Cruise Log: Portofino, Italy
Our regular bloggers, Simon & Susan Veness, are taking a week’s cruise on Windstar Cruises’ unique Wind Surf – and reporting back exclusively for The Cruise Line on a daily basis on the whole experience. This is Day Four of the trip…
If we had to pick just one Italian port that somehow sums up the whole experience of being in Italy, it would be Portofino. The classic seaside charm, the sophistication, the sheer eye-candy of the architecture, it all comes together in total harmony in this former fishing harbour.
From its humble background, Portofino has grown to become a small-scale playground for the well-heeled and the well-to-do, thronged by the mega yachts of the wealthy and the exclusive hotels that cater to a celebrity clientele, led by the incomparable Hotel Splendido that sits atop the bluff to one side of the port itself.
Here, our Wind Surf tender dropped us off at 8.30am for today’s essential excursion, a “strenuous” hike across the peninsula to the neighbouring city of Santa Margherita, where we would catch the ferry back to Portofino.
Strenuous was definitely the right word, as there is a lot of ‘up’ to the paths of the national park that essentially surrounds this boutique destination. The multitude of walking trails criss-cross this corner of Liguria and offer some fabulous views across the bay, but they also demand quite a high level of exertion to gain the heights necessary to provide the preferred panorama.
Sitting in front of a computer for 10-plus hours a day is not the ideal preparation for taking on the challenge of Il Parco de Portofino, and it wasn’t long before the steep initial climb had us wheezing and wishing we were anywhere else. Thankfully, it flattened out after about 45 minutes and the rest of the two-hour hike was less of a threat to our coronary passageways.
We were rewarded with a succession of truly stunning views – notable for our eye-catching Windstar Cruises vessel being at the centre of a glistening silver-blue vista – and happily trundled down into Santa Margherita feeling we had accomplished a significant feat that could now be rewarded with another memorable Italian repast.
The iconic harbour-front of our port of call definitely gave us the right food for thought as we pottered around about an hour later, trying desperately to prevent sore leg muscles from rendering us immobile, and it has to be reported that a bottle of Pinot Grigio was essential to that ‘loosening up’ process.
Back on board, we were able to revel once more in the amazing amount of personal space that this ship provides. With the Marina’s watersports platform fully deployed in the aft section on such a picture-perfect day, we were able to enjoy the sight of an impressive array of water toys – including kayaks and paddle-boards – and earmark this for our own enjoyment at the next opportunity (which should be in St Tropez in two days’ time).
Once again, it served to underline the impressive array of choice aboard Wind Surf (we also still have the Spa and alternative dining to look forward to), and the inherent refinement of her design and space ratio.
There is always a choice of bars as well as dining, while the expansive deck arrangements ensure there is plenty of space to find a quiet nook or cranny in which to kick back with a good book or just to work on your tan.
We will be focusing on the onboard entertainment and activity programme in tomorrow’s blog, but suffice it to say the headline message is that this is another aspect of the cruise that is suitably low-key but stylish, more about making a personal connection than overwhelming with grand productions.
More of that in due course but, for now, as we wrap up Day Four with the unforgettable backdrop of a Portofino sailaway, we can only marvel at just how much we are enjoying this voyage on a 30-year-old ship that seems as new and relevant today as any of the mega-ships with all their gewgaws and gadgets.
This is cruising the way it should be, and we remain unapologetic cheer-leaders for it.
Simon & Susan