Windstar Venetian Passageways Cruise
Cruise Holidays | Luxury Travel Boutique recently traveled on Windstar Cruises Venetian Passageways from Venice to Athens in late October on the Star Legend.  The itinerary included an overnight in Venice and then port stops in Hvar (Croatia), Kotor (Montenegro), Dubrovnnik (Croatia), Corfu (Greece), Katakolon (Greece), Itea (Greece), passage through the Corinth Canal, Nafplio (Greee) ad Athens.  

The cruise was a combination of quaint fishing ports, historic cities, and ancient ruins.  Four of the ports were tender ports and many of the excursions included strenuous hikes to castles and fortresses overlooking the ports.  The highlights included the amazing city of Venice, the spectacular scenery of the Kotor bay fjord, the ancient old town of Dubrovnik, the Corinth Canal passage and the Greek ruins of Olympus and Delphi.  

The Star Legend is an all suite ship formerly owned by Seabourn Cruises with spacious staterooms and a small ship feel with only 210 passengers.  Dining options were adequate, but limited due to the size of the ship.  Entertainment was provided by two musical duets that played in various venues around the ship. One of the more popular activities was the daily port preview given by the destination specialists which took place just before dinner each night.  The ship has an excellent fitness center and a water sports deck which would be ideal for tropical destinations.

Overall, we highly recommend Windstar Cruises for a country club atmosphere, small ship experience.  We would rate this cruise as a 4 out of 5 cruising experience. 

A couple of tips for exchanging money.  Bring Euros to Italy as the exchange brokers take a 40% commission.  Alternatively, you can use a cash advance on your credit card at an ATM.  Second, the banks in Greece are incredibly inefficient.  You will likely spend at least half an hour or longer waiting for a teller.  The money exchange brokers in Greece only charge 3 euros per transaction and the Post Office will exchange currency for you if you want to deal with a government entity.  

For more details, read our port call reports complete with pictures and videos.

Venice – The ship was docked at the main Venice Cruise Terminal which is conveniently located close to the transportation center for trains, cars, and water taxis.  You can take a taxi from the Venice airport directly to the ship and drop your luggage off to be delivered to your stateroom.  If you arrive early, you can spend the rest of the day touring Venice.

There a several options to tour Venice from the cruise port.  At the main terminal, there is a water shuttle or vaporetto that will take you directly to St Mark’s Square, the centre of the tourist area for about 8 Euros one way.  The second alternative is to take the People Mover that is across the parking lot from the main cruise terminal building to Piazzale Roma, the main transportation square for Venice.  The People Mover is a rail system with three stops, the main public parking facility, the cruise terminal and Pizzale Roma.  The fare is 3 Euros and the ride is just a few minutes.  Pizzale Roma is where the train and bus stations are located and the last stop for taxis and automobiles.  At Piazzale Roma, you can take a vaporetto, the public water bus system, through the Grand Canal to St Mark’s Square for about the same amount as the vaporetto from the cruise terminal, but you get to see the sights from the famous Grand Canal.  The third option is to walk to St Mark’s Square from Piazzale Roma, which may take half an hour if you don’t stop to take pictures.  

Venice is one of the great cities of Europe with great architecture, relics of ancient times and wonderful cuisine.  You could easily spend two or three days in Venice and still not see everything you should.  The priorities should be St Mark’s square, the Doge’s Palace, the bridges and the cuisine.  After that, there are museums and side streets and restaurants galore and endless photo opportunities.  And of course, a gondola ride.

Hvar – Medieval Hvar is a small port town on the Adriatic with a long seaside promenade, narrow side streets with a large central square and an ancient fortress overlooking the town that is a short but steep hike.  The views from the fortress are worth the hike and offer many photo opportunities.  The Island of Hvar is only 30 miles in length but is blessed with hours of sunshine and pleasant pebble and rocky beaches.  The main attractions are the beaches and the famous seaside blue and green caves that are a short boat ride away from the port.  The Cathedral of St Stephan dominates the city square and the small, narrow side streets offer shopping and restaurants with great seafood and local cuisine.  


Kotor – Kotor is a relatively new tourist destination and is located at the end of a long bay, reminiscent of a fjord.  Don’t miss the sail in or sail out of Kotor bay as the scenery is spectacular with mirror reflections of the landscape in the waters of the bay.  The old town is protected by a wall and a fortress high above the town on the side of the hill.  The views from the fortress are stunning but requires a strenuous hike of about 45 minutes which can be quite challenging.  However, the climb is worth the effort.  The old town is characterized by small narrow streets that open up to squares and open market areas that are perfect for wandering and sampling the shopping and restaurants and cafes with many photo opportunities.  There is a long portside promenade as well that is popular for strolling.  A short 15 to 20-minute boat ride down the bay there is the town of Perast and two small islands off the town in the bay.  One of the islands has a small church on it called the Lady of the Rock with amazing artwork and incredible photo opportunities.  The town of Perast is still developing as a tourist destination and the main attractions are the many restaurants along the waterfront with the views of the islands and the bay.  It is a great place to spend an hour or two with a coffee or a glass of wine. 

Dubrovnik – Dubrovnik has become one of the trendiest destinations in the Adriatic Sea.  The city is one of the most scenic in the Mediterranean and is the filming site for movies and TV shows like the Game of Thrones.  The city is surrounded by one of its main attractions, the city walls which offer great vistas of the town and the sea below.  In the city, there are numerous churches and historic sites to visit.  A main street runs through the old town and many small narrow streets branching off in all directions.  Shopping and restaurants are everywhere and the options seem endless.  The sights, sounds and smells harken back to medieval times and don’t be surprised if you see a couple of knights in full armour walking down the street.  For the most dramatic views, take the cable car to the fortress overlooking the city and enjoy the panorama.  


Corfu – Corfu Island is steeped in history and ancient Greek Mythology.  The Old Town of Corfu is a UNESCO World Heritage site.  Known for many things, Corfu is a lush, sunshine resort destination for many years.  One of the main attractions is the Achilleion Palace built by Empress of Austria Elisabeth of Bavaria, also known as Sisi, as a summer getaway from the intrigue of her palace life.  It sits on top of a hill overlooking the Ionian Sea and has many historic treasures on display.  The gardens are renown for its flowers and iconic statues.  One the way back to Corfu town we stopped at a lookout near the airport.  From there, we saw the Monastery of the Virgin Mary on a small island in a small bay.  Finally, we spent the afternoon wandering the streets of Corfu Old Town and having a light lunch at one of its many outdoor cafes.  

Katakolon – Katakolon is a small port town of 600 residents but is a major destination because of its proximity to Olympus, the ancient original site of the Olympics.  Olympus is 40 minutes away by car and the ruins are remnants of centuries of Roman and Greek athletic competitions.  While the ruins are a fraction of what was there in the glory years, you can still get a sense of the ancient competitions.  The main remains are the track field where the original 600 meter races were held.  The start line is marble and stretches the wide of the field.  Many people run the track for the experience of doing something many have done for thousands of years.  The town itself is very picturesque with fishing boats bobbing in the harbour and restaurants and shops lining the waterfront promenade.  There are only two main streets in the town and the main attraction is Olympus, so if you happen to cruise to Katakolon, tour Olympus as the town can be seen in an hour or two.

Itea – The small village of Itea Greece is best known as the starting point for a visit to Delphi, the ancient site of the Oracle of Dephi and the famous Greek ruins.  The town itself is small with a population of about 6,000.  The waterfront has a long promenade which stretches along the port and several beaches after the harbour.  The town has several local stores and restaurants and several imposing churches and squares of minor significance.  The promenade is lined with cafes and restaurants with serene views of the sea.  The main attraction is Delphi which is about 8 km away and is the site of the Sanctuary of Apollo which is the ancient seat of the Oracle of Delphi, who was consulted on matters of importance bring wealth and fame to the region.  The semi-circle ruins is a of major historical significance and is the most prominent ruins in Delphi.  In addition, the temple of Apollo and the Sanctuary of Athena are among the most noteworthy sites in Delphi.

                              Corinth Canal

Corinth Canal – The Corinth Canal was built in the 19th century and is 6.4 kilometers long and 25 meters wide.  The Canal essentially cut of the Peloponnese isthmus from the Greek mainland making it an island and saved sailors trying to get to the Adriatic from the Aegean Seas or vice versa about 185 nautical miles.  Completed in 1893, the canal is too narrow for modern ships but can be passed by small cruise ships.  The passage takes about an hour and ships are pulled by a tug boat through the canal.  Bridges span the canal and bungee jumping has become popular.  As we sailed through the canal, many of the locals came out to watch from shore and from the bridges.  


Nafplio - The town is quite picturesque and worth visiting on its own.  A fortress overlooking the Old Town of Nafpio can be reached by stairs or car.  If you take the stairs be prepared for to walk up 999 steps.  Once at the top, the views are spectacular and the photo opportunities are everywhere you look.  The Old town is intriguing as ever with its interesting shops and cafes.  We had a great lunch at an outdoor café and spent the afternoon strolling around the old historic area of town.  Later we walked to a beach on the other side of town from the port and went for a swim. 

Athens-  This legendary city has much to offer.  For our short stay, we climbed to the Acropolis which dominates the cityscape from a hill in the middle of the city.  The fee is usually 20 Euros, but since we visited on a national holiday, admission is free.  Restoration of the site is constant and unfortunately, there is often heavy machinery and scaffolding on the site.  However, the site is still the most important site in Athens.  Down the main promenade from the Acropolis is the remains of the Temple of Zeus.  If you look back at the Acropolis through the gates of the Temple of Zeus, you can frame a photograph perfectly.  Between the Temple of Zeus and the Acropolis is the Plaka shopping district which has many side streets for exploring.  Also, nearby is the new Acropolis Museum where most of the important antiquities are displayed.  We finished our evening off in the Psiri restaurant district on a patio for dinner and then wandered over to a café for dessert.  

The trip to the airport takes about 30 minutes without traffic and much longer in rush hour.  The cost is about 40 Euros.  The airport is modern and quite large, but easy to navigate.  

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