Rome – Windstar Cruises – A Luxury Cruise Blog http://blog.windstarcruises.com Tue, 20 Jun 2017 22:12:36 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8 Which Riviera is Right for Me? French or Italian? http://blog.windstarcruises.com/2016/05/french-riviera-or-italian-riviera/ http://blog.windstarcruises.com/2016/05/french-riviera-or-italian-riviera/#respond Mon, 02 May 2016 17:25:54 +0000 http://blog.windstarcruises.com/?p=6078 Travel professionals get this question a lot: “Should I visit the French OR Italian Riviera? I don’t have time for both.” Well, both are beautiful and glamorous. Both have delicious cuisine (Salade Niçoise vs. Fresh Pasta with Ligurian Basil Pesto). Both have scrumptious local wine (rosés in France vs. white wines from Vermentino grapes in […]

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Travel professionals get this question a lot: “Should I visit the French OR Italian Riviera? I don’t have time for both.”

Well, both are beautiful and glamorous. Both have delicious cuisine (Salade Niçoise vs. Fresh Pasta with Ligurian Basil Pesto). Both have scrumptious local wine (rosés in France vs. white wines from Vermentino grapes in Italy). And the beaches …

If you were filling out a pro and con list, the page(s) would be full, and the score would undoubtedly be tied. It’s simply too difficult to choose, and it can be impossible to traverse the region efficiently without renting a car – which can certainly cut into that local wine consumption.

Small ship cruising often solves travel conundrums, and we can think of a few problematic travel scenarios that are more perfectly addressed with a single solution: our Glitter & Glam of the Rivieras itinerary tackles this question with a tightly curated seven day cruise voyage from Rome to Barcelona (and reverse), April through October, sailing through the French AND Italian Rivieras. So the answer to “Which Riviera?” is a resounding “Visit Both!”

Here are a few of our favorite highlights along this glittering voyage:

barcelona_cruiseBarcelona

Barcelona is always an incredible city to visit for the architecture, but 2016 marks the 90th anniversary of the death of Antoni Gaudí, whose famous Sagrada Família Cathedral finally has an end date to its more than 100-year construction phase – scheduled for 2026. Look for celebrations of this masterful architect around the city this year, as well as unique exhibitions and walking tours.

Port Vendres

Typical seaside pursuits abound in this mashup of a French and Spanish fishing village, including deep sea fishing, SCUBA diving, canoeing, and lazy days on the beach. For a bit of extra culture and eye candy, we also like to explore nearby Collioure, where Matisse and Derain lived and painted.

Sanary-sur-Mer

From Sanary-sur-Mer, it’s just a quick drive to nearby St. Tropez for a guided walking tour through the bright waterfront destination, followed by lunch and further exploration of the French Riviera. We recommend dining at La Pesquiere for a local’s-only feel and the best calamari of our lives.

CannesCannes_vacation

An insider tip (shhhhh) is that Windstar docks in Cannes on the Glitter & Glam of the Rivieras itinerary during the storied Cannes Film Festival, which is May 11-22. Some serious star spotting will be in order …

Monte Carlo

There’s more to Monte Carlo than the Grand Prix (although that is another favorite sailing of ours). Fancy cars zoom through the streets year-round, and high end shopping (or at least window shopping) is a sport. A visit to the Grand Casino is certainly not to be missed for the people watching alone, even if you don’t gamble a chip. The harbor, filled with multi-million dollar mega-yachts, is the perfect home for a Windstar yacht and easy exploration and access to this playground for the rich and famous.

D_EU_Portofino_022Portofino

Portofino is the site of Windstar’s Private Event on this sailing, treating guests to the Beloved Villa Durazzo, Pesto Demo & Tastings. Guests are ferried to charming Santa Margherita Ligure with its rich villas and grand hotels creating a magical reflection around the bay. Strolling through Italian gardens while listening to local musicians and drinking in the view of the Tigulio Gulf (and Italian wines), you may forget your Windstar yacht isn’t actually yours technically. Then it’s on to a tour through the villa and its artwork and a pesto-making class from a local chef. After all, they DID invent pesto here, so do as the locals and eat up.

Portoferraio

Like Napoleon Bonaparte, we could be exiled in lovely Portoferraio on Elba Island, if we just had access to the island’s gelaterias every day. Seriously, this is the best gelato in all of Italy, as our well-traveled crew can attest. Don’t be afraid to try perfectly unusual flavors, like ricotta with caramelized figs.

RomeRome

We love that this itinerary begins and ends in some of the most exciting cities in the world. It’s the perfect complement to all the smaller villages and outposts on the Rivieras. Rome doesn’t disappoint, so whether guests are simply jetting through on their way to the airport for the flight home or extending their trip with a visit to the Pope, Windstar is able to arrange for either scenario.

Have you ever experienced the French Riviera or Italian Riviera? Did you have a favorite? Tell us in the comments!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Small Cruise Ships Offer Exclusive Entry to Europe’s Hidden Harbors in Italy, Croatia, Montenegro & Beyond http://blog.windstarcruises.com/2016/04/small-cruise-ships-offer-exclusive-entry-to-europes-hidden-harbors-in-italy-croatia-montenegro-beyond/ http://blog.windstarcruises.com/2016/04/small-cruise-ships-offer-exclusive-entry-to-europes-hidden-harbors-in-italy-croatia-montenegro-beyond/#respond Fri, 08 Apr 2016 00:06:23 +0000 http://blog.windstarcruises.com/?p=5929 The Adriatic is having a moment. In recent years, Croatia and lesser-known Montenegro have blossomed into “must go now” destinations in Europe, thanks to their stunning beauty, glimmering beaches, and old world charm. Pair those elements with the value, flexibility and many conveniences of a cruise vacation. It’s no wonder Windstar yacht guests love sailing […]

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The Adriatic is having a moment. In recent years, Croatia and lesser-known Montenegro have blossomed into “must go now” destinations in Europe, thanks to their stunning beauty, glimmering beaches, and old world charm. Pair those elements with the value, flexibility and many conveniences of a cruise vacation. It’s no wonder Windstar yacht guests love sailing the sun-kissed Dalmatian Coast and Italy’s legendary Amalfi on board a chic small ship – blissfully free from crowds but in the heart of the action in quaint Old World towns, off the charted course.

luxury-cruising

Our Classic Italy and Dalmatian Coast itinerary brings guests to the best of Croatia: walk the ancient walls surrounding the center of Dubrovnik, stroll the polished marble streets of Split, and imbibe the freshest seafood and a dizzying array of Croatian wines in Rovinj. Next door, neighboring Kotor, Montenegro shows off the glory bestowed only upon UNESCO World Heritage sites, filled with medieval architecture, historic monuments, you’ll  delight in photo opportunities at every turn.

It’s the Mediterranean’s most charming and historic destinations, all in one incomparable voyage… not to mention also spending precious time in absolutely classic Italian ports of call including Capri, Sicily, Rome, and Venice.

 

So how do you spend your days in this fantastically diverse conglomeration of ports? Here are a few of our favorite highlights for a rich, varied, and, yes, Classic experience.

Rome-cruise

 

 

Rome, Italy

Where do you even begin in Rome? The Vatican? The Pantheon? There’s so much history to soak up in this vibrant city, and even if you’ve seen it all before, there are many reasons to return in 2016. The Colosseum was recently cleaned and given a $35 million “face lift”; the Trevi Fountain has also had a clean-up; and the Circus Maximus, along with other historic Roman sites, will glitter on the big screen in the remake of Ben Hur, opening in theaters this summer.

 

Capri-cruiseCapri, Italy

This little island off the coast of Italy is one of those places you feel sexy just thinking about. Cool cafes, Hollywood lore, and rugged seascapes… it’s all here. Our favorite shore excursion A Taste of Capri and Blue Grotto gives you a little of everything, including seeing the sunlight passing through an underwater cave at the aptly named Blue Grotto. Mix in some other panoramic views (including Mount Vesuvius in the distance), local wine and cheese, and strolls through the narrow streets or the Augustus Gardens, and you have the perfect Capri day.

 

 

Private-EventGiardini Naxos, Italy

By now you may have heard of our Private Event program (or we hope you have! Each Windstar cruise includes a complimentary one). On the Classic Italy and Dalmatian Coast sailing, it’s the Tastes of Sicily experience in Giardini Naxos. The Private Event begins with a trip to a family-run winery, where guests get a tastes-on education in what to expect from world-class Sicilian wines, enjoying delicate extra-virgin olive oil made in the region as well. After the tour, lunch is served with a selection of traditional Sicilian food and, of course, more wine.

 

Kotor, MontenegroKotor-cruise

If getting there is half the fun, the experience of sailing into Kotor is three quarters the fun. It’s just that breathtaking. Sailing through the winding Bay of Kotor, called Europe’s southernmost fjord, on a small ship is a magical moment. Guests on board get their fill of blues and greens as the sea gives way to perhaps the most beautiful waterside settlement in the world. When the bright red rooftops of the medieval town of Kotor come into view, you’ve only just begun. Kotor is why we love cruising.

 

I do so love the Dalmatian coast — the Croatian coast line and ports are beautiful, you must experience the run up to Kotor in Montenegro.”
~ Captain Belinda Bennett, MSY Wind Star Master

 

Dubrovnik-cruiseDubrovnik, Croatia

Not to be outdone by Kotor, one of our OTHER favorite moments on this sailing is getting to dock in the heart of Old Town Dubrovnik. It’s what makes sailing on Windstar and small ships so special since the larger ships have to dock in a port farther away and bus their guests into the walled city. Because you’re closer to the destination, you get to make the most of your day at a more leisurely pace. We like to cozy up on the terrace at Proto, an old-fashioned restaurant specializing in the freshest Dalmatian seafood, and enjoy a glass of wine with a platter of oysters. If being active is more your style, we love the option of kayaking around the historic city walls on our Kayaking the City Walls & Lokrum Island half-day excursion.

 

Split, CroatiaSplit-cruise

Yes, Split is known for its beaches and the impressive Diocletian’s Palace, but we like to hit the road to the Krka River Waterfalls in Krka National Park. The falls cascade over 17 natural barriers, and the park is teeming with wildlife and nearly 1,000 varieties of plants. But if the beaches are calling your name, Bacvice is one of the most popular swimming spots in Split. Don’t miss the street food from local vendors, like Croatian jelly doughnuts, yum!

 

 

Rovinj-cruiseRovinj, Croatia

You might want to work off the Croatian donuts, so in Rovinj, we like to stretch our legs on the Parenzana Biking Trail. Previously a narrow-gauge railway line, it follows a meandering course across the Istrian countryside. This super scenic adventure of course includes refreshments. And if refreshments as an activity itself sounds more fitting, Windstar offers a shore excursion to the seaside resort of Prorec with wine tasting… cheers to that.

 

Venice, Italy

Windstar visits more ports in Italy than any other country.  Venice is arguably the Queen of the Adriatic, so of course we visit this mesmerizing floating city on several cruise itineraries. Serenades on a gondola ride, shopping for Venetian glassware, lingering over an espresso in Piazza San Marco, or digging into a plate of Baccala’ Mantecata (salted codfish with polenta)… Venice NEVER disappoints. Never.Venice-cruise

 

Considering putting your own spin on this sailing experience? Don’t miss Windstar’s “Pick Your Perk” in Europe promotion, which is available on 14 Classic Italy and Dalmatian Coast sailings and on dozens of other itineraries including iconic Greek Isles.  The promotion includes the choice between The Yacht VIP Package, an all-inclusive onboard savings package of up to $1,700 per stateroom including free wi-fi, complimentary gratuities and beverage package, or two free hotel nights, pre or post cruise.

 

Have you ever visited these ports in Italy and the Dalmatian Coast? What was your favorite highlight? Tell us in the comments below!

 

 

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Review of Sicilian Splendors .. Second Time Around http://blog.windstarcruises.com/2015/10/review-of-sicilian-splendors-second-time-around/ http://blog.windstarcruises.com/2015/10/review-of-sicilian-splendors-second-time-around/#respond Fri, 30 Oct 2015 21:33:25 +0000 http://blog.windstarcruises.com/?p=4923 Our dear guest Donna Watson shared her recent experience on a round trip Rome voyage on Wind Surf. She is not a first time Windstar guest, nor blogger. She wrote “Wind Surf back-to-back cruises in the Caribbean”  back in March 2015. Enjoy her review: We just returned from Sicilian Splendors aboard Wind Surf. The interesting […]

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Our dear guest Donna Watson shared her recent experience on a round trip Rome voyage on Wind Surf. She is not a first time Windstar guest, nor blogger. She wrote “Wind Surf back-to-back cruises in the Caribbean”  back in March 2015. Enjoy her review:

We just returned from Sicilian Splendors aboard Wind Surf. The interesting thing about this voyage is that we had just taken the same itinerary last year aboard Star Pride. Friends asked….why are you doing the same itinerary? Why not, we said? It was a fascinating trip, and there is so much more to see….and most importantly, we are always happy aboard Wind Surf ….wherever she travels. (we were aboard for 2 weeks in February)

Did I mention we started our trip with 2 days in Rome, at the lovely Hotel Savoy, as part of our package from Windstar Cruises. Always nice to see the sights of Rome again.

Something new was added this year. The tour in Agrigento at the Valley Of The Temples was the Windstar Cruises complimentary private event which included a fabulous luncheon at a beautiful outdoor venue nearby.

 

Unknown-7We even stopped in Palermo, when weather prevented us from anchoring in Lipari in the Aolian Islands. You have to admire the Captain’s level of expertise (in this case Captain John Clark) in having to make decisions on visiting ports when the weather conditions are precarious. Clearly, the decision is based on safety of passengers, and we are fine with that.

Other ports were Catania (you can visit Syracusa or Taiomina) Malta (Valletta and Gozo) …. a highlight of the trip for us, having loved the port last year, Sorrento and Capri, visited from Naples.

 

Unknown-16The food aboard Wind Surf was exceptional. Diets are on the agenda for us since our return. The ships navigation crew and ships crew were fabulous, as usual, always smiling and attentive. Clearly one of the reasons we return again and again. This was our 14th voyage since 2000. We will be aboard Star Legend in the Caribbean in February. Looking forward to seeing the renovations on this newly acquired motor yacht.

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