I have cruised a lot but nothing prepared me for a sunset on Windstar
cruises. We had sailed all day under wind power with the sails proudly
filled, the engines silent, and now finally at the end of the day I sat up
on deck watching the sky slowly turn from the softest pink to a dark
dramatic burgundy. No need to rush to dress up for dinner – this is as laid
back as cruising can get – but I must correct myself. It is not cruising –
it is sailing and I am on the biggest yacht in the world.
Today we dropped anchor at Pigeon Island in St Lucia. The tender ferried us
ashore for a private beach barbecue. The marina staff also towed the hobbie
cat and kayaks for us as well as the giant inflatable trampoline that
floated just off the beach. Now what on earth would a collection of 40 plus
want with a giant inflatable trampoline you might ask? It’s amazing what a
grown person will do on a hot day on the beach after a few cocktails – and
no – it wasn’t me performing (just for a change). It was all in good fun.
The point was the last time I cruised to St Lucia we docked at Castries –
not my favourite port but a typical Caribbean stop – busy, lots of traffic,
lots of vendors and lots of other cruise ships. That’s what makes Windstar
so special – it is so untypical. They go where the larger cruise ships
The ship also adopts an “open bridge” policy so that for most of the time
you can visit the bridge when you like and have the chance to look over the
first officer’s shoulder at the array of instruments, dials and whatnot that
control the ship and the sails. The Captain – a charming lad who honestly
looks no older than 16 – hails from England and clearly loves his yacht
dearly. His face lit up as he unfurled the sails one by one and proudly
pointed out that we were cruising at 11 knots all day just under sail power.
As he jokingly told us he never knew he would grow up to be a ship’s captain
and recalls his teacher saying to him “McCray – you’ll never get a job
staring out of the window!” Well guess what – that’s exactly what his job
now entails except it is more than one window and what a view!
You can tell this is a happy ship – a smaller ship makes for a smaller
ship’s family and everyone works well together. Nothing is too much trouble
and the antics of the bar staff is sheer entertainment. Friendly, efficient
service without pompous posturing; elegant dinners served to diners in
casual dress – not a suit or a tie in sight. Sheer delight.