MIAMI -- Tall ships, masted vessels, sailing ships: Whatever you
call them, these types of vessels offer passengers a distinctly
different experience than their cruise-ship cousins.
"This is still the unique product," said Tom Russell, Windstar
Cruises' senior vice president of sales and marketing, adding that
Windstar's reputation as an atypical cruise line is the likely
reason for its "good number" of first-time cruisers.
But even though masted ships are solidly within their own niche,
each line has its own identity and passenger base.
In addition, there are even smaller niche versions of tall
ships, such as the ultraluxury Sea Cloud vessels and masted ships
that cater to a mainly European clientele.
The three-ship Windstar fleet offers a sailing vacation for
passengers without the need for them to get involved in the
intricacies of actually sailing the vessel.
Windstar's sails are computer-controlled, and engines can render
the use of sails a purely cosmetic enhancement.
"We offer the romance of the sailing experience without the
relative inconvenience and discomfort associated with that
experience," Russell said. "Our ships don't list, there are no
ropes lying around."
Windstar recently finished a major refurbishment project that
spiffied up the 308-passenger Wind Surf and produced major changes
on the 148-passenger Wind Spirit and Wind Star.
The Wind Surf's lounge and furniture were retooled, and color
schemes were darkened slightly, Russell said. The line added the
Terrace Bar, which Russell said was ideal for private cocktail
parties; in the evening, it's available as a cigar bar.
The Star's and the Spirit's main lounges, cabins, lobbies and
small gyms were completely redone; flat-panel TVs have taken the
place of hanging televisions in the cabins.
The Wind Star sails the Tahitian islands year-round, and the
Wind Surf and Wind Spirit offer winter Caribbean and summer Europe
Windjammer Barefoot Cruises
Where Windstar's upscale yet casual-minded passengers likely
would lounge around in khakis and deck shoes, the Windjammer name
suggests its passengers likely would toss the shoes and pad around
the open decks. Guests can even trade their beds for sleeping bags
under the stars.
Windjammer's four masted ships are smaller and several years
older than Windstar's or Star Clipper's vessels. It's oldest, the
Mandalay, was built in 1923.
Its promotional material promises a "down-island groove" and
touts its open decks as a place to "lounge, sunbathe, read,
socialize, dance and party from sunup to sundown." Wine with dinner
is included, as is the line's own rum-based concoctions.
The 72-passenger Mandalay, the 67-passenger Yankee Clipper, the
112-passenger Polynesia and the 119-passenger Legacy sail the
Bahamas, the Caribbean and Panama.
Between June and August, the Legacy and the Polynesia offer
supervised kids activities through the line's Junior Jammers
If Windstar is luxury sailing and Windjammer is, well, barefoot
cruising, Star Clippers falls somewhere in the middle: A casual
sailing experience for experienced cruisers.
"We find a lot of people are boating enthusiasts," said Mark
Carlson, the line's marketing director. "[They want] to be able to
stand on the bridge and be involved with the sailing. People are
welcome to ask permission to give us a hand."
Star Clippers' three ships don't have casinos or big show
lounges. Carlson said the business of sailing is part of the
The line's 227-passenger Royal Clipper and the 170-passenger
Star Clipper are based in the Caribbean in the winter, and the
170-passenger Star Flyer is homeported out of Thailand; in the
summer, all three are in the Mediterranean, sailing from Rome;
Cannes, France; and Athens, respectively.
To contact reporter Rebecca Tobin, send e-mail to [email protected].