This cruise was thrust upon us. We had booked a mid-Feb cruise on the stretched Star Breeze from BCN to MIA but construction delays cancelled that a few days before Christmas. Since we were within 60 days of sailing, and Windstar had all my vacation money, switching to another line was not possible. So I scrambled and came up with this cruise.
With a 20% cruise credit plus the price guarantee, this eastbound (I swore I'd never do another EB T-Atl!) from SJU to LIS was an excellent value. The Star Legend was heading into dry-dock for its stretching so this was its last sailing with passengers in this configuration. There were ~107 of us, so the ship was half empty.
The Deluxe Suite I had booked on the Breeze wasn't available on the old layout ships, but we were approved for the mid-ship deck six cabin. It turned out to be the best cabin on the ship (and I'm sad I will never have an opportunity to book it again, after the stretching it will be way too big and expensive for me.) The WS agent had warned me about the obstructed views and she was right. But they didn't matter at all to me. I choose to cruise on small ships because I want to be on a ship, not a floating resort. The constant view of equipment out my window reminded me I was on a ship and actually made me happy. And the lifeboat hanging over top of us when we were on the balcony sheltered us from the view of people on the pool deck above us. The suite was gold. Large, comfortable, luxurious.
I will never again book a suite this large again but boy was it fun to have it for one cruise!
The cruise itself was delightfully perfect. We had 15 days of glorious, sunny and warm weather accompanied by 13 days of calm seas. This wasn't just luck, the Captain worked hard to keep us away from the bad weather all around us and that meant an extra day in Madeira!
The service was what we expected. The food was much better than we expected. The lack of entertainment was not an issue (that is a personal issue for people, but I've discovered that not only do I love sea days, I love sea days without lectures and formal activities even more.) We could hook our laptop up to the TV and watch downloaded movies from Netflix as well as movies from the library (and our collection from home of things we'd 'never got around to.') And there was reading. And simply doing nothing. The only thing I participated in was trivia. I had a wonderful time.
As I said before, being on the ship and ship stuff is what is important to me. Windstar ticked every box in that regard especially with the open bridge policy.
The majority of my days at sea have been on Silversea and Crystal but we settled into the more casual social life on Windstar just fine. There were a few things we missed but those things come with at a cost, both financial, but also time spent dressing for dinner, or spending an hour at afternoon tea each day. Afternoon tea was the only thing I really missed on this cruise from the other lines.
I booked my next cruise while on board. And have 2 more (before then) that I've added to my calendar although I won't book since I feel the cruise industry is a bit unsettled and I'd rather wait until I'm sure the additional cruises won't be changed.
***Wait! There's more***
I can't believe I almost forgot to write about this part of my cruise. We always judge how companies handle things when things go wrong. I did mention that I was pleased with how Windstar treated me when they cancelled my original cruise. But something else went wrong....
Day 3 of the cruise the main water supply to our bathroom broke, flooding the bedroom. When I say flooding, I mean the water spread through the bathroom wall, under the carpet, pooling ~12' away under the window. Help was slightly delayed but to be honest given the speed at which the water was coming in (this wasn't just a leaky toilet), the extra 5 minutes were just more panic time for me, rather than adding significantly to the damage.
I got the drapes up so saved them which my cabin steward appreciated since she didn't have an extra set of those. The bolsters (under the bed because it was morning) were soaked so disappeared for the remainder of the cruise (good riddance) and the bed skirt was replaced. I got my own items off the floor so nothing of mine was damaged.
In the series of panicked phone calls ("send plumber", "send more towels", "flooding is now across the room", "send wet vac", "send another wet vac, the one here can't keep up") I also asked for the head of housekeeping to come. He and the guest services manager showed up. The ship was only half full so they were prepared to move me to the other suite in our category but that was in the bow and I didn't want it. What I wanted was to get dressed, eat breakfast, and then figure out what would happen. So a key to a suite down the hall was handed to me.
We stayed in that suite for 4 nights but had the use of our balcony and (after the blowers were removed) living room, each day. We were compensated for the inconvenience. All staff worked very hard to get us settled again. It was so well handled that on the last day when my husband was telling the hotel director about how much we had enjoyed the cruise, and the hotel manager said, "despite the flood", my husband had to admit he'd forgotten about the flood!
The blessing of the flood was it give us a chance to experience what a regular cabin is like. On Silversea and Crystal we had always picked ocean view, lower, mid-ship, cabins. So suddenly we were comparing apples to apples, rather than lowest category to the best suite. Crystal still wins for best designed cabin but the standard cabin on the Star motor yachts is very comparable. My only complaint was the proximity of the bathroom door to the bed and that is solved with the new Star Suites on the stretched ships (the bed will be by the window.) So, in future, we will not be in a suite on Windstar's motor yachts but in an SS1 category suite.