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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Windjammer Barefoot Cruises Officially Out of Business

It likely will come as no big surprise that Windjammer is out of business -- the company has not been sailing since last year -- but the news is now official. According to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which regulates Sellers of Travel in Florida, Windjammer Barefoot Cruises is no longer licensed to sell travel in the state of Florida -- effectively putting the kibosh on rumored plans of a renaissance.

Windjammer has made no announcement that it has ceased operations, but the company will be breaking the law if it sells any cruises from its Florida headquarters. Although the CEO of the company promised faithful fans that Windjammer's ships would be operating again sometime in April 2008, no cruises are sailing and the company's offices are dark.

Windjammer experienced financial difficulties throughout much of last year. Vendors, port facilities and even crewmembers did not receive payment; ships were stranded; and a slew of canceled voyages in the fall of 2007 left many would-be passengers searching for refunds. The company's CEO made promises and the Web site cheerfully promoted future voyages, but no Windjammer ship has sailed in months. Cruise line executives did try to renew the license to sell travel last fall but because of the line's financial difficulties, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services insisted that the line put up a $50,000 bond. The company either could not or would not do so, and subsequently lost its license.

Although the Windjammer Web site is still up, the "Plan My Cruise" page is completely blank and none of the phone numbers work. The "Destinations" page lists departures through May 3, but it no longer seems possible to book a voyage.

If you are trying to get a refund for a Windjammer cruise that did not sail, a December press release on its Web site instructs you to fax requests to 305-531-1805. However, that number may or may not be operational. Complaints can be sent to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, but it's unlikely the government agency can get anyone's money back. If you need written proof for your credit card or travel insurance company that Windjammer is no longer licensed to sell travel in Florida, you may contact the government agency at 850-922-2966.


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