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Stockholm, Sweden and the Wind Spirit
My journey to Windstar Cruises’ elegant Wind Spirit in the port of Stockholm, Sweden took a whopping 17 hours; time that saw me change planes in both Toronto and Dusseldorf, Germany on my way to the Swedish capital. And after countless problem-free cruises and flights, my luck finally ran out.
Lufthansa lost my baggage.
Well, not “lost” in the strongest sense of the word. They knew exactly where it was: Dusseldorf, the site of my last connection. Apparently I was quick enough to meet the demanding 45-minue transfer that involved being bussed to a remote tarmac location, but my bag got lost in the jumble.
This was the perfect topper to my mammoth day after I inadvertently spilled a cup of piping-hot tea all over myself en route to Dusseldorf. As I desperately tried to mop up, the sympathetic German woman sitting next to me took pity. I thought she was going to give me her spare napkins to help remove the tea. Instead, she gave me the uneaten stick of Gouda cheese that came with her in-flight meal. I still have no idea why.
So it was with some incredulity that I realized my luggage wasn’t going to show up on the carousel at Arlanda Airport. But after taking the Arlanda express and boarding the Wind Spirit at her Skeppsbron 106 berth, those concerns and worries drifted away.
The 1988-built Wind Spirit is a unique combination: a true working sailing ship. She can hold almost 150 passengers and offers an incredible amount of open deck space The passengers aboard this voyage tend to be mostly American, with a good smattering of Europeans thrown in to complete the mix.
One of the greatest joys of sailing on a smaller ship are shorter embarkation procedures. Once we arrived at the pier, a steward whisked our hand luggage from us and lead us to the Lounge at the aft of the ship. Here, forms were waiting for us on each table for the usual credit card and health questionnaires, and in no time we were checked in and had our keys (and mimosa’s!) in hand.
Some truly pleasant little surprises:
Our stateroom is remarkably well laid-out, and includes far more space than the drawings and photographs in the brochure let on. But my absolute rock-solid favorite part of the stateroom is the incredible modular bathroom. Ahead of its time in so many ways, both the shower and toilet “cubicles” are vastly larger than one would expect, and the shower is even fitted with a light above it; a great feature missing on many ships.
The included L’Occitane toiletries are seductively good, and show the kind of quality that is present throughout the stateroom and the ship itself.
Public washrooms have also been heavily updated and look quite modern. Menus sparkle, and the Wind Spirit herself looks graceful and well maintained.
But the real magic was at the end of the day, as we left Stockholm. To the tune of Vangelis’s theme from the movie 1492, Wind Spirit slipped her berthing ropes and gently eased out intothe Stockholm Archipelago. It was dramatic, it was moving…it was perfectly suited to Windstar. Passengers lined the rails of a nearby ferry as it sailed out with us, and the Skeppsbron dock was lined with well-wishers at every turn.
Tonight we made a point of dining at Candles, Windstar’s outdoor specialty restaurant. While reservations are required, there are no additional cost involved. The scenery was, as suspected, breathtaking, but so too was the meal we enjoyed First-class all the way
Now I’m sitting here in the lounge, gazing out the darkened portside windows at the green light beacon out in the middle of the ocean, the last of the Stockholm Archipelago gliding silently past. And it occurs to me that it really does feel like I own the thing; most of the passengers have gone to bed by now, and the ship is incredibly quiet. The sails have just gone up, and I can feel the familiar whump, whump of the propeller cease below me. A beautiful quiet has descended onto the ship, and it’s a wondrous thing.
I can hardly wait to see what tomorrow brings!
Stay tuned – our live coverage of Windstar Cruises’ Wind Spirit in the Baltics continues tomorrow!
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