I married my husband Eric in the US Virgin Islands 20 years ago. We were drawn together by a deep love for travel. Twenty years later, we decided the best way to celebrate the hard work and commitment of a long marriage was to embark on a new adventure. For this trip, we wanted pampering and discovery, after all we are much older, so we sailed away on Windstar Cruises’ newest ship, the luxurious Star Breeze.
In 2015, Star Breeze was voted the Best Small Ship by Condé Nast magazine, and like our marriage, it feels like it has aged beautifully. Part of what makes Star Breeze so special is that every stateroom is a suite. There are no inside rooms, so no matter what level you select, your room on board will be spacious, with floor-to-ceiling windows or a balcony, a bathroom with two sinks, a bathtub/shower combination, large mirrored storage cabinet, as well as a separate seating area, expansive enough to accommodate small group gatherings.
We boarded Star Breeze in Barcelona, a perfect destination to begin a cruise. The Port of Barcelona has lots of activities within walking distance, including a large shopping mall, restaurants, historic buildings, and a picturesque marina. Because the ship’s maximum is only 212 guests, the process of boarding Star Breeze is streamlined. Despite the required steps, Windstar staff processes guests with ease and comfort.
As you’re shown to your suite, you’ll notice it’s very easy to find your way around, because the ship is quite small. There are only six levels, and guests spend most of their time navigating only four of them. The crew of 150 is friendly and professional. They hail from countries around the globe and are chosen for their soothing, polished style and gracious attitudes.
We were welcomed on board with a bottle of champagne and chocolate dipped strawberries! Our suite attendant briefly explained how the lights worked and said we were free to drink unlimited filtered bottles of water and sodas supplied by Windstar. In addition, they allow guests to bring up to three bottles of wine on board upon embarkation.
The stateroom has a expansive walk-in closet for storing your clothes, with a bathrobe, slippers, drawers and a safe. There is ample storage available in the room, with a vanity/desk area, high thread count bedding, and a bar with fine glassware. Everything about this suite is designed for comfort and elegance. You may wish to have more days at sea to spend time luxuriating in it.
Star Breeze is designed for the discriminating connoisseur who enjoys peace and tranquility, not a rowdy atmosphere you find on large cruise ships. But it’s not stuffy or dull either. The entertainment ranges from local Flamenco performers, to cooking classes, to a well-equipped library with dvd’s, books, and comfy chairs. The Star Bar with its panoramic view of the sea, has puzzles and board games. You may order a cocktail or enjoy a complimentary barista-made coffee while enjoying a sandwich or dessert.
Breakfast and lunches are served in Verandah, an upper deck area with outdoor and indoor seating at the back of the ship. The buffets are high quality fare with lots of healthy options, like a fresh salad bar, fruits, local meats and cheeses and an ever-changing selection of custom dishes such as stir fry or pasta. Breakfast service includes omelets made to order, a selection of menu items like waffles and homemade granola, excellent coffee and enthusiastic servers who seem to learn your name and your food preferences in the space of one day.
Dinners in AmphorA Restaurant are an imaginative collection of appetizers, soups and entrees that vary from traditional seafood and steak to ethnic fare such as Indonesian and Indian food. The menu always has a few delicious sounding vegetarian dishes as well. The service in this main dining room is elegant but relaxed, opening at 7 pm and allowing diners to stretch the process to as late as 8:30 pm. The wait staff’s pacing encourages guests to order multi-courses and savor conversation after a day exploring in a new destination.
On the first full day on Star Breeze’s Spanish Serenade we docked in Palma, Mallorca. We chose to forgo an official excursion that day and meander around the city. A very cosmopolitan place, the town’s most impressive landmark is Mallorca Cathedral with one of the tallest ceilings in the world. At 4 pm, Windstar hosted an event at the March Palace for all cruise guests. The setting at March Palace includes the Cathedral and breathtaking views of the mountains in the distance. Surrounded by classic Southern Spanish neighborhoods, the Roman style courtyard was set up with bar service and passing of hors d’oeuvres. Guests were free to tour the Palace, with its paintings by hometown artist, Salvador Dali and grand sculptures mixing historic and the modern in a exciting way.
The presentation at the Palace began with an explanation of Mallorca’s history, and performances by local dancers demonstrating the Bolero and Fandango. Accompanied by bagpipe players, dancers began twirling, tapping, and snapping away at castanets, passing from partner to partner as they showed off their unique combination of athleticism and joy. It was a charming performance; one we felt privileged to experience, as the sun set on the horizon turning the walls of the historic courtyard to gold and pink.
This was just the first day of the cruise, but already it was clear, Windstar knows how to throw a party, as well as make guests feel welcome and savvy for choosing this cruise. My husband and I couldn’t be more thrilled to begin our Spanish Serenade on board the lovely Star Breeze.