106 Windstar Wind Spirit Cruise Reviews

Our cruise was the Trans-Pacific Cruise along with the inaugural cruise of Tahiti after 12 years being absent. The crossing was extraordinary. We left Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica and 4196 nautical miles later and 18 days we arrived in ... Read More
Our cruise was the Trans-Pacific Cruise along with the inaugural cruise of Tahiti after 12 years being absent. The crossing was extraordinary. We left Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica and 4196 nautical miles later and 18 days we arrived in Papeete, Tahiti. Leaving the continent for a crossing is always exciting. There were 70 of us, mostly people who have completed other crossings with Windstar Cruises. On our first day out we saw a bird on a turtle, a freightor on the horizon and a whale, then for two weeks we saw only the ocean and amazing sunsets. Vast, warm, beautiful tail winds and calm waters. We crossed the equator with King Neptune and his Queen, a fun celebration shared by crew and passengers. The first land we saw was after 14 days and that was the Islands of Disappointment. Because we made such good time the last two days the Wind Spirit was under sail only. The peace, the gentle bow gracefully riding the waves and the warm breezes made for a spectacular sail. On the 18th day we woke up to Tahiti on the horizon and after each passing hour Tahiti became larger and clearer all without a motor. It was thrilling. We arrived at the dock in Papeete with traditional dancers and musicians welcoming us. The day the Tahiti cruise was to begin the President of Tahiti came on board and there was a very nice welcoming ceremony. Captain Pedro Pinto and his crew did an amazing job.The service was outstanding as it always is .Chef Darin was inventive and the food was delicious considering that he had no fresh provisions for 18 days. This great crossing was a terrific introduction to the cruise ahead. The cruise was the first time Windstar had sailed the Polynesia waters in 12 years. Of the 70 people on the crossing 35 of us stayed on and for the inaugural cruise it was a full ship of 148. Boarding is always easy and welcoming on the Windstar. We sailed away with a beautiful sunset. We anchored in Cook's Bay Moorea, it was georgeous. We took a ship's tour with Michael Poole watching the spinner dolphins, we watched these dolphins dance on the water it was unbelievable. Highly recommend this tour we learned so much. The next day we anchored off Tahaa where Windstar rented a motu ( little Islands in the lagoon) where we had the beach barbecue. The lagoons are shallow, you walk in the water and swim with beautiful fish in the coral gardens. It was a glorious day. The sail to Raiatea was a highlight for we sailed around the lagoon and we saw the sunset on the horizon with the peaks of Bora Bora in the back ground. Visually exquisite. Here we docked and had our deck barbecue and a demonstration of lei making and tying the pareu. It was great, colorful, there was music it was a wonderful demo. For the next two days were anchored off Bora Bora. We took the ship's tour of swimming with the sting rays, black fin sharks and snorkeling in the lagoon. Wonderful and thrilling again. I was so happy about the safety procedures to make it a safe, exciting and stressless, experience. The sting rays were gentle, friendly and graceful. The sharks completely ignored us which was very funny and the fish were as colorful as a fauvism painting. The Windstar rented another motu here where we experienced a traditional Tahitian barbecue with a performance by fire dancers. Beautiful evening after a day of clouds and on and off showers. Our last island was Huahine, we took a tour of the Sacred Sites where the royalty of the ancient times lived. I had seen the ancient sites of Easter Island and Hawaii so now I completed the Polynesian Triangle. It was a tour for people who love history. Paul was an excellent teacher. This was a busy, generous cruise with lots to do, experience and see. Service impeccable as usual. Food wonderful. The sail aways with the music of 1492 enhanced the majestic scenery that surrounded us. Despite the fact that this was Windstar's first cruise back everything was flawless. Steve, the cruise director, gave out great information. This ended our 14th cruise with Windstsr and we are already reserved for 2015. Tahiti was thrilled Windstar returned and I am sure the passengers were thrilled as well. Great Job Windstar! Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
First Windstar cruise. We boarded the ship in Colon and were greeted by the Captain and First Officer on the gangway. The easiest embarkation ever! The ship is great, very easy to get around. A small library with a ok amount of books, a ... Read More
First Windstar cruise. We boarded the ship in Colon and were greeted by the Captain and First Officer on the gangway. The easiest embarkation ever! The ship is great, very easy to get around. A small library with a ok amount of books, a pretty good collection of dvd's to borrow and 2 PC's. The wifi where we traveled to was not very good, so it was nice to not check wifi for a few days at a time but this might not be possible for some people. The ship does offer a wifi package but I understood it was really slow. Most ports we went to you could get wifi on your phone (slow). There was a very nice lounge where every evening they would have appetizers and Steve, the destination manager , would talk about the next day's port. There is a small shop with not many necessities but t-shirts, no men's large of the most popular Windstar T. We did not visit the Salon/Spa. The restaurant was very nice, a lot of tables for 2 or 4. We sat at the same table every night and had the same waiter, Jati , who was wonderful.The main deck had a very small pool and a nice deck area with a lot of lounge chairs, some with umbrellas. Coffee was available there from 6 am on. In the left hand corner of the pool deck they had a smoking area, Only one time did the smoke from there drift over to where I was sitting on a chaise lounge. Breakfast and lunch were served in the Veranda on the main deck. There were outside and inside seating. The outside tables had umbrellas.These meals are buffets but there are ala carte menus also everyday. I am a vegetarian and everyday someone would show me the menu and offer to make something else if I did not like the V choice. The food was good to very good.. We did eat at Candles , out on the pool deck, one evening which was lovely. We do not drink so I can not comment on the alcohol or prices. The soft drinks were all included. My luggage was lost by United prior to boarding so I was given the laundry service for gratis. There were 133 passengers and a crew of 98. We had several wet landings , which involved using the ships Zodiac's. The crew was very professional and I always felt safe. We did not use the Marina. Our cabin was small, but the storage space was great. I loved the bathroom, again the storage space was great and the shower worked very well. My DH did use the gym, He did not care for it very much said the space felt very tight, had only portholes and was very hot when he was there. There is a very small casino which we did not visit. A very nice husband and wife duo, One Night Stand, preformed in the lounge every evening.The ship had an open bridge policy, except when entering a port etc and we did a galley tour. Every crew member we met was a professional who truly seemed to enjoy their work. We will sail on Windstar again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
Our Windstar Panama Canal to Costa Rica cruise on the Wind Spirit was our third and probably last cruise with Windstar. First the good news. The on board staff is wonderful; friendly, hardworking and professional. They do a great job given ... Read More
Our Windstar Panama Canal to Costa Rica cruise on the Wind Spirit was our third and probably last cruise with Windstar. First the good news. The on board staff is wonderful; friendly, hardworking and professional. They do a great job given the deep cuts put in place by the new owners. The kitchen staff works wonders with the poor quality supplies they are provided. But even they can’t make up for the lack of quality food or the minimal quantity of pricier ingredients. Compared to our previous Windstar cruises, the lunch buffet was bare bones. No seafood salads or other interesting items. Instead we had lots of pasta’s and stewed/braised meats, the better to tenderize lower quality cuts. The afternoon teas were simply embarrassing. Dinners were usually better but the seafood was dreadful. One does not expect frozen fish as an entrée when visiting ports filled with local fisherman delivering wonderful freshly caught fish daily. It is clear that Xanterra is cutting corners which has impacting bookings. Our cruise was only 78% occupied (125 passengers). At the Yacht Club (frequent cruiser) reception I discretely chatted with several other Windstar regulars who noticed the decline and wanted to share notes on other lines for future cruises. The staff at the corporate booking office worked to minimums and couldn’t care less about our past loyalty. Xanterra specializes in extracting maximum revenue from a captive audience. As operators of facilities within US National Parks, they serve visitors who rarely come back for repeat visits. So their modus operandi is maximum prices with minimal value. We sailed on the Seabourn Odyssey last year and the difference between the Odyssey and Wind Spirit is dramatic even though the Windstar line costs about the same. Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
The line doesn't boast much on its sailing prowess but this one set some records; twenty hours continuous sail only power and over 90% sails deployed time! Sailed the northwesterly route from Colon through the Panama Canal up the west ... Read More
The line doesn't boast much on its sailing prowess but this one set some records; twenty hours continuous sail only power and over 90% sails deployed time! Sailed the northwesterly route from Colon through the Panama Canal up the west coast of Costa Rica to Puerto Caldera. Great itinerary. If you want to see wildlife this one is it. Crocodiles, herons, monkeys, snakes, macaws, tucans, sloth, coati, birds and butterflies. Staff is superb! They know your name after a day or so, and my wife wanted to take some of them home with her. The evening sail offs were not to be missed. And the ability to go up on the bridge for a chat is a feature unique to Windstar. The concept of a small boat may be a turnoff for some but it's the best way to meet new friends and see places off the beaten track of the larger lines. Will be back again   Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
We spent the night in the Marriott Panama City but booked ourselves instead of through Windstar and saved over $100 each doing it independently. Very nice hotel in a great location with pool and helpful staff. First impressions of the ... Read More
We spent the night in the Marriott Panama City but booked ourselves instead of through Windstar and saved over $100 each doing it independently. Very nice hotel in a great location with pool and helpful staff. First impressions of the Windspirit was ‘great’ which was unfortunately rather muted after the 1.5 hour coach ride to Colon from Panama City having to listen to the tour guide drone on for most of the journey. Disembarking the coach and finding our way to the Windspirit was also very shambolic with no direction, signage nor Windstar representative but we all found our way in the end to the refreshing air conditioning of the ships main reception. Registration in the lounge was a little amateur but we got through it and were then directed to our cabin. Warmth and hospitality of the ship staff are one of the biggest plus points of the voyage with staff soon learning your name. Our cabin on deck one amidships was very comfortable but showing a little wear despite the recent refurbishment that took place. Our cabin steward was very helpful, friendly and made our stay very enjoyable. Depending on what muster point you are allocated for your lifeboat there is a clear difference in the quality of staff and the amount of information you receive from them. One hopes there will never be an incident. Without going into too much detail the other passengers on the ship were very friendly and nice people and we made friends with several. The entertainment was everything you would expect, and we wanted, from a small ship i.e. just a piano player which was very good. We didn’t take up the drink package as not value for money! We do like two or three cocktails/wine in the evening but it just did not work out financially as a good deal. We did, however, take up the laundry package which was great and well worth it. The food was lovely! We really enjoyed Candles on the pool deck although you do need to pre-book. The main restaurant AmphorA was very nice too with great service. My partner and I both need to go on a diet after all the great food which was always available. Windstar promote their ships as ‘private yachts’ and that is how it really felt. You wouldn’t have noticed 148 passengers on board. We went through the Panama Canal which was scenic but once you’ve done one lock that’s about it, but it depends on your individual interests. Christmas day was spent on Isla de Coiba in the Pacific. What a paradise and fantastic day on the beach, bbq and first real day on a beach in the sun. I would recommend you do detailed research on the ports prior to the trip and plan your own outings. Most companies will pick you up at the dock as part of the package if you wanted to do some zip line for example and they most definitely will be cheaper than booking through the ship. There may have been faults with either the ship, trips out, staff etc but we would most heartily recommend Windstar and are already looking at sailing with them again. This is the next best thing to having your own yacht so enjoy!   Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
Only 1 day off the ship and I have already booked my next trip on Windstar vacation. I am typically not fond of cruises--which often feel more like cattle calls. That is SO not true with Windstar! It definitely feels like you are on a ... Read More
Only 1 day off the ship and I have already booked my next trip on Windstar vacation. I am typically not fond of cruises--which often feel more like cattle calls. That is SO not true with Windstar! It definitely feels like you are on a private yacht with nearly a 1:1 passenger to staff ratio. We never had to wait to eat, sit on a lounge chair by the pool, or to get on or off the ship. They were very accommodating in every way. We did a Christmas cruise of the Panama Canal and Costa Rica and it exceeded our highest expectations. We went with our three children (20, 18, 15) and were thrilled that there were many other families on board. They had more fun than we did--which we did not expect because we prepared them for few families on board. We all made lifelong friends and have already made plans for future visits with them. The food is unbelievable and so is the staff. Our day on the private island and all time spent off the back with the water sports were amazing. Zip lining is Costa Rica was fun. We were a little disappointed that we didn't see as much wildlife as we thought we might, but that could have been time of year/day. We booked an excursion outside of the ship and with Quepos Canyoning and that was the highlight of our excursions. The cabins are spacious and completely stocked. We got the drink plan, which really made the cruise all-inclusive. Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
We were enchanted with the ship and the crew from the moment we boarded. We knew that this was not in the true "luxury" class of ships but really wanted something small and intimate, and this was exactly the right trip for us. ... Read More
We were enchanted with the ship and the crew from the moment we boarded. We knew that this was not in the true "luxury" class of ships but really wanted something small and intimate, and this was exactly the right trip for us. The trip was advertised as the "Yachtman's Caribbean" and truly, it was. Basically, it's island hopping with swimming and snorkeling during the day, drinks and food at night. The entire week was relaxed. No shorts or t-shirts in the dining room at night but totally casual with men wearing golf shirts or Tommy Bahama type shirts at night, women capri's or little strappy dresses - depending on age. Daytime is bathing suits, shorts, capri's. Leave the dressy stuff at home! The passengers ranged from early 30's (honeymooners) to late 70's with everything inbetween plus a couple of teenagers who were world travelers. Mostly professonal people, teachers, small business owners, etc., from all around the world although it was mostly American's, Canadians, and several Dutch that made up the bulk. The ship is small so there is opportunity to meet everyone and friendships were made all the way around. The staff is unbelievably kind an competent. The service staff is mostly from the Phillipines and have worked onboard together for many years. They cook, they clean, they entertain, they do it all and always with a smile. The food was outstanding. Breakfast and lunch served either on deck in a cool breeze or in a restaurant on the top deck. The choices are vast and nobody was hungry - ever - but never had that "stuffed" feeling of the large ships. Dinner is served either in the newly decorated and very elegant dining room or on the back deck where there is a small pool and hot tub. This area at night turns into Candles, an outdoor restaurant that features grilled steak, chops, etc. The most amazing part of this ship is that every square foot is multi-purpose and transitions from one use to another in minutes. We never felt crowed or cramped in the public areas or in our cabin. The cabin itself is sailing ship small but very efficient. The bathroom is amazing in that there is more than adequate room for everything and, I mean everything! Same with the two closets. The TV is pretty boring if you are a night watcher in bed but there is a library full of DVD's. The beds are two twins pushed together (or apart if you want). They were wonderfully comfortable and the pillows were awesome. BTW, there is 110v power so if you need a CPAP not to worry, plug is right next to the bed. We brought a travel multi-power outlet with usb charger that fit right into the wall plug so we could charge two cell phones and use the hair dryer (they supply). It's a Belkin that we found at Bed Bath & Beyond and really will be in our travel bag from now on. Also, we stayed a couple of nights in St. Maarten at the Westin Dawn Beach. Great hotel and they are also 110v as they are on the Dutch side. The French side has 220 so beware if you need anything like a CPAP plugged in. Back to the Wind Spirit. The itinerary is typical Caribbean. We fell in love with The Bitter End Yacht Club at Virgin Gorda and would love to go back and stay there. Virgin Gorda and St. Barths had world class yachts anchored out near us and it was fun to watch how the "other half" (1%) lives! The boat provides lots of watersports and opportunities for shore excursions from certified dives to land tours for those that are not into diving. Great beach party, wonderful BBQ on board one night. Just lots of fun, privacy, no hassle cruising. All of the islands are relatively small with taxi driver's willing to take passengers in safety and comfort. No begging in the streets of these small ports. Lovely change from the big ships again! We bought the $109 laundry package and I LOVED not coming home suitcases of dirty clothes. If you buy this package it's for washable clothing only, not dry cleaning. If I had really factored it in we could have taken half the clothes and will next time. We DID NOT by the booze package. We went to islands and had a rum or two in local bars during the day. We each drank wine at night, a cocktail or beer here and there, no lack of drinks, and our bill for the week was about $350. The booze package would have been about $750 and we noticed that people who bought it were almost forcing themselves to drink more because it was "paid for". The wines by the glass or bottle are very reasonable, same for mixed drinks. No more than any of our local nice bars. There is an exercise person who leads yoga and stretching in the morning. Gym is small but very well equipped. Salon has some nice deals. Prices in the little ship's store are very reasonable. We NEVER felt like we were being taken advantage of because we were a captive audience! Nice little lounge at night with some "theme" evenings. A little hokey but again, people are so nice that we made it all fun. If you're looking for glitz and glamour, this is not it! The seas were a little rocky a couple of nights. If you want a reservation at Candles on deck, make it for a night when the ship is anchored rather than a night when it's moving. Each room can only eat at Candles one night during the trip because it's small - so plan your night and make a reservation when you first board. Just call the reception desk and they'll take care of it for you. The sails - they are beautiful when they go up and there is dramatic music that accompanies the hoisting of sails. The captain and officers are eager to tell everyone all that they can about the ship itself. The stairs - there are stairways leading up and down to the decks so if you are unable to climb stairs, this may be a stretch for you. Also, we tendered off in each place which is an outside stairway going from the 3rd deck to the waterline. If it's raining or blowing it can be a bit tricky, so again, make sure you're up for this. The crew is very attentive and will help anyone getting off or on. There are also towels available when you leave the ship in case you want to go to a beach or are doing one of the water "adventures". The crew is the best part of this cruise. They are a group of wonderful men and women who genuinely love what they do. There are no big name entertainers on board but their talent show the 4th night out was the most fun we've ever experienced on a vacation. We can't wait for the next one! Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
My wife and I got married on this cruise!!! The service was impeccable, the food delicious and the ship board experience intimate with only 140 people aboard. We made great friends on board and love the destinations. In some cases we were ... Read More
My wife and I got married on this cruise!!! The service was impeccable, the food delicious and the ship board experience intimate with only 140 people aboard. We made great friends on board and love the destinations. In some cases we were the only ship in the harbor as the big ships could not be accomodated. Monemvasia, Greece was over the top fun and scenic. In a few harbors where there were big ships, we watched as hundreds of passengers waited in line to return to their ship while we arrived at the Windstar disembark point and were greated with ice tea and the smiling faces of Windstar staff helping us on board immediately! The worst part about the cruise is that we are now completely spoiled and could never go on one of the larger cruise ships! I highly recommend this cruise line! Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
Second cruise on Windstar. The positives are the sleek semi-sailing yachts, the small number of passengers and the attention from the service staff. The not-so-positives on this cruise were the "weak" ports we visited and the ... Read More
Second cruise on Windstar. The positives are the sleek semi-sailing yachts, the small number of passengers and the attention from the service staff. The not-so-positives on this cruise were the "weak" ports we visited and the shore excursions. Monamvasia is ok, Gythian was nondescript , Taormina was very touristy, as well as Capri, Lipari should have been skipped. Our first cruise with Windstar included the Greek Islands and Turkey and had much better port stops and shore excursions. Calling this cruise an Amalfi Coast cruise is a stretch. Cabin was comfortable and had adequate room considering size of boat. Minimal noise. Food is slightly above average and that commentary would probably be related to what your dining experience is. I would certainly not call it extravagant . With a small passenger group and considering the expense of this type of cruise, you expect an assortment of attitudes. I found it interesting that a "peck" order developed on this cruise that was orchestrated by a Texas "big shot." Also found no one really went out of their way to be friendly with us. I would recommend you look for other Windstar itineraries before considering this one. Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
My husband and I went on a Windstar Cruise around the Greek Islands as part of our honeymoon. We had considered larger ships, but decided on Windstar after Lisa Zwissler from Beach Bum Vacations told us that this is the cruise line that ... Read More
My husband and I went on a Windstar Cruise around the Greek Islands as part of our honeymoon. We had considered larger ships, but decided on Windstar after Lisa Zwissler from Beach Bum Vacations told us that this is the cruise line that everyone loves. No lines for food, no lines to get on or off the boat, AND, we were never far from our room. We loved the experience and this was our first time cruising. We knew most of the crew by name and more importantly, they knew us! It was very relaxing, which is just what we wanted. We were also able to get into the smaller ports that big ships can't go to. We ate dinner with Captain Dash (special invite only), had a great time at the spa, we liked the open bridge policy, and looking at the stars late at night from the bow. The watersports deck was also a lot of fun, because we were able to go swimming right behind the boat! Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
This was our first time cruise on Wind Star and we were very pleased. The cabins are very well designed, the service is excellent, the food great.For adults who wish to enjoy a relaxing trip, Wind Star is the answer. While the ... Read More
This was our first time cruise on Wind Star and we were very pleased. The cabins are very well designed, the service is excellent, the food great.For adults who wish to enjoy a relaxing trip, Wind Star is the answer. While the entertainment isn't on a par with a 2000-3000 passenger ship, and the casino is quite small, these are not important for us. The dining room has open seating so you do not have to sit with the same people each night. Just wander in when you feel like it and sit where you wish. The food is excellent with an on deck BBQ with lobster, ribs, steak etc. being a highlight of the trip. On board life is very casual, no one wears a jacket to dinner and many wear shorts to most meals.I found this ship to meet all our cruising needs and then some. I would definitely take this line again.. My wife and I look forward to our next cruise and meeting more cruise critic members during the meet and greet. Happy sailing! Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
This was our third cruise with Windstar and all three have been on the Wind Spirit (not planned, just worked out that way). It has been very interesting to watch the progress under the new ownership. Ports visited: Istanbul, Kusadasi, ... Read More
This was our third cruise with Windstar and all three have been on the Wind Spirit (not planned, just worked out that way). It has been very interesting to watch the progress under the new ownership. Ports visited: Istanbul, Kusadasi, Rhodes, Bodrum, Santorini, Mykonos and Athens. We did a combination of tours though Windstar, private tours and car rental. Embarkation at the Istanbul port was easy. In Windstar's usual efficient style, check-in was quick. Luggage was already in our room when we arrived. Lunch buffet was great! Our day at sea was filled with a variety of activities including, Bosprit pictures, cooking class, engine room tour, etc. So, you could do nothing, have an activity filled day or something in between - the choice was yours. As we sailed through the straits, they gave commentary on what we were seeing - nice. Kusadasi (dock) is a great port. We chose a private tour to see the sights. Downtown was convenient and had many little shops and restaurants. Rhodes (dock) was another great port (well, actually they all were). Downtown area very convenient if you just want to walk around - lots of historic sights as well as many little shops, restaurants and cafes. We chose a private tour with another couple and travelled to Lindos and visited many other sights around the island. With an 11:00 PM departure, we still had plenty of time to explore the town. Bodrum (dock because of weather, usually a tender port) - unfortunately (not Windstar's fault) we had a very windy day here. They were unable to put down the water sports platform and our Castle and Gulet Tour through Windstar was not all that it could have been (weather related, no control over that!). To Windstar's credit, they did give us a partial refund on the tour. Santorini (tender) was beautiful, although the weather was a little hazy. We rented a car and toured the island with another couple. Mykonos (tender) was another car rental day. Did a little island touring then spent some time in the town. Sports platform was open although we didn't get back in time to play. Overall feelings about the Wind Spirit: The public areas have all been updated and look great. We were pleased with the overall feel of these areas. Crew - What can I say? They are all wonderful starting with the Captain all the way down the chain of command. No request seems too big or too little for them. They are remarkable. Cabin - It has been updated with new carpeting, bed linens, drapes. Otherwise, it is still the same efficient and well-designed cabin it always was. The one thing we noticed was that the new carpeting already was showing a little wear. Not sure how it will hold up in the long run. Restaurants and Food - This is where we noticed a definite improvement. On our last cruise, we felt the food was really good, this time we felt it was excellent. The buffet at both breakfast and lunch has been improved and you can also order off the daily menu. The afternoon snacks are so much better than they were. Candles was great. And, in AmphorA, Tom kept complaining everything sounded so good that he had a hard time making up his mind! Everything we ordered was excllent - we didn't have a single disappointing meal. Amuse bouche before the meal is a very nice touch. We felt the redesign in AmphorA really worked and seemed more comfortable. Disembarkation - again, very easy and efficient. Although for us it was very sad. As mentioned above, this was our third cruise on Wind Spirit. She will be off to Tahiti next year and Tom and I do not feel that is a trip we can make anytime soon because of the distance away from home - we both have elderly parents. So as we disembarked, it felt like we were saying goodbye to an old friend with no idea of when we might see each other again. Very sad!!!! Overall, the time and care that has gone into improving Wind Spirit over the last year under the new ownership is very evident. Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
Cruise was great, but started out with poor weather (rain and wind from the East). We had to change itinerary and visit two different ports because of the wind. Windstar can not control the weather, and that's the only negative ... Read More
Cruise was great, but started out with poor weather (rain and wind from the East). We had to change itinerary and visit two different ports because of the wind. Windstar can not control the weather, and that's the only negative thing about this week's cruise. The ship is very comfortable, just the right size-small. Being small you get to know other passengers and the crew. Veranda for breakfast and lunch (if you have lunch on board) and dinner in a nice dinning room (or Candles, which we did not try). Food was very good and like any cruise - endless. While I'm talking about food, I must talk about Zomie, the head chef. He was excellent. Not only did he prepare great meals, he took us on a market day shopping tour, taught a cooking class, was the best staff line dancer, and always had a smile. All the staff were very nice and would do just about anything for you. Bridge was open when under sail and the people there were informative. I took the engine room tour and the chief engineer was not only informative, but a frustrated comedian. My wife enjoyed the spa! Capri and Monemvasia were great. Other ports were not so great. We had to change two ports because of wind from the East and poor anchorage. Windspirit being the size it is could get into small ports and make changes when necessary. Excursions were very good, but expensive. Most ports we anchored and tendered to shore. Also had the opportunity to swim off the stern while in Gythion. Cabins are all the same on Windspirit. Comfortable bed, reasonable space, good bathroom. We were midships on the lower deck and had little noise. Traditional chocolate and towel animal every evening when we returned to the cabin. The sails were up for a limited time. Sometimes wind coming from wrong direction and sometimes too strong. Played music each day as we left port and put up sails - very inspiring. Many photo opportunities. One last note: Laundry package was a deal. Drink prices are reasonable. Internet is too expensive. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
We sailed on the Wind Spirit from 2 Feb - 9 Feb from Bridgetown to Bridgetown. The itinerary was "Jewels of the Windward Isles". As this was our first cruise ever I have no point of reference to compare anything against. Being ... Read More
We sailed on the Wind Spirit from 2 Feb - 9 Feb from Bridgetown to Bridgetown. The itinerary was "Jewels of the Windward Isles". As this was our first cruise ever I have no point of reference to compare anything against. Being on a small boat we did feel the swells, especially on the run from Barbados to St. Lucia where you are essentially in open ocean. Being on the bottom deck it was kind of neat to see the swells washing over your cabin portals. The boat was smaller than my wife thought it would be. I don't think I had any preconceived notions on size. The cabin (120) was better than I anticipated. 188 sq ft is way bigger than I thought it would be. The finishings are great, linens first rate and there is tons of storage including a closet. The bathroom is extremely well designed and very functional and also has lots of storage space. The staff are awesome. The service is unlike any I have encountered on any vacation. First rate somehow seems inadequate. Truly top notch. After one day all the staff, from the bar to cabin to wait staff, knew us (and everyone else) by first name. The were always quick to greet us by name whenever they saw us. I cannot say enough about them. They will do whatever they can to meet your needs and more. They made the cruise. The food was really really good. Only once was my fish a tad over cooked. Other than that everything was excellent. The only short coming according to my wife was the lack of "healthy" muffins at breakfast. I was too busy eating eggs Benedict and fresh pastries to notice. Dress code was very casual. I wore slacks/pants with a button up short sleeve shirt to supper. And shoes of course. The women wore everything from pants to dresses. Their footwear varied from high heels to flip flops. The other meals, shorts and sandals and any shirt were sufficient. I did see one older gent turned away at lunch when he tried to enter the restaurant in bare feet and no shirt lol. On the subject of age, 50% were in their 60's and 70's, 35% in their 40's and 50's and the rest younger. A few older teens were with their parents. Drinks were excellent! They were large and strong with top notch brands. We bought the beverage package. On a side note you don't need to buy this when you book. When you sign into the boat the bar manager is there with a drink menu to show you what is included if you opt to take the package at that time. The fridge and booze drawer in the cabin was very well stocked with first rate stuff. Your laundry can be done piecemeal. On day one I gave all my shirts to our room steward and he had them pressed ($1.20/ea). The total is added to your bill. My wife used the gym every day, which was quite well stocked considering the size. 2 treadmills, an elliptical machine, free weights and a high tech all in one weight machine (using cables). The itinerary was a bit slow for us. Plus I found out that I am not fond of "sea days" lol. Though there are only 148 pax, they are all on the back deck at the same time. Because you are on a small boat, activities are limited. Something to keep in mind is that there is in fact a small deck area with loungers at the front of the boat that wasn't very populated. Before we would ever cruise Windstar again, we would cruise on a big ship so we could compare the two experiences. Having said that I would have no hesitation in recommending Windstar to anyone contemplating the idea. Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
My wife and I spent a week on the Windstar Sprit cruising from Athens (7/14/2012) to Istanbul (7/21/2012). We had a very good time (A-), but the heat was terrible with the temperature over 100 degrees most days. There are not many online ... Read More
My wife and I spent a week on the Windstar Sprit cruising from Athens (7/14/2012) to Istanbul (7/21/2012). We had a very good time (A-), but the heat was terrible with the temperature over 100 degrees most days. There are not many online reviews of the Windstar line or this itinerary, so I hope this review helps. We are not "cruise people" and the only other ship we have been on is the Disney Dream with our children. The Sprit is a motorized sailboat which carries about 140 passengers and 96 crew. It is much smaller than a large ship such as the Disney Dream. On average, the sails provide 20-30% of the propulsion. The atmosphere is very casual with no formal dinners or theme nights. For dinner, they request men wear slacks and a collared shirt. You can visit the bridge anytime the boat is sailing. The crew members are almost always willing to talk to you and answer questions. The average passenger is about 50 years old and most are married couples ranging in age from 25 to 70. There were a few teenagers and a few friends traveling together. I did not meet any passengers who were traveling alone. During our trip it was 100+ degrees most days and you needed to be somewhat physically fit to tolerate the heat and climb the ruins. The few passengers over 72 y/o struggled at times on some of the tours. It is easy to meet other passengers. At dinner you are asked if you want to sit with another couple. Tours typically have 5-20 people and you quickly get to know your tour mates. Almost all the passengers were very friendly and would stop and to say hello if they saw you while exploring a museum or local street. We had prolonged conversations with about half the other passengers by the time we left the boat. This is an American boat serving English speaking passengers. All transactions are in US dollars, no language other than English is spoken, and the food served is typical for an American restaurant. More than half of the passengers came from the USA with a few Australians, English, and Canadians. Maybe 10-15% of passengers did not speak English as their first language. Despite sailing from Greece to Turkey, there was not a single passenger from either country. A typical day begins with an early breakfast in port. Tours provided by the boat leave between 8:15 to 8:30 am. On any given day, about half the passengers go on the tours provided by the boat and the others explore the ports or set up outside tours on their own. Most tours return in time for lunch which is served from 12 to 2 pm. About half the passengers returned to the boat to eat lunch and the others ate at local restaurants. A few tours extend into the afternoon and included lunch. Most passengers explore the ports or visit local beaches during the afternoon. The boat leaves port between 4 and 11 pm so it can arrive at the next port around 7 am. Dinner is served between 7 and 9 pm. Many dinners extend past 10 pm and most passengers seemed to go to bed shortly after dinner. This is not a party boat. Although there is some entertainment, few passengers spend the evening dancing or stayed up late. Room -- (B+) almost every cabin is identical. The cabins on deck 1 (one up from the engine deck) are a bit less expensive than those on deck 2. I saw no reason to pay the extra money to be on deck 2. The rooms are about 10 by 20 feet with a queen size bed (or 2 small singles), a built in dresser, 2 closets, other storage and a small but very functional bathroom. A small refrigerator containing water and soft drinks (included) and beer and alcoholic beverages (not included) is provided. Although not luxurious, the rooms are very nice and we found ours to be very comfortable. The only thing missing was a couch (only a small chair was provided). Food -- (A-) breakfast is served in the veranda (on deck 4) and includes many cold items, fresh squeezed juices, fresh baked croissants and other items, and a hot food station. Eggs, pancakes, etc can be ordered from the staff. The breakfasts were very good with a few exceptions such as the dry bacon. Lunch was served buffet style in the veranda and the quality of the food was variable. Dinner was served in the dining room (on deck 3) and was usually very good to excellent. The dinner cuisine was modern American with 4 courses. One night there was an excellent buffet (with some local foods) and barbeque around the tiny pool (deck 4). Breads were good to excellent, deserts were at times a bit weak and the appetizers served before dinners were only fair. The meat was almost all frozen and imported from the USA except for some fresh fish the chef obtained at the ports. The beef was top choice (Angus) and excellent. Most of the produce was obtained in Athens and Istanbul. Overall, we enjoyed to food. Service -- (A) was almost always excellent and the crew tried so hard to please you. Our cabin steward always had our room clean when we returned from a meal or excursion. He was always concerned that we had what we needed in our refrigerator and room. The on-board tour guides were always helpful and informative. The only significant flaw in the service was the difficulty I encountered obtaining soft drinks (and refills) at dinner. The service staff were all men from Indonesia and the Philippines. The officers were mostly British except the captain who was American. The engine crew were all men from eastern Europe. There were only a few female crew members: a first officer, the spa staff, a few reception desk and boutique ladies, and Elsa the spunky Greek tour guide. Tours -- (A) 1 to 4 tours were offered at each port. We found Windstar phone support in the USA was not good and they did not know much about the tour packages. There is no need to book the tours in advance. They almost never sell out and on-board destination manager is very helpful in explaining what each tour involves. Most tours are $49 to $99 and cost about twice as much as what it would cost for you to set up the same tour on your own. For example, the Delos (a ferry ride from Mykonos) tour was $89 each. A couple we meet took the ferry to Delos ($20), paid the Delos park admission ($6) and found a good guide who spoke English ($12) for $38 each. The tour guides provided by the boat are usually excellent and you have to decide if it's worth the hassle and risk (knowing where to go, finding a good guide) of setting up a tour on your own. Here is a list of the attractions we explored (A=highlight not to miss, B=very nice, C=average): Athens (before cruise) -- City A. Stayed at the AVA Hotel and Suites (15 rooms, Plaka, A-) which was 3 blocks from the Acropolis. This was the top rated Athens hotel on TripAdvisor with a great location, big room (not really a suite), and a very good breakfast (included). We enjoyed our stay, but the bathroom was too small for me to call this a 5 star hotel -- 4.5 stars would be more accurate. 1.5 days gave us just the right amount of time to see the major sites in the Plaka area (B+): Acropolis and the Parthenon (A) -- get there early to beat the crowds and heat, New Acropolis Museum (A), Ancient Agora (B), Hadrian's Library (C+), Roman Agora (C-), Temple of Zeus (C-). It was hot. Mykonos -- town (B). Ferry to the small island of Delos (A) which was a port city of 30,000 people 2000 years ago. Nice ruins and a small museum. It was hot. Santorini - is a spectacular sight with steep cliffs rising from the sea. The boat ancores at the capital of Fira (B+). Skip the donkey ride at Fira and use the cable car. Island overview and Oia village tour ($99, B+) was nice and drops you off at Fira. A cab trip to Oia village (picturesque whitewashed houses) would have been cheaper and almost as good. It was hot. Rhodes - Although the Colossus was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, there is not enough is left to justify a visit to the site. The walled medieval city of Rhodes (A-) is easily accessible from the dock including the 14th-century Palace of the Grand Masters (B). The Scenic Drive to Lindos Tour ($69) takes you to the summit of the Acropolis (A-). This is the perfect place to take a donkey ride up to the Acropolis, especially when it's hot (5 euro, ignore Elsa's bath mouthing of the Donkey rides). It was hot. Bodrum - a Turkish port town (C). We skipped the Windstar tours here since the sites are easily accessible and the tours do not take you around the city. For half the cost of a tour, we took a cab ride (30 euro) to the ancient theater (C), Myndos Gate (C-), and what's left of The Mausoleum of Mausolus (B) - one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Bodrum Castle closes for lunch, so we returned to the ship to eat. In the afternoon, we toured Bodrum Castle, which is primarily a Museum of Underwater Archeology (A-). We rented an audio guide that was reasonably good. It was hot. Kusadasi -- the town is nice if you like buying carpets, but otherwise not a very exciting a place to visit (C). The highlight of the trip was our tour of Ephesus and it's Ancient Houses ($79). Ancient Ephesus (A) was a town of 250,000 about 2,000 year ago which declined due to Malaria and was eventually buried under mud from earthquakes. About 1/7th of the town has been excavated and you feel like you are walking through history. The Terrace Houses (A+) were owned by the wealthy and are remarkably preserved with their fine decorative mosaics and frescoes give a fascinating insight into ancient lifestyles. Don't waste your time on the tour that goes to Ephesus and the "Virgin Mary's home" since it does not include the Terrace Houses. If you must see a home selected through the vision of a 19th century nun, get the all day Concierge Tour that includes everything. It is hard to believe, but only half of the passengers went to Ephesus. After the tour, the guide brings you to a carpet-making demonstration (nice) which then turns into a hard sell to buy carpets (the boat gets a kickback). It would take hours to bargain them down to a good price, you can't return the carpet, and you feel trapped since you ordered free a free drink and food. If you escape without buying a carpet, they try to sell you jewelry as you try to find your way out the maze of similar looking doors. Our guide saw us and helped us find the disguised exit. Istanbul (after cruise) -- City (A). Stayed at the Millennium Suites (7 rooms, Sultanahmet, B) which was 3 blocks from the Acropolis. This was the top rated Istanbul hotel on TripAdvisor with a great location, big room (not really a suite), and an OK breakfast (included). Although they try very hard, our bathroom was not very nice and was undergoing some repairs. TripAdvisor called this a 5 star hotel -- 3.5 stars would be more accurate and I might look elsewhere. 2.5 days gave us just the right amount of time to see the major sites in the area, most of which are covered by the Museum Pass: Topkapi Palace (15th century palace, A) and Harem Tour (A+), 15 minute tram ride to the Dolmabahce Palace (not on pass, 19th century palace, A-) -- get there early for the limited number of entries with only guided tours provided, Hagia Sophia Museum/Church (B+), 25 minute tram ride to the Chora Church and its beautiful mosaics (B+), Blue Mosque (free, C), Mosaic Museum (C), Grand Bazaar (lots of junk, D). A little less hot. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
My husband and I have sailed many times before on Princess, Carnival, Norwegian, as well as Crystal and Oceana; so while we had some idea of what to expect on a cruise, sailing on a small yacht was a whole new experience for us and we ... Read More
My husband and I have sailed many times before on Princess, Carnival, Norwegian, as well as Crystal and Oceana; so while we had some idea of what to expect on a cruise, sailing on a small yacht was a whole new experience for us and we loved it!! We arrived a few days ahead of disembarkation, giving us time to enjoy Nice, and its environs such as Cannes. We stayed at Best Western Hotel Roosevelt, where we found the staff to be friendly and helpful. The hotel's location was great: close to Rue Massena, old Nice and the train station. From the hotel, we took a taxi to the port where we found the boarding to be very easy. Even though we had five ports and one sea day, we still found this cruise to be relaxing. Breakfast was served in The Veranda on the upper deck, with windows all around or for those who wanted to enjoy the fresh air, there were tables just outside of the restaurant. They offered a good selection of breakfast options, my favourite being the muesli which was not overly sweet as it can be. We often made sure we were on board for lunch, again, served in The Veranda. Lunch options included many different salads which were very imaginative in the combinations of fruits, veggies, nuts and meats. There were also soups and hot entrees. I found the salads were more than enough for me. (My mouth just waters when I think of those fabulous salads!). Dinner in the Restaurant on deck three was just as special as the other meals of the day. Again great imagination was evident with the appetizers and entrees and again all were delicious. Accompanying this wonderful food was the attentive wait staff. One day, I took a tour of the galley which was fascinating, it's amazing that so much scrumptious food can come out of such a small space! Another day, I attended a cooking demonstration, pestos and oil infusions. Tours of the engine room and the bridge were also available; but we did not take advantage of them. As well there was a trip to a local market with the chef offered at one of our ports; but due to inclement weather, it had to be cancelled. My husband and I enjoyed the ports of call especially since we had never visited three of them: two in Corsica and one in Elba. The other two ports, Monaco and Villefranche we had visited before on our own previously. Unfortunately, the day we were in Villefranche it rained the entire day. We stayed on board but some of our fellow passengers ventured out, returning wet to the bone. While the cabins are spacious and comfortable they are a little tired; but no worries, Windstar is planning on remodeling its fleet over the next several months. The bathrooms were nicely laid out with the scent of L'Occitane products permeating the space. My only concern was the lack of novels in the library. I realize that many people have electronic gadgets for accessing books but I still appreciate having a selection of books on board to choose from and read. Disembarkation in Rome was very easy. We pre-arranged for a driver to pick us up to take us and another couple who we had just met on board to the airport. We enjoyed our cruise so much that we took advantage of their future cruise program which is a great deal. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
We just got back from a Windstar cruise from Barcelona to Rome. The ports were amazing - Mahon, St Tropez, Monte Carlo, portofino and Livorno (OK). The ship was OK too, not quite as nice as we expected - we saw wear and looked a bit dated. ... Read More
We just got back from a Windstar cruise from Barcelona to Rome. The ports were amazing - Mahon, St Tropez, Monte Carlo, portofino and Livorno (OK). The ship was OK too, not quite as nice as we expected - we saw wear and looked a bit dated. Everything was clean, tidy and nice, but just wasn't as luxurious as we expected. The food was the biggest dissapointment. Breakfast and Lunch were good, but dinner was awful. We really tried to have good attitudes about it because we wanted to love this cruise, but time after time our food was over cooked and/or side dishes were cold. We sent food back regularly. The only good dinner we had was the night they held a BBQ on deck. One evening I ordered surf and turf, the lobster was hard as a rock and the drawn butter had solidified (obviously left on the plate for a long time). I requested a new plate and they brought me another lobster cooked hard as a rock with two more things of butter that had also solidified. Not sure where these supposed awards for their food came from... I also took a yoga class which was a waste of money - I heard the teacher was also the manicure/pedicurist (which was accompanied by another bad story). The ship also offers a water sports deck which is great idea during some ports. We used the kayak and layed out on the water mat. This was definitely a plus of the ship. The only thing was that they also got us excited about using the wakeboard and water skiis and in the end their little boat was broken and we never got to take advantage of this. The liquor selection was really basic - don't expect to find something as simple as Maker's Mark. Its Jim Beam, Jack Daniels etc... The wine selection was OK too, but lacking creativity. All California. Overall, we had a good vacation. The service was very good, the cabins were nice, the ship size is wonderful and overall it was a really nice vacation... just disappointed that this cruise had the potential to be great and kept missing the mark. Not sure if the recent changeover has something to do with it... Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
Though we liked a lot about our cruise and the ship, the disappointment with some of the aspects outweighed the desire to ever take another cruise with Windstar. The good: 1. Small ship/yacht with only 148 well-traveled and friendly ... Read More
Though we liked a lot about our cruise and the ship, the disappointment with some of the aspects outweighed the desire to ever take another cruise with Windstar. The good: 1. Small ship/yacht with only 148 well-traveled and friendly passengers. 2. Early bird breakfast buffet (cold cuts, pastry and coffee/tea) on a desk at 6am on an open deck - feels like a yacht. 3. Staying in some ports later than big ships. 4. Breakfast and lunch buffet on a deck. 5. Boutique with useful items with the outstanding saleswoman. The bad: 1. Dinners started late at 7:30pm and took a very long time. Their kitchen is very small and can handle only 3 orders at a time. Each table counted as one order and all dishes in the order were cooked at the same time and then placed under a heating lamp for the duration of the dinner. The tables are for 8 and 4 people. Since each table counts as one order, it means that if you have three tables of 8 ahead of you, we have to wait for 24 full dinners ahead of you to be fully prepared before they start on your order. By the time you finish your dinner it is around 10pm and you go to bed on a full stomach. There was also no way to take a walk on this ship. Our stomachs rebelled and we had to skip dinners all together. Their room service for dinners was set up the same way - took long time and you had to wait in your cabin. 2. We used room service once. It took 40 minutes for the order to arrive and the food was not what we have ordered and not good at all. We could not eat it. 3. The cabin was small and dark with pothole windows which were advertised as the ocean view cabins. BWY, the cabins were BELOW the sea level and should never be advertised as the ocean view, pothole windows or not. It is a a false advertisement. 4. Their "Fitness Center" was so small that 2 people was a crowd. 5. We tendered at most of ports, even the ports where bigger ships where docked. Tendering so much was inconvenient. 6. Based on a high cost I expected much more decent experience and I would not return even for a small fraction of a cost. After this so-so trip we booked with another cruise company on a mid-size ship and had such an outstanding experience that we booked with them again while still on-board. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
Notes on the Cabin: • Plenty of room • Space under bed for all luggage • Lots of hangers, drawers, cubbies • Safe is pretty small. Holds iPad but not laptop. • There is always ice provided morning & night ... Read More
Notes on the Cabin: • Plenty of room • Space under bed for all luggage • Lots of hangers, drawers, cubbies • Safe is pretty small. Holds iPad but not laptop. • There is always ice provided morning & night • Mini bar & sodas in the room (for a fee) • Evian water in the room ($3.25 a bottle. We drank a lot!) • Laundry line in the shower • Regular shower & handheld • Table pulls out of the vanity, if you want to eat in the room I guess • DVDs plus 3 movies play continuously every day (Social Network, Eat Pray Love, The American, Ocean movies) • No towel animals! But good turndown service with mints, new ice, new towels, etc. • We did the laundry package, which was $99 for the week for the cabin. It was such a great thing to have. We sent laundry out every day (by 9am) and it was in our cabin by around 4 that afternoon. We cut down how much clothes we brought and went home with clean clothes! Plus they will iron things for you too. We thought it was well worth it. On-board: • Every evening there was a talk about the next day's port of call, plus excursions. Make sure you attend the Captain's Champagne Party. The Captain of the Wind Spirit (John Clark) is hysterical!! Plus, you get to meet the officers. There are also delicious hot appetizers passed around during this time. (every night) Nice time to relax between the day & the evening. Plus, you are right there by the dining room so that once the talk is over you can go right to dinner if you are hungry. A few nights we did that and a few nights we hung out for a while and went to dinner a bit later. Dinner is from 7:30-9:30, and there are tables for 2, 4 or more. • The casino is small but fun. The dealers explained a bit for those of us who didn't quite know what was going on. Plus everyone around the table explained too! They played Blackjack, Texas Hold'em, and a few other card games. There were about 15 slot machines. • The gift shop opened whenever the ship wasn't docked (the casino too) so the hours change every day. The shop is small but carries some necessities plus logo items & other souvenirs. • The library had tons of DVDs and some books & games. There is also a computer there & printer, but you do have to pay to access the internet. They sell cards for wireless internet, but we didn't buy one after being informed that it was about the speed of dial-up! • We didn't use the spa. • There will be a Flyer left in your cabin each day that tells times of events, meals, disembarkation, when the ship sails, emergency numbers, etc. • By the reception desk, there is information each day on the port of call including maps, beaches, etc. • We never had a problem finding a lounge chair. • There are beach towels that you can take as you get off the boat, and a laundry you can drop them in when you get back on board. Very convenient! • There are wet refreshing wash clothes by the door for when you return from your day on the island. • You scan your key card every time you go on & off the boat, so no one gets left behind. (or if someone does, they know who it is!) • The waiters will quickly get to know you by name, and you'll get to know them too. Everyone is super friendly. • The entertainment was a piano player. "Loungy" but good. • The crowd was probably from late 20's -late 60's with the majority in the 30's-40's I think. • There were lots of people who were first-timers, but lots who had been on a Wind Spirit before. We met one couple that was on their 23rd week! • You'll get a beach bag in your room the first or second day. First timers get a Windstar bag and returnees get Foremast Club bags. • Bring water to the islands! Especially if you are doing the Baths trip, because the little snack bar wasn't open when we got there. • The gym is small but well equipped. But I do think it helps if you aren't too tall! Wish I had brought: • Reusable water bottle • Capri pants (for some reason I only brought long pants and dresses for dinner,) • darker makeup (I couldn't use my regular makeup or blush after a few days because of my tan!) • adapter (we went to St. Martin a day early, and the power there is 220) • a paperback book (for those times I didn't want to risk getting my Kindle wet or lost) Really glad I brought: • Power strip (there were only 2 outlets in the room) • Battery powered tea lights (used for atmosphere in the room, and also as a nightlight in the bathroom) • Ziplocs (great for gathering seashells!) • Snorkeling gear (didn't have to worry about borrowing them or returning them) • Binoculars (they were great to look at the other ships/yachts!) • Sunscreen • Wet sack (kept stuff in it that I didn't want to chance getting wet) • A little purse for carrying around the boat (key card, camera, etc.) • Underwater camera (for snorkeling, and just to not have to worry about it getting wet!) Didn't need to bring: • Detergent (since we did the laundry package) • Jeans (too warm!) • Waterproof Jacket • Shawl (I had a light sweater that I used one evening, and a long sleeve shirt I wore on the deck sometimes)' • Umbrella (it rained, but very briefly when it did. Easy enough to wait it out or duck under something.) Meals: • Great BBQ on deck one night. Off the grill they served ribs, burgers, chicken, fish, beef, and lobster. There was also a roasted suckling pig that was delicious. The cold buffet had delicious giant shrimp, crab legs, cheeses, all kinds of salads, fruits and desserts, including a chocolate fountain. The restaurant is closed so you have to eat there but it is really fun! Plus, afterwards the crew does a bunch of line-dancing, guests join in, and it was a really fun night. • Fun BBQ on beach off Virgin Gorda. If you do Bath's tour (worth it!) then they will take you straight there after. • Always lots of daily specials, with Chef recommending a menu, but they always have grilled steak, chicken, salmon & vegetarian something. • Breakfast in restaurant, but continental breakfast by the pool until 11am. Then lunch (limited menu or you can do the buffet) • Afternoon tea by the pool. Sweets, fruits, little sandwiches. • Also around the pool when there are a lot of people, there are passing around of fruit skewers and/or sherbet. • "Candles" is okay. I guess if it is nice they do it outside, but it was always too windy. The one time we did it, it was in the Veranda and it was fine, and you can dress casually, but it's more fun & elegant in the dining room. Also apparently the menu there is the same each night. (at Candles.) • They did have the beverage packages, but we didn't do any of them. Most cocktails were about $6.50. Tortola: We did the Royal Dolphin Swim. It was FANTASTIC!! Expensive, but worth it. We spent 2 hours with the dolphins, petting them, having 2 of them pull us by the fins, having 2 of them come up behind us & push us into the air from under our feet! We got to kiss them & they kissed us, and more tricks. It was amazing & the dolphins & trainers are all very safe. They take photos and the price is $100 for ALL your photos on disc plus 2 big photos, or $25 each for photos. So it makes sense to do the $100 because you are probably going to want more than 4 photos! Went to Pusser's Bar. Delicious conch fritters, Painkillers, and a big gift shop. There is free wi-fi right when you walk into town. The people on the ship told us to look for a yellow building on the left called "The Bat Cave." It was closed but there was plenty of free wi-fi flying around, so we just sat on a staircase and used it. We docked in Tortola. (Only place we docked.) Only there until 2pm, but we had plenty of time to do our tour, walk around town, etc. Virgin Gorda: Went to Virgin Gorda. (Our itinerary was changed from the original, because people had requested to see the Super Bowl so we had to go somewhere that it was being shown.) Got to VG in time for people to take the tender to The Bitter End Yacht Club to watch the game. We didn't go, and had a nice dinner on board. NOTE: If you are celebrating a birthday on-board, they will bring you a cake. I didn't mention it was my husband's birthday (his request) but apparently they check the passenger roster each week to see if anyone has a birthday! It was actually great. Cake with candles, the waiters sang and someone played the guitar. The next day we took "The Baths" tour. I'm glad we didn't try to do this on our own. We docked on the north end of the island, and the Baths is on the south end. It is about a 45 minute drive up very steep hills & windy roads! Also, it leaves early so that you will be the first one at the Baths. By the time we left at 11am, it was really getting crowded but it was lovely for us. Definitely walk through "The Caves" part of The Baths. It's amazing. Also, bring snorkeling gear. We saw lots of fish & stingrays, and someone else saw a sea turtle. It's a hike up & down, plus you can walk on the boulders if you want so definitely wear appropriate shoes, not flip-flops. On the way back to the ship, we made about 4 stops for incredible photos and the tour guide told us all kinds of interesting things about the islands and also pointed out & named all the other islands around us. We got back to the dock, and the tender took us to Prickly Pear Beach, which is on a separately little island right by where the ship was anchored. The beach BBQ had started earlier that day, but there was plenty of food when we got there. There were loungers, and beach chairs, and tables/chairs in the shade. The sports toys (kayaks, water-skis, noodles, sailboats) were available to use from the beach. Heard some people spent the day at the Bitter End Yacht Club and really enjoyed that too. Apparently they had a nice beach, chairs, and very good margaritas. Jost Van Dyke: Set sail that afternoon, so it was fun to see the sails unfurl & sail in the light. We arrived in Jost Van Dyke around 7pm, so people could go ashore (usually to Foxy's) for the evening. We were planning to do so, but after the Captain's cocktail party (with free drinks, lots of appetizers, and meeting the crew) and a nice dinner, we didn't make it over there! The next morning we took the tender to Jost Van Dyke, which was my favorite port. It's so small (150 people) and absolutely gorgeous! We went down 'Main Street' which is an unpaved road with a police station, few shops and restaurants, a church and school. Then we walked to The Soggy Dollar bar. This is a very strenuous walk up a few big hills but it afforded amazing views. It took about 35 minutes and we felt like we deserved our drinks when we got to The Soggy Dollar! It's on a beautiful beach, and you are free to use the chairs/lounges/hammocks. Make sure you try a "Painkiller." They were invented here. We also really liked the 'nilla killa, which is made with Vanilla Rum. $6 each. The conch fritters were delicious! There is a little gift shop and I bought a few things. About 5-6 other beach bars & cafes. One World apparently belongs to Foxy's son. One place (Gertrude's?) makes your drink and then gives you the bottle of liquor to add as much as you want. Some places you have to pay to rent a chair, but it would be worth it if you wanted some quiet. No large boats dock at Jost Van Dyke, but there are tours from Tortola, which you can see right across the water. We took a taxi back to the dock ($5 a person) and went to Foxy's just to check it out. If we had been hungry or had room for another cocktail, we would have stayed but decided to go back to the boat. It seems like it would be really fun at night if there were lots of people there, and a band, but in the afternoon it was pretty low key. They do have a big gift shop there, but things weren't cheap. However, a big selection. St. Kitts: We didn't do any of the tours, but if I go back I will do the Brimstone Hill Tour. We spoke with some people who did it, and they really enjoyed it. They said it's really good for people who are into architecture, interior design and history. We went into town and caught a cab. Make sure you negotiate a rate before you go. It'll either be per-person or for the trip. And make sure you negotiate a pick-up! We went to White House Bay and snorkeled for about an hour. There is a sunken boat there, very close to shore, which is sort of interesting and attracts fish. Not the best snorkeling, but fun & very private. The beach was full of medium sized conch shells, which was awesome. We had our driver take us next to Reggae Beach (Cockleshell Beach) where we rented beach loungers for $5 each. Ate a delicious (but not cheap) lunch there. My husband's lobster was HUGE and delicious. Did a bit of snorkeling, but also saw an eel, a lobster and a ray right off the dock! We also saw Wilbur, the 900-pound island pig who hangs around. On the drive back to the dock, I asked the driver about the monkeys on the island. He told us there are 75k monkeys and 45k people on St. Kitts. And we saw a few just walking & sitting in trees while we were there, which was a thrill. Got back into town in time to do a little shopping. They had decent prices on sarongs, clothes, etc. A lot of people told me they did quite a bit of shopping there. Apparently there is a craft boutique/store in the main part of town, which would be great for some handmade local art. When we got back to the boat, it was BBQ on the deck party night! The entire pool deck was decorated, with tables all set up and an amazing buffet! They were BBQ'ing right there on the deck. At 9pm they cleaned up, and the sails were unfurled and we sailed away. Then the crew performed some line-dancing, and a hysterical version of "YMCA." Apparently there was a Line- Dancing class earlier in the evening. It was a very fun night! (The other restaurants were closed this evening, so it was all about the BBQ.) St. Barth: Since we were in St. Barth for 2 days, we spent the majority of the day on the boat, enjoying what the boat to offer. A nice leisurely breakfast and then we swam (well, got in) the small salt-water pool and hot tub. Very relaxing. We went into town for an hour or so in the afternoon. There is a cafe very near the dock that has free wi-fi, so we sat there and had a few drinks. The stores mostly close for a few hours at lunch, so if you want to shop (very expensive!) be sure to take that into account. There are supposed to be some fabulous restaurants on the island, so if you are into it you could go for a fancy dinner. The last tender ran at 11:30pm. We did go into St. Barth the next day. We had a lovely lunch at La Route Des Boucaners, sitting outside looking at all the HUGE yachts. Then we walked to Shell Beach, which was fantastic! Aptly named, there are so many beautiful perfect little shells all over the beach and the water was warm & glorious. Did some snorkeling there too. Saw a lot of the same fish as in the past, but more schools of them. Bring your towel and lay on the beach. Apparently there is quite a fee to rent the chairs. We did get a few drinks from the bar/restaurant, and used the restroom. One note, there is really NO shade at this beach so bring sunscreen! Went back to the ship for our last night. We turned in early because we had to have our luggage ready at 6am, in our cabins. Disembarking was easy as pie. Breakfast was open from 6-8am, and the first groups of people started getting off around 8:10. You'll be issued tags to put onto your luggage of a specific color, and that's how you know when it's your turn to get off. Just go pickup your passport, sign out one more time (guess they don't want stowaways) and go down the gangplank. The luggage is under a tent right there, and you just go pick it up. We caught a cab from there, and had it take us to Marigot (the main port area, the Wind Spirit docks at a smaller port) and we caught a ferry to Anguilla for a few days. Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
My wife and I just finished a 7-day Rome/Rome cruise on Wind Spirit. The ship is gorgeous. In spite of a dry-dock and extensive refit this past spring, the crew was constantly busy scrubbing, painting and polishing. Although the ship is ... Read More
My wife and I just finished a 7-day Rome/Rome cruise on Wind Spirit. The ship is gorgeous. In spite of a dry-dock and extensive refit this past spring, the crew was constantly busy scrubbing, painting and polishing. Although the ship is over 20 years old, she's aging beautifully. We saw neither a spec of grime nor any signs of deferred maintenance. Cabin was wonderful. Extremely comfortable bedding and pillows. Lots of storage. 110v and 220v power. Great bathroom layout. Plenty of light once we finally figured out the switches. That plus the hideaway table we didn't discover until day six causes me to recommend that you ask the room steward to show you the features of your cabin! Food was absolutely top notch (a Dutch chef with a degree from the Culinary Institute of America). The service was even better. In spite of open seating, the dining staff knew our names by day 3. The bar staff knew our names AND favorite drinks in the same period. A majority of the waitstaff we talked to started on big ships, and have been with Windstar for over a dozen years. Professional and attentive service in a relaxed setting. My wife enjoyed the watersports platform (she tried the kayaks and the small sailboat). We both thought the piano player was great --- an accomplished musician with a quick wit. My favorite feature? An open bridge with friendly officers! We are in our 50s. This was our 15th cruise. Have tried the bigger boats and don't much care for the crowds. It was interesting to arrive in a small port with the Wind Spirit. The quaint places we visited (Italian coast and Corsica) were only charming until one of the big cruise ships arrived to share it with us. As soon as their swarm of passengers descended, we found ourselves retreating inland or back to the ship. (When I was on one of those bigger ships, I never realized their profound effect on small ports.) We fell in love with the Wind Spirit, and have already booked another cruise on her next fall. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
My husband and I just got back from a seven day cruise on Wind Star. We had not been on the ship before but have cruised on Oceania and Royal Caribbean. As with any cruise there is the good and the bad. The good news was the cabin ... Read More
My husband and I just got back from a seven day cruise on Wind Star. We had not been on the ship before but have cruised on Oceania and Royal Caribbean. As with any cruise there is the good and the bad. The good news was the cabin was nice. The bathrooms were clean and the shower had two heads. The bose ipod speaker was great and the plasma tv was nice. The only really bad thing about the room was that it was so dark! We asked our room attendant about some holes above the mirror in the room where it looked as though there had been a light above. He informed us that yes, there had been a light, but the lights had all been removed because they got too hot. Regardless, lighting was minimal. The bad news is that the ship was rusting away. The outside of the ship and the outside deck was dirty and covered in rust. The plastic lounge chairs had not had a good scrub down in I don't know how long. The sails were very dingy looking. The captain informed us that they would be working on the ship during their two week transatlantic, but it is going to take a lot more than two weeks to get the ship looking good. The service was not even comparable to the Oceania ship. The food during dinner wasn't bad, but we sat outside one night where they grill for you separately and unfortunately the dinner was bad. The lunch buffet was pretty much the same every day, but the salads were good and the breakfast wasn't bad. The other good thing about the ship is because there are only 150 passengers on board, you easily meet one another and everyone seemed to be friendly and happy. My last comment has to do with the noise on board during the early hours. We were on the second level and I heard the first level was worse. Whenever they were preparing to ready the tenders or whatever they were doing, there was this loud noise which would awaken you at 6:00 am. This happened about 2-3 times during the cruise. Anyway, I've never been in a cabin that was noisy, but maybe my cabin was in the wrong spot, which was in the middle of the deck. I enjoyed the ports, but had been to all of the places before, so didn't really do any tours except for a snorkel and the Americas Cup Race, which were good. Oh, the only other thing was that the itinerary stated that you arrive back in St. Thomas at 6:00 am, but we found out later that it was 7:00 am. We had booked a flight for 7:45. I will give great credit to the crew, as they allowed us to leave right at 7:00 and we did manage to get on our flight. Read Less
Sail Date March 2009
Please enter your review. I cruised on Windspirit from Athens to Istanbul from August 22 to Aug 30, traveling by myself. The ports and final destination are the highlight of this cruise: Mykonos, Santorini, Rhodes, Bodrum, Kusadasi for ... Read More
Please enter your review. I cruised on Windspirit from Athens to Istanbul from August 22 to Aug 30, traveling by myself. The ports and final destination are the highlight of this cruise: Mykonos, Santorini, Rhodes, Bodrum, Kusadasi for Ephesus, at sea,and then Istanbul. Most passengers stayed in Istanbul several days at the end of the cruise. Being on a small sailing ship between those ports captures the real feeling of those islands and their history. The service was the best I have ever had on any vacation land or sea:expert, friendly but unobtrusive. The food was delicious, the open seating dining and breakfast and lunch was perfectly managed, the small number of people made it possible to have your breakfast eggs prepared exactly the way you wanted without holding any one up.The breakfast and lunch buffets had a nice choice of items and included food in the local style. Dinners were gourmet and the food was arranged with artistry. Room service was available but the dining rooms were too pleasant to miss. The ship's shore excursions were well thought out and well executed and came with a bottle of water included. You could also go out on your own and not have to compete with 3000 people for taxis. When you returned to the ship, you were met with ice cold wet towels and ice tea,a most welcome touch since it is very hot in August in that part of the world. There was a small spa with excellent massage.In the afternoon there were sandwiches, desserts and tea and coffee on the pool deck.In the evening in the lounge there were delicious appetizers before dinner while we enjoyed the piano music and the informative talk on the port call for the next day. In Rhodes and in Bodrum local dance troupes came on ship and performed before our late evening sail away. Then there was the ship's open air barbeque with everything you could think of, including perfectly done lobster tails. There was a casino and a library/internet room, but aside from the piano music, evening entertainment was using your cabin's DVD and flat screen TV and choosing from 500 available DVDs or a number of TV channels and movies changed everyday. The passengers were more friendly to each other than on any other ship I've been on. One of the highlights was the spirited "Name that Tune" competition in the lounge.I was very happy on this ship. But if you want your cruise to provide extravagant decor, pool or other games, professional evening shows and a variety of places to go on board, this is not the ship for you-you should cruise on a larger ship which has what you want. I used the cruise line's air and transfer arrangements which were very smooth. Just outside of Customs and Immigration in Athens, I found the Windstar rep who put me into a taxi that went straight to the air conditioned cruise terminal. While there were several hours before embarkation, a Windstar rep took my luggage, so I was free to walk around the terminal or the outside neigborhood.Embarkation was also smooth and friendly and the luggage arrived at my cabin promptly. Disembarkation was also smooth and efficient and a full breakfast was served early enough to enjoy it and return to your room for your luggage. Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
This was our first cruise on Windstar. We have sailed with Regent/Radisson six times and Oceania once. We usually make our own pre- and post-cruise arrangements. This time, we used our American miles to fly first class from Los Angeles. We ... Read More
This was our first cruise on Windstar. We have sailed with Regent/Radisson six times and Oceania once. We usually make our own pre- and post-cruise arrangements. This time, we used our American miles to fly first class from Los Angeles. We had a brief layover in Chicago before continuing on to London, where we spent a few days. We planned this trip with a couple from Iowa that we met last year on our Oceania cruise. We met up with them at Heathrow and continued on to Istanbul together. I am happy to report that everyone's connections went smoothly, our luggage made it safely, and we thought that Terminal 5 was definitely worthy of all the hype. The British Airways lounge there was by far the nicest airport lounge we have ever visited! Please be aware that if your flight lands in Istanbul, you need to purchase your Turkish visa BEFORE going through the long Passport Control line. The visa window is to the left of Passport Control, and you probably wouldn't see it unless you knew where to look. Our visas were $20 USD. ISTANBUL: We spent four nights before our cruise at Hotel Nena, in the Sultanahmet district. We loved this little boutique hotel. The room rate was reasonable, and included transfers from the airport and to the ship, an excellent breakfast, and a 50% off coupon for the hotel's rooftop restaurant. Free internet was available in the hotel lobby. Our "triple" room was huge and clean, and the service overall was great. On our first night, we had dinner at the rooftop restaurant and enjoyed a spectacular view of the full moon over the Blue Mosque. We had a private guide, Kagan Kosagan, for two days, and would also highly recommend him. On our first day with Kagan, we visited the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace (don't miss the Harem section), Haghia Sophia, and the Basilica Cistern. At the end of the day, all four of us were hot and tired, and decided to pass on the Archaeology Museum. My husband and I ended up going to a Turkish bath instead. The one we visited was "Cagaloglu Haman." It was a short walk from the hotel and is mentioned in the book, "1000 Places to See Before You Die." It was definitely a unique experience! Then we had dinner at a nearby restaurant, "Kir Evi," which was recommended by the Nena. The food was pretty good and there was live entertainment. We also had a margarita at the fake El Torito around the corner from the hotel. The next day, we visited the Grand Bazaar, Chora Church, the Taksim neighborhood, and Galata Tower. Suleyman Mosque was originally on our schedule but turned out to be closed for restoration. After our tour with Kagan, we headed back to the Grand Bazaar, where we had great fun chatting with the vendors and looking at the "Genuine Fake" watches. We had dinner that night at a restaurant, "Kalamar," also recommended by the Nena. It was in the Kumkapi fish market district, and they sent a van to pick us up and bring us back. The fried mussels were especially good. Kagan was unavailable the next day, so we had planned a tour through the Nena instead, which turned out to be a mess. Had we known the tour involved a Gray Line bus, we would never have booked it. Our first stop was the Spice Bazaar, which was a fifteen minute walk from the hotel. It took us two buses and almost two hours to get there. And then, since we were running so late, we were only allowed to spend a few minutes there. The next thing was a cruise up the European side of the Bosphorus, and back down the Asian side, which was nice, but was more crowded than we were led to believe it would be. We left the tour at this point, and went to the nearby Dolmabache Palace on our own, instead of waiting for the bus. Then we rode the public tram back to the Spice Bazaar and had plenty of time to explore it at our leisure. The prices seemed better here than at the Grand Bazaar, but it wasn't quite as much fun. That evening, our friends stayed in, and had another nice dinner at the Nena's restaurant. My husband and I had dinner at a "famous" kebab restaurant, "Hamdi." (His lamb and veal kebabs were excellent; my chicken ones were just OK.) Then we went to the Whirling Dervish show at the Sirkeci train station, which used to be the destination of the Orient Express. The hotel was able to arrange the tickets for us at the last minute. We enjoyed the show very much. The next morning, before checking out of the hotel, our friends visited the Archaeology Museum, and said it was great. We went back to the Grand Bazaar. We were completely fascinated by the place! I think all of us thought that four nights in Istanbul was just about the right amount of time. We had ample time to see and do everything we wanted, and a few extra things as well, without feeling rushed. We loved Istanbul and especially the people, but by embarkation day, we were looking forward to getting on the ship. THE SHIP: Upon boarding the Wind Spirit, my first impression was that this was going to be a LOT different from any of our previous cruises. The Captain greeted us and introduced us to some of the other officers. We were escorted to the lounge, where we were offered a mimosa, and were asked to fill out a couple of forms. We then went to our cabins, and our luggage was already there. We had cabins on the first floor, which were less expensive than those on the second floor. The cabins are identical, with the exception of one larger Owner's Suite that we didn't see. I didn't see any advantage to being on the second floor, unless stairs might be an issue. There were no elevators on the ship. Our cabin was organized efficiently and we had more than enough room for our belongings. There were two closets and ample drawer space. I am a bit claustrophobic, and wondered how I would do with just a porthole window, but it was fine. The bathroom was nicely appointed with L'Occitane toiletries and we especially liked the shower. There was never a problem with water pressure or temperature. The service we received from our cabin steward, Agus, was exceptional. Our room was usually made up by the time we returned from breakfast, our ice bucket was full at all times, and the conditioner in the bathroom was replaced before I had to ask for a new bottle. The cabin service was much better than what we had experienced on our Oceania cruise and our last Regent cruise. Actually, overall the service EVERYWHERE on the ship was probably the best we have ever had on any cruise. And the crew members just seemed happier to me than on our other cruises. Not that those crews seemed unhappy, but to me it seemed like there was a difference with this group. Every time we passed the crew area in the stairwell, I could hear laughing and joking from behind the door. And every time that door opened, the person who opened it had a smile on his face. We peeked in the gym but didn't use it, rationalizing that we would get our exercise wandering the ports. It looked fine though. I didn't visit the spa either, but the services seemed reasonably priced. My friend reported that her pedicure was great. There were two computers in the library, and there were three internet packages available for purchase. We bought the middle one, which was 100 minutes for $55, which also seemed reasonably priced. Usually, at least one of the computers was available. There was not much in the way of entertainment, which was not an issue with us. We figure we'll go to Vegas if we want to see a Vegas-type show. There was a piano player in the lounge, and a couple of times there were local folkloric dancers that came on board and performed on deck. A big difference on this cruise was that we felt like we were actually on a boat, instead of a fancy floating hotel. Maybe that wouldn't appeal to some people, but we liked it a lot. There were 130 passengers on this cruise, and it always felt like there was plenty of room for us everywhere on the ship. We never had to wait for a table in the dining room, which was open seating, and there were always chairs available on deck. I looked for chair-hogging, having had issues with that on other cruises, and didn't see any. We did notice one possible downside to being on such a small ship. There were two large groups on board, and I could see how that might negatively affect your cruising experience if you weren't part of the group. We experienced two minor incidents relating to this. One morning, we had been waiting about fifteen minutes for a tender. When it finally arrived, we were ordered to "step aside" for the large Tauck tour group that was on board. They boarded the tender, and there was no room for us and the other people who had been waiting in line. Fortunately, Windstar resolved this quickly. They called back another tender and we ended up having to wait only ten more minutes instead of half an hour. The other incident involved a group of about twenty who were on some sort of reward trip. We met many of the people in this group, and they were really nice, but when they were all seated at the same huge table in the middle of the dining room, they were loud and obnoxious. One night it was so bad that we were unable to carry on a conversation at our own table. The wait staff appeared to be just as annoyed as the other passengers. DINING: I really wanted to give this cruise a 5 +, but unfortunately, the food fell a little short of our expectations. After we boarded, there was a welcome buffet consisting of little tea sandwiches and hot dogs. The hot dogs were OK. The sandwiches were inedible, as in, I had to actually spit mine out. Fortunately, it got a lot better after that. Breakfasts and lunches were very good to excellent. There was always a nice buffet, and there were several additional items that you could order from the menu. Plus you could get eggs or omelets cooked to order at breakfast, and hamburgers (that were REALLY good) at lunch. But the dinners, for us anyway, were just OK. The wines were good and reasonably priced, and again, the service was great. But the food at dinner just seemed bland to us, although we realize that we like our food spicier than most people do. The desserts were just OK as well. Nothing was bad, really. It just wasn't great. There was ONE dinner, however, that was exceptional, and that was the deck "BBQ Dinner Under the Stars" toward the end of the cruise. The grilled lobster tails were the best I have ever had in my life. We went back for seconds, and they went ahead and gave us thirds. PORTS: Our first day was at sea, and then we were scheduled to stop in Kusadasi, Rhodes, Didim, Santorini, and Mykonos before the cruise ended in Piraeus (Athens). Every evening in the lounge, the ship's hostess would give a brief talk about the next day's port. She provided useful information for independent travelers as well as for those going on the ship's tours. We appreciated that since we rarely book excursions through the cruise line. KUSADASI: We had a private tour booked with "Ekol Travel." We enjoyed our day but unfortunately were disappointed with our guide. She was scheduled for knee surgery and had mobility issues. This was mostly a problem for us because we had specifically requested to see the Terrace Houses, and our guide informed us that she would not be able to accompany us there because of the stairs. She also didn't seem to be that motivated and excited about the rest of the tour. She told us she had been a tour guide for thirty-something years, so maybe she was burned out. We stopped by the Temple of Artemis, the Basilica of St. John, and the House of the Virgin Mary before making our way to Ephesus, and the Terrace Houses, where we tried to eavesdrop on other guides. After the tour, our guide wanted us to stop by a carpet store, her friend's restaurant, and her own shop, but we declined. We wished we had known that we could have booked Kagan for this tour before we paid Ekol their money eleven months in advance. We returned to Ephesus that night for the only ship's excursion that we booked, "Dining Among the Ruins," which I believe is only offered on the Istanbul to Athens sailings. We were served a delicious dinner in front of the Celsus Library, and enjoyed listening to a chamber ensemble. The wine was free-flowing, and as the sun set, they lit up the Library. It was absolutely gorgeous and we had an incredible evening. Don't miss this excursion if it is available on your cruise! RHODES: We had decided just to explore the old town on our own. Some passengers visited the ruins at Lindos, and others explored the nearby beach, which they reported was just OK. They have a "Valley of the Butterflies" nearby that we would have visited, except that it was too early in the year to see any butterflies. Rhodes is one of your typical pretty, walled medieval villages with touristy shops and cafes. The shops were different and more upscale than the ones we had gotten used to in Istanbul and Kusadasi, and it was a nice change. We browsed for a while, and walked up the Street of the Knights to the Palace of the Grand Masters, which we didn't go into because some other passengers told us that most of it was closed, and not worth the price of admission. We stopped at a cafe for an overpriced beer in a strange boot glass, and then we headed back to the ship. DIDIM: This was a new port for Windstar. Our itinerary originally called for a stop in Bodrum, but that was changed to Didim for some financial reason. We received some information from our travel agent which led us to believe there might be some private beach day here, but that turned out not to be the case. We had a nice day though. We just walked along the beach through the town, and stopped for lunch at a cafe at the far end. We made friends with the guy who talked us into eating there, and he told us a bit about Didim. It seemed to be a relatively low-cost beach vacation spot for British tourists, and it reminded us a little of how Mexico is to us. Most of the restaurant menus advertised dishes like Yorkshire Pudding and English Breakfast, and the prices were listed in both Turkish lira and pounds. There were umbrellas and chairs available for rent along the beach, and also at least one place where you could rent waverunners and kayaks. If you were looking for a beach day on this cruise, this would be the best place to do it. We talked to other passengers who found taxis at the pier to take them around, and to more ruins, and they enjoyed their day too. We tendered back to the ship and went to the sports platform at the back, where we jumped into the surprisingly cold and choppy water. There were a couple of people kayaking, and a few others in the water, but the conditions weren't nearly good enough for water-skiing, which I was kind of hoping we would get to do. They were actually starting to close down the platform when we got there, but they were happy to accommodate us and we didn't feel like they were rushing us to leave. SANTORINI: The main town on the island, Fira, is perched on a cliff high above where the ships anchor. We rode the tender to shore, and then were faced with three choices to get up to Fira. The first choice was to take the cable car, which is what our friends did. The second choice was to ride a donkey up the steep path. (The ship's hostess had suggested that if we wanted to ride one at all, it might be better to do it on the way back down in order to avoid smelling like the donkey all day.) The third choice was to walk up the donkey path, which is what we decided to do. The main problem with this was trying to avoid the donkey droppings. We found that the farther along we went, though, the less we cared about it. Our friends were waiting at the top, and we rewarded ourselves with a Mythos beer and some tomato fritters at a nice little taverna. Then we took a cab to the village of Oia, which is the town you see in all the postcards. It looks exactly like the pictures and has to be one of the most beautiful spots on the planet. We had a wonderful Greek salad at a restaurant called "Kastro" that had an incredible view. It just seemed like the colors there were so much more vivid than they are at home! The sky, the water, the flowers, even the tomatoes in our salads were all brighter and more beautiful. We poked around the shops for a while and took the public bus back to Fira. There was a schedule posted that didn't seem to have anything to do with when the bus was actually supposed to get there. Back at Fira, we explored the town some more, then eventually made our way back down the donkey path to the tender and back to the ship. MYKONOS: Unfortunately, we didn't get to stop here, due to high winds and safety concerns about tendering in. We had a pretty scary tender experience once, so we understood. The Captain announced that we would be heading straight to Piraeus and would arrive there at 6:00 in the evening instead of the next morning as originally planned. We had a few hours of rough water and I felt seasick for the only time on the trip. ATHENS: This was possibly the easiest disembarkation in the history of cruising. We didn't have to put our luggage out in the hallway the night before. Instead, we were told to leave our bags just inside the door, and our cabin steward would pick them up at 7:00 AM. And as independent travelers, we could just get off the ship whenever we wanted, instead of waiting for our luggage tag color to be called. We had a last leisurely breakfast before leaving the ship. We had arranged for Spiros to pick us up, take us on a tour, and drop us off at our hotel. There was nothing in any of our correspondence with him that indicated that our guide would be anyone other than Spiros himself. Well, it turned out that we had Mike instead. Mike was a nice enough guy, and an excellent driver, and even though he got the job done, it wasn't a great tour. Our first stop was the Acropolis, which was incredible, and if I ever go back to Athens, I am going to figure out how to get an actual TOUR of it, instead of having some guy in a taxi drop me off and point me in the right direction. Our other stops included the Temple of Zeus, the Olympic stadium, TWO Changings of the Guard (I really didn't even need to see the first one), Lycabettus Hill, the Roman Agora, and the Ancient Agora. At most of these places, we really didn't even know what we were seeing, and had to look everything up later. We did had a nice lunch in a supposedly non-touristy restaurant. Mike dropped us off at our hotel, Hotel Plaka, at the end of our day. We were relieved that all of our bags were still with us. There wasn't nearly enough room in the trunk for our luggage, so Mike had just crammed everything in there, left it wide open and tied a couple of bungee cords around our belongings. We drove around like that all day long. You could spot our cab from a mile away. We decided on Hotel Plaka mostly based on information from TripAdvisor and Frommer's. The Plaka location was great, the rooms were large and clean, and we had a nice view of the Acropolis from our window. The service wasn't that good though, and if I were to return to Athens (which would only be in conjunction with another cruise), I'd probably spend a little more money on a nicer hotel. Our friends were staying two nights, and we were staying for three. Driver Mike had recommended a "secret, no-name" restaurant in the Plaka district for dinner. It turned out to have a name, "Psara's", and not only was it featured prominently in the hotel's tourist map, it was packed. Leaving the hotel, we ran into another couple from the ship who had eaten there and said it wasn't that good. We thought we would try it anyway, but after waiting for a long time, and then finally being seated at a dirty, crowded table on an incline on top of some smokers, we changed our minds. We opted for a nearby restaurant, "Sissifos," which turned out to be dreadful, and then they tried to add fake charges to our bill until we called them on it. The next day, we visited the National Archaeology Museum, which was amazing, and nothing like I expected. We couldn't believe how old, and how BIG, the pieces on exhibit were. If I had one day in Athens, I would go to the Acropolis in the morning and this museum in the afternoon, and maybe not even do anything else. We walked around the Plaka for a while, but by now we were kind of tired of the touristy shopping experience. That night, we had dinner at Daphne's. We had called the day before for a reservation. It was excellent and we wished we would have eaten there the previous night too! Our friends went home the next day. We spent much of it resting, since we were awakened in the middle of the night by some young drunk kids who were partying in the hall and pounding on our door. They discharged the fire extinguisher and set off the alarm, and then they were kicked out of the hotel. We were hoping to sleep in, but the housekeeping staff loudly got to work at about 7:00 AM cleaning up their mess. We had an early flight the day after that, and had the hotel call a cab to take us to the airport. Of course it was a few euros more than the price that was quoted to us. Frankly, we were weary of feeling like we had to constantly be on guard in Athens. We flew back to Terminal 5 at Heathrow, connected to Terminal 3 easily, and retraced our steps from there, stopping in Chicago on our way back to LAX. Overall, we had a wonderful vacation, and we loved the cruise. We enjoyed all the ports, but Istanbul was my favorite, and I would recommend spending at least three nights there. On the other end, two nights in Athens would have been plenty. As far as the ship, we loved it, especially the service and the low-key, civilized atmosphere on board. We are looking forward to our next Windstar cruise. Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
This is a belated review of our marvelous Wind Spirit Caribbean voyage round trip out of St. Thomas in January 2008. It was a wonderful travel experience in all respects. I traveled with my sister, who flew to St. Thomas from her ... Read More
This is a belated review of our marvelous Wind Spirit Caribbean voyage round trip out of St. Thomas in January 2008. It was a wonderful travel experience in all respects. I traveled with my sister, who flew to St. Thomas from her home in Hawaii; I live on Whidbey Island, WA, and flew out of Seattle. We arrived two days before our cruise began in order to have a rest after our long red-eye flights. We stayed at The Green Iguana, a small hotel up on the hill next to Blackbeard's Castle. It was a fine place to stay, from which you can walk into downtown Charlotte Amalie; it's an easy walk DOWN the "99 Steps", much harder back UP those many steps! On our extra day between arrival at STT and our departure on Wind Spirit, we booked a private tour with T.J.'s Terrific Tours, and as it happened we had Thomas's entire safari-type open air vehicle to ourselves. This was great for us (but not so great for his budget, so we tipped him more than the cost of the tour) as he would show us exactly what we wanted to see, and skip what did not interest us. He picked us up at The Green Iguana and returned us there at the end. At our request, he also stopped at a grocery store frequented by locals to buy wine to take on board with us. He's affable and knowledgeable, highly recommended. The Wind Spirit was as wonderful as her sister ship, Wind Star, whose Costa Rica cruise I had loved a year earlier. The ship's size is wonderful, the passenger mix interesting, the food fine, the crew marvelous, and the itinerary is lovely. Our weather was perfect as well, always a big plus! For photos with captions and descriptions, done as a "photo story", go to http://fredasphotos1.shutterfly.com and go down the page until you come to "Caribbean on Wind Spirit"; click on that, then click on "Slideshow" to see photos in large size with captions and explanations. This will give you a feel for the ship, the trip, and the islands we visited, and will tell you more than I can do with words in this report (remembering that a picture is worth a thousand words!). It's a good idea when booking this cruise to plan on one or two hotel overnights in St. Thomas before the cruise, and an additional night after the cruise. This gives you a day for exploring St. Thomas, which is most enjoyable, and also, on the day the ship returns to Charlotte Amalie, saves you from finding yourself off the ship with your luggage, wondering how to amuse yourself until it's time to go to the airport. We solved it by taxiing to the Marriott for a leisurely lunch, after asking the concierge to keep our bags until it was time to go to the airport for our late afternoon flights. If you have a late morning flight, no problem, then just go to the airport from the ship. But it seems most flights out of STT leave mid- to late afternoon. My plan for all future cruises is to have one or two overnights before the cruise (important to guard against your incoming flight being delayed, which could result in your missing your cruise), and one or two more after the cruise to avoid the problem of being stuck toting your luggage around between disembarkation and time for your flight. Other specific recommendations from our experience: TJ's Terrific Tours on St. Thomas; Joyce Prince's private tour on St. Maarten/St. Martin; the ship's excursion to The Baths (it's very difficult to get there on your own, and it's a highlight site to visit); White Bay Beach for snorkeling on Yost Van Dyke. St. Barths was a favorite port, especially Shell Beach, an easy walk from the dock and a nice place for swimming and a GRAND place for hunting through the infinite number of shells on that beach, huge swathes of shells, sometimes 2 feet deep. Spend a lot of time on deck with those glorious sails! Enjoy the crew, the sights, the sun, the sand, the cuisine, all of it! I loved the experience so much that I'm booked on Wind Surf's southbound itinerary out of Barbados for January 2009, and as well, a cruise leaving just a week from today, on November 1 2008, from Barcelona to Lisbon. As you can see, I love Windstar ships. Read Less
Sail Date January 2008
We posted this last year but trip advisor didn't have a "cruise review". I happened to still have this saved, so I thought I'd try to save other travelers from wasting money! The caribbean is beautiful and we'd ... Read More
We posted this last year but trip advisor didn't have a "cruise review". I happened to still have this saved, so I thought I'd try to save other travelers from wasting money! The caribbean is beautiful and we'd definitely try another cruise there, but this time on Royal Caribbean (see my Mexico Monarch of the Seas review).... We went on a one week St. Thomas cruise to 7 other little islands in the Caribbean in Feb. 2007. Overall: 1.5 stars/D-. The only reason it even got 1.5/D- rating is because the Caribbean is so beautiful- great destination (but the beauty of the destination has nothing to do w/ Windstar...you can do this on your own w/ either a "regular" big cruise or all-inclusive land vacation. If you want to save yourself a big waste of your hard earned money (an all inclusive land package would've been half the cost if not less), read this. Also, during our trip they announced Windstar had been sold (which helps explain the crappy management on board). The current owner is Holland America and they will complete the sale in April 2007. TIP: don't buy the "whole travel package" from Windstar...big rip off. Better off taking taxi ($5-10 vs. Windstar's $64), and booking your own airline. They market themselves as "180 degrees from ordinary" and 5 star/first class. Their brochure shows everything under the sun...but unless the only vacation you've ever been on has been a $29 special to Vegas, you will be sorely disappointed when you get on board (others on our cruise said the same thing). We asked some other cruisers how this compared vs. a "regular big cruise line" and they reacted this way "Uh, well...dead silence"...enough said. I just wish I would've known this before wasting so much money. We wanted to try a cruise so badly and decided to start w/ "the best" which is what they proclaimed to be...not so!! Read on. Airport customs at St. Thomas: great; very efficient & short both ways. Workers: Since they nickel & dime you for everything ($2.50 for a can of soda + 15% service charge on every single drink purchase + a daily tip fee of $11 per day PER PASSENGER )...unless you are buying booze or soda, hard to get them to wait on you (which makes sense since the workers don't get "paid" for serving the free drinks which is only tea and water). Water sports are supposed to be all included, but we found that they didn't really have any water sports except for one kayak & a little boat thing (and snorkeling gear)...all weather depending of course. You can only check out the snorkeling gear when they say so which is typically 7-8 am- so much for sleeping in (whatever happened to focusing on customers?) However, the sports platform is pretty cool whenever they were open (this is where all this stuff takes place). We got to swim in the ocean from the boat...but they were only open for a few hours twice in a one week cruise. Very different from Sandals (where we typically go for vacation), where everything is truly all inclusive. Rooms: Standard, very small (it's a cruise ship so we weren't surprised). But there's nothing 5 star about it. Equivalent to Days Inn. You get two HARD twin beds pushed together. Very uncomfortable. Bathrooms (both in cabin & throughout ship) are like being in a port-o-potty...no ventilation...smells horrible!! Restaurants: The only "saving grace". Gourmet like- the 2 restaurants are great. You won't be disappointed w/ the food...if you can manage to get in a meal...since the dining hours are TERRIBLE! e.g.,. one day, b'fast was 7-9 am (hello, you're on vacation), lunch was 1-2:30, and dinners are always 7:30-9:30. It was so sad, people are literally waiting for the doors to open to get their lunch & dinner. Many of us on board were disappointed and irritated at the extreme limited dining hours. WARNING: don't do the shore excursions. Alot of pple. on our cruise said what a rip off they were (overpriced, misleading descriptions). We paid $260 for a catamaran snorkeling trip and saw one fish! Another couple paid $400 for a "beach escapade" to be pampered at a 5 star resort and they came back irritated at having spent so much for "swimming at a hotel and getting a crappy lunch"... BTW, at a land all inclusive vacation, you get snorkeling, catamaran, etc. all w/o any add'l costs! They NICKEL & DIME you for EVERYTHING! Food is the only thing included (when you can get food). They had a special "Captains Sailaway" and "Beach BBQ" event and charged for all drinks...we figure that the average cabin paid an extra $1000-$2000 on excursions and beverages. From what I hear from the "big cruises" at least you can eat 24 hrs/ and get free sodas. They have NO amenities. The "pool" & jacuzzi...seats 4-5 people (yes I'm talking about the pool). They're not heated. Jacuzzi is like warm bath water at best. If more than a few pple. got in the pool or jacuzzi, forget about using it...no room for you. Nothing to do on the ship unless you're on the excursion b/c the ports they take you to have nothing to do. One port we went to was literally you get dropped off and walk up & down a sandy road w/ 2-3 stores and that's it...so you go back on board and there's nothing to do b/c they don't feed you til 1pm! Their "wind spa" that they brag about is in reality a teeny, tiny cabin w/ a massage bed in a small room. We did get a massage to try and recover from the plane ride, and it was good, but she doesn't massage your arms or front of your legs (all other 50 min massages I've gotten is full body). Fitness center has one treadmill (the other one broken), one elliptical & stairmaster & 2 bikes, & some weights. But if you're a man taller than 5'7 forget about using them, the ceilings are so low you'll hit your head. Management: TERRIBLE! But since they've sold the company, it doesn't surprise me. We brought up a couple of issues and they didn't resolve anything. Basically, even reasonable customer requests are ignored and you're told "this is our policy"... I kid you not, they will only replace your shampoo if they have proof that it's used up EMPTY and in your trash can (so I guess they rummage thru guests' trash cans, which is kind of scary). One day, since they didn't replenish our toiletries b/c our existing set wasn't 100% empty (and I had left it in the shower, instead of the trash), I had to call 3 times and beg them for more shampoo so I could was the gritty sand out of my hair! Yes, this is a true experience. Geez, even Holiday Inn & Motel 6 gives free shampoo!! The best comparison I can make is that they're like the Northwest Airlines of cruises (yes, quite an insult). NWA charges you extra if you want to sit next to your travelling companion. Here, they charge for every little thing. And on the last day, once they have gotten all your money they turn off the air conditioner and 150 passengers are sweating in the lobby going thru customs for over 1 hr! Overall, I guess it's to each his/her own. Some pple on board thought this was the greatest vaca. ever...go figure. But there were enough "negative" comments on board that I felt I should post this to warn other travellers. I would give anything to get my money back. The only saving grace was that the destination/scenery of the Caribbean is so gorgeous, and perfect weather nearly everyday (but again, this has nothing to do w/ Windstar)...you could get the exact same thing on a big cruiseline for about 1/3 of what we paid...also, to be fair...the food was very good (but it's comparable to Sandals resorts, which includes all beverages (non & alcoholic) and all activities. I wish Trip Advisor had some reviews on Windstar B4 we booked, so I decided to be the first. Anyone who is a discerning traveller who is accustomed to really nice vacations will be very disappointed by this. We don't mind paying more, if we actually get something for it. This is so overpriced, that even if they offered me $1,000-$2,000 off a future cruise w/ them, I wouldn't do it. Do yourself a favor...just book any all inclusive vacation....you'll pay less and get more w/ better service. Read Less
Sail Date February 2007
Wind Spirit Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabin 4.0 N/A
Dining 4.0 4.5
Entertainment 3.0 3.7
Public Rooms 2.5 4.4
Fitness & Recreation 4.0 N/A
Family N/A 3.8
Shore Excursions 4.5 N/A
Enrichment Activities 4.0 N/A
Service 4.5 4.8
Value for Money 4.0 N/A

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