Island Windjammers Acquires Third Ship
The newly acquired Vela. (courtesy Island Windjammers)
Island Windjammers, which operates casual cruises on sailing ships in the Caribbean, has acquired its third ship, the 30-passenger Vela.
The vessel, formerly known as Tole Mour, is undergoing a major renovation before entering service for Island Windjammers in December. The official inaugural voyage is set for Dec. 27-Jan. 2 in the French West Indies, round-trip from St. Lucia, with fares starting at $1,975 per person, double occupancy.
“She’s going to be a real beauty,” said Shannon Manno, marketing director. “We have possession of her, and she’s being refit right now. We’re doing a lot of work, everything from new engines to all brand-new accommodations. She’s being gutted and all the cabins are being added from scratch.”
The vessel will have one Owner’s Suite with a king-size bed, 13 double-occupancy staterooms, and two solo cabins, all with private bathrooms. All accommodations have portholes with the exception of one of the solo cabins.
The Vela also will have a saloon with bar, an outdoor bar forward, and indoor and outdoor dining areas. It also will get a new high-capacity water marker, new electric and plumbing, and new walls, floors and fixtures. It will meet the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) regulations.
The ship is named after the constellation Vela, but the name also means “sail” in Latin.
Built in 1988 by Nichols Bros. in Washington, the ship last operated as a sail training and marine biology education vessel based on Catalina Island in California. Before that, it was a medical ship offering aid in the Marshall Islands.
Next winter, the ship will offer six-night cruises from St. Lucia to Portsmouth and Roseau, Dominica; Guadeloupe; Iles des Saintes; and Martinique. In April, Vela will move to Tortola for a series of cruises in the British Virgin Islands, before moving back to St. Lucia.
Island Windjammer also operates the 12-passenger Diamant and 24-guest Sagitta. Its cruises include beer, wine, and free-flowing rum punch. Passengers can bring their own liquor, and the ship provides a mixer set-up. “There’s no bar tab at the end of the week,” Manno said.
Meals are freshly prepared. “Since there are only 12, 24, or 30 guests onboard, our food isn’t mass produced,” Manno said.
The cruises are carefree and very casual, but the clientele tends to be well-educated and fit. The company also works with travel agents and pays a 10 percent commission.
“Our ships offer great opportunities for whole-boat charters,” Manno said. “We have really good charter rates for Vela and Sagitta, our bigger ships.”
Island Windjammer also promotes a price integrity guarantee. “We don’t discount ever, so everyone pays the same price,” Manno said. “We will not compromise and sell last-minute berths at a lower rate; we’d rather go out empty.”
The new ship is a positive sign for the small, unique company. “We’re just thrilled to death,” Manno said. “It’s an exciting time for us. When you have three ships, you have a fleet. It’s a lot of hard work but it’s also very gratifying.”
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