EDITORS NOTE: Windjammer Barefoot Cruises no longer exists, and sadly, the sailing ships they used are reportedly rotting away. This aritcle gives a taste of what the past had to offer and mourns the pity of what no longer is. For those interested in taking this type of cruise, Canadian Sailing Expeditions offer a Caribbean sailing experience.

 Cruise Articles - Cruise Reviews :
 Caribbean Cruise on a Windjammer

Getting into the Down-island Groove

by Jim Peerless

Toss out the tux and trash the ball gown. All you have to pack for a Windjammer Barefoot cruise in the Caribbean are swim suits, shorts, t-shirts and a beach towel.

Windjammin’ means kicking back n’ dressing down. Regular shipmates say, “If you have to check a bag at the airport, you’ve packed too much”. They’re pretty close to the mark.

Expect bloody marys and sticky buns at sunrise, Windjammer’s signature rum "swizzle" and hors d'oeuvres at sunset and wine with dinner. Onboard activities are done the "Windjammer way" - crab and boat races, costume and pajama parties, trivia games, and more.

Windjammer shipmates are a motley crew of interesting folks from all over the U.S. and abroad. You won't know if the guy or gal sitting next to you is the CEO of a Fortune 500 Company or an average "Joe”. And the best part is ..... no one cares.

Once your ship sets sail, it's all about relaxing and getting into the down-island groove. Any pretenses are quickly forgotten, and a familiar sense of camaraderie soon develops among passengers.

Windjammer Barefoot Cruises operates the largest fleet of tall masted ships in the world. Headquartered in Miami Beach, the company has four historic ships sailing various itineraries throughout the Caribbean.

These four-masted ships offer an alternative to traditional cruise vacations, visiting small ports of call not accessible to larger ships and many out-of-the-way islands not always visible on the map. The 120 passenger, 300 foot, four-masted tall-ship, the S/V Legacy sails to the Bahamas, West Indies, Virgin Islands; the Polynesia to the French, Dutch and British West Indies; Mandalay to the Grenadines, Windwards and Leewards islands; and the S/V Yankee Clipper to the Grenadines.

Unlike many cruise lines, Windjammer passengers spend most of the day exploring the ports. Each day, your Activities Mate fills you in on the many reasonably priced active and relaxing excursions offered. From mountain bike tours to sea kayaking, excursions vary by island. Or, if you prefer, relax on the beach in the shade of a swaying palm.

I recall one trip when, on three occasions, we had dropped anchor off deserted islands and went ashore in the ship's lifeboats. One of them was Norman Island in the British Virgin Islands, said to be the model for Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island”. Sea swimming at these islands was about as good as it gets, with schools of brightly-colored fish to follow about. On one of these snorkeling expeditions, I was surprised to find myself being followed by barracuda fish, up to five feet in length.

Scuba diving, snorkeling, island tours or walking the plank to swim off the side of the ship, are just a few of the activities that set Windjammer apart from the rest.

Windjammer’s Junior Jammers Club offers kids fun-filled Summer sailing vacations. Kids sail free in many instances and enjoy Bubblemaker, treasure hunts, pizza parties, and face painting among other activities. Thoroughly trained counselors keep the kids busy so that mom and dad can enjoy their vacation too. Best of all, there is no extra charge.

Kids have the opportunity to windsurf, kayak, swim with dolphins and go on island adventures. From scavenger hunts, onboard games to snorkeling, scuba diving and swimming. Activities for every interest are available; kids can even taking their turn at steering the ship. Junior Jammers will love exploring the islands, while teens head for the beach.

Windjammer offers four- five- seven- eight- and thirteen-day cruises. Air fare and hotel packages are available to all destinations. Diving, snorkeling, and hiking are featured as well. Theme cruises provide year-round interest – there are culinary cruises, spirits cruises and Halloween cruises, a "serenity sail" which includes Thai massage and yoga lessons, and "singles only" cruises that are truly for adults only.

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