Windstar Cruises pride themselves on being a little bit different, challenging the conventional expectations about a cruise, 180 degrees from ordinary. It starts with the vessels themselves, of course, with their yacht-like design — three of which have sails — and the fact that they carry no more than 310 guests. Such small ships ensure a rarefied level of personal service, with itineraries that hit the high spots but also venture into smaller ports that larger ships just can’t visit. As if that weren’t enough, they go a few steps further, with five unique features that you just won’t find anywhere else but on a Windstar voyage.
OPEN BRIDGE POLICY
Have you ever wondered how a Windstar ship navigates the open seas or docks in a small Mediterranean port? You can discover the secrets by visiting the Bridge. Windstar offers an Open Bridge policy, a rarity in the cruise industry. Weather permitting, the Bridge is open and the Captain and officers welcome guests to watch how it’s all done. No reservations or guided tour are needed, just an abundance of curiosity.
If you want to go snorkeling or paddle boarding from a conventional ship, you need to wait until you’ve docked at a port and gone ashore. On Windstar’s ships, you take off right from the Watersports Platform for a day of fun. Each one of Windstar’s six ships features such a platform, which opens right onto the sea from the vessel’s aft. It allows guests easy access to the ocean for swimming, snorkeling, sailing, water skiing, windsurfing, paddle boarding and kayaking with complimentary state-of-the-art equipment.
MARKET VISITS WITH CHEFS
Dining on board takes on more meaning if you’ve spent the morning with the chef foraging for produce, spices, herbs and local treats at a foreign market. That’s why the ships of Windstar Cruises offer market tours with the chefs. They offer an opportunity not only to sample local cheeses, discover new produce and see the local catch but also to choose and taste as a chef does and learn firsthand about the culinary roots of another culture. Think of it as a moveable feast.
JAMES BEARD FOUNDATION CULINARY CRUISES
There’s no better way to enhance one’s cooking skills than by watching and learning from a master chef. So who better than a chef who has won or been nominated for a prestigious James Beard award, known as the Oscars of the food world. Windstar Cruises inaugurated the James Beard Foundation Culinary Cruises in 2016 and continuing to build an unprecedented travel-culinary partnership in 2017. Cruise guests receive exclusive access to JBF-endorsed cuisine, recipes and culinary demonstrations on every sailing, and can cruise on an epicurean adventure to France, Spain and Portugal with James Beard Award-Winning Chef and Cookbook Author Hugh Acheson; and more award winners and nominees on the James Beard Foundation Culinary Cruise Collection.
“Our partnership as the official cruise line of the James Beard Foundation solidifies our goal to support culinary excellence and innovation, and be the world’s best small ship cruise line in everything that we do. We’re thrilled to offer our guests exclusive access to the Foundation’s diverse roster of award-winning chefs and cross-cultural culinary leaders who will help chart a course for extraordinary new menu offerings and dining experiences featured daily across our fleet wherever we sail in the world,” says Windstar President John Delaney.
WHEN YOU GO:
On Dreams of Tahiti and Tahiti & the Tuamotu Islands, enjoy a traditional Polynesian experience on a secluded islet that includes an evening feast on the beach and a performance of traditional fire dancing. On Yachtsman’s Harbors of The Rivieras, learn how to make pesto; sample olive oils, pestos and delectable Italian specialties; and be serenaded by a guitarist on the terrace of the historic Villa Durazzo on Santa Margherita Ligure, Italy. Afterwards, tour the antiques-laden villa. For more information contact your travel professional or Windstar Cruises.
By Everett Potter
Everett Potter is the editor-in-chief and publisher of Everett Potter’s Travel Report, a weekly news blog for smart travelers in search of value. He is also a travel columnist for USA Today and contributes to ForbesLife, Robb Report, and many other publications.