A year ago, 4 couples decided to cruise the Ionian and Adriatic Seas from Athens to Venice on the Star Pride. The purpose of the trip was to celebrate the 60th birthday of one of ladies. The Birthday Girl was familiar with the Wind Star Line, so the rest of us joined in. We arrived in Athens on July 3rd, checking into the St. George Lycabettus Hotel (recommended by Wind Star) at around 3pm. The hotel was in a beautiful neighborhood on the side of Lycabettus Hill. The hotel staff was very accommodating, and without much difficulty we made our way to our rooms. Our room was a little dated, but comfortable. The shower was absolutely horrible, but we managed. Our friends had good showers, so it appeared that we were just unlucky. Any disappointment vanished when we looked out of our window. There is all its glory was the city of Athens including a front row seat of the Acropolis. Wow! The same goes for the restaurant at the top of the hotel. Wind Star was fully represented at the hotel. We registered with one of their representatives, and we simply had to have our luggage ready to go by 9 am on July 6th. Two buses arrived at around noon, picked us up and along with our bags, we headed to the ship.
We arrived at the port after a short drive through Athens. When we arrived, we went through a security check and boarded the Star Pride. We turned over our passports, credit card info, received room keys and made our way to Cabin 219 on Deck 5. Our friends were close by. We had a Balcony Suite. It was absolutely wonderful with King bed, large bathroom with double sinks and full shower/bath, and a very comfortable sitting area with TV. DVD, Boise sound system, and minibar. The cabin had a walk-in closet with plenty of space for clothes. Our suitcases fit under the bed. We toured the ship on our own after a mandatory life boat muster in order to check things out. Before we knew it, we were at sea!
The Good (Great included):
1. Without a doubt, our Cabin 219 was wonderful in every way imaginable. Our Steward, Rusi, exceeded our expectations. We selected the laundry package ($140 for the cabin) and it was exceptional. Everyday we had things either pressed or laundered, without a single problem. I needed cold gel packs each day for an ankle injury, and Rusi asked me to dial 0 and request them. Once again, expectations were exceeded. The Cabin was organized and spotless the entire cruise.
2. We dined in the Veranda for breakfast each day. The selections were over the top. I had some fun with it to see how far I could go without a problem. I never had one, as they came up with everything!
3. We dined either in The Amphora Room or Candles for dinner each evening. The drinks, wine, menu selections were fabulous.
4. Our waitstaff at all meals were exceptional. Harry served our table as the primary waiter. He became family on the cruise. Marcus and Raphael were our bar stewards. They met every request from cocktails (Old Fashioneds, Manhattans, Martinis) to wine and after dinner liquors. The dining room Officers watched over the entire process making their presence known.
5. The onshore excursions were all great. We toured Delphi, Butrint, and Dubrovnik including a wine tasting. Other days, we simply enjoyed the cities we visited.
6. The Gift Shop was very nice.
7. The nightly entertainment was also fine. We sang, danced, and one of our party, joined the band as a drummer.
8. The Deck BBQ was over the top!
9. The Executive Chef and Soux Chef were both very visible. I joined the EC on a visit to the market to purchase fish, vegetables, olives and cheeses. The SC held a cooking class.
10. We passed on the drink package and were glad we did. We spent less money and had a better selection.
1. The internet was just plain bad. I spent $150 for three separate packages and was very disappointed. We had to rely on shore visits in order to have reliable wifi.
2. The swimming pool looked pretty bad. I never saw anyone in it.
1. By far, the most disappointing experience involved the tender returning from the Butrint National Park in Albania. The shore staff lost control, as there were people breaking in line, it was hot, and we just sat around the dock waiting for the tenders which came about every half hour or so. Some of our group waited 2 hours to get back to the ship. The Captain made a personal apology to the entire ship and refunded each participant 20% of the fee for the excursion.
In summary, we were very pleased with our cruise. It was expensive, but to a person, we would return to the Star Pride and Wind Star cruises for the crew, the food, the drinks, and the Cabin.