Types of Cruises - Sailing Cruises
CRUISES ON SAILING SHIPS
Sailing ships have come a long way since early mariners and explorers hoisted a single sail on their tiny Kon Tiki-type log rafts.
Today the billowing white sails of many sailing cruise ships carry their guests to many parts of the world in great luxury.
These types of cruises provide a unique alternative to the typical cruise vacation, often carrying passengers to the hidden harbors and secluded coves of the world’s most treasured destinations while giving them the feeling of sailing on their own private yacht. A wonderful bonus is the romance of being at sea under sail.
On some of the ships guests can enjoy the excitement of replicating the old sailing ships by helping with the hoisting and trimming of sails, climbing the mast, even taking their turn at the helm. On others they are cradled in pampered comfort.
Some fully masted, sometimes historically accurate vessels sail fully rigged under wind power only. Most, for practical and safety reasons, are equipped with auxiliary power.
While the towering sails echo a bygone era of explorers, in some cases they are governed by computerized controls – the luxurious Windstar yachts, revolutionary in concept and design, are a case in point. Officially designated as motor-sail-yachts (msy), the label belies the vessels’ unique rigging. Unfurling in two minutes at the push of a button, billowing white sails reach to the sky. All functions are operated from the bridge by computer micro-chips and navigational devices.
One of the great advantages of these types of cruises is that the captain can make an instant decision to avoid the bad weather and head for a safe and amenable harbor.
Three of the major players in the market are Windstar Cruises, Star Clippers and Sea Cloud Cruises. Windstar’s three ships have a private yacht-like ambience, One of their popular voyages are their 14-day Transatlantic voyages. Star Clippers is a tall-ship mega-yacht experience – classic sailing clipper ships that once ruled the waves. Sea Cloud has imposing tall ships and luxurious river cruise vessels.
On the east coast of the USA, The Maine Windjammer Association includes 12 traditional tall ships, ranging in size from 46 to 132 feet on deck. Seven of the windjammers are National Historic Landmarks. All of the vessels are privately owned and operated and each windjammer carries between 6 and 40 guests and 2-10 crew members.
photo courtesy Windstar Cruises