This was our 5th cruise on Windstar and 10th cruise overall. We had sailed on Windsurf twice before and once of Wind Song (RIP) and Wind Spirit. Windstar appeals to a unique niche. If you want rock climbing, 30 restaurant and pseudo-Broadway shows, this is NOT the ship for you. However, if you want a cruise to relax, meet people from all over the globe, eat very good food and go to ports many large ships cannot access, then Windstar is perfect.
We embarked in Venice. Checking in and getting our Stateroom keys could not have been easier. It took us less than 15 minutes from the time we got on line to the time we stepped into our cabin. Luggage came about 10 minutes after that. Because Windstar is so small, it's easy to recognize the familiar faces of returning crew. As we boarded, there was a bit of a hard sell for spa services, but the staff was pleasant and it was not unlike other pitches on other cruises.
It's easier to familiarize oneself with the ship. Walking the entire ship, on all decks takes maybe 20 minutes. I was pleased to see renovations and the addition of the "Yacht Club". Big screen TV where many watched the early rounds of the World Cup, a new free sandwich bar, library and great luxurious seats with headphones and ipod docs.
This is the first time we had a suite on Windsurf. It will be tough to go back to the standard room. the sofa and extra bathroom were great to have. It really depends on how much time you spend in the room. If you simply sleep and shower, don't pay the extra money. Lots of strorage space.
One question: Why are the life jackets above the bed??? First, no one know they were there. Second, you have to stand on the bed to get them. What if someone is older and can;t climb onto the bed. And what about shorter people. Very impractical