The Maine Windjammer Association
The Maine Windjammer Association represents the largest fleet of windjammers in the world. While each ship is individually owned and operated, there are several similarities among the fleet. All windjammers in the fleet are known as traditional Maine tall ships. They range in size from 64 to 132 feet on deck. The ships sail from mid-May to mid-October. Cruises range from three to six days and cost between $675 and $2,450 per passenger.
All Maine Windjammer Association cruises include several essential Maine experiences. Here are seven reasons why your New England vacation should include sailing with the Maine Windjammer Association.
Your cruise will depart from a quaint coastal Maine town
Your cruise will depart from either Camden or nearby Rockland. Both are extremely laid back and have combined populations of around 12,000. Ideally, you should spend at least one night in the town that your cruise departs from. One night in Camden and another in Rockland would be even better.
Rockland has a more walkable downtown with several lobster-centric dining options. There are also a few cool museums in Rockland dedicated to art, lighthouses, and sailing. Camden has a more outdoorsy feel. The town itself is surrounded by mountains, so you’ll have plenty of options for hiking and other outdoor activities. The High Street Historic District is Camden’s answer to Downtown Rockland.
You can visit one of the 2,000 islands of the coast of Maine
There are more than 2,000 islands off the coast of Maine. And you’ll get to visit at least one for the lobster bake. Your ship will also pass several others, including Great Spruce Head, Pulpit Harbor, and Vinalhaven. As the cruises run between Memorial Day and Labor Day, there’s a good chance you’ll get to do some swimming during your trip.
Maine Windjammer Association cruises include a lobster bake
Each cruise includes a lobster bake on one of the more than 2,000 islands off the Maine coast. Weather-permitting, you’ll be anchoring down mid-morning. Passengers are given a choice as to whether or not to take a small boat to the island where the crew take a bathtub-size pot ashore and boil what amounts to roughly two whole Maine lobsters per person. Whether the lobster lunch will take place ashore or on the ship depends on the weather.
You’ll pass at least one of the famous Maine lighthouses
Whether you sail from Camden or Rockland, you’ll get to see at least one of the famous Maine lighthouses. The Curtis Island Lighthouse sits in the Camden Harbor and is visible from the waterfront. In neighboring Rockport, the Curtis Island Lighthouse is located at the end of the peninsula. If you sail from Rockland, you’ll pass the red brick Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse. Farther off the coast, the Goose Rock Lighthouse sits between the North Haven and Vinalhaven.
Your captain is also a musician
Most Maine Windjammer Association ship captain is also musicians. As the sun sets over the calm waters and greenery of the surrounding islands, late evening jam sessions break out into the night. Passengers are also encouraged to bring acoustic instruments so they can join in.
You’ll get to enjoy other local food three times a day
While the lobster bake is certainly the main culinary event of the Windjammer cruise, you’ll also have a variety of local food available for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. All three are served buffet-style. Non-alcoholic drinks like coffee, tea, and juice are available any time. The exact options change from week to week, but options tend to include fiddlehead, blueberries, and maple syrup.
Maine Windjammer Association cruises are ideal for making lifelong friends
Each Maine Windjammer Association cruise carries between 16 and 40 passengers. So even at the high end, you’ll likely be on a first-name basis with at least half of your fellow passengers by the end of the trip. Meals are served in close quarters, so there will be plenty of time to socialize. If you are not the social type, there’s a library in the dining area with enough books for an around the world in 80 days cruise.
Practical tips for sailing with the Maine Windjammer Association
- As of this writing, you’ll need either proof of COVID vaccination or a negative test.
- It gets cold. Bring fall clothes and plan to wear long sleeves the majority of the time.
- Maine Windjammer Association cruises are all-inclusive with the exception of alcohol.
- Once you leave the dock, wireless signals are spotty at best and there is no Wi-Fi.
- Parking is free and just a short walk from the dock.
- There is no dress code. These are not fancy cruise ships.
- You’ll be spending your first night at the dock and set sail the following morning.
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The Schooner Heritage
All pictures were shot with my Panasonic Lumix ZS100 4K Point and Shoot Camera.
During my trip to Maine, I stayed aboard the Schooner Heritage, which was built in 1983.
Have you been to Maine? Sailed with the Maine Windjammer Association? Leave a comment below!