On the road again, Again



  • The cabin looks dark and dreary. I am surprised that Tauck would use Wind Star.

  • I don’t think it is surprising that Tauck uses a cruise line (Windstar) that is routinely voted the best small ship cruise line in various categories. A ‘Deluxe’ balcony stateroom on RCCL’s Radiance of the Seas by the way is 180 sq. ft. Expectations. You don’t get floor to ceiling windows and a balcony on a sailboat … you get portholes. On a small ship like the Wind Star you are only a few steps away from public areas that have great views out of both sides of the ship … at the same time. And … most cruise ships can’t ‘sail’. (;-)

  • What defines luxurious? I don't have much to go on there. A few Tauck river cruises, some ferry boats, and some visits on naval vessels. Scylla a certainly leads out of that pack.

  • I’m glad I’ve seen the photos, thanks so much for taking your time to take and post the photos Alan.
    When we are on a Tauck vacation, it’s good to have a bathroom you can both get in together because you have to get up so very early on a lot of days on many of the different toors. I found the two brand new Ponant ship bathrooms a challenge because if one of you was in the shower, you couldn’t get out if the other was standing at the sink. Our one river cruise, the bathroom design was really nice.
    Whereas on land tours you spend little time in your room, for us, on the boats we spend more time in our room and most must do the same because when my husband was taking a nap during the day and the room was too small for me to even turn the page of a book without waking him, I would go to the lounge at the back of the boat, it was always deserted as were most of the other parts of the boat, so everyone must have been in their rooms.
    We booked both Ponant tours before taking one, not choosing the bigger rooms because we didn’t think it was worth it, we didn’t realize the difference between how those tours are to the land ones. Our upcoming Alaska cruise, we have opted for a bigger room. With omicron around, we will certainly want our personal space more often, even if only to take our masks off as I have a feeling by then the mask mandate will be back.
    Once again, I’m grateful for all the different opinions and photos

  • Alan, I always enjoy reading all of your tour updates and pictures. This information is so helpful since we will be on this tour June 16. Thank you so much for taking the time!

  • Noreen
    The cabin looks dark and dreary. I am surprised that Tauck would use Wind Star.

    Not either, but certainly cozy. I took the photos a night so no natural light was coming in the portholes. Check out the expedition ship, Isabela II, used on P&G- it is a bit overdue for rehab and update. It was still great as was P&G..

  • Actually I was a serious about having little experience of luxury cruise. I've thought Scylla ships were nice and certainly their design style improved over time. They used to be all gold and crimson - sort of floating boudoir.

  • edited May 2022

    Alan, I always enjoy reading all of your tour updates and pictures. This information is so helpful since we will be on >this tour June 16. Thank you so much for taking the time!

    Thanks. I try to remember what was asked in prior forum threads, but often forget 🙄. Back to the room-

    For British- I just looked under my outboard bed- by the locations of carpet indentations, the outboard bed can be moved approx 14” inboard, against the inboard bed to create a Queen with a narrow 14” passage by the portholes to get out of bed without climbing over the other person. The bath is as large as we had on Disney’s Dream and same layout. If someone is at the sink, there is just enough room for someone else to enter/exit the shower (or toilet area 🙄) since the bathroom door opens outward.

    For those who like and prefer river boat Cat 7 cabins or large rooms on floating hotels, this not for you- but you’ll miss out on a great Tauck tour.

    Oh, and obviously, the internet, while not blazingly fast, works just fine for posting text and photos. (I’m posting this from the ship while it is anchored at Patmos)

    Today, Day 6- on Patmos we (8 of us) elected to go to the beach. The other choices were to visit the monastery and grotto of St. John the theologian, which many reported to be just so, so, or a photography walking tour. I did not get a chance to talk to the few who did that, but judging by the walking we did in the small port town of Skala, if Chora was not more quaint, the photography excursion would have been so, so, also. A local guide accompanied us to the beach and gave us a brief talk about this small island during the 10 - 15 min drive. The beach had lounges w/umbrellas and but one drink were provided. Other activities (at cost) included paddle boards, kayaks, and pedal boats (I rented a pedal boat.) Bathrooms and changing rooms were available. A bar and restaurant were located on site as well. The weather was gorgeous again. The water temp was quite cool, in the 60’s I suspect, because it felt like Maine last fall. Though it took me several minute to get fully wet, I got in and swam a bit in the clear, azure, but salty water, and have photos to prove it 😮. It was a relaxing (mid-tour?) morning. Tauck provided transport back to the small port town of Skala where we had the choice of eating and exploring a bit on our own, or immediately returning to the ship for lunch. We had lunch and explored a little- the town was tiny. A water taxi made two runs to Wind Star every hour.

    Agriolivadi Beach

    Back street scene in Skara

    The monastery

    Windmills (for milling barley)

    Every evening we found a towel animal on our bed.

    Since I’m already a day behind, here is what I’m going to do- first, post a few photos I took last night during the magical (Windstar-hosted) candlelight dinner at the Library of Celsus in Ephesus, then post photos from yesterday in Ephesus and at the museum and carpet shop without comment as time allows, then fill in info. It may take a few posts and edits over time.

    The library facade at sunset.

    We were welcomed by a string trio

    Our traveling companions, my wife, and another couple from the Tauck group. The entire complement of guests- Tauck and non-Tauck were at this event (all 103 of us.)

    It didn’t take long for it to get dark. Addition musicians joined the trio.

    The facade was artfully illuminated

    We entered and exited the dinner along a colonnaded street from the exit which was closer and had better lighting than the path to the entrance.

    Just before reaching the bus park we passed through a section where the trees were illuminated with green lights. A large Turkish flag from above.

  • Alan - We looked at P&G tours and decided to go with the more expensive option due to the ship and the cabins that were available. We have travelled with Silverseas to Iceland and the service, ship, cabins were all top notch and we really enjoyed it. We will leave for this trip next May and now I am so happy with our choice.

  • edited May 2022

    Luxurious is not a word I would use to describe the Wind Star. It’s a sailboat. It is a very very comfortable sailboat. Many Tauck travelers like it a lot as we meet Tauck people aboard Windstar ships when not on a Tauck tour frequently. They have good food and good service and in normal times have a high employee to passenger ratio. The Wind Surf is three times the size of the Wind Star and has much more in the way of facilities, but the rooms are the same. The Wind Surf does have suites available which are basically two rooms put together. The ‘Star’ boats are all suite ships and have many more facilities, but they are not ‘sail boats’… technically, motor sailing yachts. I would compare the Star boats to Ponant, but the standard rooms on the Star boats are larger than the standard rooms on Ponant. Silversea is more luxurious and definitely provides more service, but now we are talking apples and oranges. Most call Ponant and Windstar ‘five’ star cruise lines, and Silversea is ‘six’ star, and you will have a butler. The ships with sails have a very ‘nautical’ feel. The ships without sails are floating hotels with differing levels of amenities. When I’m talking about “Star” boats, I’m referring to the “Star Breeze”, “Star Pride”, and “Star Legend”. The ‘sailboats’ are the “Wind Star”, the “Wind Spirit”, and the queen of the fleet, the “Wind Surf” … the worlds largest sailboat (there is a sister ship the “Club Med II”). We have sailed on all of the Windstar ships, but most of our trips have been on the “Wind Surf”. We always know at least ten or twelve of the crewmembers when we board, and they normally welcome. us back by name. In any case, the crew knows most of the passengers names by the second day aboard.

  • Love all the photos, what an amazing dinner @ the Library of Celsus, it looks so nice.. and I'm sure the food has excellent.
    Keep in touch, enjoy it.

  • edited May 2022

    OK, let’s go back and talk ab out Kusadasi and Ephesus.

    Day 5, Ephesus. The ship pulled pier-side here no tender or water taxis were required, however the walk through the cruise terminal building was quite long! 😳. It took a bit over 30 min for the bus to reach Ephesus. If Delos was great, Ephesus was over the top as far as ruins go. What and amazing, well preserved Roman city and only a portion of it has been excavated and studies- I don’t think they will ever be done! The structures, temples, buildings, hillside villas, etc. etc, were amazing. After our tour we went to the small, nearby museum. The quality and number of Ephesus statues, etc. displayed there was impressive.

    During the drive we passed this statue of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the father of modern Turkey

    An archaeology cat guarding a cornice with dentil molding

    The main thoroughfare leads past the Library of Celsus to the old port which was silted over hundreds of years ago and is now several miles from the water. At the bottom of the road stands the library.

    Along the way was a building containing a Roman restroom.

    A large enclosure protected some hillside housing of very wealthy residents. All residences are still not completely excavated, but I wanted to show this photo that makes it clear this site and especially this particular feature are not friendly to the mobility impaired

    A few of the pieces of sculpture found at Ephesus:

  • edited May 2022

    Cruise Critic explains the intricate fold-down appendages, hidden storage, etc. in Wind Star cabins and while well-thought-out, ingenious even, it does sound a bit too Japanese capsule hotel, esp. considering the cost. But certainly sounds like they are having a great time!

  • edited May 2022

    This is ‘Candles’, the steak house on Windstar. It is normally set up on the Veranda. This is on the “Wind Surf”, but the presentation is siimilar on the “Wind Star”. Specialty steaks that are really good. All of these folks were new to Windstar except for us of course, and they normally do Cat 7’s on the river boats, but they will be with us again on ‘Treasures of the Aegean’ next year on “Wind Star”. One of the other couples actually selected the trip. The waiter in the picture is ‘Daddy’. We have known him for years.

  • OMG, it is SO wonderful to read and view a thread about an actual trip, with great pictures, good descriptions of the sights and tours, minor disagreements over personal tastes in travel, a terrific TD, etc. I hope to see more and more of these soon so we can learn and plan our next Tauck adventures!!!!

  • Looking at AlanS's and other travel photos I was amused by how many times I see almost the same photo that I had taken when I toured the same location. Sometimes the photo will be a slightly different perspective or under slightly different lighting conditions but all in all pretty much the same photo. I'm not referring to just the most famous landmarks. As an example, here's a picture I took during my 2011 tour. Compare it to one of AlanS's photos above. I'm sure several others probably have taken almost the same exact picture.

  • edited May 2022

    A few years ago I had a little iPad camera roll/iCloud accident and lost some travel photos. Even though I like to seek out what I consider unusual details, to my surprise I discovered by Googling I was able to find quite a few replacements; scouring emails and begging friends & family also helped. Guess it's true you can always find it on a postcard. Maybe we do take too many pics, but I for one do treasure my travel photos.

  • I’ve been thinking about Windstar and how you define ‘luxury’. Big sailboats are not for everyone, but the Windstar experience is quite special. We have been sailing with them seventeen times in eleven years. I had a flashback remembering that there are sometimes people who dress to the nines for the sail away. Almost everyone is normally on deck for every sail away. But sometimes people get dressed, go up on deck and buy their Champagne, and watch as the sails are raised to the melodies of Vangelis ‘1492 Conquest of Paradise’ on the audio system with their hair and their gowns blowing in the wind. It can be quite an experience.

  • Santorini is one of the most beautiful places on earth, IMO. :D

  • Cable cars, now.... no more donkeys :0 Happy for the Donkeys.

  • Donkeys are still there, but there is a local movement to do away with them.

  • Looks like a nice hike...

  • Alan Looking at your-inspiring pictures...I looked through mine and look what I founded.... my sexy guards. :))

  • Day 8, Monemvasia

    Today was a very light day- a 1200 go! We split into two groups to ride one of Wind Star’s life boats which was being used as a tender. After arriving ashore we rode a bus a very short distance to the Medieval walled town of Monemvasia. It is situated on a small but high island whose appearance caused it to be known as the Gibraltar of Greece. We had a short olive oil presentation and tasting before a guided tour of this tiny town. The Main Street, lined with shops and restaurants, was as narrow as a typical alley. It was very hot today so after the guided tour many went back to the ship. Tomorrow starts early with COVID testing before our last touring day at Nafplio- of Mycenae, Epidaurus, etc.

  • AlanS - the trip looks amazing, but in comparison Day 8 almost looks like an afterthought. What were your thoughts about Day 8?

  • edited May 2022

    I had similar thoughts. The old itinerary that included Istanbul did not include Monemvasia. We could have spent a little more time there but it was hot- in the 90’s and a bit humid.

  • This tour will be running in July and August...not for those of us prone to melting. Stay tuned.

  • edited May 2022

    Just wonderful photos Alan. But the flagger doesn’t appear to like them. So mean. Bit you know who the flagger is and just ignore it. Good for you, everyone else appreciate your posts.
    Can’t wait to hear the luggage story. Safe journey home!

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