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58 Lisbon to Mediterranean Cruise Reviews

We chose this cruise for it's Spain-intensive itinerary and no at sea days. This turned out to be a mixed blessing, as we did private tours (Spain Day Tours, which we greatly recommend). All of the tours involved van/bus rides of ... Read More
We chose this cruise for it's Spain-intensive itinerary and no at sea days. This turned out to be a mixed blessing, as we did private tours (Spain Day Tours, which we greatly recommend). All of the tours involved van/bus rides of 1-2 hours, and quite a bit of walking, so we were pretty tired and had no at sea days to recuperate and just enjoy the pool, spa, or the rest of the ship. This was our third Oceania cruise overall, and this time it was just me and my wife (no kid or parents). Even though we tend to keep to ourselves, we met a lot of amazing people during this cruise. At the specialty restaurants, we were required to share tables in order to get an earlier dining time. All of the people we met were modestly to wildly successful, loved to travel, and were a delight to spend an evening with! If you are this type of person, and aren't hypercritical about your room, food, etc. you are going to have a wonderful time on Oceania Marina. Just sit back and let it happen! Observations: - We didn't spend a lot of $$$ on alcohol. We did take advantage of happy hour drink prices at Horizon's, the captain's cocktail party, and discounted drinks each day at the pool (we only had time to use the pool twice though). - Free internet was greatly appreciated. I only used it to check personal email and do some photo editing. The wifi reception wasn't great in our room, but I'm an early riser and would go up for coffee and then sit with my laptop in the library where the connection was great. It's a charming and quiet place to sit. - There is no nickle and diming on Oceania to buy drink packages, buy photos, etc. Very relaxing. - There was more storage in our room than we needed. That was a first!! Unfortunately our oversize luggage wouldn't fit under the bed. - If pressed, we might have noticed a slight decline in the food quality since our previous Oceania visits. Friends we met on board thought so too and one had a pleasant conversation with the head chef about it. But we still enjoyed our meals immensely and this is not really a complaint. My favorite specialty meals seem to change every cruise. This time I liked Toscana the most; Polo Grill was my least favorite as my steak was just OK (loved the pork belly appetizer and the dessert sampler though!). - I would have liked to leave our balcony door open at night and sleep to the waves, but there is too much wind whistling for that. We slept very comfortably with the door closed. - There are plenty of hand sanitizing stations around the ship, and the staff won't let passengers serve themselves at the buffet (these are very good things!). The ship was spotlessly clean. We can't wait to go back to Marina or any other Oceania ship for that matter!!!! Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
We sailed aboard Oceania Marina from Lisbon to Monte Carlo Sept 29 – to Oct 6 2019. Our expectations and excitement for the journey as well as the Marina were high based on much research and Oceania’s marketing. Our cruise experience ... Read More
We sailed aboard Oceania Marina from Lisbon to Monte Carlo Sept 29 – to Oct 6 2019. Our expectations and excitement for the journey as well as the Marina were high based on much research and Oceania’s marketing. Our cruise experience was not five star/luxury, intimate, personal, or warm. Cabin and Concierge Service Cabin service was average, but not personalized or attentive beyond usual clean up and prep. Examples: used more than one bucket of ice nightly, but always had to ask for second one. Superior service would have inquired proactively. Turn down service often clashed with when we were preparing for dinner (8:30p reservations). Superior service would have had our reservation schedule and worked the evening cabin duties accordingly. The patio cushions were removed in the evening but not replaced in the morning. Our attendant and assistant were both pleasant, but seemed to have too large a base to serve for the entire trip. Per Oceania’s marketing, we expected more focused attention (smaller crew to passenger ratio). Concierge service was lacking. Although attended, not welcoming or personalized, even though we used service daily. Recognition and acknowledgement would have elevated the experience. Deck door between our cabin deck and our neighbor’s cabin deck was not secure/firm and would rattle and clunk during the night. Food and Beverage Service Drink service at bars was often slow regardless of number of patrons. Bartender acknowledgement, even if busy with other tasks, is expected and was rarely given. Weather was warm, and deck service was never offered on the three occasions I chose to utilize the various areas, to include spa terrace, main pool area, and conversation areas. We dined at Waves Grill for lunch three times and the steak and lobster was superb, as was the ahi tuna. The other sandwiches were average. Waves Grill table service was lacking. Water service was immediate, but bar service was slow and inattentive. It also lacked personalization. I had a premium beverage package and ordered wine with lunch with ice. Never was I recognized or asked proactively if I wanted wine again with ice – this would have been superior service and not just average service. Sommelier service in the buffet was slow as well, but only used it on the first day. It is noted the buffet table service on the port side of the Terrace Buffet was far superior to what we experience elsewhere (breakfast). Red Ginger was superior in service and food quality. Barristas was very good as well, but table service in the library would have been excellent/superior (or at least to be asked once settled). Jacques food quality was lacking. Lamb was overcooked, sent back, and overcooked again. In fact the waiter even mentioned that my barely pink lamb was indeed medium rare versus offering something different or even preparing again, which I would have expected from Superior service. Sommelier service was good/attentive. Our first Grand Dining room service seem strained. Our waiter indicated 9p couldn’t come soon enough. Service throughout the evening wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t excellent. I had to ask for refill of wine when needed. Our second Grand Dining experience was similar to our first. The escargot was very good, lobster bisque lacked any indication of lobster, and crème brulee was grainy and of a pudding/undercooked consistency rather than custard. Table service did not inquire why it wasn’t eaten or if it was satisfactory or if we wanted something else. Superior service would have been more aware of our experience. Tuscany grill was average for food quality, sommelier service, and table service. Not bad, but not 5 star. Our last night was Polo Grill. Initial table service was commendable, but bar service and sommelier was extremely anxious and stressed and virtually non existent, even as the volume of people diminished (we had 830 reservations and were there at 825). Had to ask repeatedly for wine/refill and table service seemed not to know our understand how our experience was going or being paced to facilitate beverage/wine service – they did not seem to partner with the sommelier or kitchen very well. We were virtually ignored for an hour by our table service (other than water). The main course never came and no one spoke to us about delays or gave any indication that they were even aware of delays. Around 9:30 my husband sought the maître de and still no one came to talk to me or refresh my service. By 9:40, I was upset and left the restaurant with my husband in order to pack and prepare for departure tasks. Only at that time did there seem to be any concern about our service and experience. Although apologies were given and alternatives offered, at that time is was far too disappointing and too late to repair. Other Services/Activities I had planned on using the artist’s loft (one of the reasons I chose Marina), but it was never attended nor any products or amenities available to use other than the 4p class which conflicted with excursion timing. A self service option would have been lovely to use for sunset sketching or morning activity. Summary: After much research, I chose Oceania because we enjoy a casual, resort environment with outstanding amenities, focused service, and five star cuisine and culinary experience. The service and quality aboard Marina was inconsistent and impersonal, not superior or intimate. I am very disappointed to have paid more than twice what I have on other cruise lines while experiencing less service, quality, attentiveness, and appointments (including Celebrity, Carnival, and A-Rosa River cruises). It is noteworthy to mention I have not received a follow up directly or indirectly from Oceania for feedback as of 17 October (11 days after disembarkation). Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
We really like the quiet atmosphere of Oceanic - very few children, not a lot of loud music. The pool area stays relatively quiet. The food is, for the most part, very good - especially in the specialty restaurants. We had the wine and ... Read More
We really like the quiet atmosphere of Oceanic - very few children, not a lot of loud music. The pool area stays relatively quiet. The food is, for the most part, very good - especially in the specialty restaurants. We had the wine and beer package, which allows beer and wine by the glass at meals. It was adequate. I would suggest they add a couple of WBTG at each restaurant to complement the food. Our cabin was wonderful - Penthouse Suite. Roomy and comfortable. Rahul the butler and Danelia the housekeeper were friendly and efficient. You get hors d-ouvrves each afternoon, which was nice, but they weren't great. The only noise from above was late at night, and it was minor. Every stop on the Iberian Quest itinerary was fabulous - just beautiful. However, Oceania's excursions can vary in quality. We had some very good ones - Cadiz, Provence - and one unsatisfactory one. We had booked the spa trip to Granada, but it was changed to Malaga. Also lunch was not provided. Oceania did provide a 25% refund after we complained. Marina is a pretty ship with great food and service. My observation is that Oceania's passengers are trending older, (I mean really older) so if you want a more lively atmosphere, try another line. We would definitely return to this area of the world, but maybe on our own or with Celebrity. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
This was our 6th Oceania Cruise, 3 on each Riviera and Marina. This size of ship suits and have not tried the smaller ones. We booked our flights independently and flew to Lisbon on the day of the cruise arriving at the terminal about ... Read More
This was our 6th Oceania Cruise, 3 on each Riviera and Marina. This size of ship suits and have not tried the smaller ones. We booked our flights independently and flew to Lisbon on the day of the cruise arriving at the terminal about 11am, had a quick coffee at the coffee shop next to the cruise terminal and a Pasteis de Nata which was delicious. Embarkation was quick and efficient and we were on board by midday. Included in our package was the Classic drinks package which we upgraded to the Prestige package as soon as we got on board, this cost was $20pp per day which was quickly used up after having one glass of champagne, so upgrading is definitely worth it. Headed to the pool bar for a pre-lunch drink then headed to The Terrace for lunch. As usual the buffet was very good, the selection of food was very good and the service was excellent, plenty of staff and lots of sommeliers so no problem getting a drink. Our cabin was ready by 1pm so we headed down to have a look, we were located midships beside the lifts and stairs an ideal location. The cabin was in good order, plenty of wardrobe and drawer space, bathrooms were still as plush so we were very happy. The suitcases were already in the cabin when we went in so we quickly unpacked and headed back to the pool deck. Food in the GDR was very good and again the service was first class, attentive waiters and sommeliers, again no problem getting glasses topped up and we were often asked if we would like another bottle. We took advantage of the 4 speciality restaurants and these didn't disappoint, the food was excellent in each of the restaurants. What lets Oceania down is the poor entertainment, the production company were poor, weak singers and the guest entertainers were poor especially the comedy magician who was on twice and he was embarrassing to watch, the exception was the violinist and the group which played in Horizons. Oceania really need to up their game when it comes to entertainment, there was the usual Trivia in Martinis at 4:30 which is a pain if you want to have a drink as inevitably you need to keep quiet as this is taken very seriously by the teams playing. Oceania trips in my opinion and well over priced and would not book them. We had been to most of the ports with the exception of Alicante so we just did our own thing. We have embarked in Monte Carlo before but never disembarked there. It was a bit chaotic as there is only a very small area for collecting suitcases, this is outside and uncovered, so if it was raining it would have been a bit of a nightmare, also the number of cars in this small area was dangerous. We didn't see much of the Captain or Officers however overall this was an excellent cruise, we met many interesting people and look forward to our next Oceania Cruise. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
My husband and I love smaller ships with a little luxury thrown in. We have enjoyed plenty of cruises on larger ships when the children were growing up but discovered the joys of 5-6 star cruises recently. We chose WindSurf as it fitted in ... Read More
My husband and I love smaller ships with a little luxury thrown in. We have enjoyed plenty of cruises on larger ships when the children were growing up but discovered the joys of 5-6 star cruises recently. We chose WindSurf as it fitted in with our dates and embarkation was in our home city of Lisbon. From the moment we arrived at the port we realised this was going to be something special. The embarkation process was seamless. The welcome we received was genuine and warm. Whilst the food was excellent, what really made the cruise were the staff. They were exceptional, even having been spoilt in the past with excellent service on other deluxe cruises, they were the best. This is not the cruise for you if you like the big shows and the constant entertainment...I am very happy with something a little more relaxed. After dinner there was a choice of cabaret band in the main lounge who were excellent and got us up dancing. At the other end of the ship were the excellent Renate and Gilberto, a young married couple who entertained us beautifully. He played and she sang and it was lovely! They gave us so much fun and pleasure during the cruise! We cannot thank all the staff enough. Tuti our cabin lady couldn’t do enough for us. Wine waiters Maricel, Eric, Erika, Raphael and Jocelyn were all knowledgeable and recommended some wonderful wines for us. Waiters Tri, Rudi, Latin, Ade, Suno and Hari were wonderful. Forgive me if I have forgotten anyone. The highlight of the cruise was the staff talent show. There was so much genuine talent there...the crew were obviously enjoying themselves immensely and were such a close knit team it was lovely to see. Despite the cruise being full, there was never any queueing or fighting for a table or sunbed. Everything was relaxed and chilled. Perfect! I cannot wait to book another Windstar cruise. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
Subject: SilverSea Cruise , Lisbon to Barcelona Unfortunately the little details were a negative. TV with a remote that has to be changed 1 channel at a time is prehistoric. 10 years past its time. also not a good list of channel ... Read More
Subject: SilverSea Cruise , Lisbon to Barcelona Unfortunately the little details were a negative. TV with a remote that has to be changed 1 channel at a time is prehistoric. 10 years past its time. also not a good list of channel offerings. 2 of 3 movie channels worked . channels 1-5 all about Silver sea. Yes they acknowledge it’s a problem. WI Fi also dated. i paid the extra $200. for premium and extra 50.00 to add 3 users. still very slow. not 21 st century. cruise advertises premium alcohol yet when we go to dinner and ask for a better wine than what is served it is an extra charge. Food was average at best. Also sorry that local fare foods were not offered. Closing invoice added $18.00 for a silver sea chosen donation. It’s not the money, It’s the fact that you added it without authorization. My first cruise and I was expecting 5 star everything. Unfortunately 3 star rating at best. The ship overall is a bit dated. Staff was hit and miss. some great, some not so accommodating. The web site pre boarding was great once logged in you could book dinners, spas, shore excursions. All this was great and easy to look at overall trip on any given day and get info and update, Problem is once you boarded this site was no longer available. said you can’t book once on board. OK but now overall schedule is gone with info. told me they know it’s a problem . Sorry. Now you must ask dress code for each day and it not only changes daily it also applies differently to each restaurant. Concierge service lacks any info for ports we stopped at. Also they were only open 2-3 hours in the am and 2-3 hours in the pm. Also not very accommodating. Overall a real disappointment for the money we paid. I in good faith could not recommend this cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
As a couple we invited a family member to travel with us and Crystal Cruises offered us the trifecta: upscale cruise ship, fabulous itinerary and a single cabin supplement for our family member. We have cruised on HAL, Celebrity & ... Read More
As a couple we invited a family member to travel with us and Crystal Cruises offered us the trifecta: upscale cruise ship, fabulous itinerary and a single cabin supplement for our family member. We have cruised on HAL, Celebrity & Oceana and were not overly fond of the first two and felt that Oceana was an upgrade, but with something still missing. Based on the requirements (premium dining, polished service, big ship amenities, refined decor, uncrowded hushed public areas) that we provided to our travel agent, she highly recommended the Crystal Serenity and she was spot on. Our only concern was that we had read that the fellow passengers skew older (our party was mid- 40s to 60s) and be very clubby. We never once encountered this experience and found the fellow passengers to be very well mannered and inviting. While the dining, overall ship appointments and atmosphere are akin to high end resort experience, what truly sets this cruise line apart is the entire crew's kindness and keen attention to detail. The little things that sometimes go missed (food trays in hallways, incomplete orders....) do not happen on Crystal. It's back to the gym and making our own beds until..... Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
Our first Oceania Cruise was on the Marina and we were so “wowed” we booked the Sirena to sail 5 months later. We did not come back from this one overwhelmed with a sense to book the next one ASAP. First, the things that were a ... Read More
Our first Oceania Cruise was on the Marina and we were so “wowed” we booked the Sirena to sail 5 months later. We did not come back from this one overwhelmed with a sense to book the next one ASAP. First, the things that were a little less than fantastic The spa deck was very small and hard to find a seat on some days. So, the concierge upgrade was not really worth the money. The bathrooms were very tiny and, we knew going in it was a smaller ship but, if you are on the toilet with the door closed it was sideways sitting. The room stewards were not as intuitive as to what we needed. For example- on day one we had champagne in a bucket that we didn’t drink on boarding as in it was more fun after sail away. When we came back to the room to drink- the bucket was gone and the champagne on the counter. We had to call to get the bucket back. The buffet restaurant was not quick with water, tea or coffee. Most breakfasts we had to flag someone down to get us more. There was link flexibility in changing restaurant dinner times even with empty tables. The good- heck it is still a fantastic line! The food is fantastic and who doesn’t like grilled lobsters. Honestly, the best food you can have at sea. The main dining room and speciality restaurants had great service. The ship is very clean. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We've cruised extensively with Oceania starting with the Riviera maiden season in 2012. We were thrilled to have found Oceania as it met a niche for us that other cruise lines we had tried did not. Unfortunately, the product has ... Read More
We've cruised extensively with Oceania starting with the Riviera maiden season in 2012. We were thrilled to have found Oceania as it met a niche for us that other cruise lines we had tried did not. Unfortunately, the product has declined dramatically over the last few years in so many areas. I won't be commenting on the itinerary in detail other to say it was fabulous! Sirena was aquired by Oceania in 2016 and underwent a fairly extensive drydock at that time to bring her up to Oceania standards. Two months ago in May, 2019 Sirena undewent her biggest renovation ever as part of the much advertised Oceania NEXT program. The ship is gorgeous and absolulely looks better than new. Very impressive appearance. The cabins and bathrooms were gutted down to the steel and rebuilt using the same footprint. Unfortunately, that means standard cabins remain extremeley small and below industry averages for the premium cruise market. Even in the Penhouses bathrooms are VERY small and have poor ventilation. Air conditioning on the ship was consistently a problem - especially in the cabins. The new Oceania beds and bedding are heavenly as are the cushioned lounges with logo clad terry cloth covers. So given the recent refurbishment you would think the Oceania Sirena has all necessary ingredients for a huge recipe for success. Despite all the expensive artwork, gorgeous decor and aesthetically pleasing touches Sirena suffers from a miserable crew which makes her very ugly. That being said, we certainly encounted a number of people on board who were exceptional (cabin stewardess Daniella) and interestingly a few confided in us that they are leaving for Seabourn, Viking and Crystal because "things have gone downhill since NCL purchased us". Many of the crew members remind us of the walking dead. Just zombies doing their jobs - at time begrudgingly. A smile or hello was tough to extract and never seemed sincere. The shore excursions staff and reception staff are indifferent, rude and nasty. Quite condecending actually. Getting a reception staff member to look up and acknowledge you is like pulling teeth and they are clearly annoyed to have to interact with passengers. Preoccupied with other things. Certainly, working on a cruise ship away from family and friends can be difficult for many as it is not a normal life. However, this is the hospitality business. I never encountered passengers being rude or demanding to the staff. Just the opposite. A really nice crowd on this cruise with a lot of kids - mostly very well behaved. Average age probably young 50's. We met many calm, even keeled passengers who lost their nerve over rude treatment on a vacation. A few people I never would have suspected really snapped (not at the crew), by venting to other passengers about their negative experiences and were clearly bothered. Cut backs since NCL aquisition are evident everywhere. Bar service by the pool is quite limited as is the liquor selection (all over the ship). Food quality and offerings have dropped off significantly. On a bright note, Oceania still does one of the best jobs with room service. Bar drinks are expensive if you don't have a drink package and an "honest" drink (think Ruths Chris Vodka Martini) requires a double bringing the price of an "honest" martini that fills an appropriate martini glass to around $27. A few bartenders (Allen and Baptiste) were exceptional, but most were non-communicative, miserable, rude and don't listen. We were the only ones by the pool one morning starting at 11 and no other passengers showed up until noon. I had to go to the bar to ask for an iced tea (I know first world problem) and was treated as if I was inconveniencing the bartender who was doing some cleaning behind the bar. Not a good feeling. Simply put, we didn't feel like welcome guests on Sirena which is unacceptable for any cruise line, but especially for one who markets themselves as better than the rest and premium. We have sailed with this cruise director before. In my opinion he is a lackluster cruise director who fails to set a vibe or personality for the ship. He vanished quickly from his mandatory appearances and it seemed he did not want to be seen by the passengers or mix and mingle. Same can be said of the rest of the social staff on board - I guess the fish stinks from the head and leads by examples (sometimes bad ones). Absent. The ship has no essence or personality which can only come alive with a happy and engaging crew - particularly a social staff that has the ability to take the lead. Over the years Oceania has hired many more Filipinos and Indonesians for what I'm told is 1/3 the cost of hiring a European or South African. I believe these hard working employees are exploited victims of an underground that is not so underground, but right in front of our face and just as unconscionable as sweat shop labor. I had exensive conversations with a fwe crew members who were very open and honest about this issue. Compared to lines like Seabourn where it is not uncommon to have a cabin stewardess who has gone to college to train in hospitality and is fairly paid the Filipino and Indonesian crew are hired without experience, limited English and purely for financial reasons - certainly no fault to these human beings who deserve better, but take the jobs out of desperation. It's not fair to these crew members or the passengers as they are programmed to fail. I can perhaps understand the cheaper labor for mass maket lines, but it is not compatible for a cruise line that markets an ultra premium or perhaps even a luxurious experience to have such a service disconnect. To me Oceania is no different than my cell phone carrier that outsources its calls to the Phillipines because it is cheaper labor. Don't get me wrong - I love the Phillipines and all people. Essentially, my cell phone carrier is telling me I'm not worth talking to a more well compensated and well trained employee in the United States (or elsewhere). Anyone who has experienced these call centers knows it is not a satisfying experience and quite the insult. Likewise Oceania! In summary, if you are looking for a pretty hotel with above average food to transport you from port to port and have no expectations of a "cruise experience" and don't mind being treated as persona non grata Oceania beats the mass market competition - especially when you consider their ships hold 600-1200 passengers compared to 6,000 passengers. There is a benefit to fewer passengers, but keep in mind Sirena has more than 600 passengers at 30,000 tons while Seabourn's Odyssey Class vessels only accomodate 450 passengers at 30,000 tons. So despite the fewer number of passengers one must consider passengers per ton and passenger space ratios. My wife and I just can't get past the rude, zombie, indifferent factor as we enjoy more personalized, interactive and sincere service that should be inherent to near luxury and luxury cruises. It's no fun to be treated rudly and is really irritating and unncessary. Fortunately, we all have choices and for us cruise fanatics there are lines like Seabourn and Crystal that offer this level of service. The beauty of cruising - there is something for everyone and this review is just my two cents. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
This was a "Star Collector" cruise, featuring two 9-day back to back itineraries. We chose the itinerary because the first leg featured visits to Madeira and the Canary Islands, neither of which are offered very often. The ... Read More
This was a "Star Collector" cruise, featuring two 9-day back to back itineraries. We chose the itinerary because the first leg featured visits to Madeira and the Canary Islands, neither of which are offered very often. The second leg featured the Channel Islands, Cherbourg, and Bruges, none of which we had previously visited. One of the nice features offered by Windstar on these longer itineraries is free laundry service, greatly appreciated. Windstar loyalists such as us keep returning again and again because of the great personalized service. 56% of the passengers were Yacht Club members, and we won a bottle of champagne for having the most previous cruises. Captain Dmitri was extremely personable, and could often be found in the forward "Yacht Club" lounge chatting with passengers. The bar and dining room teams were excellent. However, the star of the show was Olga, who was in charge of signing up passengers for future cruises. She had a truly encyclopedic knowledge of every Windstar itinerary and details of every ship. We signed up for two cruises in 2020 (at a nice discount)! Something new this year was Windstar's partnership with the James Beard Foundation, including customized recipes from award-winning chefs that were incorporated into the daily menus. The food was outstanding, as was the wine list. Some of the wines by the glass were a bit pedestrian, but the overall selection was great. The onboard entertainment was average at best. There was a pianist/singer who lost his voice immediately after his Elton John "tribute" performance, and a Spanish duo (guitarist & vocalist) who made us long for the return of our all-time favorites "Rain". At least there was no dance band, as is often the case on the Wind Surf. There was also a couple on board who were professional photographers and who gave instructive talks every day about tips and techniques. However, Windstar no longer has a resident photographer, and they have also removed all of the casinos. No loss there... The itinerary was very good, but the excursions were just OK. Madeira was gorgeous, with absolutely mind-boggling topography unlike anything I have ever seen before. One of our future trips will be in March, 2020 for the inaugural cruise of the refurbished and lengthened Star Legend. Can't wait to see the improvements. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
My husband and I just came home from the Lisbon to Barcelona cruise in April. It is our third cruise with Windstar. Pros: The staff is wonderful. They know your name by the second day. The food is good particularly the barbeque ... Read More
My husband and I just came home from the Lisbon to Barcelona cruise in April. It is our third cruise with Windstar. Pros: The staff is wonderful. They know your name by the second day. The food is good particularly the barbeque on the deck. There is a nice variety of food to please everyone. The suites are spacious. King size beds, a sitting area, a double variety bathroom, and a walk-in closet. The ship is very clean. The security on and off the ship is good. The shore excursions to Gibraltar, Alhambra and Seville were very good. The daily programs and nightly talks are very helpful for background information. Embarkment and disembarkment are quick and efficient. We extended our stay at the end of the trip to Barcelona. It was wonderful! Cons: The shore excursions are expensive. WiFi is not included and should be. Wine and beer should be included not an additional charge. A lovely vacation! Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
We were part of a Tauck group that began with a 2 night stay in Lisbon and ended with a 2 night stay in Barcelona. This was our first Windstar cruise, but we've been on quite a few other cruises. Our cabin was the largest cabin ... Read More
We were part of a Tauck group that began with a 2 night stay in Lisbon and ended with a 2 night stay in Barcelona. This was our first Windstar cruise, but we've been on quite a few other cruises. Our cabin was the largest cabin we've ever stayed in! It's was great: had a doorbell, a walk-in closet, a full bathtub, and double sinks in the bathroom! Yes, it was older, but it was very comfortable. We had ample storage space! The ship is a little "dated," but otherwise very nice. The food was outstanding! This was the best cruise line food we've ever had. Service from the crew was friendly and many of them learned our names quickly. We really liked the itinerary. We were very anxious to see Gibraltar and it did not disappoint! We also really liked Seville, Malaga, and Mallorca. We would have liked an overnight in one of these cities, so we could explore more. We were blessed with beautiful weather and that enhanced our experience. Except for our two days in Barcelona, it was warm and sunny (with no humidity). Barcelona turned chilly and rainy and we hadn't packed appropriately for the sudden change in weather. Since we were with a Tauck group, all our excursions were separate from the ones offered by the ship (although very similar in most cases). Tauck kept us busy; we either had 2 excursions each day, or one very long one. Consequently, we were away from the ship most of the day and didn't get to do much on the ship. And, we were not encouraged by our Tauck Tour Director to participate in Windstar activities (or mingle with the non-Tauck guests). We had daily meetings in the Compass Rose lounge, and that was where we returned (on our own) at other times. To me, the Star Breeze is like a "shrunken down" cruise ship. It has some of the same amenities as a bigger ship, but on a much smaller scale. There is no specialty restaurant; at night, the breakfast/lunch buffet becomes "Candles" for a small number of passengers, and if the weather cooperates, passengers have the option of dining outside. There wasn't much entertainment offered (there was a good duo in the Compass Rose lounge). There was a very small "casino" but I didn't see anyone in it. We did not use the spa or the fitness room (we had only one sea day and the remaining days, we were on excursions). We discovered the lovely Yacht Club lounge late in the cruise. We probably should have done some exploring on our own early in the cruise! In summary, this was a very nice cruise! Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
We chose the Ovation for the itinerary. Leaving from Lisbon and on to Portomao, Huelva (Seville), Malaga (the Alhambra), Cartagena, Monte Carlo, Cinque Terra, Toulon (Provence), Mahon (Minorca) and disembarking in Barcelona. All in all, ... Read More
We chose the Ovation for the itinerary. Leaving from Lisbon and on to Portomao, Huelva (Seville), Malaga (the Alhambra), Cartagena, Monte Carlo, Cinque Terra, Toulon (Provence), Mahon (Minorca) and disembarking in Barcelona. All in all, the itinerary lived up to its expectations, although we had to miss Portomao because of Tropical Storm Leslie so we remained in Lisbon for the second day. The only hitch we had for our own itinerary ashore as with the Alhambra. We had been wait-listed for a ticket package that included the Nesrud Palaces, a highlight of the Alhambra and, according to those who have been there, not to be missed. When it become apparent that we would not be getting tickets through Seaborn (they are extremely difficult to come by), even though we had been on the wait list over four months prior to leaving. A few people were lucky enough to get the Seabourn tickets, but more on that later. We told the guest services agent on board that we planned on using the ship's tour bus to the Alhambra (which did not include the Nesrud Palaces), as we had purchased our own tickets and would join up with the bus prior to the group leaving the Alhambra. Our tickets were from 11am to 2pm, meeting at 10:45pm exactly where the tour bus would be pulling into the bus parking lot. We informed the Seabourn rep of our plan prior to boarding the bus and she cleared it with the tour guide. We arranged with him to meet up with the group at a restaurant should we not be ready to rejoin the bus when the Seabourn group was ready to leave. All was going smoothly as we left the port around 8:35am. Unfortunately, the guide decided to announce that we would be pulling into a rest stop for bathroom use and also for buying merchandise. Had the stop been for ten minutes all would still have been fine, but it was closer to 25 minutes and we then had no chance to make our tour. The Alhambra was outstanding, but we will now never have the opportunity to see the Nesrud Palaces. Those who were able to secure tickets for the Alhambra and the palaces thought they were all set. Unfortunately, for some of them, since showing your passport is required at different checkpoints randomly and then, for the palaces, for everyone, when the group was asked to present their passports the list of passengers did not match the names on the passports. Some names were of people not taking the tour. The mix up caused some passengers to have to miss the Alhambra and the palaces. We had read on Cruise Critic that Seabourn's shore excursions are below average and had not encountered that when on a Quest voyage. This particular trip was excellent once in the Alhambra as the guide was extremely knowledgeable about the history of the buildings and the area. The guide on the bus, however, was constantly talking, was very redundant and seemed to be along for the ride. All of the other tours was above average, although the timing for a tour of Eze and the Rothschild Mansion in Cap Ferat gave too much time to the later and not nearly enough time to Eze. Also, this trip was extremely tiring because all tours, half day or full day, started early in the morning so you began to feel sleep deprived early into the trip. I think they should offer afternoon half day excursions to alleviate the fatigue factor when you are on a 10-day cruise with only one at-sea day. Others felt the same way. The cabins on the ship are up to Seabourn's standards. They are among the most spacious in the industry and our ship stewardess was outstanding. The room is well-equipped and pretty much anything can be delivered to your room upon request, including unlimited amounts of champagne. The food on the ship was excellent. No complaints at all. The service was another matter. The worst was the Observation Bar between 6 and 7:30pm. You had a tough time flagging down a waiter as there were often only one or two of them. Going to the bar yourself and carrying the drinks to the table was impossible on rough sea evenings. This problem with service in the Observation Bar continued throughout the cruise. Towards the end of the voyage, we went down to Bruno's lounge in the Thomas Keller grill and after a ten-minute wait, went up to the bar for a drink. For afternoon tea in the Observation Bar, tea was offered, but they didn't mention that scones, sandwiches and cakes were available at the self-serve area where tapas are available every evening. On the Quest a waiter brought these items around which is the way afternoon tea should be presented. Service in the Restaurant was fine, but not if you wanted to get to the 8:45pm show. Fortunately, my husband and I did not have that problem because we had caught two shows and didn't think they were very good so skipped them from that point on. The service in the Colanade was excellent except for the final morning which was an absolute zoo. It was so bad that we ended up getting a bite to eat at Seabourn Square. We were heading for the Restaurant for a nice relaxing breakfast before disembarking because we had to be out of our room at 8pm, but could stay on board until 10pm. The Restaurant was closed, however, although we had no clue that it would be. On the Quest the Restaurant is open for the final breakfast before disembarking. The Patio's food was excellent as well as the service, and there were an adequate number of waiters should you need a drink while relaxing by the pool. Thomas Keller Grill was an interesting evening. We were told by the waiter to look forward to enjoying a romantic meal. To me, that's leisurely, but he did not seem to understand that. After ordering our drinks, he immediately asked if we were ready to order. We said that we needed some time. He came back in five minutes and asked again and we told him we weren't ready as we wanted to enjoy our drinks. After a few minutes, the supervisor went up to our waiter and talked to him. I assume it was about their need to get our order in. The supervisor then came up to our table and asked if we had any questions and we told him we didn't, we just wanted to slow the process down. The meal was very good, though, and there was a good vibe. The best experience for us was Sushi. The food was excellent, there were nice tables for two and the service was what you expect from Japanese staff - respectful, courteous and timely. All in all the management of the Ovation has a way to go to beat the service on the Quest. I think they need some time to work out the glitches as the ship only had its maiden voyage in May. Hopefully, things will improve soon. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
We picked this cruise because it was short and fit our timeline and our desire to go back and visit Spain after attending a wedding there a few years ago. The Marina was beautiful, very similar to the other Oceania ship we had been on ... Read More
We picked this cruise because it was short and fit our timeline and our desire to go back and visit Spain after attending a wedding there a few years ago. The Marina was beautiful, very similar to the other Oceania ship we had been on (Regatta) but larger and had more options. We went to Red Ginger (B plus), Toscana (A minus) and Jacques (A++++) for Specialty restaurants, they were all delicious and the service was great. The Grand Dining Room, Waves restaurant and Terrace Cafe were all great too, I will say the quality of the breakfast in Terrace Cafe seemed to be not as good as the Regatta, but still fine. Our P Cabin was large and comfortable, I think it would be fine for an extended cruise. We didn't partake in any of the entertainment or Oceania excursions, we did our own thing. The service was very good, our room was always kept in great shape and our butler/room steward were very friendly and helpful. My whole family fell in love with the staff at the pool area bar that week (Maya, Maria and Valentina made us feel so welcome). They were so fun and always had a great crowd hanging out and talking to each other, we wished we had more time on the ship. I can't say enough about how great these three ladies were and how they really made our trip. My only slight complaint was just the rigamarole getting in and out of the ports, but I don't think that was an Oceania thing as opposed to just a logistics thing around the Mediterranean. The ports were all very popular and I think in the future I would make more of an effort to book private tours vs. getting stuck on shuttles for a large part of the day. Overall, another wonderful Oceania experience- we converted our family members who had been anti-cruise and they are going again next year. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
I chose this cruise because it worked with my schedule and I got a great price on it. I have cruised multiple times on both oceans and rivers, but this was the smallest ocean ship I have ever sailed on. I was a bit nervous about the ... Read More
I chose this cruise because it worked with my schedule and I got a great price on it. I have cruised multiple times on both oceans and rivers, but this was the smallest ocean ship I have ever sailed on. I was a bit nervous about the size and the possibility of waves, but it was smooth sailing the whole time. From the time we embarked until the time we disembarked, the staff did everything in their power to make our cruise great. They learned our names, drink preferences, etc. They were receptive to checking inventory for beer I asked for that was not immediately available. They room steward answered promptly when called. Cannot say enough about the great service and the bright, smiling faces of the crew. The ports of call were very interesting. I had been to Lisbon and Barcelona before, so we did not do any exploring there. Tangier, Malaga, Cartagena, Tarragona, Almeria, and Ibiza were very interesting. I did not expect the weather to be as hot as it was and consequently we could have packed extra clothes this time and would have used them. I had to wash in my sink a couple of times. The shore excursions we took from Wind Star were pretty good for the most part, but I do believe that they are rather pricey. I was able to book some private ones of my own for much less money. The food was very good. The menu could have had some other non-beef or fish options but I managed to find things to eat. The nightlife was okay - we were tired from all the walking and the heat so we didn't need anything too strenuous. The highlight was the Crew Talent show. What an amazing and talented bunch of employees the Wind Surf has. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
We were celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary and my DH 65th birthday. We have cruised 2x prior with WS (once on Wind Star, once on Wind Surf) and decided to do a back2back2back which meant 25 glorious days aboard Wind Surf! Our ... Read More
We were celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary and my DH 65th birthday. We have cruised 2x prior with WS (once on Wind Star, once on Wind Surf) and decided to do a back2back2back which meant 25 glorious days aboard Wind Surf! Our favorite thing about WS is the port intensive cruises with little or no sea days. We love waking up in a new port every day and exploring as long as possible. Come back to the ship, change clothes, grab a drink, meet friends for dinner, and maybe have a night cap or maybe just close down the dining room (that happened almost every night). Go to sleep and repeat. Treasures of Southern Spain & Morocco was a great itinerary. We arrived into Lisbon 4 days early to see that sights. So happy we had time to do this and enjoy this beautiful city. Boarding was so easy and we got so so lucky while standing in line we met 2 other couples that will now be life long friends! And on board we met several other couples to make our cruise one of the best we have been on! Our first day was actually a sea day (which we try to avoid whenever possible). We hung out with new friends and got our sea legs. The sun was out and it was a lovely day. Tangiers: We hired a private guide prior to our cruise to take us around the Casbah and the Mdina. We have friends in the Peace Corps living in Morocco who came and joined us on our tour. We loved Tangiers and the people were so kind. I will say the Wind Surf destination manager at the time (didn't get his name) spoke about the horrors of Tangiers and scared several people from wanting to go ashore. I think he did a major disservice to people of Tangiers. While you should always be vigilant when in a foreign country, he went way overboard in his warnings. While many areas (not just Tangiers) have beggars and pickpockets, we felt very safe and would recommend this port to all of our friends. Malaga Spain: We decided to do Malaga on our own and walked off the ship and started walking. We found many pedestrian streets filled with beautiful architecture. We looked for the Picasso Museum but by the time we arrived, the line was too long and we didn't want to waste the time in line so we continued on our way. Our friends did the Hop on Hop off bus and enjoyed it. Granada: We booked the WS tour to the Alhambra and it was amazing! Definitely book this tour but do so months prior to your cruise. It does (and did) sell out prior to our sail date. We had a delightful guide at the Alhambra who just made the tour. A lunch following was fun and we got back in plenty of time. While you could do this on your own, I wouldn't risk it. Cartagena Spain: Once again, we DIY the day and walked the old city. Lots of interesting buildings and architecture and shopping too. Our friends did WS Tapas Tour and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Ibiza Spain: We had signed up for the Jeep Tour a few days before and were looking forward to fun. We loaded up into the jeeps (we got together a group we had met on board) and off we went. Unfortunately, the rain started and there was lightening and they turned the tour around. We did get a refund but we were so disappointed it rained! But 2 hours later, the sun came out and we ventured out on our own and walked through the town. Ibiza is such a night town that even at noon, there weren't a lot of folks up and about. We had a delightful lunch and did some major shopping. Tarragona Spain: It was a Sunday and we were unsure what there might be to do but we boarded the free port bus that took us about 20 minutes to the old city. What a glorious day we had! There was some kind of music festival with groups of kids marching down the streets playing all sorts of musical instruments. There was also the Human Pyramid festival happening where groups of people build a pyramid, sometimes up to 9 people high! And of course, what comes up, must come down! We wandered the cute streets and found beautiful shops and restaurants all opened. In fact, I'm pretty sure we were one of the only tourists and were surrounded by the locals enjoying a beautiful Sunday afternoon. Lunch of tapas and sangria and then dipping our toes in the Mediterranean rounded out our day. And that bought us to Barcelona and the end of our first of our back2back2back cruises. We had booked tickets to Sagrada Familia and Park Guell so we got off early and took a taxi and enjoyed our time at those fabulous places. We also walked down Las Rambles and then back to the ship in time for our next sail away. We were sad to see some of our new friends leave but we were so happy we had more cruising to do! We enjoy the wonderful folks who work so hard to make Wind Surf a special place. Captain Pedro, Hotel Operations Officers Calvin and Julian, Maitre d' hotel Merrick were out and about and available and willing to chat. Our favorite staff, Aladdin made our time onboard so very special as did Farid our cabin steward and Hari, Russ and Ada our servers. Anna at the tour desk and Anne at reception always had a smile and greeting for us as we walked by. Within a few days everyone knows your name and after 25 days on board, they really know all about you! Our opinion on the food is that it is very good. That being said, having been on board for 25 days, we learned that the rotation of the menus is about 5 days. With more and more Star Collector choices being offered, WS must rethink this policy. I enjoyed most everything on board during cruise 1 but by the time cruise 3 came along, I'd had enough of a few of the choices. The deck BBQ was wonderful and they have re-done the layout of where the food stations are since we last sailed with Wind Surf which made it seem roomier. I had originally booked a room on Deck 1 but the upgrade fairy came to visit several months later and we were upgraded to Suite 306. The location is towards the back of the ship and can be very noisy when the tenders are being used. But, it is so close to the Yacht Club and the Pool Deck, plus getting off the ship, we didn't let the noise ruin it for us. Plus, having 2 bathrooms in the suite saved my marriage after 25 days at sea! We were lucky to have the laundry service during our cruise and it was amazing! I did specify for cold wash and hang dry and just about everything came back perfect. One black sweater wasn't so black anymore but other than that, we were very pleased. Overall, we love Windstar cruises because it suits us. We love port intensive cruises. We love the smallness of the ships and that it affords you the opportunity to get to know your fellow cruisers as well as the officers and staff and they get to know you. Treasures of Southern Spain & Morocco was filled with sunshine and towns you could easily do on your own. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this itinerary to those of you who like that type of cruise! Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
We chose this cruise as the ship was small and advertised that it would be docking in city centers around the Iberian peninsula so exploring on our own would be easy. We had been on the Harmony V before, so felt like we knew what we ... Read More
We chose this cruise as the ship was small and advertised that it would be docking in city centers around the Iberian peninsula so exploring on our own would be easy. We had been on the Harmony V before, so felt like we knew what we signed up for. Starting with the ship itself: The ship is a bit tired and wear can be seen throughout. as it is small, it feels cluttered in the dining room and the upper deck. Our cabin was on the middle deck in order to have a window and not just a port hole (which costs more than the lower deck) and we were assigned cabins near the bow of the ship. Our toilet was literally in the shower stall (you could shower while using the toilet if you really wanted...) and the room smaller than the less expensive rooms in the deck beneath us. The window was 18"x18" and foggy. There were problems with the toilet flushing throughout the cruise. The staff did however keep it clean. The cruise was not able to dock in Seville as described when we made arrangements. I understand that with cruises that changes to the itinerary may be necessary and was disappointed to find that our ship was quite a distance from the city center. We were given maps to give taxi drivers so we could return to the ship, but the maps were not helpful: a third of the people on the ship were in taxis that could not find the ship even with the map. The Cruise Director didn't seem to be concerned as, "that was the map they gave me." In fact, the Cruise Director didn't seem to be too concerned about much. Excursions were over-priced and led by tour guides who were not great. Two of the excursions on our trip were cancelled as not enough people signed up. Luckily, due to the proximity to the town centers, excursions were not really necessary other than to Granada and Ronda. Dining was fine The food was good, well prepared, and the wait staff was terrific. The dining room is cramped and there's really no good way to dine outside. Don't expect any entertainment or enrichment on board. That just did not happen at all. The second to last night the cruise director attempted to plan a mixer during dinner but it felt forced and, bluntly, the cruise was already over at that point. Overall, the rest of the ports were close to towns as promised, the food was fine, the staff was overall very good However, I personally would not choose Variety Cruises or the Harmony G again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
I had written to the CEO a 5 page letter describing in detail many items that were not up to supposed Tauck standards. I received a short 1 page letter addressing only one problem. Their motto' tell us your complaint before they ... Read More
I had written to the CEO a 5 page letter describing in detail many items that were not up to supposed Tauck standards. I received a short 1 page letter addressing only one problem. Their motto' tell us your complaint before they become problems" is a marketing tool. Very disappointed in the cruise Lisbon to Barcelona. For the price we paid, very poor value. we would not recommend small ship cruising with Tauck. Their excursions are rushed and many sites we could have seen we drove past. We chose this cruise based on a good experience in the past with Tauck. We were considering Regent Seven Seas but we presumed a smaller ship would be better, more intimate. Wrong. Cabin was nice. Food and service was excellent . BBQ night was the best! Excursions rushed. Not organized. Seemed as though Tauck was trying to fix things as we went along. Drive by buildings in a bus is worthless. By the time the local guide tells you about a building, it is past. Should have stopped at more places. A tapas food tour was a nice idea. Very enjoyable. Sagrada Familia was very ruched inside church tour. Should have been 2 hours due to so much to take in by Guidi. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
This was our first Windstar Cruise. It was a very pleasant cruise, but not extraordinary - although perhaps our expectations were too high. There were many pluses. The cabin was fabulous. The ship itself looked a bit tired, but very clean ... Read More
This was our first Windstar Cruise. It was a very pleasant cruise, but not extraordinary - although perhaps our expectations were too high. There were many pluses. The cabin was fabulous. The ship itself looked a bit tired, but very clean and spacious, and the lounge and bar areas were very comfortable and never felt crowded. The food was delicious, with different options for lunch and dinner each day. The itinerary was very good, we really liked having long days in port so we could see a lot in each place we were visiting. There were no tenders, so we could just walk off the ship and in to town and spend the whole day there if we liked. There was never a queue to get on or off the ship and the ship always docked on time. The staff were friendly and efficient. It was disappointing that the itinerary was changed after we booked - the ship did not go to Seville as planned so we had to make our own arrangements at additional expense. Communication with Windstar head office was very poor, although staff on the ship itself were as helpful as they could be. We took only two shore excursions - to Gibraltar & Grenada - both were very good with smallish groups and excellent guides. Entertainment in the evening was limited but it was fine for us. There were two very good duos performing in the evenings, and the lovely Maria organised quizzes and games in the Compass Bar. We loved the ship bbq night, the spa, our visit to the Bridge and the visiting flamenco troupe. There were no water sports available on this cruise, although there were two small pools and a hot tub I think. We would really have liked free wifi, better coffee and better quality wines in the drinks package. It was also disappointing that even after paying for a drinks package, our preferred brands were no longer available a few days into the cruise and no alternatives were offered. It was also sometimes difficult to book special dinners on deck, and some of the more popular shore excursions, as they were booked out early. It was fabulous taking a small ship cruise, as it meant more time in port, and no queues or crowds. The downside was less activities/ entertainment so I guess it’s a matter of what is more important to you as a cruiser. On a one week itinerary it was fine for us. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
I took this ship as part of a Tauck-sponsored tour. I was sorely disappointed. In my opinion, this ship is not up to Tauck standards and certainly not up to mine. The Cabin and the Leak. We (like our previous cruises) booked a cabin ... Read More
I took this ship as part of a Tauck-sponsored tour. I was sorely disappointed. In my opinion, this ship is not up to Tauck standards and certainly not up to mine. The Cabin and the Leak. We (like our previous cruises) booked a cabin at the top end of the price range for this cruise (exclusive of the “Owner’s Suites). But, unlike our previous cruises, our cabin (Cabin 319) really wasn’t any different than most of the others, although we paid significantly more for it. True, it did have an outside door and a one foot “balcony”, if you could call it that. But so did a lot of “lesser” cabins, all of which were the same size as ours and significantly less expensive. We assumed that we were paying for something more. We weren’t, unless you consider the leak (more akin to a minor flood actually) that we, along with at least two other cabins that we are aware of, experienced the last night of the cruise. This wasn’t a “drip, drip” type leak but a very large and continuous stream of water that extended along about four feet in a seam of the ceiling. The water flowed within inches of our bed and actually got portions of the bed wet and drenched the carpeting. Since it was 3:30AM, we moved to one end of the bed and tried to sleep as best we could. We know of at least one other couple (room 314) who had to move out of their cabin in the middle of the night as the water fell directly on their bed. The cabin next to ours, 317 (we were in 319) also had severe leaks as well. I suspect other cabins on that deck had similar problems, but I do not know that for a fact. On an earlier day in the cruise, another passenger on deck 4, I believe, (we were deck 6) reported to me that sewage came out of their shower drain. The Ship. Tauck’s marketing materials describes our Windstar ship as follows: “Windstar Cruises’ slogan, “180° From Ordinary,” aptly describes the delights of a voyage aboard one of their new "Pride Class" sister ships, Star Breeze... one of Windstar's sleek, newly renovated, all-suite power yachts….” My view of this ship is very different, although I agree that having a major leak in my cabin is “180° From Ordinary,” but not in the way that Windstar intended that phrase. Also, to me, “newly renovated” implies something that is fresh, like new. Other passengers told me (and I agree) that the ship was “tired” and “dated.” Sewage coming out of a shower drain (see above), several cabins leaking, and the odors emanating from the ship “Library” (see below) would all indicate that “tired” and “dated” are better descriptions of this ship than “sleek, newly renovated”. Tauck’s marketing materials also says of this ship: “You’ll feel like you're aboard your own private yacht almost as soon as you step aboard.” This isn’t even close to being accurate. I felt like I was a part of a large, mid-grade cruise ship. One passenger told me is was more like a Carnival ship. Food and Wine on the Ship. Tauck’s brochure for the Star Breeze ship says: “Dining in The AmphorA Restaurant or in the more casual Candles or Veranda is an epicurean delight.” This statement is also very inaccurate. My opinion, and those of about a dozen passengers who I talked with, was that the food was “average.” I even asked about 10 to 12 passengers who had been on prior Tauck cruises to rate, on a scale of 1 to 10, the food on the Star Breeze and the food onboard prior Tauck ship tours. The average rating for the food on prior Tauck ship tours was between 7 and 8. For this ship, the average rating was between 4 and 5. The food wasn’t bad, but it was nothing special and certainly not an “epicurean delight”. The wine was, frankly, far worse. I can describe the “standard” wine on this ship in one word: cheap. I haven’t drunk wine of this low quality since I was a young man. Occasionally on board the ship we upgraded to something more drinkable and were rewarded with a couple hundred dollars of extra charges by the end of the voyage (some we were told about in advance, others not). After paying close to $20,000 for this cruise, that was galling. It was also annoying to have to sign a check every time we ordered a drink, even if it wasn’t an “upgrade”. We were told this was for “inventory control purposes”. We had none of these problems on Tauck river cruises where the wine, food, and service were uniformly excellent. After drinking some of the wines on the Star Breeze I looked them up on the “Vivino” app in my iPhone. Most of the “standard” wines on the ship were between $11 and $13 dollars per bottle. It’s almost impossible to get a good red wine at this price point, in my opinion. As for service aboard ship, I think it was very friendly but not up to the same standards as on Tauck's river cruises. (I do, however, think the housekeeper for our cabin, Katarina, was excellent). I was told, when on the Tauck river cruises, that the staff on the river ships were Tauck-trained. I suspect this crew was Windstar-trained, not Tauck-trained. In any case, there was a big difference. The Ship “Library”. On the way to the Compass Rose, where we met the Tauck directors on a daily basis, there was, a few feet from the entrance to the Compass Rose and to the left, the entrance to the Library. From the first day of the cruise to the last, the Library had a very strong odor emanating from it. You couldn’t miss it and you couldn’t avoid it. Many passengers talked about it. Some thought it was a strong mold or mildew smell. Some thought it was sewer gas. In any case, the smell was there throughout the voyage. Needless to say, I never saw anyone go into the Library, but you couldn’t avoid the smell because the Library was on the way to the Compass Rose. The excursions we took from this ship were uniformly excellent, as they were sponsored by Tauck, not Windstar. Also, Tauck's directors for the cruise were excellent. The land portion of this cruise was excellent. The problem here is with the ship itself, the food, the wine, and in some cases, the staff. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
Some title? Well, some mirrors. I thought I would start with that. Mirrors in all the bathrooms, including the small public ones, positioned so you can see yourself on the toilet. Tell me that is not bizarre. That was about it for ... Read More
Some title? Well, some mirrors. I thought I would start with that. Mirrors in all the bathrooms, including the small public ones, positioned so you can see yourself on the toilet. Tell me that is not bizarre. That was about it for entertainment! Other than that, the bathrooms were the best part, especially for those of us with an ocean view cabin. We had double sinks and a huge (by ship's standards) walk in shower. The tubs in the French door cabins were dauntingly tall, in my view, particularly at sea. My main goal is to stay upright in a shower and, with a wet hand towel on the shower floor, I achieved that goal since I did not have to try to get into a bathtub. Great amenities, as well. There were two grab bars and plenty of storage. Helpfully, there was a cord for hanging your undies if you did hand wash. We eschewed the heavy duty laundry bill in favor of washing out a few things after each shower. Worked great. I will say that we only showered in port because of the rocking. The negative was that our inept and disinterested cabin boy forgot twice to give us a back up roll of toilet paper. When we ran out the second time, my husband was dispatched to reception. There, he met the captain who was so appalled that HE got us the toilet paper! Really, it was that kind of ship with only 200 passengers. Just how inept was that cabin boy? We were surprised at two things in the room when we arrived. One was that the beds are so low that you cannot put your luggage under them. We parked it on either side of the window. When we went to bed the first night, I found the mattress to be very uncomfortable, with some kind of metal support under my back. That and the rocking boat kept me from sleep most of the night. The next day, we examined the mattress to find that the cabin boy had flipped the mattress and we were sleeping on the supports. That got fixed very quickly. First time ever on a ship. At that, it was not the best mattress we have slept on at sea. However, we did not have issues with the thermostat as some did. The room was huge by our previous standards and having a window was normally just fine. It was quite large, the weather was too cool anyway to want to sit outside, so we were quite content with that kind of room. It would have been nice for someone to wash the window, however. The food. Where to begin? Both lunch and dinner were served up top. You had to cross over from the elevator to the outside to get to your meals. The highly touted bbq was on that deck and we about froze as we were not allowed inside the restaurant. That food was pretty good, however. The breakfasts and lunches were very ordinary for a ship that advertises that it is using James Beard recipes. It is bland, even for spicy ethnic dishes such as adobo. Bread pudding was available at every lunch along side ice cream. The rest of the desserts were mainly mousses as one guest mentioned. At dinner in AurorA, food portions were not only small but were mounded in the middle of the plates unattractively. The headwaiter had a hard time remembering if you asked to be seated with others so you could sit a while and have to send a waiter to remind him. The special Candles meal was in the buffet room so lacked any ambiance. My husband's veal chop was full of gristle, my filet was fine, but the bernaise came out of a can. The Caesar salad was very bland, like most of the food. AND, horror of horrors, we missed lobster night in AurourA! The negative of negatives was that exhaust fumes came into our room several times during the cruise with no way to blow the air out. We spoke to the captain about it and he said it happened all the time when the ship was bouncy. It bounced along the Portuguese coast both coming and going. One night we returned to our cabin after dinner to find it full of fumes which caused our eyes to burn. We ended up having to go to bed before the air cleared. That would keep me from sailing with Windstar until this issue is solved. It was one of the examples of the company not spending its money on things that matter. The ship clearly had been dressed up so the reputed $18 million spend on the 3 Seabourn ships went to superficial decorating, not to keeping its equipment repaired. We are supposed to sail on Legend and that ship had its tender fail. People were ferried by zodiacs with wet landings. That would have done me in as I only brought one pair of shoes. I read a report on Breeze that it also had tendering issues. When you arrive on the ship, there is a big hustle to sell you a laundry package (no self laundry), a booze package, and a wifi package. All very expensive. We did not buy any. I have no experience with the spa or the exercise room. Non- alcoholic beverages are included which I really liked. Fed my Coke addiction. Besides there being no entertainment and few port talks, there was a perfectly good room set up for movies but the equipment was missing or broken. We could set up a card game if we wanted but no one did. The library was pretty good for its size with a couple of shelves for passengers to exchange books. We really missed having something fun to do after dinner. There is a very small casino and a couple of bar areas but we do not drink much. A huge plus on this ship is the Yacht Club which not only provides expansive windows but also has a very nice mini breakfast and small sandwiches and desserts for lunch. We grabbed a couple of sandwiches sometime for our excursions. It shuts down the food at 6 pm when most people trot off to dinner. Excursions were the highlight of the islands. The Canaries and Madeira had amazing, wild mountains. The best excursion was a 4 wheel in the Algarve in Portugal. Because of the fabulous islands, we really were happy we went on this cruise. Most of the issues were not really so big.... Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
Ship was tired. Carpet tired and dirty. Staff was tired/ not energetic. Communication poor between staff and guest about were to be when especially on disembarkation. Had to wait on luggage both on embarkation and on ... Read More
Ship was tired. Carpet tired and dirty. Staff was tired/ not energetic. Communication poor between staff and guest about were to be when especially on disembarkation. Had to wait on luggage both on embarkation and on disembarkation. This wait caused us to miss a tour each time which the staff did not seem to worried about but cut down on our experiences. On disembarkation the wait also caused us to miss our connection to our next destination even. Staff called you by your first name or did not use yes sir or yes ma'am. Very cheap liquor and poor drink selection. Drinks made were weak ? watered? And staff very very careful to about not pouring too much and charging for every drop. Overall the food was excellent . Overall not worth the money or least wait to last minute and get last minute deal. We paid earlyt o reserve the date and got no incentives. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
My husband & I took a back-to-back Windstar cruise sailing from Lisbon to Barcelona & Barcelona to Rome. We loved the 200 passenger ship for its intimacy, its room to breathe without being surrounded by 1000s all the time & its ... Read More
My husband & I took a back-to-back Windstar cruise sailing from Lisbon to Barcelona & Barcelona to Rome. We loved the 200 passenger ship for its intimacy, its room to breathe without being surrounded by 1000s all the time & its list of passengers from all over the world. Our cabin was wonderful - roomy with a curtain separating the large screen TV/reading lounge from the sleeping area, a walk-in closet, a sparkling well equipped bathroom, a bar console, ample storage/writing space & a wall window (not that we spent much time gazing out of it). Embarkation had minor delays, luggage delivery & disembarkation very smooth. The food - in the Veranda breakfast/lunch deck & the main Dining Room - was excellent & sophisticated & the service was impeccable. Ditto for the cabin stewards who went out of their way to accommodate requests & wishes (often unexpressed !!). Seating was open at dinner & we had a lot of interesting dinners by asking to be seated with other guests & offering to share our table with them, too. Although the setting was fairly formal, the atmosphere was not, due to the senses of humor of the 2 maitre d's who were lively & solicitous at the same time. Since I was coughing & sneezing at night, I didn't have much a chance to sample the entertainment but my husband did & loved it. There are several areas with live music, drinking & dancing where my hubby outdid himself singing karaoke & dancing with women with stationery husbands. My big regret is not feeling well enough to see all of this person but the staff & other guests regaled me with the stories. We've usually found the ships' shore excursions to be about average & only took one on the entire cruise. I had booked private tours in every port & thought they were absolutely fabulous, living up (with one exception) to all our expectations. I would highly recommend future guests to do the same - I used ToursByLocals &NotJustATourist & did a lot of reviewing before booking them. I'd also recommend spending extra days if you can exploring the departure & arrival cities as it provides a fascinating way to start & end a cruise. The one big negative for us was the itinerary on the second half of our cruise. My husband chose it as it extended our original cruise in the right time frame but we were disappointed by Windstar's choices, namely, 3 stops on the islands of Corsica & Elba as well as the Algarve of Portugal. Perhaps it was not possible but, looking at a map, there were a number of destinations that seemed a lot more appealing. We WOULD sail on Windstar again but make shore that (most of) the ports were places on our bucket list. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
This was our first cruise on a small ship and I'm happy to say it exceeded our expectations. The Star Pride only carries 200 passengers or so which means that life onboard is generally relaxed and informal. The cabin was pleasantly ... Read More
This was our first cruise on a small ship and I'm happy to say it exceeded our expectations. The Star Pride only carries 200 passengers or so which means that life onboard is generally relaxed and informal. The cabin was pleasantly roomy and the food ranged from excellent to very good. With a small number of passengers you'll also get to know your shipmates since you'll tend to run into the same people on shore excursions, at dinner, or around the ship. The Yacht Club is a feature that doesn't get enough publicity. It's a lovely, quiet place to sit with a cup of tea or coffee, read, play cards, or just watch the ocean go by. The crew was a high point of the cruise. By the second or third day we were being greeted by name and asked if we'd like our usual drinks. They were uniformly warm, cheerful, and went out of their way to make us feel welcome. Embarkation and disembarkation were fairly informal, low key affairs. With only 200 passengers it doesn't take much time to get everyone checked in or out. Of course, there are some tradeoffs with a smaller ship. Entertainment was limited to a duo and solo singer. They were very good, but there's only so much variety you can get out of three people. Likewise, the dining venues were a little limited. For example, it would have been nice to have the buffet open at dinner for those nights when you don't want to deal with the main dining room. And, of course, you will feel the ocean more in a smaller ship than a larger one. Overall, though, the good points far outweighed the limitations and we will definitely look at Windstar for another cruise. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
We went with an alumni group and got off to a bad start when the transfer company bus did not show up.....for 3 hours, then took 2.5 hours to get 5 miles to dock, then union workers went home at 4 p.m. so had to carry our own baggage onto ... Read More
We went with an alumni group and got off to a bad start when the transfer company bus did not show up.....for 3 hours, then took 2.5 hours to get 5 miles to dock, then union workers went home at 4 p.m. so had to carry our own baggage onto the ship....called Oceania but no help along the way. Given bus telephone that was not answered, then waiting 15 minutes for supervisor only to find out he was too busy to talk to us as we stood outside the airport with the transfer agent looking for the bus. Also, I don't like having to be my own tour guide and schedule and pay for the land packages ahead of time. Most were already booked except the most expensive private tours. There has got to be a better way. While we loved the ship and the staff and the food, the logistics were poor at best......getting from plane to boat....getting land packages booked.....making due on our own when no packages were available.....river cruises are just much easier to enjoy and you are not nickled and dimed at the end for every wine, drink, snack, etc of every day. Unfortunately, river cruises cannot always navigate the oceans where we want to go. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018

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