WIND SURFing The Croatian Coast, Part Three

Continue WIND SURFing The Croatian Coast with Peter Knego in part three of his Sea Trek with a visit to the scenic Dalmatian town of Trogir and and a before and after look at the accommodation aboard Windstar Cruises handsome, yacht-like cruise ship prior to a major make-over in November.

WindStar Cruises website

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All photos by and copyright Peter Knego 2011 unless otherwise noted. Please click on image to view a larger version.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

During the course of the night, WIND SURF had transited from the tip of the Istrian peninsula into the archipelagic waters of Dalmatia.

Dalmatian drift.

When we awoke, a brilliant sun was beaming from beyond a series of scattered, rocky islets off the starboard side of the ship.

Oh really? Caramelized banana pecan crepe in the Veranda.
Altar of amber.

Up in the Veranda, Mike greeted the day with a banana crepe drenched in caramel and pecans while I looked on with glazed, hypoglycemic eyes after sampling the Rovinj marketplace honeys.

WIND SURF Deck 3 suite.
WIND SURF Cabin 209, facing starboard.

After breakfast, Hotel Manager Henri and chief housekeeper Rocky were kind enough to open up cabin 209 on Deck 2 and a suite on Deck 3. When the CLUB MED I became the WIND SURF, most of her standard Deck 3 cabins were doubled to become suites. The suites and cabins currently have wood-trimmed white surfaces that are offset by red and gold soft fittings.

En suite commode.

The compact bathrooms are not only very attractive but extremely functional with separate compartments for toilet, sink and  shower. On the WIND SURF as with the two smaller Windstar ships, the decking is wood or a very convincing simulation.

MSY WIND SURF refurbished suite rendering (sitting room to bedroom perspective). Courtesy of WindStar Cruises.

Meanwhile, WindStar was on the verge of announcing an $18 million fleet refurbishment plan that would see all soft fittings in the cabins (new leather headboards, new armchairs, linen wall coverings, lighting, curtains, new wool carpeting, artwork and bed coverlets) and passageways completely revamped in a more contemporary style. Although I actually quite like the way everything looks now, no doubt the new “boutique hotel” style will be very much in vogue for years to come! I’m thrilled to see WindStar’s new owners making a long term commitment to the future of a cruise line that really is “180 Degrees From Ordinary”.

MSY WIND SURF refurbished stateroom rendering. Photo courtesy WindStar Cruises.

This first phase of the planned two part refurbishment will be completed when the WIND SURF exits the Lisnave drydock this December. In the fall of 2012, her public spaces, including the Lounge, The Restaurant, Degrees, Veranda, Compass Rose, WindSpa, Yacht Club and Pool Bar will also be transformed.  WIND STAR and WIND SPIRIT will undergo similar transformations.

Turing into Trogir.

Back up on deck, the shadows began to veer ever so slightly. WIND SURF was slowing for the pilot and turning eastwards, towards the rugged, mountainous backdrop. The red-tile-roofed town and sprawling shipyard of Trogir began to unfold between the Croatian mainland and the island of Ciovo, some fifteen miles west of the city of Split.

Trogir waterfront.
Trogir gate.

As WIND SURF spun about and dropped her anchor, we descended upon the Yacht Club for a quick cappuccino and a duo of sandwiches “to go”.  After a ten minute tender ride, we were delivered to a very charming stone waterfront lined with awning-topped cafes.

High noon alleyway in Trogir.

Trogir was founded in the third century BC by the Greeks, taking its name from “tragos”, which means “male goat”. As time marched on, it passed from, among others, Greek to Slavic, Saracen, Venetian, Habsburg, French and Yugoslavian rule. In 1991, it became part of Croatia and the historic city center was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.

Top of Trogir's Town Hall.

Armed with a colorful map, we meandered the town center’s orthagonal streets (dating from its original Greek and Roman ground plan) to the Town Hall, which was built atop the ruins of a duke’s palace in 1890.

Twinspired.
Cathedral of St. Lawrence.

At 154 feet, the tallest building in Trogir is the Cathedral of St. Lawrence. Directly across from the Town Hall in St. John II Square, it was built between 1213 and the sixteenth century.

Radovan's portal.

The cathedral’s west portal was sculpted and inscribed by legendary Croatian artist Radovan in 1240, and is considered the most significant work of the Romanesque-Gothic style in Croatia.  Perched atop the lions on either side of the entry are Adam and Eve.

Bell tower trepidations.

Across from the west portal, a stone staircase spirals upward to a terrace overlooking St. John II Square and the Town Hall.

Rooftop repairs.

As we pointed our cameras in various dizzying directions, workers casually clambered across the steep tile roof, unfazed by the altitude.  So Dumas…

Trogir-igo!
High Anxiety!

Mike scaled the next tier of steps to the top of the spire but I only made it to the halfway point where the stone stairs transitioned into an “open” metal network of steps.  I contented myself with a slightly more limited view.

Sacred Art Museum.

For a few Kuna, we visited the Pinacotheca Sacred Art Museum next to the Town Hall where several paintings from the Cathedral of St. Lawrence are on display.

Trogir remembered.

It seems every Croatian town has a memorial to the Balkan War and Trogir is no exception. A tragic waste of lives and dreams and something that is now hard to fathom in such an idyllic, beautiful and culturally-rich corner of the world.

The heat was taking its own toll, so we purchased some cold bottled water and settled in the nearby park for a small picnic break with our WIND SURF Yacht Club “to go” sandwiches.

Turn to Stone.

After a cappuccino stop near Town Hall, we crossed through the charming stone streets of the historic center, past cathedrals and quaint hotels, to the waterfront. Our visit was not quite over, although it was a little tempting to get back to the air conditioned comfort of the beckoning WIND SURF.

Kamerlengo Fortress, Trogir.

The Venetians built Kamerlengo Castle in the mid-15th century. It takes its name from “camerlengo”, which is Italian for “chamberlain”. For a small stipend, we were able to visit the fortress and walk along its walls (warning: loose banisters on stairs).

Turret top view from Kamerlengo fortress.

It was a perfect day to take in the views of Trogir from the walls of Kamerlengo. During the summer, its courtyard is used for concerts and special events.

Terrain over Trogir.

Back aboard the WIND SURF, there was much to do. Well, nothing urgent but we did manage to visit the Compass Rose for afternoon tea, take a short nap, hit the gym, and lay by the pool as the sun dipped lower and lower…

Candles barbeque in Trogir twilight.

At 8:00 PM, a maroon moon was rising over the Dalmatian mountains and a fading orange glow was all that was left of the sun.  Out on aft Bridge Deck, a smoky barbeque aroma was whetting many an appetite.  There was only a hint of a breeze at Candles as we settled in for a delicious dinner on deck.

"Insalata caprese" me with a drop of two of balsamic, please....

Candles is another dreamy Windstar dining option. The non-tariff venue does require a reservation as seating is limited (but still enough to accommodate everyone on board for at least one night per cruise). It all begins with an insalata caprese.

Candles chicken with peppercorn sauce.

Main courses range from three types of steak (Rib Eye, New York, Filet Mignon) to Grilled Farm Breast of Chicken, Swordfish Brochettes and Vegetarian Skewers. Accompanying sauces include Peppercorn, Red Wine or Mushroom and sides are either a Baked Potato or Corn on the Cob. Oh, and desserts include Tiramisu, Creme Caramel or Chocolate Terrine.

A perfect way to end the day.

End Of Third Post: Much More to Come…

With Special Thanks: Vanessa Bloy, Martin Cox, Henri Lemay

Peter Knego

Peter Knego

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."
Peter Knego
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