Guest Review: Cruising Italy and the Amalfi Coast

Cruise Newbies, Gene and Carolyn Hoover, joined friends aboard Wind Surf’s April 28, 2013 Islands of Italy” cruise.

We’ve never really considered a cruise holiday. I’ve seen those floating monstrosities; overcrowded with screaming kids and bacteria; and don’t get me started on dress codes and evening wear … not gonna happen. But then, our dear friends invited us to join them on a Windstar cruise. They had me at “small luxury sailing cruise” and they had the hubby with “round trip from Rome” – he’s what one might call a Roman history buff. He did however, seem to have some trepidation regarding the cruise, he kept asking, “What will we do all day on the ship?”

We arrived in Rome a week before our cruise. We wanted to explore as much of the Eternal City as our feet would allow. Anyone planning a trip to Rome should most certainly pack comfortable walking shoes for those beautiful cobblestone roads and ruins. I saw plenty of women trying their best in heels and I’m here to tell you, it wasn’t pretty. We stayed in the Campo di Fiori area of the city, where you’ll find a lovely local market every morning. Grab an outdoor table, order a cappuccino and do some serious people watching. Just around the corner, you can find Filetti di Baccalà, a casual small restaurant for the best battered, deep-fried filets of salt cod you’ll ever taste. We ate there three of our seven nights! Evenings only and very reasonably priced.

Filetti di Baccalà, the Hoover’s favorite restaurant in Rome

Sailing the Mediterranean was even better than I imagined. Everywhere you look is another stunning view. The limestone cliffs of Capri jetting high above the bluest waters is an impressive backdrop for breakfast served on The Veranda deck, where they serve an array of wonderful food to start your day. Go for the French toast. Our friend had it every morning!

Our morning breakfast view

My “pinch me, is this really happening” moment of our cruise was the night of the Deck BBQ under the stars. As we sipped the champagne we had won the previous evening playing Music Trivia with Rain Duo, the crew put out a magnificent spread that included roasted suckling pig, lobster tails, crab legs, and all the fixings. That’s about the time Capt. MacAry magically queued eruptions from the Stromboli volcano! The finest food, champagne, plus a stunning display of lava explosions into the nighttime sky, shared by loving friends … an enchanting memory.

Wind Surf’s officers in front of Stromboli Volcano

As for the husband’s fear he would be bored to tears on board, I never heard a word about it. He saw how he could control how much/little he wanted to do. Venture into the port towns, lounge and do sudoku, read a book, order a beverage, even take an engine room tour. For me, it was nice to see him relax for the first time in 25 years!

We look forward to a future with Windstar Cruises. We will be back for the stunning locations, the casual elegance, the amazing food, the relaxation, but mostly for the warm, genuine smiles from your amazing crew!

Gene and Carolyn Hoover
Charleston, SC

Interested in sharing your cruise vacation story with our readers? Send along your short cruise and/or shore excursion reviews; an anecdote (something special that may have happened on your cruise); or perhaps something off the beaten path you found interesting in port (good restaurant, market, shop, etc…). Be sure to include any photos you may have depicting your cruise. Please email

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