Windstar Star Pride Cruise – A Tour of this Ship

Windstar Star Pride Cruise – A Tour of this Ship

Let’s take a tour of the Windstar Star Pride cruise ship on one of its Baltic Sea Cruise from Stockholm, Sweden, to St. Petersburg, Russia. This Windstar cruise review includes the Star Pride cabins, itinerary, ship amenities, and photos. Whether you are planning your first trip cruise or you’re a long time cruiser, you’ve come to the right place.  Make sure to subscribe to my YouTube Channel as I’m making a series which includes my Star Pride Itinerary and the Windstar Shore Excursions.

A Little Background about the Star Pride Windstar

Windstar Star Pride Cruises

It joined the Wind Star fleet in 2014 and it holds 212 passengers. There are anywhere between a 150 and 155 staff members, which is an amazing ratio that really makes you feel cared for. I have never seen a more amazing staff anywhere and it really was my favorite part about this Baltic Sea Cruise. They put so much care, effort, and energy into every single interaction. By the end of day one, the staff was coming up and saying “Hi Kim, how are you? Would you like your gluten-free bread? Would you like your milk with your coffee this morning?” They remembered my preferences from just one interaction and did not stop offering for my entire stay! Not only does the team give us five star service they are a true family you can see by the way they work together that they all love each other, and of course they’re spending six to nine months together.

 

About the Star Pride Vessel

If you’re interested in the intimacy of the Star Pride in its current form, definitely get on the Star Pride prior to mid 2020. At some point in the next 12 months, they are going to dry-dock the Star Pride, cut it in half, and add 50 cabins, more dining experiences, more lounge areas and a new pool and hot tub.

 

A Tour of the Star Pride Ship

The Compass Rose Room:  It is located on deck six at the back and aft side of the boat. The Compass Rose Room is where all the dancing is every night. They have a band playing and an open bar every single night. It’s a lot of fun!

The Library: Also on deck six at the far back and aft side of the boat. It’s more than just books, though they have a great collection which is perfect if you’re looking to curl up with a new read. It’s a quiet space with computers in case you need one and there are also a collection of DVD’s.

Getting up and Down: There are elevators both in the center and on the aft side of the decks. There are also lots of stairs including spiral staircases. You have to make sure to hold on to the rails at all times – remember, you’re on a moving ship!

Reception Desk: They really do have everything you need including your daily programs, newspapers and crosswords, as well as all the paperwork that you get in your cabins every day. Additionally, if you lose anything or need any help whatsoever, the staff at reception will help you out.

Game Room:  There are board games and a large chess table in the back of the game room. There are also video games so if you’re a gamer, this is definitely the ship for you!

The Spa: As soon as you board the Star Pride Ship, make sure to go to the Spa and book all of your services during your entire trip. Things booked up fast and it’s no wonder; the ladies in the spa provide a 5 star relaxation. My favorite treatment was called “The Perfect Day” which is a 50 minute massage followed by a 25 minute facial.

The Gym and Sauna: The complimentary gym area has floor to ceiling windows, free weights, treadmills, elliptical machines and even complimentary exercise classes. I didn’t spend any time in the gym… I was too busy eating! But if you’re interested, it’s a nice space and there’s a sauna for after you get your sweat on.

Windstar Star Pride Vessel deck

Pool Area: There is one rectangular swimming pool, two whirlpools on platforms and a 3rd whirlpool at the ship’s bow (which is actually my favorite spot on the whole ship!) There are plenty of chairs for sunbathing and even some shady areas if you’d like to stay out of the sun.

The Star Bar:  A great area for an evening glass of wine outside on the top deck. There is live entertainment and more dancing!

Yacht Club: a lot of people in here reading doing puzzles this is where you get snacks and coffee during the day when they’re actually about serving a real meal in

Lounge: This is where all of the lectures were held along with the Staff talent show. It is the ship’s theatre and a great space to gather and learn or be entertained!

The Bridge: Windstar has an Open Bridge Policy – not all ships allow this. This means you can take a tour of the Bridge with the captain. I was too afraid to ask to sit in the captain’s chair but next time!

 

Windstar Star Pride cruise ship Photos

I want to say a big heartfelt thank you to the entire crew. I have thoroughly enjoyed my Windstar Star Pride Cruise and I am going to preach Windstar to the entire world! If you want to be notified of my new videos, join the travel tribe.

Know Before you go to Stockholm, Sweden

Know Before you go to Stockholm, Sweden

Going to Sweden soon? These are my best tips for your first visit to Stockholm.

This week I’m sharing my top tips things to do and everything that you need to know about Stockholm, Sweden for your first visit.

Let’s start with some things to know before visiting Stockholm:

 

Sweden is moving towards a cashless society. 

 

Even the famous coffee shop, Espresso House, doesn’t even allow cash. In the two days that I spent in Stockholm, I never had to exchange one euro or one dollar into Swedish kr. You can tip in Euros or dollars but everyone takes credit cards! 

 

Where to Stay in Stockholm 

 

I recommend that you stay as close to Gamla Stan, or the old city, as possible. Why? Because that’s where the great restaurants and shopping are, not to mention the beautiful Swedish architecture. I stayed in at the Sheraton Stockholm just across the bridge from Parliament. (Check out the hotel here!) It was a great location because it was just a five minute walk to Gamla Stan.

 

How long to visit?

 

I would recommend staying in Stockholm for two days. It you’re a museum goer, you probably want to stay for at least three. There are some incredible museums here including the National Museum, the Viking Museum, and the Vasa Ship. You also want to stay long enough so that your trip doesn’t overlap the entire time with the cruise ships. You want to make sure to stay at least a couple of nights so that you miss some of the crowds from the cruises.

 

What to Pack?

 

It’s always important to know what to pack when you’re traveling anywhere in the world and that’s especially true in Stockholm. The weather is rather unpredictable so it’s best to be prepared. I recommend bringing both short and long sleeves, open-toed shoes and weather proof shoes, long pants, and a light down jacket.  We visited in August by the way and I wish I would have brought a raincoat and travel umbrella.  It rained heavily, out of the blue, on a couple different occasions, so be ready for anything! 

 

 

8 Things to Experience in Stockholm

 

#1 Visit the Vasa Ship

It is probably the number one thing to do when you’re in Stockholm. I don’t know anywhere else you’ll see such a spectacular ship from the 1600’s! It sank in 1628 and was salvaged in 1961 and it’s definitely worth the visit. A very important tip for your visit:

The way to avoid the long lines at the Vasa Museum is to get your ticket at the little kiosk on the right. You can use a debit card that has a PIN number and buy your ticket straight away. Even though there are lots of tourists at the Vasa Museum, it is well worth coming. 

 

#2 Take a Ferry

 

Most cities have a tram or a bus system but what a better way to get around inthe middle of Stockholm than on a ferry? I decided to leave Vasa Museum and head back to Gamla Stan in the old town on the ferry instead of taking a bus or going for a walk.

 

#3 Get a Souvenir Dala Horse

 

Maybe you didn’t know this about me, but I’m a major horse girl. The Swedish Dala horses have been around since the 1800s as toys. They are probably the number one tchotchke thing you should buy when you’re in Sweden. The color and symbols on the horse are all representative of the town they were made in. 

 

#4 Visit the Narrowest Street in Sweden

 

You have to take a wander down Mårten 

Trotzigs Gränd, the narrowest street in Sweden. It’s only 35 inches wide at its narrowest point. They say you’re supposed to make a wish as you’re walking down the 36 steps. It’s a very cool experience. 

 

#5 Go on  a Walking Tour

 

I went on two walking tours during my 48 hours in Stockholm and both were with Stockholm free walking tours. I did the modern town tour and the old town tour. If you go with this company, make sure to ask for Joe. He’s a Brit who has been in Stockholm for two years now going to 

University. Joe was fun, knowledgeable and very clever.  I learned so much about the city on my tours.

 

#6 Get your Fika On! 

 

A must-do while you’re in Stockholm is to get your fika on. What does that mean? Stopping for coffee! Supposedly, the Swedes drink half a litre of coffee a day! It’s not like the Italian espresso, it’s more watered-down and so they can drink more!

 

#7 Try the Traditional Swedish Food

 

One of my favorite meals in Sweden was at a quiet restaurant in Gamla Stan where I had a “smorgasbord” of items. This included pickled herring, meatballs, cured salmon, Västerbotten Cheese, and boiled potatoes, to name a few.

 

#8 Watch the Swedish Changing of the Guard

 

The last thing I did before leaving Stockholm was see the changing of the guard. It’s one of the most popular attractions for visitors to Stockholm. The royal guard ceremony begins at 12:15 p.m. on weekdays in the outer courtyard of the royal palace. On Sundays, the event takes place at 1:15 p.m. I have a great tip about where to get the best view: the best place to be is against the palace as close to the little guard house as possible. I only got there about 10 minutes before the changing started and I was still able to see everything!

I hope you found this Stockholm Sweden guide helpful! If you’re traveling to Europe and you’re looking for more tips and tricks make sure to check out my videos about what to know before you go to Spain as well as London. I’ll see you on the next adventure!

Top Things to Know Before you go to Nice

Top Things to Know Before you go to Nice

Are you planning a trip abroad and wondering what to do in Nice, France? As a frequent visitor and former resident, I’ve got plenty of ideas to share: from where to stay, what to eat, and the best beach clubs to visit… Keep reading for my 13 Nice France Tips!

 

  1. Jet lag in Nice but then go visit some of the smaller villages surrounding it. Antibes, Villefranches, and Menton are all nearby cities that are definitely worth the trip!
  2. You will be spending euros in Nice. Another great thing to note is that the prices in Nice are very reasonable, especially for such a tourist destination.
  3. Avoid coming to Nice in August. This is the vacation time for everyone in France so Airbnb’s and hotels are more expensive and it’s harder to get into restaurants and all of the sights.
  4. The beaches are rocky, not sandy. This makes it virtually impossible to get in and out of The Med without water shoes. (Check out my favorites!)
  5. Consider getting the French Riviera Pass if you plan on having an active vacation. If you’re into visiting museums and forts, at 50 euros per pass, it might be worth getting this instead of paying multiple entrance fees.
  6. No need to get a car. It is an extremely walkable city. But if you want to go up to Provence, you can rent one just for the day and definitely rent it from a dealer on the outskirts so you can avoid the one-way streets.
  7. Stay near Vieux Ville or the Old Town of Nice. This is where all the best restaurants and shops are. There are also many great spots for photographs. It’s also where Nice comes alive at night.
  8. Dinner happens after 8 pm. People tend to come off the beach around 5 or 6 pm, get changed and then head to the cocktail bars for an aperol spritz. At around 8 or 8:30 pm, they migrate to the restaurants.
  9. Try the traditional foods. A salad Niçoise is actually a relatively new thing in Nice, but definitely something to try. Another delicious dish is called “Socca” – and for all my gluten-free friends, this is something you can enjoy! It’s made from chickpea flour, water, olive oil, and a sprinkle of salt. It’s served in the middle of the day, typically, and you just add pepper to it. It’s a great snack to have at only 3 euros a dish! As far as drinks go, try the Provence Red, White, and Rose wines and an aperol spritz.
  10. What to pack for your trip: The city is quite casual in general. The one thing you want to make sure to bring are walking shoes and water shoes like I mentioned earlier.
  11. If you’re used to having Air Conditioning, you will need to look for accommodations that specifically list they have that. It’s not common to have it.
  12. The mediterranean is an amazing place to swim and cool off. It’s a bit cooler so it’s perfect to dip in and out of throughout the day.
  13. Get a bit of cash out, but in general, you can use your credit card for most things. They are widely accepted in this big city.

If you’ve been to Nice and you have any tips, make sure to leave them in the comments on my YouTube video. I’m Kim The Abundant Traveler, and I’ll see you on the next adventure.

 

Tour Du Mont Blanc ~ Day 3

Tour Du Mont Blanc ~ Day 3

This is part 3 of my series on the Tour du Mont Blanc. Keep reading to find out how to plan for this amazing hike!

Myself and three girlfriends of mine from the USA were going on an organized trip with Adventures for Solo Travelers based out of Atlanta. I’ve been on several trips with them: I’ve been to Machu Picchu, hiking in Nepal, and now hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB). Check out my blog and video about Day 1 and Day 2.

We’re doing the three-day Tour du Mont Blanc with Alpine Treks a company based in Champex.

The final day took us from Switzerland to Italy.

If you’re looking for a different kind of Italy, away from the tourist cities of Venice, Florence and Rome, you might want to give Courmayeur a try. In the heart of the Alps, just across the border of Switzerland, Courmayeur is a charming town of 3,000 people and is known for it’s incredible snow skiing. I lovespending time in Northern Italy with it’s cool alpine weather coupled with all the sass and delicious food & wine you would expect in Italy. You’ll only need a couple days in Courmayeur, and the best time to visit is June-September for hiking, and January-March for Skiing. Looking for a great hotel?  Try the Hotel Croux or Hotel Courmayeur. Both are charming hotels! Something to note:  Courmayeur is not fancy like Vail or Aspen; instead, you get an old worldc casual feel in the hotels and throughout the city.

Hiking Tour du Mont Blanc – Day 1

Hiking Tour du Mont Blanc – Day 1

The Tour de Month Blanc is one of the world’s most famous hikes as it circles one of Europe’s highest peaks and weaves through three different countries. Come with me as we start day 1 of this 3 day hiking journey.

This is a 3 part series as I hiked 3 days my adventure in France in the stunning mountain town of Chamonix.  I’ve heard about this iconic ski resort for decades, but never had the chance to visit. This week, I share my tips for visiting Chamonix and hiking the Tour Du Mont Blanc.

 

About Chamonix, France

Chamonix, actually named Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, is located 99km from Geneva in the heart of the Alps bordering Switzerland, Italy and France. At an elevation of 3396′ which seems low until you look up and see the tallest peak in Europe, Mont Blanc. This town is famous for winter skiing as well as summer hiking and rock climbing; everyone in town seems active, fit and ready to take on the world. The food is incredibly delicious with a hint of Swiss fondue influencing the delicious French cuisine.

 

How to Get There

The best way to get to Chamonix is by private car from Geneva. It’s fast, convenient and you can travel when you want.  However, if you are price conscious, you can also check out the FlixBus which offers limited travel times between Geneva and Chamonix.  Note:  Geneva is NOT the cheapest airport to fly into, you may want to consider Milan which has a bus that takes around 4hr to Chamonix.

 

Where to Stay in Chamonix

There are lots of great hotels in Chamonix, and I’d recommend staying in the heart of the city as close to the walking zone as possible.  You are expending so much energy during the day on the mountain, that you don’t want to walk too far at night to have dinner.  We stayed at the 4 star Hotel Morgane and it was fantastic.  Ample sized rooms, great breakfast, and very friendly staff.

 

What to Eat

Ok, this is France, on the border of Switzerland and Italy.  Honestly, you cannot go wrong!  My favorite meal was at Josephine.  We started with shared salads which gigantic and so yummy, and then we moved on to Fondue and whole branzino (Mediterranean Sea Bass).  Make sure to sit outside, but UNDER the awnings; weather in the mountains is so unpredictable, and you don’t want to get drenched by a summer squall.   We also enjoyed the high end restaurant Atmosphere, and make sure to book ahead and ask for a table on the river.

 

Where to Shop

Every shop is geared towards outdoor activities.  From Helly Hansen to North Face and Patagonia, you can find everything you need.  Although you can buy all the name brands, make sure to check out these independent sport shops.

Best Spa in Chamonix

A must do while in Chamonix is the QC Terme Spa.  What an incredible spa and an incredible value; the daily entrance fee was only 48euros, and it included outdoor and indoor pools, cold plunges and foot soaks along with a salt room, waterbed room, infrared sauna bed room and a crazy face exercise relaxing room.  Again, QC Terme Spa is a must when traveling to Chamonix.

 

The Tour Du Mont Blanc – Day 1

We were going on an organized trip with Adventures for Solo Travelers based out of Atlanta. There were 24 of us who signed up for the tour but we were divided into three groups: There was a fast group, a medium group, and a slow group. I joined the slow group so that I would have time to film and take pictures. The tour company we went with was called Alpine Tracks, and my guide was Mark. He’s one of the owners of Alpine Tracks and has been guiding for 15 years! I was in very good hands.

We started our three day tour in Le Tour which is a ski resort, and headed out on our hike from France to Switzerland. We ended up in the small town of Triente and then got a transfer over to Martinique. That’s day 1 of our three day trek. Make sure to stay tuned for days 2 and 3!

Paragliding in Chamonix

Paragliding in Chamonix

Paragliding has been on my bucket list for some time, but I never wanted to rush it. Last month, the location, conditions, and price all worked perfectly! Keep reading to hear about my experience with Fly Chamonix.

 

HOW TO GET TO CHAMONIX

The best way to get to Chamonix is by private car from Geneva. I like it because it’s fast, convenient and you can travel when you want.  However, if you are price conscious, you can also check out the FlixBus which offers limited travel times between Geneva and Chamonix. Another way to save money would be to fly into Milan instead of Geneva. From Milan, you can take a bus that takes around 4 hours to get to Chamonix. Geneva is a smaller airport and so it tends to be more expensive to fly into.

 

 

WHERE TO STAY

There are lots of great hotels in Chamonix, and I’d recommend staying in the heart of thecity as close to the walking zone as possible.  You are expending so much energy during the day on the mountain, that you don’t want to walk too far at night to have dinner.  We stayed at the 4 star Hotel Morgane and it was fantastic.  Ample sized rooms, great breakfast, and very friendly staff.

 

WHAT TO WEAR

  • Long pants
  • Close-toed shoes
  • Wind-breaker (I used this Patagonia Rain Jacket)
  • Sunglasses (Check out my favorites from Ray Ban)
  • GoPro (or you can use theirs and pay a little extra)
  • Bonine for motion sickness

 

 

MY REVIEW OF FLY CHAMONIX

Our guides from Fly Chamonix met us at Le Brevent Gondola meeting point. They were right on time and getting us excited for the adventure ahead. When we got to the top of the windsock, the guides started putting our gear on us including harnesses and helmets, and setting up the parachutes. The take-off was such a rush: the idea is you run as fast as you can while the parachute is filling with air. Pretty soon, you’re floating in the sky! I loved how my guide gave me the opportunity to “drive.” For more adventurous people, you have the chance to do acrobatics and have a big adrenaline rush!

All of my friends and I thoroughly enjoyed our experience with Fly Chamonix. A highlight was flying in front of the breath-taking backdrop of Mont Blanc. A bonus with going with Fly Chamonix is how they set you up with an ongoing video of the flight for  a reasonable fee. I love my GoPro footage!

Thanks Fly Chamonix for the best day  ever!

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