so you think that cruising involves a city sized mega ship
with tons of space, casinos and restaurants? Well, think again.
If you want to sail on a ship and feel like you are
really sailing, then consider a Maine Windjammer cruise.
Maine Windjammer Association is a marketing group with a variety
of ships, many old and designated as National Historic Landmarks,
while others are newer reproductions of historic vessels.
They have an excellent website with brief descriptions of
each member in the fleet, which is a wonderful way to choose
a ship that is perfect for you. Feel free to speak with
the captain about the experience that a particular ship will
my initial contact with the reservations personnel, I was
emphatically reminded that these were not luxury cruise liners.
I had guessed that from looking at the deck layouts
and reviewing the informative web pages. The receptionist
wanted to make this point clear as it seems that they had
some customers who didn't catch this difference and were in
for a real surprise. And how you look at it will make
this a real surprise or a treat or both.
of all, expect tight, cramped quarters, much as you might
expect that a small vessel would contain. I did imagine this,
but our bunkroom was even smaller than anticipated.
No worries though, the cabin is really just the place to sleep
so you don't need that much space and soon realize that this
is just part of the windjamming experience.
this means that you will be spending a lot of time on the
deck interacting with the other guests. I will suggest that
once you decide on a ship that you ask if there are any groups
booked on the dates that you are considering. This can
make a big difference to the experience. On our cruise, there
was one largish group that basically wanted to stay as a group
and didn't interact much with the other guests. Fortunately,
the other half of us booked on our own, so we socialized amongst
ourselves. However, had there only been 3 or 4 of us outside
this exclusive group, our experience would not have been as
conditions onboard are a great conversation starter and asking
to see other sleeping quarters is a great ice breaker. One
such topic is the food onboard. The Isaac Evans, the boat
on which we sailed had a former bakery owner as cook. How
lucky we were. Even though the stove is wood fired, she cooked
up some delicious bakery items and other delectable meals.
We anxiously awaited our daily meals and wondered if the next
one could beat the last and it always did. Since this type
of experience encourages passenger participation, it was possible
to help Eileen in the kitchen, either in the preparation of
food or the washing of dishes and clean-up after the meals.
the most exciting and anticipated meal was the lobster bake
held on the beach of a small island. Our particular feast
took place on a previously unvisited spot. The lobsters and
cooking pots were rowed ashore as was everything else necessary
for this highlight of the trip. We watched the fresh
lobsters boil in the pot and picked out the meat from the
shell. We walked along the shore and enjoyed the
setting until we realized that our beach was quickly disappearing.
The incoming tide brought the water higher and higher and
we quickly cleaned up and scurried into our dinghies to return
to our home.
without an itinerary is one of the advantages of the windjamming
experience. Our captain, Brenda, decided on the
day's course depending on the wind and weather. We departed
from Rockland, Maine on the first day and headed out into
Penobscot Bay. We passed by many islands, lobster boats
and other windjammers. The wind determined our destination.
We usually anchored offshore for the night. Certain days we
took the dinghies into town and strolled the streets for awhile.
Onboard we assisted with sailing chores. Raising the
anchor and unfurling the sails required many strong bodies
and willing hands. Brenda often let someone take
the wheel as she explained the finer points of navigating
the seas and told stories of her many adventures.
for our cruise, we had decent weather. We saw dolphins
frolicking near the boat and enjoyed the clear skies and calm
weather. Only one day did we see rain and this puts an entirely
new twist on the experience. While we usually ate on the deck,
we had to go to the galley. Well, 22 of us somehow
fit into a galley that might easily fit 22 small people.
We somehow managed to bend our elbows to lift our soup
spoons. This meal finished in record time as some of the more
claustrophobic types became stressed by the tight conditions.
Others remained below deck to play some of the board games
that are stocked below. Reading in the warmth of the cabin
was another preferred option. In the rain, the
tiny cabins became magnificent refuges from the wet and chilly
Brenda says that many passengers are repeat guests, some bringing
their children and grandchildren. While this particular boat
is kid friendly, I personally would not feel comfortable having
a young child wandering around the deck. I would recommend
that a child be at least 8 years old or have sailing experience.
one guest pointed out, if the boat happened to lurch during
the night while he was visiting the head, he could have been
tossed overboard. This is not to say that the boat is
dangerous, but it certainly demands respect. Most passengers
who opt for a week long cruise have taken a shorter length
cruise previously. This is an excellent way to see if
you enjoy this type of travel.
are also theme cruises offered such as a wine tasting, knitters
or photography cruise. The scenery is spectacular and the
company is good. Remember that your fellow guests are as adventurous
as you are, so you already have something in common.
Welcome aboard, maties. Happy Traveling.
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