We flew into Frankfurt from San Francisco and then to Istanbul. We stayed at the Four Seasons for one night and loved the hotel. The girls hired a professional shopper gal for about 5 hrs. in the morning and took us on a wonderful walking tour through the bazaar and other areas. It had been 8 years since we have been on the Wind Star so we kinda new what to expect. We did a 14 day double cruise this time rather than the 7 days as before. Upon arrival everything went well and the check in went rather smoothly even though we got there the same time a "tuck" group got there at the same time. Our cabin was what we expected as have been there before but still it is so small when compared to other lines we have been on like Crystal and Oceania. As we set sail we were surprised at how run down the ship was. They were getting ready to completely remodel the ship and it was very obvious that they were not going to spend any money and keeping the appearance in first class manor. All the woodwork needed re-finishing and rust was very apparent throughout the ship.
Our first port was Kusadasi, then in order Rhodes, Bodrum, Santonrini, Mykonos, and then Athens. We loved all these ports. WE did Kusadasi, Rodes, Bodrum, and Santorini on our own. We rented a car in Santorini and toured the whole island. My advise would be to get off the ship as early as possible as it is a nightmare to get on the tram with all the other cruise ship passengers. Took well over an hour standing in line. Our first tour from the ship was in Mykonos to the island of Delos. We had a great guide and loved the trip. Very windy so bring a wind breaker. About 80% of ship passengers got off at the port in Athens. We rented a taxi to take us into Athens and would recommend that rather than the train as it is so much faster and worth the extra money. We had been in Athens 3 times before so we shopped and had a great lunch. Would recommend having lunch in all the ports of call as you can go to small local restaurants and pubs and experience the local food and wines. Our next week our stopping ports were Nalplion, Gythion, Messina, Amalfi,Ponza, and the ending in Rome. We have been to these ports before and loved them. Recommend going to the Diros Caves in Gythion. It is NOT on the cruise line agenda, don't even mention them, and they are truly unbelievable. Took a local taxi to the caves and recommend using them not the bus. The bus stays for ever and the taxi again is well worth the extra money. Had a great local fish lunch after the caves. You can Google the Diros Caves. Out of Messina we took the tour to Taormina and loved the little city. The tour was only 4 hours and we could have spent the day as it is a great little city and did not have time to see it after the touring the Ruins. We loved Amalfi and would go back and use the city as a base. The ship advertised boats going to Capri at 9:30, 10:30, and 11:30 so we thought we would walk the little town in the morning and take a later boat. When we got to the dock we found out that they cancelled the later boats 2 weeks ago as the season had ended. The ship should have known this. So no Capri. The last port, Ponza, was not worth the stop. Nothing and I mean nothing there. It would have been much better to stop in Capri. Have no idea why they stop there and all the other passengers agreed. Over all the ports were great and the couple of sea days were wonderful.
Now for the cruising experience. Wind Star advertises as a 4 and 5 star cruise line. They are anything but that. The ship is run down, the rooms are small, and the food barely pass's as average. The breakfast buffet is good and the lunch's are very good but who has time to eat lunch when in port. We love to eat lunch at the local ports. The dinner's were truly bad. I could go into more detail but it would take way to much time. They were just bad. The wine list barely pass's as being a "fair" rating. We ended up buying some very good local wines and took advantage of the $15 corkage charge.
What made this trip truly enjoyable was the service and help. They are all well trained and truly great. I cannot emphasize enough how wonderful the service is. The tipping policy is $22.00 per day per couple and then an additional 18% added on for bar drinks and wine service. We did additional tipping to the help as the employees and service were the best of the best.
It will be a long time until we do another Wind Star. Fourteen days in that small room was just a little to much and then looking forward to a poor dinner was not much fun after the first week.