Cruising the Amalfi Coast

The Wind Surf explores small ports in big style

By: Janice Mucalov

A soft breeze rustles the billowing sails above as we tuck into a breakfast of freshly squeezed orange juice, eggs on smoked salmon and complimentary cappuccino served on china on the teak deck outside. Later, we drop anchor off the island of Capri; hop aboard a small tender to the picturesque dock lined with souvenir shops and cafes; then catch the funicular, just steps from where we land, up the rocky mountain to Capri town.

Small idyllic ports and big style. That’s how we remembered Windstar Cruises from a previous cruise on one of the line’s two, 148-passenger, motor-sailing yachts. The same was true of this cruise along Italy’s fabled Amalfi Coast from Rome to Malta aboard the larger, 308-passenger Wind Surf. Since the Wind Surf is three times the size of the Wind Star and Wind Spirit, she features more amenities.

For example, the Wind Surf has 31 suites with two bathrooms, a larger sitting area and plusher furnishings. But the cabins (188 square feet in size) are the same on all three ships. All are outside with two portholes and feature a modern nautical decor, wood cabinets with curved edges (so passengers don’t bruise themselves if they bump into them), flat-screen TVs and DVD players. The cleverly designed bathrooms have two circular pods off the central vanity area.

The Wind Surf also has the Bistro restaurant, in addition to the glass-enclosed inside/outside Verandah restaurant for breakfast and lunch and the main dinner restaurant found on all three ships. Acclaimed celebrity chef Joachim Splichal has created a steakhouse offering for the Bistro, plus rotating French-, Italian- and Indonesian-themed menus.

When it comes to taking passengers to hidden harbors that larger ships can’t access, the Wind Surf is no different than her sister ships. And small ports translate to more independent exploring for passengers.

Take Capri on our Amalfi Coast itinerary. After riding the funicular up to the whitewashed buildings that make up the town, my husband and I wandered along the cobblestone paths connecting the designer boutiques, deluxe hotels and fashionable outdoor restaurants. We walked beyond the town, past groves of lemon trees and along the cliffs, first to a splendid natural rock arch formation known as the Arco Naturale and then to the ruins of Villa Jovis, where the depraved Emperor Tiberius once ruled the Roman Empire.

In Sorrento, after disembarking the Wind Surf’s tender at the pier, we bought tickets on a passenger ferry for the 40-minute ride to Positano. In this fairytale-like village of pastel-colored villas and boutiques clinging to the mountainside, we bought a bottle of Limoncello (a delicious lemon liqueur made here, best served ice-cold) and strolled the pebble beach, peopled with bikini-clad sun worshippers.

Windstar’s European and Mediterranean itineraries have proven popular this summer. Wind Surf will sail a series of Nice-Rome, Rome-Barcelona and Barcelona-Lisbon cruises before repositioning for the winter in the Caribbean. The line has also increased the number of its Greek Islands cruises for 2006 from 27 to 38. And a new Istanbul-Athens itinerary is offered on the Wind Spirit, with visits to Canakkale and Izmir (Turkey) and Patmos, Agios, Kos, Naxos and the village of Nikolaos, Crete (Greece).

In most destinations, different seven-day itineraries allow Windstar passengers on all three ships to sail 14-day voyages without repeating ports. On our cruise, 70 guests were staying on for the next cruise.

But for all the interesting and exotic places Windstar Cruises showed us, what I like best is lounging on deck in the late afternoon sun; listening to the quiet luffing sounds of the vast white sails and watching the turquoise seas ripple under the bow, as the elegant vessel sails to our next port of adventure.


“It’s the little details or the ‘degrees of difference’ that add up to the Windstar experience, which is 180 degrees from ordinary,” said Diane Moore, Windstar’s vice president, marketing and sales.
Unusual itineraries, the feeling of sailing when the sails are up, gourmet cuisine, the watersports platform and the relaxed dress code are all hallmarks of Windstar. New features and amenities include Sealy Posturepedic Plush Euro-Top mattresses, L’Occitane toiletries and Apple iPod docking stations in staterooms; 100 new Joachim Splichal-created menu items in the main dining room, plus a new “Vinter’s Reserve” wine list.


Norwegian Coastal Voyage is introducing a 12-day, air-inclusive expedition program to Greenland, the world’s largest island, on the newly rebuilt MS Disco II beginning in June. Cruising during the polar summer on the 56-berth vessel, which is small enough to stay close to the rugged coast, is a comfortable and convenient way to view spectacular scenery and wildlife in the remote wilderness above the Arctic Circle. Weekly departures are scheduled June 15-Aug. 8 from New York to Kangerlussuaq via Copenhagen.
The eight-day voyage will feature naturalist guides, lectures and Zodiac landings and begins in Kangerlussuaq Fjord, one of the world’s longest fjords. From there, it sails along Greenland’s west coast to Disko Bay amid ice floes and icebergs of all shapes and sizes; many species of whales, seals, sea eagles and other birds; and a changing landscape of mountains, waterfalls, walls of ice and calving glaciers. The Midnight Sun can be seen in Ilulissat on Disko Bay until July 25.
Built in Denmark in 1992 for Greenland service as the Saqqit Ittuk and converted to an expedition ship in 2004, the Disco II has a panoramic lounge with bar, restaurant and 26 outside cabins with private facilities.
Cruise rates start at $6,740-$8,065 per person, double occupancy, including roundtrip SAS flights from New York to Copenhagen, flight to Kangerlussuaq and back and two nights at a first-class Copenhagen hotel with breakfast.


Princess Cruises plans to expand capacity in its popular Inside Passage Alaska program in 2007 when Golden Princess will make her Alaska debut. The 2,600-passenger Golden Princess features more than 700 balcony staterooms, providing a perfect vantage point for observing the stunning scenery of Southeast Alaska. Both Golden Princess and the 1,950-passenger Sun Princess will offer seven-day roundtrip sailings from Seattle with an itinerary that features Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and Victoria, plus the opportunity to cruise through the dramatic glaciers, rock walls and waterfalls of Tracy Arm and the twin Sawyer Glaciers. Golden Princess will offer 20 voyages departing on Saturdays between May 5 and Sept. 15, 2007, while Sun Princess sails on 20 cruises with Sunday departures beginning on May 6 and continuing through Sept. 16.
Additionally, the 1,950-passenger Dawn Princess will offer 10-day roundtrips from San Francisco between May 11 and Sept. 8. The ship’s itinerary from San Francisco features calls in Juneau and Victoria with two additional ports that rotate between Ketchikan, Skagway, Sitka and Icy Strait Point, plus premiere glacier viewing with cruising through Tracy Arm. Two special voyages on May 11 and Sept. 8 feature daylight cruising of Glacier Bay National Park in place of Tracy Arm.
Early booking fares for Inside Passage voyages start at $749 per person, based on double occupancy.


Discovery World Cruises has unveiled 26 cruise vacations for 2007 that will showcase the history, cultures and architecture of Northern Europe, the Baltic, the Mediterranean and the Middle East. Guests can choose itineraries that range from 10 to 33 nights, calling at ports as diverse as Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen, and Tartous, Syria, on the 650-passenger mv Discovery. The liner offers a host of comforts and amenities, yet her size enables her to visit out-of-the-way ports larger vessels cannot reach.
Rates for the voyages begin at $1,995 per person, double occupancy. Guests who book early will enjoy savings of up to 50 percent on selected sailings.
In addition, the line is offering complimentary economy-class air to Europe from select East Coast gateway cities. Travelers from other parts of the U.S. may take advantage of deeply discounted air add-on fares of $99 from the Midwest, and $199 from West Coast gateways.
Additionally, Discovery’s cruisetour program offers a two-night, pre-cruise hotel stay in London prior to many of the summer and fall voyages and includes an orientation sightseeing tour of the city’s landmarks.