WHILE MOST CRUISE LINES “sail” the seven seas propelled by engines, Windstar Cruises made its name with three ships that really, truly swept from port to port the old-fashioned way, albeit with up-to-date, computer-controlled sails. Windstar’s first two sailing vessels, the Wind Star and the Wind Spirit, are 148-passenger boutique ships with four 204-foot masts. Windstar’s largest vessel, the 312-passenger Wind Surf, boasts seven triangular, self-furling, computer-operated sails deployed on five masts, each towering 221 feet above teak decks — making it one of the two largest sail cruisers in the world. To be sure, all three of Windstar’s sailing vessels use motors most of the time, but when the sails come out, there’s no far-ranging cruise line with quite so romantic a look and feel.
In 2014 and 2015 Windstar Cruises doubled its fleet, adding three more 212-passenger boutique vessels: the Star Pride, Star Legend and Star Breeze. While these ships lack sails, the sleek vessels deliver the signature Windstar experience of smart, ultra-casual sailing. The Windstar cruise style appeals to couples seeking that intimate, romantic holiday at sea. Dining is bistro-style, casual but upscale. There is no assigned seating or formal nights, no big shows, but there is a plethora of water sports from diving, snorkeling and sea kayaking to waterskiing and, yes, windsurfing. This is a premium cruise line, but the luxuries are understated. The casino is small, the cabins (all outside) have portholes or French balconies, and the fitness facilities are compact compared to those on larger luxury vessels.
Windstar’s small premium ships can call on off-the-beaten-track ports within popular sailing areas. While destinations are geared to adventurers, the itineraries are not those of more rugged exploration cruise lines. In the past Windstar sailed mainly in Europe and the Mediterranean (winter and spring) and in the Caribbean and Central/South America (summer and fall), along with weekly cruising in Tahiti year-round. While the emphasis remains on warm-weather sailing, Windstar now ranges far and wide. Its 15 new itineraries slated for 2017–2018 include cruises in Japan, China, Thailand, the Philippines, South Korea, Borneo and Vietnam. Windstar will also sail through Arabian waters out of Dubai, reaching ports in India and Egypt. Together with these eight new sailings in Asian and Arabian waters, Windstar will add seven new itineraries in the Caribbean, Costa Rica and Panama.
Moreover, for the first time in two decades, Windstar will deploy a ship to Alaska. From May to August in 2018, the Star Legend will conduct eight 11- to 14-day cruises on routes between Vancouver and Seward. The ship is small enough to cruise through Misty Fiords National Monument and Kenai Fjords National Park, and all cruises will transport passengers through the pristine waters of Tracy Arm Fjord. Each sailing includes add-on land excursions that enable passengers to explore Alaska’s vast interior as well.
Whatever the destination, Windstar promises a yacht-like cruising experience with big-ship amenities. Sailings are personalized, fine dining is the rule, and even the bridge is open for passengers wishing to converse with captain and crew while underway.
TAP Air Portugal is adding 15 new weekly flights from the United States and Canada by summer 2020, a new record for the carrier of 71 weekly flights between North America and Portugal.
As part of Germany’s climate package, a plan to reduce emissions, the country will raise departure taxes at German airports. Taxes will go up as much as 60 percent, and are expected to raise up to €740 million. The funds will then be used to lower VAT on rail fares from 19 percent to 7 percent.
Norwegian Cruise Line took delivery of its newest ship, Norwegian Encore, ahead of its naming ceremony Nov. 21. The 1,100-foot-long ship boasts a guest capacity of nearly 4,000. Since Norwegian Cruise Line took delivery of the shi, Oct. 30, Norwegian Encore sailed from Germany to England before making its way to New York City, then Miami, where the christening ceremony takes place next week.
Welcome to Rhodes, a medieval treasure beautifully preserved throughout the centuries. Rhodes is the capital of the Dodecanese, an island ideal not only for those who want to relax, but also for those looking for an action-packed holiday! With its bright green hills, rich green valleys and uninterrupted line of golden beaches, Rhodes is truly a blessed place. “The sun island” has more sunshiny days and milder temperatures throughout the year than any other location in Greece. It is, after all, one of the country’s easternmost places and among the first to welcome summer on its impressive beaches. Add in the excellent facilities for tourism, the island’s special blend of cosmopolitan and traditional, and numerous cultural and archaeological sites, the most important being the Medieval (Old) Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and you’ve got the perfect holiday destination. While on Rhodes, don’t miss a daytrip to nearby Sými. An island of sponge divers and seamen, Sými used to have 30,000 inhabitants before the Second World War and was the richest island in the Dodecanese, despite its small size. Today, Sými attracts many visitors thanks to its beautifully preserved Neo-Classical buildings and the famous Archangel Michael monastery at Panormitis.
Experience a big-city hotel stay that doesn’t feel like your typical urban visit at Chicago’s Claridge House, nestled in the sought-after Gold Coast neighborhood. The hotel’s sophisticated décor and serene residential ambience foster the atmosphere of an oasis amid the hustle and bustle of a busy metropolis.
Swiss-Belhotel International boasts an impressive portfolio throughout 22 countries, including 10 ASEAN member countries. This growth is continuing with the group’s new plans to debut four properties in Thailand.