The capital of Catalonia, Barcelona is a city where old meets new and arts and culture shine, making it one of the must-see cities in the world. Fascinating sights abound whether you are exploring the narrow winding streets of the Barri Gothic, strolling on the beautiful boulevard known as La Rambla, admiring the waterfront and beaches, or trying to understand the fanciful modernist architecture of Antoni Gaudi – including his La Sagrada Familia Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site – where construction has been ongoing since 1882. A fun pastime in Barcelona is sampling tapas (a variety of small dishes). Dine like a local, accompanying your meal with Spanish cava (champagne). The colorful La Boqueria food market, with its small restaurants, is a foodie must-do stop. In addition to his famous multi-spired cathedral, where Gaudi himself is buried in a crypt, check out Gaudi’s Casa Mila on the Passeig de Gracia – the white stone façade looks to some like a skeleton, and inside not a single wall is straight. Passeig de Gracia is also a prime place to shop for Spanish designer goods.
8:00 AM TO 5:00 PM
Palamos is a real gem of a find, a beach town located on Spain’s Costa Brava, known for its beautiful beaches. Palamos will make you happy to be on a small ship (big ships can’t visit here). You’ll find excellent opportunities for swimming, sailing and windsurfing – and snorkeling. Palamos is also a culinary destination, famous for the locally caught red prawns found in the bay. This is the place to experience fresh Catalonian cuisine. To learn more about the fishing industry, visit the Museu de la Pesca, a museum dedicated to the region’s fishing heritage. Explore the countryside on an e-bike tour along a former narrow-gauge railway line to the medieval village of Pals. Or explore the wine scene at leading Catalonian wineries, sipping included. Art lovers will want to make a beeline to Figures and the extravagant Dalí Theatre-Museum, housing works by the famed 20th century surrealist Salvador Dalí.
8:00 AM TO 6:00 PM
day 3 Sanary-sur-Mer, France
A fleet of colorful artisan wooden fishing boats are an alluring photo opportunity in this French Riviera beach town. A group of artisan fishermen still use the boats – and sell their catch on the quay. The town’s other claim to fame is that it is the sunniest place in France. You can take advantage of the weather to hit the beach or relax at an oceanfront bistro, dining on such local dishes as fish baked in salt, accompanied by a bottle of rose. Sanary-sur-Mer also has wonderful markets, where you can explore cheeses, baked goods, produce and flowers, as well as items made from colorful Provençal fabrics. Soaking in the atmosphere, you’ll understand why the town drew such luminaries as British writer Aldous Huxley (“Brave New World”) and diving pioneer and underwater explorer Jacques Cousteau. Side trips bring you to Provençal wine villages such as Cassis and cliffside Le Castellet.
8:00 AM TO 11:59 PM
day 4 Monte Carlo, Monaco
On a visit here you’ve arrived at glamour central, whether you explore the palace of Monaco’s royal family, home to Prince Albert II, and follow with perhaps a splurge on a Michelin-star meal – or try your luck James Bond-style at the glittering, 19th century Grand Casino. With your late-night visit to Monte Carlo, you will have time to do it all. Your Windstar yacht will glide into the world’s most exclusive harbor, amidst some of the world’s fanciest yachts, surrounded by some of the world’s priciest real estate. From your yacht, look up for views of the city, which rises to dramatic heights. Hanging around the harbor is opportunity to mingle with the yachting set. If you set off exploring, you’ll find the palace and other uphill sights easiest to tackle with the help of the city’s many elevators. The cliffside Jardin Exotique is the perfect place for a stroll, one of the most beautiful gardens in Europe. From Monte Carlo, tours visit Nice, with its famous palm-lined ocean boulevard, Promenade des Anglais, and beaches, Chagall and Matisse museums and flower markets. Or explore the cliffside medieval village of Eze, stopping by too to admire the seaside garden at the Villa Rothschild. A once-in-a-lifetime Windstar Beyond Ordinary tour by helicopter delivers breathtaking views of Monaco, the coast, and the countryside of Provence as you fly to a quaint Michelin-star restaurant, for cuisine created with local products by legendary chef Alain Ducasse.
7:00 AM TO 6:00 PM
Spend a day in this stylish city, which epitomizes the good life on France’s Côte d’Azur. Walk the same streets as movie stars who attend the prestigious Cannes Film Festival each May. You can see handprints left by many actors and actresses on the Avenue of the Stars. The city’s long seaside promenade, La Croisette, is lined with palm trees, beaches, and elegant outdoor cafes. Cannes is also a total delight for shopaholics, with its many exclusive boutiques. From Cannes, a wine tour focuses on the famed wines of Provence, calling at two historic wineries to sample rose, red, and white wines in the Cru Classé Côtes de Provence appellation. Chateau Roseline was created by Pope Jean XXII and has onsite an 11th century chapel, housing art that includes works by Marc Chagall and Diego Giacometti. The Chateau Saint Martin also has a long history – it’s been in the same family since the 18th century – and has always been operated by women. Separate side trips bring you to picture-perfect Antibes, one of the world’s premier yachting playgrounds, or to St. Paul De Vence, a charming 16th century medieval walled village with ramparts, cobblestone streets, and a lively arts scene.
9:00 AM TO 9:00 PM
With its secluded blue-water harbor, golden and terracotta buildings, and cliffs rising above, Portofino is one of the most beautiful little ports you’ll encounter anywhere. In the quintessential Italian Riviera town, a late-night stay at the Italian port assures time to dine at one of the chic cafes on the waterfront. Or head up to the patio of the elegant hillside Hotel Splendido (where Windstar offers an exclusive lunch and olive oil demonstration), for dining with a view of the colorful town and yachts in the harbor. It’s a romantic spot that attracted such couples as Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart, and Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. A real draw in Portofino is just kicking back and hanging out in an amazingly scenic harbor. For those who want to stretch their legs first, nearby hiking opportunities bring views of fortifications, churches, elegant villas, and olive trees along the Ligurian coast. Organized tours afford opportunity to explore the famed Cinque Terre, a rugged coastline where small villages and castles cling to cliffs. Five towns and the surrounding hillside of Cinque Terre National Park are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
8:00 AM TO 6:00 PM
day 7 Portoferraio, Italy
The tranquil island of Elba is an oasis of pine-scented forests and miles of sandy beaches, vineyards, and delightful fishing villages. The island was not quite as appealing to French emperor Napoleon, who was exiled on Elba for nine months beginning in May 1814, though he did live in two mini-palaces that are both open today for visitors. One is a hillside villa in Portoferraio, the other a summer home in the countryside called Villa San Martino, where the décor includes an Egyptian room with a ceiling painted in the signs of the Zodiac. Elba is one of seven islands in the Tuscan Archipelago National Park, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Hikers can enjoy trails up mountains and through pine-scented forests. Biking from Portoferraio along the north of the island brings breathtaking views of lush vegetation and the Ligurian Sea.
8:00 AM TO 5:00 PM
On your Italy cruise you’ll visit the small and pretty city of Sorrento. It’s a delightful place to linger, catching views of the Bay of Naples; exploring the city’s squares; and sitting at a sidewalk café, sampling the local cuisine while watching the world go by. Don’t forget to taste the locally produced limoncello (lemon liquor) – a gourmet tour provides further insight into limoncello and olive oil production.
From Sorrento, you may also explore more of the gorgeous Amalfi Coast including Positano; the famous fishing village rises from the blue sea uphill in steep steps, with its square, white Moorish-style houses creating a dream-like scene. Or dive into ancient history at the remarkable ruins of the Roman city of Pompeii, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the year 79, the city of 20,000 was buried by ash. Much appears as it was, frozen in time.
12:00 PM TO 6:00 PM
day 10 Giardini Naxos, Italy
Thanks to the fact you are on a small ship, your cruise around Italy can call at this Sicilian resort town, just below the popular cliffside town of Taormina (large ships have to bus visitors in from many miles away). The charming village of Giardini Naxos is located on one of the world’s most beautiful bays and has a delightful beach scene including ocean-view restaurants and cafes where you might indulge in pizza, the perfect bowl of pasta, or fresh seafood.
Those who venture up to Taormina will be treated to stunning views of the Ionian Sea and the Greco-Roman Theater, which dates back to the 2nd and 3rd centuries. Much of the town is pedestrians-only and the narrow cobblestone streets are full of tempting shops, wine bars, and cafes. For those who want to see more of Sicily, tours provide closeup views of snow-capped Mount Etna. Fans of “The Godfather” will want to follow in the footsteps of the Corleones, visiting towns seen in the movies.
9:00 AM TO 10:00 PM
You’ll want to be on deck and have your camera ready when your Windstar yacht sails into the magnificent Bay of Kotor. What looks like a fjord surrounded by tall cliffs is actually a submerged ancient river valley. In addition to breathtaking natural scenery, your ship will pass a small Catholic church with origins in the 15th century, and a tiny island that’s home to a 12th century Benedictine monastery, with views too of the red rooftops of the Old Town as you approach Kotor.
Wander through the dreamy medieval Old Town on pedestrians-only alleyways past historic homes, hidden squares and stone churches (and boutiques and restaurants). Climb to the fortress on the hill for stunning views. The name Montenegro refers to the dark mountain forests that cover much of the landscape. Side trips visit villages in the countryside. A late-night stay affords opportunity to admire the sunset from a restaurant terrace – sipping the Montenegrin red wine Vranac while sampling smoked ham and other local specialties.
8:00 AM TO 5:00 PM
day 13 Dubrovnik, Croatia
Thanks to the fact you are on a small Windstar yacht, you’ll have the extraordinary experience of looking up at the magnificent medieval walls and red rooftops of the Old Town of Dubrovnik as your ship anchors nearby (larger ships can’t get near). As you head ashore you’ll quickly realize why, on a Dalmatian Coast cruise, Dubrovnik is the crown jewel. In the Old Town, where no cars are allowed, walking along the fortifications and wandering the marble streets you may imagine you’re back in the 14th century. You can visit a pharmacy founded in 1317.
With its historic atmosphere, it’s not surprising that Old Town starred in the TV show “Game of Thrones.” Show-focused tours point out the sights. Adventure tours explore the Adriatic Sea with such activities as swimming and snorkeling in Croatia’s Blue Grotto, the Modra Spilja Cave, in water that is startlingly blue. There is also opportunity to kayak past the walls of Old Town and to spend time on secluded beaches. Or travel into the countryside to explore Croatian farm life.
9:00 AM TO 7:00 PM
This small fishing port is a hidden gem, the kind of delightful place you can only visit on a small ship. The town is on the scenic Istrian Peninsula and bordered on three sides by the Adriatic Sea. Wander the maze of medieval cobblestone streets up to the hilltop St. Euphemia Cathedral, which dominates the skyline, or explore the Bronze Age ruins of the fort of Monkodonja. Or spend time on the breathtaking beaches along the 6-mile Lim Fjord.
Outside of town, an old narrow-gauge rail line, Parenzana, once connected Istria with the Italian city of Trieste, and makes for a wonderful biking experience as you peddle between medieval villages through a lush river valley. Another exciting excursion explores by inflatable Zodiac the coastline, protected forested areas, and oyster farms of the Rovinj Archipelago and Lim Fjord. Or delve into the world of Croatian wines on a winery visit.
*Rates shown are per person, based on double occupancy, reflect all discounts and include non-discountable amounts. Taxes, Fees & Port Expenses are additional.