Our cruise was the "Splendors of Southern Spain", embarking from Lisbon, Portugal, ending in Barcelona, Spain. This was our 10th Windstar cruise, most of which have been on the Wind Surf. Highlights of the cruise were the ... Read More
Our cruise was the "Splendors of Southern Spain", embarking from Lisbon, Portugal, ending in Barcelona, Spain. This was our 10th Windstar cruise, most of which have been on the Wind Surf. Highlights of the cruise were the private excursion to see the beautiful Spanish "dancing" stallions, the excursions to The Alhambra and to the Tio Pepe winery, and the fabulous island paradise of Palma de Mallorca.
Our cruise began with a 2-night stay at the 5-star Tiara Park Hotel in Lisbon, conveniently located near a small park where the "Hop On, Hop Off" tour buses are located. There were 70 other Windstar cruisers at the hotel, and we met several nice folks before ever boarding the Wind Surf. The hotel itself featured a clean, modern design, with spacious rooms and excellent wi-fi service. We took our meals in the hotel dining room, where the food and service was first rate.
Two buses picked up all the Windstar guests and got us to the WInd Surf early in the afternoon. Check in on the ship was seamless, and after a short lunch, we found our bags already delivered to our cabin #224, near the aft of the ship. It wasn't long before we had touched base with several of our favorite crew members, including Nova (waiter) and Angeline (bartender). A few other crew members heard that I was on board, and tracked me down in the Compass Rose just to say hello. It's this kind of warm personal service that sets Windstar 180 degrees from normal, indeed.
The ship's captain was Vladimir Delgado from Panama, the youngest captain in Windstar's fleet. We have previously sailed with several excellent captains, such as John Clark and Peter Harris, both now retired. Captain Delgado raised the bar to a new level, with his enthusiasm and gregarious personality. My wife and I had the pleasure of dining with him one evening, along with a few other guests, and greatly enjoyed his company.
Unfortunately, our favorite entertainers, Craig and Nikola from the "Rain" duo, were not on board, and apparently we missed them by just a week or so. Their replacements were Erik and Caycie, who were also quite good. There was also a new band on board called "SeaScape" that were a big improvement over "High Society" and others. Even the amateur show put on by the crew was much improved! I have often been critical of the on board entertainment in the past, so this was an encouraging trend.
Another aspect of the shipboard entertainment is the music played in the Compass Rose lounge, which can often be wildly uneven. Accordingly, I brought on board an iPod loaded with close to 1000 smooth jazz & vocal offerings, and donated it to the ship's Hotel Manager Nick Bulger. Unlike several earlier cruises, Nick was very supportive of my efforts, and we collaborated on the music for the remainder of the cruise. Many passengers complimented both of us on the music, but perhaps the most appreciative were the bar staff, who saw it as a welcome change. Nick later invited us to join him for dinner, and sent a very nice bottle of wine to my cabin, as well.
The Wind Surf was in great shape, as were the cabins and public areas. A big surprise was the internet service, which was greatly improved. If there was any downside at all, it was that some of the shore excursions were rather pricey.
As always, it was sad to leave the ship in Barcelona, but we will be back at earliest opportunity. Can't wait! Read Less