Posted on Tuesday, October 16, 2012 by Peter Knego
Peter Knego embarks on an eight night voyage from Piraeus to Civitavecchia aboard Windstar Cruises newly refurbished, four masted staysail schooner WIND STAR.
All photos by and copyright Peter Knego 2012 unless otherwise noted.
Saturday, October 13, 2012
A typically busy day in Piraeus included a roster of no less than six cruise ships (ARETHUSA, SEA DREAM I, STAR FLYER, SEABOURN ODYSSEY, THOMSON CELEBRATION, SEABOURN QUEST), in addition to our home for the next eight nights, Windstar Cruises’ 5,736 gross ton MV WIND STAR, berthed all the way out at the harbor entrance in Kanellos basin.
The deluxe little WIND STAR was ground breaking for being one of the first purpose-built combination-sail-and-diesel-powered cruise ships when introduced in 1986. A product of Societe Nouvelle des Ateliers et Chantiers du Havre Shipyard at Le Havre, France, she was was followed in 1987 by the identical WIND SPIRIT and in 1988 by the since-lost WIND SONG.
With their long, sleek hulls which (including a 134 foot bowsprit) measure 440 feet, the first Windstar ships boast four fixed masts that support six self-furling, computer-generated sails composed of 21,500 square feet of dacron.
This would be my third Windstar Cruise following a 2010 Istanbul-to-Athens sailing on board WIND SPIRIT and a Venice-to-Croatia voyage on board the much-larger WIND SURF in 2011.
Guests enter the ship via the lobby on Three Deck and are welcomed on board with a cold, wet towel. WIND STAR has five passenger decks, including the Flying Bridge sunning platform that overlooks the stern.
Deck Four begins with a teak-lined sun deck just forward of the wheelhouse and continues aft with The Verandah buffet style eatery (more on that later), some handsome sheltered terraces, the rustic Pool Bar and a small plunge pool, whirlpool and skylight surrounded by a teak-covered sun deck of a fantail.
One enters the ship on Deck Three, which is entirely devoted to public rooms. Initially, the WIND STAR ships boasted pleasant, yacht-like decor and custom-made furnishing by the renowned French architect Marc Held but after 25 years, it was time for a complete makeover. WIND STAR was the first to emerge from a total, top-to-bottom transformation early this year and her fleetmates will both follow suit with multi-staged refits by the end of this month. Her entry lobby is now a chic showcase of “boutique hotel” style with its dark veneers, recessed lighting and fiberoptic glass fixture.
The newly renamed and completely redesigned Amphora Dining Room is immediately forward of the lobby. Large enough to accommodate all 170 of the ship’s guests, it is the venue for open-seating dinner each evening between 7:00 and 9:00 PM.
Amphora table settings include fresh flowers, starched linens, Riedel stemware and custom glass chargers.
A cozy, clubby Library and internet room follows the Lobby on the port side of Deck Three.
Another lobby that adjoins the aft stairtower, is located towards the stern on Deck Three.
An interesting focal point in the aft lobby is a carved wooden figurehead replica from the 1865-built Russian frigate HERTHA.
Save for the Gym and Medical Center on aft Deck Two, Decks Two and One are devoted almost exclusively to accommodation. At the top of the tier is a 220-square-foot Owner’s Suite (107) on aft Deck One.
Other than the owners suite, the rest of the accommodation is almost identical to our cabin, 137, which is located on the forward/starboard side of Deck One. These completely refurbished cabins feature twin portholes and plenty of storage space in cleverly designed cabinetry that can be transformed into a table top for in-cabin dining. All cabins feature luxury linens and mattresses, fresh fruit, flowers, an alarm clock, phones, a mini-bar and wifi access.
Windstar cabins have some of the best-designed WC’s in the cruise industry. In the center is a marble-topped sink and plenty of shelves for storage.
To the right of the sink is a commode and to the left…
…a wonderful shower with a choice of overhead and handheld massage heads.
Windstar provides excellent L’Occitaine toiletry products that include soap, shower gel, shampoo and conditioner.
With most of our photography complete, we headed to the skylight-topped Verandah for lunch. The aft portion of the space is encased in an arc of full-length windows that look out onto adjoining terraces with al fresco seating.
Both breakfast and lunch offer full service menus in addition to a buffet. Lunch features fresh-baked breads, an excellent salad bar with fresh veggies and special salads (Greek, tabouleh, beetroot, etc.). There is a pasta station and a hot entrée station, sandwich bar and a selection of desserts.
At 5:00 PM, just as we began to cast our lines, SEABOURN QUEST raced past us, leading the Piraeus cruise ship exodus.
As the THOMSON CELEBRATION (ex NOORDAM) began to pivot into the channel, we were well on our way. The majestic swells of Vangelis’ “Conquest of Paradise” echoed through the deck areas and public spaces.
Joining in the queue and keeping the Piraeus pilots gainfully employed, SEABOURN ODYSSEY began to push away from her berth.
Meanwhile, our brilliant white, self-unfurling sails — freshly renewed in the WIND STAR’s renovation — emerged like butterfly wings from their chrysalis-like spindles.
We held to a steady, south-by-southwesterly course between rugged Salamis Island and the Attica shoreline, the sun’s amber rays highlighting the Acropolis atop the sprawling Athens cityscape.
WIND STAR maintained a leisurely eight knot pace for Monemvasia as the THOMSON CELEBRATION finally overtook and saluted her with three whistle blasts.
Our journey had just begun…
End Of WIND STAR Trek, Part One
Much More To Come…
Special thanks: Martin Cox, Rob Di Stefano, Amanda Graham, Jeffrey Jack