After planning for over 1 year I finally got to go on a Windstar cruise.
I was expecting a lot and, for the most part it, met all expectations.
Prior to going on the cruise my initial cruise was cancelled as the ship was chartered.
They gave us a $500/pp credit and paid to change our airfare.
I loved the small size of the ship.
The cabin was small but functional. The bathroom had nice bath products and good water pressure. The outlets were 110v. I brought a small power strip without surge suppressor and multiport USB charger. Otherwise there were 3 outlets in the cabin and 1 in the bathroom. There is a small minibar in the cabin. It has a bottle opener. We brought 2 bottles of wine and took glasses of wine with us to the dining room.
I missed having a private balcony. I didn't think this would be a problem but there were always groups of people drinking and music up on deck. Smoking wasn't really a problem.
The deck closes around 6 PM to set up for the restaurant.
The food was average to good. Dinner was the best meal. Breakfast and lunch were buffet, with a variety of daily specials.
Breakfast would close at 10 AM one day and at 9 AM the next so you have to check your daily program the night before. They do have room service included but it would take 30-40 minutes.
Service is very good on the ship and getting a drink at a bar was never a problem.
They usually have 1 or 2 happy hours/day with discounted drinks for $5.50. Typically drinks are $8-9 and a beer is $6-7. At $59/person/day I skipped the unlimited beverage package.
They had a musical duo in the lounge every night as well as DVDs to take back to your cabin. One night they brought in a local dance group to perform.
You were allowed in the bridge when they were underway.
The sails were rarely up as the conditions have to be just right.
We saw them once during a sail-away.
The pool is small but refreshing. Probably much larger per person than the mega ships.
I was most interested in the water platform.
Due to sea conditions we only had it for one out of 4 planned days.
The gym was also small but adequate but being that you can get off the ship everyday I was able to go for a hike onshore.
We had to skip Mykonos due to windy conditions which would not allow us to tender.
The tenders ran every 1/2 hour which was not a problem except that there was a Tauck tour onboard consisting of about 40 people and they would leave as a group and take a tender so if you didn't time it correctly you had to wait for 1 hour to get a tender.
The other passengers, for the most part, were very nice.
Most tended to be in their late 60s to early 70s and were a friendly group.
There were a couple of newly-weds.
We brought our teenaged children with us and they were the only children on the ship.
They had a good time but would have liked it had there been people their own age, however, I was expecting this so they weren't disappointed.
I did some laundry mid-way through the cruise for under $30. We gave it to the steward before 9AM and we had it back before 5 PM. Towards the end of the cruise they had an all you can stuff into a large laundry bag for $45 deal. Both options were less than the unlimited laundry for $7/person/day.
We did get the kids the unlimited WiFi which is, as others have said, slightly better than nothing.
I was able to get cell service everyday when we were in port.
We went a few days early and stayed for one night at the Hilton and 2 nights at the Electra Metropolis, near Syntagma square. I liked both of them as they both had pools but liked the location of the Electra better as you can walk everywhere.
We went on one ship excursion in Turkey but otherwise we did our own thing on the islands.
I found the prices for the excursions to be on the high side and they tended to be 3-5 hours long. They had a port talk in the lounge the night before and a local guide would be in the main lobby to answer any questions you had about the island.
They had a special dinner in Ephesus for us. The setting was great. The food not so great.
The advantage of the smaller ship is being able to go to ports not visited by larger ships.
I really enjoyed the ports of call. I was disappointed not to see Mykonos but we were able to go to a small beach in Samos. After Samos we went to Kusadasi in Turkey then to Patmos, Santorini, Monemvasia and finally Nafplion. We finished in Athens where I used the remainder of my OBC to get a private van to the airport for $118 for 2 ppl or $236 for the 4 of us. A taxi would cost 50 Euro.
Embarkation and disembarkation went smoothly. Boarding began at 1 PM. We arrived around 1:30 and had to wait on line for 15 min to register. You are required to leave your passport with the ships bursa and it is returned to you on the last day.
Luggage is out of your cabin by 6:45 AM and you leave by 8 AM.
When I initially booked I paid $5,000 for the AX cabin and $4,500 for the BX cabin.
Shortly after the price dropped and they let me cancel and rebook for the lower price.
I did this 2 more times. There is no problem as long as it is 120 days out.
Many passengers booked within 45 days of sailing and paid $3,100 for the same cabin that I paid $4,000 for. Not a big deal but I would not book a Windstar cruise far in advance.
The cabin was very functional.
The staircase leading to the tender would pass the porthole so we had to close the curtain for privacy.