Wind Surf Cruise Review by TopDawg: Overall an enjoyable cruise with some room for improvement
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Overall an enjoyable cruise with some room for improvement
We cruised Dec. 14 - 21, 2014 from St. Martin to Dominique, St. Lucia, des Santes, St. Kitts/Nevis, BasseTerre.
I have to begin this by saying that I give Windstar high marks for its interest in providing a good cruise. Everything you read here I put in a letter to Mr. Birkholz, president of Windstar. He called me to follow up and thank me for the letter, apologize for the shortcomings, take action to fix them, and offer an incentive to cruise again with Windstar. You can't do better than that.
The staff is great. They were always smiling, cheerful, and helpful. Our cabin steward, Suki, was a gem. It has to be a challenge to keep everyone that way cruise after cruise and my hat is off to the management staff who makes that happen. Among the staff, the captain is a standout for his comedic wit and could probably have his own show. The band we had (High Society) did a fine job of playing songs we could enjoy and dance to (we are over 65). We appreciated the security More arrangements for leaving and returning to the ship and the card scan made it easy. The tender service to shore ran often and smoothly. The quietness of our cabin was remarkable. Rarely did we hear anything from outside or next door or even the ocean for that matter (we were mid ships on deck 1). The TV/DVD/Boise system worked smoothly and enjoyably (but we did miss CNN or a major US network). Our cabin was a decent size and nicely furnished with a comfortable bed. However, the mini-fridge would not chill very much at all and the cabin was 80 degree when we arrived the first day and it took half a day to cool down. The overall maintenance and cleanliness of the ship was excellent. The BBQ on the beach was very nice and the swimming area pleasant. The food service and food were very good with a few exceptions. The small number of passengers also makes for a more enjoyable cruise experience. It can be hard to find a shady spot on deck during the day if you are not a sun worshipper.
There were small issues that clouded our enjoyment. First among those was our confusion over the application of a $200 credit we got through the travel agent. We assumed it would go against anything on our bill including the $12/day per person gratuity charge. Nope. Maybe it would pay for an island tour we had prebooked prior to the cruise. Nope. We did not discover the limits of the credit until I inquired about 4 days into the cruise. The money went toward drinks and items in the gift shop - neither would have been expenses we would have incurred otherwise. The staff tried to resolve our request but bureaucracy got the best of us.
The water provided in the rooms had a baking soda taste to it. Not so bad you couldn't drink it, but you would never look forward to having a glass of water. No bottled water in the minifridge either. We eventually discovered we could get it at the bar and sandwich shop after we bought some onshore.
The ports of call were nice, but sadly these little islands do not have much to offer with their tiny economies. The good news is the big ships don't stop at them (at least not when we were there) so you don't have crowds. We had a nice tour on Dominique to the waterfall and gorge, but not much fun snorkeling. As far as we could tell, the reefs you may find along the trip are not thriving and hardly scenic. Don't expect much. This is not the fault of Windstar, just something you should know. BasseTerre is nothing but a tacky tourist trap. des Santes is a quaint little town worth a stroll. You can find cheap WiFi in one of the cafes there. Shipboard WiFi is expensive and slow.
Your biggest headache won't be on the cruise. It will be what to do after you depart in the morning when it is over and before you catch your plane if it leaves later in the day. There is NO service to check your luggage so you can leave it and wander the town. Windstar offers a "tour" that lasts until about noon before it drops you at the airport. That costs about $70/person. A taxi to the airport costs $20/person. We solved the problem by taking a taxi to "Mary's Boon" hotel/restaurant near the airport and hanging out for four hours including getting lunch. I recommend it highly for that purpose.
The airport itself is nice and clean, but it is still an airport terminal. (Note: US Airways requires 3 hr. arrival before departure - don't believe it. We were there on a very busy day and 2 hours was way more than enough. I wouldn't arrive less than 90 minutes before because things are not handled efficiently.) You can get food to eat in the terminal gate waiting area. Less
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