A Maine Windjammer Cruise is the ultimate summer vacation adventure. Sailing on a historic schooner is an extraordinary cruise experience unlike any other.
Not your average cruise ship vacation, a windjammer cruise is more like camping on a boat anchored in the ocean than sipping cocktails on the lido deck. These trips are perfect for adventure travelers. Windjammer cruises have no itinerary, no cell service, no electronics, and the destinations are influenced by the winds and tides—the captain charts a course based on the wind that day.
There are several windjammer cruises that set sail off the coast of Maine throughout summer. I recently cruised on the J.& E. Riggin, a family owned historic schooner built in 1927. At the helm is Captain Jon and, in the galley, you’ll find his wife and Co-Captain Annie. She’s also the head chef, with over 30 years’ experience in the food industry and the author of several cookbooks.
What to Expect on a Main Windjammer Cruise
Windjammer sailing cruises offer burgeoning sailors or experienced seamen a chance to help sail the boat. Each day you’ll have the opportunity to assist in hoisting the sails, or even take a turn at the wheel. On warm days, the Captain will let you jump off the rail into the water for a swim or paddle board right off the side of the boat.
The meals you eat onboard a windjammer cruise are a culinary dream come true. Chef Annie’s cuisine is as inventive as they are tasty. Many of the dishes you are served come from recipes in her cookbook.
The highlight of any Maine windjammer cruise is an authentic lobster bake! One evening on the shores of a secluded island you will be treated to a feast of fresh lobsters that have been steamed to perfection in seaweed over an open fire and served right up on the beach.
These sailings showcase spectacular seaside scenery and wonderful food, while offering time to explore the quaint fishing villages and islands found along the rugged coast of Maine. There are also themed cruises like wellness, photography, wine tastings, or music—there’s really something for everyone.
A windjammer cruise is unlike any other travel adventure you may have experienced before. I can’t think of a better type of vacation for those who want to escape from it all.
What to Pack for a Windjammer Cruise
I can’t stress this enough: Do not overpack. Space is at a premium on most windjammer boats, so now isn’t the time to pack everything you own. No matter which cabin you’re assigned to, storage space is minimal. Although the cabins are lovely and comfortable, they are designed for sleeping and not much else—you will likely spend most of your cruise above deck.
Schooner cabins are designed to be functional, yet comfortable. Unlike staterooms on a larger cruise ship, you will find these quite cozy. They are outfitted with linens, blankets, towels, a small sink, and bedside reading lamps.
On my schooner, we even had some small shelves under-bed and cubbies and hooks on the cabin walls, but you will most likely be living out of your suitcase. I stored mine a the foot of my bunk; therefore, it is important to pick the right bag for your trip.
The Cargo Hauler Duffel is an ideal choice to use on a windjammer cruise. It has plenty of pockets and an internal divider to help keep your items in an orderly fashion. Additionally, it features water repellent fabric, which will help keep your stuff as dry—important since it can be damp on board.
To stay organized, use water-resistant Pack-It Specter™packing cubes, which come in a variety of sizes and colors. Packing cubes make it easy to separate belongs by type clothing, which means you don’t have to dig through your bag every time you need something. At the end of your trip, you can also a clean-dirty cube to easily separate clean clothes from dirty ones.
As bathroom space is shared on a Windjammer Cruise, you will need a toiletry kit that can do it all—the Pack-It Specter Tech™ toiletry kit is an excellent choice. It has three water repellent interior compartments made from translucent fabric so you can quickly find your shampoo, soap, toothbrush, or sunscreen.
Most cruises will also provide you with a suggested packing list when you book your cruise, however, these are a few extra items you might bring along:
● Extra Towels – They provide a towel and washcloth, but because it can be damp at sea, nothing ever really dries out. You’ll appreciate having some an extra quick-dry towel on hand.
● Earplugs – If you are a light sleeper ear plugs are a must. It’s fairly close quarters down below.
● Battery Operated Fan – All of the cabins have small portholes that allow in fresh air. However, depending on the time of year you sail, you may want to bring a small fan for a bit more circulation.
● Stadium Chairs – These collapsible, cushioned chairs are great for the deck as well as on land.
● BYOB Beverages – On the J & E. Riggin alcohol is not included. However, you are welcome to bring your own drinks and store them in the beverage locker on deck.
Once you’ve made your packing checklist, use the pack-it system to stay organized and travel better on your Maine windjammer cruise.
Related Links (from Eagle Creek blog):
Skip Seasickness: What to Pack Before Your Cruise
What to Pack for a Weekend Sailing Trip
By Dana Freeman on August 23, 2019
Dana Freeman is a freelance travel journalist based in Vermont who provides unique destination information, reviews, and travel tips. Follow her travels on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.