Viking River Cruises - Viking Lofn

My first River Cruise to Europe

Posted By : Morgan Gibson/ 0 0

One of the things I liked the most about my recent Viking River Cruise is how easy it was.  I have been on quite a few ocean cruises and those are fantastic but have a completely different feeling to them.  I was worried that the river cruise would be too busy as there is a stop everyday but embarking and disembarking the ship was as easy as walking out of a hotel on land. The included shore excursions were great, giving us lots of destination information and showed off the highlights of the region.  There was always ample free time to explore on our own.

 

The ship itself was beautiful, very elegant, with amazing staff. I really can’t say enough about the crew. One of our fellow traveller was gluten free and the dinning staff when out of their way to accommodate her needs. It was impressive. Every crew member we interacted with was warm, personable and happy to help.  The evenings on board are quieter than on an ocean ship but that’s ok – we were so tired from exploring all day and full from our delicious meals we couldn’t have stayed up late even if we wanted to!

Outstanding trip on the Seven Seas Explorer

Posted By : Willson Mac/ 0 0

We have just returned home after sailing on REGENT SEVEN SEAS “EXPLORER”.  All we can say is OUTSTANDING!!

This ship is beautiful, elegant, comfortable, spacious and warm, giving guests a comfortable feel of luxury.  The Explorer, being Regent’s largest ship offers many quiet areas where one can escape to reflect and enjoy and to just let the mind wonder.  Fresh flowers and orchids adorn the ship throughout including all suites and these arrangements were always looking fresh – never tired.  The entire team on board are a well oiled machine!!!

Our suite was located on Deck 6 #683 which happens to be the very last aft cabin on starboard side.  One, including myself, a cruise only Travel Advisor, would consider this to be a poor location but in essence, it was perfect for us.  We had no passing guest traffic, no laundry traffic or elevator/stairs traffic.  Even though one may consider this location as being over the engines……….yes, I would agree but we did not hear the engines, only the gentle rocking to sleep in ever so comfortable beds.  Engines (bow thrusters) were heard at time of docking and departing but never before 7.30am.

Our dinner experiences in Compass Rose, Pacific Rim and Chartreuse were all exceptional.  Ivana always insured we had a table for 2 in the quiet alcove in Compass Rose.  Arriana, our waitress made each evening memorable.  Her gracious and gentle style along with her attentive service was outstanding.  She made us feel special.  In Compass Rose, the delicious chef’s menu changed daily along with the standard menu choices allowed for a vast variety of choice options.  Select wines were poured with dinner but one could also request a specific wine from their vast pouring menu.  Excellent choices of wines were available and being poured by attentive Sommeliers.

Let’s not forget about breakfasts and lunch either in La Verandah or Pool Grill.  Here the food always looked fresh and tempting along with being delicious.  A variety of freshly made salads and food selection to choose from and perfect for the hot summer days in port or at sea.  Service was also impeccable in these areas.

Both Pacific Rim and Chartreuse were exceptional!!  Service is both of these dining venues were comfortable and attentive which allowed for a very pleasant experience.  In fact, we returned to Chartreuse for a second evening.  Food in both of these locations were deliciously outstanding.

Since we had already experienced this itinerary before (eastern Caribbean visiting St. Kitts, Antigua, St. Lucia and Great Stirrup Key), we opted to make this cruise strictly an R & R with no commitments to any tours.  We did get off in each port for about an hour walkabout, but the comfortable life on board kept calling us back.  The Explorer is truly a beautiful ship with far too many positives to list.  In fact, as I write this, I am trying to recall any negatives.  None come to mind.

The EXPLORER is truly a style of luxury with high end features and amenities making it one of the most luxurious ships afloat today.  She recently won an award for Best Luxury Cruise Ship and we can certainly see why.

Again we say….OUTSTANDING and a beautiful experience on this luxurious ship from top to bottom.

 

 

Review provided by
Sheila Parsonage 
Independent Travel Advisor with Vision Travel, a Direct Travel company

Photo courtesy of Regent Seven Seas Cruises 

Mega Ship Experience on the Allure of the Seas

Posted By : Rene Schneeberger/ 0 0

With cruise ships getting bigger and bigger these days, many travelers wonder what that experience is truly like.  I had this same question and frankly some hesitation about sailing on a mega ship for years as I love to cruise on small intimate vessels between 250 and 1000 passengers.

However, in early January, I found a killer rate for a balcony cabin at $750 per person (normally these run for $1100 or more) and took the plunge by boarding Royal Caribbean’s Oasis class vessel Allure of the Seas for a 7-night exploration in Fort Lauderdale.  This review will take you through my week aboard.

As you can see from the picture I took in San Juan, the sheer size of the Allure of the Seas trumps everything in its sight.  Note the smallest vessel on the picture, Holland America Line’s Eurodam (2nd from the left) is itself not that small with 2104 passenger capacity. However, the Allure holds 3 times as many with 6488 passengers on my particular sailing.

Boarding/Disembarkation

It was a busy Sunday at Port Everglades with 7 vessels in port.  I was concerned at first that boarding would be a major effort.  However, I can attest to the fact that I have never boarded a ship faster. We went from curb side to cabin in 20 minutes – Absolutely amazing.  The entire experience reminded me of how Lufthansa boards 500 passengers on an Airbus 380 in 45 minutes while it takes as long or longer to get 120 passengers on a Boeing 737.  The lesson here is that “size matters” as it permits the use of better access infrastructure which Royal Caribbean purpose built at this port.

Similarly upon return, the ship crew is well versed in guiding guests to the gangway and off to customs.  We did the return journey in about 35 minutes from cabin to curb.

Amenities & Activities

One of the biggest advantages of a ship of this size is the space available for entertainment and activities.  Guests will notice right away that they are on a Mega ship the moment they step on board.  Large public spaces abound with expansive lounges, theaters and innovative activities to choose from.  My favorites were the Show lounge where I saw Mamma Mia and Blue Planet as well as the Aqua Theatre with the fantastic “Oceanaria” show. From a dining perspective, there are plenty of options as well, albeit several had long wait lines.  My personal tip is the Park Café on Central Park with fresh salads, sandwiches and paninis.   Favorite meal on board – Captain’s table which was a fantastic small, group experience with a $95 charge per person.  It is well worth the cost as it includes the 5 course gourmet meal and accompanying wine pairing.

Positives

With over 220,000 Gross Register Tons, this class of Mega-ships provides a smooth cruise experience even for folks worried about seasickness.  The ship just doesn’t move, even with decent waves, the motion is not noticeable.

Service and attention to detail by the crew was on par with smaller vessels and there is plenty of staff to serve large number of guests aboard.  Our stateroom a Category D2 Balcony on Deck 12, facing the ocean was very well laid out, had plenty of power outlets and the beds were very comfortable.  We toured a couple of Mini-suites which is the category I would pick on a future cruise.

Not a dull moment aboard either.  With flow riders (surf simulators), zip line, rock wall, ice rink, shows, games, movies, and so much more, there is always something happening aboard and the week just flew by. I used the walking/running track on deck 3 daily and I found it to be the perfect hide-away to enjoy ocean views on the handful of deck chairs in the very aft of the vessel.  Go check it out.

Challenges

To illustrate the biggest challenge, see the picture above.  Finding deck chairs on sea days was a frustrating experience to say the least.  There just are not enough spaces on deck for 6000+ people to lounge.  I have noticed the same issue on NCL’s Epic, Breakaway and Getaway where, to make matters even worse, the forward portion of the ship is taken up by the Haven – a Private Suites Club.  Another area of improvement for Royal Caribbean is the main dining room where during dinner service, noise levels are astronomical.  While the food was fine and the service attentive, don’t plan on a romantic dinner date or long conversations.  You would have to upgrade to Chops or Café 150 to have a tranquil dinner experience.  Mind you that these specialty dining venues cost from $35 per person and up – money well spent a couple of times during the voyage.

Tips:

  • Ask your travel advisor to book your show tickets in advance and know that you can see any show again on a stand-by basis. (Line up begins about 1 hour prior to the show).
  • Upgrade to Balcony or higher category for enjoyment and higher floors.  The lower levels are prone to noise from the 4 story boardwalk and all the activities going on.
  • Consider some of the “upgrade” restaurants and book them in advance (especially the Chef’s table)
  • This type of mega-ship is ideally suited for multi-gen family gatherings and for cruisers that want to experience the “latest & greatest”
  • Ask your travel advisor to plan custom shore-excursions (not booked with the cruise line) as a means to get away from the crowds and get personalized service – often at lower per person costs than the ship excursions

Final Reflections

After a week aboard, I was sad and at the same time glad to leave the vessel.  I am satisfied that I took the time to experience a Mega Ship with all its technical marvels, full-length Broadway shows and all the world-class entertainment.  Yet, my personal preference remain smaller, more intimate vessels of the 200 to 1100 category.  Peace and tranquility with plenty of personal space are more in line with my expectations than sharing lobbies, elevators and public spaces with crowds usually seen at malls.  It is a personal choice of course, and I heard many guests on board that were totally enamored with Allure and its sister ships.

Mega Ship Experience on the Allure of the Seas

Posted By : Rene Schneeberger/ 0 0

With cruise ships getting bigger and bigger these days, many travelers wonder what that experience is truly like.  I had this same question and frankly some hesitation about sailing on a mega ship for years as I love to cruise on small intimate vessels between 250 and 1000 passengers.

However, in early January, I found a killer rate for a balcony cabin at $750 per person (normally these run for $1100 or more) and took the plunge by boarding Royal Caribbean’s Oasis class vessel Allure of the Seas for a 7-night exploration in Fort Lauderdale.  This review will take you through my week aboard.

As you can see from the picture I took in San Juan, the sheer size of the Allure of the Seas trumps everything in its sight.  Note the smallest vessel on the picture, Holland America Line’s Eurodam (2nd from the left) is itself not that small with 2104 passenger capacity. However, the Allure holds 3 times as many with 6488 passengers on my particular sailing.

Boarding/Disembarkation

It was a busy Sunday at Port Everglades with 7 vessels in port.  I was concerned at first that boarding would be a major effort.  However, I can attest to the fact that I have never boarded a ship faster. We went from curb side to cabin in 20 minutes – Absolutely amazing.  The entire experience reminded me of how Lufthansa boards 500 passengers on an Airbus 380 in 45 minutes while it takes as long or longer to get 120 passengers on a Boeing 737.  The lesson here is that “size matters” as it permits the use of better access infrastructure which Royal Caribbean purpose built at this port.

Similarly upon return, the ship crew is well versed in guiding guests to the gangway and off to customs.  We did the return journey in about 35 minutes from cabin to curb.

Amenities & Activities

One of the biggest advantages of a ship of this size is the space available for entertainment and activities.  Guests will notice right away that they are on a Mega ship the moment they step on board.  Large public spaces abound with expansive lounges, theaters and innovative activities to choose from.  My favorites were the Show lounge where I saw Mamma Mia and Blue Planet as well as the Aqua Theatre with the fantastic “Oceanaria” show. From a dining perspective, there are plenty of options as well, albeit several had long wait lines.  My personal tip is the Park Café on Central Park with fresh salads, sandwiches and paninis.   Favorite meal on board – Captain’s table which was a fantastic small, group experience with a $95 charge per person.  It is well worth the cost as it includes the 5 course gourmet meal and accompanying wine pairing.

Positives

With over 220,000 Gross Register Tons, this class of Mega-ships provides a smooth cruise experience even for folks worried about seasickness.  The ship just doesn’t move, even with decent waves, the motion is not noticeable.

Service and attention to detail by the crew was on par with smaller vessels and there is plenty of staff to serve large number of guests aboard.  Our stateroom a Category D2 Balcony on Deck 12, facing the ocean was very well laid out, had plenty of power outlets and the beds were very comfortable.  We toured a couple of Mini-suites which is the category I would pick on a future cruise.

Not a dull moment aboard either.  With flow riders (surf simulators), zip line, rock wall, ice rink, shows, games, movies, and so much more, there is always something happening aboard and the week just flew by. I used the walking/running track on deck 3 daily and I found it to be the perfect hide-away to enjoy ocean views on the handful of deck chairs in the very aft of the vessel.  Go check it out.

Challenges

To illustrate the biggest challenge, see the picture above.  Finding deck chairs on sea days was a frustrating experience to say the least.  There just are not enough spaces on deck for 6000+ people to lounge.  I have noticed the same issue on NCL’s Epic, Breakaway and Getaway where, to make matters even worse, the forward portion of the ship is taken up by the Haven – a Private Suites Club.  Another area of improvement for Royal Caribbean is the main dining room where during dinner service, noise levels are astronomical.  While the food was fine and the service attentive, don’t plan on a romantic dinner date or long conversations.  You would have to upgrade to Chops or Café 150 to have a tranquil dinner experience.  Mind you that these specialty dining venues cost from $35 per person and up – money well spent a couple of times during the voyage.

Tips:

  • Ask your travel advisor to book your show tickets in advance and know that you can see any show again on a stand-by basis. (Line up begins about 1 hour prior to the show).
  • Upgrade to Balcony or higher category for enjoyment and higher floors.  The lower levels are prone to noise from the 4 story boardwalk and all the activities going on.
  • Consider some of the “upgrade” restaurants and book them in advance (especially the Chef’s table)
  • This type of mega-ship is ideally suited for multi-gen family gatherings and for cruisers that want to experience the “latest & greatest”
  • Ask your travel advisor to plan custom shore-excursions (not booked with the cruise line) as a means to get away from the crowds and get personalized service – often at lower per person costs than the ship excursions

Final Reflections

After a week aboard, I was sad and at the same time glad to leave the vessel.  I am satisfied that I took the time to experience a Mega Ship with all its technical marvels, full-length Broadway shows and all the world-class entertainment.  Yet, my personal preference remain smaller, more intimate vessels of the 200 to 1100 category.  Peace and tranquility with plenty of personal space are more in line with my expectations than sharing lobbies, elevators and public spaces with crowds usually seen at malls.  It is a personal choice of course, and I heard many guests on board that were totally enamored with Allure and its sister ships.

Group of Cruisers

Share your #cruiselove

Posted By : Courtney Anderson/ 3013 0

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Silver Wind

Silver Wind Med Cruise

Posted By : Shelley Greenan/ 0 0

This was a 7 day sailing from Lisbon to Barcelona.  I was the onboard Virtuoso Voyage host.

The Wind is 296 passengers.  A nice small size.  Easy to get on and off.  The staff are amazing.  There isn’t anything they won’t do for you.  All butler suites.  The staterooms are very generous in size.  Beds are very comfortable.  Large bathroom, walk-in closet, sitting area.

As this was a Virtuoso Voyage, our Exclusive event was in Valencia.   Our guide was fabulous and extremely knowledgeable.  I had been to Valencia on a previous voyage but never got to really “see” it.  The value add being on a Virtuoso Voyage cannot be duplicated.  We toured everywhere in that city.  Valencia is truly a modern, with it’s old style still prominent.  Our tour ended in a restaurant on the beach where the locals go.  We had authentic paella, sangria and salad.  It was truly an unforgettable emersion into local culture.

The staff onboard the Wind always make you feel like you are coming back home.  That’s the unique small ship cruise experience.

Food onboard was fabulous.  Lots of choice.  Buffet or a la carte for breakfast and lunch.  My favorite spot was La Terazza for lunch.  Sit outdoors if weather permits.  No need for a reservation at lunch time.  It’s a very relaxing time lunching and checking out the view while being served amazing food by amazing staff.

Regent Seven Seas Explorer: The world’s most luxurious ship

Posted By : Stephen Smith/ 0 0

Anytime a new ship is launched it is very exciting for everyone involved: the lucky guests that are the first few to experience it; the CEO of the cruise line; the cruise line sales staff; the staff and crew on board; the travel agents that sell it.

There is an anticipation of what we will all find when it is finally revealed.

On Regent Seven Seas Explorer they thought of everything.

It is one of the reasons they can call it “The Most Luxurious Ship Ever Built”.

A few of the other reasons: the table settings, the linens. the pool side grill, the theatre setup, the lighting throughout the ship, the magnificent foyer, the amenities in our suite, the new twist on the main dining room menu, tea time, the incredible artwork, the remarkable food in EVERY restaurant. Everything was clearly thought through and built to exceptional standards.

Our 5-day inaugural cruise on board the Explorer exceeded my expectations and cemented Regent as a leader in luxury cruising.

On the page ahead I hope a mix of words and photos can re-create my experience and help you decide if the Regent Seven Seas Explorer is going to be in your future travel plans.

The Anticipation of Embarkation

People say that the anticipation leading up to a cruise is almost as good as the cruise itself. While I completely agree with this I also believe that the day you board your ship sets the tone for the entire cruise.

Our cruise embarked from Barcelona. The cruise port in Barcelona is about 30 minutes from the airport. When we pulled in we were greeted by smiling faces eager to help with our bags in a very orderly manner. The embarkation process was smooth and we were on board in 30 minutes.

For anyone who cruises regularly you are aware that the majority of people head straight to the food when they get on board. It is typically around lunch time and your cabin is not ready – so food is clearly the obvious choice. It is also typically very crowded and a bit stressful as you have a carry on of some sort and you need to find a table.

On Regent Seven Seas Explorer, Le Veranda is located on the 11th deck at the aft of the ship and is was not crowded, the food was spectacular and there was a nice variety. The staff was ready to help and there were plenty of tables available – both inside and on the “veranda”. A refreshing and civilized way to begin a cruise.

The Suite

The first thing that struck me as I entered into my suite was the space. Nothing was cramped or tight, nothing was awkward because they had to figure out how to fit it in.

We were lucky enough to enjoy a one bedroom Seven Seas Suite onboard the Seven Seas Explorer. It has a foyer with a powder room (which was very useful when my wife was busy “getting ready”) and a living room area with a sofa and two chairs, a wet bar, a dining table and a desk (which overlooked the balcony – a very peaceful way to get a bit of work done).

The bedroom is perfect. It starts with the bed. Regent obviously believes every guest should get a perfect night’s sleep and their beds certainly achieved that for me. It is extremely comfortable and the linens are of the highest quality.

There is a vanity beside the bed with plenty of space and two bedside tables – each with storage in them. One of the best features of the suite is the bathroom. With a Jacuzzi tub, two sinks and a sizeable shower, the bathroom is as comfortable as my ensuite at home – maybe even more so.

The walk in closet provides plenty of space for outfits for 10 nights. Given that we were only on board for 5 nights, we actually had empty shelves and an empty drawer.

My experience in cruising is that a cabin is always well thought out from a storage perspective but not always convenient. Ship designers have a way to make every small space useful for good reason. The difference in our Regent suite was that every single piece of storage was convenient and it was plentiful. The impact this has on your everyday life on board the ship is remarkable. I never really felt like I was on a cruise ship – and I mean that in the most positive way.

I would be remiss not to mention the incredible butler that accompanies the Seven Seas Suite. Our butler was incredibly attentive without being overbearing and his attention to detail was impressive. I expected a high level of service on board the Regent Seven Seas Explorer but a butler took it to a new level.

The Restaurants and overall food experience

I have dined on many cruise ships and for the most part the food experience has been outstanding. I was curious as to how Regent could elevate my food experience to be that much better than the premium cruise lines.

They did not disappoint.

The food was outstanding. I was not able to dine in each venue but here was my experience:

Compass Rose

Compass Rose is the main dining room and it was amazing. The décor was magnificent and was highlighted by a central lighting feature that was stunning. I would try and describe it in words but it would not do it justice – you will just have to go find out for yourself.

The highlight for me is the new menu concept. You can essentially build your own meal from a plethora of options. The possibilities are endless and any compromises are completely removed. They still have the chef features, which are typically off the charts in appearance and taste. I ate the lamb with a perfect wine pairing chosen by the sommelier and it was spectacular.

La Veranda

A buffet that does not feel like a buffet. Well laid out with a nice variety of food for breakfast and lunch and never a challenge to find a table that suited my mood (inside, outside, quiet, etc). The service was really a highlight at La Veranda, always attentive to drinks and clearing away dishes and engaging in conversation when appropriate. The staff on board the Regent Seven Seas Explorer really made you feel like you are at home.

Sette Mari

La Veranda by day turns into Sette Mari at night, a fine Italian restaurant with the option of eating outside. We started with a delightful compilation of anti pasto followed by our appetizer, a tomato and buffalo mozzarella salad, pasta, dessert and coffee – a true Italian feast.

Chartreuse

A beautiful setting that made me feel like I was in the middle of Paris. Chartreuse is the French restaurant and it features a very traditional menu with Soufflé, rich foods and fantastic wines. While this is the least adventurous menu, the food was delicious.

Room Service

We ordered room service twice. Once for breakfast and once late at night. The breakfast came promptly at 7:30am and it was hot, fresh and our butler laid it out for us. This is when the extra space of a Regent Suite can be appreciated. We were able to sit and enjoy our breakfast before heading out on our 8:30am shore excursion. At night we ordered and simple sandwich and it came on time and was clearly made fresh upon ordering.

Pool Side Grill

I love a freshly made hamburger. The Pool Side Grill features a menu of 8 different burger options including basic, salmon, chicken, veggie and more. You find your table, order your burger at the grill and someone brings it to you. You can really order any variation of burger you want and they will make it. Fresh. Accompany it with an ice cold lager and you have yourself and fantastic lunch at sea!

The Café

The Café features all your typical coffees and teas but also a nice array of food, both fresh and sweet. The baristas are available throughout the day and you can use the self serve machine late at night

Public Spaces

One of the highlights of Regent Seven Seas Explorer is the public spaces and décor. I would describe it as a 1920’ s design with a modern twist. The public spaces are very open and welcoming. All of the lounges are spacious but intimate, the Casino is small but had a nice energy to it after dinner and into the night.

The theatre is outstanding – almost a cross between a 1920’s café and theatre. The seating is arranged is 2’s 4’s and 6’s with tables so that you can sit on your own or with a group of friends and have a drink and be comfortable as you enjoy the entertainment.

On the top deck they have a sports area with a sports court for tennis and basketball and a 9 hoe mini putt as well.  A great facility to spend an afternoon at sea.

One of the highlights was the puzzle table. It was in a very public space so that it drew attention and would not be missed but set back so that it was not in the way of those passing by. Very well done.

I found the ship very easy to navigate the first day as the layout is straight forward and logical. This may seem like a minor statement but I have been on many ships that take a few days to become familiar.

The Canyon Ranch Spa and The Gym

I could write a blog on the Canyon Ranch Spa alone. While I did not have a chance to experience one of their services, the spa and their water treatment rooms are open to all guests – you just need to book a time.

I had a tour of the spa and the treatment rooms are spacious and they even have a couples treatment room – a perfect way to start your cruise!

The water treatment rooms are spectacular. They have a sauna, a cold room, a steam room and a showering system with multiple stations – very cool. I personally enjoyed spending time in the steam room with aromatherapy followed by the cold room and back and forth.

After my hot and cold treatment, I laid down on the mosaic heat beds to read for a while before heading out to the infinity pool on the deck. A perfect way to spend the morning before my previously mentioned burger and lager at the Pool Side Grill.

The gym was enormous – I have never seen a gym like this on a cruise ship. The equipment was state of the art and view off the stern of the ship made you forget the workout you were putting yourself through. They have spinning classes and yoga classes all lead by professionals. They will also spend time curating a personal workout regime for you.

The thing that stands out the most about the spa and gym are the amount of space they have allocated – even the spa lobby is wide open and welcoming. Combined the two facilities take up almost a third of the ship on two decks.

Overall Atmosphere

When you think of a luxury ship you might think of it as being stuffy and lacking atmosphere. Quite the opposite is true of Regent Seven Seas Explorer. From Cruise Director Ray’s opera singing at tea time to the deck party on the last evening to live music in all of the lounges, there is always something to do or somewhere to go to be entertained or to unwind.

Regent Seven Seas Explorer absolutely lived up to “The Most Luxurious Ship Ever Built” but it goes beyond the physical ship; the overall experience is one you will never forget and will be calling your travel advisor to plan your next cruise as soon as your return!

Wind Spirit Sails Up

A little bit of paradise in the South Pacific

Posted By : Courtney Anderson/ 0 0

The Tahitian Islands are said to be the most beautiful place on earth and I have to agree! The lush volcanic landscape juts straight up and out of the crystal clear lagoon water. I would also have to say the people of Tahiti are equally incredible.

TRANSPORTATION – Air Tahiti Nui from Los Angeles to Papeete, Tahiti and back. A late afternoon flight in which we slept comfortably most of the way. The seat arrangements in economy are 2-4-2 and we were happy to be sitting near a window. The return flight left at midnight, and again we slept comfortably for almost the entire ride. Each seat had a sanitized sealed bag with a blanket, pillow, socks, ear buds and eye mask … NICE! These eight hour flights just flew by.

Windstar, Wind Spirit sailing 7 days around the French Polynesian islands of Tahiti. Newly refurbished in May this year and the one week temporary home of just 148 fellow sailors. The many common areas offered ample seating options and we never had the feeling of being crowded. It was necessary for the stabilizers to be engaged when sailing between the islands, and this made for a comfortable ride. This was the only time I’ve returned from cruising where I didn’t get vertigo for weeks afterwards.

FOOD – Early morning on the pool deck, there was a selection of teas, coffee and juices, along with fresh fruit and pastries. Breakfast was serviced either buffet or a la carte at the casual indoor/outdoor Verandah restaurant.

Lunch was also serviced here daily accept for the one day the Windstar staff held a fabulous barbecue buffet on the private Motu. For dinner, some nights we had a more elegant open seating experience in the AmphorA restaurant. The menu had a wide variety of options, leaving us struggling to choose each night. The other dinner option is the very popular Candles restaurant, which is by reservation only and is set up on the pool deck each night. The very delicious menu is completely different than the dining room, and is prepared poolside as well. A very nice evening!

One night on the pool deck, a French Polynesian celebration took place with a traditional meal served buffet style and traditional Polynesian dancers as the entertainment. At the end of the second day at Bora Bora, a very well orchestrated Motu Festival takes place. The Wind Spirit guests are swiftly tendered to the Motu, directed to the traditional Polynesian buffet, displaying a roasted pig and open seating. Immediately upon finishing dinner, the Fire Dancers appeared and the Festival continued.

If at any time the guests didn’t want to participate in the above dining options, 24 hour room service offered a long list of options as well. – The option of signing up for the Alcohol and Beverage package is offered on the day of embarkation, well priced, and convenient. The “Plan” as the crew call it, is available both on and off the ship when Windstar is hosting your activity.

ACCOMMODATIONS – We were surprised to find our stateroom so spacious, with Windstar taking advantage of yacht style storage spaces in both the living area and the granite bathroom. A wide variety of L’Occitane Bath products were replenished daily, along with plush bath and beach towels. A plate of fresh fruit was also on the table throughout the cruise. The queen size mattress and pillows are new and very comfortable.

ONBOARD – The Wind Spirit offers daily, early morning stretching and yoga classes on the open air, top deck. The yacht also offers a Fitness center, Casino, Library/Business center, gift shop, The Lounge with live nightly entertainment, pool bar, pool and hot tub. On deck 2, Aft, when conditions were right, the Watersports Platform was wide open and offered water skiing , paddle boards, kayaks, sunfish sailing boats, snorkel and diving equipment. The water staff were always helpful. On the day of the private Motu off the island of Taha’a, the water staff set up all of these activities on shore so everyone could take full advantage.

We booked a Windstar excursion for each day of our trip, spending all of our shore time, on the water.

In Moorea we did the Snorkel Safari, where we swam with Black Tip Sharks, Stingrays, and many colourful reef fish. I have underwater video of sharks swimming straight for me, and turning away quickly. AMAZING!

While at Raiatea, we kayaked the Faaroa River. It had rained the night before leaving the water murky, but at a level easy to maneuver. Viewing the landscape from the river is interesting as the fruit and flowering trees hang low over the river creating lush tunnels to paddle through.

At the nearby island of Taha’a we started the day on a Coral Garden Drift Snorkeling tour. We boarded a motorized outrigger and headed toward two private Motus with a thin channel of swift water flowing between. Located at one end of the channel, the waves crash at the reef’s edge. We walked from one end of the Motu, up to where the fast moving white water begins, geared up with snorkel equipment, and jumped in. We drifted between the tiny Motus and maneuver through almost a kilometer of Coral Gardens. Sadly we only had time to do this 4 times, then our tour operators delivered us to the Windstar Private Motu barbecue lunch. The staff put out a variety of land and water games and the Spa offered their massage services in a private beach environment.

We had two days in Bora Bora. On the first day we boarded another motorized outrigger and headed just outside of the reef’s crashing waves, stopping in calm clear deep blue water. Here our guide anchored, invited everyone to jump in, then with a hand full of fish chum he dove half way to the bottom. With everyone snorkeling on the surface, he threw his feed above him, swam out of the way, then as the tiny fish nibbled away, three 8 foot Lemon Sharks merged from the bottom, with mouths wide open, gulping in breakfast just a few feet away and stayed to swim around everyone for a while. OMG! Getting back into the boat we sailed to a private Motu for a traditional Polynesian lunch. The picnic tables were knee deep in the water and while we ate, fish swam around our legs. Here we learned how the tie dyed beach cover-ups, woven palm leaf crowns and plates are made.

On the second day at Bora Bora we took a Jetski tour around the entire island, viewing the nearby over-water bungalow resorts, and stopping for a snack of fresh coconut, fruit, and juice.

Our last shore excursion on the island of Huahine, we snorkeled in the clear water of the lagoon, then stopped to have a traditional lunch again sitting in knee deep in the water with fish swimming around our legs. After lunch, we hiked to the Ocean side of the island for more snorkeling. The interesting part of this adventure was walking in waist deep water to where the lagoon and the reef met. The waves would crash against the reef wall sending many interesting fish over the top.

The Wind Spirit Captain and Crew are a great collection of happy people which were a pleasure to spend vacation time with. I look forward to planning my next Windstar holiday!

 

 

Contributed by Bonnie Burr of
Vision Travel, a Direct Travel Company