In June, ATI Private Client Director Michelle Andersen sailed Windstar Cruises Wind Surf on their Classic Italy & Dalmatian Coast itinerary, which departs Venice, sailing along the shores of Croatia and Montenegro, around the boot of Italy to Sicily and Capri, then docks outside Rome. “Guests who sail on Windstar are notoriously loyal to the brand, so I’m so glad I had the opportunity to discover why,” says Michelle of the cruise she her husband Don shared with a handful of the company’s top travel partners. Here’s her review of the ship.
The Art of the Unwind
Windstar is known for its intensive port calls, as well as the ability to just relax and unwind. It sounds simple enough, but there’s an art to a laid back, casually luxurious cruise, and Windstar has found just the right balance of activity for her 310 guests.
The ship offers an impressive fitness center, a small pool and two hot tubs – all more than adequate. There’s also a full service spa, small gift shop and library onboard. This isn’t the type of cruise line for someone who wants to be entertained. It’s about destination immersion and really getting into the cruise experience. The water sports platform and open-bridge access are features unique to Windstar that really enhance your at-sea experience.
Adventures In Small Ship Dining
Each day presents a choice of 9 different dining venues – pretty good, especially for a small ship. For breakfast, the Verandah offers buffet service as well as an omelet station, freshly made French toast and pancakes. There’s also a lunch buffet, with freshly-prepared pasta dishes, or you can order hot dogs and burgers from the grill. The sandwich and espresso bar is a nice alternative to the buffets, or you can tuck into the lounge or the pool bar. The duo playing music in Compass Rose at night was such a nice touch.
For dinner, choose between al fresco dining under the stars at Candles Grill (great grilled steaks and seafood – the filet was delish!), French cuisine at Stella Bistro with an extensive wine list or AmphorA Restaurant, where dinner is served course by course. Of course, it’s also fun to order room service and just relax in your stateroom. Don and I always do that at least once, just to get a break from being out. The first night we had cheeseburgers …The next time we ordered off the dining room menu (available 7-9:30 PM) with ice cream - two bowls with nuts!
The food was outstanding, and you really could want for nothing. The chef buys local products that highlight the ports of call, so there is always something great to try – and we did! The on-deck BBQ is a true highlight – everything from a roasted whole pig to lobsters and lamb from the grill. Amazing!
It's All About The Suites
If you can, definitely book a suite. At 300 square feet, they are very roomy and comfortable with chair and sofa in the sitting room, ample storage space, stocked refrigerator (water and sodas are complimentary) and the best part of all - TWO BATHROOMS! Although she only offers port holes, you are never far from deck and the décor is bright and airy, so you never feel closed in.
“Overall, we spent very little time in our room.”
Our itinerary was beautiful. Although we were visiting a few places I’d already been, sailing away with our sails up and the music playing in full regalia was quite an event – very moving actually. I was pleased that the sails were up 90% of the time.
The scenery in Montenegro and journeying up the fjord to Kotor was stunning. Windstar offers at least one port call on each itinerary with extended hours – for example, we docked in Dubrovnik at 9AM and did not leave until 10PM, so many guests enjoyed dining off the ship that night - a nice touch.
With wide range of passenger demographics, guests ranged from newlyweds to 85 years. We easily made friends onboard and enjoyed talking with history buffs, small ship lovers and other couples of all ages.
Windstar's Newest Ambassador
Having now sailed with Windstar, and spent time with its loyalists, I’m happy to say I totally understand the appeal. Terrific food, a favorable guest to crew ratio, wonderful itineraries and thoughtful design are the foundation of a marvelous onboard experience. I’m happy to recommend Windstar to my guests and so excited that they’re now offering a year-round program in Tahiti. What a gorgeous destination to experience a Windstar cruise!
A Word of Caution: Like many other guests who relish the memory of their time onboard, you may find yourself humming bars of the epic 1492 composition by Vangelis – the music that streams jubilantly from the ship’s speakers as she dramatically sails out of port.