Peter Knego visits Monaco, Portofino and Portoferraio during Windstar Cruises’ STAR BREEZE inaugural voyage from Nice to Rome.
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THE SANDS OF ALANG: The latest DVD about shipbreaking in Alang, India
All photos by and copyright Peter Knego 2015 unless otherwise noted.
Friday, May 8, 2015
MV ATLANTIS ii at Monaco.
Good morning, Monte Carlo! We had a full day at leisure to explore the tiny principality that is surrounded by France near the Italian border. STAR BREEZE was in good company with the sleek 1981-built super yacht ATLANTIS ii berthed off her port stern.
STAR BREEZE Veranda, facing port.
The completely refurbished Veranda on aft Deck 7 is the STAR BREEZE’s indoor/outdoor eatery.
Aft Veranda terrace, facing port.
Sheltered by a canvas ceiling, an al fresco, teak-lined terrace adjoins the Veranda.
STAR BREEZE Candles, facing starboard.
Directly forward of the Veranda, additional seating is available at Candles, which at night becomes the setting for STAR BREEZE’s reservations-required (but no charge) al fresco steakhouse. The new terrace was built atop the ship’s under-utilized swimming pool.
STAR BREEZE Veranda salad bar.
For salad lovers and those who covet Mediterranean-style cuisine, there is probably no better buffet option than Windstar’s, with its locally sourced, garden-fresh veggies, hummus, roasted delicacies and other tasty, health-conscious selections. Several dressings are provided but nothing beats good olive oil and balsamic vinegar with fresh-grated Parmesan.
Hop On, Hop Off in Monaco.
When we finally did venture ashore late that morning, the Hop On, Hop Off bus was only steps away. Although Monaco is a mere .78 square miles, getting from A to B involves lots of steep, windy roads, many without sidewalks. It was nice to stop, explore, then get back on the bus to the next attraction.
Reflections of the Casino, Monte Carlo.
No photos in the Casino were permitted but the interior appeal of the palatial building was diminished by all of its slot machines, anyway. Outside, throngs of people had gathered in the park and at the famed Cafe du Paris to ogle the expensive people and their show cars.
Overlooking STAR BREEZE at Monaco.
From the ramparts, there were some nice aerial views of the handsome STAR BREEZE.
Royal Palace, Monte Carlo.
Our next stop was the medieval town of Monaco-Ville on a rocky outcrop overlooking the sea. The prime attraction is the former 13th Century fortress, now the Royal Palace where Prince Albert resides.
Roseairie Princess Grace.
Our last “hop off” was something of a personal pilgrimage to pay tribute to the once radiant star of “Rear Window”, “Dial M for Murder” and “To Catch A Thief”.
The fact that Grace Kelly booked her wedding party passage on American Export Lines’ SS CONSTITUTION (which she later re-christened for American Hawaii Cruises as Princess of Monaco) doesn’t hurt her enduring appeal. Her memorial park is filled with roses from around the world, culled from the gardens of royalty, Hollywood stars, her friends and admirers. RIP stately princess.
STAR BREEZE Gym, facing port.
Back aboard the STAR BREEZE, we freshened up with a quick workout in the gym, accessed via the Spa and Salon on midships Deck 7. For its size, the space is well-equipped, with cardio machines, free weights, a stretching area for yoga and aerobics and weight machines.
A night in Monte Carlo.
As the sun began to set, champagne was served and French cabaret entertainers took to the midships deck area, kicking off the Windstar Private Event, a once-per cruise, included-in-the-fare gala. After a French-themed dinner in the AmphorA, we were taken via coach to the Grand Casino Square. On the balcony of the Cafe du Paris, we were served fresh-baked sweets and yet more champagne.
STAR BREEZE at Night.
And then it was back to the ship for a sparkling midnight departure for Portofino.
Saturday, May 9, 2015
STAR BREEZE at Portofino.
We awoke to find STAR BREEZE anchored in the Gulf of Liguria, surrounded by some of the world’s most beautiful places, including Rappallo, Santa Margherita and, the morning destination, Portofino.
Even with its throngs of tourists, overpriced shops and crowded cafes, the charms of Portofino are irresistible.
Splendido terrace to the sea.
After disembarking the tender, a small coach whisked us off to the magnificent Hotel Splendido, located on a verdant promontory overlooking Portofino and the gulf.
Fortunately, we had a light breakfast so we could fully enjoy all the treats being offered on Windstar’s Splendido Italian Cuisine and Olive Oil Experience shore excursion. It began with tasty morsels and a magical view.
Splendido olive oil tasting.
On the dining terrace, we were greeted by the maitre’d, who explained the process of creating Splendido’s coveted olive oil.
Especially in that setting, the Bruschetta con Aglio, Olio d’Oliva e Pomodoro and Focaccia Genovese con Salvia, Cipolla e Olive Nere were beyond compare.
And then, Pesto ala Genovese, prepared tableside. Dessert was just as spectacular, if a bit extraordinary — an olive oil sorbet served in a Genovese puff pastry. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!
A faint BREEZE off Portofino.
It was a gorgeous afternoon, so we opted to walk back into town, savoring the views of our ship in her element.
STAR BREEZE totally random carpet shot.
Back on board, I had time to wander about and take yet more photos of the gorgeously revamped STAR BREEZE.
Even though our cruise was short, it was far from lacking in gala events. Tonight, the midships deck area was once again transformed, this time for the Windstar Deck Barbeque.
Portofino deck party and banquet.
From roast suckling pig to lobster, crab, chicken, grilled veggies and that fantastic salad bar, there was something (and seconds) for everyone. I’ve enjoyed Windstar’s Bacchanalic feasts in the caldera of Santorini, the anchorage off Dubrovnik, the lee of Capri and now, in the utter splendor of Liguria under a canopy of pink clouds.
Sunday, May 10, 2015
MV STAR BREEZE at Portoferraio.
Our final day found the STAR BREEZE alongside in the natural harbor of Portoferraio on the island of Elba.
Bikes at Portoferraio.
After breakfast, we opted to rent bikes ($30 per person) for a ride around the small island. What we didn’t realize is that the streets are narrow and brimming with speed-crazed Italian commuters, so after a harrowing start, we aborted the bikes in favor of a peaceful walk into the old Medieval town.
Cats in cracks.
As it was a Sunday, most of the shops and restaurants in Portoferraio were shuttered, leaving the streets and alleyways empty of all but their feline element.
The view from the fortress.
We did manage to get up to Il Forte Stella for some nice views of the town and harbor.
Fo’c’sle whirlpool ready.
Back on board, as we began to pack, the STAR BREEZE’s friendly, hard-working crew had just restored the whirlpool area on the Deck 5 fo’c’sle. The last elements of Seabourn’s shameful neglect were being remedied for Windstar’s future guests to enjoy.
Monday, May 11, 2015
One final breakfast on the terrace as the mega-ships descended upon Civitavecchia ended our brief sampling of life on board the gorgeous little STAR BREEZE.
End Of STAR BREEZE Inaugural, Part Two
Special thanks: Amanda Graham, Tom Stieghorst
Having documented over 400 passenger ships and taken more than 200 cruises, MaritimeMatters’ co-editor Peter Knego is a leading freelance cruise writer, a respected ocean liner historian and frequent maritime lecturer both on land and at sea. With his work regularly featured in cruise industry trades and consumer publications. Knego also runs the www.midshipcentury.com website which offers MidCentury cruise ship furniture, artwork and fittings rescued from the shipbreaking yards of Alang, India. He has produced several videos on the subject, including his latest, The Sands Of Alang and the best-selling On The Road To Alang."
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