Rarely does a second experience live up to a perfect first one but in the case of recent Windstar cruise, this is the case. Three years ago, we had the cruise of a lifetime on The Wind Star, highlighted by our marriage on board with Santorini as the backdrop. The Windstar experience was beyond our expectations and created such indelible memory for all of us that my wife and I decided that we must celebrate our 3rd anniversary with another Windstar cruise. Once again, we were fortunate to have all 3 of our adult children join us, although it was obviously not too hard to convince them! This time, we decided on the Star Breeze’ Italy and Dalmatian Coast itinerary.
While the sails of the Wind Star create a majestic and awe-inspiring visual experience, the spaciousness of the cabins, all suites, and increased deck space of the Windstar motor yachts, such as Star Breeze, compensate for it in a different but equal way. What is not different is the warmth and feeling of being amongst friends from the minute you step aboard. For those of you who remember the TV show Cheers and the line from their theme song, “where everybody knows your name”, you would be able to easily apply that to the Star Breeze crew. From the minute you step aboard, somehow magically, the crew know you by name and immediately start to pick up on your desires and likes. You really feel as though you are on a private yacht and that you have known these people for much longer than a day or two.
On big ships, other guests pass you anonymously and you are part of a large “pack” that moves around from activity to activity or reservation to reservation. On the Star Breeze, you almost immediately start to develop conversation an in many cases, friendships, with your very select 200 or so shipmates. You find yourself interacting and smiling much more than you though possible. You also do not have to worry whether you made a diner reservation or if you are running late, the Amphora dining room staff works on your timetable and when you show up for dinner, your table and very smiling, attentive staff are there waiting.
Once again, Windstar did those little “extras” that mean so much and make you feel very special. We were welcomed onboard with a bottle of champagne and a beautiful flower arrangement waiting for us in our suite. We were then given a special Honeymoon gift of a professional family photo shoot, champagne at dinner and breakfast in bed. While most hotels or cruise lines would give a guest a mediocre bottle of champagne, ours was our favorite, Veuve Clicquot. This is just one more example of how Windstar shows how much they value their guests.
Windstar’s itineraries have allowed us to experience more of each port of call as well as visit ones that we would never have even contemplated. Rovinj, our first port after departing Venice, was absolutely idyllic. The cobblestone streets and small shops that dotted the mountainside were only equaled by the incredible truffles sold in the local market. This is a port that no large cruise ship could visit nor would it be welcomed. Our ship at 214 passengers did not overrun the small town and allowed us to get the feel of a local Croate village. This is what true travel should be! In Dubrovnik, we sailed at 11:00 PM which allowed us to experience the Old City by gas lantern-light, truly a trip back to the Middle Ages and a page out of Game of Thrones.
Overall, Windstar has once again given my family and I a truly memorable experience of not only fantastic ports but also of new friendships made and eager anticipation of our next Windstar cruise!