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Windstar Cruises - Incredible Service, Amazing Food & Surprisingly Intimate

Nov 21, 2014

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Having just returned from an amazing week’s cruise with Windstar, I'm not even sure I know where to start….
Firstly let’s get to know the facts and figures; the Wind Surf holds 310 passengers with around 197 crew, there’s always someone there to help. In terms of staterooms there are 122 deluxe ocean view staterooms, 31 deluxe ocean view suites and 2 deluxe ocean view bridge suites. At almost 15,000 tonnes the Wind Surf has been described as the world’s largest sailing yacht. Windstar Cruises have also recently won the Conde Nast Traveler Reader’s Choice award in the Small Ship Category. 
Our cruise itinerary onboard Wind Surf cruised from Rome to Barcelona and offered the opportunity to enjoy some Continental sunshine after escaped the dull days of November. 
Once we’d arrived onboard the ship at Civitavecchia the whole embarkation process was easy, with welcome glass of champagne in hand, of course, after which we were escorted to our deluxe ocean view stateroom.
My mother joined me as my guest on the cruise and even with the two of us sharing the stateroom we found it very spacious and well appointed. It even included L’Occitane toiletries in the bathroom and a very thoughtful selection of welcome gifts including a fruit basket and chocolates. 
Our room steward Dani was very attentive and unobtrusive and anything we needed all we had to do was leave a note and it was done.  I found this quite a nice touch; no one likes the whole awkwardness of wanting to ask your steward a quick question. 
At dinner the understated but impressive service continued. We dined at AmphorA where no reservation was required, just arrive anytime between 7pm – 9pm and they’ll take you to your table. It was so relaxed and it’s all on your own time and pace. You get to experience the facilities at your own pace, which I learnt is pretty much the essence of Windstar. The food was fabulous! So tasty, and there’s great choice. Along with an array of starters and desserts they have six main dishes to choose from and a wide choice of sides. There are several speciality restaurants onboard. After dinner you can take a drink in the bar or linger at your table or if guests just want a quiet night relaxing they can borrow a DVD from the libraries extensive range and watch it in their room.
On day two, Portoferraio we woke up to sun so we took  breakfast on the Veranda restaurant buffet style. There was an extensive choice of fruit, pastries, ham, cheeses, cereal or  hot food or a choice from the a la carte menu. Even tempting for those that never eat breakfast!  And after breakfast there’s plenty of places to relax the pool deck has two hot tubs, one pool, a good amount of sunbeds and pool bar – what more could you want! 
The Captain’s reception on the second night of our cruise was a delight. I don’t think I’ve ever met such an incredibly charismatic character. After the hosted dinner we met new found friends at Compass Rose. The décor of dark wood and comfortable seats meant you didn’t want to leave and the ship’s entertainment was second to none.  The ship isn’t all inclusive but I’d recommend that taking the drinks package is very worthwhile. No fumbling over the bill just a straightforward one off price of $54 per person per day and basically anything under $12 was included in the package. Soft drinks, teas and coffee were complimentary anyway so it was only alcoholic beverages that made up the package. 
Total relaxation is the aim of a cruise but sometimes a little exercise does feel worthwhile because the food onboard is so good! If you aren’t opting for a quick turnaround deck there’s always the gym. For the size of the ship the gym was very impressive. From the usual cardio machines to the weights and floor space it was very large and not only that but they had various classes throughout the day that were all included at no extra charge. 
Being a small ship the yacht can get right into the harbour of the ports of call. And days ashore can be taken at leisure under your own arrangements or taking one of the ships excursions. One free excursion option which looked very appealing was the chance to go ashore with the Head Chef on a buying trip at a local market. The Chef explained that although a lot of produce is already delivered to the ship at various ports across the voyages the crew also like to go ashore and gather fresh local produce. This not only gave their menu a more authentic feeling, but it always meant they were able to create new dishes as specials so that that the food was kept relevant and more in tune with the ports they visited. The tour lasted around an hour and a half. Chef bought sea bass, local cheeses, olives and vegetables.  
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In the afternoon we took a paid excursion around Cannes. Met by the coach from the harbour we visited Antibes, taking in a guided walking tour of the old city quarter where we ended at a bar for Absinthe tasting followed by free time before boarding the ship. On our return as it was a balmy evening there was a BBQ onboard, which really pulled out all the stops with a suckling pig, ribs, chicken, paella, lobster and salads. The evening truly memorable. A huge spread of food cooked right in front of us on the deck of the ship. What could be more perfect than sitting on deck with lights twinkly across the harbour, tables decorated beautifully, candles flickering and the smooth and attentive service of the crew.
The last day of the cruise came around all too quickly. Port Vendres was a sedate port of call with the petit train being one of the best ways to see the vicinity. The eventual terminus of the train being one of the best vantage points in the area looking out over the bay from a fort we’d seen in the distance as the vessel came into the harbour. The perfect end to the perfect cruise. 
Dinner onboard that evening was a chance to cement friendships we’d made onboard and enjoy the facilities once more before we disembarked the next day.
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A cruise with a difference and well worth doing. Our seven night itinerary included Rome/Civitavecchia, Portoferraio, Monte Carlo (2 nights), Cannes, Marseilles, Port Vendres and Barcelona. But there are many other itineraries you can choose from.  
For further details on the cruises – see the brochure here or our website, call us or search our website for cruises and deckplan details.
• All meals, in all venues
• Non-alcoholic beverages, including specialty tea and coffee drinks
• Beautifully appointed ocean view stateroom or suite
• Plush bathrobes and slippers
• Fresh flowers and fruit in your stateroom or suite
• Marble finished baths
• Flat screen TV and DVD player
• Spectacular onboard deck barbecue
• Onboard entertainment, including local performances in most regions
• Room service menu available 24 hours
• Fully equipped Watersports Platform, use of all water sports equipment included
• Access to the Open Bridge
• Champagne Welcome Reception
• Beautiful Sail Away from every port
• All onboard entertainment
• Unlimited use of Fitness Center
• Unlimited use of all water sports equipment
• Informative port lectures and destination briefings
AmphorA Restaurant
Stella Bistro
Yacht Club Sandwich & Espresso Bar
Compass Rose
The Lounge
Terrace Bar
Pool Bar
Watersports Platform
Two Whirlpools
Fitness Center
Nautilus Room
Signature Shop
Photo Gallery
The Bridge (with Windstar's Open Bridge Policy)