Things like the joy of travelling on a small ship, where the crew knew my name and personalised the service. Exploring a region calling into smaller and more remote places that were inaccessible to larger vessels. All while having the reassurance that I could call on Mundy Cruising if something went wrong. Which on this trip it did...
The Star Breeze is one of three 210-passenger yacht-style ships Windstar purchased from Seabourn. Unlike their other ships they are fully engine driven and not sailing ships. The craft was renovated and started sailing under the Windstar Cruises flag in 2015. I found it a perfect balance of intimacy and size.
Although smaller than most modern cruise ships, there were quiet spots to relax on deck, with a choice of lounges and bars (including my favourite, the Yacht Club, up on deck 11 overlooking the bow), a library, small casino, well-equipped fitness centre and several hot tubs. Food was excellent and menus were extensive, including a daily Chef's special with ingredients bought in port. A highlight was the complimentary watersports deck at the rear of the ship. It was opened when we were moored off Dubrovnik, allowing me and other guests to enjoy hours of kayaking, swimming and RIB boat rides.
We had spent seven fascinating days cruising from Venice aboard this comfortable and welcoming ship with everything going to plan and on schedule. Although it was late in October, even the weather had been accommodating with sunshine and temperatures comfortably hovering in the early twenties. We had explored historic Hvar and Dubrovnik in Croatia, scenic Kotor in Montenegro, expansive Butrint National Park in Albania, visited Olympia from the port of Katakolon, headed to Delphi from Itea and passed through the narrow Corinth Canal with just feet to spare on either side of the ship. We were at sea heading towards Nafplio in Greece when news came that threatened to cast a shadow over the last few days of relaxed enjoyment.
Around 9pm, just before the crew's talent show started, Captain Roman Krstanovic announced that when we disembarked in Athens in two days' time, we would have to contend with the fact that Greek air traffic controllers had just decided on a series of strikes for up to four days. Stressed guests streamed out of the Lounge to try and log on to the internet or make unpredictable and costly ship-to-shore calls to change flights and arrangements. I simply settled back to enjoy the show, knowing that I could stay calm, keep enjoying my holiday and rely on the 'Mayday from Mundy' service to get things sorted.
While independent travellers endured two days of varied stress, frustration, cost and lost holiday time trying to shuffle their personally booked arrangements, I enjoyed my final two days taking excursions and going sight seeing. Mundy Cruising worked on the problem as I continued enjoying my vacation. A leaflet entitled 'Mayday from Mundy' had been included with my travel tickets and provided advice and 24-hour contact details on what to do in the case of problems, ranging from missing the ship through to illness and cancelled flights.
The strike dates chopped and changed and Mundy kept on top of it, finding a solution to get me back home at the first opportunity without me having to do much - beyond continuing to enjoy every moment of the final days of my trip and the ship.
I have been on dozens of cruises, and written extensively on the subject, and always recommend booking through a cruise agent with this type of after-sales service. You get their expertise, to ensure you find the right itinerary, line and ship for you, and the support and backup for the occasional times when things go wrong. Incidents like mine reminded me why I follow my own advice! I came away with memories of a glorious time with an attentive and welcoming cruise line on a ship that met my needs in all respects, and no stress or lost time when things did not go to plan.