cruise bargains

4.1.2008
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editor's notes
by Paul Motter

Windjammer Cruises Officially Out of Business

Many CruiseMates readers read my series of five articles on Windjammer Barefoot Cruises Limited. The Burke family patriarch, Michael Burke Sr. built a cruise business from nothing, only to have his children to tear it asunder with infighting and neglect. For those of you who did not read the story, it is better than most novels, and it's all true.

Today, April 1st, 2008, is the day that the most recent CEO of the company, Joey Burke, had promised Windjammer's faithful followers that the fleet would once again be in full service. This was back in December of 2007 when the company was scheduling cruises on its last remaining ship, the Legacy, only to end up canceling them one day before sailing due to "financial difficulties" and other various excuses.

And today, thanks to a regular poster at the Windjammer message board known as the "Flotilla," I have a copy of a letter from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services stating that Windjammer Barefoot Cruises LTD is "no longer in business."

As the entity legally responsible for oversight of registered Florida Sellers of Travel, FDAC issued a response to Jerry's complaint against the company that says...

"According to our records, this seller of travel is no longer in business and efforts to contact them on behalf of consumers have proven unsuccessful. This company was not required to post financial security with this Department. The State, therefore, holds no security from which to draw or make refunds to those individuals who had purchased travel related services from this business"

"You may wish to seek private legal counsel or you may file a claim in small claims court. There is, however, no guarantee you will be able to recover the money you paid to this company."

"We regret that we were unable to be of assistance at this time. Please let us know if this office may be of service in the future with another consumer related matter."

"Don Dietrich
Regulatory Specialist III
850-410-3801
Email: ____@doacs.state.fl.us"

The good news about this letter is that it should be proof enough for the hundreds of people, many of whom paid well over $10,000 per family, to go to their credit card companies and request a refund. For others, who bought into the odd sailing time-share scheme the company put forth, it may be enough to legally claim a capital gains write-off on their taxes (ask your CPA if this is possible).

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