Treasures of the Aegean
I am looking at tasking the Windstar to Greece next summer, July or August 2023. I know it will be hot, but think I can handle that. I've been to many of these sights before, but it's been years and I want to travel on the Windstar. I will be traveling solo and this is my 12th Tauck international tour. Think I will enjoy it as I enjoy all Tauck tours. Any suggestions on special or unusual sites to see??? Anyone else traveling then?
I would like to take the tour, but I definitely could not handle the heat in July or August. There seems to be mixed reports about the Windstar ships, some people say they are getting shabby, some people love them. The tour itself looks great and I’m sure Alan S will chip in.
I'm signed up for this trip in early May, 2024. I'll be interested to hear what people have to say.
If you look in the Treasures of the Aegean archive or check the weather on WeatherSpark, you'll see what I found- summertime in Greece, and the east Med in general, get VERY hot in summer (though nothing like Aswan, Egypt!! . Athens, particularly, gets hot and has many of the record high temps for Europe. That is one reason why Tauck's summertime pricing is lower. It can't be as bad as Jordan & Egypt, however, which Tauck doesn't even run in the summer when temps are regularly over 100°!!
29 July is the hottest day of the year in Athens. It could be tough making the short hike up to the Acropolis, taking the not-to-be-missed excursion from Mykonos to Delos where there is absolutely no shade (or source of drinking water), walking through fabulous ruins in Ephesus (Kusadasi), Monemvasia, or Mycenae when temps are 90°+ . The humidity is not bad- so it is a dry heat . It sure would be pleasant, however, to swim at Agriolivadi Beach (one option on Patmos) - the water was a bit nippy when I took a brief dip this past May. If your window is July and August, late August might be the best time to go. It is a fantastic tour however and Wind Star is wonderful!
We took that tour in May 2016 and we loved it. Has that tour returned to Istanbul? Tauck and Windstar were still going into Istanbul when we went. We felt very fortunate to have been able to tour that city in 2016 before they stopped doing tours there. The weather in May in Turkey and Greece was glorious and not too hot. We very much enjoyed the Windstar.
Unfortunately no Istanbul. Also, it no longer goes to Bodrum and Rhodes. They replaced them with ho-hum Patmos and Monemvasia.
Thanks for the great input....As I mentioned, I've been to Ephesus and Delos, so may not take an excursion there...Yes, the heat is a factor, but I'm more interested in the Windstar. Have heard various comments about the ship, but nothing current. Know it was refurbished in 2016, but not sure what that entailed. .Availability for end of June and mid August. ..So, still thinking.
I traveled to Greece (Athens, Santorini and Mykonos) during the last week of September this year. (non-Tauck)
The weather was absolutely glorious. The climb to the Acropolis was very pleasant. It did get a bit toasty on Delos. It was a beautiful sunshine filled afternoon. As Alan mentioned, there is no shade whatsoever. Please remember your sunscreen, hat and water. I also carried a light windbreaker to protect my arms from the sun.
We did the Treasures of the Aegean this past June. We were really looking forward to the ship experience. The staff on the Windstar is excellent! The ship itself is very tired. While the cabin was small that didn't bother us once we worked out a routine. However, I was very surprised how worn the cabin was. The furniture was badly chipped, stained carpet and the toilet was just plain gross. We aren't fussy but the ship is well below Tauck's standards or at least what I consider Tauck's standards.
The weather in June was extremely hot - soaking your clothes hot! I would suggest going to a sporting goods store and buy a neck chamois. You soak them in cold water and then wrap them around your neck. They stay cool for hours and are reusable. Several people did have personal fans that wrapped around their neck.
Wow, that does not sound good about the Windstar. I'm signed up for that cruise for May 2024 but I'll have to think about it now.
We sailed on Wind Star for Treasures of the Aegean this past May. I think it is a perception and expectations kind of thing. We researched it, knew its age, and when it was last refurbished. Frankly, we didn't see what loves2travel2 saw. We treated the ship as a means to get to islands and wonderful ports, not as a destination itself. As a nice, well appointed, small motorsailer, it was perfectly fine.
I disagree with the characterization that the Wind Star is "very tired." Is it approaching time for another refurb? Probably, yes (the last one was in 2016) but is it "very tired?" Not in my estimation.
Those who haven't researched the ship are often put off right at the start when they realize it is not a true sailing yacht, it is a motorsailer- a power boat with sails. It can achieve better fuel efficiency using sails and engines together, but only when the wind is just right, so it rarely travels under sail only and just motors along. The sails are more for appearances and image. It is a small ship so cabins will be small, but they are quite adequate. The bathroom was about the size that you would find on a similar cabin on a Disney ship. As for the toilet, it is not porcelain but stainless steel, so though clean and sanitized, it will appear stained and not look like one made from porcelain. It has a suction pressure flush, just like commercial aircraft. Anyone who has used an aircraft toilet or who ever served on a Navy ship will know the look and sound.
The Wind Star is not a Ponant or Silversea, nor a large Regent or Norwegian ocean cruiser. If that is what you expect you will be disappointed. It ranks well above the P&G Isabela II which is also mainly a conveyance. All cabins are the same size on Wind Star. For those used to, and expecting Cat 6 / 7 cabins or suites, like found on the mostly-new river boats or large cabins on Ponant or Silversea, etc. Wind Star is not for you. But Wind Star is just fine for many- it ranks very well with Conde Nast.
For all- Windstar is the company, Wind Star is the vessel.
Thank you Alan. I was waiting for your contribution, since I knew you were aboard recently. We have cruised on Windstar eighteen times, and have been on all their ships. In various categories, and by various evaluators, they are rated as the ‘best’ small ship cruise line … the food and service is outstanding. The standard cabins on all of the ‘sailing’ vessels are identical … 188 square feet. That is a fairly generous size for a standard cruise ship cabin. The Wind Surf has some ‘suites’, and the “Star” ships, their power boats, are all suites. The ‘sail’ boats … motor sailers … don’t sail much in the Med. due to the winds, but in the Caribbean I’ve seen their biggest ‘sailboat’ do better than ten knots on sail power alone. I was was awakened in the middle of the night once when they shut off the engines. We went out at three in the morning to watch the magnificent Wind Surf sailing through the night on wind power alone. We will be on the Wind Star for the Aegean cruise next year.
Adding a P.S.
I recognize that Wind Star cruising is not for everyone. If you are expecting ‘elegant’ it is not. It is a motor sailing yacht. They have a happy friendly crew that is not worked to death like most cruise lines. You can always find better food in restaurants ashore, but for a boat the food is outstanding. You will not be bothered by “bingo” announcements. They rarely make P.A. announcements. When they sail in the evening, it is an event. They normally raise the sails (needed or not) to the melodies of Vangelis 1492, Conquest of Paradise. There are normally people who ‘dress’ for that event, and enjoy a glass of Champagne. Others will be in bathing suits.
I will take a pass on the Wind Star.
If it does not sound like your thing, don’t do it. Perhaps the correct choice … more room for the rest of us. I thought I had a lot of Windstar cruises with eighteen. On our last Wind Surf cruise I met a man who had done a hundred and fifty. He did a lot of business in Europe, and every time he finished his business he would jump on Windstar for a cruise.
Sealord - The reason the Wind Star wouldn't be a suitable match for us is the description of the cabin. The person mentioned that the furniture was badly chipped, stained carpet and the toilet was gross. This is just unacceptable for any tour company and I wouldn't be happy under these circumstances.
I agree with Noreen. If that's an accurate description of the ship and the cabin, I don't want to travel on it.
Even if the cabin was in good shape, the size would be a problem, but I might still go.
I have cruised on Windstar eighteen times, and I’ve never had a cabin that matches that description. A request for a different cabin would have been appropriate. I have switched cabins when we had A/C problems or other issues. A small army would arrive to move us to our new digs. Our cabins have always been clean and neat, but the ship is not new. The bathrooms have always been spotless … or we would not have been there eighteen times. The experience described above is totally foreign to me. We can’t wait to get aboard Windstar again. 2022 was the first year in a long time that we have not cruised with them … but we did two in 2021.
I have also traveled on the Isabella II to the Galapagos. It is an older ship with small, spartan cabins. I loved it. It was what it was advertised as. Our traveling companions were across the hall. Their room was similar. I also do a lot of research before deciding on an adventure. The boat is gorgeous when the sails are up. Everything was great on the trip except when we had to go back to the cabin.
Thanks for all the comments...I sailed with LePonant thru the Med 3 years ago on a 5 masted schooner (Tauck, Nice to Malta) and was one of best trips I've ever taken...I've been on 2 subsequent LePonant cruises since then. Know the Windstar is different, but want to give it a try...It's been almost 35 years since I've been to Greece, so ready to revisit, even in the summer. Thanks again...
I did a Tauck Rome to Malta cruise on a Ponant ship with sails and the ship was nice. I'm very concerned about the report of the condition of the Windstar and, beyond that, the size of the cabins. I found a Regent cruise that covers the same area and will likely switch to that. Brand new ship and big suites.
We were to go on Le Ponant on the Nice to Malta trip in 2020, which was of course canceled. We went in 2021 but it was on Le Bougainville. They renovated Le Ponant that year, and it still has ‘three’ masts but now only holds 32 guests. ‘Staterooms’ are 170 square feet and less, and ‘Suites’ are 225 square feet and up … with the price.
Yes Seaford...The Med Ponant is small, we had 50 guests. I liked the small group. However, it was nice especially since we had Ken Follett (the author) and wife along with Erica Jung and husband. They certainly added to the evening conversations...Thanks all for the input...
Yes. The ‘staterooms’ on Le Ponant range in size from 110 square feet to 170 square feet. The minimum price for the Seychelles nine day cruise is more than a thousand dollars per day per person. The ‘Suites’ are from 225 sq. feet to around 500 sq. feet. You cannot book it online, and the last time I talked to them they said they would probably only accept bookings from their ‘most loyal’ customers. We are only ‘Admirals’, so we probably need not apply. For size comparison only, all but one of Wind Star’s staterooms are 188 square feet. I have always found our staterooms to be clean and neat. We have changed rooms a couple times due to mechanical issues, and once due to noisy neighbors. On our last cruise on Star Breeze they tried to upgrade us to the ‘Owner’s Suite’, due to our ‘loyalty’ status, but due to some personal issues we opted for the next smaller suite that had a hot tub right outside the door. The “Star Breeze” is an all-suite ship.
I am scheduled on the Treasures of the Aegean starting in Athens on 17 August. I'm traveling solo. Is anyone else on this trip? I'm looking forward to a fun experience.