Windstar Cruises guests are world travelers who want to actively experience destinations first-hand, not steal glimpses through windows. More than 45 percent of Windstar’s cruises now offer a late night (10 p.m. or later) or overnight in port that allows cruisers much more time to explore. This is just one way the small ship cruise line enhances the guest experience catering to people who take travel immersion seriously, now offering a total of 299 ports in 79 countries, Signature Expeditions, and a variety of newly curated cultural activities, entertainment and culinary indulgences that make Windstar 180 degrees from ordinary.
Because Windstar ships welcome only 148-310 guests, they can navigate waterways that are too cramped or shallow for the average cruise ship to access. That lands guests at more historic ports near the heart of the cities they visit, and it means that getting off, getting back on and getting around independently are far easier tasks. Guests particularly value this freedom during overnight and late-night port calls. No place is exactly the same in both daylight and dark, and some of the best jazz, clubs, dancing and dining that often expose the soul of a city only come to life after the sun sinks. Some ports are actually two-night stops.
“Windstar guests want to find places off the tourist track that give them true insight into our destinations. They want stories to tell, and sometimes, the most interesting and memorable travel experiences take place after sunset,” said Windstar President John Delaney. “We stay longer in port and often remain overnight so that we can provide this extra time and value to our guests; it is one way that we are truly different than an ordinary cruise.”
Who would ever want to rush through an afternoon in Bora Bora? Windstar spends two days there on every Tahiti cruise. There are many overnight and multi-night stays at some of the world’s most fascinating places, including St. Petersburg, Quebec, Seville and Hong Kong. The Monte Carlo Grand Prix itinerary is built for those who want to feel the excitement of the event itself, not just pass through town on the same day. Location, location, location: Venice may be a wondrous lagoon, but most ships dock outside the city. Not Windstar. Windstar ships put guests in the heart of Venice, Bordeaux and Ho Chi Minh City, among others. Explore art, vineyards, and historic sites by day; feel free to hike, bike or engage in active shore excursions with time to rest and reimagine for the evening’s entertainment on ship or in town. There are nearly 20 ports with overnight/multi-night stays currently offered on Windstar and an additional three “turn ports” with overnight stays, meaning guests embark or disembark there.
Some Windstar Cruises port calls like Portofino, Monte Carlo, Mykonos and Cadiz, among others, are not overnight, but have departures at 10:00 p.m. or later, which leaves plenty of time to seek out the local watering holes where other yachties and explorers congregate. In some places, special evening tours or events are arranged.
In addition to extra time and accessibility, Windstar Cruises creates exceptional moments for guests. On every cruise, Windstar’s Signature Deck BBQ is a special al fresco affair often cited by guests as a cruise highlight. Imagine a barbecue held in Santorini’s Caldera, a Nordic fjord or amongst the glimmering lights of Panama City at the entrance to the Panama Canal, filled with delicacies like lobster, paella, slow-roasted pork and a dizzying array of cheeses, olives and produce (all local when possible). Post-BBQ the celebration gives way to entertainment from the crew with line dancing that cruise guests are welcome to join and conga lines weaving their merry way around the deck. Windstar plans these al fresco BBQs around pretty ports as much as possible, letting guests soak in the hidden harbor ambience all evening long.
On select itineraries (and more than 125 sailings in 2018-19), Destination Discovery Events are complimentary events scheduled in the evening to not disrupt shore excursions or other guest plans. For example, history buffs seeking to explore ancient civilizations can do so through the Treasures of the Greek Isles, which sails from Athens and returns to the iconic city seven days later. On this voyage, guests can enjoy an Evening in Ephesus in a once-in-a-lifetime experience dining in the Celsus Library in ancient Ephesus, Turkey. They walk the Marble Road to the Library which housed more than 12,000 scrolls nearly two millennia ago before sitting down to a white-glove service dinner in the illuminated courtyard where the soothing sounds of the Aegean Chamber Orchestra echo through nightfall.
Sailing the oceans has always been about discovery, and Windstar Cruises maintains this spirit at the core of every itinerary. Overnight, multi-night and late-night port calls are a major part of making this happen for guests.