Background: This was my 8th Atlantic crossing, after one on a freighter, 4 on Cunard, and 2 on Crystal. Wind Surf was a very different experience, but the one it most resembled was the freighter. Arrival and embarkation: As is strongly recommended, I flew into Lisbon a day early. Having been there previously, I opted to stay in Sintra (Tivoli Sintra), a charming town about 40 minutes away by train. There are 2 terminals in Lisbon. The primary one is right at the Alacantra Mer train station and is used primarily by the megaships. We were docked at the Cais da Rocha Conde do Obidios, about towards town from the station. The police there told me it was 3 km and gave me misleading directions, so I took a cab for the final leg to the ship. The cruise documents said "Boarding 10:00am, All aboard 1:00" for a 2:30 departure. When I arrived about 12 the only thing they were doing was accepting baggage; a number of people were hanging around the terminal, mostly standing, and we were told check-in would not begin until 1. I went back out of the terminal and found that we were only an easy 10-minute walk from where I had boarded the cab. Check-in did not begin until 1:00 and it was after 1:30 when I stepped on board the ship.
Ship info: The Wind Surf is a "Motor Sailing Yacht". It has sails, but they appear to be more for show than functional, as the ship is really not designed to maximize their benefit. We did sail about 70 miles without the engines at about 5 knots, but it appeared we were getting at least as much push from the current as we did from the sails. My observation was that when we were under sail power, the motion of the ship was quite evident as there was little water flowing past the stabilizers. The ship is small at 312 passengers and 6 decks, and has some really odd quirks. The cabin numbering starts from the stern of the ship, while the stairways are numbered from the bow, and start with stairway 2. Unlike Windstar's 2 smaller ship, the Wind Surf has 2 elevators. A final oddity is that the bottom 2 decks have a series of waterproof doors that must be closed when the ship enters of leaves a port. There was no warning of this before we started our muster drill making it a real "Chinese Fire Drill" finding the right stairway down to my cabin to retrieve my life jacket for the drill. Windstar was formerly affiliated with Holland America and has changed ownership in the recent past. The opinions I heard from veteran passengers was that the line has either changed little or gotten somewhat better after the change in ownership.
Staterooms: The rooms are fairly large (188 square feet minimum), comfortable, and generally well laid out. The exceptions are having the life jackets in a ceiling compartment, not obvious to find, and not easily reached, and having all the electrical outlets in an awkward spot under the desk. I also found the 110 volt outlet not working when I arrived; I reported the matter to my room steward and it was corrected within 4 hours. With the exception of these minor issues, the room (the lowest category on the ship) was superb. The Wind Surf has no cabins with balconies.