One of our team members, Ingrid, recently had the opportunity to sail the Mediterranean islands this summer on the Windstar Wind Surf. The itinerary was from Rome to Barcelona with stops in Portoferraio, Portofino, Monaco, Monte Carlo, Cannes, Marseilles, and finally Barcelona. Here is her review of the cruise below.
Small Ship Benefits
The destinations we visited are some of my favorite places, and there was a new light shed on each one seeing them in this way from a small yacht/ship. In most cases we were the only yacht/ ship calling on a particular port so we did not have to “mingle” in town with hundreds, sometimes thousands of other guests from other cruise lines. My previous experience had only been on larger vessels that generally accommodated 1200 and upward of people.
I must say it was a delight to sail on a smaller ship – or rather, yacht – which was carrying approximately 240 folks on my voyage. I got to know a group with whom I still keep in touch to this day. It was nice to know you could count on seeing them every day to share a coffee or cocktail, trade stories of the day and relax.
The ship itself is beautifully appointed, having been refurbished in the not too distant past. The public rooms are well-adorned and classic, yet still offer many modern amenities. The Yacht Club offers a cozy, comfortable space, with computers available to get online and connect to your loved ones at home, or just snuggle up on a couch with your book or Ipad, – that is, only after you stop by and get your favorite coffee and pastry, of course!
The Lounge is the go-to for all cocktail parties and such. The house band is great and on this sailing there was a fantastic guest entertainer on board. She is a West End singer who put on 2 remarkable cabaret-type shows. Entertainment The shops are well-stocked and the manager was an absolute gem! My luggage did not arrive until a few days in and she was diligent in following up to see if there was anything she could do for me. I rarely buy clothes on ships but she helped me find a few items that helped me “bridge the gap” until my bags arrived.
There is a small but able casino which seemed to have a strong following during the week. The Compass Rose serves as a casual lounge throughout the day until the evening when it turns into the vessels “disco” so to speak, with a great duo serving up great dance music of every decade since the 60’ R&B to today’s currents. And there was lots of dancing going on!
The food! The last ship I was on held 1800 and 2 specialty restaurants – 2. The Wind Surf has 2, on a ship that can hold 300. That blew my mind. Reservations were no problem and each had its own flair.
The Dining Room grew on me. It was better than that I have had on big ships, but once I ate in the Stella Bistro and Candles Grille, it paled a bit in comparison.
The Candles Grille is set up each night on the aft deck with no cover. To dine alfresco on a warm summer evening while gazing off at the evening silhouette of Monte Carlo offered yet another, “How many people can say they have done THIS?” moment. Wonderful. These are the moments I want on my vacation!
Staterooms The staterooms are very accommodating space-wise (I was worried they would be too small in light of the size of the yacht). There is plenty of closet/drawer space and very nice amenities in the bathroom.
The definite highlight of my cruise was the Watersports Platform, which offered so many options for water fun imaginable for offer on the size of the yacht!
You can sit and float on the tethered floating mats and chat with the other guests or partake of the many offerings they have for the water sports like-minded. I am a self-proclaimed “fish” and remember thinking as I waterskied in the waters off Portofino and then dove off the yacht in the waters off Cannes to kayak and then float with others on the mats, “Wow, how many people in their lives can say they did THIS?” It was brilliant and the staff on the deck was wonderful!
More about the staff – across the board, all were excellent and seemed to always go the extra mile. I know how hard they work and so to see them so gracious and always ready to anticipate your needs was fantastic. The Captain was generally out and about socializing and chatting, when not “driving and parking” of course. He was very open to discussing all things nautical. One thing that is refreshing is that there is Bridge access. So you can wander up and talk to the navigators, see how everything works and even have them explain star patterns at night. So as not only a “fish” but a “sailing geek” this was brilliant!
Overall, it was a wonderful week. I never felt pressured to be anywhere at any time. I truly felt it was all on my own terms. Even better, I didn’t wait for even one line; for meals, to disembark in ports, etc. This added to the calm and on-my-own-terms experience.
It must be said that the embarkation and disembarkation processes were equally as smooth. You don’t always find this. All in all, it was a brilliant voyage and I will have a very hard time going back to “big” ships again.