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Background: My wife and I have extensive experience on cruise ships of different companies and sizes in the Caribbean, Mediterranean and even ocean crossings. It is a matter of personal taste but we agree that the smaller the ship the better the experience and that puts Windstar at the top of our list. We have been on the 5,000 passenger giants where you are an anonymous part of a city at sea. With 280 passengers and 100 crew, the Windsurf almost feels like you are on a private yacht. Every single crew member treated us like we were the most important people on board and it was wonderful. We are sailors and our favourite curses in the Caribbean are chartering our own yachts. Second to that is the Island Windjammer cruises with real sailing yacht. Our last voyage was 12 passengers and 6 crew on a 90 foot sloop, but that requires a real love of sailing and it is expensive. Windstar cruises are the happy compromise. There is no real sailing sensation on a Windstar other than stirring music when sails are hoisted but the small size of the ship allows anchoring in remote locations that emulates the real sailboat experience. You also trade excitement and danger for luxury and pampering if you go Windstar. Previous Reviews We have never submitted a review before but we disagree so much with a negative review from our cruise that we felt we owed it to the crew of Windsurf to set the record straight. Some specific rebuttals of that review: 1)The dress code for dinner is appropriate and dress code is well documented on the website. 2)The Captain handled the mechanical problems at St Barths admirably. Windstar chartered us a high speed ferry for us so we still got to do St Barts and the company gave us a generous cruise credit to compensate. 3) Our dock in St Maarten was fine and only 100 yards from the regular dock and no one cares what dock you are on. 4) Criticisms of the band were unwarranted. I am a musician and to my professionally tuned ear this was clearly in the top 1% of bands I have ever heard. 5) Criticisms of the tenders were unwarranted. These are the universal lifeboats used on every ship in the world as tenders 6) When other reviews are so overwhelmingly positive this tells you something. OUR REVIEW The Ship Well designed and meticulously cared for, it motors well and sails well. Despite its large size there are so few passengers that there are always lots of places to sit either inside or on deck. We have been on real windjammers and this was ultra luxury in comparison. The water ballast system means the ship sails level even in heavy weather. Bad news for real sailors but a delight for landlubbers. Fake sailing at its best. The Staterooms Small but who cares. We never had time to do anything but sleep in them. The lack of balconies is not an issue because there are so many private sitting areas on the various outside decks. Cleverly designed and visually appealing, the highlight is the full size shower which is far superior to the tubes in the large cruise ships. The Crew Many nationalities but as on all ships mostly Philippine. Every single crew member gave us a full smile and the red carpet treatment and many gave us extra service. The treatment of crew by the officers is exemplary and it was clear this ship was a happy environment. Food Without doubt the best we have ever eaten, and came close to gourmet quality. Despite hours of exercise every day I came home ten pounds heavier. The freedom to sit anywhere is great. We constantly sat with different people and got to know many of the passengers. The Ambience We cannot stress how different the ambiance is from a large ship. The windsurf is like the theme song to Cheers where everyone knows your name. It didn't matter who was beside you passenger or crew, friendly conversation and courteous behaviour was everywhere. We felt part of a community. Ports of Call The Classic itinerary is one of the best in the Caribbean visiting St Marten, the Virgin Islands, Barbuda, Antigua, St Lucia, Guadaloupe, St Kitts and St Parts. In vacation lingo these are upscale islands with unique features. Most importantly, you are not going ashore at the main dock with thousands of other ants all fighting for position. The Windstar boats mostly anchor offshore and you are tendered in in small groups. We never felt like we were standing in line for anything. Tours We have done these islands and seen the highlights before so we either stayed on board and enjoyed the water sports or just did hunted for a beach. Caribbean tours are largely a waste of money. Most of the things you can do yourself or are overpriced, but if you have a herd mentality and a fat wallet they are okay. Our only tour was zip lining. It was overpriced and the zip lines too short but we got to cross zip lining off our bucket list. On the other hand every free, mostly deserted beach we frequented was a 5 star day. Nothing compares with being plucked onto a private beach. Entertainment We completely lucked out. A new band started the week of our cruise as noted above. They were most impressive and we ended up spending 4 hours a night listening to them. Name of the band is Stage Direction. They are Philippine and have been together for 18 years and spent the last 8 years on Norwegian Cruise Lines on the big ships. Except for requests they never repeated a song the whole voyage. The lead singer should by rights be on America's got talent. She did Whitney Houston, Adele, Pat Benetar and Shania Twain hits as good as the originals and got frequent standing ovations. The lead guitarist could hold his own with Jimmi Hendrix doing riffs and even gave us the Chuck Berry walk. Last night was Beatles tribute and they did credible renditions. I believe if they had work permits in the USA they would be opening acts for the stars. The music on this trip was a true delight. They are only booked until May. Hope you get to hear them. Value for Money and Overall Comment Windstar vacations are pricier than the run of the mill cruise lines like Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian etc,, but you get so much more enjoyment. If you want pampering go to Regent. If you want a great vacation that maximizes sun, wind, water and sand and goes off the beaten path then Windstar is your dream vacation. We will probably alternate Windstar with real sailboats on future Caribbean vacations.

Absolutely wonderful experience!

Wind Surf Cruise Review by Sailor dogs

17 people found this helpful
Trip Details
Background:

My wife and I have extensive experience on cruise ships of different companies and sizes in the Caribbean, Mediterranean and even ocean crossings. It is a matter of personal taste but we agree that the smaller the ship the better the experience and that puts Windstar at the top of our list. We have been on the 5,000 passenger giants where you are an anonymous part of a city at sea. With 280 passengers and 100 crew, the Windsurf almost feels like you are on a private yacht. Every single crew member treated us like we were the most important people on board and it was wonderful. We are sailors and our favourite curses in the Caribbean are chartering our own yachts. Second to that is the Island Windjammer cruises with real sailing yacht. Our last voyage was 12 passengers and 6 crew on a 90 foot sloop, but that requires a real love of sailing and it is expensive. Windstar cruises are the happy compromise. There is no real sailing sensation on a Windstar other than stirring music when sails are hoisted but the small size of the ship allows anchoring in remote locations that emulates the real sailboat experience. You also trade excitement and danger for luxury and pampering if you go Windstar.

Previous Reviews

We have never submitted a review before but we disagree so much with a negative review from our cruise that we felt we owed it to the crew of Windsurf to set the record straight. Some specific rebuttals of that review:

1)The dress code for dinner is appropriate and dress code is well documented on the website.

2)The Captain handled the mechanical problems at St Barths admirably. Windstar chartered us a high speed ferry for us so we still got to do St Barts and the company gave us a generous cruise credit to compensate.

3) Our dock in St Maarten was fine and only 100 yards from the regular dock and no one cares what dock you are on.

4) Criticisms of the band were unwarranted. I am a musician and to my professionally tuned ear this was clearly in the top 1% of bands I have ever heard.

5) Criticisms of the tenders were unwarranted. These are the universal lifeboats used on every ship in the world as tenders

6) When other reviews are so overwhelmingly positive this tells you something.

OUR REVIEW

The Ship

Well designed and meticulously cared for, it motors well and sails well. Despite its large size there are so few passengers that there are always lots of places to sit either inside or on deck. We have been on real windjammers and this was ultra luxury in comparison. The water ballast system means the ship sails level even in heavy weather. Bad news for real sailors but a delight for landlubbers. Fake sailing at its best.

The Staterooms

Small but who cares. We never had time to do anything but sleep in them. The lack of balconies is not an issue because there are so many private sitting areas on the various outside decks. Cleverly designed and visually appealing, the highlight is the full size shower which is far superior to the tubes in the large cruise ships.

The Crew

Many nationalities but as on all ships mostly Philippine. Every single crew member gave us a full smile and the red carpet treatment and many gave us extra service. The treatment of crew by the officers is exemplary and it was clear this ship was a happy environment.

Food

Without doubt the best we have ever eaten, and came close to gourmet quality. Despite hours of exercise every day I came home ten pounds heavier. The freedom to sit anywhere is great. We constantly sat with different people and got to know many of the passengers.

The Ambience

We cannot stress how different the ambiance is from a large ship. The windsurf is like the theme song to Cheers where everyone knows your name. It didn't matter who was beside you passenger or crew, friendly conversation and courteous behaviour was everywhere. We felt part of a community.

Ports of Call

The Classic itinerary is one of the best in the Caribbean visiting St Marten, the Virgin Islands, Barbuda, Antigua, St Lucia, Guadaloupe, St Kitts and St Parts. In vacation lingo these are upscale islands with unique features. Most importantly, you are not going ashore at the main dock with thousands of other ants all fighting for position. The Windstar boats mostly anchor offshore and you are tendered in in small groups. We never felt like we were standing in line for anything.

Tours

We have done these islands and seen the highlights before so we either stayed on board and enjoyed the water sports or just did hunted for a beach. Caribbean tours are largely a waste of money. Most of the things you can do yourself or are overpriced, but if you have a herd mentality and a fat wallet they are okay. Our only tour was zip lining. It was overpriced and the zip lines too short but we got to cross zip lining off our bucket list. On the other hand every free, mostly deserted beach we frequented was a 5 star day. Nothing compares with being plucked onto a private beach.

Entertainment

We completely lucked out. A new band started the week of our cruise as noted above. They were most impressive and we ended up spending 4 hours a night listening to them. Name of the band is Stage Direction. They are Philippine and have been together for 18 years and spent the last 8 years on Norwegian Cruise Lines on the big ships. Except for requests they never repeated a song the whole voyage. The lead singer should by rights be on America's got talent. She did Whitney Houston, Adele, Pat Benetar and Shania Twain hits as good as the originals and got frequent standing ovations. The lead guitarist could hold his own with Jimmi Hendrix doing riffs and even gave us the Chuck Berry walk. Last night was Beatles tribute and they did credible renditions. I believe if they had work permits in the USA they would be opening acts for the stars. The music on this trip was a true delight. They are only booked until May. Hope you get to hear them.

Value for Money and Overall Comment

Windstar vacations are pricier than the run of the mill cruise lines like Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian etc,, but you get so much more enjoyment. If you want pampering go to Regent. If you want a great vacation that maximizes sun, wind, water and sand and goes off the beaten path then Windstar is your dream vacation. We will probably alternate Windstar with real sailboats on future Caribbean vacations.
Sailor dogs’s Full Rating Summary
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