While this was not our first time cruising my wife and I are 51 and 45 both have lived in Europe, the US and South America, it was our first time on Windstar - WindSurf. In short, it was a fantastic cruise and I could not have asked for anything more. We selected Windstar because of the Conde Naste review articles describing the smaller more intimate ships and also the promise of getting into smaller ports.
Our cruise was the "Yachtsman's Caribbean" which sailed out of St Maarten - Philipsburg. We got on the boat around 4pm and set sail at 7pm promptly. First port was Antigua we arrived early in the am and the captain intended to anchor at a smaller port near Shirley Heights but it was too windy for the tender boats to safely load passengers, so we went around the island to the city of St John and docked there in a protected harbour. The island excursions tour was fun - but I suggest taking a taxi on your own over to Shirley Heights for the Sunday BBQ party and stay as late as you can becasue the Sunday party was so much fun, we wanted to stay until they closed the place down. got back on board late around 10pm and were still hungry but the main restaurant had closed and we were sweaty from dancing - the Executive sous chef saw us looking hungry and came out and offered to prepare a meal for us - it was delivered to our room just as we got out of the shower. Just one of many examples of the excellent service we got on the cruise.
The cabins appeared to have been recently remodeled and were very well appointed - like staying in a 5 star hotel; wood trim, granite counters in the bath and on the desk. Most of the service staff was Indonesian and they were so intuitive and responsive to anything you wanted, that yo had to be careful wheat you said. Once I casually mentioned to the cabin steward that the bed was a bit more firm than I liked and when we came back from lunch, they had swapped the mattress and put a pillow top on it. A rare level of luxury and care. next stop was Sopers Hole a very small harbor and a wonderful little island with long empty beaches straight out of the magazines THIS is what we came for ! The excursion tour guide was Donovan and he had lots of fun toting us around in the back of a 4x4 from beach to beach. He sidetracked to a local Rum distillery and we all got lubricated.
next day was Jost Van Dyke which is a smaller island and the captain said there were more people on the ship than live on the island ! Another perfect score. The tender boats ran every 20 mins so you could come and go as you pleased and explore the island. That night while anchored nearby, The staff prepared a huge on deck bbg with lobster, ribeyes, ribs, paella and of course deserts. the dinner was followed by a line dancing party on the top deck and all the crew, officers and service staff (including some of the cabin stewards ) came out and did the Whip and watched me nay nay. : -) it was BIG FUN and it was a level of intimacy with the other passengers and crew that you just don't find many places. Nexts ports were Virgin Gorda - definitely go see the Baths and swim on the beach there, and then while there, the crew went over to the uninhabited island of Prickly Pear Beach and set up another bbq beach party for us and also some volleyball nets and took all the watersports stuff: kayaks, sailboats, etc etc so we could spend the day on the beach. Volleyball was crew and passengers again. One day/night was spent sailing at sea and we thought it might be a bit boring but the crew had plenty of activities if we were up for it or you could just hang out by the pool/hot tub and sip on a cocktail. We did both :-)
The second to last port was a stop at St Barts and while the refined paris of the Caribbean was certainly beautiful and impressive, after spending a week on small undeveloped beaches and tiny ports, we were a bit disoriented by the sight of million dollar yachts, celebrities, hotels for $3200 a night and topless french models parading up and down the beaches. Many of us agreed, we would have traded that for a second day at Jost Van Dyke. If you do go to St Barts, and want to experience it, then head over to Nikki Beach which is a beach and 4 star restaurant by the Eden Hotel. For lunch at Nikki Beach, we spent about $125 per person - and I might offer that the food on the ship was every bit as good or better and the service was WAAAY better on board. Another place to go on St Barts is La Plage which is walking distance from Eden Rock as well.
Overall I will say that Windstar is now our favorite and we will be returning for another cruise as soon as possible. I would describe it as an affordable luxury cruise for those who are looking for a more intimate or romantic experience and who want to see smaller ports with fewer people.
The cabin was on the bottom deck (lowest near the water line) Deck 1 and was clean.The cabins appeared to have been recently remodeled and were very well appointed - like staying in a 5 star hotel; wood trim, granite counters in the bath and on the desk.
Fantastic day/night at the Shirley Heights Party. Dont miss it !
Great Tour - ride was definitely bumpy but that was becasue the roads are full of holes and some are dirt roads. Amazing beaches and you should go hang out on any one of them.
This was one of our favorite places beside Shirley Heights. There are only a handful of bars and businesses on the island. We went to the Soggy Dollar and Foxi's. Whites beach is beautiful and I could have stayed there forever. Burgers at Soggy dollar are huge and you can split one. Their famous drink the "pain killer" was meh, just ok. the bar on board the ship was way better - and cost less!
Another must see experience excursion. take swimming clothes with you to the baths so you can swim.