FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Spirited Sailing: The Breadth and Depth of Windstar’s Beverage Program Belies the Size of Small-Ship Line

by Kelly Magyarics

Sep 6, 2023

© Windstar Cruises

September 2023

It’s just before 5 p.m., and I’m standing on the aft upper deck of Star Legend with a flute of Champagne. After spending much of the day traversing the Panama Canal, we finally crossed under Bridge of the Americas, the gateway to the Pacific. Bubbly is definitely in order to celebrate a transcontinental crossing via this engineering marvel.

Star Legend is one of Windstar Cruises’ six vessels, all smaller than most cruise ships, with a maximum of 342 passengers. The high staff-to-guest ratio (1:1.5) translates to impeccable service; and while you won’t find the dizzying number of diversions available on mega-ships, the experience is anything but minimal, including the beverages.

Windstar’s expanded new cocktail program draws inspiration from pre-Prohibition to present day, with timeless classics, a martini section, modern riffs, coffee drinks and nightcaps. Standouts include Sailor’s Dream (gin, lemon, basil and blackberry) and Paper Boat (bourbon, Aperol, Benedictine and lemon). I sipped a pre-dinner Vesper while listening to live music in Compass Rose and cooled off with a strawberry Pimm’s cup at the always-hopping pool bar. Signature libations at the restaurants include a smoked cherry old-fashioned at barbecue-focused Star Grill and a sherry sip at modern Spanish Cuadro 44.

Drinks during global itineraries connect guests to their destinations. Think Mediterranean spritzes, a Middle Eastern paloma with za’atar, an aquavit sour in Northern Europe and tiki tipples for French Polynesia sailings. Creative zero-proof cocktails include alcohol-free versions of the mint julep, Painkiller and Pimm’s cup, plus fruit- and herb-infused tonics — perfect for a hydration break from day drinking.

The by-the-glass wine list, comprising 40 global options, is diverse enough to please an Old World or New World palate. I was pleased to find a Sauvignon Blanc from Côtes de Gascogne and a Spanish Albarinho, and a chilled Provence rosé was my best friend during lunch on the deck at Veranda. There’s also a good smattering of dry, earthy reds in addition to lush California Cabs, including a Pays d’Oc Pinot Noir and a few cherry-tinged Chiantis.

Fabulous beverages also await ashore. My sailing — Panama Canal, Cartagena, San Blas Islands & More — started in Aruba, where I spent the night before embarkation. I chatted with Dutch expats over gin and tonics at The Beach Bar on Palm Beach in Oranjestad and sipped a farmer’s daiquiri with local herbs before indulging in a multicourse wine-paired dinner at Senses. In Cartagena I snagged a barstool at Alquimico, named No. 10 bar in the world, where three menus (one for each level) pay homage to Colombian culture. The Yurupari celebrates the Amazon with gin; cupuaçu (a rain forest-sourced fruit); and a tincture made with chuchuhuasi, a local spirit.

Back on board, after that canal crossing which signaled our final destination, I refilled my bubbly and chatted with some new friends about the awe-inspiring experience. That’s another benefit of a small-ship cruise: the opportunity to truly get to know your cohorts — maybe over a round of Negroni nightcaps before the next port of call.


FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Explore Excursions


Insta Feed

Global City Guidebook: Rotorua

Located on Lake Rotorua on New Zealand’s North Island, Rotorua is a hot spot for volcanic landscapes, hot springs, outdoor recreation and Māori culture. If you are looking for a destination where you can spend most of your time outdoors, Rotorua is for you.

Sail to the Tropical Splendors of Tahiti and The Tuamotu Islands with Windstar Cruises

This November, Windstar Cruises celebrates more than 36 years in Tahiti with an itinerary taking guests to the clear waters of Tahiti and The Tuamotu Islands on a journey exploring Tahitian culture, the ecosystems of Fakarava, and the sunsets of Raiatea and Bora Bora. The 10-day sailing aboard Star Breeze, Nov. 18–28, departs from Papeete and ends in Papeete.

Balearic Islands Tighten Tourism Laws

Spain’s Balearic Islands’ government recently announced tighter laws targeting excessive tourism. The new law bans drinking on public roads and prohibits shops from selling alcohol late at night. Tourists found breaking these rules could be fined up to €3,000.

NH Collection Debuts in Finland

The new NH Collection Helsinki Grand Hansa marks the brand’s latest property. Located in the center of the Finnish capital, the property combines two historically significant buildings, Hotel Seurahuone and Student House. The hotel features 224 guestrooms and suites, including a grand, 1,722-square-foot presidential suite.

Welcome to Wyndham Monterrey Ambassador Centro

Wyndham Monterrey Ambassador Centro, operated by Aimbridge LATAM, opened its doors, welcoming guests to one of the most iconic and traditional properties in Monterrey, Nuevo León. Boasting 229 rooms and suites, the hotel, part of Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, is ready for discerning travelers. Wyndham Hotels & Resorts is the largest hotel franchise company in the world with approximately 9,100 hotels in more than 95 countries.

Global City Guidebook: Toronto

Toronto, Canada’s largest and most populated city, sits on Lake Ontario’s northwestern shore. Ontario’s capital city, it boasts a skyscraper-crowded skyline dominated by the iconic CN Tower, but it also features many green spaces and 530 miles of the Bikeways Network. With 158 distinct neighborhoods, the city is known for its multiculturalism as well as being a world leader in technology, finance and entertainment.

Jul 11, 2024

Celebrate National Caviar Day at The Meritage Resort & Spa

Calling all caviar lovers! Celebrate National Caviar Day July 18 at the newly renovated Meritage Resort & Spa in Napa Valley, California. Sip delicious, handcrafted cocktails and indulge in a lavish, luxurious spread of the world’s finest caviar for the ultimate taste experience.

Explore Gyeonggi Province in South Korea

Gyeonggi Province, encircling Seoul, offers seamless travel with access to two major airports and a well-connected transportation system. It boasts top-notch MICE facilities, like KINTEX and Suwon Convention Center, along with a wide array of international-branded and resort-style hotels spread across its 31 cities and counties. Visitors can explore rich historical sites, including UNESCO World Cultural Heritage sites like the DMZ and Suwon Hwaseong Fortress.

Jul 11, 2024

Patrick Mouratoglou Partners with The Ritz-Carlton Naples, Tiburón on Tennis Center

World-renowned tennis coach Patrick Mouratoglou announced a partnership with The Ritz-Carlton Naples, Tiburón to debut the first Mouratoglou Tennis Center in Florida. The center opened in early summer 2024 boasting training camps, private lessons, leagues and retreats that deliver a premium tennis experience.