Prepare to set sail on a luxurious adventure to exotic ports of call aboard the small luxury Windstar cruises with an intimate yacht experience. Their six sailing yachts typically carry between 148-310 guests, and cruise to over 50 nations and over 150 ports throughout Europe, the South Pacific, the Caribbean, and Central America. With gourmet dining, informative and unique tours, and sprawling luxuriously appointed suites, prepare for a trip of the lifetime.
One thing that sets Windstar cruises apart from their competitors is their attention to detail and authenticity to every sail to create an intimate connection between their guests and the world around them. For the James Beard Foundation Culinary Collection, food and wine aficionados had an elevated cultural experience of each destination with an opportunity to taste the most delicious and sumptuous local cuisines of each port. The James Beard Foundation culinary tour from Lisbon to Dublin stopped in Saint-Malo, LaRochelle, and Bordeaux in France; Gijon and El Ferrol in Spain; and finally Porto in Portugal. Seafood from Galicia, sweet port in Porto, cognac in La Rochelle, and world-famous wines in Bordeaux were a few gastronomic stars of the journey. Onboard each sailing, different award winning James Beard chefs shopped the local markets to create a unique dish every night. Additionally Windstar’s master sommelier led wine tasting sessions before dinner highlighting local regional wines from each port such as a Porto flight from Portugal, Tempranillo and Verdejo tasting while sailing in Spain and a cider tasting while in the Asturias region of Spain. One of the highlights was the Insider Series in Bordeaux held at a private Premiere Grand Cru vineyard and chateaux where guests were serenaded by a string quartet while enjoying French gourmet delicacies in a resplendent setting.
As the time is limited in each port of call the best way to explore the history while gleaning educational highlights of these storied destinations is to take a tour led by one of their esteemed guides. Step back in time as you walk the cobblestoned streets of places that represented the battle grounds of wars that shaped history or towns that still represent a sanctuary of religious pilgrimage just as it did centuries past. Depending on your preference towards culinary, historic, or active, there are plenty of tours to suit each taste with an informative debriefing the night before.
After a long day of touring, the luxurious and spacious suites are the perfect oasis to relax and recharge. Every room features a spacious walk in closet with a generously sized bathroom including a large marble shower. The upper verandah rooms feature a sumptuous sitting area with a couch and armchairs overlooking a personal balcony that can be curtained off for privacy. The plush beds can be separated into 2 twins or made into a large bed topped with luxurious linens that assure a restful slumber.
The culinary offerings are one of the highlights of the journey. For breakfast and lunch enjoy a casual buffet format in the indoor and alfresco chic Verandah restaurant that also offers a la carte choices. For dinner Candles Grill is reservation only and specializes in steak and seafood grilled fare. Some of their specialties include a grilled shrimp cocktail, filet mignon, and a delectable crème brulee. AmphorA is the elegant main dining room with a gourmet menu changes nightly to reflect the regional flavors of the ports of call and offers an extensive variety of delectable appetizers, main courses and decadent desserts. During dinner, a selection of the sommelier’s chosen wines is complementary with the meal. Or if you prefer to dine in the sanctity of your room, 24 hour room service is always available.
During the days at sea take the time to relax and enjoy the onboard amenities. Cool off in their salt water pool or relax in one of their two hydrotherapy whirlpools. To work off the extra calories, there is also a full gym that’s available 24 hours a day and a personal trainer onboard. Relax and rejuvenate in the WindSpa which offers a full menu of services such as luxurious Elemis facials, relaxing Swedish, deep tissue or sports massages and beauty services such as hair styling, and mani/pedis. To truly indulge in the yachting life, take in the view from the elegantly chic Yacht club offering floor to ceiling views of the ocean and environs with a variety of sweet and savory snacks served between meals. Enjoy live music and a breathtaking view from the top deck during their nightly sail away cocktail parties. After dinner try your luck at the casino or grab a nightcap in the piano lounge with entertainers that provide a wide variety of music options that have guests rocking it out until the wee hours.
Windstarcruises.com | Photos courtesy of Windstar Cruises