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Setting sail from Lisbon
The roots of historic Lisbon's fame lie in its strategic position on the edge of the Atlantic and the fact it offers one of the world's greatest natural harbours. No surprise therefore that it became the home of the world's most famous explorers such as Vasco da Gama, Magellan and Prince Henry the Navigator. Built on seven hills, we always find Lisbon to be soulful, captivating and picturesque, with architecture which reflects its status as a great port.
The appeal of Lisbon lies in the city itself with its two distinct architectural styles: the 16th century Belem district (Manueline) and the 18th century city centre (Pomabaline). Our tip: potter about...
The crumbling, sun-baked seafront city of Cádiz is said to be the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in the western world, founded by the Phoenicians around 1100 BC. Although the city lacks any obvious landmarks, it’s rich in atmosphere, and plays host to one of Spain’s most colourful carnivals.
Sovereignty of ‘The Rock’ has been a thorny issue ever since Gibraltar was ceded to Britain in 1713, though on the ground it’s clear where most locals’ sympathies lie. Gibraltar is often described as ‘more British than Britain’, a curious enclave of red postboxes, double decker buses and chip shops.
Málaga boasts plenty of chic restaurants and bars where you can ease into the rhythms of life in southern Spain, before exploring sights including the intriguing, unfinished Gothic cathedral, and a museum devoted to the city's most famous son, Pablo Picasso.
Situated on the sunniest stretch of the Andalusian coast, Almeria is little visited by tourists, but the narrow streets of the old town contain some intriguing Mudejar-style architecture. The surrounding landscape is almost lunar in appearance, and has served as the backdrop for many films, from spaghetti westerns to 'Lawrence of Arabia'.
Cartagena was founded by the Carthaginians around 227 BC, who named it after their home city in North Africa. These days the city is best known for its well-preserved Roman theatre, which was remarkably only discovered in 1987, in spite of its location in the centre of town.
Spain: Palma de Mallorca
Mallorca is renowned for its beaches, ranging from big, bustling resorts to small, secluded coves. The island interior offers ruggedly beautiful scenery and quaint little towns, while the charming capital, Palma, boasts an attractive old quarter dominated by the imposing Gothic cathedral.
From the warren-like medieval streets of the Barri Gòtic to the fantastical modernist architecture of Antoni Gaudí, from the dizzy heights of Mount Tibidabo to the golden sands of Barceloneta, there’s never a dull moment in Barcelona.
The bustling fishing village of Palamós is one of the loveliest spots on the Costa Brava, surrounded by beautiful beaches and rugged coves. You can also use your stop here as a jumping off point for exploring nearby medieval villages, the historic city of Girona or the fantastic Salvador Dalí museum in Figueres.
The pretty Provençal fishing village of Sanary-sur-Mer is an agreeable place to spend a day, with a clutch of historic buildings and a lively open-air market. Sanary also has a fine literary heritage, home to a number of exiled German writers during the 1930s, and it was here that Aldous Huxley wrote ‘Brave New World’.
Monaco: Monte Carlo
Renowned for its casino, its Grand Prix and its oligarch-friendly tax policies, Monte Carlo is glamour and hedonism personified, with a price tag to match. This little principality enjoys a lovely setting, the villas and penthouses tumbling down the hillside towards the sweeping blue expanse of the Mediterranean.
Few ports conjure up images of glitz and movie star glamour quite so readily as Cannes. May is when the glitterati roll into town for the Film Festival, but there’s still plenty to divert you the rest of the year, including the old quarter, Le Suquet, and the dazzling Croisette.
This tiny village on the Ligurian coast must be one of the most photographed spots in Italy, and no wonder; brightly coloured houses cling to the hillside overlooking a delightfully picturesque little harbour, where fishing boats gently bob alongside luxury yachts.
Italy: Portoferraio (Elba)
The island of Elba, just off the Tuscan coast, is where Napoleon Bonaparte was famously forced to live in exile between 1814-15. It’s hard to feel too sorry for him, though; the views from his plush Villa dei Mulini, situated high above the town of Portoferraio, are quite spectacular.
Italy: Rome (Civitavecchia)
One of the world’s great cities, Rome continues to dazzle and delight visitors with a potent mix of architectural marvels, continent-defining history and buzzing nightlife. The Colosseum, the Vatican and the Forum are among the big ticket items, with the crowds to match, though in truth you will find history around almost every corner.
The lovely town of Sorrento, draped across rugged cliffs overlooking the Bay of Naples, has been charming visitors since the days of the Grand Tour. The Renaissance palaces and many craft shops make Sorrento an attractive destination in its own right, and it’s also a jumping off point for Capri, Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast.
Italy: Giardini Naxos
The charming village of Giardini Naxos is one of the jewels of Sicily, a popular resort located on a majestic bay facing the Ionian Sea. Restaurants and bars line a long stretch of beach, and the attractive town of Taormina is within easy reach, along with the slopes of brooding Mount Etna.
Kotor sits at the head of a beautiful, fjord-like bay, hemmed in by glowering mountains. The compact, walled old town is Montenegro’s star attraction, a warren of little alleyways and shady squares that is often described as a ‘mini Dubrovnik’.
We never fail to be moved when we see the terracotta roofs and honey-golden walls of Dubrovnik, and a stroll around the perfectly preserved old town is a highlight of any visit to the Dalmatian coast. Make sure you take the time to walk around the walls and soak up the marvellous sea views.
Croatia’s second city enjoys a dramatic setting, hugging a sweeping bay against a backdrop of sheer grey mountains. Split's labyrinthine old town is contained within the remarkable Roman ruins of Diocletian’s Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and spills out onto the buzzing seafront Riva promenade.
Rovinj is undoubtedly the highlight of the Istrian coast, a picturesque medieval fishing port with a strong Italian influence discernible in everything from the elegant architecture to the bilingual street signs. A day trip to one of the nearby islands also makes for an enjoyable excursion.
Arriving in Venice
Venice is a city like no other, a marble maze of turquoise canals criss-crossed by beautiful bridges, overflowing with palaces, churches and charming little piazzas. No matter how many times you've seen it in photographs, that first glimpse of the Grand Canal will simply take your breath away; it hardly seems credible that such an eye-popping scene could exist outside of a Canaletto painting. Of course Venice is a city that draws big crowds, especially in summer, but don't let this put you off; even the busiest areas are never more than a few steps from a quiet courtyard or a secluded square.
The Peggy Guggenheim Collection houses an eclectic assortment of works from the likes of Picasso, Magritte and Jackson Pollock. There is also a lovely garden facing on to the Grand Canal, with a rather rude sculpture of a rider on horseback.
Your home from home
Windstar’s flagship sailing yacht is a stunning sail assisted cruise ship, which combines the refinement of a modern vessel with the romance of a tall ship.
What we love
Gracious staterooms provide a compact yet comfortable retreat. Facilities include several dining options and a variety of bars and lounges, a small swimming pool with two whirlpools and even a watersports platform. The décor is fresh and modern throughout.
|Crew||210 International Staff|
|Style||This is laid-back luxury at its best with relaxed informal days, refined yet comfortable evenings and a friendly and welcoming crew.|
Tailor-make your trip
Our recommended hotel
The Pousada de Lisboa, newly opened in May 2015, has a great location in the heart of the city and an interior to wow you.
Take a day trip from Lisbon
Visit Sintra – Roman and Moorish influences make this magical city with its fairytale palaces and extravagant villas a must.
Our favourite hotel in Venice
The Metropole is an old favourite for its quieter location and lovely lagoon views.
See more of the Veneto
If you’ve time, take the train to Padova and visit the Scrovegni Chapel.