Number of Cruises: 2
Cruise Line: Windjammer Barefoot
Sailing Date: N/A
My reservation was handled efficiently and professionally, and followed up quickly with email and hard confirmations. The one thing lacking on the Windjammer web-site and in their literature is decent sized photo's of their cabins, but we booked what we thought should be fairly good cabins in comparison to prices offered on other cruise lines. We were somewhat shocked at the tiny cabins, (one for my husband and I and one for our 2 sons) very short double beds and very low ceilings. But we are of the opinion that you only sleep in the cabin anyway. The bathroon was surprisingly big. We enjoyed the back-to-basics element of no telephones, clocks or TV's in the cabins. Housekeeping services left a lot to be desired: the shower curtain was hanging off its hooks and moldy; the pseudo tile baththroom floor was cracked, so smelly water oozed up between the tiles whenever the floor was stepped on. If you were not out of the cabin promptly by 8.30am it was not serviced that day, or the next, if you managed to get some sleep past 8am (we were on vacation, after all). The last day we were literally yelled at to get out of the cabin as the steward needed the dirty linens.
Setting Sail from Miami was a magical experience but as the sun set the temperature and humidity seemed to rise, resulting in a most uncomfortable night, as the cabin air conditioning was hopelessly inadequate. By the Captain's own admission the ship's resources could barely keep up with the demand for ice, let alone air conditioning at this time of year in that part of the world. We heard the ship was due in dry dock in 2 weeks time for maintenance and repairs, which were sorely needed.
In general the crew was most friendly if not terribly professional. Food was plentiful and often excellent in taste and presentation. Most dinners were served buffet-style on deck, with passengers finding their own seats. That was the problem : with only 4, 4 seater benches on the main deck with backrests, seating was at a premium. There were 4 white plastic chairs to supplement the benches on the main deck. The poop deck boasted a few broken sun beds and half a dozen broken chairs. Had I known I would have been more than happy to have brought my own folding chair, as some other knowing passengers had done. Nevertheless, we did not allow this to detract from the overall enjoyment of our vacation, although a number of passengers were heard grumbling about it.
The few nights that dinner was served in the dining room made for some unhappy campers. Only large enough to accommodate 60 persons at a time, dinner had to be served in 2 seatings but the crew refused to organize this ahead of time, with the result that it was a free for all and some families had to be split up during dinner or go without. Not what we take a family vacation for. The chief steward in the dining room could have cared less.
During the cruise we visited Gun Cay, a delightful beach and good for snorkeling; sting rays abounded in the shallow waters much to everyone's amusement (or horror, as the case may be). Next was Hoffman's Cay, a deserted island. Ocean currents made snorkeling tricky but we kayaked and swam (kayaks courtesy of Windjammer). Egg Island was another stop, memorable for its pristine waters and being served lunch on the beach by the ship's crew. Nassau and Freeport were our only major ports of call, where we amused ourselves, taking taxi rides, having long lunches and browsing the shops. The last day of the cruise we anchored off Bimini, and signed up for a snorkeling excursion that was recommended by the activities director as being "the best of the cruise". At $39 each we signed up. Maybe it was an off-day for the fish but it was pretty mundane. The free snorkeling on Gun Cay was far better. Bimini was picturesque with a wonderful beach and we would have liked more time there, but had to be on board by 3pm to make Miami by 6am the next morning (about 50 miles).
With very little money and a bit of imagination the Windjammer organization could make the Legacy a fabulous ship. It has plentiful deck space but hardly any place to sit. Additional shade on the poop deck at the height of the summer would also be welcome. The cabins are adequate but are sorely lacking in TLC and general maintenance.
One of the most outstanding facets of the cruise was the teen program. Our 13 year old had the time of his life. The teen program director, Miguel, is to be commended. We were not expecting a kids' and teen program on such a small ship. In fact there were a lot of 6 - 10 year olds that were kept out of the hair of the other passengers by the "junior jammers" program supervisors. Kudos all around for these arrangements.
The ship also had an official photographer, who snapped spontaneous shots throughout the cruise of all sorts of capers and events, places of interest and beauty, and compiled over 700 photos onto a CD which was available to purchase for $45 at the end of the cruise, which was well worth it.
All said and done we had a wonderful vacation but next time (yes, I will go again) I will be sure to take along a small fan for the cabin and folding deck chairs or sun loungers. There can be few experiences as wonderful as sailing the Caribbean after dark on a tall ship, with the breeze cooling your face and the stars so big and bright almost within arm's reach. Try it sometime.