We tried and fought as long as we could but today we are announcing the cancellation of the SHENANDOAH’s 2020 season. Since the middle of March we have tried to gather information on the virus, piece together various possible schedules that would allow her to operate safely and responsibly, honor our commitments to customers, and keep her hopes of a 57th season alive. But as the cancellations from understandably unsure customers and groups continued, combined with unclear advance guidelines as to how life onboard would take shape, a sailing season is no longer an option…
By nature SHENANDOAH requires her captain to be a conservative operator. A 152’ ship without power or radar don’t allow him to set sail with a variable wind forecast and restricted visibility. He must have a plan, the conditions to carry it out, and then three back-up plans for when things change! Same goes for the costly, labor-of-love industry of the classic, wooden windjammer… We cannot responsibly ramp up for a season when there isn’t any indication that we’ll be able to support her operation with customers onboard. Our passengers sustain this ship and business, without them we cannot survive.
We will be contacting all of our reserved passengers soon to refund their deposits. For those interested in making charitable donations to the Shenandoah Foundation we can do that with all funds being used for the critical maintenance that she will require over the coming months.
As for the Alabama, we will continue to be hopeful that the summer season will return to Martha’s Vineyard and that regulations will allow us to safely and responsible offer cruises, hopefully in July and August.
Shuttered for now, I ask that we honor the SHENANDOAH and the half century plus of experiences she’s provided, lifestyle, commitment and hard work that she represents with positivity, kindness and care for ourselves and those around us. We’ll look forward to the next time we slip the mooring and get underway under clearer skies. All the best until then.
I’ll finish by thanking all of my passengers of these past 56 seasons, for allowing me to live my dream and share it with all of you.
Robert S Douglas