We spent the night in the Marriott Panama City but booked ourselves instead of through Windstar and saved over $100 each doing it independently. Very nice hotel in a great location with pool and helpful staff.
First impressions of the Windspirit was ‘great’ which was unfortunately rather muted after the 1.5 hour coach ride to Colon from Panama City having to listen to the tour guide drone on for most of the journey. Disembarking the coach and finding our way to the Windspirit was also very shambolic with no direction, signage nor Windstar representative but we all found our way in the end to the refreshing air conditioning of the ships main reception. Registration in the lounge was a little amateur but we got through it and were then directed to our cabin.
Warmth and hospitality of the ship staff are one of the biggest plus points of the voyage with staff soon learning your name. Our cabin on deck one amidships was very comfortable but showing a little wear despite the recent refurbishment that took place. Our cabin steward was very helpful, friendly and made our stay very enjoyable. Depending on what muster point you are allocated for your lifeboat there is a clear difference in the quality of staff and the amount of information you receive from them. One hopes there will never be an incident.
Without going into too much detail the other passengers on the ship were very friendly and nice people and we made friends with several. The entertainment was everything you would expect, and we wanted, from a small ship i.e. just a piano player which was very good. We didn’t take up the drink package as not value for money! We do like two or three cocktails/wine in the evening but it just did not work out financially as a good deal. We did, however, take up the laundry package which was great and well worth it.
The food was lovely! We really enjoyed Candles on the pool deck although you do need to pre-book. The main restaurant AmphorA was very nice too with great service. My partner and I both need to go on a diet after all the great food which was always available.
Windstar promote their ships as ‘private yachts’ and that is how it really felt. You wouldn’t have noticed 148 passengers on board.
We went through the Panama Canal which was scenic but once you’ve done one lock that’s about it, but it depends on your individual interests. Christmas day was spent on Isla de Coiba in the Pacific. What a paradise and fantastic day on the beach, bbq and first real day on a beach in the sun. I would recommend you do detailed research on the ports prior to the trip and plan your own outings. Most companies will pick you up at the dock as part of the package if you wanted to do some zip line for example and they most definitely will be cheaper than booking through the ship.
There may have been faults with either the ship, trips out, staff etc but we would most heartily recommend Windstar and are already looking at sailing with them again. This is the next best thing to having your own yacht so enjoy!