After searching for months my husband and I decided on a Windstar cruise for our first one. From the moment we boarded the ship until the time departed it was an amazing trip! The ship itself was beautiful and well maintained, a few places of rust on the ship here and there...but you are in salt water, bound to happen. The crew was constantly cleaning and maintaining the ship. My favorite part of the ship were the sails and Compass Rose. Most of our evenings were spent there listening to the duo that was playing. Great talent.
The service and staff were very accommodating, and yes they do know your name after day one! Everything I ate on board rated from very good to awesome! My only complaint was the coffee, if you are a coffee drinker you might not enjoy the coffee. I heard the expresso and cappuccinos were great though. Next trip I will just take a small French press and make my own.
My husband really enjoyed the water platform off of the back of the ship, he used that several times. Our favorite parts were the beach day with the BBQ and the BBQ on the ship, both were lots of fun and food amazing ( and we are used to fine dining). We were on the beverage plan and the drinks were not watered down at all, and always had excellent service. We also purchased the laundry package and used it several times. However, the prices per piece are very reasonable so if you only need a few things laundered then I wouldn't get the package.
As far as excursions we did our on and didn't book through the ship. We loved Smugglers Cove, we borrowed snorkeling stuff from the ship and went on our own! Beautiful beaches at each port, just ask the locals were to go. And, you can negotiate cheaper cab prices.
We can't wait to go on our next cruise, we have decided to do at least 2 on Windstar a year! This was our favorite vacation ever!