For years, Windstar Cruises had been a fleet of three majestic motor-sail-yachts: Wind Surf, Wind Star and Wind Spirit. But in 2014–2015, the line doubled in size when it purchased a trio of 212-passenger luxury yachts from Seabourn. Star Legend is one of those yachts; it, along with sister ship Star Breeze, made its maiden voyage with Windstar in May 2015.
Windstar's vibe of laid-back luxury carries over from the sailing ships to the yachts. The intimacy of the ship means that the crew -- especially the stewards, wait staff and bartenders -- get to know you and anticipate your requests. The staff is friendly and will call you by your first name -- not Mr. or Mrs. So-and-So, as is often the case on the luxury lines. The ship's ambiance is relaxed but classy, with casual attire recommended during the day and resort casual in the evenings. The freedom of no formal night means travelers don't have to pack too much.
Star Legend offers an "almost luxury" experience, just like its fleetmates. Your cruise fare isn't all-inclusive like it is aboard the ships of SeaDream, Regent Seven Seas or Silversea. Non-alcoholic beverages (soda, water, specialty teas and coffee) are included, but you'll need to buy a beverage package or pay a la carte for any alcoholic drinks that you order. You'll likewise pay for all shore excursions, with the exception of Windstar's special complimentary private event -- often a beach BBQ or a visit to a cultural center for a concert and canapes. All dining options, including the intimate Candles, are surcharge-free.
Experienced cruisers will note some significant differences between the motor-sail-yachts and Star Legend. For starters, this is more of a traditional cruise ship and that means the cabins are larger than those on the sailing ships. In comparison, they feel downright spacious with walk-in closets, a marble bathroom with double sinks and a shower (or shower/tub combo), and either large picture windows or a French balcony. There are also elevators (not found on Wind Star and Wind Spirit), which makes this ship more appropriate for anyone with compromised mobility. (However, be aware that there is no way to initially board the ship other than a flight of stairs, and one of the elevators did not always work during our voyage.)
Windstar applied $8.5 million in upgrades to Star Legend before it joined the fleet. Cabins, the restaurants and all public spaces benefitted from the refresh. The redesign of The Yacht Club was particularly successful; it's a main gathering place on the ship, offering coffee, sandwiches and snacks along with terrific views. The size of the pool on the Sun Deck was curiously decreased, but there are two lovely hot tubs that passengers use frequently.
Despite Star Legend's refit, the ship's two tenders have had technical problems ever since the ship debuted with Windstar. During our voyage, one tender was inoperable and the other was underpowered for the task of ferrying all passengers ashore. At one port, the wait for tender service reached an hour or more, making travelers miss out on precious time ashore. To Windstar's credit, the line did arrange for rental tenders in most other ports, but the crew was not always on hand to assist passengers on and off these vessels. It seemed to be both a mechanical and service lapse.
That's too bad, because the line's calling card is its destination focus. Star Legend calls in immensely popular ports (St. Martin, Venice, Barcelona) while also visiting lesser-known spots that the big ships can't get anywhere near (Montserrat, the BVI's Jost Van Dyke and Isafjordur, Iceland). Windstar's port-intensive itineraries are a major selling point to many passengers who select their voyage based on the destinations Windstar visits. Star Legend isn't the type of ship where travelers stay aboard all day when the ship is in port. They get out there and explore -- either as part of a ship-sponsored shore excursion or on their own.