We sailed for 10 days in the Greek Isles this year. This was our second time on the Wind Surf having gone 15 days from Venice to Barcelona in October 2018. With one exception the entire officer crew had changed from the previous cruise. This seems very unusual so not sure what is happening. A few of the service staff remained and remembered us. They were great.
Embarkation: This was a bit chaotic in Athens Port and there were lines to register on the ship and to make dinner reservations. If you are not taking the pre/post cruise transportation through Windstar they are not able to provide any helpful information. We took the metro to the port and walked like 2 miles to get to the ship. The metro in Athens is the easiest to use of any city we have visited. They actually have humans to sell tickets and offered senior discounts without us asking.
Drinks: My wife did not get the drink package while I did as part of the $89 deal that included wifi, laundry and tips. The laundry service was excellent. This year the drink package wines et al were not nearly as clear as they were last year so you are really asked to buy a drink package on faith. (Last year I simply carried the included list in my key card so there were no questions. This year there was no list) A couple of times they ran out of things in one bar and had to be asked to go to another bar to get specific things which they did reluctantly. Also not all the wines by the glass on the bar menu are included in the "Captain's Package", which is very confusing and disappointing given the high price.
Restaurants: Breakfast at Veranda is good, but pretty much the same each day. Lunch at Veranda has a different cooking station set up with a special each day so that is very nice.
Amphora the main dinner restaurant where you do not need reservations is noisy and rushed although the food is fine. Hint - ask for a table near the front and it is much quieter. The game on board is to try for extra reservations at Stella and Candles to avoid Amphora. One trick many people used is to hook up with a couple that already has a reservation.
Stella Bistro is Stellar. The food and service are superb. Candles was also nice. On 3 nights they offered a sunset dinner on the stern, however it is only a note on the daily schedule put on your bed at dinner time the day before. We called each time for a reservation around 8:30 AM and they were always full. We were able to get in with another couple who heard our plight while we were discussing it at reception and invited us to their table. The restaurant manager reluctantly gave his approval. By the way this guy always seemed very stern but meticulous moving plates at the buffet in the Veranda restaurant if they were off by 1/8th inch. He should be assigned to walk the ship - the trash cans that were overflowing each morning and the elevator that was broken for several days (yes I got stuck in it) would not be permitted on his watch.
On the previous trip you were at times offered an opportunity to go with the chef to buy fresh fish and produce. This was not offered this trip and we are not sure if they got fresh things locally or not. One passenger told us that he asked the waiter if the fish was fresh and the waiter told him it was "Frozen fresh".
The ship had a special dinner included in the fare at the 1000 BC Ephesus Theater in Turkey. This was the highlight of the trip. (Wow)
Entertainment: We enjoyed the duo's in Compass Rose on both trips but neither of the bands in the main lounge measured up. On the first trip for example on Beatles night the band was so bad there were probably only 3 guests there.
Tours: We took only one tour on this cruise since they seem way overpriced. In Kusadasi Turkey and on Patmos we simply took local taxis and paid them a very small amount to act as our tour guides. This permitted us to see what we wanted at our pace and schedule.
Ports: In several ports we were the only ship there which was great. We liked Mykonos where you could lose yourself in the small streets with all the white buildings. Santorini provided a great view of the huge Caldera (Scary to think a volcano can be so big). You really need to take a bus (very easy) or taxi to the city of Oia, We also loved the ports on Crete, Syros and Patmos since they were small and uncrowded. We know it was a busy time of year, but Rhodes while worth seeing was absolutely crazy busy.
Groups: This cruise had a big Purdue donor contingent. Nothing against them, but they got preferential seating at the BBQ night and tended to stay with their own so one of the fun things about a cruise of meeting other people was somewhat curtailed.
Windstar Reservations: This area really needs help. We had attempted to take advantage of an offer for a cruise to Alaska that Windstar emailed to us, but the reservations department had no clue about it even after forwarding the email and numerous phone calls. On this trip the reservations people gave us conflicting answers on the need for a Visa when visiting Turkey. For example one said we needed to do a Windstar Tour in order to go ashore. Even though we requested an email to clarify none came and calling back were were told that no Visa was needed for a cruise ship visit.
Accounting: Be sure to check your bills. We had to dispute a couple of erroneous drink charges on board which were corrected When we got home the total billed to our credit card was $18 more than our final bill on the ship. I'm sure many people taking a Windstar cruise would never notice this. After a couple of phone calls etc they emailed us that it was for a laundry bag they say we took. After informing them that we did not take it and could not imagine anyone doing so they credited it, but to do this without even informing us was very tacky.
Overall we enjoyed the trip despite very hot weather and a few things that could be improved with the Windstar line and with Wind Surf. The server staff of mostly Indonesians is superb.
We booked late and did not have many choices. On the previous cruise we paid extra to be on deck 3, but had some sea sickness so deck 1 was a better choice. Cabin 106 had lots of engine noise going into port, but it was better than last year in cabin 332 right below the lounge stage. (Sometimes they even practiced in the afternoon when we wanted a nap.)