WindSurf cruise: Rome to Barcelona
This helped me narrow down the itineraries to ones that included Portofino as a stop.
We began in Rome, with one night at the Albergo Ottocento hotel. That was a good choice, located between the Trevi fountain, the Spanish Steps. We walked just about everywhere. Of course you cannot see Rome in one day, but we made a good attempt. I had met someone on CruiseCritic.com who would be on the same cruise, and we had arranged to share a taxi to the port in Civitavecchia, about an hour away if one is driving at normal speeds. So we bonded with this other couple, while praying for our lives on the slick highway at 160 kph. Relieved to have made it safely to the ship, we were happy to board the WindSurf. Although our two previous cruises were on ships of 100 passengers, with 300 passengers, the WindSurf is considered small. And it felt like a small ship - there was no assigned seating, no lines, pleasant conversation among the guests.
Without covering every port, I will say that I did enjoy Portofino very much. We climbed up to the top of Castello Brown, for a wonderful panoramic view. In the 50's, before St. Tropez became the next hot spot, Portofino was a popular getaway spot for celebrities. A photo exhibit at the castle depicted this time in history. The stop at St. Tropez was also very enjoyable. We took an early morning walk around the village, and spent the afternoon at the beach. From Monte Carlo, we took a side trip to Nice and Eze, a medieval village build into the side of a cliff, turned into a current day tourist attraction. In the afternoon we took a tour of Monte Carlo on a little Disney-type train.
With a European itinerary, it's tempting to try to do too much. You really just get a taste of each location, but you can pick out some areas of interest for future exploration. Or, you can just enjoy the cruise, bring a few good books and spend more time on the boat. The emphasis was on the ports, rather than on activities on the ship. During the day, most people on board just relaxed, read and socialized. Unfortunately, there was not much wind, but they opened the sails once or twice just for show.
We enjoyed Windstar very much. It was upscale, but still casual. The food was very good. You had a choice of dining alone, or with others. Unlike a large cruise ship, there is one seating for dinner, and you don't have a set table or waiter. The fellow passengers were very friendly, mostly North American. The average age was about 50, so maybe a bit younger than other upscale cruise lines.
It will be interesting to see if the upcoming change in ownership has an effect on this cruise line. I hope that prices will not increase in general, and hope to see more Windstar offerings on LL in the future. Please let me know if you have questions.