I'll say right up front that this was our tenth cruise but the first with Windstar. With a very few small items. we enjoyed the trip from beginning to end and would definitely sail with Windstar again.
Embarkation was a snap and was concluded on-board as opposed to a line of counters like larger cruise lines. This less is more approach was a theme that would be repeated throughout the trip. The only thing that was unusual was that we had to surrender our passports for the duration of the cruise. Getting them back, however, was extremely easy at the end so it was not a big deal. We understand the ship sailed about 2/3 full and they were selling suite upgrades at reception. We did not inquire since our cabin was very comfortable.
Getting use to a ship as small as the Wind Surf too a while, but we took to it pretty easily. Getting off again to shop in Barbados before dinner was easy.
The cabin was well designed (especially the bathroom) with plenty of storage. Since it was so easy to get on deck quickly, we surprisingly did not really miss a balcony. The bed was very comfortable, the climate control worked very well (we slept under the comforter, and the DVD was very welcome since there was no TV except for 2-3 in-room that played all day. We did not sail to watch TV, but a news channel would have been nice.
Food was the best we have had on any cruise - including on-board Celebrity. Certainly the smaller number of passengers allowed for a more individualized approach, but every dish was properly (and deliciously) prepared and served promptly. For a ship this size, the number of options was outstanding. The Restaurant was consistently excellent. The Tuscan-inspired Degrees was superb and the outdoor venues (Candles -Steakhouse and Le Marche-Shelfish) were both tremendous. Lunch buffets in the Veranda were always great. All-in-all I would hev to say we ate very well!
In keeping with the mood of the cruise, Service was relaxed but always professional. It would have been nice to actually meet our cabin Steward, Victor, but we have absolutely no complaints with the job he did.
Entertainment was where we would suggest a few tweaks. Just one or two semi-organized activity options between when we returned from an excursion or lunch and when we went for before dinner drinks would have been welcome. No pool games, no bingo, perhaps something like an enrichment lecture, bridge, or some other low stress option. I know this is not Windstar's approach (or probably what most of their clients want), but the option would be nice. There are just so many DVDs you can watch. The entertainment in the Lounge was a band named Saga and they were excellent. It made having a drink with new friends a pleasure.
The Sports Platform was a real plus. Even though we did not use the facilities, we did get snorkel equipment (no charge) for use during the week. That was great!
The itinerary was outstanding and we really liked visiting a lot of the smaller Caribbean ports. We enjoyed them all, but our favorites were Mayreau, Dominica, and Pigeon Island/St. Lucia.
Debarkation at the end cruise was another painless process. Bags did not have to be out until 1:00 AM (that was great!) and Immigration was handled on-board in record time. The combination Barbados tour/lunch/airport transfer was a wonderful way to make our travel home more enjoyable.
We definitely recommend Windstar. Add to all the pluses that there are no formal nights (or even coats to be seen!) and it is hard to beat!
Well laid out with plenty of storage. The bathroom was particularly efficient with lots of storage and a generous sized shower. The only word of caution I would offer is that one of the gangways is right by the cabin. This was used in Barbados and believe me we knew when they pulled it up to sail at midnight! Other than that, it was not an issue.
Bequia - Weather was not on our side. We took the Northern Grenadine Catamaran tour and there were very rough seas and strong wind. Perhaps 25% of the passengers got sea sick including my DGF. we fought that all the way to Mustique and then had to alter our snorkel stop to Petite Nevis (probably due to sea conditions). The water was cooler than expected and there was not much to see underwater. We probably should not have left port and the crew told us it had been very rough all week. That said, with good weather it would have been a wonderful excursion since the scenery was terrific and I am sure the original snorkel site would have been great.
Dominica - Definitely one of our favorite ports. This is not a very touristy island and they call it the Natural Island. we took the Hot Spots of Dominica excursion and we highly recommend it. The first half is river tubing (1.5 hours on the river) then you drive up further into the rain forest to soak in hot springs pools. The operators (Wacky Rollers) did a terrific job and this excursion is highly recommended.
Pigeon Island/St. Lucia - We anchored in Rodney Bay and tendered to the National Park. There are some ruins on the beach, the remains of the fort on the hilltop to explore, some walking/hiking trails, and the beach. There was a map of the park by the pier for orientation. We took the Catamaran to the Pitons excursion. It was a glorious day and the scenery was great. After the sail to the Pitons we headed back and stopped at Grand Anse for a swim. Even though it is not a snorkel excursion, take your equipment - it is worthwhile. Vendors will paddle out and sell to you on the cat since you do not land. When we returned, the Wind Surf crew and chefs had set up a great beach BBQ with ribs, chickens, hot dogs, hamburgers, desert, etc. near the dock. A steel drum band was playing and the sports team brought the water trampoline from the ship. Great fun and a wonderful way to end our stay in St. Lucia.
Grenada - We took the island tour that included a stop at the Douglesdon Spice plantation (very interesting), a lot of sight seeing with a history of the U.S. intervention, and drive through the rain forest with a stop for fresh bananas right off the tree. It ended with a stop at Fort Frederick which offered great views of the old inner harbor, the cruise docks, and the Caribbean. Upon return to he ship we went exploring in the inner harbor (very close) and shopped (spices are a must buy). The excursion was interesting and informative with a very good guide. Recommended.