10 Rome (Civitavecchia) to Mediterranean Windstar Star Breeze Cruise Reviews

Star Breeze - Ex Rome to Barcelona - we picked the itinerary based on the ports and departure date plus the very special fare our agent could secure, & we wanted to try the small ship experience. Let me be frank I would NOT pay ... Read More
Star Breeze - Ex Rome to Barcelona - we picked the itinerary based on the ports and departure date plus the very special fare our agent could secure, & we wanted to try the small ship experience. Let me be frank I would NOT pay full price for these cruises. when you compare full price against other lines the quality , age & upkeep of the ship, average food etc just doesnt add up. I'm not loyal to on company having cruises on Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Holland America, Oceania & Viking - so have a broad appreciate of what lines can offer. However for the price we paid for our 7 day cruise - 50% off - I felt this was better value cruising at this price. If you find a crusie at $230pp/night - thats good value. One point to note MANY loyal Windstar guests on-board - Windstar has a fan club who keep coming back - again i feel they look for better value than the advertised price & enjoy their time on the ships at a certain price point. For a 30 year old ship it shows and its time either to replace these ships of run them through a tip to tail refurbishment - no expense spared. Ports were fantastic - expect Palamos - not well chosen - town was post its season peak and allot of shops closed and nothing much else to see unless you did an excursion. Highlight was Sannary Sur Mer - beautiful, laid back, great food and friendly locals.....Genoa a surprise visit due to weather - the old town was charming - but all museums closed on a Monday - again not well planned. Food is average at best - despite the partnership the line has with James Beard nothing really stood out. Candles is just a re-purposed morning buffet area with Candles on the table. We had a beverage package that is very good value for money if you have more than 2 glasses of wine per meal - selection of wines was fairly good. Best Meal was the dine around buffett where they set up a great BBQ in the kitchen & you got to meet the kitchen team & have excellent food choices. Public Areas - are in dire need of updating.....30 years young.....plus the attention to detail you see on other lines just isnt there in execution. Staff - all seemed reasonably happy - with a full ship maybe another 5 or 10 staff would lift the service elements a little - best service was in Compass Rose & select staff in Amphore A. Shore excursions - we organised our own as dont like being part of the larger groups. Did see any of the entertainment. Would I cruise with Windstar again - unless the port choices were amazing, price was truly a bargain and the ship had been refurbished I dont think so. I would try other small ships like Seabourn knowing that its a notch up and better value for the quality of the ship and inclusions. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
Choose because it's a small yacht. This cruise is great. Went to several ports Portoferraio , portofino, Monaco, Cannes, sanary sur mur, port vendres and Barcelona. The ship is refurbished and especially nice in public areas. ... Read More
Choose because it's a small yacht. This cruise is great. Went to several ports Portoferraio , portofino, Monaco, Cannes, sanary sur mur, port vendres and Barcelona. The ship is refurbished and especially nice in public areas. The service and staff and officers were very professional and visible. The food from breakfast to dinner and yacht club choices were amazing. If you have any special requests all you have to do if ask. The BBQ onboard is a treat don't miss it. The entertainment in the lounge is nice but there is no bar...but u can order from the staff. I like the lounge on windsurf because you can sit at bar and mingle and there is a nice dance floor. It has a more inviting atmosphere for socializing. We used room service for breakfast twice when we wanted to get off ship by 9:30. Service and food are great. The tours are expensive so choose carefully. We were 4 people so we arranged 3 private tours with a driver who showed us the sites for 7-8 hours each tour and cost less than through WS. We played the slots in a small casino two nights and did a little onboard shopping. This cruise is the best way to experience the Italian and French Riviera. Your hotel floats with you. Good food, beautiful yacht with all the amenities and NO CROWDS, PS...I lost my medication and the ship physician was able to write scripts and also had on handa few meds to hold me over.( charge was very reasonable ). This was very helpful when you rely on daily medication. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
We chose this cruise because it was going to a part of the world (Sicily and the Amalfi Coast) we had not yet seen and we had enjoyed our last Windstar experience. This ship accommodates @200 people and that's the size cruise we ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it was going to a part of the world (Sicily and the Amalfi Coast) we had not yet seen and we had enjoyed our last Windstar experience. This ship accommodates @200 people and that's the size cruise we thought we would like. We had a wonderful time. Our cabin was very spacious although there were a couple of minor annoyances. The air conditioning controls did not work. The cabin was quite cold or too warm. This was corrected, but only after 4 requests. We lost running water on 2 occasions due to a broken pipe. The sailing was very smooth with the exception of one evening. The food was excellent in the dining room and outstanding in Candles (the specialty dining room) Candles specializes in grilled meats and fish … the veal chop is exceptional. For a small ship the recreation area is very nice. Plenty of lounge chars on 2 levels, a hot tub and a small resistance swimming pool. The ship is kept quite clean. The crew is very friendly and dedicated to making sure you have a good time. For us the cruise was enhanced because we met so many wonderful people. The first day of the cruise was at sea and by the end of that day we had met several couples who we continued to spend time throughout the cruise. I think a few of them, will remain friends for a long time to come. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
We cruise every year and this, by far, was the most memorable trip. Last year we did a trip with Oceana and loved it. Their ship was about 800 people. This time we decided to go even smaller, and it was a great decision. Yes, the ship ... Read More
We cruise every year and this, by far, was the most memorable trip. Last year we did a trip with Oceana and loved it. Their ship was about 800 people. This time we decided to go even smaller, and it was a great decision. Yes, the ship does need TLC, I agree. They claim they put a ton of money in refurb, but we did not notice. Rooms, spa/gym are, and public space was a little ancient to our taste. Having said that, it did not bother us a bit, because everything else was fabulous - food, service, attention to details and, of course, beautiful ports of call. We had our 9 year old son with us, who had a BLAST! He spent 50% of his time on the bridge, learning how sail. The captain and bridge officers were so amazing that my son was crying when it was time to leave. Room attendant did a great job. By the way, rooms are huge! Three of us felt very comfortable. The food and the restaurant staff was super attentive and friendly. In fact, by the second day on the ship they all knew our names. The food and the wine was good (although the chef really likes potatoes....everything comes with potatoes...and we don't eat them:( The night entertainment is definitely lacking, but that was not a problem for us. We were so tired by the end of the day with the all the walking, swimming, etc, that our bedtime was 10 pm at the latest. The fellow passengers were great, a mix of different ages, but all very friendly (we are in our early 40s). The sports platform is really cool, but unfortunately it was only open 1 day. Wish they had a better pool. We were so excited to try out current pool, but it was not good. Plus the water there was so warm all the time that people use it as a hot tub. Nevertheless, we did quite a bit of swimming during our stops. Finally, wish they didn't do a day at sea. The ship is too small for it, especially with a lack of pool on a hot day. But, our son was super happy, because it meant more time on the bridge! We will definitely come back to Windstar! Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
Our family took Star Breeze (our fourth cruise with Windstar cruises) from Rome, to Capri (Italy), Sicily, Kotor (Montenegro), Dubrovnik (Croatia), Split (Croatia) to end in Venice. The Star Breeze is not one of the sail masted ships ... Read More
Our family took Star Breeze (our fourth cruise with Windstar cruises) from Rome, to Capri (Italy), Sicily, Kotor (Montenegro), Dubrovnik (Croatia), Split (Croatia) to end in Venice. The Star Breeze is not one of the sail masted ships (Windsurf and Wind spirit are), however, it has its own charms. Our captain was Roman (from Croatia) and he, along with his entire staff, were just wonderful and accommodating. One day we had a power outage while at sea and it only lasted about 20 minutes. They were able to manage the disruption efficiently right out at sea! The staff pride themselves on getting to know passengers (about 212 of us) on a first name basis. The staff is almost 1 to 1 with passengers. Our room was fabulous - actually, we had four rooms - we traveled with our five adult children ages 20 - 30. We were on deck 4 - rooms 131, 133, 135, 137 and each were equally wonderful. We had every need attended to and were treated with such class. The bathroom was spacious. With the small size of the ship my biggest disappointment was the pool. So so small. It is actually just an oversized whirlpool with a wave pool (jets). We were able to anchor three days and get the waterplatform out. That was fun. We paddle boarded, kayaked, snorkeled and used the trampoline. Absolutely a must. Biggest highlight was the on-deck BBQ which included lobster, crab claws, shrimp, and much much more. Food was amazing, not only at the BBQ, but throughout the cruise. Ports... loved Capri - we took a private boat around the island into all grotto's. Next, Sicily where the ship had a private event and we visited the Gambino vineyard (bought so much wine... can't tell you). It was a highlight. Then, Kotor. Loved the old town - best old town ever! DO the steps to the top - I personally counted 1982 steps up and the same back down (my son counted less, however, he is 6'2 while I am only 5'5). Worth every step. Dubrovnik was our least favorite of them all and then reignited in Split. Do the multi ticket of the Bell Tower, Baptistry, Palace and Crypt. Good shopping for coral bracelets, and leather. Our favorite Windstar trip was the French Riviera, then the Spain and Portugal one, followed by Italy and Greece and lastly, this one (Croatia and Montenegro), even though it was wonderful. We will still do another. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
This is the WORST boat ever. There was no greeting. They would tell us to have a "magical day" on the PA... that would have been a real trick! The sliding doors on the balcony did not work. The wait staff in the restaurants ... Read More
This is the WORST boat ever. There was no greeting. They would tell us to have a "magical day" on the PA... that would have been a real trick! The sliding doors on the balcony did not work. The wait staff in the restaurants couldn't get a job in a diner because they do not have a clue about getting the orders straight or on time. The restaurant at the stern suffers from engine noise, serious vibration and cooking oil smells so they add loud music to the clattering of plates and silverware. Since it is so confined you can look straight into the kitchen and see the dishes being washed.They would always apologize for how long the order was taking so I only ate there a few times before abandoning the idea. As we would come aboard in the afternoon after being ashore and there would not be any food available until 7 PM unless you called room service. REALLY?!? Nothing?!? How is this possible? There was one dining room for dinner room and we went there one night starving at 6:30 and the staff was all there just sitting around waiting for 7 pm. We concluded they were cutting back the food to save money. After all if you ate at 5:30 then you might be hungry again later and that would cost more to feed us. And room service could screw up anything too! We ordered a Caesar salad and got three including a chicken. A scary tuna salad sandwich which was warm and inedible (over the side with it.) You never got ice with a soda... who drinks hot cokes? A glass of white wine had $1.78 tax on it so it was always $10. tax?!? The HVAC was weird and would blow really loud if you adjusted it so we ended up leaving the sliding doors ajar so outside air would come in to keep the room fresher. I noticed the first night and confirmed the second night someone previously in the room had a meal like spaghetti and threw up because I could smell it without the sliding doors being open. So one night I discovered the deck washing was dripping down the side of the boat each night (It sounded like some one peeing over the side) streaking the glass balcony: it hit the wood railing and splashed into the room onto the carpet. Perhaps this is why I had a headache the whole week: mold in the room? The night the whole cruise (200 people) went to the Cafe de Paris in Monte Carlo for dinner was great and then they left us all on the dock for 90 minutes without any way to get back to the ship. At the same time Wind Surf (with only 80 guests aboard) was there and had two tenders leave with 12 people aboard (I counted them) and a locally chartered tender that held 100 people was also serving Wind Surf although it was hired to serve the Star Breeze; it left EMPTY for the Wind Surf!!! I seriously thought there was going to be a riot: we paid $7500 each for this cruise and it had plenty of type A people on it. They were not taking this sitting down; they were livid! Later the captain apologized and said it was the fault of the late bus delivering us to the dock (NOT!) and he said he 'got a lot of hate' about it. When I got on board Star Breeze I see there was one tender in the water and one inside. A blonde female officer with a germanic accent at reception told me they didn't have any trained staff to man the boats due to the hours they had worked that day. How is that when everyone was at the race all day?!? How did they plan to get the guests back aboard?!? There wasn't even dinner service as the kitchens were closed down because everyone went to the dinner party. Even at the end of the cruise in Nice there were NO taxis, buses or anything for us. We all waited for over an hour. People were so exasperated it was stunning. And yet it came as no surprise despite being the one thing you would expect they could get right! There was one poor woman trying to help find taxis and called our hotel who sent over a taxis for us (after 90 minutes) and we were screwed 60 euro for a 2 1/2 mile trip. This cruise was highlighted by the Monaco Grand Prix and our charming captain (Mr. "Have a smashing day!") anchored 1/4 mile offshore from the Heliport!!! Who does that? And FOR TWO DAYS!!! Everyone was under the impression we were tying up in the harbor but instead we were the farthest way. You know anchoring far away makes the logistics worst since the tender trip takes a lot longer each direction and can't make as many runs (they only carry 24 people) At 8:30 AM the helicopters started buzzing 150 feet over the boat. When we returned from the race I counted EIGHT helicopters flying in front of me from my cabin balcony. Those things are soooo loud and the turbines make a screaming noise! It was nuts! I took video because who would believe it at home? Who is that stupid as to anchor there. There had to be a reason. This is not the first time the ship had done this route so they knew what to expect there. There were other strange anchoring locations too.The Sea Dream boats anchored in close in one port arriving after we did. The pilots took them ahead of us and we watched them anchor where we thought we would be. The captain claimed they stole our spot but no one believes it for a minute. The better spots cost more. After that we we always the last boat to show up (of boats on the similar itinerary.) We concluded the boat is a cost center and they were cutting corners to boost profits. How DUMB is that? An expensive high end cruise that sucked and made everyone (and many were repeat Windstar customers) mad because it was so very poorly managed. Who pisses off their best customers? Oh and the tender drivers... They clearly had little to no training. They destroyed the tenders during the week. I watched the tenders hit the dock at 80 degrees: nearly right angles!!! I heard one lady say that she saw a big piece of paint fly off the boat but the boats aren't painted; they are fiberglass! The tenders would bounce 10 to 15 feet off the docks and they would try and try and try and then switch drivers to try again. When they finally would get tied up to on/off load the crew would stand in front of the railings so you couldn't grab them; trying to hold your arms as you tried to gain a footing to get on or off. How stupid!?! The railing is the best possible thing to hold on to. Windstar went from hero to zero with this crappy cruise. I didn't hear anything good from anyone about their experiences. Everyone was unanimous about being more than ready to get off that damned boat. Before I forget I also want to throw in that the chef was Indian; the tomato soup was spicy hot (not supposed to be) and I thought it was curry when room service brought it. But the other dishes were lame. The pastry chef cut the chocolate out of the chocolate deserts and the creams didn't have any taste. What cruise line has lousy desserts??? Even plain vanilla ice cream wasn't vanilla. Without trying I lost weight on this cruise. And for the record we had to walk one (1) mile uphill from the dock to the race track stands and they had escort leaders so you would not get lost. Yeah, and there was no soap in the bathroom the first two days , we had to ask for some. Where do I stop??? The longer I think about it the more come to mind!! The elevators that did not work... waiting 5 minutes to get hot water in the shower... When everyone (all 200 guests) were in the large auditorium room and there was always just one guy serving drinks for the whole room (on several occasions.) Really we were robbed taking this cruise. We were really excited and it was a travesty. Hah, even leaving the ship for the race they wrote the names of people leaving on paper because their security computer (registering who was on and off the ship) did not work. It would be funny it is didn't just stink so bad. I laugh when I read the categories below for rating; such as the treadmill where you would bump your head on the ceiling... The entertainment?!? not my taste and I thought they were terrible (perhaps from a Vegas 'off the strip' dive in the 80's) The shore excursions were mediocre at best. I wanted to strangle one tour guide if I heard another inane word out of her so I avoided the group. She would stop in the middle of nowhere and tell us how her favorite perfume was made from fig trees and waste 5 minutes do so. Who cares about her favorite perfumes?!? She'd tell us about this church while standing next to a huge blank wall and then not go in it (until the end of the tour (and there wasn't much to see anyway.)) I swear she walked us up and down the steep roads and alleyways on purpose to wear us down all the while telling us things like "You can see where the door hinges were when this was a gate!" Cheesiest tours ever. And I could not understand why the buses would drop you off and then they made you walk up to where the tour would begin... with tours in parking lots next to the admin buildings in these little tourist towns. What kind of tour is that? CHEAP CRAP tours. They waste time walking you and telling you stupid stuff to fill up the time. Consider between my wife and I; we spent about $17,000 on the cruise (not including airfare or other costs); well over $2000 a day and this was total BS. . So read some some of the other reviews for this boat; you'll love hearing how they went through the Panama Canal at night and other wacky (truly sad) escapades. Windstar I regret every stinking minute of that damned cruise. You screwed us, one and all and apparently it is not the first time. 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Sail Date May 2016
With much anticipation and a positive attitude we boarded the Star Breeze recently. We love the tall ships but thought we would give the Star Breeze a try. Our last cruise was on a bigger Seabourn. The Star Breeze is lovely in many ... Read More
With much anticipation and a positive attitude we boarded the Star Breeze recently. We love the tall ships but thought we would give the Star Breeze a try. Our last cruise was on a bigger Seabourn. The Star Breeze is lovely in many ways but I think Windstar needs to rethink their theme...180 degrees from ordinary. We are talking about two vastly different types of cruise experiences...the tall ships and the cruise ships. Herein lies the problem. Having come off a Seabourn ship it was hard not to compare. (also because the Seaboard logo is still displayed on most cabin doors etc.) The difference between the two was most obvious when it came to housekeeping. Granted Windstar has doubled its fleet as well as staff. Many of the crew on board were welcomed and familiar faces. But most were new to the Windstar line. You know that "Ahh I'm home" feeling you get when you are first shown your new cabin? Sadly that was lacking. I sat on the couch and looked at the mirror behind the 2 opposite chairs. It obviously had not been cleaned in a long time! When I entered the bathroom the same was true of all mirrored surfaces. Left behind were remnants of the previous guest...yuck. Housekeeping issues were also apparent in other public spaces. For the last few days we passed two badly stained dining room chairs left at the entrance of the Amphora restaurant. These were obviously pulled from the restaurant. Enough on housekeeping. I did speak the the head housekeeper at the reception for previous guests. She was speaking to our steward as we returned to the room. Very nice young man but not well trained. He then smeared the mirrored surfaces with a dry cloth. Made it look worse. Enough on housekeeping. The crew really works hard but they greeted us with a smile and many times by our name. A hallmark Windstar experience. They are to be commended. The food was excellent as well. Certainly nothing but praise there. BTW, we were on the cruise where a drunk 43 year old woman went overboard. Fortunately the seas were calm and boat drifting. She was pulled into the rescue boat alive and well about 1:10 minutes later. Kudos to the entire staff! We enjoyed our week aboard the ship. I think the potential is there to make the new vessels shine in the market. However, it is an entirely different cruise experience than the tall ships. The experience will be compared to other "cruise ship" and Windstar needs to look at the competition and step up. Attention to detail is what makes Seabourn stand out. Winstar take notice! This isn't a barefoot cruise any more! Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
There are really no words to describe the experience we had on Windstar's StarBreeze! From the moment we arrived at the Port and were greeted by staff welcoming us aboard- taking our luggage to our cabin and taking pictures as we ... Read More
There are really no words to describe the experience we had on Windstar's StarBreeze! From the moment we arrived at the Port and were greeted by staff welcoming us aboard- taking our luggage to our cabin and taking pictures as we arrived....the experience was beyond our wildest dreams. Luxurious, nurturing, welcoming, accommodating, impeccably clean, amazing food, amazing options, amazing staff, crew, chef, tours, fitness center, spa, etc etc. I have never cruised before and so was a little nervous about such a small ship but the ship itself is awesome and big enough and there is always enough space to either be alone if you want or mingle and socialize if that is what you are interested in at any given time. The room (cabin) is large enough with a separate area for the couch/balcony. Our room/cabin was the perfect place to hang out in after spending time on the decks when we were at sea for the day. I can't say enough about the tours (amazing- magical-worth every penny) and the crew!!! I LOVE Windstar and will definitely be booking another. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
This was a first cruise for my friend and I and I was surprised I enjoyed it so much. The itinerary was excellent and length of the cruise was perfect. The service was impeccable. I couldn't fault it. All the crew members that ... Read More
This was a first cruise for my friend and I and I was surprised I enjoyed it so much. The itinerary was excellent and length of the cruise was perfect. The service was impeccable. I couldn't fault it. All the crew members that learned my name, greeted me morning noon and night by name. I even had a special dessert made by the executive chef, Eddy. It made me feel so special. The dining room staff were excellent and catered to our every request. Karnik welcomed us to each venue and Larry kept the laughter going with his quick wit and jokes. On our last day, Miko even told us to take care be extra careful of pick pockets in Rome. The staff just treated us like were we close friends. At Amphora, Kyle provided lively conversation whenever he had the chance. And our room attendant Cecep made a towel animal every night at turn down service for my friend. We were well entertained on our second last night of the cruise with a deck BBQ and dancing by the crew. The only critique I have is that our room required a bit more maintanance despite Windstar had spent so much money refurbishing the ship. Our bathroom door almost fell apart and the drapes to separate the room required extra cleaning. All in all, we had a great time. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
Confessions of a cruise skeptic DAY 1, Civitavecchia, Italy I’m trying to put my finger on when I last had the feeling I have barely ten minutes into my first cruise, then I remember...it’s when a comedian announces there'll ... Read More
Confessions of a cruise skeptic DAY 1, Civitavecchia, Italy I’m trying to put my finger on when I last had the feeling I have barely ten minutes into my first cruise, then I remember...it’s when a comedian announces there'll be audience participation and I’m in the front row. I’m not exactly sure what’s causing my rising anxiety. Perhaps it’s the low ceilings of the ship I’ve just boarded, or the cacophonous soundtrack vibrating the speakers on the deck as we push away from the dock, or the check-in that’s less five star hotel and more reminiscent of registering for a convention. A fellow traveller grimaces as the music gets louder. "Is that karaoke, or is that actually a band?" he asks. This could be a very long eight days. I've chosen my first cruise carefully: small ship, docking somewhere new every day, reasonable-sized rooms, a reputation for good food, and ports where you can easily do your own thing. I've always had a motto in travel: never get on anything you can't get off. I’ve scorned bus tours and sneered at anyone who sees a place from behind a tour guide holding up an umbrella. But for the next eight days I’m sharing my travel experience with around 200 strangers. I’ve broken my own rules for the convenience of seeing a lot of places in a short time without having to pack, unpack or visit an airport or station. Slowly, things start to look up. First, the room, er cabin, is great. It has a picture window, marble bathroom (with bathtub) stocked with fancy toiletries, walk-in robe, living area with a sofa and armchairs and a queen bed with Egyptian cotton sheets. Secondly, I find an idyllic spot up the pointy end of the boat (ok, the bow)--a timber-decked triangle with banana lounges and bubbling turquoise jacuzzi. And my fellow traveller and I have it to ourselves. By dinner, we are hooked. From our table at the open air restaurant at the back, er stern, of the boat, we watch the sun sink into the ocean past our vessel's fluttering flag. Dolphins cross the moonlit wake as waiters deliver lobster carpaccio, followed by good steak and a glass of montepulciano. The steward suggests we take our unfinished wine back to the cabin, or he’ll hold it for tomorrow’s dinner. That first night I’m lulled to sleep by the gentle seas and distant hum of the engines. DAY 2 Capri, Italy I wake with Capri shimmering and misty on the horizon. Dolphins playfully circle a fishing boat and elegant little tenders line up to take us ashore, 30 at a time. What's not to like? We break into groups for an island tour, skipping queues for the Blue Grotto, and the chairlift to Monte Solaro. As we slip through the tourism bureaucracy, another traveller shrugs and observes: “If you can't beat ‘em, join ‘em”. This is travel with all the kinks ironed out. That evening, watching Capri slip towards the horizon from our virtually private jacuzzi in the bow, I’m already planning the next voyage. DAY 3 Sicily, Italy Early irritations have disappeared. The low ceilings of the little 106-cabin Star Breeze are offset by elegant shared spaces, there are quiet places to get away from livelier bars and groups, the school camp-style processing diminishes once everyone's in the groove. And while the buffet can get buzzy at breakfast, there’s always a quiet table where you can order your eggs benedict a la carte. But by day three I feel we need to set out without a posse. Waiting for cabin 106 to turn up for the morning tour, again, as thirty other adults cool their heels for ten minutes thinking they could have had a second coffee, is wearing thin. A crew member happily delivers a briefing on what cabs should cost, where to eat, and what to see. While most go to the included tour and lunch at a winery on the slopes of Mt Etna, we wander the streets of Taormina, shopping for ceramics after lunch on a terrace high above the ocean. Back in the ship’s main restaurant, a ballroom-like space, the food is American, classic, with a few modern and ethnic flourishes, and sometimes sweetness, like salmon marinated with maple and topped with cranberry orange chutney. There are simple dishes like steak and grilled fish each night, and more elaborate ones like pork tenderloin with bourbon ancho sauce. You can dine when you like with whom you like (or alone). There are no formal nights, so I don't have to travel with clothing I will only wear on board. Food (breakfast, lunch, dinner and 24-hour room service) is included in the price. Drinks are reasonably priced, good wines $US 7-10 per glass. Cocktails are priced similarly, and 15 per cent service is added. I’d considered taking the ‘drinks package’ which gives you alcoholic beverages for $US134 per cabin per day but our actual expenditure is way below this. DAY 4 At sea A fellow Australian admits he woke in the night, and thought, "I didn’t think I'd had that much to drink" before realising the ship was rocking side to side. It's barely noticeable, but it's more movement than we've had so far on the glassy Mediterranean. Today is a full day at sea, from 5pm push off at Messina last night until arrival in Kotor, Montenegro, around 9am tomorrow. Some see this as a necessary evil, and chuckle about the inventions crew have created to pass the time (a demonstration of how to fold towels into little animals; a lecture on mastering digital cameras from the ship’s photographer). For others, a day at sea is bliss, permission to rack up spa treatments, loll on a banana lounge, drink cocktails, read. A few hit the gym, where several men discover they are too tall to use the treadmills without hitting the ceiling. Some opt for the exercise bikes, others slink away in apparent relief. On the open bridge, where the crew show chat with passengers. Somehow it's cocktail hour before I know it. DAY 5 Kotor, Montenegro The 'fjord' in which Kotor rests is known as one of the most beautiful ports to enter. Sadly lovely Kotor is choked by tourists, tacky souvenirs, and touting taxis squabbling over who's legal and who's not. Our hour-long Windstar walking tour traverses from tedious to torturous, so impulsively we rent a tiny Toyota and head to a beach where we hobble across grey pebbles into azure water. With a 10pm sailing, we dine onshore on local mussels, octopus and calamari paired with a dry Montenegran rose. Back on board the Star Breeze the signature Windstar deck barbecue is in full swing, tables laden with prawns and salads and a duo singing Volare. With wine bought on shore I slip quietly past to watch the lights come up just as the duo launch into Pharrell’s Happy, urging everyone to dance. DAY 6, Dubrovnik, Croatia, With five cruise ships in port, we’re advised to walk the walls early. It’s good advice, afterwards, a larger ship’s passengers are lined up for several hundred metres in the hot sun, while only six of us wait for our tender. It’s not the only difference I notice. I see other ships’ passengers wearing stickers to identify them. I never want to wear a sticker to identify me. Our cruise builds time for independent exploration into shore excursions, too. We choose to see what we want, lunch where we want, shop, swim at local beaches, hike and buy local wine to drink in our cabin (free) or with dinner (for a reasonable corkage charge). Day 7, Split, Croatia AFTER a cruise-organised tour an Istrian hill town, I bump into fellow voyagers who've taken the mountain bike tour. They’re red faced, dusty, sweaty. Two fit young Americans say it was “intense”. They'd preferred the previous day’s white-water rafting trip, and the sea kayaking in Dubrovnik. So much for cruising's walking-frame clientele reputation. DAY 8 Rovinj, Croatia After hiking above Rovinj on our own, stopping to swim at a small bay, I realise how much I’ve looked forward to returning to the comforts of our elegant little ship each day. I’ve even started to enjoy the thundering rendition of Vangelis’s 1492 as the Star Breeze sails nightly. DAY 9, Venice, Italy As the ship sails into Venice at sunrise, I remember the words of a stylish acquaintance who surprised me by admitting an addiction to cruising, so much so that “You can see my fingernail marks down the gangplank where they’ve had to drag me off at the end.” I’ve got to admit, I’m starting ro relate...and already wondering how soon I can do this again. A skeptic’s tips for cruising .Use the boat as a floating hotel and explore at least some ports independently. .Choose a ship that appeals to your personality, sensitivity and interests. Formal nights, smoking policy, group activities can be deal breakers or makers. .TheTripAdvisor of cruising, www.cruisecritic.com, is useful for getting inside information from seasoned voyagers. .Register your email address with any cruise lines you’re interested in. You’ll be bombarded by money-saving deals. Between booking and payment our cruise dropped in price. The cruise Windstar Classic Italy and the Dalmatian Coast, The Star Breeze, June 2015. We paid Aus$2667 per person and spent a further $800 per head on drinks, spa treatments and shore excursions. www.windstarcruises.com Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
Star Breeze Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 4.4
Dining 4.0 4.2
Entertainment 3.0 3.0
Public Rooms 5.0 4.0
Fitness Recreation 3.0 3.2
Family 1.0 3.2
Shore Excursion 3.0 3.6
Enrichment 3.0 3.4
Service 4.0 4.5
Value For Money 4.0 3.8

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