We sailed on the Wind Star from Puerto Caldera to Panama leaving on Sat. 3/9/13. The transfer to the ship was very efficient and the boarding went quickly. The check in was very efficient and we were in our cabin with our bags in less than 20 minutes.
The sailing took place at dusk and as we stood on the fantail with a drink in hand and talking to two new friends, the ship got underway. They unfurled the sails with a striking song playing in the background, it made for a stirring experience.
The initial dinner in the Amphora restaurant was outstanding as was every subsequent meal. The breakfast and lunch menus at the Veranda restaurant or at Candles (the open deck dinner venue) were equally varied and delicious. On the last night there was a fantastic buffet dinner on the deck. Everything from a whole roasted pig, piles of delicious shrimp, and lobster tails, etc.
The most enjoyable thing for us was the crew. They are a mix of Filipino and Indonesian and every one of them is very personable and attentive. By day two they all knew your first name and what you preferred as to food or drink. We still haven't figured out how they got everyone's names down so quickly.
It is hard to find things much about the ship to complain about. The internet access was very expensive and very, very slow. Activities on board are limited but that gives you plenty of time to relax and make friends.
I did enjoy the blackjack tournaments held on two separate days. Especially the second one since I won $200 on my $25 investment. The piano player Buddy does a great job. We had two couples that we spent a lot of time with and two others that were quite close to us. We played a lot of cards and learned a new game.
The two onshore tours we took were overpriced and overhyped. The Marine Wildlife Safari would have been OK at half the price and half the time. The Golfo Dulce Rescue Center was interesting and the lady is doing a yeoman job with the rescued animals but it was overpriced.
The ship had a mechanical problem on the day we came through the Panama Canal so we ended up sitting off Porto Bello instead of making it to the San Blas Islands. They added an excursion as well as a trip to the shore and it was fairly well-hyped by the director as a beautiful place. As we were preparing to get on the tender to go ashore our friends were coming back aboard saying the place was horrible and they were annoyed at the false advertising. We talked to a number of people and while the reviews were varied they were all negative.
The disembark process was as smooth as the boarding.
We would certainly travel again with Wind Star as it was a great time. We would just be more cautious with our of-ship choices.