This was our second Windstar cruise, a back-to-back Costa Rica and the Panama Canal, followed by a Southern Caribbean Sweep itinerary from Colon, Panama to Cartegena, Colombia; Aruba, and Bequia in the Grenadines, with disembarkation in Barbados. We enjoyed our first Windstar cruise through the ABC Island and the Grenadines on the Star Pride so much that we wanted to sail through the Canal with this excellent upper premium level line. We are a retired couple, mid-60s, from the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area.
Embarkation - Having flown in to San Jose, Costa Rica the day prior to boarding and joining some of the passengers at the Marriott hotel for the transfer to Puerto Caldera, we enjoyed the almost 2 hour bus ride as Windstar provided a Costa Rican guide who talked for about an hour about his country and how the cruise line conducts embarkation. The embarkation process in the lounge where you receive your cruise card, sign up for packages and excursions not booked online, enjoy a glass of champagne and meet some of the staff. Light lunch was also available until 3:30. Since we had boarded at 3:15, our cabin was available immediately. There was the obligatory safety drill with life jackets and a welcome aboard presentation and port talk about Quepos, tomorrow's port, before dinner at 7:00.
Public Rooms - We found public rooms were well maintained and included two lounges, two bars, a complete spa and gym, counter-current swimming pool, two hot tubs (one near pool & one at bow on deck 5), the Yacht Club (for views, books, early morning continental breakfast or lunch sandwiches), library next to casino with a few one-arm bandits and a blackjack table, and Signature Shop. Specialty coffee is complimentary at any venue. See Cabin review below for details of our stateroom. The ship also has a Sports Marina aft with non-motorized equipment for use when anchored.
All cabins are suites with roomy accommodations on former Seabourn ship.This room is located near the forward elevator/stairs, making it convenient to reach the outdoor bar on the top deck as well as the Yacht Club, where continental breakfast and light sandwiches at lunchtime are available, board games, and the outdoor forward viewing deck. This room is also used for trivia, and the photographer's and future cruise desks. Note: the elevators are very small and really could only hold 4 people comfortably. The ship features all suites, with a minimum 227 sq. feet; the bathroom is large with plenty of storage space, double sinks, and a shower big enough for two with racks for towels or hanging wet items in addition to the clothesline. A separate living area contained a large loveseat and two chairs, plus a coffee table and built-in cabinets for the mini-bar serving area and the TV/DVR entertainment area - we never found the time to check out CD/DVRs. A curtain separated this area from the bedroom which allowed an early riser or late to bed partner to use their section privately. Small nightstands were on each side of the bed with reading lamps as well as a long desk area including drawer storage opposite the bed. Closet was ample and includes a safe and shelving. There was a hand held hair dryer in the desk. Toiletries by L'Occitane, refilled as needed which included shower gel, hair shampoo, hair conditioner and body lotion.
Mangrove tour excellent - see details in body of review
Private island beach BBQ lunch and activities