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Mark Flemming

Following the sunset on a Maine windjammer

Following the sunset on a Maine windjammer

Mark Flemming

Windjammer "Angelique"

Windjammer "Angelique"

The windjammer 'Heritage' as seen from the deck of the windjammer 'American Eagle.'

The windjammer 'Heritage' as seen from the deck of the windjammer 'American Eagle.'

Tourists enjoying a ride on a Windjammer.

Tourists enjoying a ride on a Windjammer.

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Windjammer Cruises

To truly enjoy a Maine Windjammer, you must practice the art of traveling slowly while not worrying about anything at all.

These traditionally rigged ships provide all sorts of ways to have fun and relax. The fun comes in sailing the boat. Once on board, the crew will invite you to help raise the sails, yank the anchor off the sea floor and even steer the ship. Feeling lazy? That’s okay, too. Head to the galley and grab that extra pancake. Take that second - no, third - cup of coffee up on deck with your new novel. Stretch out next to an empty ship’s boat. Watch the breeze snap the sails. Count the sea birds.

 Ahhh.

 Miss the office yet? We didn’t think so.

 Over 80 years ago, Maine windjammer cruising was popularized by Capt. Frank Swift. He converted some aging cargo schooners into coastal cruisers that carried passengers on excursions. It took a while, but the business caught on. Windjammers today travel throughout Maine on trips lasting from  several hours to more than a week. Specialty cruises offer people a chance to sail while also knitting, playing music and studying photography.  

Windjammers are still generally schooners. Some are retired cargo or fishing ships. Others are old racers with traditional rigging. A few are newer vessels built for the trade. Unlike large cruise ships, windjammers have bunks and cozy cabins, not monster staterooms and 24-hour buffets. Windjammers are woody and compact below decks. Crew and guests live and work in close quarters. The ship’s galley and dining areas are like your kitchen at home – everybody mingles there.

Despite those eccentricities – or, perhaps because of them – windjammers thrive in Maine. Each year, more adventurous folks discover their charms. Many veterans return to sail on the same ship, often year after year. Because once you’ve discovered the fine art of windjammer sailing, you also discover it gets better with practice.     

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