Shore Excursions Can Be as Exciting as the Cruise!

Sidetrips from the Windsurf Were Memorable… Planning is Key

5While cruises are all about “getting there is half the fun,” and Atlas Travel Vacation Manager Karen McCrink reports that her recent Windstar cruise was great, she also spoke enthusiastically about the great shore adventures she had along the way. When looking for shore excursions, it pays to discuss your options and book your favorites with Atlas before your cruise, so you aren't limited by what your cruise line offers during your sailing.

Imagine Being in the Midst of an America's Cup Race…
That's right, in St. Martin, Karen hopped aboard True North, a 12- Meter Canadian America's Cup champion and spent 90 minutes in a three-boat race that was breathtaking and exhilarating.

“It was so much fun,” reported this experienced adventure travel enthusiast. “They teach you a job on board this incredible sailboat and you are instantly part of an America 's Cup team. We hit a squall, came in second and I'd spend the $100 again and would recommend it to my clients.”

The Newest Kayak Adventure
3When in Isles des Saintes, one of the ports on the Windsurf's Caribbean itinerary, Karen discovered a truly crystal clear experience…exploring in transparent kayaks. Offering an adventure that is being called “the dry snorkeling experience,” these beautiful vessels allow kayakers to skim along the waterways and see all of the beautiful sea life and coral reefs below. These opportunities are being found more and more throughout Mexico and the Caribbean , but Isles des Saintes is a perfect setting for this interesting and relaxing tour. It's important to note when booking a transparent kayak tour, go as early in the day as possible, as the view below isn't as good when it starts to get dark!

A Totally Different Vantage Point
2In St. Lucia, Karen enjoyed one of her favorite activities, a Rainforest Canopy Zip Line Adventure. Just an hour-long ride from the ship, with plenty of opportunity to enjoy the sights and sounds of St. Lucia 's breathtaking scenery, you arrive at your zip line location in the heart of the rainforest. Upon arrival, you are given your equipment, a safety briefing and a demonstration. You rocket your way through a series of 11 zip lines, about 50 feet off the ground. This is a great, safe way to get an adrenaline rush of your life!

Meanwhile, Back at the Ship
Sailing under the banner of its appropriate tag line "180º From Ordinary," Windstar was created in the mid-1980s with the vision to offer an alternative to the typical cruise or resort vacation. According to Karen (an experienced cruiser on vessels of all kinds), the Wind Surf is a 312-passenger sailing ship that offers a very distinctive small cruise experience.

1Windstar's ships are officially motor-sail-yachts (msy), but the designation belies the vessels' unique rigging. Unfurling in two minutes at the push of a button, billowing white sails reach to the sky. All functions are operated from the bridge by computer micro-chips and navigational devices. The unusual "open-bridge" operation allows guests to drop by and acquaint themselves with the veteran captains and officers who demonstrate the ships' intriguing capabilities to modern day explorers.

“I'd recommend this vacation to couples,” explained McCrink. “It tends to attract a crowd in their 50s and 60s who like wonderful, personalized service. This is definitely a premium cruise experience. Not luxury, not stuffy, but a relaxing, intimate vacation experience.”

4Not for cruisers who want big casinos and high-production floor shows, Windstar offers extremely good food and onboard dining experiences that are memorable. “I enjoyed the outdoor dining,” she said. “One night all the deck furniture was cleared and candle-lit tables were set around the pool. There was an Asian cuisine night, an outdoor seafood restaurant. This, along with beautiful cabins, was the highlight of the cruise.”

While teak decking is a Windstar signature, features unique to the Wind Surf include 31 deluxe suites, 2 Bridge Deck suites, The Yacht Club, Degrees (formerly The Bistro), The Terrace Bar for small intimate getaways and the nearly 10,000 square foot WindSpa offering a full array of spa treatments, consultative, health and fitness programs.

For more information on Windstar Cruises or to discuss Atlas shore excursions for any cruise you are planning, contact:

Karen McCrink, CTC - Vacation Manager