Background: This was our first Windstar cruise, although we have logged 30+ together (mainly Princess, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity, but also Seven Seas Navigator and Paul Gauguin.) We are in our late-40's/early 50s and consider ourselves very active, primarily interested in water activities.
Travel to Embarkation Port: Non-stop flight on Delta from Atlanta arrived on time with no issues.
Hotel: We flew in the morning of embarkation, so n/a.
Embarkation: This was the easiest embarkation ever. Not another passenger in sight as we alighted from our taxi at the pier in Old San Juan. We quickly showed our documents and met up with a porter who accompanied us all the way to the gangway. We watched him transfer our luggage onto the ship and stepped onboard. We checked in at the Lounge and were directed to our cabin by our actual steward, Jajat. It seemed as if we never stopped moving, and our luggage somehow made it to the cabin at the same time that we did.
Ship Information: This was the smallest ship on which we have sailed to date. There were 172 passengers onboard our sailing. Facilities (except tenders, more on that in Port section) seemed entirely adequate for the number of passengers onboard. We never experienced lines, chair hogs, or a wait of more than a few moments for anything except tenders.
Activities: This is not a cruise for those who need to be entertained. When we were onboard, we occupied ourselves with swimming off the watersports platform (sunning mats, a large water trampoline, and kayaks and a paddle board were available), visiting with other passengers by the pool or Star Bar, or relaxing ondeck or in our cabin with a book.
Dining: Dinner in AmphorA was usually very good to excellent, with a few misses. Menu highlights for me were the Ahi Tuna appetizer, seared Tuna entrée, seafood risotto and soups. I would say that the beef was of good quality, but not consistently cooked. (On the night we had beef wellington, mine was undercooked and DH's overcooked.) Desserts were hit or miss for me.
The deck party was one of the highlights of the cruise. An incredible selection of food, with dining on white tablecloths under the stars. We were somewhat underwhelmed with Candles. On the night we went, we were tendered at St. Barths', and the orientation of the ship combined with the canopy over the dining area gave us no view. The food was good, but I would not rate it higher than AmphorA.
Breakfast in Veranda was consistently good with a wide variety of hot, cold, and cooked to order selections. (Always omlettes and classic Eggs Benedict available, with a specialty version of EB, pancakes and French Toast each day. Lunch in Veranda was a challenge for us, probably because we typically have a salad, and the salad selections were somewhat lacking. That said, we were always able to find something to eat!
We ordered room service one morning, and our order was delivered on time and complete.
Service: Here is where Star Legend really shined for us. We enjoyed excellent service in every dining and bar venue onboard. The servers miraculously learned our names and preferences almost immediately and seemed genuinely interested in making sure that our every need was met.
Service on this cruise was warm and personal, but not formal. Servers and staff uniformly addressed us by our first names, which was fine with us. But others who expect a more formal approach might be disappointed. Special mention: Endro (dining server), Lyn, Edison & Jeem (bar servers), Jajat (cabin steward), and Janelle (water sports).
Kid's Club: n/a
Entertainment: Entertainment was limited, but not lacking, in our opinion. There were two duos who entertained in the lounges and on deck in the evening. We particularly enjoyed Splash, an engaging and energetic couple, who seemed to able to play any type of music that you might think of. We danced to their sets every night of the cruise. The other duo, Double Malt, performed acoustic music, which is just not as much our style.
Port & Shore Excursions: As opposed to another recent reviewer, we were excited to be anchored (vs. docked) and tendering into the smaller ports away from the giant ships and crowds. This also gave the advantage of having the water sports platform in operation each day (except the Prickly Pear beach experience day, when the toys were taken to the beach.)
BUT, it did result in the biggest negative of the voyage, the tendering operation. I agree with the previous reviewer who declared the equipment to be substandard and the operators poor. I was surprised to read that tender problems had occurred on earlier voyages, as the malfunction of one of the tenders on St. Barths' day seemed to have taken the staff by surprise. It really messed up tours that day, but I was impressed how fast they contracted with local options for the rest of the week. (Now not so much impressed if they had problems previously.) We came to call their docking procedure the "crash landing" approach. Also agree with previous reviewer that the path taken to the tenders was not very pretty (down steep stairs and through maintenance/crew areas). But this seems to be dictated by the design of the ship and location of platforms, so I'm not sure what could be done to improve/correct.
Culebra: We taxied to Flamenco Beach, which would have been beautiful on a pretty day. However, it was rainy and windy when we were there.
St. Barth: We took the ship's Catamaran Sailing Adventure tour. It was a lovely catamaran with a small number of passengers (tour limited to 20). Snorkeling was just OK, not great, so we did not think it a great value for the $149 pp price. (Also, our time was reduced due to the tendering delays, so it ended up being a shorter tour than advertised.)
Montserrat: The ship's Buried City tour was a highlight of our trip. The island is just gearing up again for tourism after the 1997 volcanic eruption, and we were one of the first ships to call there. The tour is a new one that takes you into the "Exclusion Zone", which is considered to be a danger area if the volcano were to erupt. The tour guides were in constant contact with the Montserrat Volcanic Observatory to make sure that we were not in any danger, and safety seemed to come first.
We actually had the opportunity to walk around the devastated city and were taken to an overlook to get a long-range view of the volcano. Last stop was a tasty lunch and steel drum entertainment at a new facility on a black sand beach.
There were some logistical hiccups, but it was a very unique and informative tour.
Marigot: We walked around town, visited the Catholic Church, and climbed to the top of the Fort. It was very hot, and we were very glad to find the air-conditioned mall.
Jost Van Dyke: We took the ship's Sailing and Snorkeling Tour, which was a bit of a misnomer, as it was a power catamaran rather than a sailing vessel. There were only 36 passengers on a boat designed for 50, so again no crowds. A couple of decent snorkel stops, and a stop at Foxy's Taboo for a Bushwhacker or Painkiller (not included in tour price.)
When was arrived back at the tender pier, we hopped in a taxi for a quick trip to Soggy Dollar Bar for a drink and photo op. Since it was getting late in the day, we were worried about getting a taxi back. Our driver said not to pay him, he would wait for us and collect the round trip fare back at the pier.
Virgin Gorda: We had planned to do the Bathes & Highlights tour, but just couldn't imagine spending another half day touring on buses when we had already been to The Baths on another trip. Good decision, as those who had gone on the tour later reported that it was a couple of hours too long for their interest.
The Prickly Pear Beach Experience was excellent, similar to a private island day on other cruise lines, but without so many people. The buffet lunch was delicious, and it was fun to have all of the water toys there.
Disembarkation: The easiest ever. We picked up our passports from Reception, enjoyed one last breakfast, and were off the ship and in a taxi in no time at all.
Summary: Much has been said lately on the Windstar message board about the line no longer being "luxury." For me, luxury is enjoying wonderful food and service with friendly, well-travelled, interesting shipmates. These two things made our cruise most enjoyable.
While every detail was not perfect, we thoroughly enjoyed our cruise and will be sailing Windstar again!
Cabin: We had a category S1 on Deck Four. Although we usually opt for balcony accommodations, we didn't think that it was worth the cost to upgrade to the French balconies on the Legend, and I think we made the right choice. The stateroom was extremely roomy and well-maintained, although there were some signs of the ship's age (slight rust around bathroom fittings and mildew in corners of the shower). We enjoyed having the Bluetooth speaker on which to play music.
Since ours was at the end of the hall next to the elevator, we were a bit worried about noise, but it was never an issue. It ended up being a great location next to the main stairway.