The winds will take Star Clippers vessels to brand-new ports next summer. “For the first time in our history, we’ll be sailing to northern Europe and the Baltic Sea,” Carlson says. A 5-night roundtrip cruise from Warnemuende, Germany, for example, visits Denmark and Poland along its route; a 10-night Stockholm roundtrip visits Estonia and several ports in Finland, as well as an overnight in St. Petersburg, Russia. “It’s a really big move for us—especially our owner, who is Swedish,” Carlson says.
Rates for the Stockholm cruise start at $3,285 pp dbl; rates for the Warnemuende cruise start at $1,475.
sea cloud cruises The inimitable ambiance of motor-free sailing isn’t lost on Julia Eble, a spokesperson for Sea Cloud Cruises. “[Our cruises] are special for one important reason: we are sailing our ships Sea Cloud and Sea Cloud II in the traditional way, by hand,” she explains. “There is no button that can be pressed to let the sails down.… You can watch the seamen, how they climb up and loosen the sails. It is a spectacle that lasts almost one hour, and our guests love it.”
Clients can expect even more of that non-traditional entertainment throughout their cruise. While letting guests get hands-on experience with the workings of the ship is too dangerous, Eble says, “they can watch and ask all the questions they like. They will always get a kind answer.” Travelers who are especially curious about the ins and outs of sailing can go straight to the top. “Of course, our guests are very much welcome on the bridge, where they can personally speak to the captain,” she continues.
Like other sailing ship companies, Sea Cloud takes advantage of the size of its vessels, entering ports where other ships cannot. It’s no surprise that the line’s most popular destinations—the Caribbean, Mediterranean and Adriatic Sea—are full of opportunities for exploring without throngs of tourists at your side. In the fall, Eble notes, sailings around Greece and Cyprus offer plenty of opportunities for exploration. But one of the most unique destinations on Sea Cloud’s itineraries, she says, is Scari in Italy, a quaint resort on the east coast of the volcanic island of Stromboli—home of the only constantly active volcano in Europe. “This is not possible for bigger ships,” Eble notes.
The Impressions of Sicily and Volcanoes in the Tyrrhenian Sea: Malta – Malta itinerary runs Oct. 10-17 and also includes the UNESCO World Heritage site of Syracuse, the harbour of Palermo and Mount Etna, one of Europe’s tallest volcanoes. Rates start at 2,995 euro (approximately $4,376 at press time) pp dbl.
windstar cruises High-end luxury and casual comfort aren’t mutually exclusive, says Windstar director, public relations, Vanessa Bloy. So to avoid any misconceptions about the Windstar experience, the company prefers to avoid the term altogether. “We call it a luxury sailing yacht [instead],” she explains. “So we’re more casual in the fact that we don’t have formal nights where someone dresses up in a suit and tie. But we have a casual elegance. People wear resortwear—slacks and a dress shirt versus a cocktail dress and a tux.”
Clients coming from traditional cruise ships to test Windstar’s waters will still find plenty of upscale amenities, Bloy continues, noting its ships generous deck space, pools and hot tubs. “We’ve got a full spa on board, so that’s everything from pedicures, manicures and facials to acupuncture,” she describes. And dining offers just as much variety. “On our large ship [the Wind Surf], we have four restaurants.” That means clients can opt for dining in the main dining room, with a standard menu of international favorites, or branch out into specialty restaurants that are often inspired by the very ports they’ve just visited. Degrees serves up Mediterranean-style cuisine, while dishes at Carib make use of spices from the Caribbean islands. Clients can also indulge at Candles, a modern steakhouse, and Le Marche, for fresh seafood.
No matter what they do or where they are on board, though, guests on Windstar won’t feel like just one in a crowd. Wind Surf’s capacity is 312, while its two smaller ships, Wind Star and Wind Spirit, accommodate only 148. So there’s plenty of room on board for clients to kick back and relax. And that experience continues when the ships pull into their small ports. “In Costa Rica, we sail along the Pacific coast. We’re able to anchor out and do beach landings. It’s a very authentic experience with the destination, and a neat way to see local culture and experience it like locals do,” Bloy describes.