We chose the Edinburgh to Dublin itinerary because of the positive experience we had a few years ago on a Windstar cruise that disembarked in Edinburgh, and our desire to visit other interesting stops in Scotland and Ireland. We were not disappointed.
Edinburgh is a lovely city, offering fantastic history, architecture, and pub food & drink. Upon arrival, we were pleased to learn that the city was celebrating their annual "Festival Fringe", billed as the world's largest arts festival, spanning 25 days of nonstop music, dance, comedy, and poetry in over 300 venues. The Royal Mile leading up to the Castle was thronged with people, many in costume. Every block had one or more stages, with performances every 30 minutes. What a great time!
The cruise got off to a bad start at embarkation, when we arrived at dockside in Edinburgh, only to be informed that the Wind Surf was actually in Dundee, over 60 miles away! After a frantic taxi ride (an extra 160 Euros) we arrived in Dundee, then drove around in circles for a while searching for the "King George V Wharf", which even the local taxi drivers had never heard of. As we got near the water we could see the masts of the ship, but it took quite a while to find the completely unmarked dock entrance. As we go onboard we saw many other taxis pulling up with frustrated looking customers.
As we got to the top of the gangway, I was greeted warmly by Nick Bulger, the Wind Surf's Hotel Manager, a good friend from several previous cruises. Soon we were comfortably situated in Cabin 327, our first time in a suite, and certainly not the last. By the time we got to dinner we had already touched base with several of our favorite crew members such as Nova, Casey, Jun, Phillip, Merrick, and Chef Eddy. A few other crew members heard that I was on board, and tracked me down in the Compass Rose just to say hello. It's this kind of warm personal service that sets Windstar 180 degrees from ordinary, indeed.
Unfortunately, our favorite entertainers, Craig and Nikki from the "Rain" duo, were not on board (Nikki just had a baby!) Their replacements were a British duo, the "Upbeats" who were very good vocalists. The main band was "High Society", which seems to change lead singers every cruise. They are a family act, and don't offer much energy or showmanship. They play before and after dinner, and seldom can entice anyone onto the dance floor. The only time I saw any dancing at all was after the weekly BBQ, when the crew got everyone up for line dancing. However, the amateur show put on by the crew was greatly improved, including a hysterically funny synchronized swimming act.
Contrary to some recent CC reviews, I thought the ship was in great shape, and our cabin was immaculate. The food was excellent, with some local dishes mixed in with the normal Asian-influenced menu. Service, as always, was very attentive and personal.
Our cruise itinerary was very interesting, entirely in small ports such as Invergordon, the Orkney Islands, and the Isle of Man. In several ports the ship was anchored out, rather than moored at a pier. On a few occasions when the sea was a bit choppy the tender ride to and from the ship got a little rocky, and on one occasion the Captain had to cut off the tender service entirely. The weather was cool, usually around 60F degrees, and often foggy in the morning. However, there was sunshine almost every day.
The last stop was in Dublin, where we visited the fascinating Guinness Museum, and learned how to do the "perfect pour" of Guinness Stout. I am not a big fan of Guinness, but I do like dark beers, and was able to buy several Guinness variants that are not widely available in the U.S., such as Indian Porter, Double Stout and XX.
Another great cruise! This was also our first ever back/back cruise, as we continued on to France, Spain and Portugal --- the topic of a second review.
Excellent choice, amidships and directly adjacent to the central stairway. The extra bathroom and space of the suite is addictive, so we may be hooked for life.