Captain Belinda Bennett originally wanted to be a marine biologist, but instead of exploring life under the sea, she’s been “fortunate enough to have a life on it instead.”
Born in St. Helena, one of the most remote islands in the world, and starting as a deck cadet at age 17, Bennett moved up the ranks until she began working with Windstar Cruises 14 years ago. In January 2016, she was named Captain of Windstar’s MSY Wind Star, a four-masted sailing ship accommodating 148 guests and 101 crew members. She’s currently captaining the Greek Isles route.
Her dream career hasn’t come without challenges. “I’ve run into both racism and sexism over the years, but I have never let it be an issue,” she says. “When I was training as a cadet, I had a chief officer, unfortunately, who made me work later than the sailors, so they would knock off for the day, and I would be left outside continuing to work until it got dark.”
Now that she’s Captain, however, she enjoys the daily challenges of the job, meeting new people, and seeing new places. “I never have two days that are alike,” she says.
As a long-time expert of the open waters, Bennett shared with us some of her sea- and ocean-related favorites, from the most beautiful cruise route to the best under-the-radar beach destination.
- Saint Helena
- Greek Isles
- Captain of Windstar’s MSY Wind Star
I love Sorrento, or any Italian port with leather bags and leather shoes (my shopping obsessions). Portoferraio on the island of Elba has the best gelato. I also love the Panama Canal because it’s so iconic and such a marvel.
Favorite Cruise Route
I love the Dalmatian Coast and the Croatian coastline—the ports are all so beautiful. In my opinion, the best itinerary for that is Windstar’s Classic Italy & Dalmatian Coast. I’m not the captain on that route, but it’s still one of my favorites!
Favorite Under-the-Radar Beach Destination
I like Agios Ioannis on Mykonos—it’s more of an under-the-radar beach in an on-the-radar beach destination. It’s just a perfect Cycladic village and not as crowded as many other beaches on Mykonos. Plus, we have a relationship with a resort there where Windstar guests (for a fee) can get picked up/dropped off/returned to the ship, and they get to access all the resort amenities like sun beds and a swimming pool, along with a private stretch of beach. It’s a great way to get a more off-the-beaten path experience but not have to lug all your gear or sit uncomfortably on your towel.
Favorite Spot in the World for Seafood
I love Bequia (a tiny island in the Caribbean), which has the best lobster pizza at Mac’s Pizzeria.
Advice for Cruise Skeptics
Disregard the notion that cruising is for the more mature community. There are some fabulous places that cruise ships like Wind Star call at whereby you get to see multiple cities and islands you would not normally see by staying in one place. The activities and adventure cruises rival those offered by land-based resorts.