As veteran cruisers we're always looking for new ports & new cruising "experiences". Sure, we'd been to Rome before, but how much can you see in 8 hours... this time things would be different... maybe even a little "too" different in some respects.
Admittedly our 3 day days our Athens Greece "pre-cruise" was anticipated as a "warm-up" to the real thing... a seven night sailing adventure aboard a small wind-powered schooner... the sails billowing overhead, and the smell of the salt air conjuring up what would have to surely be an image of "Capt. Jack Sparrow" at the helm of our very own sailing adventure !
Sounds cool doesn't it ?
While much of the anticipated trip was up to expectations, some of it was, well, a little less than we had hoped for !
The "Windstar" is one of three ships sailing under the "Windstar" brand name... it's not the largest one... and doesn't hold many guests... but that's kinda what attracted us to it.
A sleek white vessel in need of some minor maintainence, this vessel would spend the next 7 days transporting us, feeding us, and yes... even boring us.
While there are many of us that would like nothing more than to curl up with a good book and sail off into the sunset, I'm more of the "let's get going and explore unchartered territories" kind of guy, and so follows my observations of our cruise.
Boarding the Windstar was effortless, the ship is staffed by a marvelous crew who seemed to be just about everywhere at once. From our waithers to our room steward the courtesy and efficiency of the crew was as good as any we've encountered.
The food on the ship was plentiful and above average... sometimes even great ! Any of you that are used to food on Holland America or Norwegian are in for a real treat if you should take a Windstar cruise... if you're use to Celebrity you'll be dealing with a similiar kind of fare.
The cabins are top notch... ingenious attention to cabin design has turned these modestly sized abodes into something very unique and dare I say it ?... "nautical". The closed space was ample, the bathroom was out & out "cool", and the room stewards were top notch. We encountered some fairly rough seas on our journey and were grateful we'd book the upper of the two cabin decks on the ship.
The public rooms were clean, spacious, uncluttered, and neatly efficient. There was one lounge/entertainment area on the ship... one piano... one pianist... and two bars available.
We all want a good "deal" when booking a cruise, and Windstar had been working on only a marginal profit (when it's not losing money) to provide us all with an affordable vacation experience. For the folks at Windstar:... PLEASE, charge us a little extra and hire professional entertainment ! When only one "entertainer" is on board (in this case a pianist by the name of Roy who spends half of his year digging irrigation ditches in South Africa) it better be a good one! Electronic music "enhancing" devices, minimal musical skills, and marginal stage presence just doesn't cut it ! THIS is supposed to be "Windstar".. THIS is suppose to be something "special". THIS ISN'T !!!!!!!!
This is a tough one to talk about, so I'll try to make it brief.
After departing the Greek island we embarked on our trip to Messina... a sea day was involved and we encounted 10-foot seas. Rocky... sure, but no problem. THE PROBLEM IS the top speed of the ship (supposedly about 10-11 knots on an ideal sea) was not up to the challenges of a mildy-rough seas journey. YES... we had the scheduled day at sea... but the next day we had nothing to do but wave at "Messina" (Sicily) Italy as we had fallen so far behind we had to skip the port... now we were up to 2 days at sea during a 7 day cruise... the next day?,,, Scheduled for a 9am arrival we actually made it to Capri (an incredible place) at 10:30 and were permitted to de-bark at 11 am. The last tender back (and all ports were tendered) was at 2:30 pm... so after 2 1/2 days at sea we were granted 3 1/2 hours on land before heading to Rome ! WHAT HAPPENED TO ITALY ?... WHAT HAPPENED TO OUR PORTS ?... here we were, like a bunch of over-fed prisoners on a ship that in effect had morphed almost into a "cruise-to-nowhere" !!!!
Look, I know this doesn't happen on every cruise... but I also know that I'll probably never make another trip to Sicily, or be able to afford to see Capri in the way it should be. A simple observation... WINDSTAR... If you folks can't predictably visit ports don't advertise them !
There's more to this... but enough already.
Would I take Windstar again... maybe... but not likely. I was really expecting so much more, so much much more.