Luxury Hotels

WINDSTAR – 8

After so many meals on land, let’s give thought to salivating at sea. And that’s the word when thinking of Cuadro 44 by Anthony Sasso, the bijou dinner venue on the sixth deck of Windstar’s Star Legend. The 34-seat restaurant, by a James Beard Michelin-starred chef,  is totally addictive and Girlahead is kicking herself for not booking ahead, every single night. The ideal is to sit up at the kitchen counter and watch the male chefs strut their surprises, little dish after little desk, the best Spanish tastes imaginable. Pulpo Gallego, charred octopus; Fideos Mar y Montaña, toasted angel hair with confit chicken leg, chorizo and more.. All served by female servers from south-east Asia you could’ve sworn to be Spanish.

Legend’s main restaurant, Amphora, is also far above normal ‘three meals’ levels. It doesn’t pretend to be gastronomic – the changing menu might have fish and chips one night, prime rib another. The many choices blend comfort food with old favourites, and basics – chicken breast, salmon steak, sirloin – are always available. One night Girlahead began with a Philip Anschutz blue cheese salad, above, named for Windstar’s multi-facetted owner.

Amphora is open seating but some, like Ernst and Regina Meiler, below, always manage to get a table overseen by a particular server. This is where the friendliness of everyone concerned is apparent. Passengers and ‘workers’ chat to each other and are encouraged so to do. The Meilers, by the way, are seasoned cruisers and here they are staying on for another week, sailing back to Barcelona.  They’re art buffs who seem to pinpoint the world by its number of Rothkos.

Elsewhere, when the weather permits there is oudoor, with some cover, Star Grill by multi-author television personality Steven Raichlen, founder of Barbecue University.  Another choice, benefitting from Windstar’s partnership with the James Beard Foundation, is Candles, for, say, tuna poke and then a grilled swordfish fillet.

This is all very easy. Conversations, wherever, just happen. Meet up, share a drink, share a table. No worry if you are on a pre-bought drinks package, just say, and the others can buy their own drinks as they like. (Girlahead would also recommend the free laundry package, really good value – and the three- or five-treatment spa package, especially if you include an Elemis facial from Chloe.)

And, to return to eating, there’s Veranda, indoor-outdoor, deck seven. Fabulous buffet breakfasts, with granola parfaits that are truly addictive. Put some prunes and walnuts on the side, toast a slice of pumpernickel, wait only a minute for your eggs… it’s all quicker that one would expect. (Room service is just as good but you do have to wait during your chosen 20-minute slot.) All venues, by the way, have more than ample plant-based items, and dishes, buffet or not, are meticulously labelled.