Destinations

The 5 finest locations you may go to on a Windstar Cruises ship

The place are you able to go on a Windstar Cruises ship? A shocking variety of locations, given the road’s small dimension. Regardless of having simply six vessels, the upscale line operates voyages to a variety of locations around the globe, from North America and Europe to French Polynesia.

Amongst all of the Windstar cruise locations, Europe could be the most well-liked. As is usually the case with higher-end strains, Windstar has a very massive footprint with regards to Europe itineraries. Practically half of the 534 voyages presently on its schedule for 2024 give attention to both the Mediterranean or Northern Europe. In a typical yr, the road will deploy 5 of its six ships to Europe for not less than a part of the yr.

Windstar additionally sometimes deploys not less than one among its vessels year-round to Tahiti for sailings across the islands of French Polynesia. It is a explicit specialty of the road.

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Within the winter, not less than two and generally three Windstar vessels will transfer to the nice and cozy waters of the Caribbean, one other space of focus. Along with basic Caribbean sailings, these vessels additionally usually do sailings by way of the Panama Canal, one other specialty of the road.

Presently, Windstar’s itinerary lineup affords sailings as quick as six nights and so long as 55 nights. The corporate usually would not do quick sailings of simply three or 4 nights, in contrast to big-ship strains.

Right here, a have a look at TPG’s picks for the 5 finest locations you may go to on a Windstar Cruises ship.

Mediterranean

Wind Surf in Capri. ROGER PAPERNO/WINDSTAR

Of all of the locations that Windstar ships sail, none will get as a lot focus from the road because the Mediterranean. As of the publishing of this story, a whopping 212 of the 534 voyages on the road’s schedule for the approaching yr included calls within the area. That is 40% of all Windstar itineraries.

The Mediterranean journeys supply a variety of port stops and differ enormously in size. There’s every little thing from comparatively quick, seven-night sailings across the sunny Greek islands to 23-day voyages that span an excellent chunk of the Mediterranean from Montenegro and Croatia to the far western coast of Spain.

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Windstar options voyages targeted particularly on the Western Mediterranean or the Japanese portion and voyages that embody days touring past the perimeters of the Mediterranean to such locations because the Canary Islands.

Typical of the latter is the road’s epic, 18-night “Star Collector: Canaries, Casablanca and the Costa del Sol” routing. It is a one-way journey between Barcelona and the Canary Islands with a mixture of stops in Spain, Portugal, Morocco and the Canary Islands. It is a deep exploration into the western aspect of Europe and North Africa.

Associated: The most effective Mediterranean cruise for each kind of traveler

A few of Windstar’s Mediterranean itineraries additionally embody a go to to Israel, though port stops in Israel have been canceled for the following few months because of the conflict between Israel and Hamas. For now, Israel stays on itineraries scheduled to depart in April 2024 and past.

Typical of the road’s extra targeted, quickie Mediterranean itineraries are its eight-night “Myths and Marvels of the Aegean” routing out of Piraeus, Greece (the port for Athens) that concentrates on the islands of Greece and Turkey with seven stops within the nations.

Within the Mediterranean, the road’s predominant hubs are Piraeus, Civitavecchia (the port for Rome) and Barcelona.

Iceland

WINDSTAR

Windstar has been one of many leaders in a pattern that has swept the cruise world previously decade: cruises that focus solely on Iceland.

In 2016, Windstar turned the primary conventional cruise model to function full circumnavigations of the Kentucky-size island nation, becoming a member of a handful of expedition-style cruise operators resembling Lindblad Expeditions and Hurtigruten that had been beginning to add Iceland circlings.

And whereas different cruise manufacturers together with Ponant and Scenic Luxurious Cruises have since adopted Windstar in providing voyages that soak up each nook of Iceland, Windstar stays one of many largest gamers available in the market with common summer season sailings.

In a typical yr, Windstar will supply seven-night circlings of Iceland each week from June by way of late August.

The journeys start and finish in Reykjavik, Iceland’s predominant metropolis and capital. The ship will sail in a counterclockwise course across the nation with stops at a few of Iceland’s most distant areas. It is an opportunity to see the complete vary of Iceland’s famously placing geothermal fields of geysers and fumaroles, mountains, glaciers, volcanoes and waterfalls with out having to navigate the ring highway that circles the nation. And it contains stops in a few of Iceland’s smallest and quirkiest cities.

In 2024, the 312-passenger Star Delight will name on locations like Heimaey Island, the place passengers see the frozen-in-place lava flows of a well-known 1973 eruption that lined a 3rd of the city.

One other name at little-visited Grundarfjordur, alongside the distant Snæfellsnes Peninsula, affords the possibility to hike onto the glacier atop close by Snæfellsjökull volcano, the setting for Jules Verne’s Nineteenth-century basic “Journey to the Heart of the Earth.”

Different stops embody Akureyri, the gateway to the geothermal fields of of Hverir and their effervescent mud pots and whistling steam vents.

French Polynesia

Wind Spirit visiting the French Polynesian island of Moorea. WINDSTAR CRUISES

Windstar has been a longtime chief in French Polynesia cruises, too, working within the area for 37 years. In truth, it is one among simply two conventional cruise strains that dominate the marketplace for French Polynesia voyages — the opposite being one-ship line Paul Gauguin Cruises.

Like Paul Gauguin Cruises, Windstar affords French Polynesia sailings year-round out of Papeete, Tahiti, the principle hub for the area. Starting from seven to 18 nights, the journeys soak up such iconic French Polynesian islands as Bora Bora, Moorea, Tahaa and Huahine. They attraction closely to {couples} searching for a romantic getaway.

For a few years, Windstar has used one among its crusing ships, the 148-passenger Wind Spirit, for its French Polynesia sailings. However in early 2024, it changed that vessel within the area with one among its larger motor-powered vessels, the 312-passenger Star Breeze.

The redeployment greater than doubles Windstar’s capability within the area, an indication of simply how standard these journeys have change into.

The voyages supply a considerable amount of time in every of the islands which are visited, because of the quick distances between them. Typically, the ship travels between the islands in a single day and ties up or anchors in a brand new beautiful bay every morning.

As is typical for French Polynesian journeys, whether or not on land or water, days are spent exploring sandy tropical seashores, swimming and snorkeling in ridiculously clear water and visiting cultural sights. You will have an opportunity to go to the websites the place locals harvest the classy black pearls that account for greater than half of French Polynesia’s exports.

Diving can be a giant draw on these journeys. It is a high tour throughout calls on the islands of Raiatea and Bora Bora. Snorkeling with stingrays and becoming a member of a marine biologist in quest of dolphins and whales are different standard excursions.

Caribbean

WINDSTAR

Like many upscale cruise manufacturers working smaller ships, Windstar would not give attention to Caribbean cruises. The Caribbean is extra the area of such big-ship cruise giants as Carnival Cruise Line or Royal Caribbean. Nonetheless, Windstar sometimes sends not less than two of its six vessels to the Caribbean each winter to function warm-weather-focused getaways to lesser-visited Caribbean ports — often one among its motor-powered vessels and one among its wind-powered crusing vessels.

For 2024, Windstar’s two predominant vessels within the Caribbean would be the 312-passenger Star Delight, a motor-powered vessel, and the 342-passenger Wind Surf, a crusing vessel. One different Windstar crusing ship, the 148-passenger Wind Spirit, may even make an occasional look within the area.

For probably the most half, WIndstar’s lineup of Caribbean cruises is concentrated on round-trip, seven-night sailings out of St. Martin or Barbados.

When crusing out of St. Martin, the voyages sometimes embody stops in St. Barts, Antigua, Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands. When crusing out of Barbados, the ships will name at extra southerly Caribbean islands resembling St. Lucia and the Grenadines.

For 2024, many of the line’s sailings out of St. Martin will happen within the first a part of the yr, whereas the Barbados-based sailings will come on the finish of the yr.

Associated: The most effective Caribbean cruises for each kind of traveler

As well as, the road additionally generally affords Caribbean sailings out of San Juan, Puerto Rico, with calls in St. Maarten (the Dutch aspect of the island of St. Martin), Guadeloupe, St. Lucia and the Grenadines.

At occasions, the road will run back-to-back seven-night sailings within the Caribbean with completely different itineraries. The 2 journeys could be paired to create an extended, 14-night voyage with few repeating ports.

Panama Canal

MIKE RIVER PHOTOS/WINDSTAR

Along with Caribbean journeys, Windstar is understood for a lot of sailings that start within the Caribbean and finish within the Pacific, or vice versa — voyages that contain a transit between the 2 areas by way of the Panama Canal.

Such journeys supply vacationers an opportunity to see the marvel of recent engineering that’s the 48-mile-long Panama Canal up shut. A whole day is spent touring by way of the canal, together with transits of the locks discovered at every finish.

As is the case with many Panama Canal cruises, passengers on Windstar canal cruises additionally get a second probability to expertise the canal the day earlier than or after the transit when their ship docks at one aspect or the opposite of the canal. Shore excursions will take them to the locks for an up-close view of the lock chambers that their ship will navigate the following day (or handed by way of the day gone by).

In a typical yr, Windstar will supply as many as two departures every week by way of the Panama Canal from late November by way of the top of March. It sometimes has two of its six vessels working such journeys in winter — one crusing ship and one motor ship.

Associated: The most effective time to cruise the Panama Canal

The journeys all are one-way, beginning in both Aruba within the Caribbean or the port of Balboa on the Pacific aspect of Panama.

Along with the expertise of touring by way of and visiting the canal, the Pacific-bound sailings go to Colombia, Costa Rica and the Caribbean aspect of Panama.

The Caribbean-bound sailings deliver calls alongside the Pacific aspect of Costa Rica and Panama.

Backside line

Windstar is a comparatively small cruise line with simply six ships, however its ships go to a big selection of cruise locations. The road is understood for usually transferring its vessels around the globe to supply a various lineup of itineraries in all places from North America and Europe to French Polynesia.

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