barefoot, you’re overdressed” I felt at home immediately. Boarding was seamless. The staff met us at the designated spot and took our luggage in one raft while we followed on another. Once boarding the ship we had the obligatory safety talk and then had the chance to explore the ship, chat with your mates for the next week or unpack your bag, which by this time had been delivered to our cabin. The first night on the open seas was rocky, and as someone who has never been seasick before, I felt a bit queasy myself. Once I got use to the rocking of the ship it was quite peaceful, and after 24 hours I found my “sea legs”. Cabins: OK, we were warned that the cabins were “cozy”, and I now know what they meant! We had a Deluxe Cabin, which had a double lower and single bunk. We also had our own bathroom & shower, but considering the minimal amount of time you spend in your cabin we made it work. (although one of us had to leave the room to make room for the other to unpack!). When they state storage is minimal and to bring soft sided luggage they mean it. Travel mates: Interesting make-up of travel mates - 2 Canadians, 2 Brits and the rest American. At 53 & 55 years of age, we were the youngest on board. Nevertheless we made fast friends and there was always great discussions going on. Activities: Not sure whether it was the makeup of this particular date, but the activities on the ship were quite low-key. I looked forward to doing some of the things I heard of from other reviews, such as using the paddle boards, night snorkeling and the rope swing, but none of those materialized. Luckily the itinerary was fantastic. Itinerary: After 10 mega-ship cruises around various Caribbean islands, we were most looking forward to experiencing different ports of call, and the Vela did not disappoint. The crew was excellent in offering us a variety of options at each port when possible, and at some stops we partook in multiple activities. It seems the zodiac was always on the go, dropping us off or picking us up at multiple locations. For example, at St Vincent we had the option to hike up Fort Duvrnette, lounging at a resort, strolling the boardwalk or all three. The trip was full of little surprises also, optional hikes at some stops, a night-time bonfire on a beach, a visit to Happy Island, and keeping us guessing with what our final stop would be. Crew: Tanya, our Operations Manager was excellent. Each day she would fill the whiteboard with the following days activities and options, and though it must be like herding cats, she did a great job of keeping us mostly on schedule. Our stewards Stephen and Jermaine were always smiling and ready to provide top-notch service, whether it was while dining or tending to our cabins. Captain Nervo was very hospitable, and you could tell he was proud of the Vela and ready to show it off or talk sailing anytime. Food: I wasn’t sure what to expect as a somewhat fussy eater, but cook Robert did a fantastic job of offering a wide variety of excellent meals and snacks, and I never went hungry. Considering the small size of his galley he worked wonders in there. All in all, this was an excellent trip and I’m left with wonderful memories and pictures to remind me of the Vela - Beautiful rainbows, stunning sunsets, uncrowded beaches, our cultural tour in Mayreau (aka Pub Crawl!), cool little beach bars, great rum and new friends. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
We chose this cruise because of the ship and the destinations. Vela is a very beautiful, three masted tall-ship. She takes a maximum of 26 passengers with a crew of 10. We had very personal service from the booking process onwards, ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the ship and the destinations. Vela is a very beautiful, three masted tall-ship. She takes a maximum of 26 passengers with a crew of 10. We had very personal service from the booking process onwards, nothing was difficult. We joined the ship in Rodney Bay, St Lucia. We were taken out to the ship on dinghies. We had up-graded to the Owners Cabin which was absolutely lovely, a huge bed, space all around, an excellent shower room and even a DVD player - not that we ever bothered with that, the views outside were far better night or day! This was our second week on Vela. We had a "deluxe" cabin the first week which was fairly "cosy"! However, as you only sleep or change in the cabins, it was perfectly adequate if you are fairly mobile and agile! The Staysail, Compass and obviously the OC do give you a bit more space. We sailed south to Union Island and then back to Tobago Cays which are my favourite place on earth! The colours in the seas are just exquisite and we swam with sea turtles and rays among many other fish. Then on to Bequia and back to Rodney Bay. There was an excellent variety of fresh food for each meal, each day. We were served breakfasts in the saloon area, with lunch and dinners being outside as weather and sailing conditions allowed. Almost each day we had shore excursions, sometimes island tours, sometimes just shopping trips and in the evening we sometimes sampled the local bars in the ports. Our Ops Manager Tanya, handled all the admin behind the scenes and organised our excursions and games etc on board, always professional and friendly at the same time. In fact, the whole crew managed that difficult balance of being professional but also being friendly and sociable with the passengers as well. Our Captain was great fun and he had our safety at heart at all times, we had utter confidence in them all. We would definitely go again if time and finance permits! But there are so many other destinations we still need to see. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
This was my 2nd cruise with Island Windjammers. I'll be going on my third in a couple of months. The crew was absolutely amazing, Captain Alexis, Luis, Leah, Romaine, Stephen, Robert, Ponchoo, Frederick, Lennox and last but by no ... Read More
This was my 2nd cruise with Island Windjammers. I'll be going on my third in a couple of months. The crew was absolutely amazing, Captain Alexis, Luis, Leah, Romaine, Stephen, Robert, Ponchoo, Frederick, Lennox and last but by no means least, Steelo! Getting to know your crew the way you can on Island Windjammer ships is a unique and brilliant opportunity. The passengers were the nicest group and like on the first cruise I took I have made many more friends. It is an experience that everyone should seek to enjoy. The sign in the dining area says it best, If You Are Not Barefoot you are Overdressed. Casual, peaceful, fun, relaxing are only some of the words to describe the cruise. The food is amazing and there is always more than enough. The opportunity to go to the smaller beaches is fantastic and truly a representation of the beautiful islands that you will be able to sail to and enjoy. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
It has been a many-decades long dream of mine to sail the Caribbean. I never quite got around to it when I was young enough to captain my own sailboat. As we are all aware, such fantasies are rarely matched by the reality of the eventual ... Read More
It has been a many-decades long dream of mine to sail the Caribbean. I never quite got around to it when I was young enough to captain my own sailboat. As we are all aware, such fantasies are rarely matched by the reality of the eventual trip. So as a 70 year old, reasonably fit traveler, off I went, and I can report that this trip, in all ways, exceeded my long help tropical sail dream. Some opinions on few important general items: -This is not a cruise ship, and will likely not appeal to those who love the big cruise ship experience. The crowds and lines and glitz and glimmer of large ships have never appealed to me, so this was really my cup of tea (or glass of rum). -This is a sailing vessel. There is considerable rocking and rolling during transit. The weather and seas were fairly tame as open-water sailing goes. Four of the 16 guests developed mild seasickness early in the voyage. None had to miss any meals or activities. Do bring sea sickness meds that you have tried out before the trip if you think you might be prone, and plan on exercising some caution as you walk about the ship during transit, especially for the first day or two. The captain always anchors the ship in protected harbors or leeward locations, so most of the time things are pretty calm and stable. -As an older somewhat overweight guy with 2 knee replacements, I had no difficulties with any of the activities. You do need a degree of flexibility and fitness to navigate the fairly steep stairway down to your cabin, to get on and off the dingy (excellent assistance from the crew with this maneuver), and to enjoy the hikes and snorkeling. -I loved the activities on this trip, but other reviewers seem to have expected more of a cruise ship experience. Expect time on gorgeous beaches, time swimming and snorkeling in amazingly clear and warm water, lounging on deck, and visiting small towns at your various island anchorages. The only "optional tour" on our passage was an island tour of Bequia, where we rode in the covered back bed of a small truck and visited small local attractions (model ship builder, turtle sanctuary, whaling museum. Our driver and guide was one of the last members of an extant whaling family, and his whaling history talk was fascinating). At $30, this was a great experience and a great value. The other notable activity was the optional after dinner dingy rides ashore to visit local bars. These trips were as much about the local culture as about drinking, and quite a rich experience. Just don't expect casinos, floor shows, spas, and tour busses. As others have noted, you will likely become good friends with your fellow passengers, and the crowd that chooses this kind of vacation tends to be a pretty unique and interesting group. That being said, we had a couple of passengers who preferred to spend more alone time, and there was plenty of space and support for that experience also. Some reviewers have mentioned the small cabins. Having sailed before on a smaller boat, I found my solo cabin to be quite adequate and comfortable. It was actually charming and cozy. The bathroom with combined sink/toilet/shower was very functional. Pack everything in a soft-sided carry-on and you will be fine. As others have mentioned, the food is remarkable for such a small ship. Portion sizes are just right, and you are always offered seconds. In addition to the three meals, excellent appetizers and rum punch were served every afternoon during "cocktail hour." The vinophiles on our trip described the house wine as fairly decent, and there were opportunities to buy premium wines along the route of sail. I'm a beer snob, and found the local lager (Piton), stocked on the ship, to be excellent. On one occasion, the crew prepared and delivered an excellent "Cheeseburgers in Paradise" feast to the beach where we were spending the day. When anchored, dinner on deck was a real treat. One of the keys to this cruise being so outstanding is the crew. We had 16 passengers and 10 crew. Each crew member was always busy tending to their duties, which often centered around the comfort and enjoyment of the passengers. They were personable, fun, yet professional. Our activities director was great, and gave us full briefings of the day's activities. She also accompanied us on most of our onshore adventures. I have never done a mega-cruise, and have only heard of the hassles on embarkation and disembarkation days. Getting on and off Vela was quick, simple, and well organized. Oh, and did I mention that this truly is a barefoot cruise? Except for the one island tour, I did not wear shoes from the time I boarded Vela until the time I got ready to leave for the airport. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
This week's holiday began in St Lucia and Rodney Bay where I would meet up with the ship, cruise mates and crew of Vela of Island Windjammer. I had the opportunity to spend a day and night in the Rodney Bay area before the cruise ... Read More
This week's holiday began in St Lucia and Rodney Bay where I would meet up with the ship, cruise mates and crew of Vela of Island Windjammer. I had the opportunity to spend a day and night in the Rodney Bay area before the cruise began and wondered about the area exploring restaurants, bars and the Coco Palm hotel meeting the friendly and helpful people of St. Lucia along the way. The following day marked the beginning of a great experience on Vela and 6 days of island sailing that was only out matched by the gracious attention and service provided by all of the crew of this wonderful ship. The dining and beverage service was the best and the expertise of Chef Robert was truly amazing. I often travel solo and this trip was no different so I was a bit concerned given the low number of passengers (10) but everyone was friendly and helped make for a vacation that I will remember for many years to come. The cabins are small but very adequate and comfortable and the stewards freshen the room every day to maintain a constant level of comfort. Jess (Ops Manager), Alexis (Captain), Romaine (Steward) and Troy (Designated Dingy Driver) to only name a few all went out of their way to make for a wonderful experience. The sights, sounds, smells and adventure of experiencing an island sailing adventure is without equal. Every activity, every dingy ride, every tour, every meal and all of the service, conversation and attention provided by this crew was exemplary and should you decide to book a cruise on this ship be prepared to be delighted and amazed! Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
For my 60th birthday I decided I would go on a trip I had always wanted to try - I decided one week before that birthday and the support staff of IW could not have been more helpful. The trip itself was just truly amazing - the ship is ... Read More
For my 60th birthday I decided I would go on a trip I had always wanted to try - I decided one week before that birthday and the support staff of IW could not have been more helpful. The trip itself was just truly amazing - the ship is a perfect size - we had 16 guests and yet it felt at times you were all alone and then there were times when you had many new friends. The cabins were small as expected but honestly, I spent so little time there it didn't matter - they were cleaned every day and I slept like a baby every night. I cannot stay enough about all the crew and I know I will be leaving people out- the Captain, Alexis - such a nice man and I felt 100% safe and secure in his hands - very personable and you could tell his mission was to make sure we all were enjoying ourselves. Jess our activities director was fun, funny, and knowledgeable even though she only recently took on this position after being a guest on several cruises. Lenny's meals were amazing - how he did it in such a small space, I'll never know. Bernard another hilarious and helpful guy along with several others who I sadly cannot remember their names right now - everyone was just amazing. The tours offered were great but if you didn't feel like doing anything you could - just do nothing - that was the best part of the entire vacation. The ports of Martinique, Isle de Saints, Guadelope and St. Lucia were just beautiful and it was so great being able to sail right into their harbors. The ferry to land was always available. I traveled solo on this cruise and was a bit nervous for about 10 seconds! Waiting for the dinghy to come and get us, I met fellow cruise members and we became instant friends - I'm hoping lifelong friends! I just returned yesterday and will have next year's booked by the end of this week! My birthdays from now until ........ will be spend with Island Windjammers! Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
We chose the cruise because of the more intimate nature of a smaller ship. The Vela is a beautiful sailing ship and is approximately 156 feet long. We were able to access ports that larger ships could not. Chef Lenny prepared excellent ... Read More
We chose the cruise because of the more intimate nature of a smaller ship. The Vela is a beautiful sailing ship and is approximately 156 feet long. We were able to access ports that larger ships could not. Chef Lenny prepared excellent meals and the service on board was outstanding. Chef Lenny took particular pride in going to local markets to provide the freshest fish, fruits and vegetables for our meals. The staff was very helpful and knowledgeable when it came to setting up tours and were very familiar with the port towns. The ship had a rope swing that was a lot of fun. Opportunities to relax and to snorkel were abundant. Snorkeling in a few of the spots was quite good. Horse back riding, hikes to forts, a visit to a rum distillery and a tour that included a trip to waterfalls were among the highlights. I would highly recommend this experience to anyone looking to be treated like royalty on the ship and to anyone looking for a closeup look at the islands with a small group of guests. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
My husband and I just returned from our 2nd trip with Island Windjammers. We enjoyed our sail on the beautiful Vela, but the cabins were a bit smaller than those on sister ship, Sagitta. The crew on Vela worked so hard to make us ... Read More
My husband and I just returned from our 2nd trip with Island Windjammers. We enjoyed our sail on the beautiful Vela, but the cabins were a bit smaller than those on sister ship, Sagitta. The crew on Vela worked so hard to make us comfortable, safe, and happy. We were particularly impressed with Captain Alexis and Ops Man, Andrew. The food was delicious, and the drinks were plenty. We enjoyed our island stops as well. Unfortunately, we were sad to see how bad things still look in Dominica since the hurricane. We embarked in St. Lucia from Marigot Bay and stayed their a few days prior to sailing. That bay was small but beautiful and bustling with activity. We liked St. Lucia, and later in the sail week, we actually anchored in Rodney Bay. It was quite a bit larger than Marigot Bay, and we enjoyed a wonderful beach day, snorkeling and hanging out with shipmates in the clear water. There was a character entrepreneur who scooted around in a small boat decorated with international flags. He was hawking drinks he made right there on his boat out of whole fresh pineapples and coconuts! Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
I have only great things to say about my 1st experience with Island Windjammers and I will certainly be back! I have not stopped smiling since I have been home. I have been to many different places and on many vacations and I can safely ... Read More
I have only great things to say about my 1st experience with Island Windjammers and I will certainly be back! I have not stopped smiling since I have been home. I have been to many different places and on many vacations and I can safely say this vacation has been my favorite of all. We cruised on the Vela from Saint Lucia (Marigot Bay) to Dominica to Isle De Saintes to Marie Galante to Martinique to Saint Lucia (Rodney Bay and then to Marigot Bay). The food is absolutely amazing and it is included. All meals were made with fresh ingredients from the island. I have never eaten so well for a week straight in my life. Lenny the chef a.k.a. Big Sexy made healthy food taste delicious! At 5pm everyday a snack and velacoladas are served. When we went to Isle De Saintes, we had wine, cheese, and meat as the snack to go with the French flair. There was a very diverse group of 12 passengers on the boat ranging from kids to seniors. One of my favorite parts of this adventure was getting to know all of the other passengers and also the crew members. Everyone was so nice, helpful, and interesting. It was really neat to learn about everyone's lives. By the end of the trip, I almost felt like crying leaving everyone! You really become close very quickly throughout the duration of the trip! There was something for everyone on this vacation and there were always a lot of options for things to do at each stop. We hiked, snorkeled, sunbathed, relaxed, went on excursions, checked out the nightlife on the different islands, visited stores/boutiques, swam, jumped off the rope swing of the boat, watched fish at night swim through the fish light off the boat, visited a rum factory, danced on the deck at night, told stories, listened to stories, used the paddleboard, learned how to tie sailing knots and relaxed in paradise. I felt very safe and knew that the crew was very knowledgeable about sailing and safety. Unlike other cruises that I have been on, I never felt crunched for time or on a schedule. PLENTY of time was given at each island and Andrew, our operations manager, knew the best things to do on each island. He really helped make sure we hit all the best things on the island. The dingy brought you back and forth between the boat and island. If you wanted to stay on the island instead of going back for a meal, that was perfectly fine and they would come back and get you whenever you wanted! Everything on the boat was spic and span and very clean. I was worried about getting seasick so before I went, I got a prescription for the seasickness patch that goes behind your ear and I did not feel sick at all the whole cruise. It was very casual and there was no need for any fancy clothes. I wore a bathing suit and comfy clothes the entire trip! The bed was comfortable and the cabins had a shower and toilet in them. We spent most of our time on the upper part of the boat. We saw a lot of cool fish, dolphins, turtles, birds, iguanas, and lizards. If you are a food and nature lover, you will love this trip. My only complaint is that the cruise ended. :( I left with wonderful memories and new friends that I will never forget. This was the trip of a lifetime and the passengers needs are put first from beginning to end. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
This was our 4th cruise on Island Windjammers. We absolutely loved them all and plan to do another next year. We've done 2 on the "Diamant" and now 2 on the "Vela". This review is posted for the "Vela" ... Read More
This was our 4th cruise on Island Windjammers. We absolutely loved them all and plan to do another next year. We've done 2 on the "Diamant" and now 2 on the "Vela". This review is posted for the "Vela" northern route for our recent Feb. 2018 sail. We sailed out of Marigot Bay on beautiful St. Lucia. During the trip we anchored twice on St. Lucia; three times on Martinique; once on Dominica; Once on Ile de Sants, part of Guadeloupe.We boarded on a Sunday afternoon and sailed until we disembarked the following Saturday. We snorkeled several times; did some great ground guided excursions; walked through several towns to absorb some of the local culture. The driving tour through Dominica was one of the first since the major hurricane devastation - very eye opening. The other guests were great and got into the sailing adventure mode quickly. The crew was as always very efficient, friendly, competent and helpful. The food was superb, and plenty of it.Chef Robert and Pancho work miracles on this boat! Jess, the on-board operations manager, made sure every thing went smoothly for tours, customs, etc The weather was generally good for us - some scattered rain here and there but not enough to impact us much. The winds were some what higher than normal and made for some fast sailing and adventure on the high seas. Captain Alex sailed whenever we changed anchorages. Some of the longer sails across the channels between major islands was at night. One could sleep or stay up and enjoy the late sail. The cabins are cozy and yet once you get a bit used to them they are more than adequate for your needs.It is , after all, a replica of an old sailing vessel where space is limited.. The air conditioning worked very well and the shower was good too. One suggestion is to pack light - you don't need a lot of clothes for this cruise. We used duffel bags that folded up to pretty small size once empty. Overall it was every thing we had expected based on our previous three trips.We will be planning another windjammer adventure soon. Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
We had an amazing time aboard the Vela! My wife and I traveled down to Saint Lucia the day before and stayed in the quaint town of Marigot Bay, where Vela was located. We met the crew the day of the sail and I knew we were in good hands ... Read More
We had an amazing time aboard the Vela! My wife and I traveled down to Saint Lucia the day before and stayed in the quaint town of Marigot Bay, where Vela was located. We met the crew the day of the sail and I knew we were in good hands right away. Our bags were taken to the ship and we followed shortly behind. The first thing you received when you boarded the ship was a rum drink- perfect! Vela was the largest sailing vessel in the Bay, which made me feel special ;) The crew raised the sails the first day and we headed into the sunset. Our cabin had all the amenities that we needed. The bed was comfortable and there was adequate storage. Yes it was small but we weren't in there long enough to care. The food was one of the best parts of the trip. Every meal was prepared onboard with fresh and local ingredients. I honestly did not eat a bad meal. I was never hungry and I was never thirsty. Most meals, other than breakfast, were outside on the deck with the wind in your hair. You could get water, tea, beer, wine, etc anytime of the day. There was also a rum punch happy hour every night! There were plenty of activities to do on the ship- paddle boarding, snorkeling, rope swinging, games and just plain lounging. In addition, every day there were offshore activities planned that you could partake in. One day there was horseback riding, another was hiking to a waterfall. We even had a BBQ on the beach one night! You also had a tour of a rum distillery and some people were even accommodated to have a scuba diving experience. That leads me to the crew. They were absolutely phenomenal. Every single crew member was always smiling and willing to bend over backwards to make sure you were happy. I was amazed at how truly caring and friendly everyone was to all passengers. It was like we were family at the end. The entire experience was more than I could have imagined. From the sails to the cabins to the service/crew, everything was amazing. Plus you meet some amazing guests while aboard! I will definitely be coming back, hopefully to sail on another Island Windjammers ship! Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
As the Medical Officers on Amazing Grace of the previous Windjammer Barefoot Cruises fleet 20 years ago, my husband and I were able to visit all of the tall ships of that fleet as well as many of the islands visited by the Grace from ... Read More
As the Medical Officers on Amazing Grace of the previous Windjammer Barefoot Cruises fleet 20 years ago, my husband and I were able to visit all of the tall ships of that fleet as well as many of the islands visited by the Grace from Bahamas to Trinidad and Tobago for a month long sail at a time. We have recently arrived home from our first Island Windjammer sail on Vela, a surprise celebration for my husband’s 50th birthday. We went into the adventure with high expectations and have returned home absolutely impressed! Our group of 9 Canadian adventurers appreciated the focus by the Crew on all aspects of safety, which allowed everyone to relax, knowing we were in good hands. A little note: be properly prepared to deal with seasickness as this is the real deal - navigating the Caribbean sea on a sailboat is not for the faint of heart! The trip felt very familiar as the owners have captured the original Windjammer experience: sailing to see small islands the congested, large ships can’t get to, exceptional and well-trained staff (from booking to disembarkation) who go above and beyond to make sure your experience is what you want it to be, day trips, snorkeling and diving trips and even 5 o’clock swizzles and snacks! The tour of the engine room is a must, as Frederick demonstrated the inner workings and the many talents demanded of him to keep the Vela operational at all times. Chef Robert produced exceptional meals daily with the option available at times to purchase local meals ashore. Accessibility to the Captain, Officers and Crew with whom you can take the time to share and learn about the sailing experience and each other’s cultures if you want to, while relaxing on the fantail or on the deck, leaves you knowing you have had an authentic experience. We continued the Barefoot tradition of leaving clothing behind in our cabin for the crew at the end of our journey, knowing they will be able to share it with someone who needs it more than we do - thank you Island Windjammers for the wonderful memories! Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
We bid on the cruise at a charity auction for the Sunshine School for Children with Special Needs in Bequia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, after hearing what a wonderful time others had had on the cruise, and we thoroughly enjoyed the ... Read More
We bid on the cruise at a charity auction for the Sunshine School for Children with Special Needs in Bequia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, after hearing what a wonderful time others had had on the cruise, and we thoroughly enjoyed the cruise. I was a little leery as I get sea sick easily, but I used the scopalomine patches and they worked great. The crew was fantastic and bent over backwards to make us happy, the sailboat gorgeous, and the passengers all got along great. The cruise we chose was the French West Indies and it was fantastic. We departed from Marigot Bay, St. Lucia; sailed south past the Pitons, St. Lucia before heading north to Dominica (we couldn't stop there due to hurricane damage), went to St. Pierre, Martinique; Terre de Haut, Isle des Saintes, Guadeloupe; Deshaies, Gaudeloupe; Anse Arlet, Martinique; and Pigeon Point, Rodney Bay, St. Lucia. Every day there was a different area to explore, hiking, shopping, and swimming and snorkelling. We loved it and will do it again. The standard cabins are quite small, but you don't spend much time in your cabin so that isn't an issue, at least it wasn't for us. The food was fantastic and different every day. Full breakfast, hot lunch most days, happy hour at five with rum drinks and snacks, then a lovely dinner. lots of wine, beer and soft drinks...and popcorn for snacking...you just helped yourself to coffee, tea, and cold drinks whenever you wanted. Being gluten intolerant I was delighted that the chefs went out of the way to make sure that everything was okay for me, and made something special for me almost every meal. Entertainment on board is the passengers and 'how entertaining can you be'. There was only one organized shore excursion at St. Pierre and other than that the ops manager told us about points of interest and provided information and we all pretty much went different directions on shore, some to explore, some to shop, some to snorkel and swim, and some stayed aboard and read, swam from the boat, or napped. Read Less
Sail Date November 2017
After a very scenic drive from the airport, we arrived at Marigot Bay where Vela was anchored. We arrived a couple of days early in order to explore St. Lucia. Island Windjammers arranged a day tour of the island which was a welcome ... Read More
After a very scenic drive from the airport, we arrived at Marigot Bay where Vela was anchored. We arrived a couple of days early in order to explore St. Lucia. Island Windjammers arranged a day tour of the island which was a welcome introduction. The ship is a beauty. You can check out the details here but if I remember correctly, Vela has 8500 square feat of sail and can really move! http://www.islandwindjammers.com/sailing-ship-vela.aspx The cabin we stayed in was a Deluxe. It was well appointed but was cozy. The bunks were very comfortable. Breakfast, lunch and dinner were provided daily. Portions were large and delicious and seconds were offered. The chef prepared dishes that predominately contained a local flair. Ingredients were often obtained while we were in port. Breakfast was served in the common area inside but typically lunch and dinner were on deck. Happy hours were celebrated daily at 5:00 although complementary beer and wine was always available. Entertainment was typically of your own making although snorkeling gear, paddle boards and onboard games are available. The crew did make available tours of various ports or islands for those interested. It appeared that reading and just enjoying this beautiful boat was enough for most passengers. The crew was exemplary! Everyone bent over backwards to ensure our comfort and safety. This was our third cruise with Island Windjammers and certainly not our last. The company genuinely cares and it is evident from any review that you will read that these adventures will be treasured for a lifetime. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
We are just back from our second trip on the Vela this year. We participated in the "Rum Cruise" visiting St. Lucia and Martinique. The ship is in great shape. That captain and crew did a great job the entire time making sure ... Read More
We are just back from our second trip on the Vela this year. We participated in the "Rum Cruise" visiting St. Lucia and Martinique. The ship is in great shape. That captain and crew did a great job the entire time making sure everyone was enjoying themselves and keeping thing interesting. The ports of call and trips to the distilleries (organized by Dave Russell- the rum expert) were great. We got an in-depth look of the distilleries operations, got to meet the people that ran the operations and see everything from the cane fields to the various distilling processes used to make their rum. and ports of call. We could not visit Dominica and Guadeloupe this trip due to storm damage, but the captain and crew made the trip just as enjoyable as our last trip when we did visit those islands. We also got to see the Diamante which is still carrying relief supplies up to Dominica. We finally splurged and booked the owners cabin this trip which was great. Although, we were always satisfied with the other cabins we have had on previous trips. The meals were very good and we are always impressed with the cook staff can do with such limited space. We had a couple of very nice snorkeling opportunities and swimming off the side of the boat or beach was usually available. The rope swing came out on a regular basis to supply entertainment to the participants and spectators. The crew was always friendly and helpful. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
Vela is a gorgeous ship. Very well maintained and when in full sail, it is like flyingon a cloud. The food was incredible with 3 meals a day and snacks. The captain and the crew were amazing. They were very friendly and helpful with ... Read More
Vela is a gorgeous ship. Very well maintained and when in full sail, it is like flyingon a cloud. The food was incredible with 3 meals a day and snacks. The captain and the crew were amazing. They were very friendly and helpful with great attitudes. The dingy's to shore where smooth and enjoyable. My cabin was a solo but had plenty of room and the shower had lots of hot water. The excursion to the turtle farm and the whaler building was fun. Music was terrific and we danced on the deck at night. I would highly recommend this sail to anyone looking for a great, relaxing , adventure with great food and fun people. There were snorkel on board and we visited many beautiful beaches. I could easily stayed on for another week or two. I plan to return one day in the near future for sure. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
My wife and I just completed a week cruise with Island Windjammers aboard the Vela. We have wanted to take a Windjammer style cruise for years and after researching options we chose Island Windjammers Pirate Week as our first adventure. I ... Read More
My wife and I just completed a week cruise with Island Windjammers aboard the Vela. We have wanted to take a Windjammer style cruise for years and after researching options we chose Island Windjammers Pirate Week as our first adventure. I have to say this was by far one of the best vacations we’ve ever had. After a brief time meeting the other ‘Pirates’, I knew this was going to be a fun trip. It was a diverse group of folks but we all had that Pirate mentality and were ready for a special week. If you like lounging around a pool, spending time in the casino, going to shows, etc. This is not that type of cruise. However... If you are adventurous and enjoy meeting people and seeing places you'll never see while on a large cruise ship, then you'll love this. We sailed into small coves with great snorkeling, beaches, hiking and dropping into local bars in very, very small villages. The crew members were awesome. Leah and Andrew laid out each day’s activities, providing tips on the best snorkeling spots, hiking, shops and food options. Chef Robert along with Panchoo prepared some amazing meals. You will not go hungry while sailing Island Windjammers. Something I had not given much thought to was our ability to get to know the crew. Something you can’t do on a large cruise ship. I especially enjoyed sitting with Captain Patricio and talking about his life fishing and sailing. I definitely will be sailing again and I hope our photos and stories will inspire our friends to join us. However, we established what I hope will be long friendships with our fellow Pirates. Overall it was an amazing experience. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
We picked this cruise because we wanted to get away from the larger Caribbean ports and the big cruise ships. We also love snorkeling and actually sailing on a tall ship (schooner), not just motorsailing. It was all that and more. Staff ... Read More
We picked this cruise because we wanted to get away from the larger Caribbean ports and the big cruise ships. We also love snorkeling and actually sailing on a tall ship (schooner), not just motorsailing. It was all that and more. Staff very professional and highly organized, food was terrific and they easily accommodated my preferences (pescatarian). The chef was creative and clearly took pride in his work. They gave us a very fun, classy, safety-minded week, tremendous snorkeling sites, use of the kayaks while at anchor, swimming off the boat or on beaches, opportunities for walks and hikes. Everyone was helpful, friendly, engaged. You don't need to pack much, just tee shirts and shorts and swim suits. Really. You need to be able to navigate stairs and ladders and climb on and off a dinghy. There's not much in the way of formal entertainment (didn't want that), but there's great conversations and plenty of time for reading and sketching and learning, making new friends. We laughed so much. Captain Nervo from the Galapagos was amazing. I would absolutely go again. It's wonderful to be at full sail with the engine off and the sun setting. Stunning and so relaxing. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
I love tall masted ships and always have. Four years ago, I was so lucky to find a company that continued the tradition of simple but comfortable sailing in the Caribbean. Island Windjammer has 3 wonderful ships that sail different ... Read More
I love tall masted ships and always have. Four years ago, I was so lucky to find a company that continued the tradition of simple but comfortable sailing in the Caribbean. Island Windjammer has 3 wonderful ships that sail different itineraries in the Caribbean with a small number of passengers so that each passenger can explore and enjoy the islands and beaches that large cruise ships don't even know exist. I have been on all 3 ships - my latest experience was on the Vela, sailing to the French West Indies out of St. Lucia. If you love the wind in your face, watching the dolphin swim with the ship and the adventure of exploring lush tropical islands - this is it. We hiked to waterfalls and forts, relaxed in hot springs (volcanic islands), took river tours and shopped in French boutique stores. The ship's cabins are all air-conditioned with private baths - even the solo rooms! Meals are delicious and well prepared. Beer and Wine are complimentary, as are mixers, should you want to bring your own bottle. You can rope swing off the ship or just dive. Snorkeling gear is also provided. The ship can rock and roll when they sail - but if you are unsure of how you might do - sea sickness tablets are also available. Most people get their sea legs by day 2 without medication. Did I mention this was my 17th tall ship cruise?...and I'm signed up for next year to the BVI's. If you like adventure WITHOUT 5000 other people tagging along - this is a cruise you will enjoy and come back for more. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
I went on this cruise with a group of 21 friends, all there to celebrate our friends 50th birthday. The cruise and the crew was amazing. They went above and beyond to make the trip a bucket list adventure for all of us. Not only was the ... Read More
I went on this cruise with a group of 21 friends, all there to celebrate our friends 50th birthday. The cruise and the crew was amazing. They went above and beyond to make the trip a bucket list adventure for all of us. Not only was the food amazing, but the crew was amazing and took extra special care of us. Dinners were amazing and Chef Ermon made extra special cakes for our birthday girl as well as a couple celebrating an anniversary. The crew really catered to our group dynamic and let us party! Capt Nervo and our stewards, Browne and Keith, made sure we always had a drink in hand and music playing! Our Ops Director, Mimi LaRue, planned off boat adventures for us during the day where we could go to beaches, shop in small ports, or lunch with the locals. We even had a bus tour take us to some special spots on Dominica where Pirates of the Caribbean movies were filmed and we got to swim in the same caves, and hike to the same waterfalls - complete with lunch at a local "tree house" restaurant along the way! Mimi also set up everyone's travel off the sailboat as well which was great since there were so many of us, all going different directions! Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
I planned a cruise on the Vela for my 50th birthday, and we had 21 guests join us for the week. From the minute we met Captain Nervo the night before to the moment we stepped off the ship, this was the most special vacation experience of ... Read More
I planned a cruise on the Vela for my 50th birthday, and we had 21 guests join us for the week. From the minute we met Captain Nervo the night before to the moment we stepped off the ship, this was the most special vacation experience of my life. The crew members were first class, but more than that, they became our friends. From the amazing food to the unique experience of truly sailing on the Caribbean to floating off the ship with noodles and beers, everyone in our group loved every minute of being on the Vela. On the islands we visited, we were well informed on what was available to visit, and the crew was phenomenal in getting us to shore and back to the boat easily and timely. My favorite moments were mornings on the deck with a coffee, either sailing on the open waters or pulling into our next port with the sun rising. Amazing! All of it. I will go again as soon as I can. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
I chose Island Windjammers because I wanted to FEEL the Caribbean and relive the experience of the old Barefoot cruises. I was not disappointed!! I sailed on the VELA, a true 3 masted sailing ship. The crew, the service, the food, ... Read More
I chose Island Windjammers because I wanted to FEEL the Caribbean and relive the experience of the old Barefoot cruises. I was not disappointed!! I sailed on the VELA, a true 3 masted sailing ship. The crew, the service, the food, everything was a pure joy. My spouse and I chose their 12 night cruise of the French West Indies and the Windward Islands. Super!!! Our ship was 156' of fun and sun. I could go on and on, but until you experience it for yourself you will never forget pure happiness of sailing under the stars and sun all the while you are truly enjoying the company of shipmates who love it as much as you do. The VELA (which is Spanish for sails) only has room for 24. All cabins have private bath with showers and are air conditioned How's that for the best of all possible worlds. By the way I am 80 yrs old and my wife 71 so don't think this adventure is only for the young. Our shipmates (now friends) were all age brackets. Everything was 15+ on a scale of 1-10. people should not hesitate to ENJOY!!! Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
What a great time - one of the two best weeks of my life (the other was the following week on Island Windjammers Diamant). The Captain and crew were welcoming, knowledgeable, experienced, friendly and willing to do whatever to make the ... Read More
What a great time - one of the two best weeks of my life (the other was the following week on Island Windjammers Diamant). The Captain and crew were welcoming, knowledgeable, experienced, friendly and willing to do whatever to make the ship's guests comfortable and entertained. I have some knowledge and appreciation for what is required to take a group of diverse individuals and mold them into a team/crew that all pull in the same direction - Windjammers succeeds admirably. I had never sailed or cruised before, but this far exceeded every hope/expectation that I had. Opportunities were provided everyday to snorkle, sit on a beach, jump off the boat, rope swing, or just chill. At every anchorage/mooring we were advised of the highlights of the area and recommendations were made on things to checkout. Met up with the guests of Diamant twice during the week - once for a beach party and again for a "culture walk" (READ: pub crawl). SO MUCH FUN!!! Three multi-course meals and a "snack" each day, and never the same meal twice. Always fresh cut fruit, soup/salad, great entree, and dessert. Plenty of choices of beverages. Two of the guests were celebrating birthdays and the chef made birthday cakes for both celebrations. oh yeah, "snack" - consider that a fourth meal.... But for me the best part was the sailing - sails up every day. I had a forward cabin and the sound of the anchor chain was music to my ears, singing "we've arrived" or "let's go sailing!" I enjoyed every moment, devoured every morsel, and smile at every memory. The Captain and crew, the ship and the itinerary make the cruise. can't wait to go again! Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
Rarely does an experience meet and exceed every expectation one has going in. That was our experience with the Island WindJammers Vela. Our initial motivation for seeking out Island Windjammers was my wife's long held love of ... Read More
Rarely does an experience meet and exceed every expectation one has going in. That was our experience with the Island WindJammers Vela. Our initial motivation for seeking out Island Windjammers was my wife's long held love of tall ships. Being able to experience of sailing on a tall ship for an extended period was a dream come true for her. That said, many of the other facets of the experience they offer fit us comfortably - The small group setting, the relaxed itinerary, the general informal nature of the experience... all called us. The experience was, to be quite honest, the best vacation we have ever taken. - The enjoyable experience of true sailing - Waking each day at a new beautiful location - the personal connection with the crew and the other guests - enjoying small beaches and towns that others miss - relaxed meals on deck - board game night - snorkeling - lazing on a deserted beach .... the list goes on and on... To be sure, the motion of the ship took some getting used to, as did learning how to find a stable position in the bunk under sail... but, thats all part of the adventure. My wife had always talked of taking a conventional cruise, but after this experience, we'll never set foot on a large ship. Island Windjammers is the one for us. Thank you to Captain Sam and the crew of the Vela for an absolutely wonderful week. Terry and Joanne Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
My wife have sailed throughout the Caribbean since the early 1990's. Originally on the old Windjammer fleet, later on charter catamarans. We tried the Diamant with Island Windjammer last year out of Grenada and really enjoyed it. ... Read More
My wife have sailed throughout the Caribbean since the early 1990's. Originally on the old Windjammer fleet, later on charter catamarans. We tried the Diamant with Island Windjammer last year out of Grenada and really enjoyed it. Our trip this spring on the Vela was equally great. The ship and the crew are top notch. The crew knows the ship, the islands and demonstrated great customer service. The cabins were clean, neat and well maintained. The food was excellent. The visits to shore were well planned and with very good guides (if you chose to sign up for the tour options). The captain new the best snorkeling spots and was always on top of the weather conditions. The sailing was great including a couple evenings with strong winds allowing the ship to show what she could do under full sail and steady breeze. The ship was large enough to find some space for yourself if needed. The mix of guest background also made the trip enjoyable (which we have found to be the case on every trip we have taken like this). We will definitely be back on an Island Windjammer when time permits. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
Vela Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.7
Dining 4.0 5.0
Entertainment 2.0 4.5
Public Rooms 4.0 4.9
Fitness Recreation 2.0 4.6
Family 3.5 4.6
Shore Excursion 3.0 4.8
Enrichment 1.0 4.8
Service 4.0 5.0
Value For Money 4.0 5.0

Find a Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click