It Might Astonish You: Winter Could Be the Most Enchanting Period to Sail in the Mediterranean

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By Car Brand Experts


Exploring Italy, France and Spain aboard Star Legend earlier this year turned out to be remarkably delightful. I mention this with surprise because I discovered that this particular part of the Riviera has been a winter retreat for northern Europeans for centuries. Now I understand it. The late winter days were pleasantly mild, I enjoyed the serene atmosphere compared to summer, there was ample sunshine most of the time, and the region offered rich culture, dining, shopping, and entertainment. One sunny day in Nice, people were even sunbathing on the beach.

If Windstar’s debut in the area last winter was somewhat unknown, there is exciting news now: Winter in Europe is making a comeback for the upcoming season, with Windstar’s original route from Civitavecchia in Rome to Livorno for Florence and Lucca, Nice, Marseille, and Barcelona, offering expanded choices. There are now five itineraries focusing on Spain, the Adriatic, and the Christmas market season.

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Discover Winter in the Mediterranean with Windstar and Denella Ri’Chard

It seems I am not the only traveler who has unraveled this experience. Have a look at ” Traveling with Denella Ri’chard,” the highly acclaimed television series; Ri’chard details her voyages on Star Legend, airing starting from July 13.

Watching “Traveling with Denella Ri’chard” reminded me a unique and unexplored area to visit at this time, prompting me to share five useful suggestions for making the most of your winter Mediterranean experience.

Planning to Pack? Consider Layers and Remember Your Bathing Suit

During my trip in early March, the weather was consistently comfortable, with temperatures ranging from the high 50s to low 60s during the day, warm in the sunlight, cool in the shade. Although a sudden thunderstorm in Rome caught me off guard. I suggest bringing a sturdy coat (I opted for a poncho-style raincoat that kept me dry), a wool sweater, and a warm scarf – my go-to daytime attire. Don’t forget a pair of reliable shoes; the cobblestone paths can be slippery when wet. Evenings tend to be cooler, so layering up is advisable if you plan on wandering around. On the ship, the hot tub was always available, so pack your swimsuit in your luggage.

Adopt a Mediterranean Christmas Custom

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The Christmas markets, typically running from late November to Christmas Day (some extended) bring great festivity to Mediterranean cities/Carolyn Spencer Brown

If you adore the Christmas markets along Europe’s Danube and Rhine rivers, you are in for a festive experience in the Mediterranean, where cities like Rome, Florence, Genoa, Nice, Monaco (a quick train journey from Nice), and Barcelona all partake in the celebrations. The festivities include local holiday delicacies, artisanal crafts, ice skating, live music and entertainment, and regional spiced wines. The markets, commencing in mid to late November, continue until Christmas Day (and some into the following days). The markets operate from dawn till dusk, with evenings being the most magical time to visit.

Your Ship — and Your Cabin — Serve as a More Vital Home Away From Home Than Usual

Ri’chard describes Windstar’s Star Legend as a “plush and cozy retreat,” a sentiment that resonated with me. One wet morning in Barcelona, I explored the somewhat deserted La Boqueria market, and yet the comfort of returning to Star Legend, relaxing in a chair with a good read, and ordering room service for lunch felt like a much-needed escape. Prepare to dine in indoor venues more frequently but be prepared for the possibility of enjoying a meal outdoors if the weather permits.

Your Itinerary Can Offer Enhanced Flexibility — with Few Exceptions

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Exploring Rome in winter offers a laid-back vibe/Carolyn Spencer Brown

Whether you plan to visit the major art museums in Florence and the Vatican in Rome, it is recommended to book your tickets in advance. However, due to the more relaxed atmosphere of Mediterranean cities in winter, I found that I could plan my days around my whims. During our overnight stay in Nice, I split my time visiting museums and relishing a long, leisurely lunch at the year-round market. On another occasion, I hopped on a train to Monaco, wandering through the streets, absorbing the surroundings. A newfound gem for me was Windstar’s new “on your own” tours. I tested one in Livorno, a perfect way to explore the city, which is quite a distance from the port, with a guide providing maps and information, granting us a day of independent exploration but with secure transportation to and from the ship.

This Season is Ideal for Discovering the Urban Marvels of the Mediterranean

Nice in winter
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During our late winter visit to Nice, the days were sun-kissed and mild/Carolyn Spencer Brown

Keep in mind that winter in the Mediterranean is more suited for urban explorations rather than rural landscapes and scenic villages. The cities featured on various itineraries, such as Naples, Genoa, Rome, Valencia, Messina in Sicily, and more, are exceptional destinations during this time of the year.

Editor’s note: Windstar’s episode ” Winter in the Mediterranean” of “Traveling with Denella Ri’chard” will air on July 13 in cities like Seattle, Miami, Baton Rouge, Columbus, and more. Additionally, the show will be available for streaming after the initial broadcast; details can be found here. Denella Ri’chard is a highly sought-after globetrotter, travel aficionado, and influential figure in the travel industry, frequently sharing insights at conferences on the future of travel, gender diversity in travel, travel innovations, and inclusivity in travel. Her long-running weekly TV show is now in its seventh season.

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