Windjammer Cruising (Part 3)

| Tuesday, 05 Mar. 2013

Since the demise of Windjammer Barefoot Cruises a gap for sailing adventure is slowly being filled by other companies.

Maine Windjammer Adventures Last, but certainly not least is a Windjammer company that has already been in business for several decades. They are based in the state of Maine and do all of their sailing in the rugged Northeast where whaling and fishing from windjammers were once rich pasttimes.

Maine Windjammer Adventures harkens the sailing days of old. With a fleet of two sailing vessels, the Grace Bailey and the Mercantile, Maine Windjammer Cruises operates the first and oldest fleet of historic vessels in America. The company was established in 1936, giving it a sailing legacy going back over 70 years. Their two sailing vessels were turn-of-the-century coastal cargo schooners that have since been lovingly restored and today are recognized as National Landmarks.

Windjammer Cruises of Maine offers a sailing experience unlike the other windjammer cruises and tends to get passengers from the large cruise ships more often. Like modern cruise vessels, a trip on the Grace Bailey or the Mercantile offers scrumptious meals, and while the accommodations are certainly comfortable, you won't find private balconies. Instead, you might have a porthole, and if you are really lucky you'll snag one of the cabins with a private "head," also known as a bathroom to lubbers.

On a Maine Windjammer sailing, guests become part of the family. They are encouraged to help operate the ship by raising and lowering the sails, helping to drop anchor and even to consult with the captain as to where they may go for the day.

These sailing vessels are smallish but bigger than the Caribbean vessels described above, each accommodates about 35 people maximum. But their size is precisely the reason for their charm. Guests are on a first name basis by the end of the first day onboard. Meals are cooked on a wood stove and served "family style," and passengers enjoy breaking bread together and sharing their travel experiences.

Windjammer cruises hug the shoreline and the beautiful scenery passing by at any given time of the day takes the place of what passes as passenger entertainment on the large cruise vessels. Passengers have an opportunity to venture on shore daily, and each evening the ship drops anchor somewhere and passengers are again free to venture on shore, which they often do in a group.

Windjammer Cruises of Maine offers four separate cruising itineraries each week. These could span anywhere from three to seven days. A special "weekend getaway" sailing is offered throughout the summer months, and this itinerary is particularly popular with people who are long on their desire for adventure, but short on time. The sailing departs on Fridays at around 2:00 p.m., and returns on Sunday morning. A Lobster Feast onboard is also included on all of these sailings.

All of the line's sailings cover the same basic region -- up and down the picturesque coast of Maine, the specific locales sailed on any given day will often be determined by the wind and by the currents.

Prices are amazingly affordable and Maine Windjammer Cruises offers several "specials" to entice even the most budget strapped to try an authentic sailing adventure. Preseason and fall cruises are offered in all lengths at a discount. Special six-day discounted cruises are offered in the preseason, as are a special collection of "fall foliage" sailings. Singles, too, have cost-effective options with Windjammer Cruises of Maine. They can pay the double occupancy rate and be paired with another single of like gender, or they can opt for one of the limited single occupancy cabins available on these sailing vessels.

Most cabins do not have private baths, but rather heads and showers are located below deck for all to use.

The minimum age for a Maine Windjammer cruise is 16, however some exceptions will be made for younger teenagers as long as they are closely supervised by a parent or guardian. Children under 12, however, are not permitted unless on a voyage being operated as a full ship charter.

Prices start at a very reasonable $645 for a three-day cruise and $745 for a four-day itinerary. Five-day sailings start at $845, and special three-day "weekend getaway" sailings are priced at $545. Of course, all prices are based on double occupancy, though there are special single rates available.

Maine Windjammer Cruises pride themselves on offering their customers a genuine traditional sailing experience that simply cannot be had on other cruise lines. While they don't even attempt to compete with the larger cruise lines, what they do offer is an experience that is entirely different and most definitely unique. So the next time you are hankering for something new and different in a cruise experience, consider Maine Windjammer Cruises. While you won't receive the pampering that you may be used to on the more traditional lines, you will definitely have an enriching and maybe even life-altering experience as you discover what sailing was truly like in the years of old.

For more information, or to make a booking, see Maine Windjammer Cruises' website at: mainewindjammercruises.com.

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