Okay here's the REAL deal if you're not already committed to taking this cruise, DON'T! If you are here's how to enjoy it the best you can.
First the positive things. The Wind Spirit itself is wonderful. We lived mostly on the deck. The itinerary was fabulous although it was changed a bit for our cruise. We would have preferred a half day at Jost Van Dyke (By the way use the restrooms near the Soggy Dollar NOT One Love the owner was very unpleasant) and a full day on Tortola.
The excursions if you love to snorkel or dive, definitely do the Tortola snorkeling excursion at the Indians and Benure Bay on Norman Island. It was the highlight of the entire cruise! Do the Regatta in St. Martin if you haven't before but don't waste time and money on the snorkeling in St. Bart. Wasn't worth the $52/pp. On St. John we rented a jeep from Spencer's and toured the island on our own. Loved Trunk Bay and Hawksnest Bay. On Virgin Gorda you must do the Baths. The caves are for people who have a sense of balance and upper body strength. You are rewarded by the beach on the other side but during our cruise 12/14/02 the water was very rough for snorkeling or swimming. If you like to jump waves it's great. There were gorgeous views on the bus ride to and from the baths.
The Food on Wed. night they served a barbecue on deck that was out of this world. The surf & turf on the menu is great too. Otherwise the food was lousy! Tasted the same day after day especially breakfast. In the dining room, ask for Daddy's section. He was the ultimate! The only crew member who delivered 5-star service.
The Cabin was small but with plenty of storage. Bathroom was great and mattress very comfy.
Now for the Negatives.
Several key crew members were rude toward the guests, the water sports director refusing to answer questions and yelling at passengers. We were misinformed several times by the hostess (cruise director) like the supposed 10-minute walk from the ship to Pussers on Tortola (it was 2 ½ miles!). We almost missed the ship. Thank God a taxi driver came along and rescued us!
ZERO pampering as advertised in the brochure (exception was Daddy, of course).
Too expensive for what you get.
No 24-hour bar service. The deck bar closes ½ hour before dinner forcing people to go down to the lounge for the host's announcements. She should just do it on the deck where people prefer to be. Or do it twice for our convenience not hers.
The music was awful. A passenger had to donate a Bahama Breeze CD just to hear island tunes. The live entertainers were lovely Brits but totally inappropriate for a Caribbean cruise. We thought we'd have more of an island experience. There was a steel pan band on Virgin Gorda for the beach bbq but they were mediocre at best.
On the Regatta excursion in St. Martin boxed lunches were handed out to us prior to sailing (not a good idea) and in a filthy dock area with no place to sit. This wasn't thought out for the convenience of the guest.
Disembarkation was the last straw and the deciding factor to not take this cruise again. First, at 6 am (prior to sunrise) there's banging on your door for you to give them your luggage. And strobe lights coming thru the portholes of the customs/police as they approach the ship. They recently changed their policy about putting it outside in the hall for pick up due to fire hazards (Wind Song had fire and is being sunk within the next 2 weeks). We were told that no one leaves the ship until everyone clears customs -- how inconvenient! If you wanted breakfast you were rushed with everyone else within an hour period. On a previous cruise, my husband I and woke up at a reasonable hour. Dined at our leisure and disembarked late morning. What we don't understand is this -- the ship doesn't sail until midnight certainly they could put off embarkation for new passengers till 6 pm (instead of 3 pm) to allow a more leisurely exit for disembarking passengers (like 10 or 11 am)...or much earlier if the passenger wants to do so. There would still be ample time to prepare the ship for the next sailing. The toilets in several cabins stopped working at the same time all this was going on!
We spoke to many guests as we were preparing to disembark who said, "never again!"
Another guest told me she was just on the Wind Surf and it was filthy (except for her cabin).
Suffice it to say we took them up on their no tipping required policy.
All in all we're surprised that Windstar is associated with the likes of Holland America & Seabourn which are known for great service, food and suchlike.
Perhaps we'll try them next.