Our first full day aboard the Windsurf was in a word...Fabulous! Our stateroom was larger somehow than any we have experienced on other much larger ships. That said, you really are not drawn to spend much time inside, but instead enjoy the warm Mediterranean breezes outside!
We anchored in the bay of St. Tropez, France. It is a neat town with lots of old narrow European streets to explore. We did a shore excursion to the small towns of Grimaud, Gassin and Ramatuelle. Returning to the ship for the night, it felt like we were the only ones onboard. There were about 230 guests on a ship that has a capacity of 300 with 180 crew members.
Our second stop was in Calvi, Corsica, an island off the coast France. It was a quaint spot, an outback, mountainous island with lots of fortified churches. Rent a car and explore on your own! We tendered in and did the Windstar shore excursion which was supposed to be off road 4X4 experience, it was actually 6 adults piled in land rover cruising on paved roads, more of an island tour than an off road experience….
Monte Carlo, Monaco was our least favorite of all of the ports. It was a huge bustling city compared to the previous small town stops. We walked through the city, toured the castle and even got a glimpse of the Tour de France! We should have taken a day of rest there, which in hindsight we would suggest in the middle of any cruise. The second day in port we went up to a charming town called Eze. Worth the trip, but in an itinerary full of charming spots it was not exceptional.
In Portofino, the smallest and most charming of all the ports, we hopped a bus to Santa Margherita and from there we took a train to the farthest town in the Cinque Terre, Riomaggiore. From there we began the seven mile hike through the five hill towns of Cinque Terre. It was a great hike, very well marked and easy to navigate, as long as you can handle all of the steps! We stopped for lunch in the third at a wonderful local restaurant. By the time we reached the fourth town we decided that we were ready to take the train back to port to rest up and enjoy our evening on the ship.
The port of Livorno gives you access to the inland city of Florence. The drive through Tuscany form the port (passing the Leaning Tower of Pisa!) was beautiful. Renting a car here is an adventurous option, but we chose the ease of the ship transfer. It is an hour and half to Florence and we wanted to maximize our time in the city. Buying tickets in advance to the Accademia and the Uffizi will get you through the lines quickly so you don’t miss out on any of the highlights.
Back to Rome! We took the train from the port to the city and we learned a lot… First, if you choose to go this route ($30 versus $250 for the ship bus transfer), take the earliest train! By the time we got on board the train it was packed, riding an hour plus on the connecting platform between the cars with our luggage was not a great way to end our trip. Our final night was spent back in Rome at a lovely hotel, recovering from our trip from the ship and enjoying beautiful views of the sunset over St Peter’s Basilica from the rooftop restaurant….
If you have any questions about our Windstar Experience or your next European travel adventure, please don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 336-499-6727.