Alas Windjammer Cruises

the_cloud_at_coopers_island.jpgBack around, oh, 1996? Something like that, Cat and I took our first trip to the British Virgin Islands to spend a week aboard the Flying Cloud, a 207ft Barque (3 masts, square rigged on the first mast). It was a delightful trip, and our first time in the BVI’s. We were hooked.

We’d end up taking 4 more trips down there, once with her company, then 3 doing our own bareboat chartering (the picture above is from one of those trips, where we caught sight of the Flying Cloud while stopping at Normal Island). Our last trip was in 2002, after which most of our time and money was being sunk into Mosaic, so we haven’t been back since. I miss it!

I’ve been off and on keeping an eye on Windjammer Cruises, thinking it might be nice to take a trip again. We thoroughly enjoyed our first time – it was very laid back and comfortable. They don’t call it ‘Barefoot Cruising’ for nuthin.

Alas, the Windjammer company has basically fallen apart. There are many suggestions as to why this has happened, but it appears it’s mostly due to infighting among the Burkes, the family that owns the business. The fleet is completely laid up, and even though the website is active, they haven’t sailed in over a year. They are essentially closed up permanently.

I hope another comes along to take up the concept. Having a cruise that is part sailing, part exploring, part cruising, without all the stuffiness that tends to come with your standard ‘big ship’ cruising was very nice, and I’d hate to not have that opportunity in the future.

Edit, 11:40am – There is a fantastic, lengthy article on that details the entire history of Windjammer, and how badly they’ve come apart. Highly recommended.


A wandering geek. Toys, shiny things, pursuits and distractions.

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2 thoughts on “Alas Windjammer Cruises

  1. I went on two Windjammer cruises in the early 1990’s. One on the Polynesia, one on the Yankee Clipper, and I really enjoyed them both.

    But from the articles I’ve read, it’s more than simple infighting. There seems to have been a longstanding dishonesty about the business, with any number of partners getting screwed out of their investments, and the venture being deliberately set up to obscure ownership of the business parts.

    And then there was the way the company collapsed, with them promising cruises, up to the last minue, on nonfunctional ships, so dozens of would-be passengers had to eat the cost of thousands in airfare.

  2. @hauntmeister:
    Yah, I’ve seen a couple of the postings and the whole fiasco with their new ship. It’s sad, really. I assume much of the pain had to do with the slump that happened during the dotcom days. I’m sure tourism and activity in the caribbean slacked off enormously, and they probably got caught in the backwash. Trying to expand when revenue is dropping.
    That’s no excuse for bad management and shifty business practices certainly, but there’s all sorts of issues to think about.
    (Interestingly, when I was in the BVI’s in 2002, I was hearing some of the ‘maintenance’ rumors already. The Cloud apparently had either sunk or taken on a huge amount of water at one point, and they refloated it. Very reassuring 🙂

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