I had difficulty finding a current Wind Star review when I was searching in late August so I decided to add one.
We took advantage of an amazing bargain on the Sept. 5 cruise from Istanbul to Athens. A charter was cancelled and the whole ship had to be rebooked in 4 weeks. Needless to say it was impossible to pass up so after getting air to Istanbul we booked it.
After embarking on large cruise ships, arriving at the Windstar dock was a surprise. There were no crowds, just a fellow who took our luggage and added luggage tags. We walked through a building and up the gangway! All registration was dealt with in the ship's lounge where refreshments were being served as we completed our paperwork. Very civilized!
Our cabin was small but comfortable with two porthole windows that did not open -much to my disappointment. My need for a softer bed top was dealt with creatively by our steward as there was no "eggcrate foam" on board.
The ship was lovely with a great deal of wood and the masts and sails above. There was not as much flashy decor as on the larger ships and minimal entertainment but the smaller size and fewer number of passengers (under 190) allowed more time to get to know your cruisemates. It was wonderfully quiet -no announcements and no people selling drinks.
Breakfast and lunch were served buffet style with the option to order items from the menu. The buffet was varied and fresh (smoked salmon was served every morning) with made to order omelettes available, so we didn't need to take advantage of the menu. The service was outstanding. The staff got to know our names and our preferences no matter where we sat. They would even show me where my sweetie was sitting if he got there before me.
Dinner was in the dining room and we were able to choose the size of table we wished, each evening. After a day or so we joined some new friends. The food was very good. The German head chef prides himself on utilizing the freshest, healthiest ingredients possible. The sweets served after dessert each evening were an additional and delicious treat. We managed to eat them though we were already full! Again the service was wonderful. I was surprised, however, that the meals were not significantly better than those we have had on Carnival or RCCL. We were expecting gourmet, extraordinary food.
We took two of the ship's excursions -the tour to Ephesus and the Bodrum Peninsula tour. Both were very, very well done and worth the money. The guides were excellent and we learned a great deal about the locations we toured.
A comment about Santorini: after reading many posts we decided to do it on our own. Once we got to Oia we enjoyed exploring but getting there was a pain. We had a long wait for the cable car and once on the top in Fira tried to take a bus to Oia. The buses were crowded and confusing with no schedules posted, no organized lines and no accurate information on the buses themselves as to where each was going next. Taxis quickly left and were not easily available when we decided to try that option. In retrospect, I would either take the ship's tour to Oia or grab a cab as soon as you can get one and go. Oia was breathtaking, however, and worth the trouble to get there. Getting back to Fira was not as difficult, although there was a longish wait for a bus. We ended up in a cab with a driver who smoked the whole way. The lineup to get down the cable car was longer than the one to get up -at least an hour and a half! This was in September with only three ships in port. I can only imagine what it would be like at the height of the season. Keep a close eye on the time your ship leaves and factor in waiting time on Santorini!!!
When we got back to Athens we used Paul at Greek taxi www.athenstaxi.org His taxi is an air-conditioned, E-class Mercedes and seats 4 passengers plus the driver comfortably. All his tours are private with a very flexible itinerary and prices are per trip, not per person.
He was wonderful, met us when he said he would and took us on a private tour of Athens' sights. As we only had a half day and had our luggage with us, this was a perfect way for us to see Athens in air conditioned comfort.(150 Euros) He told us much about the history of the places we visited. Paul took us back to Piraeus and picked up our prearranged tickets on the high speed ferry for us. We spent the next couple of days on the island of Poros -a lovely quiet respite from the activity of big city Athens. Paul also arranged for a driver to meet us two days later at the ferry dock and take us to the airport for 55 E -only 5 E more than a regular taxi and we had the security of knowing the ride would be there when we arrived. I recommend Paul at Greek taxi highly!
We had a wonderful time on the Wind Star. I was disappointed that the sails were not raised more often and never while in port, so I was not able to get a picture of the Wind Star with all sails flying. This was, however, a small detail. The overall experience was a memorable one. Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.