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Wind Surf, Windstar Cruises
Easy, breezy, and barefoot: That's the vibe on the Wind Surf, a 535-foot motor-sail-yacht with seven computer-operated sails (they unfurl in two minutes at the push of a button, and can increase speed by about three knots). A few things you won't find: formal dress, assigned seating at meals, or planned onboard activities—and the loyal, friendly clients like it that way. With a passenger capacity of 308, Wind Surf is three times as large as her sister ships within the fleet, Wind Spirit and Wind Star. Wind Surf calls on ports in Europe (including Spain, France, Italy, and the Greek Isles) and the Caribbean.
Joachim Splichal, known for Patina restaurant in Los Angeles, has developed nearly 400 recipes that are used on the Windstar ships. In the nautical-themed eatery known simply as The Restaurant, sample sautéed crab cake with brown butter and a "haystack" of fried leeks, and herbed gnocchi with braised oxtail and artichokes. Jeanne Jones, who has designed spa menus for Pritikin, the Four Seasons hotels, and Canyon Ranch, has created both low-calorie and vegetarian selections that appear daily, with nutritional information posted on the menu. Try her cannelloni (creamy vegetable-stuffed crèpes served with tomato coulis). You won't even realize it has a measly three grams of fat per serving.
The Windstar line is popular with the over-50 set, and guests tend to be repeat cruisers within the fleet. In Europe, you'll see lots of Brits and Europeans.
Wind Surf's cabins tend to be fairly simple, though they recently added flat-screen televisions and DVD players. There are no balconies; guests choose between standard porthole accommodations and roomier suites, which include a sitting area and second bathroom.
Because of Wind Surf's small size, she can visit ports that many other vessels can't. One unforgettable stop: Hvar, Croatia, a gorgeous island freckled with lavender fields, where guests can tour vineyards and admire the 17th- and 18th-century architecture.
Good to Know:
Wind Surf maintains an "open bridge" policy, which means that curious guests can drop by during the day to schmooze with the captain and crew.
To book, call 800-544-0443 or go to www.windstarcruises.com.