Set Sail Aboard a Maine Windjammer Cruise
It took us a little over 5 hours to get to Camden, Maine and we boarded the boat on the eve of our cruise. After grabbing dinner at Cappy’s the local chowder house, we headed back to the boat where we met a few of the other passengers before tucking in for the night. The shops in Camden closed early for the night as their tourism season was winding down. I was a little disappointed we couldn’t go shopping but my wallet is thanking me for it now.
The Angelique set sail early Saturday morning when the tide rolled in. The weather looked iffy and the sky threatened to rain but luckily all we got was some fog and a bit of wind which turned out to be great for sailing as long as you held tight to something on the boat to keep your balance.
The way a windjammer works is that the boat goes where the wind takes it. I know it sounds like common sense but it’s not something we had considered when we asked the captain where we were headed. Our destination just seemed to unfurl before us as the day went on. The one thing that was for sure, though, was that we always stayed in sight of land. At night we would drop anchor in a quiet harbor and when we went to bed at night we never felt the boat rocking. It was almost as if we weren’t on a boat at all!
The food on board the boat was mouth-watering, much better than I had anticipated. Breakfast consisted of blueberry pancakes with Maine syrup, homemade sausage and fresh fruit. For lunch we had seafood chowder and squash soup and for dinner we had chicken cordon bleu. The cook did an outstanding job with every meal he prepared, especially the daily desserts and his special treat of hot apple cider.
The one full day of our cruise was spent sailing around Penobscot Bay. We docked at a tiny town called Castine for a few hours of shopping and sightseeing and then spent the afternoon searching for secluded beach to have a sumptuous lobster bake dinner. That evening hung out in the dining area playing board games, drinking and have a wonderful last night together with our fellow passengers.
If I had to narrow down the best thing about windjammer cruises I’d say it’s the experience itself. You’re on board a 150 ft boat with 35 other people. Meeting people is pretty much unavoidable and you usually come away from the trip with a few new friends. That’s what happened to us at least. Brandon and I were by far the youngest passengers on the boat (if you don’t count the crew) but that didn’t stop us from making lots of friends. At the end of the trip we got everyone’s email address so we could continue to keep in touch.
Another great thing about windjammers is that you can help out as much or as little as you want as a passenger on the ship. Brandon enjoyed helping to furl the sails and whatever other things sailors do while I preferred to take pictures and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
The worst thing about the trip would have to be the accommodations which, in all fairness, is mostly our fault. We didn’t dress warmly enough for the trip and we should have realized that a windjammer cruise is really just a couple steps up from camping. The boat has no insulation, heat or A/C. It seems so obvious to say this now but we never even thought about it as we were packing our bags. If you think of a windjammer as an RV on the water and you pack your bags accordingly, you’ll have a great time. Unfortunately we didn’t do this and we froze for 3 days in the Maine October weather.
The Verdict: I’d definitely go again but Brandon said he wouldn’t, not because he didn’t like it but because he said that going once was enough for him. The cost is about $1,000 for two people for a 3 night cruise, a very reasonable amount considering its all-inclusive.
When To Go: Windjammer cruises run mid-May through the first week of October. There are 8 windjammers in Maine to choose from and all are listed here. Most windjammer cruises last between 3 and 6 nights.
What To Bring: If you take a summer cruise you can bring your bathing suit but the waters of Maine are chilly so don’t say I didn’t warn you. If you go during the fall be sure to dress warmly. Wool blankets, sheets and pillows are provided but if you want to make things cozier then you can bring your own pillow and blanket or sleeping bag. Bug spray is essential, even in October, and if you’re a light sleeper then you may want to consider bringing earplugs because you can hear your neighbors’ snoring in the rooms next to yours. I forgot my earplugs but by the end of each day I was too tired to be kept awake by everyone’s snoring. Popular board games like Yahtzee and Scrabble are on the boat but we brought our own as well and they were well received.
Child Friendly? The Angelique welcomes responsible children ages 12 and up but there were only older adults on our trip. Other windjammers require children to be at least 16 years of age. Since alcohol is allowed on board as long as you don’t go overboard (literally and figuratively) I wouldn’t recommend this trip for kids, even teenagers. Enjoy this experience with friends, family or significant others and it will be a much more pleasant experience.
Pet Friendly? Definitely not!