122 Windstar Star Legend Cruise Reviews

This cruise was thrust upon us. We had booked a mid-Feb cruise on the stretched Star Breeze from BCN to MIA but construction delays cancelled that a few days before Christmas. Since we were within 60 days of sailing, and Windstar had all ... Read More
This cruise was thrust upon us. We had booked a mid-Feb cruise on the stretched Star Breeze from BCN to MIA but construction delays cancelled that a few days before Christmas. Since we were within 60 days of sailing, and Windstar had all my vacation money, switching to another line was not possible. So I scrambled and came up with this cruise. With a 20% cruise credit plus the price guarantee, this eastbound (I swore I'd never do another EB T-Atl!) from SJU to LIS was an excellent value. The Star Legend was heading into dry-dock for its stretching so this was its last sailing with passengers in this configuration. There were ~107 of us, so the ship was half empty. The Deluxe Suite I had booked on the Breeze wasn't available on the old layout ships, but we were approved for the mid-ship deck six cabin. It turned out to be the best cabin on the ship (and I'm sad I will never have an opportunity to book it again, after the stretching it will be way too big and expensive for me.) The WS agent had warned me about the obstructed views and she was right. But they didn't matter at all to me. I choose to cruise on small ships because I want to be on a ship, not a floating resort. The constant view of equipment out my window reminded me I was on a ship and actually made me happy. And the lifeboat hanging over top of us when we were on the balcony sheltered us from the view of people on the pool deck above us. The suite was gold. Large, comfortable, luxurious. I will never again book a suite this large again but boy was it fun to have it for one cruise! The cruise itself was delightfully perfect. We had 15 days of glorious, sunny and warm weather accompanied by 13 days of calm seas. This wasn't just luck, the Captain worked hard to keep us away from the bad weather all around us and that meant an extra day in Madeira! The service was what we expected. The food was much better than we expected. The lack of entertainment was not an issue (that is a personal issue for people, but I've discovered that not only do I love sea days, I love sea days without lectures and formal activities even more.) We could hook our laptop up to the TV and watch downloaded movies from Netflix as well as movies from the library (and our collection from home of things we'd 'never got around to.') And there was reading. And simply doing nothing. The only thing I participated in was trivia. I had a wonderful time. As I said before, being on the ship and ship stuff is what is important to me. Windstar ticked every box in that regard especially with the open bridge policy. The majority of my days at sea have been on Silversea and Crystal but we settled into the more casual social life on Windstar just fine. There were a few things we missed but those things come with at a cost, both financial, but also time spent dressing for dinner, or spending an hour at afternoon tea each day. Afternoon tea was the only thing I really missed on this cruise from the other lines. I booked my next cruise while on board. And have 2 more (before then) that I've added to my calendar although I won't book since I feel the cruise industry is a bit unsettled and I'd rather wait until I'm sure the additional cruises won't be changed. ***Wait! There's more*** I can't believe I almost forgot to write about this part of my cruise. We always judge how companies handle things when things go wrong. I did mention that I was pleased with how Windstar treated me when they cancelled my original cruise. But something else went wrong.... Day 3 of the cruise the main water supply to our bathroom broke, flooding the bedroom. When I say flooding, I mean the water spread through the bathroom wall, under the carpet, pooling ~12' away under the window. Help was slightly delayed but to be honest given the speed at which the water was coming in (this wasn't just a leaky toilet), the extra 5 minutes were just more panic time for me, rather than adding significantly to the damage. I got the drapes up so saved them which my cabin steward appreciated since she didn't have an extra set of those. The bolsters (under the bed because it was morning) were soaked so disappeared for the remainder of the cruise (good riddance) and the bed skirt was replaced. I got my own items off the floor so nothing of mine was damaged. In the series of panicked phone calls ("send plumber", "send more towels", "flooding is now across the room", "send wet vac", "send another wet vac, the one here can't keep up") I also asked for the head of housekeeping to come. He and the guest services manager showed up. The ship was only half full so they were prepared to move me to the other suite in our category but that was in the bow and I didn't want it. What I wanted was to get dressed, eat breakfast, and then figure out what would happen. So a key to a suite down the hall was handed to me. We stayed in that suite for 4 nights but had the use of our balcony and (after the blowers were removed) living room, each day. We were compensated for the inconvenience. All staff worked very hard to get us settled again. It was so well handled that on the last day when my husband was telling the hotel director about how much we had enjoyed the cruise, and the hotel manager said, "despite the flood", my husband had to admit he'd forgotten about the flood! The blessing of the flood was it give us a chance to experience what a regular cabin is like. On Silversea and Crystal we had always picked ocean view, lower, mid-ship, cabins. So suddenly we were comparing apples to apples, rather than lowest category to the best suite. Crystal still wins for best designed cabin but the standard cabin on the Star motor yachts is very comparable. My only complaint was the proximity of the bathroom door to the bed and that is solved with the new Star Suites on the stretched ships (the bed will be by the window.) So, in future, we will not be in a suite on Windstar's motor yachts but in an SS1 category suite. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
Two years ago Windstar announced the plan to stretch the Star ships increasing the guest capacity from 210 guests to 310 guests. We love the small size and hope that the increase in size doesn’t change the friendly atmosphere on the ... Read More
Two years ago Windstar announced the plan to stretch the Star ships increasing the guest capacity from 210 guests to 310 guests. We love the small size and hope that the increase in size doesn’t change the friendly atmosphere on the ship. We looked forward to another small ship experience before the scheduled stretch. Ship is still beautiful. The gorgeous woodwork, marble bathrooms, and spacious suites are exquisite. There are some signs of wear. Most annoying was the missing sun umbrellas on decks 7 and 8. On previous cruises, there were lots of umbrellas to provide shade. This cruise had only one. We were told that the umbrellas blew away or broke. They are to be replaced. Certainly hope that there will be more shade areas on the stretched ship. Service was superb. Food was delicious. We chose to sit at same table each night for dinner. Our waiter, Melkih, remembered us from previous cruises on the Breeze. He was excellent. We enjoyed the BBQs, beach parties, music by the duos, excursions, etc. we enjoyed the yacht club. Still wish that the yacht club would serve coffee/tea after dinner. The ports were mostly small islands where the big ships don’t go. There wasn’t any big shows. The crew show was fun. Cruise was relaxing. We had a great time. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Windstar has only 6 ships so and they are small ships focused on going to areas the bigger ships cannot get to. While the ship itself is a little dated, it is slated for a big makeover this summer which is explained here: ... Read More
Windstar has only 6 ships so and they are small ships focused on going to areas the bigger ships cannot get to. While the ship itself is a little dated, it is slated for a big makeover this summer which is explained here: https://www.windstarcruises.com/starplus/. The cabins are suites with a sofa, chairs, a desk, a full bathtub and a walk-in closet – plenty of room for the 2 of us. There is a spa which we did not use and a decent fitness room, which I admit, I intended to use, but did not. I had too much fun doing the excursions. The best part about Windstar is the service. All the staff are friendly and really try to make the passengers have a good experience. There was a challenge with the first port so as we were boarding we learned we would not be going to an island off Puerto Rico but to St. Thomas instead. We were given new excursions to pick from. The last two days we were feeling the effects of a storm, so we couldn’t tender to Virgin Gorda. I was extremely bummed as I wanted to go back to The Baths, but the captain and team rallied and took us to Tortola where they quickly assembled 2 excursions for us. The food is decent. You have 3 choices for dinner – either the big dining room, the area where you have breakfast & lunch that they convert to a ‘romantic dining experience’ or room service. We did all 3 options. Yes, we got a little bored with the food selections but at least we didn’t overeat too much. We also bought the Package which included a full liquor selection, WiFi and Laundry Service. If you are looking for nightlife, this is NOT the ship for you. On our ship, they had 2 different 2-person bands playing during sunset and after dinner and I saw they had a small casino set up at night but we never went to see it. There was a show put on by the crew Thursday evening but we skipped it. Also, the only child we saw was the captain’s daughter. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
This is basically a wonderful ship, with a few glitches. It was recently bought by Windstar and is due to a major renovation/refit in 2020, so these comments might not apply to later sailings. This is a small ship with huge cabins. The ... Read More
This is basically a wonderful ship, with a few glitches. It was recently bought by Windstar and is due to a major renovation/refit in 2020, so these comments might not apply to later sailings. This is a small ship with huge cabins. The staff and officers are very competent and caring. Food was somewhat variable, ranging from OK to very good. Prices were affordable considering the size and staffing ratio. (We got a last-minute cruise for $999 each in the lowest cabin category, which was just fine for us.) The ship was surprisingly stable and quiet, given how small it is. Embarcation and debarcation were flawless and fast. Passengers were almost all English-speaker, mostly from the US and Canada. Their ages ran from 30's to 70's. None of them seemed like serious party animals. There were a few glitches: 1. There was very little ability to sit on deck in the shade. We understand that some umbrellas had been washed overboard during a previous storm. However, the crew should have explained to passengers that they should not put a book on one of the few available chaise lounges and then walk away--this is unfair to other passengers. A related issue is that this ship would be at a disadvantage in bad weather, such as what one might encounter in their Alaska cruises. 2. Water was an issue: no hot water for a few hours, and then a couple of days later, no water at all. None of these were major issues. 3. Linens were a bit tired. 4. Bar prices were high, though not ridiculously so. We recommend buying wine at the CVS across from the San Juan dock and paying the $15/bottle corkage fee. They don't allow you to carry on hard liquor, although I doubt a few miniatures would cause problems. 5. The all-inclusive bar-WiFi-laundry package is ridiculously overpriced. Anybody other than a really serious drinker would have a very hard time making it worthwhile. 6. This ship is not handicapped accessible. Nobody who needs anything more than a cane should be on this ship. It is not suitable for children as there's nothing for them to do (the only child on board was the Captain's daughter, who was a delight.) 7. The base price ($999 in our case) is a bit misleading, as you must add port taxes, basically-mandatory service charge, and bar bills. Our total came to a bit over $3,000 after all these items, plus air fare to San Juan. 8. WiFi is slow and not totally reliable. I appreciate that they warn up-front not to expect too much. We got the unlimited plan ($240) which, however, doesn't allow more than one device per cabin to be logged on. Consider one of the individual plans. 9. Shore excursions were very mixed. Because of their cost and the lack of interest in most of the ports, we only took two of them: 9a. Historic Tastes and Treasures of Fort Napoleon (Les Saintes): well worth the money. We learned a lot about the history of the French Caribbean, and saw a really good little museum at the fort. The tour ended with a tasting of various Caribbean finger-foods and 5 types of rum, which was a good way to end the tour. Our leader, Jean (I believe) was very well informed and fluent in English. 9b: Clear Bottom Kayaking (St Georges,Grenada): eminently forgettable. After paddling a mile to where we should have seen lots of fishes, there were absolutely none to be found ... until one minnow literally landed in our kayak. (I threw it back.) Basically, clear bottom kayaks are no substitute for snorkeling or scuba diving--the view was very poor. The rum punch at the end was pretty awful. 9c: The company wanted entirely too much money for pre- and post-cruise accommodations and transportation. My suggestion is to take a cab (regular cab or Uber) to the Sheraton hotel across the street from the cruise terminal, for a fraction of the cost of what Windstar wanted. The Sheraton was a rather nice, modern, business-class hotel, and not terribly overpriced. 10. Some people have complained about being pressured to spend additional money. This complaint is basically correct. The evening "shows" were mostly commercials for shore excursions and repeat cruises. I could have done with less of that stuff. 11. No real "shows" in such a small ship, through the crew put on an evening program that was a lot of fun. 12. The "swimming pool" was basically a large hot tub with underwater jets to supposedly allow one to swim up-current. Too small to be useful. 13. The sports platform was open a lot less than promised because the slightest wave action caused it to be closed. 14. The food was never less than good and sometimes excellent. One common complaint was that red meats tended to be over salted. A couple of their pork roasts were mostly fat. Finally: YES, we look forward to another Windstar cruise. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
Just as a bit of background, we are a Canadian couple in our mid 50’s from Montreal. This was our 13th cruise having sailed 5 times with Celebrity and now 8 times with Windstar on both the Sailing Ships and Motor Yachts, all in the ... Read More
Just as a bit of background, we are a Canadian couple in our mid 50’s from Montreal. This was our 13th cruise having sailed 5 times with Celebrity and now 8 times with Windstar on both the Sailing Ships and Motor Yachts, all in the Caribbean. What keeps us coming back to Windstar is the small size of the ships (and contrary to what some people may say, they will still be small by all standards even after the extensions), the great and friendly service, the amazing food, the camaraderie between the guests and staff, the relaxed dress code, the small & interesting ports, the minimal entertainment and a general feeling of freedom aboard these ships as they are geared to both independent (which we are) as well as less independent travelers who can book (expensive) tours through ship. Another notable advantage of visiting the Caribbean by way of a cruise vs a land-based vacation is there are no mosquitoes on deck at night and no need for repellent (we had brought some but never used it). On this cruise, we travelled with 2 other couples, one of whom was new to Windstar (both got $200 referral OBC) and had never cruised while the other couple had sailed once with us on Star Pride in 2016. We did BTB 14 day Lovely Leeward Cruise out of San Juan on Star Legend Nov 2-16, the first time we had taken a cruise of more than 7 days. The overall feeling from all in our group was this was the perfect vacation we needed and that 2 weeks was definitely not too long and we would have stayed a 3rd week if we’d could. Yes the ship is older (vintage as our Italian friends like to call it), and aside from a few more obvious areas (such as near the Star Bar bathrooms on Deck 8), it is well maintained and certainly a pleasant ship to cruise on (the drydock will certainly help on that front). The food onboard was excellent and just keeps getting better. The company’s partnership with the James Beard Foundation is showing with creative plate presentations, improved seafood offering with fish now sourced locally almost every day and meats that were always cooked perfectly to order (from rare to medium well). Our Italian friends, who are fish aficionados, were very impressed by the quality and cooking of the fish dishes and not one person complained about any plate for the whole 2 weeks. We took the interesting Galley Tour with chef Nilesh and now understand how they can be so consistent in their cooking (everything is done from scratch à la minute) and also accommodate almost any kind of request (there is a list of 10-12 special requests at every meal based on a list I saw). So if you are a picky eater, they should be able to accommodate. We did not notice any slip in service or food compared to our Feb 2019 cruise and if there is one thing food has improved at all venues. The weather was just about perfect (very little rain which is unusual at this time of year) and seas were fairly calm. We were able to get off at all the stops save for Vieques for obvious reasons (see below for details). Demographics of this cruise were typical of Windstar with most passengers in the 50 to 80 range. They say Windstar is not for kids but during the first week of the cruise, there were 5 young well behaved kids (6-10) onboard (incl. the Captain’s daughter) and judging by their smiling faces, they had a blast onboard and were treated like royalty by the crew…and this did not bother the remaining guests onboard. On a minor negative note, we did notice on a regular basis, foul sewer smells from one side of the ship (and also near the Star Bar washrooms) but this was usually temporary. There was also a lack of loungers and umbrellas on the Pool and Star decks (and also at the bow hot tub area) which made it difficult to find a spot to lounge in the sun or shade. We spoke to staff who said new chairs and umbrellas were on their way in the coming weeks. Overall another fantastic cruise with Windstar. Now for the details Booking: We booked approx. 2 months ahead and found the price of this 14-day cruise to be very attractive at $1,799 (Canadian Special) (the price went as low as $1,599 a little later). We see no need to book far in advances as prices generally come down once within 90-day price guarantee period and usually get upgraded anyway. We and another couple went for lowest priced cabin S1 (112-116) and got upgraded to Balcony Suites BS1 (304-306) which was nice while the third couple had booked the highest non balcony category S3 (325) and got upgraded to a 530 sq ft Classic Suite (suite 06) mid ship deck 6, wow!. Again, Windstar offered the All-In Package (a 20% discount on the price of internet, drink package and laundry if all taken together prior to cruise) which we did not take as we did not care for the ship’s slow and expensive internet (we had access to a good roaming package which we used most of time as we were always close to islands). Given we had booked a 2 week cruise, we enjoyed complimentary laundry for the full 2 weeks which we used every other day. Embarkation: Although we typically fly in the day before, given departure was only at 10PM we flew in on same day. Took cab from SJU airport ($25 approx 20 minutes) and arrived on ship at around 3h15pm. Check-in was swift as 1PM check-in rush was over and we booked the Candles dinner for our group of 6 right away with no issues. Sail away was on schedule at 10h00pm. There were approx. 200 passengers on board with 25% booked for the same 2 week cruise. Our friends had some luggage issues so they went and bought a few items right across from cruise pier at the Polo Ralph Lauren outlet prior to our 10PM departure (very convenient). Cabin: We were in 304 and our friends in 306 and Suite 6 (all added to Star Legend stateroom sticky forum). Cabins are large and comfortable with 304 having a walk-in shower (no tub) while 306 and 06 have bath tubs. Note that the bed in 304 does not split to make 2 singles and as a result the bedframe does not allow you to put large suitcases underneath the bed as is the case normally (we put ours behind the 2 arm chairs in living room). Ship had a hot water issue on one day with no hot water from 10am to 6pm. This was fixed by end of day and was not a problem for us. All cabins were quiet with no maintenance issues. Our room attendants Luis and Ben were attentive and always had smiles on their faces although we did not have any special requirements. Reusable water bottles and ice bucket were refilled every day. Asked for mini bar to include more soda water and this was done for rest of cruise. We used complimentary laundry (offered on all BTB cruises) and had no issues (you can write instructions to do cold wash, no dryer etc on the order form). Occitane toiletries were replenished every 4 days. We did not use room service Bars and Entertainment: Drinks were mostly taken outside at Star Bar. Did not go to Lounge or Compass Rose as we like to be outside on a Caribbean cruise. Bar service was always good. Entertainment is limited but this is fine with us. There were 2 music duos alternating at each venues. Latino duo was better and had some guests dancing at Star Bar. Sometimes during breaks, guests would plug IPad playlists in system to keep party going a little longer. This happened a few evenings with people dancing until midnight. A lot of fun. Windstar should consider having a DJ instead of second duo onboard. Unlike the last time we sailed, none of us were on any drink package. We all mostly drank beer (Red Stripe, Stella, Heineken) and wine (we tried at least 20-25 different wines with prices varying from $40 to $65) with the occasional cocktail or nightcap and in the end our bill was almost the same as basic bev. package but ended up drinking better quality wines by the bottle. The wines on the beverage package are OK with 12 whites (Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, and Riesling), 15 reds (Cab, Merlot, Zin, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese), 4 sparklers and 2 rosés but the bottle selection is much better and priced decently (bottles that go unfinished are held until the following day) Approximately 25% of guests were on a drink package. I have posted the wine and cocktail list on the Windstar forum. We did not attend the Captains Welcome/Departure Cocktails nor the Yacht Club Members Cocktail as these were typically held too early for us. There were always seats at the Star Bar and one evening before dinner, our Italian friends could not believe we were the only ones on the Star deck and had the bar to ourselves as if we were on our own yacht…for 15 minutes. It was a great Windstar moment. Sail Aways under the music of Vangelis and sometimes Andrea Bocelli were nice and moving but not as spectacular as on the sailing ships. This being said they remain a very popular and well attended event with plenty of smiles on everybody’s faces. Food: What to say. The food was fantastic. We had dinner at Amphora every evening save for 2 times at Candles and 2 times at Deck BBQ on the late nights in Sint-Maarten and Bequia. Did not use room service. Although we were told the dinner menu at Amphora is on a one week rotation, there were several new dishes on the menu the second week so plenty of variety with no one eating the same thing twice throughout the 2 week cruise. Note there are vegetarian and gluten free options (more limited but possible if requested ahead). Breakfast was excellent with buffet or a la carte items available (French toast eggs benedict, waffles, pancakes, omelets or eggs any style always a hit especially with great crispy bacon and real maple syrup, after all, we are Canadian). After seeing the freshly squeezed OJ go away on our last Windsurf cruise in Feb 2019, I am glad to report that orange/grapefruit slices and freshly squeezed OJ were back on the buffet. Also a great improvement with the pastries in the AM as well desserts at night. We had good lunches at Veranda when we made it back in time from the island as the venue is only open from 12h00 to 14h00. Good selection of a la carte items and buffet. We were late a few times and had to “settle” for sandwiches and cookies from Yacht Club which were excellent. Lunch should be extended to 14h30 to accommodate those with dietary restrictions as the menu at the Yacht Club, while good, remains limited for them. Service in the dining rooms at dinner was well paced with meals usually lasting 2 hours (or sometimes more, our choice) but I am sure someone could probably have a 3 course meal in less than an hour if that’s what they wanted, just not our style as we like to linger with the cheese plate and wine before having drinks at Star Bar while listening to one of the music duos. We mostly had dinner around 8pm and never had to wait more than a few minutes for a table and by the time we were finished around 10-10h30PM, we were often the last table in the room. Deck BBQ food was great with lobster and suckling pig a highlight. A couple of times they arranged a small buffet lunch next to Star Bar at lunch time (once was a curry bar and the other one was Mumbai meets Caribbean), both proved to be popular with guests. Dinner at Amphora was always excellent (don’t miss the Beef Wellington or Chocolate Soufflé). Kudos to chef Nilesh Kanvinde and his crew for all the fabulous meals and to Maitre D’ Mr Santos and his waiters for the good service. Candles was very good both times with good quality meats and fish done to everyone’s order. The veal chop and red wine sauce is always a winner and make sure not to miss the side of prosciutto/parmesan potatoes. Beach BBQ was held in Fischer’s Cove Virgin Gorda in week 1 and Pigeon Island in week 2 (both just OK locations as we prefer Prickly Pear and Mayreau). While food was good both times (mac&cheese is great), the small size of the beach in St Lucia coupled with 200 people going in and out of water constantly means that the water turns cloudy pretty quickly and was not really appealing by 2PM (BBQ ended at 4). Not an issue in Fischer’s Cove as beach is wider. A couple of evenings, we were treated to very good canapés at Star Bar before dinner. Contrary to previous cruises, there seemed to be more selections and greater quantities of canapés so that people did get seconds. I suspect these were also served in the Compass Rose but we never attended this venue so cannot confirm. Some in our group are a bit picky about their coffee and their verdict was that caffe lattes at the Veranda in the morning were good (regular coffee not so much) but the best were the ones from the Yacht Club (Yogi was our favorite barista for the 2 weeks). Croissants/muffins and fresh squeezed OJ are also offered at the venue for early risers (6AM) while sandwiches and sweet treats are offered in the afternoon until 6PM. Note the sandwiches are very much improved (try the Greek sandwich) from our last cruise with greater selections (at least 8-10 types of sandwiches) and quantities available. Reception Natasha at Reception was excellent and helpful as much as she could as one in our party did not get their luggage. She accommodated us with internet access and satellite phone access to talk to the airline and her team went to airport to see if luggage had arrived. Marina: We used the marina a few times and it was open probably 4 or 5 times during the 2 week cruise. Several people were using it when available. The water toys were also brought to the beach on Pigeon Island and Fischer’s Cove for the Beach BBQ but the large trampoline was out of action for the full 2 weeks as staff said it was a different model that was too long to set up and were waiting for a smaller one. Spa: One person in our party enjoyed a 75minute massage at the spa and was satisfied with the treatment but beware of the product push at the end. Gym: Some people in our group used the gym and were satisfied with the equipment and personnel. Note the gym is small and may be busy during certain peak morning times depending on itinerary Tenders: Tenders were used in all ports except St. Martin and Grenada. While tender service was good and timely, the tenders themselves are in need of a total overhaul which I understand is happening with the extension of the ship. Bridge: Visited the bridge a couple of times (it was closed more often than expected) and officers were accommodating and helpful. Stops and excursions: We generally are not the type to book ship excursions as we feel they are overpriced and like to do things on our own. I typically like to do my own research and do not like to plan too long ahead. Vieques: We had planned to go to Sun Beach and were getting ready to tender to shore when Captain came on to advise that there had been a shooting incident in the tender landing area in the morning (no passengers were present in the area at the time) in which a targeted local resident was killed and a Windstar employee shot in the leg by a stray bullet. As a result, the Captain cancelled the stop and pulled the anchor early around 3PM (vs 9PM scheduled) meaning we would arrive in St Barth’s around 6AM, earlier than the 11AM expected. Given most passengers were onboard, they quickly set up a Curry Bar buffet for lunch which was appreciated by guests. The injured employee was flown to San Juan where he received treatment and is now OK. This could have been far worse and was handled properly by the Captain. We understand this stop has now been replaced by St-Thomas. St-Barth: Left ship around 10AM. Took a 10 minute cab ride (30 EUR each way for the 6 of us) from the pier to Pearl Beach Hotel (formerly Tom Beach) in St-Jean. The hotel has changed hands, been expanded and totally renovated following Irma with very nice results. Rented nice and comfortable loungers and umbrellas EUR20 p.p. (Eden Roc next door at EUR50, beach chair vendor next door (EUR10) or bring your towel ($0) but the last 2 options have no bathroom access). We all had lunch & rosé wine at their La Plage beach restaurant. Food and service were good but be prepared to spend upwards of US$100/$150 p.p. for lunch and chairs as this is St Barth. Did some shopping in St Jean and Gustavia. Boarded the tender back to the ship around 7PM. Had dinner at around 8h30 at Amphora Montserrat: 2 couples took the ship excursion to Buried City and we stayed onboard as we had done the same excursion 2 years prior. While they found the excursion interesting, they also thought it was a bit drawn out (4hrs) with the luncheon at the end of the tour. Note that the tour no longer goes inside an abandoned hotel for security reasons (this was an interesting stop in the tour because it was as if time had stopped everywhere around the property). The ship was quiet while most guests were out and had the staff just to ourselves. St. Martin: Beach day. Took a cab ($25 each way) to Karakter Bar & Restaurant on Simpsons Bay (Dutch side) on far side of the airport (not easy to find). Chairs free if you have lunch there but get there early, which we did. Food & service good with quite a large menu offering. Nice Beach with some wave action. Back on the ship by 6PM. Deck BBQ was held this evening. Great food (lobster, suckling pig, striploin, paella, lamb, lots of salads, flambéed bananas and a much improved dessert selection) and great time with some dancing interrupted by a short drizzle. No problem Jost Van Dyke: Took safari cab ($5p.p.) to White Bay and went to quieter One Love beach bar at far end of beach. Nice cold drinks but food certainly basic. Soggy Dollar looked busy and loud so we were perfectly happy where we were. Took taxi and tender back to ship around 4PM. Given our late departure, we had the intent of coming back onshore to Foxy’s. However after having a great dinner at Candles, we were all pretty tired and went to bed around 11pm. Virgin Gorda: We first took the Exploring VG and Baths Tour organized by ship. Simon of Speedy’s was our tour guide and was very entertaining and knowledgeable. The ride provides great views of the North Sound (the northern route however remains closed since Irma). Baths were great, not too crowded. This was our friends’ first time at The Baths and they were all impressed. Walked through the boulders and back up to restaurant. The tour comes back to Fischer’s Cove near Spanishtown at around 12h30, in time for lunch at the Beach BBQ. This was our first beach BBQ at this location (normally it’s held at Prickly Pear in Virgin Gorda’s North Sound but the park infrastructure has not been rebuilt since Irma) and while it is not bad, the scenery and surroundings are just not as nice. Food was good as usual. San Juan: After a great week, one couple in our party went back home today (as were another 150 passengers) while 4 of us are staying for a second week (there were 43 passengers staying for 2 weeks). This is when it all hit: Thank God we were staying for another week, just felt sad for our friends who could not stay on. Wandered in Old San Juan in the morning and did a bit of shopping. Came back on uncrowded ship before 1PM check-in of second week guests, had lunch on Veranda, secured priority reservations for Candles before new guests boarded and then spent the rest of the afternoon and early evening at the bow of the ship taking advantage of hot tub and watched sunset while drinking the complimentary Collet Brut Champagne provided in our friends’ suite. A great relaxing afternoon Windstar style. Note, there were only 2 lounge chairs in this area when there used to be a dozen in the past. They also used to have a cooler with all sorts of soft drinks and water for client use but we did not see any this time around (it is a long walk to the bar). St.Martin Take 2: Given this was a short stop (12h00-17h00), the 4 of us decided we wanted to do a bit of surveying on how St Martin (especially the French side which has been struggling) was recovering from Irma 2 years on. Good news, the Captain made up some time during the night and we arrived an hour early at the dock. Left ship around 11h30, 4 of us hired a van for $100 to do 3hr tour of island (with stops in Orient Bay and Grand Case). Orient Bay is slowly coming back with a few new restaurants (Kontiki, Kakao, Bikini) and some of the shops in the back having reopened. That being said, the nudist resort part of the beach at far end still looks abandoned with only the restaurant having reopened. Grand Case and Marigot are a different story as they still have a lot of placated buildings and empty lots and just a few restaurants opened. Taxi dropped us off on Front St. in Philipsburg where we did some shopping at the Longchamps store in Philipsburg (good prices) and had a few drinks at the nearby Holland House before heading back to cruise pier by using the water taxi ($5p.p.) Les Saintes: This was our 4th time to Les Saintes and we continue to enjoy this stop. The tender drops passengers off at the quaint village of Terre de Haut which has some interesting shops and courtyard restaurants as well as a well preserved fort & museum (Fort Napoleon) from which the views of the bay and our ship are simply breathtaking. Note the Fort is only open until 12h30 and bring €5 cash if you want to get in. We again rented a 4 seat electric golf cart (cost €70) from Green Car Rental to tour Island but you need to reserve it in advance and come early as these get taken up very quickly (we had learned this the hard way the first times we were there). Alternatively, the company also rents electric bicycles which we saw all around this hilly island. Went to Pompierre Beach (no entry fees but no services with a few restaurants just outside the beach area) and Fort Napoléon. Also visited newly renovated and expanded Hotel Bois-Joli near Pain de Sucre beach. Very nice & quiet. Did some shopping in the village (Mahogany Linen) and had a drink at Café de la Marine overlooking the harbor. This was our friends’ first time in Les Saintes and they enjoyed this charming stop so much that they are going back for the Christmas holidays Bequia: This was our 4th time in Bequia, an island we love for its tranquility and nice beaches. Given there was a bit of rain early on, we left the ship late. Once onshore we took a water taxi ($5 each) to far end of Princess Margaret Beach to a small beach chair vendor. Rented chairs ($6 p.p. no need for umbrella, palm trees everywhere), very nice quiet beach. Vendor also had snacks and cold drinks. Walked back to town by using the very nice & scenic Belmont walkway passing by Jack’s Bar which was busy as usual when a ship is in town. Deck BBQ was held this evening with ship leaving around 9h45pm. Another great evening under the stars and a full moon. Magical Grenada: Our ship was docked in old harbor which is more attractive than the large cruise ship dock on other side of town. As we have already done tours on this island, we decided this was a beach day. Most taxis will want to take you to Grande Anse Beach but we go to the less crowded Morne Rouge or Magazine Beaches. Cab ride to Magazine Beach was $35 for the 4 of us. This was our second time there and we continue to enjoy this beach. It is very picturesque, not too crowded compared to Grande Anse with very few people trying to sell you stuff on the beach. It also has some nice wave action. Our friends had never been and really enjoyed the spot. We rented beach chairs ($5 each) no umbrellas, plenty of trees and shade. Had lunch on the beach at the Aquarium Restaurant nearby. Food good but service was slow. Back on the ship around 4h30 and watched the sunset while enjoying our friends’ second complimentary Collet Brut Champagne bottle at Star Bar (no corkage fee) during happy hour and sail away. Pigeon Island: This was our 5th time to Pigeon Island and it is not necessarily our favorite beach as the beach area is small and crowded with the water getting cloudy by early afternoon. The back area of the park, where they actually serve the BBQ is very nice with lots of shade. The water toys were brought to the beach (excluding the trampoline), as well as paddle boards and kayaks. They did not offer waterski and wakeboardings runs for those who wanted as on previous trips. BBQ food again was excellent Day at Sea: Our final day was a sea day. Beautiful weather and gentle breeze. Spent the day on deck in and out of pool. Good idea to be up on deck early (around 8AM) if you want to secure loungers as there were a much smaller number of them than usual (probably only 35 chairs vs 70 normally). San Juan Debarkation.: All good things have to come to an end. Debarkation was trouble free. Picked up passports the previous night, left luggage outside around 6h30 in the morning and had breakfast around 8am. Our flight was late (4h30pm) so we left the ship and our friends (who had an earlier flight) at around 8h45 after going through immigration and took a cab ($17 for the 2 of us, 10 minutes) to Marriott Stellaris Resort and took up their day pass offer which for $60 p.p. includes the holding of your luggage in a secure area, access to facilities, beach chairs & umbrellas, towels, Wifi, access to shower and changing room and a $20 p.p. F&B voucher which we used for lunch (food OK). The hotel has been completely renovated and property looks great. Service was excellent from bell hop to beach attendants. Got access to changing rooms and shower. We left at 1h45 for the airport. Ride was $20 for the 2 of us and took just under 15 minutes. Given we were flying to Canada and not connecting through a US airport, we did not have to go through the additional USDA bag screening that’s required at San Juan airport. And this concluded another amazing Windstar cruise. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
The Star Legend will be in dry dock soon to completely refurbish it and add 100 staterooms. And it need it. Everything was from gently to quite worn. Seals were broken on three large windows in the Yacht Club lounge, obscuring the view. ... Read More
The Star Legend will be in dry dock soon to completely refurbish it and add 100 staterooms. And it need it. Everything was from gently to quite worn. Seals were broken on three large windows in the Yacht Club lounge, obscuring the view. That said, the staterooms were quite comfortable and the house staff attentive. Excursions are extremely expensive. Choose wisely. It’s much more fun to explore charming towns like Wrangell and Sitka on The zodiac tour of Tracey’s Arm glacier was worth it in every way. Food was hit and miss. The hits were lunch and breakfast, and dinner had some poor choices, like a seafood bisque with uncooked seafood in it. The Indian dishes, including a curry bar, were beautifully seasoned. Candles featured fresh salads and fish and meats grilled to order. Overall, for a luxury cruise, we thought Windstar could have done better with the condition of the ship furnishings, and attention to detail at Amphora Restaurant. The staff was gracious and the naturalists knowledgeable. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
This was our second Windstar cruise following last summer’s Norway/Iceland voyage which was marvelous. Sufficiently marvelous that we invited three friends from NYC to join us this time. We previously sailed once on Regent which was but ... Read More
This was our second Windstar cruise following last summer’s Norway/Iceland voyage which was marvelous. Sufficiently marvelous that we invited three friends from NYC to join us this time. We previously sailed once on Regent which was but decent and once on Silversea which was slightly better than decent. Windstar ran rings around them on both our sailings aboard Legend and Pride. See our cabin review below, it was very good and comfortable but also most expensive suite available. You get what you pay for. My friends had regular cabins (following luxury marketing rules, these are referred to as suites, haha) which they thought sumptuous, comfortable and well designed. This cruise had half-a-dozen naturalists on board, fully credentialed for all things Alaska including flora, fauna — birds, orcas, whales, otters, seals, sea lions, glaciers, earthquakes, volcanos, weather, cultures, and more. Plus, they led many of the zodiac and other excursions so could narrate in real time. This was a case where having an onboard marina on deck 3 made a qualitative difference and enhanced the cruise for many. Because this ship carries only 212 passengers max, we were small potatoes when it comes to the gargantuan vessels you may be imagining. And that’s exactly how we like it! When it comes to Alaska, we were able to cruise where larger vessels (Regent, Crystal, Disney, Princess, etc.) cannot go — right up lengthy fjords to glacier front (Tracy Arms Fjord and Kenai Fjord). Not to mention some of the sweet smaller villages. On a twelve-day voyage we had only two sea days. Food was very good and better than that. Room service meals very good. Coffee uniformly very good. Cappuccino in the Yacht Club was marvelous. Our “crew” of five were mostly delighted and sometimes wowed. Wines — we eschewed drink package and opted for two bottles of wine at dinner every night: the Sokol pinot noir and a sancerre or pouilly fume. The lectures were relevant, excellent, informative and fun. Great delivery with enthusiasm. As for entertainment, we did not go there, we are classical music sorts. Staff was amazingly kind, efficient and on top of their game. Not a snooty nose to be seen. An occasional incompetent in the dining room but that happens. The Captain stood at top of gangway to greet and farewell passengers when boarding and disembarking. He is quite the gentleman with a lovely British accent. Ship environs are comfortably chic, no godawful “art.” Plenty spacious. Yacht club crowded only on the two glacier days and then, only in the mornings. Furniture very comfortable with nary a bulky vulgar barrel chair to be seen. Fellow passengers trended to the fit middle aged, less-fit middle aged and older, some younger folk, and a few in recovery including me (broken leg/ankle four months gone). Plus my beloved Jim the Demented. Meanwhile Alaska is drop-dead gorgeous and fascinating; just exactly the sort of place that lends itself to cruising. We now are motivated to look into a train tour and a Denali expedition. Can’t say how wonderful was Alaska, disvover it for yourself. No, I do not (yet) work for the Alaska Tourist Board. It was a grand voyage, and lovely to travel with our own comfy crowd who like to scrabble and puzzle. For us, Windstar is perfect, the motor “yachts” that is. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
This was a "Star Collector" cruise, featuring two 9-day back to back itineraries. We chose the itinerary because the first leg featured visits to Madeira and the Canary Islands, neither of which are offered very often. The ... Read More
This was a "Star Collector" cruise, featuring two 9-day back to back itineraries. We chose the itinerary because the first leg featured visits to Madeira and the Canary Islands, neither of which are offered very often. The second leg featured the Channel Islands, Cherbourg, and Bruges, none of which we had previously visited. One of the nice features offered by Windstar on these longer itineraries is free laundry service, greatly appreciated. Windstar loyalists such as us keep returning again and again because of the great personalized service. 56% of the passengers were Yacht Club members, and we won a bottle of champagne for having the most previous cruises. Captain Dmitri was extremely personable, and could often be found in the forward "Yacht Club" lounge chatting with passengers. The bar and dining room teams were excellent. However, the star of the show was Olga, who was in charge of signing up passengers for future cruises. She had a truly encyclopedic knowledge of every Windstar itinerary and details of every ship. We signed up for two cruises in 2020 (at a nice discount)! Something new this year was Windstar's partnership with the James Beard Foundation, including customized recipes from award-winning chefs that were incorporated into the daily menus. The food was outstanding, as was the wine list. Some of the wines by the glass were a bit pedestrian, but the overall selection was great. The onboard entertainment was average at best. There was a pianist/singer who lost his voice immediately after his Elton John "tribute" performance, and a Spanish duo (guitarist & vocalist) who made us long for the return of our all-time favorites "Rain". At least there was no dance band, as is often the case on the Wind Surf. There was also a couple on board who were professional photographers and who gave instructive talks every day about tips and techniques. However, Windstar no longer has a resident photographer, and they have also removed all of the casinos. No loss there... The itinerary was very good, but the excursions were just OK. Madeira was gorgeous, with absolutely mind-boggling topography unlike anything I have ever seen before. One of our future trips will be in March, 2020 for the inaugural cruise of the refurbished and lengthened Star Legend. Can't wait to see the improvements. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
The cabin size and the decor, the staff, the food - all excellent. The staff were amazing and always tried to please and solve any issues. But our cabin 300 right up front on deck 6 was extremely disappointing as we felt every ... Read More
The cabin size and the decor, the staff, the food - all excellent. The staff were amazing and always tried to please and solve any issues. But our cabin 300 right up front on deck 6 was extremely disappointing as we felt every little wave on the ocean. I have never felt so much motion in a cabin before. When traveling on a small ship make sure you are midship and down low. Unfortunately my cabin mate was sick for a lot of the cruise. I actually slept on the couch a few nights as this gave more support than the twin bed. Few activities on board. Pool area was disappointing with a very small above ground pool. More activities could have been organized e.g. films in the lounge. I was some what disappointed with the ports of call. Puerto Princesa and Brunei were the only interesting ports to me. All told a very disappointing cruise for us. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
We chose this cruise for the itinerary and small ship size and we were not disappointed! We were aboard for 3 segments: Comprehensive Indonesia, Borneo and Philippines and Icons of S.E. Asia (Vietnam), all of which gave us an insight into ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the itinerary and small ship size and we were not disappointed! We were aboard for 3 segments: Comprehensive Indonesia, Borneo and Philippines and Icons of S.E. Asia (Vietnam), all of which gave us an insight into the culture and beauty of the various ports and countries. We were fortunate to be in Vietnam during Tet (Chinese New Year) so we got to partake in many festivities, including the most amazing fireworks display in Saigon, where Star Legend was docked in the perfect location. We enjoyed all of our 37 nights, with the exception of crossing the South China Sea from Philippines to Hong Kong, which was very bumpy, but other than that we hardly felt any motion. We did a mixture of shore excursions, some with Windstar, but most booked independently after making connections through Cruise Critic, which significantly less costly. Our cabin 124 was perfect, low deck and mid ship and very comfortable. The housekeeping staff took care of us very well and the service from the wait staff and bar staff was great. Kudos to all the crew. Food was excellent in Amphora Reataurant and Candles as well as the deck BBQ, and room service was quick and hot when it arrived. The evenings were sometimes quiet as a lot of the guests retired early, but we enjoyed dancing on the Star Deck and trivia at Compass Rose most nights. The ship is in great shape for its age, well maintained and soft furnishings are very nice. We definitely recommend Windstar and plan to sail on Star Legend again after it had been refurbished and stretched to accommodate 300 guests. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
Just got off the wind star legend....wow...good thing they are taking this ship into reparations... It has seen better days... No thermostats work in the suites, 1 ply toilet tissue, main dining room a/c stuck on coldest setting, so low ... Read More
Just got off the wind star legend....wow...good thing they are taking this ship into reparations... It has seen better days... No thermostats work in the suites, 1 ply toilet tissue, main dining room a/c stuck on coldest setting, so low , a large % of passengers got a cold in the first 3 days and passed it around for a week. Outdoor seating on upper deck fine dining area had incredibly uncomfortable chairs, the skinny legs of the cheap seating kept getting stuck in the grates of the floor tipping them sideways. The 'Candles' experience was 'filled" with reservations and when you got one ,you noticed very few people there because they were so understaffed... Fillet mignonette was precut to 6 ounces , served medium to medium well no matter what you requested. Service was spotty, some nights good, some you had to ask for water. Servers would often approach table interrupting guests in middle of a sentence.. Dining hours reflected the understaffing, very limited hours it became necessary to plan around so as not to run out of certain selections. Room service menu was a set menu devoid of nightly specials... Seldom could you make a selection where to eat... Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
"Comprehensive China Exploration" Beijing to Hong Kong or reverse The title suggest that there is more “China” than there was, even before one port was deleted. But we certainly hit a lot of countries on the trip. (Note ... Read More
"Comprehensive China Exploration" Beijing to Hong Kong or reverse The title suggest that there is more “China” than there was, even before one port was deleted. But we certainly hit a lot of countries on the trip. (Note that you should get the 10-year “Multi-Entry” visa from China if you go on such a trip. It costs the same as a “Single-Entry” visa, and uses the same annoying application form.) This itinerary is part of a long sweep of Star Legend cruises from Southeast Alaska to Malaysia and beyond. This may be the one with the most sea days, and it would be hard to market without Beijing and Hong Kong. But I would suggest that they reduce the total mileage covered. It was just too many sea days and too many lines for immigration. But if you stayed several days in Beijing before the cruise (which we did not, having been on the previous cruise), you might feel differently about the title! We booked fairly close to the trip, because of a Windstar sale announcement in their weekly specials. We had to pay the full amount at the time of booking. It was interesting to note that the Windstar proprietary "travel insurance" product is priced on the total actually spent, so it was an especially good value when the cruise has been discounted. Number of ports: 6 159 Guests of 212 possible, 161 Crew 7 Australia 2 Belgium 24 Canada 1 China 3 Germany 2 Mexico 2 Netherlands 4 UK 113 USA If starting here, please read my description of Embarkation from Beijing/Tianjin in the other review. I also (at the end of the linked review) make some general comments about Windstar cruising and about Star Legend in 2018: https://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/memberreview.cfm?EntryID=639146 Now that I understand the CC system, I'm entering the port descriptions separately as designed. I hope you can see how the itinerary required so many sea days. That's our only disappointment with the trip. At the reception for repeaters, the couple that "won" the bottle of Champagne had been on more than 20 Windstar cruises. Our Captain had just reported to the Star Legend on the immediately preceding cruise leg. On this, his second, we did not notice a Captain's Table at a dinner. We did notice two nights when the ship's senior officers each hosted a table at dinner, providing wine for their guests. Because we had been invited to the Captain's table on the previous leg, we didn't mind not being invited (or however it was that the officer tables were created) to any of these. I think we had been invited because, with 8 cruises, we had the high number on the previous leg. We had booked Back2Back, and the second Embarkation was Tianjin, China. The second cruise had two independent groups, about 14 that may have been “Scientific American”, and 44 from a Seattle boutique travel agent The first group had many private activities, and dined together. The larger group mixed freely with us, the opposite of stand-offish. They were going to meet up with "Alan" at Disembarkation. I'm repeating some of my description of Tianjin from my previous review, because it's the Embarkation point for this cruise. Tianjin, China (for Beijing). It takes two sea days to get to Tianjin, China, the port for Beijing. There may be a high-speed train from Beijing to Tianjin city, but it seemed that the Windstar embarkation transfers were by three-hour bus from Beijing. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
Wanted a smaller, less crowded ship, as we are not fans of the 3000 person ships. This had an itinerary that was heavy in ports with many overnight stays in bigger cities. We do not prefer so many "at sea" days. The ... Read More
Wanted a smaller, less crowded ship, as we are not fans of the 3000 person ships. This had an itinerary that was heavy in ports with many overnight stays in bigger cities. We do not prefer so many "at sea" days. The smaller ship has less amenities, so "at sea" days are not as enjoyable. This smaller ship was able to dock closer the many of the downtown areas, since it could navigate the rivers to get closer to towns, making exploring independently easier. The staff on this ship was very competent and responsive to all the guest's needs. There were reviews the evening before each port, providing information about that port, as well as promoting the ship's excursions. This information was helpful, although sometimes not totally accurate on dress requirements of temples, etc. The cabins are very spacious, although they are getting somewhat dated. We were told that Windstar is remodeling and expanding their fleet, one ship at a time. We will definitely cruise again on a Windstar ship. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
Our cruise departed from Tokyo in October, 2018, from the Harumi Port. If you're a fanatic about avoiding cab rides, we took the subway from our independent Shinjuku-area Hilton's Tochomae Station (E28, Oeda line), a 30 minute ... Read More
Our cruise departed from Tokyo in October, 2018, from the Harumi Port. If you're a fanatic about avoiding cab rides, we took the subway from our independent Shinjuku-area Hilton's Tochomae Station (E28, Oeda line), a 30 minute ride to Kachidoki Station (E17.) Crossing the street (depending on which exit you use), you have to determine (say, with Google Maps) the correct direction for the 03 or 05-1 bus to the nearby end of its line, Harumizen. This is, literally, the Cruise Terminal, so don't get off at any of the nearby hotels just before the end of the line. It looks like a transportation terminal! Another guest told us there was a convenient city bus from the Tokyo rail station, which is much closer to Harumi Port than Shinjuku. There were all-afternoon lunch hours upon boarding, so you did get a round three-meals for every day of the cruise. Shimizu, Japan, our first stop was a short run. This is not much of a town, although they did give our small ship a warm welcome, with a ceremonial fireboat, and a sweet send-off, with local musicians and a small display of daytime fireworks! The reason to come here is to, maybe, view Mt. Fuji in the distance. Although they told us that the last two Windstar visits revealed no trace of the mountain, we were luckier! Happening to have a starboard cabin, when we threw back the curtains during the 7 AM pilotage, we found Mt. Fuji magnificently in front of our window. In addition, our ship-tour to a mountain shrine (Kunozan Toshogu), accessed by a five-minute cable car ("ropeway") ride just happened to coincide with a seasonal costumed procession and devotional ceremony by local civic groups and supporting businessmen in suits. No one had to tell us to step back respectfully and stand quietly. But the locals warmly gestured for us to join them in paying their respects. You may know that this is called by some travel-book readers a "Rick Steves moment." Many steps had to be climbed, despite the cable-car ride. It is theoretically possible to do this outing independently, with a local bus. I don't know the details. Our ship excursion included a second stop at a 2-story tower for viewing Mt. Fuji. It was starting to cloud over by then, and was invisible when we got back to the ship. Osaka, Japan The second cruise stop was not far away, an overnight stay. Our Tempozan port was just three blocks, in a straight line, from elevated rail station C11, (Chuo line). This gives you prompt, full access to the city. (There is a very nearby free city ferry to the next peninsula, but it looks like the other ferry stop could be a mile from Universal Studios and Harry Potter.) But I will suggest that (especially since the overnight stay eliminates any danger of missing the ship's departure) that you skip Osaka and go on your own to Kyoto. If you have been to Kyoto, you could go to Nara for the day instead. Both trips are quite inexpensive. Osaka, Kyoto, and Nara use the same RFID public transit card. Even the differently-named RFID card popular in Tokyo works in these three cities too. You can even use the card to pay for single JR tickets. However, I never found any way to put money onto the card other than (obviously, Japanese) CASH. And I didn't have time to get my 500 Yen deposit back by turning in the card. I cannot overstate how wonderful are Kyoto and (the lesser of the two ... ) Nara. We slept three nights in Kyoto and two nights in Tokyo before the cruise. It is true that many of the finest Kyoto (many, UNESCO WHS) sights are not near subway stations. This means either learning about busses and waiting for them, or lots and lots of walking. We also stopped at Inari, just outside Kyoto, to walk the four kilometers (!, and "uphill both ways") of vermilion Tori (gates) that inspired Cristo's "The Gates" of Central Park, NYC. We're garden fans, so we enjoyed Osaka's 95% indoors plant conservatory Sakuya Konohana Kan, left over from a 1990 Osaka exposition. It's a 15-minute walk through the park/exposition grounds, now filled with elementary school fresh-air outings, from Subway station N26 (Tsurumi-Ryokuchi). Tamano, Japan/Uno Port is the gateway to Kurashiki, known (a slight exaggeration) as "the Bruges of Japan." It is a pretty canal town (one hour away), with ancient warehouses converted to restaurants, ryokans, and decent art and craft shops. (Credit cards often accepted.) Our ship tour had a superb (if very ethnic and fishy, not to the taste of every cruiser ... ) lunch in the pretty Turugata restaurant. Shoes off, we had a gracious private tatami room, but with western chairs to sit on. We had lovely, restful views of their Zen gardens, through glass windows. This town is also the home of the multi-building Ohara Museum of Art. His "Annunciation" by El Greco is enjoyable even for those who don't care for El Greco. But much of the collection is of competent Japanese artists painting in European styles. Better to concentrate on the Ohara's archaeology, applied arts, and printmaking pavilions. Most ship tours here also (ours did) go to Korakuen Garden, one of the three finest gardens in Japan. (It is wonderful, but is only 1/20 the size of Longwood Gardens or Huntington Gardens.) Buy the ship excursion, although it might be possible to do just one or the other independently by rail. Hiroshima, Japan offers either the chance to take a substantial bus ride to Miyajima island, to see the famous red Tori in the water, and the UNESCO WHS Itsukushima Shrine, or to explore the city of Hiroshima and visit the sobering museum and associated outdoor memorials. The Atomic Bomb Dome building is a UNESCO WHS, that is viewed only from behind a railing. Importantly for cruise travelers, the outdoor portions never close. We were there before any buildings opened. The port provided an hourly shuttle to the Peace Memorial Museum. It looked like there is a subway stop within a half-mile of the port, but it's a desolate (not "scary") industrial area with no charm. There's a tram terminus stop about a mile from the port. We also visited the excellent small but exquisitely landscaped Shukkei-en Garden, which is adjacent to an art museum we didn't have time for. We managed to use our Kyoto transit cards by presenting them to the tram driver upon entry, rather than touching them to the unattended contact panels, where they didn't work. Busan, Korea, was a revelation. It makes current high-rise redevelopment in New York City look like amateur hour! The city is splayed out over miles and miles to provide as much sea view as possible, and the average height for hundreds of buildings seems like fifty stories. (Opinion, not actual statistic.) This sprawl, even with a vast Metro subway, makes seeing very much on your own a challenge. There is not much "old Busan" to see, but our first-day tour (Sea Breeze of Busan) included the busy but charming seaside Beomusa Temple, as well as some forgettable modern architectural landmarks, and a large and pretty urban beach. There is surprisingly little pedestrian traffic in downtown Busan. I'd say that Korea is ripe for a commercial "real estate bubble." On the second Busan port day, we chose the ship tour "Journey Back In Time." This is 90 minutes each way, (with heavy 12-lane highway traffic both ways) to the multiple-UNESCO WHS ancient sites of Geyongju. This covers many square miles, and some mountain sites are accessible only on foot. But we saw several highlights, the Tumulus Park, with 20 Shilla Dynasty tombs, one open with replicas of the (moved to a museum) artifacts found there; That National Museum, with five modern buildings of exhibits, plus outdoor material; and the first-rate Bulguksa Temple Complex. Lunch was in a clean, fast, attractive modern highway Korean BBQ restaurant. It was worth the $189 p/p. We barely got back in time for the Deck Barbecue at 7 PM. One Windstar option in Busan was a very expensive train trip and overnight stay in better-known Seoul, Korea, including a visit to the DMZ near the border between the two Koreas. You could also take a very long same-day trip to Seoul. Because we were on the "next" cruise as well, and a stop in Incheon, Korea was substituted for a scheduled port, we could take a much shorter excursion to Seoul from Incheon. Those on the double cruise (maybe 14 people) were allowed to cancel previously-ordered "long" excursions to Seoul from Busan. Please read about Seoul in my post about the second cruise segment if that's important to you. Karatsu, Japan This tiny modern town is a perfect example of everything good about Windstar. Everything (almost, maybe not the castle) is within walking distance of the port's short shuttle bus to the center of town. I can't imagine a big ship coming here. The major sights are: A local style of modest art pottery, with modern kilns and showrooms, and a few ancient kilns; Twelve 19th century wooden floats hand-rope pulled through town every year in a November featival (that has an element of neighborhood competition); An adjacent mostly-modern multi-temple complex; A deceased coal baron's splendid estate and mansion; And a large and imposing (but concrete replica) castle. If you've been to concrete Osaka castle, you can skip this one in favor of the estate. Their middle & high school brass concert band saw us off, with 3 jazzy school singers and dancers. It was just charming. There is also a nearby contemporary art island accessible by ferry. Tianjin, China (for Beijing). It takes two sea days to get to Tianjin, China, the port for Beijing. There may be a high-speed train from Beijing to Tianjin city, but it seemed that the Windstar embarkation transfers were by three-hour bus from Beijing. Those of us taking the back-to-back cruises that bookend in Tianjin, did NOT have the option to visit Beijing. (We had previously been, on a Viking Yangtze River trip.) Tianjin city was still an hour by bus from the ship. It seemed wise to get off, but with nothing to do within many miles (and new passengers boarding from 1 PM to 5PM), we paid for Windstar's Tianjin tour. Much of our visit was free time on the "Ancient culture street scenic area pedestrian", which was neither ancient nor cultural! We did manage to find a more remote local flea market area where used books, stamps, old bank notes, army insignia, and the like were browsed by a mainly male audience. Many of the escalators (on the "Ancient street!") were broken, but the frequent public restrooms were perfectly satisfactory. Most of the merchandise was regional snacks and sweets prepared under questionable conditions, plus a vast array of (opinion!) fake jade, porcelain, and mineral specimens. This was better than sitting in our cabins while the ship was cleaned, but not a memorable outing. There was a misunderstanding about lunch being included, although I could see there was no time for it, or need to include it. (That's because the ship had lunch from 1-5 for new passenger arrivals. Everyone on the tour got a $50 credit back to their account, although I would not have filed a complaint.) Because the Windstar Star Legend is only 440' long, (212 passenger capacity) it is sometimes able to use a better port location than larger ships. This was our first time (of 8 cruises) on Windstar when the Voyage Leader's "Port Talks" specifically and very usefully addressed the needs of INDEPENDENT travelers in each port. OTOH, the long distances between some of the cities on our dual (i.e. two ten-night back-to-back cruises) cruise created a lot of at-sea-days, and a lot of immigration formalities. I can't blame Windstar, because we knew the itinerary before we paid for it. The ship averaged 12 knots on the long runs, so they weren't taking it easy. One of our ports had to be changed after Embarcation (Incheon, Korea replacing Quingdao, China) because of Chinese decisions about a shipping concept I had never heard of, "cabotage." We bought this pair of cruises on a substantial, Windstar-promoted discount. Some possibly useful Windstar ANY CRUISE tidbits: 1. If your cruise has an overnight in a port, there could be either a special dinner (i.e. the elaborate Deck Barbecue), or you might have the option, rather than eating in the indoor restaurant, to make a limited reservation for "Dinner Under The Stars." In a special port with a skyline like Shanghai, or an 8 PM laser light show like Hong Kong, that might even be your choice, over a local shore Michelin place. The electric votive lights don't illuminate the outdoor food very well, so you might bring a folding book light to dinner! 2. The alternate normal dinner-dining option is mostly outdoors but under well-lit cover, in the breakfast restaurant (The Veranda), weather permitting. It's called "Candles", and has a grill or steakhouse focus. It's much smaller than the Deck 3 indoor, open-seating, "European" Amphora dinner restaurant, and requires a reservation. Some guests really liked the difference, but we didn't find it very special at all. The Amphora maitre d' asks couples if they want to share a table or have a private 2-top. 3. Exceptionally, Amphora was opened for two lunches on sea days that were expected to be very cold or rainy. Normally, the fresh-air, railing deuces in the outdoor part of Veranda are the most popular breakfast and lunch seats. 4. P.O.S.H.: Our phone bank sales rep suggested that we select a starboard side cabin because our cruise sailed primarily southwards. But because our sea travels were typically 50 miles offshore, we saw nothing until approaching a port. Perhaps a trip south from Amalfi to Sorrento is a different matter! Furthermore, the fact that our "Balcony Room" window (with floor to ceiling glass french doors) faced the pier :-( in the STUNNING-skyline tie-ups of Shanghai and Hong Kong, does not prove to me that you should choose a port side cabin for our destinations. In fact, we did have a (starboard) dead-on view of Mt. Fuji upon arising during the approach to Tamano/Uno Port, Japan. But the heavy harbor traffic we always saw does not make me confident that the harbor pilot would not jump on an opportunity to rotate the ship in preparation for departure. OTOH, both those lovely ports were a straight shot to tie-up forwards on the direction-of-travel side of the channel (i.e. starboard parallel parking.) 5. Look around for reviews of the cabin air conditioning if you're going on a Tropical cruise. We had two nights, in southern Japan and in Hong Kong when we felt our cabin (despite the thermostat on the wall ...) was too warm. 6. We hate days at sea, but a few 500-mile runs required them.(We only had sea days that we signed up for in the original itinerary.) One couple made the brilliant decision to fly to Beijing (at their own expense, of course) from Karatsu, Japan, in order to avoid the TWO upcoming sea days and to sleep three nights in Beijing. Note that because we were staying for the second cruise segment, we had no option to even set eyes on Beijing (3 land hours away) during the 8-5 Disembarkation/Embarkation day in Tianjin. I'm mystified by reviews saying there is nothing to do on sea days. I agree that there isn't a lot, and you can't make people participate, but I'd say there was some stereotypical boat activity every two hours. We enjoyed the galley tour and the okonomiyake demonstration, and also got in some quality gym time. 7. We had two nights with noticeably rough water, one due to a rainstorm, and another due more to the open sea on a two-day run. There was difficulty sleeping due to the bouncing, but there was not the smashing, yawing motion that makes me quickly feel ill. We both take Meclizine prophylactically. It was not the roughest passage we've ever had. But some other guests reported illness, and one guest fell at night (in the Compass Rose bar … ) and had to be hospitalized, I think.) No ports were changed. 8. EVERY port stop on these two cruises was tied up to a concrete pier. (We've had some annoyingly long tenders on some other Windstar trips.) Sometimes we saw a larger, more conventional cruise ship in another part of the same terminal. Several ports (not, "Windstar") provided an hourly or half-hourly shuttle bus to a midtown point. They only promised to carry ONE busfull. These cruises had a LOT of immigration sessions. They were often expedited, but still could call for extra-early rising, or a brief delay for independent visitors so the ship tours could get off. Several of our immigration processes left us with rubber-stamped color copies of our passports, with the actual passports held by the ship. 9. We learned that Star Legend will be drydocked soon for a month to replace the elderly diesel engines and, perhaps, alter the cabins. I'm filing two reviews, but am not repeating all this preliminary data in the post for the second cruise. Note that the marketing titles of the cruises are likely to change, as they refine and vary the itineraries in the future. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
We were very disappointed with this cruise. The food was of poor quality and boring. The breakfast and lunch area was in crowed space at the back of the ship and smelled of exhaust when the wind was in the wrong direction. Plus they ... Read More
We were very disappointed with this cruise. The food was of poor quality and boring. The breakfast and lunch area was in crowed space at the back of the ship and smelled of exhaust when the wind was in the wrong direction. Plus they seemed to varnish the deck furniture next to the entrance to the eating area. There were very few onboard activities. On sea days most guests seemed to be in their cabins watching movies on their tvs. The shower head was mounted in the corner of the shower so that it was next to useless. Sometimes the ship docked in very nice locations, other times it docked far from town. For those not taking the overpriced excursions, getting into town was a challenge, either had to get through the gauntlet of hawkers, or there was no taxi at all. We had booked for 34 days, it was actually 3 segments, so their limited activities and food preparation was repeated 3 times! Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
We chose this itinerary as we wanted to return to Alaska, the Bering Sea was enticing and we love sea days. Japan ports Kishiro and Miyako were an added bonus. When we arrived at the port in Seward we were pleasantly surprised to see the ... Read More
We chose this itinerary as we wanted to return to Alaska, the Bering Sea was enticing and we love sea days. Japan ports Kishiro and Miyako were an added bonus. When we arrived at the port in Seward we were pleasantly surprised to see the Legend alongside the enormous NCL ship. It is a beauty with clean clear lines. Granted there are some rust spots, but remember it is a ship in the salty ocean air. The crew worked on it daily. The only port we missed was Sand Pointe due to fog and it being an anchor port. The Captain waited a bit then announced we would just carry on to Dutch Harbor and Unalaska. Perfect for us as we had a private tour booked with Extra Mile Tours in the afternoon and we wanted to explore more of the area if given the chance. The sea days was relaxing (except for the one big storm with 18 foot waves) and we filled the days up with wine tasting, sake tasting and spa treatments. Kishiro was a fun port with the fish market and the Japanese Crane Park. Beautiful birds! Miyako was a pleasant surprise as the locals came out with fun things to do at the dock. The school orchestra played, they had free Ramen Noodles, get your name written in Japanese, and a small market. The area is just beautiful and is recovering nicely from the 2011 Tsunami. Overall I loved this cruise and it was one of our favorites. The Deck 8 Yacht Club morning cappuccino is the best. Yes you do have to pay for extras like wine, alcohol, excursions and spa treatments, but you have to on all other cruise lines too. The excursions were limited and we prebooked our Katmai Bear Viewing privately. My only complaint was the housekeeping staff did not do our room until after their lunch and break. We are early risers and went to the gym or walked deck 8 every morning after breakfast. Was surprised it was not cleaned when we returned. The food was good, we ate at Candles 5 times so the menu got a little boring. Lobster was only on the last night and I was disappointed they did not have crab (since we were on the Bering Sea and the crabbing capital). Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
This cruise went to Alaska. Chose Windstar because of port visits. This is my fifth cruise to Alaska; before this always the same ports. Windstar substitutes smaller towns — Haines, Sitka; and Wrangell. The main problems are ... Read More
This cruise went to Alaska. Chose Windstar because of port visits. This is my fifth cruise to Alaska; before this always the same ports. Windstar substitutes smaller towns — Haines, Sitka; and Wrangell. The main problems are passenger comfort and excessive nickel and dimeing. The ship, in an apparent effort to save costs, is too cold. Most passengers wear winter coats to the longes, casino, and dining rooms. Initially the cabins were also icy, but that has improved thought not toasty. We have been on other cold weather crises, including around Patagonia, and never experienced this problem. Another extremely irritating condition is excessive promotion of products and services including costly liquor packages. Everything is for sale. The crew takes every opportunity to promote shore excursions. The eat more and weigh less seminar seemed to be a thinly disguised promotion for electronic monitoring and sale of a pill package. The fitness facilities are limited, but OK. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
Star Legend is not suited for Alaska but rather warmer climates. For example the only indoor bar area, the Compass Rose, was so cold at night that they were actually handing out blankets to try and keep passengers warm. Other ships we have ... Read More
Star Legend is not suited for Alaska but rather warmer climates. For example the only indoor bar area, the Compass Rose, was so cold at night that they were actually handing out blankets to try and keep passengers warm. Other ships we have been on have entertainment at night but all Star Legend had was a duo who sang and unbelievably on some nights were scheduled to perform on the open deck at 9.15pm in Alaska! I went up there one night at 9.30 pm and the whole area was empty and the 2 entertainers were sitting in the corner wrapped in blankets. It was quite obvious that Windstars focus was how to extract as much money as possible from the captive passengers onboard, the land excursions were very expensive being 50 to 100% more than what you could buy the same excursion direct from the operator onshore and everything onboard, excluding the food, cost money including the WiFi. On the positive side the layout of the cabins were very good but the showers were warm at best and the "balcony's" are only 1 foot wide ledges. The crew being mainly Indonesian and Filipino were very good as they are on all cruise ships. The itinerary was too long and just focused on the excursions so that we ended up in tiny little towns like Wrangel which you could walk around in less than an hour but we were there for the entire day. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
Overall- Very good service and excellent crew; highlights were the exceptional nature staff for lectures and tours. Nice introduction to Inside Passage and Alaska small town life. Small ship with interesting guest ... Read More
Overall- Very good service and excellent crew; highlights were the exceptional nature staff for lectures and tours. Nice introduction to Inside Passage and Alaska small town life. Small ship with interesting guest interactions. Service: excellent Food: very good: served dinners, breakfast and lunch buffets Ship: old ship and good condition; elevators; meeting rooms okay. Itinerary: okay; 6 sea days, 6 touring days; 12 days Van/Van. Tours: very good guides; nice 6 person Zodiac; good tour guides. Cabin: spacious, heater and A/C worked; Lighting very good Communications: daily plan delivered, daily orientation talks. Entertainment: 2 duets each day; not a major feature Highlight: 8th floor forward assembly room: Yacht Club Lowlight: 6th floor aft meeting room (cold): Compass Rose -- Spent 3 pre-cruise days in Victoria; took V2V jet boat to Vancouver spent 3 post-cruise days in Vancouver -- a la carte pricing: alcohol, spa, tours-- your choice, you pay for service. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
My husband and I have always wanted to see Alaska. Unfortunately, we chose Windstar's costly 14-day cruise on the 200-passenger Star Legend and 4-day pre-cruise to Denali. We were extremely disappointed. After many cruises on lines ... Read More
My husband and I have always wanted to see Alaska. Unfortunately, we chose Windstar's costly 14-day cruise on the 200-passenger Star Legend and 4-day pre-cruise to Denali. We were extremely disappointed. After many cruises on lines ranging from Tauck, Silverseas, and Star Clipper to Royal Caribbean, this is--by far--the worst experience we ever had. The 4-day pre-cruise trip through Denali was a total ripoff. For $5,000, Windstar provided a bus trip, a few hours on the Alaska railroad, 2 dinners and a box lunch, with a boring tour guide who spent as little time and energy as possible with the oversized 38-person group. For example: Day 4 took us from Talkeetna to Seward, an area with hundreds if not thousands of wonderful things to see and do, but it seemed as if Windstar only wanted to burn up the time with as little cost to Windstar as possible. We were bussed to downtown Anchorage and deposited at a museum for several hours, then dumped at a FLEA MARKET where we were told to scrounge our lunch among filthy food stalls before being bussed to the ship in Seward. Really? for $1,250 a day? Thank goodness our I-Phone directed us to a clean restaurant and edible food to wait out our precious, costly day in this magnificent area. If you want to see Denali, fly to Anchorage and rent a car or take the train, hire a flight seeing tour in Talkeetna and take the Park Service bus tour in Denali; you will have a much better experience for a fraction of the cost. Onboard the Star Legend, the staff's principal mission is to extract as much onboard revenue from each passenger as possible. Everything but the food was extra: excursions, fitness classes and other onboard activities, drinks, wine with dinner, etc., and involuntary service charges were added to our account daily regardless of the service provided. Another passenger warned us too late to make our own inventory of the in-room bar, as she and others were charged for items that weren't provided in the first place. There was something wrong with the ship's engines, causing a vibration that often made it difficult to sleep. The ship was designed for warm weather locations. We had to walk outside to reach the Veranda/Candles dining area and a lot of the dining and bar space was outdoors, where it was too cold and rainy for use during most of our cruise. The temperature control didn't work; our stateroom and the Compass Rose and other public areas were frequently too cold. Most of the passengers came down with a bad cold, which was undoubtedly due to the poor housekeeping and lack of ventilation. Our stateroom was large and well-arranged, but the carpet was worn and dirty and the housekeeping was not properly managed or supervised. The room was never made up until late afternoon. Glasses were removed but not replaced, dust cloths and trays were left behind, and we had to ask for shampoo, water and other necessities. Nothing was ever really cleaned. I dropped an earring and looked under the bed for it; no one had vacuumed there in a long time. The food quality was good, but the service and use of venues was not properly managed. The large dining room, AmphorA, had impossibly slow service at breakfast and lunch, which drove everyone to the buffet at Veranda. With little indoor space, Veranda was overcrowded but no effort was made to extend the breakfast and lunch hours there or provide a buffet option or better service in AmphorA. The fixed menu at Veranda/Candles was good but boring. The excursions were just commercial operations any traveler could use at a much lower cost. Windstar added no value and did nothing to assure the safety or comfort of its passengers, but added 80% to 100% to the cost. No Windstar representative accompanied any of the excursions. No headphones or microphones were provided by Windstar, so it was often impossible to hear speakers and guides. We had several upsetting experiences. For example: 1. We took a jet boat excursion up the Sitkine River ($350 each), a wild river in a wilderness area. After the driver drove recklessly and put the boat aground on a shoal, we learned that he had no tow line, no dock line or other line of any kind, no anchor or winch, and had not even connected his GPS to the Coast Guard emergency system. A second boat also lacked any rescue line, anchor or winch, but had an old dock line. The passengers were told to stand in the stern while the other boat tried to tow us off the shoal. The line broke, the boat jerked violently, and the second crewman went hurtling through the passengers, knocked my grip off the rail, and pushed me down the steps from the stern to the floor of the cabin. I suffered bruises that have still not healed. After several more broken lines, the boat was finally towed off the shoal and they raced through the remainder of the tour with no refunds. When I complained about the operator's lack of safety equipment and procedures, Windstar's destination manager was unable to understand that any responsible boat operator carries a rescue line and other safety equipment and connects his GPS to the Coast Guard system. He gave us a partial refund of $340 and never inquired about my injuries. 2. In Sitka, my husband went sport fishing ($299) while I took the wildlife excursion ($149). The previous day, we conferred with the destinations manager on where and when we could meet to continue our day together, and were told both boats returned to the same dock next to our ship. When I returned, I checked again and was told to wait on that dock for the fishing excursion to return at 1:30. When it didn't return, no one on Windstar could locate the 8 missing passengers or contact the operator, who for his own convenience had left them on a dock in downtown Sitka. The fishing excursion had been extremely rough, because the driver did not know how to operate the boat properly in that weather. Eventually, my husband made his way back to the ship, but it was too late to salvage our chance to see Sitka. 3. In Juneau, we had reserved a dogsledding excursion by helicopter on the Mendenhall Glacier ($629 each) and were scheduled for a 2:45 pm departure. The dogsledding trips were cancelled at 9 am that morning, but Windstar did not inform us of the cancellation until 2:00 pm. We waited all day for the 2:45 excursion, when we could have walked down the dock and taken a seaplane to see the entire Juneau Icefield or many other commercial offerings. Windstar deliberately wasted our day, so our only option would be their abbreviated helicopter trip to the bottom of the Mendenhall ($365 each). Locking in their profit was far more important than our experience. The best thing about this trip was the onboard kayaking and zodiac expeditions. The expedition crew was well-organized, safety conscious, and knowledgeable. However, there were only four opportunities to use these resources and the ship only carried a handful of kayaks and three zodiacs so only a fraction of the passengers could go. On the days the ship anchored in the scenic fjords for the 2-hour kayaking and 1-hour zodiac trips, there was nothing else to do. The other saving grace was the passengers, interesting people and pleasant company. There were several enrichment activities, but no set schedule for them. Entertainment consisted of 2 duos who repeated the same playlists. We tried to enjoy drinks and dancing in the lounge after dinner, but it was extremely cold and the "dance music" was more suitable for 20-somethings than the demographics of the passengers. There was no outside entertainment. The final straw came at disembarkation, when we were required to drag all of our luggage through the dock terminal in Vancouver to the city tour with hotel ($79 each plus hotel). No one from Windstar accompanied the passengers from the dock terminal. When we reached the hotel, our luggage was left in the driveway and we were on our own. Even on inexpensive student tours, I have never seen a company fail to transfer the passengers and their baggage to their hotel or the airport in a considerate manner. This was like a kick in the pants as we walked out the door, pockets picked. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
The pre-cruise land tour spent most of its time figuring out how to fill time instead of showing us the sights. The guide was less than knowledgeable. We paid a great deal, but were often told to go out and get our own meals at our ... Read More
The pre-cruise land tour spent most of its time figuring out how to fill time instead of showing us the sights. The guide was less than knowledgeable. We paid a great deal, but were often told to go out and get our own meals at our expense. It became obvious that the person in charge of the tour had no interest in the excursions nor any knowledge of how good they were. This characteristic continued when we arrived on the boat. Windstar has no quality control mechanisms in place to assure that any land side excursions are reputable or even safe. The ship was OK, but was in need of refurbishment. The engines/transmissions/propellers were not in-tune so the ship vibrated significantly. Carpeting needs replacing, doors don't align with jams, deck flooring uneven. Cabin was spacious and well-designed. It's maintenance was the problem. They just don't clean well. Food was good though it started to get boring during the second week. Entertainment was marginal and not that good. Service consists of trying to get more money out of your pockets. Not what I expected. The shore excursions were not good at all. One was downright dangerous. A jet boat up a river ran aground. That has to be expected. BUT, the boat had no tow line or any line that could be used to pull it off into floatable water. The cowboys who were running the boat had no idea what to do. Worse, they did not have the GPS system linked to the VHF radio or the boats registration entered into the radio. If anyone on board would have pushed the VHF radio's Emergency Button, the Coast Guard would not get any information about the boat's type, location, or anything. Windstar really lets their guests go on such slovenly boats??? There was a Windstar Exec on board. He was totally uninterested in the quality of what the guests were receiving. Friends had told us that Windstar was great. People on board told us that Windstar was great. Windstar was absolutely despicable for the price they charged. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
We are faithful Windstar clients who have always enjoyed sailing and cruising with Windstar! When we were on Star Legend last summer they announced that the ship would be cruising to Alaska from Vancouver BC. We booked our suite ... Read More
We are faithful Windstar clients who have always enjoyed sailing and cruising with Windstar! When we were on Star Legend last summer they announced that the ship would be cruising to Alaska from Vancouver BC. We booked our suite immediately. Get a balcony for this voyage!!!! Star Legend with its great captain and crew made every journey into the three fjords amazing experiences! There are so many options at every port that you could do this trip more than once and have two completely different great experiences. As usual all of the officers, staff and crew were great! Food and service was exceptional. Guest experience staff led by James and Kristi were the best ever! Theme song for repeat clients of Windstar should be "we are family!" Zodiacs and kayaks made for great viewing of the glaciers! Windstar is our cruise line of choice. When others share they prefer small ships or even large ships we do not argue with them. We just know that Windstar is in a class of its own and we will always have our expectations exceeded by the officers and crew and staff when we choose to sail with Windstar! Approximately 200 passengers with almost 1-1 staff support results in an amazing experience! Cruising the inside passage to Alaska was like being on your own private yacht. We will return!!!! Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
Star Legend is a small luxury, all suite ship with all the amenities. The service was excellent, and all staff were friendly, and enthusiastically helped in every way possible. Even an entry level suite, cabin 102, was spacious and ... Read More
Star Legend is a small luxury, all suite ship with all the amenities. The service was excellent, and all staff were friendly, and enthusiastically helped in every way possible. Even an entry level suite, cabin 102, was spacious and included a walk in closet, large bathroom, and seating area with sofa, chairs and table. There was a large picture window. Even at the front of the ship, noise and motion were not a problem. Gourmet meals were available in the Amphora Dining Room, or the smaller more casual Verandah dining area which provided views of the spectacular Alaska scenery. Sandwiches, pastries, and beverages were available throughout the day in the top deck Yacht Club. Zodiac excursions, led by experienced and knowledgeable naturalists enabled close up views of South Sawyer Glacier and Tracy Fjord. Naturalists were on board throughout the cruise and available for discussions. The ship also had a casino, library, spa, and 2 bars with entertainment area. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
We wanted to cruise Alaska for a long time but the large ships were totally unappealing to us as our preferred cruise line has been Windstar for many years. We had high expectations as Windstar advertised this as more of an "off the ... Read More
We wanted to cruise Alaska for a long time but the large ships were totally unappealing to us as our preferred cruise line has been Windstar for many years. We had high expectations as Windstar advertised this as more of an "off the beaten path" experience with "signature expeditions". We were NOT disappointed! Not only was the expedition staff great with their lectures and knowledge of glaciers, bears, whales, seals, sea lions and everything else that roams Alaska, they were really great fellow travelers who enjoyed the cruise as much as the paying passengers. We had almost perfect weather which was a plus; beautiful sunshine most days and very little rain but cool and refreshing days. We were thrilled with the food and presentation on this sailing. Windstar has really upped the quality and presentation as a result of their James Beard Foundation partnership. Because of the cooler weather they opened more dining venues for both breakfast and lunch which made for nice choices. The new zodiac expeditions and kayaks were a great addition and gave us the ability to get "up close and personal" with the glaciers. Riding on a zodiac while seeing mountain goats as ice floated by from a calving glacier was a total thrill! The shore excursions were mostly exceptional with lots of opportunity for "flightseeing" over glaciers, fjords, etc. For those who were interested, there were lots of cultural opportunities to learn about the native Alaskan tribes and visit their villages. We also did the 5 day land tour of northern Alaska and Denali. It was a first for Windstar in Alaska and could have used a few tweaks here and there but also a great experience. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
Things I wish I had known: If you are choosing a Windstar Alaska itinerary because you think the small ship will do lots of scenic cruising that large ships cannot do, be aware that during the 3 days described on the itinerary as ... Read More
Things I wish I had known: If you are choosing a Windstar Alaska itinerary because you think the small ship will do lots of scenic cruising that large ships cannot do, be aware that during the 3 days described on the itinerary as "cruising" in Misty Fjords, the Kenai and Tracy Arm the ship does not cruise. What it does is travel into these areas and drop anchor so the boat can act as a dock for the expeditions on zodiac (1 hour) or kayak (2 hour) which passengers have paid for. The capacity of these excursions is less than half of the capacity of the ship so half of the passengers spend all day and all of the passengers spend most of the day just floating in place looking at the same glacier or treed hillside. There were no enrichment activities or entertainments or musical acts during these days. The only things on the schedule on all three days combined was one wine tasting (fee required) and a few exercises classes (fee required for most--capacity 8) and some pitches for spa products. The weather was nice enough for hot tubbing but the larger hot tub was under repair for all but the last couple days of the cruise. The nature expeditions were exciting (we had great weather) and were the highlight of many passengers' trip. But there were lots of long boring hours involved as well. OTHER REVIEW ITEMS: THE SHIP Is beautiful and classic with nice well maintained wooden decks. It is kind of old and the carpets and furnishings show wear. There was a leak in the windows on the 6th floor lounge causing a dank smell. The tender area is not accessible by elevator, causing inconvenience on tendered days for anyone with mobility issues DINING and BEVERAGE The food in the dining room was very good with interesting menus. The wine list was extensive, especially wines by the glass. Craft beer drinkers were excited to see ALASKA Brewing beer available but supplies ran out after two days and were not replenished until Juneau. The most exotic beers on board most days were Molson and Grolsch, Breakfast in the Veranda was nothing special and pretty much the same every day. The biggest issue with Veranda at both lunch and breakfast was lack of room as it was too cool for most people to want to sit outside. The crowding made coffee and tea service hard to come by. The problem could have been helped by extending hours, but Windstar chose instead to curtail hours. On some days there was no breakfast buffet after 8:30 and on other days the dining room was open for just one hour for lunch. Other reviewers have noted that dinner service in Amphora took an excessive amount of time and I would agree. The staff was very professional but seemed spread thin. CABIN Our balcony cabin was spacious with a lovely sitting area and a nice walk in closet. The bathing set up is a tub with a shower head on the end of a hose which can be mounted on the wall at kind of an odd angle. This arrangement could be a problem for anyone with mobility issues who would not want to step up into a tub. The thermostat in our room did not work. The cabin was alternately and randomly hot or cold with no relationship to settings. We heard others passengers complain of the same thing. The balconies on this ship are actually ledges you can step out onto. Do not expect an actual veranda. EXCURSIONS The excursion staff was the best group on the ship. They gave good overview talks for of every port and the excursion groups were well organized. We booked a number of excursions through Windstar and they were all as advertised and well run with good local guides. ON BOARD EXPERIENCE WIndstar has lots of loyal customers and they are themselves a good feature of the boat. They are well traveled and interesting and the small ship size makes it easy to mingle and enjoy each other. The ability to visit the bridge and the officers there is a great feature. We had trouble with on- board accounting. We managed to get a couple of errant charges reversed while on board, but once we got home discovered Windstar had charged our credit card for more than the amount shown on the "final Billing" left on our door the last morning. We have no idea what the extra amounts are and are disputing them. Windstar does not have customers present cards or sign for each purchase. Instead the staff punches in the passengers' room number. The idea that the staff knows everyone by name is supposed to insure that they notice errors, I guess. Obviously, errors get through. ENTERTAINMENT There was one duo and one solo act that performed at the same hours every day. There were two trivia contests and the Liars Club performance and the staff night entertainment. A native dance group came aboard one day. These performers appeared to be high school or college students. SUMMARY Windstar has many loyal customers and I can appreciate much of what they love about a small ship. However, a price of more the $450 per day (not including tips, beverages, excursions or transfers) for an itinerary of 12 days with only 7 days in ports, causes me to rate this as a very poor value for the money. Compared to my previous experiences on Windstar, I found the staff to be spread very thin and the little luxuries -such as chocolates at dinner, theme dinners or parties, and even towel sculptures on my bed-- to be missing from this trip. I will be monitoring the Windstar reviews to see if some of the issues continue or begin to right themselves. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
Star Legend Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabin 4.0 N/A
Dining 5.0 4.0
Entertainment 3.0 3.1
Public Rooms 5.0 4.1
Fitness & Recreation 4.0 N/A
Family 1.0 3.2
Shore Excursions 4.0 N/A
Enrichment Activities 3.0 N/A
Service 4.0 4.3
Value for Money 4.0 N/A

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