I had sailed Wind Surf several years ago and it was the only ship I knew I could recommend to my sister who was paying for it. Although I rated this as Excellent, I must get the negatives out of the way first.
1) the WINDSTAR sales office is aloof and does not return calls or answer questions to our satisfaction. I had previously used Vacations to Go and I will go back to them in the future rather than the WINDSTAR Sales office in Seattle. I think it is wise to compare the price of cruise cancellation insurance with both companies or go through AMEX for booking and insurance.
2) there is a mysterious $626 charge by WS on the Amex that NO ONE can explain, charged April 28 when we were in air transit
3) there is another $390 charge for something after the cruise charged by WS
4) upon landing and disembarking in Venice we had to walk approximately 1/2 mile to customs and immigration (this may have been the private transporters fault, so it would be very wise to check this) we are 70 and I am impaired and it was an unreasonable hike.
5) the Surf did not honor its own policy regarding smoking and we found it impossible to get away from. It was not possible to enjoy the deck by the pool as it was overwhelmed by cigarette and cigar smoke. To us this would have been a deal breaker had we known that windsurf would not enforce their own written policy. This changed after the first week when we and others filed written complaints.
6) the port stop in Sicily is dirty and we found no place to get away from cigarette smoke
7) although my sister is not afraid of spending lots of money, we found the tours offered by WS were outrageously expensive. We could engage a private car service at the pier for a reasonable fee. The one tour that we would have been willing to pay the outrageous fee was hogged by a corporate group who took most of the tours and managed to bounce private travelers off. Not cool, WINDSTAR.
1) on board, the staff is amazing: Abby at the Reception desk, talented Robert at the cappuccino machine who made our cappuccino with soy milk instead of milk), Jonas and Gonzalo at the tour desk, all the awesome chefs, the first mate Ailine (who actually sailed the ship), the cabin steward for rm 310 who has been on the WindSurf for 17 years, the laundry service, the spa (best pedicure ever), the guys on the launch who took very special care of me and my inability to balance, Allen the F&B director and his amazing wait staff who truly worked their tails off for us - all with a positive attitude and a smile every single time - even when we changed tables four times (not kidding), the singing hotel manager, the executive chef who let us tag along on his market trips and bought raspberries and honey for us, the executive sous chef who personally picked out my fish and made us a birthday cake (we are twins)
2) we recommend getting the optional laundry package ($110 for the week for the cabin), usually in by 9, back by 4, done up perfectly, IRONED!
3) do attend the crews talent show. We laughed until we cried
4) this not a cruise for children
5) we loved the private events, Villa Durazo in Porto Fino and the Gambino Winery in Sicily
6) stay out on deck for the sail away - it is majestic
7) this beautiful ship commands attention in the ports - even the locals photograph it! It is the only cruise ship that is permitted to traverse the grand basin in Venice. It is beyond special.
We loved this cabin category as it gave us two bathrooms and plenty of space to move around, two big closets and two sit-down vanities and two twin beds. Our cabin steward was beyond professional. Although we loved 310, I think it would be better to be a little more centered on the ship instead of AFT. My sister noticed a bilge smell (I did not).
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