This summer, I had the incredible opportunity to join Windstar Cruises on one of their James Beard culinary cruises. We traveled from Lisbon to Dublin, spending our days hopping from port to Porto, eating our way all the while.
It was my first time cruisin’, and I absolutely loved it. From the sights to the cities, here are 7 reasons why you should take a food cruise… now.
1. Ehm… the food
The food was incredible. Not only was there a James Beard guest chef on board, but every day there were opportunities to sample local cuisine both on and off the ship.
One day we took an Asturian cider tour where we drank local sidra and gorged on Spanish croquettes, tortilla española, and an array of cheeses.
Another day we visited a French oyster farm off the coast of the Atlantic. After hearing from an 83 year old oyster farmer that the key to longevity is eating 12 oysters a day, we each took turns sampling his renowned mollusks.
Both of these tours were complimentary to everyone on board, giving us the opportunity to experience things we wouldn’t have been able to experience on our own.
2. travel to multiple places without having to worry about, well, traveling
Wake up one morning on the Gironde and the next in La Rochelle. One of my favorite parts of the cruise was that we were able to travel to so many places without dealing with the burdens of traveling.
Traveling is my favorite thing to do in the world, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t mind travel time. The endless planes, trains, and lines.
But with Windstar, there was no having to worry about traveling between cities. The boat was our home and our mode of transportation. My clothes stayed in one closet and my bed was my bed. It was the best of both worlds– I had a home base, and yet I was able to see a different city every day.
3. live casually + eat elegantly
The culture onboard was casual and relaxed. The ship itself was beautiful, with multiple decks and places to unwind. In our down time, we rented movies from the lounge, got massages, and hung out in the hot tub.
And yet, we ate like queens. Croissants for breakfast, a gigantic salad bar for lunch, and local sea bass for dinner. Drinks from the ship’s bar whenever we wanted. Cookies and cakes for dessert. The list goes on.
When I travel, I love eating good food. But I don’t aways want to dress up to get it. White linen dinners can be nice, but it gets old after a while. With Windstar, we were able to live a relaxed lifestyle and still enjoy absolutely delicious food.
4. experience multiple cultures
Maybe it’s the inner anthropologist in me, but I get a natural high from just walking around a foreign city. Smelling the street food, watching how locals spend their day, and walking for miles just because.
From the cobblestone streets in Lisbon to the immaculately manicured parks in Bordeaux, each day was in a different place, giving us the opportunity to see multiple cities and countries in a short amount of time.
5. eat your way
Eating the same food each day can be tiring. But our trip with Windstar was essentially a tasting menu of cultures.
We ate tapas in Spain, macarons in Bordeaux, and oysters in Cancale. We drank local wines and sampled every cheese imaginable. We quite literally ate our way through the trip.
It was also great to have a mixture of food both on and off board. Most mornings we ordered room service before heading out for the afternoon. We’d explore that day’s city, hopping from cafe to bakery to cafe. Later that night we’d eat dinner at one of the boat’s two dining rooms. The variety was top notch.
6. No planning required
There was no need to research for days leading up to our trip. Every night, a sheet would be slipped under the door, giving us the need-to-know’s for the next day’s port.
You could choose to spend the day on your own or take a Windstar-led excursion. One day we walked the streets of Bordeaux on our own, and the next we took a group trip to Mont Saint Michel.
When we had a question about a port, we asked the concierge. When we wanted a little guidance, we took a Windstar excursion. We never felt confused or unprepared for the day ahead.
7. get a lot of value for your dollar
Please tell me where else you can have a daily wine class, visit 6 cities, gorge on buffets, and sleep in the same bed every night.
With Windstar, nearly everything was included. We got room service whenever we wanted, were able to go on multiple complimentary excursions, and had wine pairings with almost every dinner. It was like staying at an all-inclusive, but on a boat.
Our time with Windstar was second to none. The staff was unbelievably hospitable, the amenities were gorgeous, and we were able to soak in the cultures of multiple countries in less than two weeks.
If you’re hoping to have a unique and rich cultural experience with a strong focus on food, look no further than Windstar. It was an absolutely amazing experience, and I can’t recommend it enough.
PS- if you have specific questions about my trip, feel free to ask in the comments below! XO.
A huge thank you to Windstar for sponsoring this trip. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.