7 Lisbon to Mediterranean Windstar Star Breeze Cruise Reviews

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
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
Having taken only two previous cruises, one with Regent and one with Silver seas I don’t claim to be an expert on reviewing cruises. However, here is my opinion of the Windstar Barcelona to Lisbon cruise aboard the Star Breeze. The ... Read More
Having taken only two previous cruises, one with Regent and one with Silver seas I don’t claim to be an expert on reviewing cruises. However, here is my opinion of the Windstar Barcelona to Lisbon cruise aboard the Star Breeze. The appeal of a small ship like the Star Breeze is crowd avoidance. However, The Star breeze feels crowded at times especially when at sea. Most of the cabins have widows that don’t open so people want to be on the decks to get fresh air. Unfortunately, there are not enough lounge chairs on the two outside decks. Consequently, everyone tries to claim a chair early by putting stuff on it. Latecomers move the stuff which causes arguments. The lounge chairs have a one inch pad and are very hard. There are umbrellas over some chairs but usually can’t be open under way due to the wind. So, there is little shaded area on the upper deck when the ship is moving. The cabins that do have a sliding door have a tiny deck you can stand on if you have small feet. In effect, all you get is a window that opens. These cabins sell out early. The cabins with a window that doesn’t open are large enough but claustrophobic in my opinion. There is one pool which resembles an oversize bathtub and two small hot tubs. There is a constant roar from the smoke stacks even when the ship is docked. It is quite annoying on the outside decks including the Candles restaurant. I suggest you bring a noise cancelling headset if you want to read a book on the deck. Compared to the two previous cruise ships I was on the Star Breeze seemed dated and overcrowded. There are two restaurants. One is used for breakfast lunch and dinner. This restaurant at dinner time is called Candles and you can go there once during the 8-day cruise. The outside seating area is subject to the exhaust noise. The main dining room on the lower deck is used for dinner only. The food is quite good in both restaurants. Entertainment. Two musical duos played guitar and sang on and off all day. There was one free flamenco dance show on the ship one evening. The cabin crew sang some songs and danced. Sort of an amateur hour show. Amenities I'm not sure if all Windstar cruises are ala carte but this one was. You can buy drinks for $54/day per person or individually. You have to sign for each drink which is annoying. All tours are extra. Even laundry and WI Fi are extra. There are different Wi FI plans priced by the G bytes you use. Shore Excursions Tours were very good and well organized although none were free. Cost varied for $60 to 250/person Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
We are frequent travelers, but not frequent cruisers. Our only other cruise was a couple of years back on the Norwegian Jade in the Western Caribbean. We enjoyed it enough to want to cruise again, but wanted a smaller-boat experience. ... Read More
We are frequent travelers, but not frequent cruisers. Our only other cruise was a couple of years back on the Norwegian Jade in the Western Caribbean. We enjoyed it enough to want to cruise again, but wanted a smaller-boat experience. We're so glad we chose Windstar for this cruise, and we will definitely sail with them again if we have the opportunity. The plusses: The size. The cruise experience on a small boat if definitely the one for us. With about 180 passengers and about 150 crew, the feel of the ship and the great service really suited us. We are active, mid-60's and travelling with another couple. It was relaxed but with enough activities to keep us interested. Embarcation. Smooth, easy, efficient. We were in our rooms within an hour of boarding. Dining. We were very happy with the quality of food and drink as well as with the service from dining room personnel, wine steward, and all involved. People could not have been more helpful or attentive. The quality of the food at dinner was fine dining all the way. The menus were varied and interesting. Usual choice was among at least 5 appetizers, 5 entrees, 5 deserts. The chef was wonderful - we ended up walking with him into town at one of the ports as he and his assistants walked to the market for fresh fresh fish and produce. He makes an effort to include local product, and the effort shows. Delicious food all around. People used to larger ships might not be happy with the lack of many dining venues, but we were never bored. Cabin. Seemed very large to us for a cruise ship. Well-appointed. Our steward was stellar. Crew. Everyone - captain, chef, maître d, bar staff, wait staff - made us feel like part of the family. They could not have been nicer. Itinerary - Lisbon to Barcelona. We had never been to Portugal or Spain before, so we didn't know what to expect. We loved this itinerary. Definitely plan to spend extra days in both Lisbon and Barcelona if you can - loved both cities. We took several of the cruise port trips and we were glad we did. The local guides were excellent and the tours interesting. We particularly enjoyed Malaga, Seville, and Palma. Minuses - hardly any. The exterior of the ship is showing a bit of age and needs some TLC. The casino is teeny-tiny (not surprising for a ship that size), but my husband enjoyed losing money there anyhow. :) Couple of glitches with the heating/air at the beginning, but they worked them out quickly. If I were on the ship for a longer cruise, I might miss the lack of varied dining venues, but not on an 8-night. As I said, we're now Windstar fans and looking forward to our next opportunity to cruise with them. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
Star Breeze Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 4.4
Dining 4.0 4.2
Entertainment 3.0 3.0
Public Rooms 5.0 4.0
Fitness Recreation 3.0 3.2
Family 1.0 3.2
Shore Excursion 3.0 3.6
Enrichment 3.0 3.4
Service 4.0 4.5
Value For Money 4.0 3.8

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