Hanging Loose on the Wind Surf
HANGING LOOSE ON THE WIND SURF
With the wind at our backs and the surf in our ears, Windstar gave us a journey unlike any other.
By Ben Lyons
Standing at the railing of Windstar Cruises’ Wind Surf, I became a bit reflective as the sun reluctantly set off St. Bart’s. It may have been the pull of the sails unfurled 164 feet above, or a glass of wine I had just started, but I soon found myself pondering just how different one place could be to two people.
Consider the Caribbean most cruisers discover: of course, there are beautiful beaches and lush green hills, but there are also long lines to board the ship, streets packed with shops and discount-seeking tourists, and too many towels to count reserving coveted spots on those beautiful-but-bustling beaches. During my week sailing — yes, literally sailing — with Windstar, my girlfriend Kathryn and I discovered an entirely different Caribbean — more adventurous, more exotic, more beautiful, and certainly more romantic.
We reveled in cozy coves, virtually free of visitors. We found small restaurants along the beach, where the owner waded into the water, hauled out a lobster trap, and threw fresh seafood onto a barbecue. We squeezed into a local bus, the two of us clearly the only tourists, and listened as the locals chatted in a dialect unrecorded in any guidebooks. We hiked verdant forests, relaxed in a natural pool by a cascading waterfall, and found ourselves one of only two couples there.
That our trip — and the Caribbean we visited — would be a world apart from a conventional cruise was evident as soon as we set eyes on our ship in St. Maarten. Seeming to crouch behind the boxy megaships at the adjacent pier, Wind Surf appeared diminutive, sporting a nautical flair and elegance the others lacked. Fresh from a multi-week refit, pairs of portholes punctuated her glistening white hull, a finely shaped bow was crowned with a bowsprit, and five masts towered overhead, adorned by a web of rigging and shrouds. Clearly, this was an entirely different breed of vessel.