|Fate||Went bankrupt in late 2007. Assets were liquidated in September 2008.|
|Headquarters||Miami Beach, Florida|
Windjammer Barefoot Cruises was a leisure cruise line based in Miami Beach, Florida. Founded in 1947, the company scheduled one and two week cruises in the Caribbean and Central America, using a fleet of sailing ships. The ships were former yachts and commercial vessels that were refurbished as cruise vessels, accommodating 60-100 paying passengers and 20-40 officers and crewmembers. The ships were refitted to resemble 19th century sailing vessels called windjammers.
Caribbean itineraries included the British Virgin Islands, French West Indies, Grenadines, the ABC islands and The Bahamas. Recent and former Central American itineraries included Costa Rica, Panama, and Belize.
In September 2007, Windjammer's entire fleet was suspended from operating any further cruises. Although the company initially stated that it intended to resume service, no significant steps in that direction took place. Customers who were already booked on future cruises did not receive refunds from the canceled voyages. All remaining parts of the company that were still operating were shut down in April 2008. Later that year, the company's assets were auctioned off. The four ships they operated are all laid up and were left in a neglected state of condition.
In 2009, a successor organization, Island Windjammers, was founded by a group of former passengers of Windjammer Barefoot Cruises dedicated to bringing tall ship cruising back to the Caribbean. Sailing weekly on six day-cruises, Diamant, a 101-foot brigantine schooner, began operation in November 2009 out of St. George's, Grenada.
In 2014, Sail Windjammer, Inc., a new company not associated with WBC, began operating the S/V Mandalay, which was part of the original Windjammer Barefoot Cruises fleet. The S/V Mandalay is an original 236ft. tall ship that carriers 58 passengers. It sails out of Grenada for one and two weeks cruises in the Grenadines and the British Virgin Islands.
The fleet listed below were active at the time the company shut down.
In October 1998, Hurricane Mitch was responsible for the loss of the S/V Fantome, a four-masted schooner operated by Windjammer. All 31 crew members aboard perished; passengers and other crew members had earlier been offloaded in Belize. The story was recorded in the book The Ship and The Storm by Jim Carrier (ISBN 0-07-135526-X). The ship, which was sailing in the center of the hurricane, experienced up to 50-foot (15 m) waves and over 100 mph (160 km/h) winds, causing the Fantome to founder off the coast of Honduras.
According to reports in The Wall Street Journal and elsewhere, Windjammer had been in serious financial trouble since 2007 or earlier. The Journal article explained that crews had gone unpaid, and the fleet of ships was found to be in disrepair. There were also reports that cruise passengers had complained of being stranded, either aboard the ships or at intermediate destinations.
After ceasing operations for several weeks, the company planned to relaunch cruises on its fleet of ships, starting with s/v Legacy on November 3, 2007 followed by the other ships in the spring of 2008. (On April 27, 2010, the s/v Legacy was spotted tied up at Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica, in run-down condition). In a series of 2007 press releases, however, the company later canceled all sailings through January 2008. No further information has been distributed by the company since November 2007, and no cruises are currently scheduled. The last press release on their website was released on December 21, 2007.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has received numerous complaints about Windjammer since its shutdown, because the company has not refunded prepaid fares for the canceled cruises. The Department has responded to these complaints with statements indicating that Windjammer is no longer in business.