Our first Windstar cruise, based on a recommendation from a friend who knows that we like smart and engaging people, don't like rowdy drunk crowds, and want a genuine experience. We learned a lot and immediately signed back up for more Windstar!
What can I say other than "amazing!". While the large ship experiences bring their own attributes, this ship size, itinerary, and staff have us sold on Windstar, since they brought so many terrific benefits.
I could go on forever, but I'll limit it to a few key topics, and a story of special coverage by the crew that was exceptional.
SHIP: small, as cruise ships go, but never felt crowded, never waited in lines (except for the topside cookout in which everyone rushed the line but ten minutes later was cleared). There are plenty of places to get alone by yourself, do morning stretches, have a quiet moment with a loved one, etc.
BARS: the outdoor topside bar was by far the most popular given weather, ability to spread out, but also to meet nice and interesting folks.
FOOD: Terrific all around! Main dining Amphora was stellar every night. Candles night was intimate, delicious, and fantastic! Breakfast and lunch buffets are great, fresh, and the staff is totally focused on making your meal ideal, so just ask for anything special. All-day breakfast and sandwich counter made a great fill-in when we got back from sightseeing.
OFFICERS, CREW, & STAFF: This is where I have to focus most. Incredibly nice, friendly, accommodating, and professional from top to bottom. Every individual we met was terrific.
But the real story was about a bad situation that they made infinitely better. Just prior to the cruise, a family friend passed away, who was not only my godfather but also as much a father to me as my own, and in recent decades more so, and a dear friend. Our families consider each other extended family. The funeral had to occur during our cruise, on Day 8 of 10, so we worked with Windstar to allow us to disembark in Grenada, fly home to make the funeral, of which i was to officiate and sing. Needless to say, a very emotional situation. We had shared the fact that we were leaving early with staff that would be affected or those that simply asked and expressed condolences.
We disembarked, went to the airport, and long story short, found that our flight was cancelled, and at 5pm found out that we would NOT be able to leave the island until the following afternoon, thereby missing the funeral we worked so hard to coordinate to make. With literally NO time to spare, we called the ship, asked if we could reboard, sailed through customs with the help of American Airlines staff, had a cab fly through town, and we made it to the pier with just minutes before Sail Away.
Although devastated by the events so far, the next 24 hours were incredible. The Chief Pursor, front desk staff, Hotel Manager all met us and assured a smooth process, even to the extent of them asking if there was anything at all they could do to help. They were amazingly empathetic, and genuinely worked that day and the next to give us every assistance we could want, including calls, Internet, etc. The Dining staff gave us special attention, delivered us a wonderful in-room meal, and the bar staff brought us wine as we "licked our wounds". The next day, every staff member we came into contact expressed genuine concern, and went out of their way to help us enjoy this day at sea with tons of kindnesses and support.
We were incredibly moved at the empathy and wonderfulness of the entire crew including officers, the bar team, the dining team, the breakfast cooks, and so on. While they may have forgotten us as they move forward to accommodate every guest every day, we will never forget them. Thank you Windstar!
Don't be discouraged by the lack of a balcony! Huge picture window makes for beautiful morning coffee, evening lights by the islands, and quiet reflection. You're on deck so much that having the open window would be nice, but is by no means a requirement (for us). Spacious, gorgeous, and totally large enough to relax with your spouse and read a book or relax after sightseeing. Very comfy and A++!