The itinerary is what drew me here. I arrived to MSY Wind Surf excited to stand on the top teakwood deck under its crisp white sails as we ply the waters in the Atlantic Ocean off the western coast of Morocco and further west toward the exotic Canary Islands.
This is what real sailing is all about. Waking up our first morning onboard to see the sunrise as we sailed toward Portimao, I could already feel waves of relaxation and contentment wash over me. The first whiffs of fresh salty sea air trigger the sense of wonder and enjoyment for cruisers, and I have always loved the feelings you have when a new journey is underway.
Windstar Cruises heads to some of the most incredibly exotic destinations around the world, and I knew I was in good hands trusting my first trip to Island Gems of Spain & Portugal with Windstar. Food stands out as a highlight of this trip. Windstar wonderfully integrated the tastes of the region into its overall program and especially delivered amazing palate-pleasers with its onboard offerings.
Golden Oil & Market Tour in Agadir, Morocco
A day later in Agadir, Windstar offers Golden Oil & Market tour. We started our day with a visit to the Women’s Cooperative of Tighanimine. A 35-40-minute drive took us to a unique place where we saw real Moroccan workers and will learn step by step how Argan oil is made and the sustainability of the place due to this activity. This cooperative gives jobs to 68 women who have been able to create and develop this socio-economic project since 2007.
We saw the places where the seeds are carefully selected by hand, have a chance to see the machines used for the extraction of the oil, continue to the laboratory where the oil is tested and also visit the boutique where we saw the final products took some with us.
Before leaving the cooperative, we also enjoyed a true Moroccan tea and pastries made by the ladies as well. From here, we continued our visit driving to the Berber market of Souk Al Had. Here among the maze of souks (markets), we had time to shop for everything from carpets to fine handicrafts.
It is definitely a day of discovery in Morocco, but more culinary delights still await on Wind Surf.
Wine Route in Lanzarote, Spain
We departed from the Port of Arrecife, capital of Lanzarote, to the southern part of the island. Lanzarote is known as the Mithic Island since the volcanic relief has sculpted breathtaking landscapes of almost lunar beauty.
On the way to El Grifo cellar, the Peasant Monument shows up in the middle of the road. Also called Fecundity Monument, it is nailed in a landscape of matchless beauty, La Geria, declared a “Protected Area” in Lanzarote’s largest wine growing region, where they have found an ingenious way of cultivating vines by digging funnel-shaped hollows, filling soil around the vines and pouring thick layers of volcanic ash on top. The ash helps retain humidity to feed the plants. El Grifo Cellar is the oldest one in the Canary Islands. The origin of the nomination El Grifo is not known, although the familiar tradition associates it with the mythological bird of the same name, half eagle half lion and today symbol of this cellar.
There are 40 hectares of vineyard, mainly of malvasía grapes and some vines of Moscatel and listán black.We had a tasting here, then on to Bodegas Rubicon, the most important area of vineyards in Lanzarote. The old winery was built in the 17th century and went through several renovations until the year 2000. Their vineyards are part of a protected natural area and its fruit is combined with traditional and modern techniques to make a wine of high quality. We visited the cellar in La Geria, which constitutes one of the agrarian landscapes more characteristic of Lanzarote and the Archipelago. At the local cellar, you will have the opportunity to taste a local wine from local grapes grown from their unique system of irrigation.
Food on Board
I ate at Candles steakhouse twice to try two different cuts of meat. I loved my experience so much during my visit early in the trip I decided to go again on my final night. Passengers also delighted in the French dishes available at Stella’s Bistro, and it’s worth booking this Windstar cruise if only to enjoy the signature Deck Barbecue.
The Star Deck is filled with all manner of food, with chicken, flank steak, whole pigs, grouper, shrimp towers, lobster, fruits, salads, vegetable, and cookies, cakes and other desserts, of course. Save your appetite for this meal under the stars.
You get the chance to burn off calories soon after, though, as the decks are cleared to make room for the Crew Line Dance, which is quickly revealed to be a misnomer as dozens of passengers join in to create the most festive atmosphere of the cruise. By this time, the nearly 300 guests onboard and 200 crew members have formed a large, fun family.
About The Author
John Roberts is a freelance writer and operator of InTheLoopTravel.com. He writes about cruising and active travel, highlighting how people can connect with the world and other cultures through rewarding travel experiences.