WINDSTAR: What Becomes a (Star) Legend Most?

Michele Hanson, the Windstar Cruises Product Manager, is onboard. Calling Montserrat and its resilient residents “an amazing community, ˮ she’s arranged a VIP treat (one that will soon be available to most visitors): an excursion to “The Buried City.ˮ Accompanied by the Montserrat Volcano Observatory director, the affable Rod Stewart (yes, that’s really his name), we stand on what had once been the deep water harbor, then clamber amid rocks surveying the tops of buildings and gazing down into storefronts 30 feet below. It’s a humbling sight, especially with the vast Soufrière looming in the background, its flanks resembling a barren lunarscape stitched with startling ribbons of green. Before visiting the Montserrat Volcano Observatory, we lunched at Beatles manager Sir George Martin’s residence, Olveston House, which my old pals Carol Osborne and Margaret Wilson run as an elegant B&B during the 11 months he’s off-island.
I almost feel guilty indulging in the night’s culinary creations. But how can I resist the roasted cauliflower-green chile soup with goat cheese-coated fried corn strips; the duet of oysters Rockefeller and Kilpatrick; the pan-roasted venison with tangerine roasted pepper compote; and the caramelized pear tarte tatin? Especially since the surprisingly excellent – and affordable – wines by the glass include a Calera Ryan Pinot Noir and Artesa Chardonnay.

That night, I enjoy the more acoustic stylings of Double Malt in the Compass Rose. Like Splash, Double Malt’s Scott and Kathleen hail from the U.K. I later learn they’d actually met while playing in a circus orchestra (again, one of the delightful aspects of the Star Legend’s intimate size is the chance to chat up the crew and entertainers when they’re off-duty). In between requests they play gentle folksy renditions of “Lucy in the Sky,ˮ “Baby, It’s a Wild World,ˮ “Bad Moon Rising,ˮ “Fast Carˮ and “Blowin’ in the Wind.ˮ Speaking of blowing, Kathleen even showcases her sax appeal on occasion.
It’s on to Marigot, St. Martin. I opt not to join everyone for the tour (though I hate turning down lunch in Grand Case), as I know the island quite well. Instead I head to Marigot for my obligatory almond croissant at Sarafina’s, window shopping at West Indies Mall, and a kir in the harbor, gazing out toward Anguilla, the inimitable scene ofgalettes, Gauloises and hibiscus hanging in the air.
That evening, Myron is in rare form. First during his nightly chat in the lounge, talking about Jost van Dyke, our next port-of-call: “The sun on Jost always seems hotter than usual. Trust me: I used to be three shades lighter.” But his wild side really comes out after dinner: the Love Boat’s Julie McCoy on, well, something…
Tonight is the once-per-sailing deck BBQ with a buffet-style selection of classics. This is, arguably the most disappointing dinner, despite such potentially luscious items as lobster and suckling pig (though the paella is quite decent). But the meal soon takes a backseat to the rather raucous karaoke and line dancing courtesy of the crew. Turns out there’s some talent aboard aside from Captain Reville’s comic stylings.
One crew member does an infectious cover of Pharrell Williams’ “Happy,” another a rousing rendition of “Footloose.” With 19 nationalities among the crew of 137, it’s a bizarre and utterly delightful multi-cultural scene, with one group channeling the Village People in “Y.M.C.A,” and another leading the “Hot! Hot! Hot!” conga line… topped only by Myron’s running commentary: “Momma knows she can depend on her Depends™, Shake that booty! It’s a May- December shipboard romance.”
Fittingly, the next day takes us to that great party-hearty yachtie hangout, Jost van Dyke, There’s no way I’m up to the two-mile trek from Great Harbour to White Bay, so I forgo the Soggy Dollar Bar, home of the Original Painkiller (I’ve splashed my way there many a time in the past), and instead amble past the charmingly ramshackle buildings in Great Harbour to lime at Foxy’s. He seems to be off concocting his moonshine rum, so no reggae ditties today, just a Dread Fox cocktail.
That night our group enjoys dinner under the stars at Candles (the Veranda gussied up for the evening). Like many hotels that utilize the same space for breakfast, lunch and dinner, they can do only so much but the flickering candles and more formal service provide a more romantic gloss. With only a single seating nightly, guests are restricted to one booking per week (though they can check again to see if there’s space later in the trip). It’s essentially a steakhouse menu, serving excellent Grade-A slabs with four sauces (chimichurri, bearnaise, peppercorn and Cabernet reduction). Other than a disappointing lobster carpaccio, the meal – though interrupted by waiters coming by in a loop booming, “How’s everything?” – proves quite satisfying, including a marvelous potato with prosciutto cream, scrumptious al dente spaghetti with feta and toasted pine nuts, and fine enormous veal chop.
The next morning, we dock in another idyllic port-of-call inaccessible to larger ships, Virgin Gorda. It’s tempting to visit one of my favorite spots in the Caribbean: the famous granite grottoes and tidal pools of The Baths, their hulking boulders resembling abstract sculpture by Moore or Arp, But today is Windstar’s special event: Each sailing offers a private experience tailored to the itinerary and region. Here, natch, it’s a beach party, at an uninhabited nature preserve with a picture-postcard white-sand strand, Prickly Pear. Windstar aims to bring guests closer to the Caribbean culture and lifestyle, though frankly much like any other top cruise line’s private island experience. Crew members welcome me with a coconut rum cocktail as I alight from the tender, A band plays “Everything’s Gonna Be All Rightˮ as I take in the sights and scents, including a lavish buffet.

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