We alluded to it the other day in our Live Report from the Cruise3Sixty convention here in Vancouver, Canada, and now we can take the wraps off the entire voyage.

Beginning in August, we’ll set out aboard Windstar CruisesWind Star on a Live Voyage Report that will take us through the splendours of Italy, France and Monaco as we sail from Rome to Nice.

Standing on the starboard bridge wing provides guests with a remarkable view down the side of the ship. Photo © 2011 Aaron Saunders

Join us in August as we sail aboard Windstar Cruises’ Wind Star in Italy and France. Photo © 2011 Aaron Saunders

Along the way, we’ll call on beautiful Portoferraio, on the island of Elba off the western coast of Italy before continuing on for an overnight stay in Portovenere. Portovenere, like nearby Cinque Terre, was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997. The town is known for its Church of St. Peter that dates back to 1198, but has arguably remained famous throughout the intervening centuries for its gorgeous locale.

A quick hop over to the resort playground of Portofino is exactly the kind of jaunt the sleek Wind Star was built for, and her massive, billowing white sails will no doubt command attention as we sail into harbour just after noon local time.

Portofino, Italy - just one of the many ports of call on our Live Voyage Report aboard Windstar Cruises' Wind Star. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia / Creative Commons

Portofino, Italy – just one of the many ports of call on our Live Voyage Report aboard Windstar Cruises’ Wind Star. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia / Creative Commons

One of the places I’m most excited about seeing is the small French commune of Calvi. Situated on the island of Corsica, Calvi is home to just under 6,000 permanent residents and is decidedly off-the-beaten-path for most Mediterranean cruises. Its natural surroundings are picturesque, and despite the fact that Calvi resides in the smallest arrondissement on the Island, tourism here has flourished since around the 1950’s.

Then it’s off to the famed South of France, with calls on Cannes, Monte Carlo (which, we should point out, is actually part of Monaco), and finally, Nice, where we’ll disembark for a post-cruise stay.

The full itinerary:

DAYPORTARRIVEDEPART
August 9, 2013Rome, ItalyPre-Cruise Stay
August 10Civitavecchia, ItalyEMBARK WIND STAR5:00 PM
August 11Portoferraio, Italy8:00 AM10:00 PM
August 12Portovenere, Italy8:00 AMOvernight
August 13Portovenere, ItalyOvernight7:00 AM
August 13Portofino, Italy12:00 PM8:00 PM
August 14Calvi, France9:00 AM6:00 PM
August 15Cannes, France8:00 AM10:00 PM
August 16Monte Carlo, Monaco8:00 AM10:00 PM
August 17Nice, France7:00 AMDISEMBARK
August 18Nice, FrancePost Cruise Stay

For me, though, the real draw was the chance to sail with the line again after a massively-enjoyable week spent sailing from Stockholm to Oslo aboard the Wind Spirit two years ago. Since then, the Windstar fleet has undergone a massive stem-to-stern refurbishment and the line even entered into an agreement to acquire the three original Seabourn triplets from luxury line Seabourn Cruises.

The popular Lounge looks even cozier in its new arrangement. Rendering courtesy of Windstar Cruises

The popular Lounge looks even cozier in its new arrangement. Rendering courtesy of Windstar Cruises

Built in 1986, the Wind Star is the identical sister-ship to Wind Spirit, which makes the job of comparing and contrasting pre-and-post refit easy. With only 148 guests onboard and a crew of 90 international staff, service is friendly and personable.

The Pool Bar undergoes a radical change, offering elegant dining, new lighting, and enhanced decor. Rendering courtesy of Windstar Cruises

The Pool Bar undergoes a radical change, offering elegant dining, new lighting, and enhanced decor. Rendering courtesy of Windstar Cruises

I can rattle off an entire list of specifications for the Wind Star, but so much of what makes Windstar great is tied up in the actual experience, from seeing the massive, computer-controlled sails unfurl at the push of a button to hearing the theme from 1492: Conquest of Paradise at every departure. Their once-per-cruise on-deck barbecue has become one of the line’s signature events, and I have many fond memories of breakfasts and lunches taken outdoors under the shade of the sails above me.

But the refits that Wind Star and her sisters underwent looks nothing short of spectacular, and I can’t wait to experience – and report on it – firsthand.

Stay tuned – our Live Voyage Report from Italy and the Wind Star begins August 9, 2013!

Heading out into the Baltic Sea at sunset. Photo © 2011 Aaron Saunders

Heading out into the Baltic Sea at sunset. Photo © 2011 Aaron Saunders

Our Live Voyage Report aboard Windstar Cruises Wind Spirit kicks off on Friday 9 August 2013! Join us next week as we report from onboard Schooner Zodiac and as we escort Cruise Experts Travel’s Best of Alaska itinerary from Fairbanks to Vancouver!

 

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