Wind Surf Entertainment
Imagine finding the daily roster of activities on your bed each night with barely a thing on it. That's one of the hallmarks of a cruise onboard Wind Surf -- the lack of organized entertainment such as one would find on a more traditional cruise ship. Instead, the roster tells you what dining is available and when, what time the combo starts playing in the Lounge, the opening hours for the casino, the televised movies for that day (most new if not the Oscar-buzz-worthy top films), and the hours for entertainment in the Compass Rose.
A secondary set of pages advertising spa specials and the Park West art auctions were also delivered each night; the display for the latter being fairly unobtrusively set up in corners of the Lounge and Main Deck corridors.
There is no "cruise director" on Wind Surf; instead, there are a pair of hosts, a relic from the Club Med days, where "gentils organisateurs" ("gracious hosts" in English) performed that function. Each evening one of the hosts gives a port information talk about the next day's stop. Everyone gathers in the Lounge at 7 p.m. to learn about the port, the shore excursions, the region and its history. Unfortunately, since shore excursions close at 10 a.m. the day before, if you're particularly intrigued by one of the host's descriptions, it's too late to book the tour.
On the other hand, you do at least get a fairly good overview of the region you're visiting, and ideas and options for the following day. It's fun and collegial to attend these talks and then head off to dinner afterwards.
On the night of the Lounge buffet extravaganza, certain members of the crew put on a show. It's smaller in scale than on larger ships, of course, but part of the fun is that by then, you've come to know the players quite well, and seeing them perform is much more rewarding.
Of course ship entertainment changes from one season to the next, but for our cruise, there was one great duo and one mediocre band. The couple that performed nightly in Compass Rose was young, hip, with-it and fabulous -- bar-none the best individual performers we have ever seen on a ship. We particularly loved the night they did a tribute to Shania Twain and Tina Turner; the woman singer could really belt out a tune. When she morphed into Tina, and started "Proud Mary," the crowd was on its feet singing along. Just fab!
The combo in The Lounge lacked both energy and a compelling playlist and commanded scant attention.
The adjacent casino has approximately 30 slots in denominations from 10 cents to $1, three blackjack tables, one poker table, and a roulette wheel. Blackjack was fairly popular on our cruise; most of the slot machines got little use.
Wind Surf Public Rooms
We were honestly surprised at the size of The Lounge, Wind Surf's main indoor salon. It spans the ship from port to starboard and is furnished with comfy, casual furniture so you can really relax. Low pillow-strewn banquettes line the walls under the windows, tables are scattered about, and a stage is set up for the combo that plays most evenings and the crew show, which takes place one night during the cruise.
The centrally located Yacht Club replaces the previous library and provides comfortable seating for socializing, reading, doing puzzles and playing games. This is also where you'll find the aforementioned Yacht Club Sandwich Bar -- and gourmet coffee drinks and pastries. Eight computers with Internet access are available (these take the place of those formerly in the business center); personal laptops may also connect to wireless Internet. A large flatscreen television anchors a seating area for group gatherings to watch special events such as the Oscars or the Super Bowl. A library of books, CDs and DVDs are available for checkout at no charge.
Our favorite spot onboard is the Compass Rose bar at the back of the ship just above the swimming pool and hot tubs. It's another indoor-outdoor venue, surrounded with teak tables and woven wicker-like chairs with cushions. During the day it's an excellent hang-out spot; at night, when the weather is nice, sitting outside while listening to the entertainment is a highlight of the evening. The chairs and tables are pushed to the side for dancing when appropriate.
There's a pool bar below Compass Rose -- open during the day -- and a "cigar bar" just above.
Hint: If you want to do some quiet chatting on deck in the evenings, choose a table on the aft deck outside of the cigar bar. The pool deck area is lovely, but there's a large speaker on either side broadcasting the music from Compass Rose, and it's quite loud.
Wind Surf Spa & Fitness
The ship, which is marketed to active travelers of whatever age, has a large and well-equipped fitness spa facility. The gym features near-new equipment of all types, from treadmills to free weights, which were constantly in use during our cruise (though none of the treadmills have individual flat-screen televisions that are popular in more up-to-date facilities). Pilates and yoga classes are available at $11 per class.
The spa, operated by Steiner of London, is surprisingly spacious for a ship of this size, with several treatment rooms and even a float capsule. Teeth whitening was heavily promoted, but the Hydrotherapie Facial (at $99) was perfect after a day in the Mediterranean sun. The best prices are reserved for shore days. And because so much of our itinerary was port intensive, the spa was open late -- to 10 p.m. most nights -- which was a nice convenience for folks who didn't stay onboard during the day.
Wind Surf's best feature, though, is its sports platform, a marine playground right on the ship. Available only when the ship is at anchor (i.e., in tender ports), and depending on the weather, sea conditions and local regulations, guests can avail themselves of kayaks, windsurfers, Zodiacs, snorkeling equipment and even water-skis. A dive program, complete with guides and instructors, is available as well.