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Sail Wind Surf's Tall Ships Amsterdam for a Once in a Lifetime Experience: LuxEcoLiving's Best Cruises for 2016

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The greatest crew in the world too. We just loved it! I wish we could just stow away and live on board for an entire year at sea. Now that's something Windstar should consider. Be the first Time Share Cruise Company.

Oslo Norway Getting Ready To Board Windstar's Wind Surf One of the Largest Sailing Yachts in the World-Departing from Oslo, Norway this eight-day cruise took us to Amsterdam, Netherlands, with stops to Kristiansand, Norway; Rotterdam and Vlissingen, Netherlands; Zeebruge, Belgium; and Dover, England

LuxEcoLiving photo credits

Here's what I learned first hand from the Captain when we came on board.

"You won't experience any discomfort at all. Your cabin is located in the middle of the ship and you are two decks up from the bottom."

Well, that was comforting news. I had purchased every over the counter medicine to help thwart sea sickness, but instead I discovered nothing but pure joy; this was a trip of a lifetime. Wind Surf, voted the worlds best small ship cruise line by Condé Nast Traveler is setting it sails this year and you have to go! I know we will.

How could it not be monumental when the company, Windstar, created an itinerary to sail in Northern Europe, a twice in a decade event that features something literally out of this world: A Parade of Tall Ships which congregate all at once for a phenomenal, almost unbelievable view. Hundreds of ships mark historic Amsterdam harbor as its center and gathers millions more whose curiosity leaves them speechless at the sight.

I was speechless. How could you not be at the sight of all these beautiful vessels. But I have to say, Wind Surf stole the show! By far the most impressive yacht in the harbor.

We later learned from Windstar's Director of Maritime Operations Sander Groothuis it was no easy feat to anchor as originally planned. " "We realized our guests would be waiting on the yacht all day for the other 600 ships to parade from the lochs and into the harbor, and that didn't seem like a great way for the guests to spend their time in port," he explained. "Especially for those who wanted to spend time on shore and experiencing the destination as well."
As a logical compromise, the yacht was instead anchored in the middle of the action (a "tricky" parking job for any captain to accomplish), with Windstar as the only commercial cruise ship present at the event that drew a whopping 2.2 million visitors over five days. Guests were able to watch the parade from the yacht's deck - a totally unique water-front vantage for the event - or they could board tenders to port and explore the watercraft for themselves."

The History of Luxury Sailing and Yacht Clubs

America's first true luxury yacht was launched on October 21, 1816 in an unlikely port, Salem Massachusetts known principally for witch hunters and tight-fisted merchants. Her name, Cleopatra's Barge- reflected a strong streak of romanticism in her owner, George Crowningshield Jr. who was an equally unlikely product of a hard-working, serious-minded New England family.

1818 painting by George Ropes in Peabody Essex Museum

But it was the British who invented the yacht club. They began gathering informally in coffee houses in the late 17th century in London. A social commentator of the day, Joseph Addison defined the purpose of the club," Man is said to be a sociable animal, and as an instance of it we may observe that we take all occasions and preferences of forming ourselves into those little nocturnal assemblies, which are commonly known as the name of clubs."

Wind Surf Makes History as the Largest Sailing Vessel in the Harbor. Guest speaker Joseph Novitski, the author of "Windstar; The building of a Sailship" shed fascinating information about Wind Surf. And following the historic cruise he penned detailed observations of the journey.

We had two days to enjoy an array of sailing boats, steam vessels, all historic tall ships but what we didn't know once we entered the harbor was what was beneath the hull. "

You have to know that during this ordeal we were comfortably ensconced in our beautiful cabin and thanks to the brilliant navigation of our captain could not feel any disturbance at all. Breakfast was served by our wonderful butler in bed as usual.

Wind Surf Sails-Steady As She Goes

"Sailing inland on the North Sea Canal at night is to move through a highly engineered countryside, half land, half water; and into a country planned for prosperity. The land is fully occupied; the water is controlled. The Dutch say that God created the earth but the Dutch made Holland."

She's the flagship of the Windstar fleet. Built in 1990 as a Club Med I, she first served as a "motor sailing" alternative for the French resort company. With five masts and seven sails and a limited passenger capacity of only 312, in 1998 when it was acquired it lowered the capacity by 78 to make room for a large spa and alternative eatery. Here's what I also learned from the Captain. Wind Surf was crafted with 25,000 square feet of computer-operated sails and a water-ballast stabilizing system that keeps the ship level while in motion. And I can assure you having crossed the North Sea at night with waves reaching above and beyond our porthole window in our cabin... we slept without awakening until the following morning.

For first timers, I have to say we were delighted to discover the most receptive crew and staff

Having researched many itineraries and studied extensive details about other cruise lines, I was impressed with the fact that Wind Surf at 14,745-ton vessel offered the kind of navigation, sails, and provided a luxurious onboard experience compared to larger more populated ships. I had absolutely no desire to travel with 3 thousand people or less. If you are cruise enthusiast you need to know that there are only two suites, (they get booked right away) no cabins have balconies and the bathrooms don't have tubs but the amenities and the service make you feel relaxed and at home. You can have room service as often as you like and your private butler will get what ever you need 24/7. Or if you prefer, you can have a light breakfast at The Yacht Club, a coffee bar/Internet cafe/delicatessen and is the ship's indoor hub. Its two sleek new restaurants, AmphorA and the French-inspired Stella Bistro. Each offers fresh fish, steak and chicken, and many dishes offered depend on produce sold at each port. I loved the way the other passengers, which by the way, you hardly see except at meals. Some people enjoy more interaction but others prefer to be private. Wind Surf offers both.

Not Formal No Ties Needed

One of the unexpected pleasures aboard Wind Surf was the relaxed attitude of the passengers and crew. Some of the guests we met were tracking their 20th Windstar cruise. We met them in the library where they were charting their next adventure. They couldn't say enough about Windstar's personalized service and the fact that they had traveled around the world and still stay in touch with many of the passengers they met along the way. Pictured above is Captain Vladimir Delgado.

If I had to pick a dream vacation I would choose Wind Surf. Why? You get to feel at home and what's even better you own it. And nothing can compare

Editor's Notes:

A special thanks to Nick Berger for hosting a spectacular cruise and to Sally Spaulding for her help and guidance.

Contact Windstar for more information and get on board.