Q. Who sails with MWC? Singles? Couples? Ages?

A. People from all walks of life sail with us. They come from all parts of the United States and the world. On most cruises, you'll find the young, middle aged and seniors traveling as singles, couples, or groups of friends. Singles tell us they feel comfortable on our cruises, and the camaraderie on board leaves many with friends for a lifetime. Our minimum age is 16. We occasionally make exceptions for young teens traveling with their families, but not for children under 12 unless it is a private charter.

Q. Are we always within sight of land?

A. Yes, except when visibility is reduced by occasional fog. In fact, most of our sailing is done in the midcoast's protected bays. You will sail amidst unique islands, some deserted and others home to traditional fishing villages. Occasionally, we do go offshore to look for whales, but never in rough weather and never out of sight of land.

Q. How often do we get off the boat?

A. We try to give our guests the opportunity to get ashore every day, either in the evening when we drop anchor or in the morning before we get underway. Sometimes there will be an opportunity to shop in a small village, but you should plan to bring everything you will need for your trip.

Q. Are we expected to help the crew?

A. Crewing is optional. The crew will encourage you to participate, especially by helping to raise and lower the schooner's sails; you are welcome to pitch in or just sit back and relax.

Q. What kind of food do you serve?  Special Diet? Alcohol or wine?

A. Our meals are traditional Down east fare served home-style. You'll have a wide variety of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners and delicious desserts. Many vegans and people with dietary intolerances or allergies sail with us and are easily able to work with our meal plan, which includes many fresh vegetables, fruits and other non-meat or non-fish items.

It is imperative that you announce any special dietary needs when making your reservation.  Also, plan to speak with the cook on arrival on the boat, and work with him or her on a daily basis. You may bring specially-needed food items with you, but please talk to the office staff first. You are welcome to bring wine, beer, or other alcoholic drinks (and mixers), but we ask you to use them with moderation. We provide coolers and ice.

Q. How do we get our totes onto the boat, and where should we park?

A. Parking is restricted to two hours at the Camden Public Landing, but that will give you plenty of time for unloading and boarding the schooners, which are berthed there. Before we get underway, we will lead you as a group to our free private parking lot, where you can leave your vehicle for the duration of the cruise. We will also provide a ride back to the boat from there. When you disembark, we'll see that you get a ride to pick up your car.

Q. What if the weather is bad?

A. Your captain may choose to give you more shore leave, but we don't let rain spoil the trip. In an extreme situation, we may hole up somewhere for a day, but we never cancel the whole cruise unless safety is an issue.

Q. Will I get seasick?

A. Seasickness is seldom a problem aboard our windjammers because of the stable motion of the vessels and the protected waters they cruise. However, if you feel the need for a little extra insurance, bring along some precautions or remedies such as ear patches from your doctor, sea bracelets, Dramamine, or ginger.

Q. What are the cabins and beds like? Is there a porthole or window in the room?

A. Cabins are comfortable but rather small and intended primarily for sleeping and storing your gear. Most cabins have either a double bed or two single beds, although we have some private singles and Pullman berths. Mattresses, pillows, sheets, blankets and towels are provided. Each cabin has a porthole or window in the room. All open, except for those in the two private singles on the Grace Bailey.

Q. Can I sleep on deck if I choose?

A. You are welcome to bring a sleeping bag and roll it out on the deck if you like, whether that's under the stars or under our awning. But please don't take ship's linens on deck.

Q. Where can I stay before or after my cruise? What activities are available in the area if I choose to extend my vacation?

A. Our office staff will provide you with a list of local accommodations, along with suggestions for dining and sightseeing in the area.  You are encouraged to make your lodging reservations as soon as you have booked your cruise, since the Mid-Coast's hotels and Inns fill up quickly!

Q. What if my family has an emergency and needs to contact me?

A. In an extreme emergency we can use the Coast Guard to contact someone on board, if we cannot reach them by marine radio or ship's phone. Please encourage your business or family not to call unless absolutely necessary. They may call the office at (800) 736-7981 or (207) 236-2938 at any time. You will from time to time have the opportunity to get to a phone ashore. We prefer you keep cell phone usage to a minimum, and in some areas of the Bay, service may not be available.  Please use your phone discreetly when on the boat.

Q. Can I get married aboard? Where do I get my license and information?

A. The Camden Town Office will provide you with a packet of information about getting married on board (PO Box 1207, Camden, ME 04843, telephone 207-236-3353). Capt. Ray Williamson is a notary and can perform the marriage ceremony, or you may bring someone for that purpose.

Q. Can we fish from the boat? Do we need a license?

A. Fishing is allowed while at anchor but not while underway, and it's limited to use of a hand line. No license is needed.

Q. What is the tipping policy?

A. Tipping is totally optional.  Some guests offer a "pooled tip," while others tip the crew individually.  All tips are deeply appreciated.

Q. Are there any additional costs, taxes, etc.?

A. No, absolutely none. Your fare is all-inclusive. All meals will be provided, beginning with breakfast on the day of your departure, (dinner on weekend trips), through brunch on your return. Nonalcoholic beverages, a cooler and ice are available at all times, but you may want to bring alcoholic or carbonated beverages. We provide linens and towels, but you may want to bring a beach towel. Passengers bring their own toiletries: soap, toothpaste, etc.

Q. Will I always know whether I'll be on the  Mercantile?

A. If there are any special boarding instructions as a result, we will notify you.

Q. What kind of weather should I expect?

A. Maine has one of the most comfortable statewide summer climates in the continental U.S. In July and August, you can expect daytime temperatures in the 70s and 80s; here on the coast we average only two to seven days with temperatures in the 90s. Summer nights are usually cool and comfortable with low humidity. Layered clothing always works well on a cruise, but we especially recommend layers for June and September cruises. Ocean winds and evenings at sea can be cooler than average land temperatures, but these maximums and minimums may be of some help to you: June (51-73), July (57-79), August (55-78), & September (47-70).

Q. Do you provide Traveler's Insurance?

A. We recommend that you purchase Traveler's Insurance, but we don't sell it ourselves.  Our office staff can provide you with insurer information, or you can find it available from your local travel agents and online. (For cancellation information, see our online policies section.)