As we sailed along the Croatian coast onboard Windstar Cruises ms Wind Surf, the Captain turned off the engines and at once we were floating on air or so it seemed. Nothing in sight but ocean, the emerald water mesmerizing and the only sound the occasional sail flapping in the warm breeze. For the past six days, we'd been living like royalty and on this last day at sea, we savoured every moment as Wind Surf made her way back to our starting point of Venice, Italy.
We'd sailed from Venice to Koper (Slovena) and on to the Croatian ports of Rovinj, Split and historic Dubrovnik and it was unquestionably a tantalizing vacation. Being small and able to get into many of the delightful ports the larger vessels are unable to navigate, is just one of the advantages of a sailing vacation.
When we first boarded Wind Surf, we knew there was something uniquely special about this stunning vessel with its' billowing while sails and beautiful teak decks. The casual, quiet atmosphere made us feel we were boarding a friend's charming private yacht.
Wind Surf is the largest vessel in the Windstar Cruises fleet, carrying just 312 guests in pampered luxury. Having cruised on many cruise ships, this sailing experience was truly unique. Passengers onboard were mostly in the 50+ age bracket, professionals and others wishing to escape the stress of demanding jobs, as well as retirees who have cruised the large ocean liners and were looking for a new and different cruising experience.
Onboard, the feeling is best described as easy a feeling of total freedom and relaxation; a do-what-you-will-when-you-will ambiance. There were no PA announcements, no solicitation to purchase tours or to take part in art sales or onboard games. It was freedom personified and the beauty of knowing that whatever you want is available, but with no push to buy or to do anything. The ship does offer optional shore excursions, but many passengers appeared happier to go off and do their own thing. There are no Broadway production shows and no comedians or magicians. A six-piece band performed each evening before and after dinner playing easy-listening dance music. For those wanting a little more action, there was a duo up on deck, under the stars offering livelier music from the 50's to today and playing the odd game of name that tune for those who wished to participate. The ship has a small casino with slot machines and a few tables, but for the most part, it was quiet and unused.
A small hair salon and spa are available for constant pampering and there is a small shop carrying Windstar signature items as well as the usual sundry items. It was very evident that casinos and shopping are not what the Windstar passenger is craving.
While in port in beautiful Dubrovnik, the Captain lowered the rear deck of the ship so that guests could take advantage of the ship's complimentary water sports, or simply go for a dip in the warm, azure waters. There was even a large, blow-up raft with a water slide for the kids-at-heart, windsurf boards and kayaks for the more adventurous.
Dining was another delight whether we chose the dining room, The Restaurant, or al fresco at Candles with its romantic deckside dining at sunset or into the late evening under the stars. We also took advantage of the ships other two dining options, Degrees, a charming bistro-style restaurant and Le Marche, serving delicious, fresh seafood.
The crew are Pilipino and Indonesian, with the Pilipino staff looking after the food and beverage service and the Indonesian staff taking care of housekeeping. Without exception, all staff were gracious, accommodating, never intrusive and always eager to please.
This vacation was special and definitely deserves a repeat visit soon.