Cruise log – Le Lavandou, France
It’s the last full day of our Wind Surf experience, and we’re determined to make the most of it before we have to disembark for the flight home in Nice tomorrow.
Unusually, we remained at anchor off St Tropez until 7am, and then set sail for the cute little seaside town of Le Lavandou, just a few miles further along the Provence coastline, where the captain had us in tender position by 10.
Yesterday in St Tropez, it had been too busy with other boats buzzing around to deploy the ship’s kayaks from the Marina platform, but we had been told today was a much better chance of getting our paddle on, as Le Lavandou is far quieter for boat traffic.
So, after a very pleasant breakfast up in the Veranda, we wandered aft on Deck 2 to watch the two-man Marina crew get the platform set up with its array of inflatables, mats, kayaks and other water toys.
With everything set up to their satisfaction, we were equipped with a two-person kayak and let loose to have a jolly good paddle around the waters of the Rade de Bormes (but within a set distance of the aft of the ship). It was distinctly choppy but still plenty of fun and, after about 45 minutes of breathless paddling, we decided to call it quits in favour of something more sedate, which included lunch and a beer.
Suitably replete (and, again, with another fine buffet meal provided by the versatile Veranda), we headed for the tender and the chance to explore Le Lavandou, which turned out to be an utterly charming resort. In many ways it was St Tropez without any pretention or affectation, fringed by a series of fine beaches and with an old town area boasting no fewer than 14 original fountains as a kind of a grown-up scavenger hunt.
We didn’t actually find them all, but we did enjoy an extremely pleasant hour or two wandering the back streets, admiring the shops, enjoying the sight of numerous games of boules in progress, and stopping at one of several highly tempting artesanal glaceries. We strolled along the nearest beach, dipped our toes in the Med and marvelled at all the families out for a beach day on a Tuesday afternoon. The holiday season must start fairly early in the south of France!
Back on board, dinner tonight was a final swansong at one of the two alternative evening options, Candles, and it served to highlight (if such was needed) the one aspect of the Wind Surf that comes through loud and clear in this age of mega-ships and sea-going gimmicks – romance.
Windstar Cruises has been voted ‘The world’s most romantic luxury cruise line’ two years in a row by the knowledgeable editors of Cruise Critic, and it was a facet of the voyage we were most keen to put to the test on our (slightly delayed) wedding anniversary.
You may find this hard to believe, dear readers, but we do spend inordinate amounts of time in front of our computers, churning out copy for a variety of sources on a weekly basis, and it is rare for us to be able to escape on a genuine holiday for two for more than a day or two at most. And, while #WindSurfLive is not exactly a vacation in the true sense of the word, it has given us a rare chance to kick back a little, ease off the computing, and spend some time just enjoying each other’s company.
We are already committed fans of the Windstar style, and fully applaud Cruise Critic for their award process. And we would have absolutely no hesitation in underlining that ‘romantic’ side of the voyage, in very heavy ink.
It has long been our firm belief that a cruise is the ideal way for a couple to spend time together. Not only is it a fabulous honeymoon choice, you can even get married aboard (some) ships, renew your views and generally focus on your ‘significant other.’ On board Wind Surf, the crew definitely go that extra yard to ensure that sense of maritime romance is enhanced to the full.
From the Spa staff to the Marina, and the Yacht Club café to the Veranda, we were made to feel like “Mr and Mrs Veness” at all times, with a genuine sense of caring and attention. And, in the final analysis, there is simply no greater way to celebrate that sense of togetherness than dining al fresco aboard a classic ship.
That feeling came home loud and clear with our ‘Dinner under the stars’ on the pool deck last night, a truly superb occasion that was not so much star-lit but an absolute golden occasion thanks to a stunning sunset behind St Tropez.
Sitting amid that gilded stage, with fine food, excellent wine and the backdrop of one of the most photogenic ports in the Mediterranean, it was the perfect way to salute this “Ship of Romance” – and celebrate each other at the end of our 13th year of married life. Hopefully, Wind Surf will still be plying her elegant trade in 13 years’ time, and we will definitely be back for more!
Simon & Susan