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Wind Surf Cruise Diary
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Copyright © 1995-2002 
Linda Coffman

 

Cruise Diva's CRUISE DIARY
~ Lisbon to Barcelona ~

Wind Surf Veranda Restaurant
Wind Surf - The Veranda

Barcelona, Spain

May 5, 2002 - Our journey ended in one of our favorite European cities. After a final breakfast in the Veranda, our debarkation and hotel transfer were another seamless process.

Too early for check-in, we dropped off the luggage, bought tickets for the Tourist Bus, and hopped on to make the circuit. The bus passes all the major sites of interest and riders can jump on and off at whim. Interest in modernist architect Antoni Gaudi is very high this year (the 150th anniversary of his birth) and lines were extremely long to view the interiors of his most important buildings. Inspired by nature, his work is as intriguing to locals as it is to visitors. All waited for hours to get a glimpse at private rooms previously closed to the public.

2002, a celebration of Gaudi - Casa Milá

We simply didn't have the time to go inside Gaudi's fanciful buildings. Nevertheless, we delight in finding new details in the facades each time we pass through Barcelona. After leaving the Tourist Bus, we strolled through the Ramblas from Catalunya Square to Port Vell and caught the elevator to the top of the Christopher Columbus monument. The panorama of the city and harbor is spectacular, but the viewing area is quite compact. On a windy day, the sensation isn't dissimilar to being at sea.

Wind Surf's in-transit passengers had a Barcelona tour available to them that sounded very comprehensive. By staying over, we were able to take in a high energy flamenco show--Tablao Flamenco Cordobes in the Ramblas. An excellent way to round out an interlude in Barcelona before returning home.

Final Impressions

When Wind Surf arrived in Lisbon, she went into dry dock for a major remodeling of the Signature Shop. Traffic flow through the store is much improved and the warm wood cabinetry is visually appealing. New items are being added to the inventory, from plush stuffed animals to high-end jewelry and art glass.

The entire ship's interior was spotless and work outside was ongoing, with deck crews constantly scraping and painting. Wind Surf's sails were blindingly white. Items that could use a bit of work are the wood trim and desks in the staterooms. Real wood, it could stand to be sanded and varnished. 

Wind Surf has a large conference room and Internet Center with swift online connections. The normal per minute rate is 75 cents; however, packages of 100 minutes ($55) and 250 minutes ($100) drop the rates per minute considerably.

Windstar Cruises have several signature features in common with their parent company, Holland America Line. Beautiful fresh flower arrangements are found throughout Wind Surf, including all staterooms. Each day of our cruise bread pudding with vanilla sauce was available for luncheon dessert--my favorite. Windstar also has a "tipping not required" policy. With open seating dining, gratuities are pooled for the waitstaff. That was efficient for us as we never had the same dining room waiter twice. We tipped cabin stewards and bar servers individually.

Speaking of open seating dinner... we never waited for a table in the dining room. There was no pressure to join other diners who'd just been seated. Our requests for tables for two were immediately granted.

Special dining experiences were a treat--grilled lobster for lunch, the Mediterranean Buffet, afternoon tea, hot and cold hors d'oeuvres several times during the afternoon and evening. When we didn't feel like "dressing" to go out until later in the evening, we ordered room service dinners from the Restaurant menu and they were served promptly. Unfortunately, Wind Surf staterooms don't have the slide out tables for dining that are found in her smaller fleet mates' cabins. No problem... when you're having dinner in your robe, who cares?

To work off those tasty meals and snacks, Wind Surf has a well-equipped gym. And the sauna and spa! Ahhhhh!

The watersports program and marina were somewhat underutilized on our cruise; however, that had as much to do with the weather and those Gale Force Eight winds as anything. I would love to try a banana boat ride or learn to wind surf some day. Maybe next time.

Planning for independent days ashore was a snap with information and maps from the Shore Excursion staff. Their handouts supplemented my research very nicely and filled in some gaps. The shuttle in Portimao was appreciated. Ship's tours were well planned and executed. We felt they were a good value, particularly the tour to the Alhambra.

I can't commend the crew and staff of Wind Surf enough. All went out of their way to be helpful and friendly, especially the Filipino and Indonesian wait staff. By breakfast the first morning on board it was evident they strove to address every passenger by name as quickly as possible. The service we received was professional, gracious, and delivered with a sincere smile.

Above all, we enjoyed the informality of the Wind Surf. No dress code, other than yacht-club casual in the evening (no shorts). We felt very much at home and at ease with our fellow passengers. We were a diverse, yet congenial complement of mostly North Americans, with several South Americans and Japanese guests. A few couples were traveling together but most were on their own--very much travelers, not tourists. The youngest passenger on board was 17; a lovely sophisticated young woman with her mother.

Who shouldn't go on a Windstar cruise? Although Wind Surf has two elevators, this is not a ship for the physically challenged. There are no staterooms/bathrooms with wheelchair accessibility and the gangway can be difficult, depending on the tide and angle of ascent. A Wind Surf cruise is also inappropriate for babies and most children. Itineraries are port intensive and there are no facilities on board designed for children or their amusement. 

Who should select a Windstar cruise? Romantic couples of all ages. Singles, mostly traveling together, and other passengers who don't need constant organized, programmed recreation. Diversions are for the most part social, laid back, and impromptu. Choose to take part in the short list of daily activities, borrow a book, game, video, or CD from the extensive library or do nothing at all. There's no pressure.

180° Degrees from Ordinary®

I fully appreciate the Windstar Cruises' slogan now. Never have I returned from a cruise vacation feeling so pampered and rested.

I want to go back and read another good book in the shade of the sails. I want to spend another week without bothering to pack a curling iron. I got about 90° from ordinary and I'm ready to complete the transformation.

Back to the Lisbon to Barcelona Cruise Diary Index

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The most useful guidebook I've found for multiple European ports of call


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