CRUISING WITH WINDSTAR CRUISES … HOW PARADISE FEELS
How does “paradise” feel? For many people, it’s associated with sunshine and warmth, no worries, no stress, far away from life’s daily demands and the madding crowd. Beauty all around you, friendly faces anticipating your every need. The perfect ambiance to rekindle romance and sleep like a baby at night. Delicious food. Comfort and luxury. The kind of place you want to return to again and again.
Fairy-tale or not, this is how I felt aboard the Windstar Cruises Star Legend on my recent Caribbean Hidedaways cruise. I felt like I was in paradise. After all, would Adam and Eve not also adored having the smiling servers bring them plate after plate of delicious food all the while having their skin caressed by the balmy sea breezes as they cruised out of port?
Cruising with Windstar Cruises felt like paradise to me. Let me tell you why …
First of all, I loved my roomy, comfy extremely well-designed cabin where I slept like a baby — but I’ve already done justice to that topic (Windstar Cruises …. Love your cabin, love your cruise)
Outside my stateroom, my favorite spot for R & R onboard the Star Legend was indisputably the open-air terrace of Veranda where we enjoyed both breakfast and lunch. During the day, I honestly could not get enough of eating with the gorgeous views and the glorious sunshine all around us. The stunning views from the Veranda were all the more expansive thanks to discreet glass panels which are installed around the deck of the outdoor terrace and provide a measure of protection and security from the elements.
And then in the evening, the Cinderella transformation of this ideal spot from casual dining venue into the elegant, romantic Candles for continued dining al fresco occurred. I simply adored dining as we sailed out of port, and the sun set and the moon rose and the port lights twinkled and the ship began its magnificent movement of rolling gently from side to side as it traversed the waves. Wine glass in hand, I could not have been more relaxed. And the ambiance was always romantic.
During the day, if we were seeking a quiet, cool spot to do some work or catch up on email before heading out on an excursion or after returning from one, we could often be found at one of the many tables by the windows up in the ship’s Yacht Club — our retreat on the top deck for more gorgeous views, quiet moments, and let’s not forget the double espressos and the freshly baked pastries.
Yes, there were also the very inviting sandwiches come lunch-time, but we always preferred to eat our meals al fresco at the Veranda.
Being pampered by the very talented and charming Executive Sous Chef Nilesh Kanvide with special Indian dinners and breakfasts was unforgettable. When I met this gracious guy, I told him how much I had enjoyed traveling in India and eating the local foods of India. Much to my surprise, he offered to cook a few special Indian meals for us. His artistry truly was divine. Our friends who had learned quite a lot about Indian food while living in Asia and joined us for the second dinner were equally impressed by the superb dinner prepared for us, from the Bhuna Gosht (lamb curry) to the Chicken Lababdar (an exquisite Indian delicacy from Medieval times), Chana Masala (chickpea curry), Jeera Pulao (cumin rice), and finally the Shahi Tukra (bread pudding). This was a feast and it was awesome!
The next morning, Executive Sous Chef Nilesh treated me to a specially prepared Indian breakfast, this time a breakfast of Aloo Paratha … delicious pancakes made of mashed potato, garnisheed with cilantro and turmeric and served with cool Greek yogurt and hot mango pickle. So good that I could not stop eating until I finished every last bite. Fabulous and unforgettable!
A 75-minute combination Swedish and Deep Tissue massage at the WindSpa the day after I arrived onboard was truly the ideal way to initiate the R & R which I was craving. My well-trained masseuse had magical hands. Shortly after she began to work her magic on me, I fell into a state of semi-consciousness as all the tension and stress disappeared from my body. I left the treatment room refreshed and eager to share a wonderful evening dining and gazing at the stars with my husband.
With fantastic memories of last year’s Independent Explorer excursion off our Windstar cruise on the French West Indies island of Saint Barthélemy — first discovered by Christopher Columbus and named for his brother, Bartolomeo — we were eager to see more of this gorgeous upscale island otherwise known as “St. Barts”. After our ferry brought us from the Star Legend to the port city of Gustavia, a car and driver was waiting to take us to pick up our comfortable vehicle for a day of exploration.
With a map from the ship and a map from the car rental office in hand, plus some good old-fashioned advice from the friendly car rental lady, we took off with our friends to take in the breath-taking views from the hilltops and visit the magnificent beaches of St. Barts. Our ultimate destination was the elegant resort, Le Cheval Blanc, where we had a reservation for lunch at their top-rated French restaurant, La Case de l’Isle, overlooking the property’s stunning beachfront.
We totally unwound and enjoyed the good life as we spent our afternoon savoring a divine 3-course lunch with lobster, freshly caught fish, and a well-chilled French rosé, listening to the sound of the waves and getting to know our new friends better. Later, we visited this very upscale property and walked the beach. St. Barts … coup de foudre!
Some evenings after dinner, we would go to the Compass Rose to savor an Armagnac or an Amaretto and enjoy the live entertainment and the dancing. Those who were not into this kind of casual night-club scene were in the adjacent casino getting their highs at the blackjack table.
Swimming off the extraordinary Watersports platform at the stern of the Windstar Star Legend is an activity I love to do and it’s a rare luxury in the cruising world. Some people choose to kayak, sail or even water-ski off the Watersports platform. But ever since I’ve been a kid, I’ve gotten high from swimming in the ocean. And swimming off the stern of the ship is a fabulous way to rejuvenate and refresh before dinner.
The Windstar tradition of a BBQ on deck under the stars with live entertainment & line dancing is impressively orchestrated and irresistibly fun.
There’s a wide selection of salads and appetizers and several large barbecue stations with quite a few offerings. Don’t miss the suckling pig — it’s outstanding! And of course, there’s also a huge assortment of desserts.
But what seriously lights up the evening is the ambiance created by the vibrant crew. Along with many of the frequent Windstar passengers, they step away from their stations, jump onto the dance floor and show the passengers how life is really enjoyed on a Windstar cruise!
Sooner or later, most all the passengers have put their wine glasses down, and are either on the dance floor or standing around the railings of the deck above dancing or moving to the music and singing and letting loose – smiling and enjoying life to the fullest. [link to “Dining under the stars”]
Another Windstar tradition which we very much appreciated is the Windstar kiosk located ashore by the pier, just steps from where we would disembark from the ship’s tender. Stocked with freshly baked cookies, iced water and usually another iced drink, and always staffed by two smiling guys, this thoughtful “welcome” kiosk on shore was also the meeting place where one of the ship’s excursion staff would introduce us to our local tour guide. Plus, we always enjoyed the refreshments after a warm morning or hot afternoon of touring. This Windstar feature was like a friendly oasis in the dessert … and so well organized.
We had been to Guadeloupe located in the Lesser Antilles in the ’80’s and enthusiastically signed up for the Windstar excursion entitled “Historic Tastes & Treasures of Fort Napoleon” on Terre de Haut, otherwise known as Iles des Saintes, one of the islands included in the French Dependency of Guadeloupe. Little did we realize that the Baie des Saintes is in the Club of the 10 Most Beautiful Bays in the World … http://world-bays.com/. Ranked #8 just ahead of Puerto Vallarta’s exquisite Bahía de Banderas, simply the breath-taking views alone of the Baie des Saintes would be enough for me to say I adored this tour! But I also thought our tour guide gave an awesome tour of the history and the “treasures” of Fort Napoleon. Plus, I loved the additional culinary focus which included local food sampling as well as Guadeloupe-produced flavored-rum tasting. “Flavored” rum, you ask? Yes, leave it to the French … amongst the Coconut, Star Fruit and Mango I sampled, I enjoyed the Coconut the most along with the explanation of the “boutique” approach to rum-making on Guadeloupe in comparison to the “mass production” approach of the bigger name producers elsewhere in the Caribbean.
Romance is in the air aboard Windstar. It’s hard for me to zero in on how or why, but perhaps it the intimate “personalized yacht” philosophy of Windstar which includes the huge amount of pampering from the well-trained staff onboard their ships. Perhaps it also derives from dining under the stars or sleeping like a baby in our luxurious stateroom or the uncrowded, relaxing casual elegance onboard ship. But the “why” doesn’t really matter. Windstar subtly sets the stage for romance, and don’t we all love that kind of stage?
While I’ve touched upon the superb service on board ship, I need to make this a separate point. On the eve of disembarkation, I went around to the staff onboard ship who served us during our week-long cruise to personally thank them and tell them how much I would miss them. I loved that they greeted us warmly by name from our first day onboard ship, that they were always smiling and very eager to respond to our requests, that they tried to anticipate our needs and genuinely cared about our happiness, and that no request was too great. Service can make all the difference on any vacation.
Cruising with Windstar Cruises is heavenly. Definitely, the ideal solution to finding paradise on a romantic vacation.
Stay tuned to BonVoyageurs.com for our writings about other Countries of the World as we share our joie de vivre from around the world. Luxury escapes, cruises and city breaks to Québec City, New York, Washington, Buenos Aires. In Europe and the Mediterranean, places like Paris and Nice in France, Florence, Rome, Napoli and the Amalfi Coast in Italy, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in Israel. In Asia, countries like China, India, Nepal and so much more!