Concerns about Turkey and Istanbul in particular before leaving the US. These concerns were quickly overcome by this 7-day cruise from Istanbul to Athens. Stayed at the Pera Palace for a couple of days prior to departure and toured the city. Istanbul is a great mix of history and modern, the hotel spectacular!
Embarkation was a breeze and the ship was in great shape following its recent dry dock. The itinerary started off with a day at sea and gave the 80 guests a chance to get to know one another, very easy on Wind Star as it is a small vessel. Enjoyed the time on the open bridge and even got some star identification training from the Watch Officer.
The various ports of call were a great recap of history. The top was Ephesis and the private event at the Celsus Library. Windstar does this event right! From the minute you arrive you are taken back in time, no other visitors to be seen or heard, music playing in the library upon arrival, photographer at the ready and they don't charge you for the pictures. Dinner was served, dusk settled in, and then the lights illuminated the library, pathways, and colusium, very SPECIAL!
The other stops were also well done though too many other cruise ships were with us in Santorini, you lost some of the intimacy that we experienced elsewhere. Athens was a huge let down, the Parthanon and museum were as expected. However, Athens as a city is a dump, don't bother spending any extra nights here.
We got the news of the Istanbul bombing just as we got home and felt fortunate with our timing. Turkey was the unexpected highlight of our trip and would love to return when it settles down again. The Wind Star crew is top notch and looking forward to another Windstar trip soon.