Wind Spirit Entertainment
The social hub of the ship is The Lounge on Deck 3. It has contemporary furnishings, with comfy arm chairs and sofas, a projection screen for video presentations, a corner bar and piano. The Lounge has large open spaces with a center stage that doubles as a dance floor. Large picture windows enhance the experience and give passengers wide, sweeping views of the seas. The Lounge is used as a meeting place for shore tours and to host folkloric performances, lectures, and pre- and post-dinner cocktails and appetizers.
The highlight of each pre-dinner gathering in the lounge (and just about everybody comes) is the cruise director's port talk, offering lively historic renderings of each port, in addition to insightful tips on attractions, offbeat shops and cafes.
You won't find any Vegas-style shows on Wind Spirit, but that doesn't mean music and dancing are no-no's. A duo plays nightly in the lounge before and after dinner. On the second evening in Bora Bora, Windstar's private event sees local performers dancing and thrilling the audience with a fire show after a BBQ dinner at sunset. At another port, a group comes aboard to play the ukulele while passengers are shown how to make a lei and tie a pareo (sarong) in different ways.
One of the pluses of a small-ship experience is the lack of planned activities -- no bingo, no art auctions, no incessant shipwide announcements. Socializing is a big attraction; our shipmates were friendly, and someone was always asking us to join them for breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks, etc. The conversation was consistently lively.
The small casino, consisting of two blackjack tables and a few underused slot machines, drew a regular group of aficionados. The ship also spent a couple of evenings in port, which allowed passengers to have dinner ashore.
On each cruise, the captain hosts a reception, and, while Champagne is the standard drink, bartenders were happy to take individual requests -- a nice touch not typically found on bigger ships.
On the night of the poolside BBQ, the crew organized an outside deck party. The ship's pianist subbed in as deejay, and the crew performed a couple of well-rehearsed if not perfected line-dances ("Footloose," anyone?), with passengers joining in the fun. The party lasted to well past midnight. Crewmembers said they adjust the music and dances to the tastes of the cruise travelers onboard.
Wind Spirit Public Rooms
Passengers board Wind Spirit on Deck 3, midship, near the reception desk, which doubles as the shore excursions form drop-off area. Reception only keeps certain hours, though you can dial housekeeping for any after-hours assistance. A spruced-up lobby features a glass fountain with cascading crystals.
Walking aft, you'll find the Signature Shop, a small duty-free shop with just the necessities -- sunscreen, painkillers, batteries, toothpaste, etc. -- as well as a few gifts that include jewelry, perfume and clothing. Hours fluctuate, and the shop is not open when the ship is docked; check your daily program for opening and closing times. Just because something is not available in the gift shop does't mean that the gift shop manager won't get it for you. One of the passengers needed an item that wasn't in the shop, and the manager purchased it for her and had it delivered to her cabin.
The library, located next to the gift shop, has a few shelves of books (the bulk of which is made up of travel guides) and about four times as many DVDs. Open the cabinet doors to find lots of board games such as Super Scrabble. Two computer stations connect to the Internet, though laptop users can access bow-to-stern Wi-Fi. Packages are available, and prices have come down: 200 megabytes for US$60; 500 megabytes for US$120; unlimited for US$250. The connection is slow, as is standard at sea.
All the way aft is The Lounge, which is the ship's primary gathering spot. Our first introduction to the Lounge was during the check-in process, which is quite civilized. You show up at the dock, hand over your luggage and walk up the gangway, which takes mere minutes. Then, you fill out the necessary paperwork in the Lounge, amid complimentary mimosas and canapes, rather than in a stuffy terminal.
One public space that's a bit of a surprise is the navigation bridge. Wind Star has an open bridge policy, which means you can stop by at pretty much any time to see what the captain and his crew are up to. Only six passengers are allowed in the wheelhouse at any time, and alcoholic beverages are not permitted.
Smoking is not permitted inside the ship, but there is a smoking area on the starboard side of the ship on Deck 4.
Wind Spirit Spa & Fitness
You'll find a small saltwater pool and adjacent hot tub on Deck 4 in front of the Pool Bar; both are open from 7 a.m. until midnight. On deck, the sleek and streamlined teak woods are polished and inviting with an ample supply of padded lounge chairs and umbrellas. If you'd like to walk around the deck, eight laps equal a mile. A piece of advice from experience: The best time to fit in that stroll is prior to 8 a.m. -- before the deck chairs are put out and the sunbathers show up. Early morning is also a great time for watching the crew raise the sails (weather permitting) and spotting dolphins around the ship.
There's a small gym onboard, outfitted with two treadmills, a stepper, an elliptical machine, a weight machine and some free weights and exercise bands. The fitness center is open from 6 a.m. until midnight. Yoga and stretch classes are offered on deck around 7:45 a.m.
However, our favorite stay-fit feature onboard is the water sports platform, located aft on Deck 2, which is open at certain times when the ship is at anchor. (Check the daily program for hours, weather conditions permitting.) It became a ritual to come back from a busy, hot day and cool off with a few laps in the deep blue sea. Beyond swimming, other activities include kayaking, sailing, water-skiing and stand-up paddle-boarding. Floating mats and tubes were also available on our trip, and you can check out complimentary snorkel equipment to use throughout the cruise, to be returned the day before debarkation.
Bicycles may be rented for excursions, as well.
The Wind Spa, located off the Lounge on the starboard side, received all new soft goods during the 2012 refurbishment and features a salon for hair and nails, as well as two treatment rooms for spa services. The spa offers facials, body sculpting, wraps, body composition analysis, personal training, men's haircuts and shaves, and teeth whitening. Specials are offered throughout the cruise.
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