This was our fifth Windstar cruise and definitely not our last. The Islands of the Western Mediterranean is only offered once each year, but for those of us who have cruised the Riviera coast from Barcelona to Rome in the past it is a wonderful alternative. It is also an opportunity to visit Spain, Italy and France in one cruise.
For some reason, embarkation seemed more congested than usual. It still was very quick compared to large cruise lines, just more chaotic than we’ve experienced previously. Maybe there were more people arriving by plane that morning (like us) and not really having enough time to do anything in Barcelona other than head to the port.
We were really happy to see so many familiar faces upon boarding – Gusman, Ragam, Erwin, Daddy, Robert. Our cabin attendant, Anang was one of the best we have ever had. After a second cruise with the new cabin design, I can still say I absolutely love it! Very well planned with more storage than we ever need. The only problem with our cabin, 106, was that there was some engine noise. It never really bothered us until the last night when we also started experiencing a very noticeable loud humming sound around 3AM which did disrupt our sleep. I could see the cabin noise as being a problem if the occupants were light sleepers.
Whether ordering off the menu or choosing buffet items, both breakfast and lunch provided great selections. My main complaint (as it has been from our very first cruise) is that I really dislike the coffee. I wish they would do something about it since I frequently hear others complaining as well. This cruise I elected to just bypass the coffee and go straight to cappuccinos for both breakfast and dinner. The evening meal selections varied from good to excellent – in fact, Tom enjoyed one fish entrée so much that he declared it was one of the best meals he’s ever had on any cruise ship. Dining room service was outstanding as always. We decided not to partake of Candles on this cruise since the weather was a little chilly in the evenings. The on-deck BBQ was fun and Tom declared that the paella was better than what we had in Soller, Spain.
Our fellow cruisers ranged in age from two well-behaved children around eight to ten years old to a lovely woman in her 90’s travelling with her grandchildren. Average age was probably 40-60, and many on this cruise seemed to be the adventurous type ready to explore and go off on their own. This may explain why some of the shore excursions were cancelled – not enough people signing up. We took two ship excursions – one in Alghero and one in Portoferraio, one was good and the other just OK. We ventured out on our own in Soller and Porto Vecchio. The one disadvantage to visiting ports that are not frequently visited is that the usual hints you can get from crew members is more limited. But because of that, it seemed we saw more crew members out and about experiencing the port with us.
We’ve enjoyed all our cruises with Windstar, but I think this itinerary proved to be the best well-rounded one for us. Just the right amount of sightseeing, relaxation and great fellow cruisers.