We took a 7 day cruise on WindStar's Wind Surf, our 6th cruise but first on this cruise line. This was the smallest ship we have ever cruised on, with only 215 passengers on a ship holding 315. Since we live in Italy and would be arriving by train, we skipped the ship's transfer service and opted to do it on our own. The only "hiccup" of our entire trip came as we tried to find the proper dock for the Wind Surf. We rec'd no written confirmation or email from Wind Star prior to the trip and unfortunately our TA was unresponsive when we inquired about the ship's location. We mistakenly rode the port's free shuttle bus, only to arrive in the main port for larger cruise ships. We could see the Wind Surf but had difficulty reaching it. We finally arrived at the Wind Surf 2.5 hours after arriving in Venice, and after taking the vaporetto water bus and walking about 1/3 mile. In retrospect, maybe we should have paid 60E ($90 US) for a water taxi directly to the ship and avoided all the hassle, but we use public transport often and didn't realize it would be so challenging to find the ship.
Check-in and embarkation were easy and quick, more laid-back than on other large 3,000 passenger ships we've cruised. I guess with only 215 guests onboard, all the procedures were faster and simpler. The entire ship was scaled down size-wise from our previous ships, but space was always roomy to adequate and we never felt cramped in any public or private areas. In the lounge where check-in occured, we were offered snacks, drinks, and info about the spa. We were escorted to our cabin & unpacked within 30 minutes of arriving at the port terminal.
The ship was beautiful and well-maintained, with teak decks, two hottubs, adequate sun lounges for relaxing, and a small pool (one pool was under maintenance the entire trip). There were plenty of small tables with umbrellas on the rear decks, perfect for reading, enjoying a drink, or just watching the view as we sailed. The main level of the ship also had a large lounge with entertainment and free snacks from 6-7pm, large book and DVD library, free IPOD rental, plenty of comfortable leather chairs for reading, the shore excursion desk, reception area, and small shop for souvenirs and toiletry items. There was a small casino but it was never busy.
Our cabin was a simple ocean-view stateroom. The first day I smelled a gas or diesel odor on that level when we first entered, but it wasn't overwhelming or constant throughout the cruise. Since we were at the bottom & rear of the ship, maybe cabins on higher, central or front decks would be completely free of fumes. Our cabin was very spacious, light and provided plenty of storage. There were more cubby holes, shelves, & drawers for storage than we needed. The bed was extremely comfortable and the pillows were soft but supportive. We never heard any noise and I slept like a baby. The room contained a flat screen TV, DVD-CD player with IPOD dock, underpowered hairdryer, individual room AC controls, roomy granite bath with plenty of storage, powerful handheld shower, and nice L'Occitane toiletries from France. WindStar seemed to include lots of nice amenities even though this was one of the simplest and least expensive rooms on the ship (bought last-minute at a great price!). The room was well-designed and made maximum use of the space available, and it never felt cramped. The sailing was smooth and we never felt excessive motion from the seas. Sails were unfurled via computer most days although the engine was also used to provide power.
We enjoyed all the ports and could easily walk from the ship to important historic sights within 5-10 minutes. We did not take any shore excursions because we enjoy traveling independently and it was super easy to explore all the ports (no docking 50 miles from town as on large ships). Ports included Venice (overnight), Koper Slovenia, Rovinj Croatia, Split Croatia, and Dubrovnik Croatia. Port time was adequate and leaving/entering the ship, even on the tenders, was quick & easy. On 2 out of 5 ports we used tenders to reach shore, but there were no long waits and the tenders had plenty of space since they weren't full.
Food aboard the ship was above average and better than Princess & Norweigan ships we've cruised on. We ordered room service twice, and the food was good and service was prompt. Breakfast & lunch buffets in the Veranda were plentiful and included lots of fresh fruit, salads, and a grill station for eggs, french toast, or sandwiches. Dinners in the main dining room were very good, and special outdoor tables were set up on the rear decks near the pool for 2 theme restaurants: one offered steaks, the other seafood. A smaller indoor dining room offered a themed menu that rotated every couple of days, from asian fusion to continental/italian. We ate there on the asian fusion night and enjoyed it. The wine/beer list was adequate but naturally smaller than on larger ships; prices were reasonable and several under $60 US bottles were offered. Service was consistently good throughout the cruise in both dining room and cabin areas. Staff members were friendly, attentive, and professional without being overbearing, and they brought extra touches around like cold towels while we lounged in the sun.
The Wind Surf is not the ship for you if you like big Las Vegas-style shows, plenty of nighttime entertainment, extensive casino games, lots of shipboard activities, have limited mobility, love formal nights, or plan to bring small children under 12 years old. If you want to focus on seeing the ports, enjoy a smaller ship with no crowds, and want to enjoy a nice meal while cruising, the Wind Surf might be perfect for you. We enjoyed it and would definitely return for another 7 day cruise.