Wind Spirit Cruise Review by MiMiT: First time on Windstar - hopefully not the last
Overall Member Rating
First time on Windstar - hopefully not the last
Destination: South Pacific
Embarkation: Tahiti (Papeete)
My husband and I recently returned from our first Windstar cruise celebrating our 45th Anniversary. From start to finish, we can not say enough good about our experience. The staff and crew on the Wind Spirit were top notch and waited on us continually with cheerful attitudes. This was in spite of unusually cloudy/rainy weather for Tahiti this time of the year. Almost all of their planned activities had to be moved, rearranged and brought on board - no easy task, but they made the most of it. We would be hard pressed to find anything to complain about.
The one inconvenience on this ship over a larger cruise ship is the gangway - a steep stairway rather than the ramp we are used to. It is a lot harder on older knees, but someone was usually there to carry our gear and towels etc to allow us two hands to grasp the rail. There is no elevator on this ship - it would have been nice at times, but they often carried our snorkel gear etc to our room for us. And the only other item of More complaint we had was at our Candles outdoor dinner (also moved under cover because of rain), our table was right next to the serving/cooking area. As we were finishing our dessert, the wait staff was disassembling the serving area, removing table cloths etc which dampened the ambiance. We felt they could have waited a few minutes on that.
So that being the only items we could criticize, we loved our entire week. Everyone was friendly, learned our names and used them, offered help, just all around great service in every area. Our weather was the only downer and that couldn't be helped. We met many new friends on board, and could not have had a better week. We now love Windstar. Less
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Cabin review: 238
We were surprised that our cabin did not seem smaller than regular cruise ship cabins we have had. Storage space was amazing, and everything we asked for Ceppy our steward got for us. Extra pillows, a nightlight for the bathroom (the cabin is very dark at night), ice bucket constantly refilled - any request. Our bed was comfortable, tv worked well, lighting was a little less bright than I like - especially for makeup. But there were great reading lights over the bed. I took a power strip so had plenty of plugs for hairdryer (supplied in cabin) and battery chargers. Robes and slippers were provided as well. We loved being on the second floor as not so many steps every time we went anywhere, since there is no elevator.
Port and Shore Excursions
Shark & Stingray Encounter
We actually did this excursion both days in Bora Bora because the coral garden snorkel was so good, and all our friends on board were doing it on the second day after we had already gone. The stingrays and sharks were really fun, but the coral gardens were magnificent there. We had no sun, but the visibility was still good. We tendered in to get a ride to Bloody Mary's and find internet service since it was not dependable on the ship. Then we tendered back to ride an inflatable boat around the ship when they hoisted the sails for us to get pictures the second afternoon in Bora Bora. Had there not been clouds it would have been beautiful... but we really appreciated Windstar doing this, as we were always on board when the sails were up. Bora Bora was our favorite last time we were here because the water is so beautiful, but this time the clouds prevented the beauty from really showing. It was very disappointing. Two days and no sun...very unusual for August. Our guide did tell us they were grateful because the El Nino would have produced cyclones had they not had the cooler cloudy weather.
We booked this excursion even though it was very expensive, because we had enjoyed a similar one when there 9 years prior. This one was much smaller, but the spot was beautiful, the lunch was great, the guide was very informative and entertaining, and having had no sun, we finally had blue skies and beautiful water. We had hoped to snorkel twice, but only had one stop on the way to the motu. Pretty good snorkeling there - but the motu lunch spot had no snorkeling - no coral. And we didn't have time for a second snorkel after lunch. I do think time could have been managed to allow for another stop, but we throughly enjoyed our time. Our guide showed us how to crack a coconut, drink it, grate it, make Poison Cru, wrap a pareo, dance, and then she made numerous items from woven palm leaves on our way back - while the guys on the boat played ukelele and spoon music for us. We had a beautiful day on this tour. But I do think it was expensive.
We were thrilled that the snorkel trip took us back to our favorite motu in Moorea near the Intercontinental where we stayed 9 years prior. We snorkeled with the stingrays and black tip sharks and then off the motu. It was a special time for us as this was our actual anniversary and my husband had so hoped to find this motu again. The water was beautiful and clouds did not roll in until later, so we had a beautiful day. When we got back to Cook's Bay, we decided to stay and snorkel at the little hotel next to our tender spot. It was beautiful snorkeling there before tendering back to the ship.
The ship left port that afternoon to have a sunset sail at Moorea, but the clouds blocked the sunset for the most part. We had friends who went to the Lagoonarium at Moorea, which we had researched online prior and they loved it. We might choose to do that if we go again. They rented a car to get there.
Black Pearl Farm
Same as above - included in our tour with vanilla plantation. We saw the process in action and of course had the chance to buy. I do think the tour booked through the ship was much better for really seeing the pearl farm - but we had done one before so this was a stop on our way to snorkel for us.
Although the weather was cloudy, the snorkeling was awesome - just as we remembered it from before. We made two drift passes through the coral gardens and then had fresh fruit on the boat before returning. It was a must do trip for us. The motu picnic on Tahaa was rained out, but we did go out to the motu to try to snorkel. The current was so strong we could not enjoy it that day, but the motu was pretty - too bad the barbecue was cancelled.
A group of us went out with our guide to a small vanilla plantation on Tahaa (from Raiatea) and to a small pearl farm then out to the barrier reef that surrounds both islands to snorkel. It was very interesting but not as in depth a tour as we had last time on the plantation. But it was awesome getting right up to the barrier reef for snorkeling.
We also went up the Faaroa River with him and then to a little motu to snorkel in the afternoon
We picked up sandwiches at the grocery store in town between trips out. The river trip was just ok but relaxing. And of course the weather didn't help. One note about the public restrooms we encountered - they had live flowers decorating the sinks, etc. but no toilet paper!
We stayed at Le Meridien the night we arrived at Papeete. We had been at the Intercontinental 9 years prior and I think we prefer it, but we really enjoyed our short time at the hotel. The hallways are dark and the elevator a ways from the lobby, but our large room and view were nice. We also had a day room there for our day in Papeete at the end of our cruise before flying late at night. I do think the rooms are overpriced, especially the day room as we only used it to shower and change clothes. We would have rather had access to a shower room and luggage storage for much less. We spent the day on the beach and pool area, so really didn't need the room. But at the last minute friends from the ship asked to share our room, so the cost was cut for us. We would have done that from the beginning had we known anyone going on the cruise with us.
Our breakfast buffet (included in the first day) was quite good, and we bought lunch the last day - it was good too, but the sandwiches were huge.
We enjoyed the pool, the beach, (snorkeling was just ok, not great, and current was very strong) and especially watching the sunset on our last night in Tahiti against Moorea in the background.
We considered a helicopter ride here, but it was expensive for a short ride, so opted to relax. Friends that went on an all day excursion loved it, seeing lots of waterfalls. We did visit the market in town once we transferred to the ship - to buy tuber rose leis that we love, and a tropical flower arrangement for our anniversary to have in our cabin - and a Hinano tshirt for my husband. Our weather in Tahiti was the best we had all week, so that made our time there considerably better.
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Trip of a Lifetime!