Sunday, October 20, 2013

Our Very First Cruise

Windjammer Barefoot Cruises
Yankee Trader 

As National Cruise Vacation Week begins we thought it would be fun to turn back the clock to our very first cruise.  Looking through our old photos, we selected a few to use in this column.   The image on the left shows several images of the Bahamas, which was the destination of our short cruise.  It also shows the mast of our ship and a sister ship that was sailing with us.The images in the right photo were from the Captain's dinner which included a toga party and entertainment by the passengers and crew, including the Captain.

Yankee Trader

Certificate signed by the captain of Yankee Trader
Windjammer Barefoot cruises operated out of Miami, Florida back in the 80s when we took our first cruise.   It was normal for two ships in the fleet to sail together.  In our case the Yankee Trader, which we were on, was joined by M/S Fantome, the flagship of the fleet.   You can see her in the photos above as well. Yankee Trader was smaller than Fantome with a length of 179 feet and passenger capacity of 70. 

We had no intention of going on a windjammer cruise when I went to a local travel show with a friend.   I filled out entry forms at various booths and to my surprise, got a phone call that we had won a passage on the ship.  All we had to do was get to Florida, and if desired pay for the stowaway night (which cost us $25). 

Toga Party & Captain's Dinner

Unlike other cruises on ocean-going ships, dress code on the Yankee Trader was very casual.  They didn't call them barefoot cruises for nothing.   Dressing up for the Captain's dinner meant putting on your sandals.  The night of the dinner began with a toga party.  The rules were that you needed to make your toga from whatever materials you could find and you must not have anything underneath the toga (and the female Purser checked to be sure).    Some of the people knew about the party in advance and were prepared.  We had not know but still participated.   My husband used a nightshirt for his toga and I used some sheets.   The winner of the event had been on the cruise the week before and had collected vines and other embellishments.

Dinner was a pig roast complete with all the trimmings. The Captain did the honors, carving the pig while the crew finalized the preparation of the other items.  To date we still remember this dinner party and the great time we all had.  This is what a great cruise is made of - memories that last for a lifetime.

It is sad that the current generation will never sail on these beautiful sailing vessels.  The fleet is gone and earlier this year Captain Michael Burke, their founder, passed away closing the book on this chapter forever.

It was by chance that we took this first cruise.  We fell in love with cruising and the sea on this trip and the rest is history.   If you've not cruised before, we hope that you'll find a similar experience in your future.  We are certain once you take that first cruise, you'll fall in love like we did.

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