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2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
The staff were very attentive and accommodating. Most took the time to learn your name. We had a State Room which was spacious and comfortable. A definite plus on a smaller ship which doesn't have a lot of public areas. Ship was ... Read More
The staff were very attentive and accommodating. Most took the time to learn your name. We had a State Room which was spacious and comfortable. A definite plus on a smaller ship which doesn't have a lot of public areas. Ship was very clean and you noticed the effort to keep it that way.The excursions were interesting and efficient. There was a problem with the air conditioning. State rooms could be ice cold or uncomfortably warm. The Veranda was most always too warm to sit and enjoy a meal. At the beginning of the cruise the Yacht Club was ice cold and then after complaints it became too warm....no ability to really regulate the temperature. Food was ok. A couple of nights were very good. Seemed to be a lack of vegetables with the dinners and the quality of fruit was disappointing given our location. If you are Gluten free, you should bring your own bread, crackers, cereal, and snacks. They did have non-wheat pasta and you could get gf sliced bread for dinner, but they ran out after the second night. We've only done a few other cruises, but they seemed to have a larger variety for people with wheat allergies. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
Giving a very detailed account of our trip because a similar review VERY MUCH helped me plan a previous trip to Hawaii. Loved having details to help plan days on shore.Bottom line, I can’t recommend this cruise highly enough. Small ship, ... Read More
Giving a very detailed account of our trip because a similar review VERY MUCH helped me plan a previous trip to Hawaii. Loved having details to help plan days on shore.Bottom line, I can’t recommend this cruise highly enough. Small ship, great staff/passenger ratio. Large rooms and wonderful food, service etc etc. Each night there was a short program in the lounge to debrief for the next day and the day. Costa Rica/Panama Canal Wednesday January 16th 2019 overnight in Louisville for 7AM flight to San Jose Thursday January 17th travel day San Jose via Atlanta.Arrived at Restaurante del LaRosa LOS Americas in the afternoon. This was the coolest place. They told us to help ourselves to the fridge and keep tabs to pay later. Had drinks by pool, wonderful dinner with Edwin taking great care of us. Lots of wine and local food Friday January 18th we awoke, at least in our building, to the sound of something scampering across the roof and birds so close they sounded like they were inside. With the warm climate, a metal roof is all that is between you and the great outdoors at this hotel. Today is the trip from San Jose to Caldera where we will meet our ship on Saturday. pick up by Henry from a travel co. I don’t remember at 8am for tour of coffee plantation. Stopped for wine and cheese tasting at roadside store, on toward Caldera with stops at Our Lady of Mercedes (church with exterior made of iron.) Lunch at La Finca, ending with visit to oxcart factory. Wonderful day with lots of fun surprises especially seeing an ox cart man on the side of the road and getting our picture made with him. Arrived at Costa del Sol late afternoon and checked in to a quaint little hotel. We had rooms ranging from large suites to very small and sparse rooms but the whole place had less than 20 rooms. A large open air veranda at the end of the hall provided a view of the ocean and the ship we’d be boarding the next day. We had a wonderful dinner of fresh seafood with a view of the water before retiring. Another long day in the books. January 19th board Star Breeze today. We spent an easy morning at the pool in Caldera. Had to walk down the street to another hotel for this. We were all amazed at how this quaint little hotel was in the middle of such a rough looking area but we are learning that there are lots of metal bars and razor wire here. We boarded the ship around 1:00 with the hotel providing transportation we soon started to get aquatinted with our home for the next week. Cabins on this trip proved to be spacious and the crew is exceptional. During the afternoon, some had naps others had drinks and we met in the main dining room for a delicious dinner. Everyone turned in at that point except for one couple and the nightlife didn’t prove to be enough to keep them up much longer. Sunday January 20th Quepos- early coffee and breakfast for most. We soon learned via social media that we are missing out on a snow and ice storm at home and are all happy to be in sunny Quepos Last night at dinner our waiter Yogi promised us the best coffee in the world at the Star Bar and it didn’t disappoint. We disembarked at 8:30 for a trip to Manuel Antonio National Park. After convincing a cab driver that 10 of us couldn’t squeeze into 2 Corollas we finally made it to the park in 3 cars. We thought we could do this walk without a guide but the long wait and the promise of moving to the front of the line prompted us to get one and we were super glad we did. He carried a long lens and knew exactly where to spot sloth, monkeys, iguanas (or something like that) He arranged a van for us to get back to the ship where we engaged in swimming, naps, and drinks. What a life we are living this week. Dinner in the main dining room again tonight. Best part of the day for me today, swimming in the Pacific, seeing white faced monkeys, and marking a National Park of the list. Monday January 21st today we are signed up for afternoon kayaking at port Jimenez. Spent the morning in the Yacht Club having coffee and we grabbed some lunch there before meeting our boat. We booked this tour on our own and were scheduled to be picked up at noon on the beach. A zodiac took us in where we had a “wet landing” meaning you will get your feet wet. The cruise line provided towels that we were advised to take to put over our legs while kayaking as the weather was so hot. We did about a 3 hour excursion seeing some local birds and more monkeys stopping toward the end at a beach to rest, cool down and have some delicious pineapple provided by our guide Jessica. Back on the ship for a few drinks before dinner, followed by some music on deck Tuesday January 22nd Isla Perida cancelled due to high winds near the shore. Day at sea. Not much to report. Time on top deck, a game of scrabble in the yacht club (which we are sure will be named the redneck yacht club by the time we leave) lunch, naps, drinks, dinner, ending the night with a talent show by the crew which proved to be fun. Wednesday January 23rd Balboa Panama (since day at sea came early we have an extra excursion planned) Indian village. We rode a bus through the outskirts of Panama and couldn’t believe how this part of the world lives. It did not seem to be so impoverished but trash was everywhere. Our guide told us they don’t recycle and it seemed to us that they didn’t have anything to do with garbage. We went down to the Chagres River and took a dugout to a Embera Indian Village where we learned of their customs and saw goods that they make. So glad we had the opportunity to do this. Thursday January 24th Island of monkeys, a long ride through the city with long delays on the way due to a World Youth day and a visit by the Pope to Panama. Once there we took a boat out on an eco tour and saw more monkeys and a couple of crocs. Excursion was ok but glad we had taken the unplanned Embera village tour the day before. It was much better. We ended the tour with a stop at a hotel/resort for a restroom break and some complimentary fruit punch. Back to ship for late lunch left in our cabin by the steward and a nap and drink before dinner. Dinner was a barbecue on deck with a feast of sushi, ribs, lobster tail and on and on....followed by line dancing. This small ship with a big crew does not disappoint in any way. Friday January 25th Panama Canal passage awake and on deck a little after 5 AM. Very interesting going through the locks and seeing how the canal works. The crew brought around champagne and the small nature of the ship provided great viewing.I’ve heard such horror stories of not being able to even see the canal on those mega ships. Later in the day we viewed a video of the history of the Canal. Very interesting. Other than that naps and packing were the order of the day. A nice dinner to top off the trip Saturday January 26th left the ship at 7:15 guided bus trip to airport (blah blah blah) at the airport at 9:30 for a 3:15 flight. Found some Mexican food and free WiFi then on to Atlanta for a late flight home. Great trip with great friends. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
We typically choose active, land-based travel but decided to do a cruise for a special anniversary. We chose the Star Breeze for its mixture of small luxury ship with casual attitude, small ports of call, and availability of water sports. ... Read More
We typically choose active, land-based travel but decided to do a cruise for a special anniversary. We chose the Star Breeze for its mixture of small luxury ship with casual attitude, small ports of call, and availability of water sports. We wanted to have fun, but we did not want the fussiness of formal dinner nights. We were not disappointed. The ports of call included a good mix of those with many tourists and those with very few tourists. (It was helpful to know some Spanish but not necessary). We booked one excursion with the cruise line in Puerto Jimenez, but explored on our own the other days. We were able to do water sports off the ship in one port of call and on the private island day. For some reason, they couldn't offer waterskiing, although the equipment was available. Not a big deal, but it was something we were looking forward to. Otherwise, the crew really worked hard to impress. The cabins were spacious, well appointed, and serviced several times a day. Service was phenomenal and always with a smile. The food was excellent. We liked that they sourced fresh seafood from locals and that the chef made all of his stock on board. No corners were cut! We dined most nights at Amphora, which was consistently excellent. We did take advantage of Candles, which is a romantic steak house offered for free once per voyage. The special BBQ night was a highlight and not to be missed. Breakfast and lunch offered the ability to order a la carte or dine from the buffet. One exception: the coffee at the Veranda had an odor. I typically took my coffee at the Yacht Club (which offered continental breakfasts, non-smelly coffees, and light lunch fare) and then went to the Veranda for a full breakfast. Late afternoon activities included cultural talks and/or performances, with a next day port briefing just before dinner. The ship has a "pool" (it's really just a large, warm bathtub) and 2 hot tubs. We never had a problem finding a poolside lounge chair. The 5th deck hot tub is a great place to stargaze at night (or look for porpoises), but carry a cellphone for the flashlight. We did go to the gym several times, which was better than I expected. The ceiling is low, so tall people would have a problem with the treadmill and one cannot do overhead weights without sitting down. The fitness classes are basic and nice for a good stretch. With the average guest age being in the 60-75 range, there was not a lot of night life. We enjoyed the guitarist, who sang a mix of contemporary slow pop, Latin music and oldies but goodies. He also played great dance music. The other couple, the Radio Stars, were fine for music while you sunbathed but really not good for evening entertainment. The crew also entertained us with a crew talent show one night and line dancing after the outdoor BBQ. A number of activities were offered on our day at sea, including a cooking demo, galley tour, and blackjack tournament. We were saddened to learn that Star Breeze will go into dry dock this year and its size will be increased by 50 suites. We think this will alter the small ship experience significantly. In summary, this ship is great for couples aged 45+ who want some interesting port adventures and some luxurious pampering without the stuffiness of a more formal cruise line. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2018
We chose this because Lat November it was on a flash sale at 75% discount from the rack rate. It's at the end of winter, but rest assured, we are warming up. Compared to MSY Wind Star, the MV Star Breeze is huge. There are three ... Read More
We chose this because Lat November it was on a flash sale at 75% discount from the rack rate. It's at the end of winter, but rest assured, we are warming up. Compared to MSY Wind Star, the MV Star Breeze is huge. There are three different public spaces, we prefer the Yacht Club. It's the equivalent of a Flag Bridge on a naval vessel, sitting overtop the navigation bridge. The cabins are huge, at 270 sq ft! The photos are truth! The picture window is five feet by four feet. The main dining room and the ships galley are on deck 3. Decks one and two are engineering spaces and cargo. The crew has spaces forward and aft on deck 4, along with staterooms. Deck five is more staterooms, the hotel business office, and the lounge. Deck six is the larger suites, more staterooms, the inside bar, screening room, and library. Deck seven is the buffet(veranda), the pools, the outside bar, the spa, and the navigation bridge. Good food, great staff, flat seas, combine for a fantastic voyage! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2018
For us the best part of the Windstar experience is the crew! They are fantastic! We have been on all three of the sailing yachts and now this, our first motor yacht, and the crew has been the common stand out thing on all of them! Our ... Read More
For us the best part of the Windstar experience is the crew! They are fantastic! We have been on all three of the sailing yachts and now this, our first motor yacht, and the crew has been the common stand out thing on all of them! Our cabin was great, the food excellent. Friends with the French Balconies really liked them for the fresh air but our large picture window was just fine. We just popped out on to the deck when we wanted a better view. We prefer the smaller ships Wind Star and Wind Spirit, but we were very comfortable on the Star Breeze. We would gladly sail again on a motor yacht if the itinerary demanded it. Embarkation in Costa Rica was a breeze. Disembarkation in Barbados was a little confusing but sorted itself out once off the ship. Then went very smoothly. Just wish wi fi was a lot cheaper. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2018
This was our second Windstar cruise, a back-to-back Costa Rica and the Panama Canal, followed by a Southern Caribbean Sweep itinerary from Colon, Panama to Cartegena, Colombia; Aruba, and Bequia in the Grenadines, with disembarkation in ... Read More
This was our second Windstar cruise, a back-to-back Costa Rica and the Panama Canal, followed by a Southern Caribbean Sweep itinerary from Colon, Panama to Cartegena, Colombia; Aruba, and Bequia in the Grenadines, with disembarkation in Barbados. We enjoyed our first Windstar cruise through the ABC Island and the Grenadines on the Star Pride so much that we wanted to sail through the Canal with this excellent upper premium level line. We are a retired couple, mid-60s, from the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area. Embarkation - Having flown in to San Jose, Costa Rica the day prior to boarding and joining some of the passengers at the Marriott hotel for the transfer to Puerto Caldera, we enjoyed the almost 2 hour bus ride as Windstar provided a Costa Rican guide who talked for about an hour about his country and how the cruise line conducts embarkation. The embarkation process in the lounge where you receive your cruise card, sign up for packages and excursions not booked online, enjoy a glass of champagne and meet some of the staff. Light lunch was also available until 3:30. Since we had boarded at 3:15, our cabin was available immediately. There was the obligatory safety drill with life jackets and a welcome aboard presentation and port talk about Quepos, tomorrow's port, before dinner at 7:00. Public Rooms - We found public rooms were well maintained and included two lounges, two bars, a complete spa and gym, counter-current swimming pool, two hot tubs (one near pool & one at bow on deck 5), the Yacht Club (for views, books, early morning continental breakfast or lunch sandwiches), library next to casino with a few one-arm bandits and a blackjack table, and Signature Shop. Specialty coffee is complimentary at any venue. See Cabin review below for details of our stateroom. The ship also has a Sports Marina aft with non-motorized equipment for use when anchored. Dining -- The main dining room AmphorA restaurant was open seating from 7-9 p.m. daily for dinner only. You can ask for whatever size table you desired and change the option nightly. Verandah which was aft on pool deck was used for Breakfast (7-9:30 am) and Lunch buffet daily (usually 12:30-2). There was indoor seating, but most guests ate on deck. There were always 4-5 options for special orders or you could help yourself at the buffet -- I never found any type of food to be missing, though the hot lunch buffet variety was lacking. Many ate fresh fruits and salads, and there were always several desserts of the cake/pastry variety and two frozen options (ice cream and sorbet) with toppings of all kinds available. Verandah is transformed into Candles at night for an upscale (think Specialty dining) experience out on deck which all guests are complimented once during the sailing; however, reservations are required due to limited space (book at embarkation). Service was always excellent at all dining venues. Activities -- There were several events that were part of the planned activities which included a deck BBQ dinner in Balboa before transiting the Panama Canal and the second week after sailing from Bequia the last night. Another event was the Beach BBQ lunch on Isla Parida where a full lunch is prepared behind the beach, Table and chairs are provided, as well as use of the marina's water toys and a couple of spa tables for massages. Some local entertainment was provided while in Costa Rica which were cultural dancing shows (one with school children); in addition, there was a naturalist who gave presentations and was available for questions on board for the entire first cruise. On the sea days (one the first week and three the second), there were several tours and demonstrations one could attend such as towel animal folding demonstration, cooking demonstration with the head Chef, galley tour, cocktail demonstration, and a photography seminar. A movie and cards, Wii, & Board games were also available. One port night in Cartegena, we sailed at 8 p.m. and had arrived at 7 a.m., allowing ample time in port; however, our time in Bequia was limited to about 4-5 hours due to late arrival and early departure at 5 pm. as well as several other ships in port. Shipboard Entertainment -- There were two duos, D'Harmony from South Africa who also performed on our Star Pride cruise and Nightlights (Elena and Julian) playing every night at the two venues of the Star Bar and Compass Rose. They also were featured during other events such as the Captain's party. There was also a Crew talent show at the end of each of the cruises, Staff/Crew/Service - With such a small ship with few guests, it was very easy to get to know everyone. The crew learns your name within 24 hours and there is great camaraderie among everyone. Some of the guest services staff, the photographer and occasionally an officer participated on shore excursions. The Captain was from Croatia, and there is an open bridge policy for guests when not sailing from or into port. There is a deck area in front of the bridge and guests did participate in viewing and photographing arrivals and departures from ports as well as the transit of the Panama Canal, while simultaneously seeing what the Captain and officers were viewing. Disembarkation - Quick and easy - We had completed customs forms several days prior which enabled Windstar to complete customs for all guests, so we merely retrieved our luggage and went on our way, with a ship's transfer to the airport. Ship's Excursions Quepos - We took the Mangrove tour to the mouth of the Quebrada River and back, seeing capuchin monkeys, iguana, numerous birds such as herons, egrets, vultures, and warblers, and an anteater. Good tour. I also took an afternoon ziplining tour through the canopy on 10 different cable runs and this was great. Balboa - Since we had been to the Canal 15 years ago, but not through it, we had seen the Gatun Locks Visitor's Center on the Atlantic side. We chose to take the Miraflores Locks tour with a stop at the visitor's center, combined with a 1-1/2 hour walking tour of the Old Town (Casco Viejo) Colonial Quarter of Panama City. Good tour. Cartegena - Our tour included a stop at San Felipe Fort for fabulous views of the city and talk about the city's history, followed by a walking tour through the Old City touring the Church/Monastery as well. At the port, passengers can view an animal park with flamingeos, square monkeys, iguanas, and peacocks; large shopping area as well. Aruba - Took private snorkeling tour. Bequia - Since this was our third visit to this port, we wanted to take a tour of the highlights which included several stops; one with an excellent view of the harbor, one with a view from the other side, of the islands of St. Vincent, Mustique, Isle a Quatre, and others; and the third at the Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary, founded and run by one man. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2018
We selected the 7 day Windstar Costa Rica/Panama cruise because we wanted to visit these two countries and to transit the Panama Canal. First, the Star Breeze and her crew were one of the highlights of this experience. While the ... Read More
We selected the 7 day Windstar Costa Rica/Panama cruise because we wanted to visit these two countries and to transit the Panama Canal. First, the Star Breeze and her crew were one of the highlights of this experience. While the ship was built in 1989, and updated in 2015, it was in excellent condition and every one of the crew focused entirely on making our experience a memorable one 24/7. We enjoyed pulling into the small, out of the way ports of call and very much enjoyed getting to meet and greet the Costa Ricans and Panamanians away from the hustle and bustle of the larger tourist focused areas. The food on board was world class in every respect. I cannot conceive of finding fault with regard to the culinary offerings. They just blew us away! Our stateroom was well appointed and spacious (277 sq ft). Plenty of room for my wife and I to stretch out and enjoy the cruise. Two of our excursions focused on preparing typical Costa Rican and Panamanian foods, which included trips to the local grocery stores to purchase the necessary produce and other items needed. These were a lot of fun. A note to possible travelers: Windstar cruising requires at least a modest amount of physical ability to get on and off the ship, as many transfers are via a Zodiac (perfectly safe and fun, but not for immobile or wheel chair bound people). Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2018
We were looking to go through the Panama Canal on a small ship and not have to visit various Caribbean islands that we have already seen. We had not visited Costa Rica or Panama so the itinerary on this ship fit our requirement. ... Read More
We were looking to go through the Panama Canal on a small ship and not have to visit various Caribbean islands that we have already seen. We had not visited Costa Rica or Panama so the itinerary on this ship fit our requirement. Embarkation was terrible and almost had us worrying what we got ourselves into. We took an independent tour from a hotel we booked on our own, which was cheaper than their transfer. We got to the port and they did not tell you that for security purposes your taxi cannot take you directly to the ship. You transfer into another van, which our tour guide seemed to know. Inside the port we were dropped off at a building stating we had to go through immigration. A porter took our bags inside the building and no one was there except a person at a table offering us cookies and lemonade. We asked what do we do and he ran out of the building to find someone. We are now standing waiting with a porter who does not speak English. The person comes back and says someone will be with us shortly. We waited 10 minutes and my husband goes out to find someone. A bus just arrived to the ship so they were busy but not having someone to great you and tell you what to do was crazy. My husband comes back with someone who provides us luggage tags (they do not provide a package in advance) and says to board they ship. We board after the bus load of people and it is a bit chaotic. You go through a metal screener, someone does a peripheral look through your carry on bags. You are asked to take your traditional picture and given some forms and go into a lounge with a number to be called. Once our number was called they state we don’t have all the forms. They ran to get us others and we had more to fill out. So confusing. Finally everything was filled in and we gave them the forms and you need to surrender your passports as they clear customs for you from Costa Rica to Panama. Once you get your key, you are escorted to your cabin and they show you around. Not the best way to start a cruise but it got better from there. There were about 190 guests with 150 crew so there were very attentive. Staff was very friendly as you met the same servers at breakfast, lunch and dinner. It was a pleasure to eat breakfast and lunch without waiting on long buffet lines and trying to find a seat that is an issue on some of the larger ship. Dinner is open seating and you have a choice to eat with other people or on your own each night. Dress is very casual and no formal nights - thank goodness! They have a specialty restaurant, Candles, where they dress up the veranda cafe used for breakfast and lunch. It is very pretty and the menu is excellent. You get to eat their once for no extra fee and if you get lucky, like we did, we ate their twice. The downside is it is a small ship with a small hot tub and circulating pool to get wet. They could not get the hot tub to the right temperature, on certain days it was too hot to go in. There is also a lack of outdoor seating in the shade. The upper deck has lots of lounge chairs but they will not open the umbrellas when the ship is moving as they will fly away. The Yacht club is very nice on the upper floor with large windows and you can find a quiet space to read or play board games that they provide. The Yacht club serves light food all day until 5 or 6 PM but after that time, you only have the main dining room or room service. I was looking for ice cream when we came back from a shore excursion but the only place to get ice cream is room service. Really? Room service is free as is all soft drinks and types of coffee and teas. There is limited evening entertainment, a piano player who was pretty poor and a duet who were talented. Select evenings they had music and movie trivia as well as Liar’s Club which were fun. Other nights they only had music. This is not a cruise for you if you want shows or late night entertainment. The ship has a very small fitness area - three treadmills, two bikes and a few weight machines. The ceiling was so low you could not stretch your arms straight up. Person giving some of the evening fitness classes seemed more interested in talking with friends than giving the class. I stopped into the spa for a manicure and they had limited nail polish colors and no drying machine. Sitting still for over an hour did not work to keep the manicure without crinkles. Bring your own nail polish remover and polish. Ship needs some TLC as it showed signs of rust and wear and tear. Rooms were very nice overall, see my cabin review. The Destination Manager, Steve, was very good and he gave a short port talk every day to give you an overview of what to expect the next day He was available throughout the day to answer questions and was very helpful. He also told you whether you were doing a wet landing or dry. They go to small ports so they use a zodiac to transport guests. It takes 18 people and 2 crew and they get the tours off first so you may have to wait if your doing something independently. The staff are great guiding you on and off and you need to bring shoes, water socks or sandles that will get wet. You usually get off in ankle or higher water on the beach on wet landings. There were people who had canes or some walking challenges who were able to make the transition but it is not comfortable especially if there is rolling waves which we had on two days. Staff do whatever they need to help. The ship opens a bay in the back which becomes a swimming platform and they place out floating mats to lay on, a trampoline with a slide, noodles as well as kayaks, paddle boards and you can sign up for water skiing and tubing - an adult playground. It is only open when the water is calm from about 10 to 2 or 3. The ship does a barbecue lunch on a beach on an island which is a national park so it has limited people visiting. You can only get there by boat. They set up lounge chairs with umbrellas or half tents, tables and chairs in a shaded area for eating, a full bar, barbecue with tons of food, a tent from the spa to sign up for massages as well as all the “toys” from the swimming platform. Great day and very well done. They also have an evening barbecue and they pulled out all the stops. They transform the open decks with tables and chairs with tablecloths and soft lighting. Food choices were everything from cold shrimp and crab legs to grilled lobster, steak, chicken, grouper, paella, salads, cheese board, desserts, etc. After they cleared the deck, they had line dancing with guests and staff, it was lots of fun. Excursions were hit or miss and I thought some were overpriced and others they did not tell you the proper travel time so you spent 3 hours on a bus for a 8 hour tour. We found some tours repetitive since the descriptions they provide are incomplete. They go to different islands, it was hard to find independent tours. The one at sea day, they had various activities, including a wine tasting, culinary demonstration and a galley tour escorted by the executive chef, various movies and documentaries and other activities. Again it is a small ship so you are not going to find sports or pool activities. I thought the sommelier, Nitish (sp?), who led the wine tasting did an excellent job, giving you information on the area where the wine was made and types of grapes. He is well informed. This was a red wine tasting so we asked if we could have a white wine tasting. He organized one after dinner one evening but because the ship was hitting some rough waters, it had to be canceled. Staff tried very hard to accommodate requests. Disembarkation went very smoothly and we booked a post cruise tour of Old and New Panama, which was good. It dropped you off at the airport but a number of us were staying overnight at the Riande Aeroport Hotel and the driver dropped us off on the way back - again very accomodating. This may not be a cruise for everyone but I very much appreciated their efforts. They have a slogan of 180 degrees from ordinary, they certainly achieved a good part of it but still have work to do. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
We choose this cruise to see Pacific side of Costa Rica and to traverse the Panama Canal. This was our first cruise in over 30 years. Overall impression is excellent. Under 200 passengers,personable service, very clean, with good food. ... Read More
We choose this cruise to see Pacific side of Costa Rica and to traverse the Panama Canal. This was our first cruise in over 30 years. Overall impression is excellent. Under 200 passengers,personable service, very clean, with good food. There is no coffee in the room, but room service starts @ 6am. There is only ONE outlet in the room involving a constant shuffle of recharging phone, tablet, camera, etc. We had a standard room with picture window (did not open), seating area, safe, TV, mini-refrig and king bed. Bathroom was adequate with a tub. All of the excursions were by zodiac, so getting off and on the ship took some maneuvering. Breakfast dining was on the back of the ship and we found we could get a table outside for most mornings. Dinner was in a large dining room and we could be seated with different travelers or with prearranged groups. The menu was varied and we never had the same thing twice (11 days). There was a piano bar, a duo who performed at the outside bar, and the staff did a couple of "entertainment" evenings. We choose mostly nature hikes and snorkeling for our excursions-there were many and varied. There was a naturalist on board who was exceptional and gave lectures concerning wildlife, history and need to know. My husband could not run on the treadmill-his head hit the ceiling. The gym did have the basics. We chose the unlimited Wi-Fi, unfortunately we could only use one device at a time and the connection was extremely slow. There were a number of lounges on the decks, but even with umbrellas there was not enough shade. We were last minute for embarkation and walked right onto the ship. After exiting the ship, we did take a land tour of Panama City before our flight home. Confession: I have not taken the Windstar cruise questionnaire because it expired 3 days after the cruse. Read Less
28 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
Pros and Cons As always, the ship’s staff were very friendly, and the waiters and much of the staff always remember your names. There is always at least one crew member (this trip, two) who remembers us from a previous cruise (my ... Read More
Pros and Cons As always, the ship’s staff were very friendly, and the waiters and much of the staff always remember your names. There is always at least one crew member (this trip, two) who remembers us from a previous cruise (my wearing a Windstar T-shirt doesn’t hurt). Breakfast and lunch in the Terrace is always a nice buffet, and there are also items available from a menu if you want to order them. The destination manager Kuba always gave a 15-minute overview of the next day’s destination before dinner began at 7:00. The first day in Quepos we did the national park trek, and we saw both 2- and 3-toed sloths, capuchin and howler monkeys, beautiful blue morpho butterflies, and some assorted birds and lizards. The second day in Juarez we did the dolphin watch excursion. Judging by the excitement of our guide, we had very good success. For over an hour we encountered several pods of many spotted dolphins, which from time to time were jumping out of the water. We were invited to the captain’s table the second night for dinner. Captain Chris Dodds and Hotel Manager Henri Lemay were both very enjoyable dining companions, as were the other guests. The next evening we did the outside dining, called Candles; it began raining just before it got underway, so the staff had to move all the tables under the roof. They had several additional choices beyond the choices in the main dining room that evening, including two kinds of fish, lamb chops, all grilled well done. Also a number of choices of side dishes were available, and three choices for dessert. The sapecial attention was nice, but I did not think the food was really anything special. One day we swam off the back of the ship’s marina, but the current was quite strong, so most of the time we had to hold on or stay near the rope and floating pads they deployed. We brought our snorkel masks for some minor snorkeling at Panama’s Isla Parita, but when we wanted to check out flippers from the marina at the back of the ship, twice they tried to talk us out of it. We were not expecting that we would see that much, but it would be our one snorkeling day, and we finally succeeded in checking out flippers. The beach day on Isla Parita was fine, the small beach was very nice, and the water was nice and warm. The lunch barbecue did not have the traditional BBQ chicken and ribs, just some spicy chicken, hot dogs, and hamburgers. But the jambalaya was very good. They also had salads, some side dishes, banana bread, sweet potato bread, and cookies. So it turned out despite having low expectations, we were glad that we did the snorkel. We saw lots of small and large sergeant majors, semicircle angelfish, some schools of silver fish, a few butterfly fish, a pufferfish, a sea star, several blue-headed wrasse, some parrotfish, and a couple of queen triggerfish. We were wearing our skins for sunblock and protection and were fine, but apparently a couple of people were stung by jellyfish that we did not notice. Windstar every afternoon puts out some light snacks and tea or coffee on the pool deck at 3:00, but they never list it in their daily program. They had a Costa Rican naturalist on board who gave three lectures. One day they brought on board Costa Rican musicians, and another day they invited dancers from a local school. The dancers ranged in age from 21 to 4 and were awesome, with beautiful costumes. During our one day at sea, we competed in a trivia quiz, attended the naturalist’s lecture on Central and South American mammals, and did the galley tour. Head chef Danilo did a great galley tour presentation. It was very impressive that most everything is made from scratch, which is why the food tastes so good. It was obvious how dedicated he is to his work. The Miroflores Lock and Old Panama City tour was good, and we had a good guide, but we thought they could have scheduled the timing of the tour a little better. When we got there, the 4th floor viewing platform was already very crowded with other tour groups, and you couldn’t get near the rail to see very well the last of the northgoing ships going through the lock. Also, there was not enough time to watch the movie presentation. We walked right by some nice looking gift shops, and local vendors in the park, to instead stop for 15 minutes at a REALLY inferior souvenir place. The penultimate evening of the cruise we had a great barbecue out by the pool, followed by music and dancing. All the food was terrific. Finally, the last day of the cruise we went through the Panama Canal. There were three sets of locks, for a total of six separate times our ship was raised or lowered in a different lock. There was a guide on the ship’s PA system explaining things as we went, but outside, on deck, it was sometimes hard to hear him. It took about seven hours to make the transit through the canal to the Caribbean Sea. We spent much of the time out on deck, and it was an awesome experience. Sometimes there would be a big cargo ship near us in the other lock, and it was cool seeing these much larger vessels going up or down. Unfortunately, the hot tub never was very hot, just lukewarm. One day they allowed couples to go to the very overwater bow of the ship to take pictures of the guests. The last get together before the Friday dinner time he entire staff of the ship from all departments came to say goodbye, and then asked us to sing with them a goodbye song. During dinner the dining room manager, Abdul, would go from table to table to make sure everything was all right, and the last dinner even the head chef came by. Service was sometimes a little slow, but acceptable once you knew everything was made from scratch and prepared after you ordered it. The only thing I would like to improve is adding a fish entree to the normal dining room menu. The reception ladies and the woman at the small onboard shop were also very friendly and helpful. There was a singer and musician that played music in the evenings before and after dinner. All in all, a nice cruise again on Windstar. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2018
Really nothing to complain, we cannot compare because it was our first cruise. Ship was small enough to meet people and feel as home. Ports and share excursions were quite well done. Entertainment and activities were pretty nice, ... Read More
Really nothing to complain, we cannot compare because it was our first cruise. Ship was small enough to meet people and feel as home. Ports and share excursions were quite well done. Entertainment and activities were pretty nice, having in account that it is a small ship, even during the "at sea days" we found activities to do, such as visiting the kitchen or a cocktail course. The only problem at these days were to find one shadow in the pool area. The beach party were perfectly organized. We enjoyed very much the ambience and the non-formal cruise, meeting people who has travelled very much and does not care about fancy clothes for having dinner. Service were good, most of the people working are from Indonesia or Philipines. We had one upgrade and obtained one Balcony Suite, very nice, incredible to open the doors and enjoy the views and the sea sound, we think it worths. For our next cruise we have booked a suite with terrace. In summary, a very nice itinerary, very well organized and a good cruise company that we would like to travel with again in the future. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
This was our first ocean cruise on a small ship. Star Breeze is comparable to a river cruise in that there were fewer than 200 passengers.. Accordingly, the ship offered little in the way of entertainment, though it did feature a library ... Read More
This was our first ocean cruise on a small ship. Star Breeze is comparable to a river cruise in that there were fewer than 200 passengers.. Accordingly, the ship offered little in the way of entertainment, though it did feature a library that offered videos as well as books. The crew-to-passenger ratio was almost 1-1, and the personnel were wonderful. The chef elicited my list of allergies, and prepared versions of the menu choices that I could eat safely. He even made a special anniversary cake for us, whose presentation was accompanied by a chorus of dining room staff. The food in the main dining room was fantastic, as was the breakfast buffet. The latter featured fresh local fruits and squeezed orange juice. The small number of passengers made for effortless embarkation and disembarkation. However, in the ports, we always dropped anchor in the harbor and got to the shore on zodiacs. Windstar celebrated the adventure of this arrival mode, claiming that the small rubber boats allowed the ship to enter small ports that could not accommodate larger ships. Perhaps that's true, but we did zodiacs even in the large port of Panama City. I did not enjoy the 10-minute rides, and when the sea was choppy, getting back onto the ship was a slightly scary adventure. Port visits were preceded by talks given by the onboard enrichment lecturer; I found them informative. Our first port was Quepos, where we, along with four other CC members, had booked a guided tour of Manuel Antonio National Park.from Odyssey Tours. That is the same local outfit we had engaged to drive us from San Jose to Puerto Caldera; their prices for both services being lower than those offered by Windstar. During our short pre-trip stay in San Jose, we had booked the Rainforest Adventure, which picked us up at our hotel. I got to wear my jaguar pattern rain poncho. One would not wish to do these park visits without a guide. He found the animals we came to see. Only the Capuchine monkeys were easy to spot. We would not have seen the other critters. No-cost optional swimming at a very nice beach was offered at the end of the tour. Our next stop was Puerto Jimenez, where we had booked a visit to Rancho Raices through Golfo Dulce Dart Tours. It is a chocolate farm run by a family that has been there for several generations. We saw the trees, and followed the stages from pod to chocolate bar. At the end of the tour, we were offered a chocolate drink and other fruits grown on the farm. Owner German and English-speaking guide Marco were excellent hosts, showing us a variety of plants grown there that serve both culinary and medicinal purposes. The highlight might have been the appearance of a large troupe of wild squirrel monkeys, who come daily for the home-grown bananas set out by Marco at noon daily. The monkeys know the schedule. This was my favorite excursion. The ship offered a barbecue at the next stop, which was a private island. The food was excellent, as we had come to expect, and we had an an opportunity to swim and snorkel, although the latter was unexciting.as the visibility was poor. After that, the stops were in Panama. We took a Windstar tour in Panama City and another on the post-disembarkation ride from Colon back to Panama City. These were overly expensive with not much to see, and their content overlapped. I cannot recommend either of them. In between, we traversed the Panama Canal, which we saw from a small ship for the first time. It was interesting to see the locks from the inside. I have to confess that after a while, the excitement waned, at least for me. Most passengers kept doggedly taking pictures. Would we do it again? No. But I'm glad we did it once. My final bit of advice is to bring a warm jacket. Although the tropics are as warm as you would expect, the public spaces on Star Breeze were always uncomfortably chilly. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
We chose this cruise because we wanted to sail through the Panama Canal, do a little snorkeling, and get away from crowds. Our prior experience with large cruise lines, left us feeling uncomfortable with cruising. We ran across ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we wanted to sail through the Panama Canal, do a little snorkeling, and get away from crowds. Our prior experience with large cruise lines, left us feeling uncomfortable with cruising. We ran across Windstar's much smaller ship, and decided that it might be just right for us. Because we weren't interested in shows, socializing too much, visiting crowded ports with T shirt shops, and waiting in long lines, Windstar was perfect. The Star Breeze surprised us by offering beautiful Oceanview suites as their smallest cabins. We also took advantage of the free 24 hour room service. The food was plentiful, and delicious. Our crew was always eager to please. We arrived at each port on schedule. For a tropical cruise on Windstar, I would recommend packing clothing that dries quickly (fishing shirts, etc.), 1 or 2 country club outfits for dinner, and 3 pairs of shoes (water, hiking, and resort casual for dinner.) Aside from that, get the laundry service. We regretted our decision to overpack and not order laundry service. Highlights included: Manuel Antonio National Park with Odyssey Tours, Beach BBQ and snorkelinig on Isle Parida (don't give up, the fish are by the rocks), lobster one night, and actually going all the way through the Panama Canal, and relaxing in the yacht club at the front of the ship. We are already talking about a future Windstar Trip. Read Less
25 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
We chose this cruise for the itinerary as a Panama Canal transit was a bucket list item; the itinerary was excellent, food was great, and service generally good! Our difficulties were with booking the cruise, paying for it, and then ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the itinerary as a Panama Canal transit was a bucket list item; the itinerary was excellent, food was great, and service generally good! Our difficulties were with booking the cruise, paying for it, and then getting the final bill correct. While service was generally good we found it spotty, with a very odd experience of past cruisers (Yacht Club members) being invited to a reception and no staff showing up. Booking the cruise: We booked this cruise only a few months ago, and WindStar made it clear that we needed to pay THAT DAY or we would lose the booking; we were fine to pay that day. But wait -- WindStar couldn't process AMEX transactions as they had some system outage, which went on for about a week. And we were determined to pay with AMEX. Finally they processed the payment and we felt like we had an upcoming cruise. We had also referred 9 people to a Christmas 2016 WindStar cruise. WindStar's internal process for documenting referral bonuses is rudimentary, and it took our agent more than one call to find the referral. The booking process could have been a lot better. Before embarkation: We arrived into Costa Rica the day before our cruise and had booked a driver to take us to a lodge near(er) to our departure port. Costaricadriver.net was easy to work with and provided an excellent driver. He met us at the airport and we headed to our hotel, Hotel Lapa Villas. The drive was about 90 minutes, and we knew the next day's drive to the port would be about 30 minutes. We wanted to stay somewhere local, but nearer to the port. On the way to the hotel the driver stopped at a local restaurant for lunch, Soda el Guicamo. It was delicious! The hotel itself had large but basic rooms and was located in a National Park. The sounds outside were incredible -- what I might have expected as sounds of the jungle. We did take a short hike from the hotel, where we spotted macaws, toucans, and one pizote (related to raccoon). The hotel's food and bar gave us local flavor. This was not the Four Seasons, and if you're looking for that experience, look elsewhere. One the day of the cruise, the same driver picked us up and off we headed to Jose's Crocodile Tour. Wow -- what a tour. We'd found this tour and had booked it after we'd confirmed the cruise. The tour boat captain and guide were both incredible; we spotted all sorts of birds and many crocodiles, including some 18 feet long. Our last planned stop was the port, and the driver had a surprise for us -- if we wanted to see some Capuchin monkeys. Of course we wanted to see monkeys; for a nominal fee, we were surrounded by some 15 monkeys. Yes, they climbed on our heads and shoulders. What fun. We then headed to our ship, where we quickly boarded. There were no lines. The Cruise: This was our 6th WindStar cruise -- 3 on sailing ships and 3 on the motor yachts. Ship/Cabin: Yes, the ship is older but is in generally good condition. The bathrooms in particular seem to need an update, with stained marble tiles on the floors and walls. Everything worked as advertised, and the cabins are very spacious. Dining: This was the best food we've ever had on WindStar. The menus varied and were all interesting. We dined in the main dining room on 4 of the nights, in Candles (the back area) on 2 nights, with 1 night of deck barbecue. All were exceptionally good. Service: Service was mixed. Some staff did an exceptional job. They anticipated needs, remembered our preferences, and seemed genuinely happy to see us. Some staff just did their jobs. Our cabin steward, who I only saw once in the week, for about 1 minute, was mostly missing. Yes our cabin was kept clean, but the steward just did his job. Example -- sometimes we had ince, sometimes not. This is the first time I've ever cruised and not given the room steward a nice big tip! The Officers seemed mostly missing or only talking to each other. We did see a fair amount of the Hotel Director, and on occasion we spied the Bar Manager (maybe picking up used glassware). The Yacht Club reception (past cruisers of WindStar) was a fiasco, with Yacht Club members getting printed invitations to an event and nobody from the ship showing up. I finally went down to reception to confirm we were at the right place/time, and the receptionist sprang into action. After about 5 minutes of frantic work, the Hotel Director dashed up to the top of the ship for the reception. We followed, and, well, he tried to make things right. About 30 minutes into the scheduled reception, some appetizers arrived, as did one server passing out wine. Two other officers showed up even later, looked around, spoke to each other, then left. We did get invited to a 10am champagne reception an a subsequent day, where I understand the captain attended. We chose not to go to this "make up" event given the experience we'd had. Excursions: We booked one cruise excursion, otherwise we organized our own. In Puerto Caldera, we booked the cruise's excursion to Manuel Antonio National Park. There were 39 guests booked. The park itself is beautiful but busy. The excursion was advertised as leaving early to beat the crowds. Unfortunately it took over an hour to get the 39 passengers off of the ship and onto a bus. Our time advantage had disappeared, and in the end our 3.5 hour excursion took about 5.5 hours. I would visit the park again, but do it privately. In Bahia Drake, we went to the small town and found a 4X4 operator who took us on a 3 hour scenic adventure. The highlight was a short walk through the jungle to a waterfall. It was all fun. In Golf Dulce we booked a private tour to the same chocolate plantation that the cruise visits; that tour was most interesting and the chocolate excellent. In Isla Parida we simply lounged on the beach; we spoke to folks who went on the hike (they really enjoyed it); the snorkel trip was apparently canceled when the boat broke down. Panama Canal Crossing: The actual crossing was fantastic. We were scheduled to start at around 5:30am and to finish at around 3:45pm. Times are not known until the day before the crossing. It seemed like more than half of the ship was outside on the front of the ship for the crossing. The ship provided a commentator who explained the process. We thoroughly enjoyed the event, and witnessed the first three locks from the very front of the ship (Deck 5) and the second three (last three) locks from outside the Yacht Club (Deck 8). We only used the old canal locks as the new ones are restricted to the largest ships. Tenders: All ports used Zodiac Tenders, with wet landings at two of the ports. While I quite like zodiac tenders, it can be a slow process given the boat capacity and the difficulty for some getting onto and off of the zodiacs. The cruise line did make it clear in their documentation, though I got the feeling that some passengers were surprised by the effort required. Final Billing: The preliminary bills were correct and WindStar even reminded us that we had some remaining shipboard credit. When we saw our final bill on the last day, it was not correct. Reception sorted the bill and simply stated that sometimes they have a glitch; Reception's calculation of our final bill matched our expectation and that total was about $200 less than what the final bill showed. Reception did correct the bill. Disembarkation: We had no issues on disembarkation, and we had arranged private transfers with Amber Moon Panama Taxi Service. The driver stated that WindStar calls on the container port, not the normal cruise port. There were no lines of taxis looking for customers. We love to try local beers and had booked a tour of Casa Bruja. It was a great tour and the beer was good too! Transit in Panama City was either on foot or via Uber. We also visited the old quarter, which was interesting though quiet in the daytime. I understand it's quite festive at night, with lots of restaurants and clubs sprinkled through the quarter. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
Let me start by saying that it sounds like Windstar got off to a very rocky start on their inaugural voyages in 2016! This was our third Windstar cruise. The first 2 were on sailboats. Windstar is absolutely not for people who have been on ... Read More
Let me start by saying that it sounds like Windstar got off to a very rocky start on their inaugural voyages in 2016! This was our third Windstar cruise. The first 2 were on sailboats. Windstar is absolutely not for people who have been on large ships and like all the entertainment etc. In our experiences the Windstar is clear that there is a specific hotel near the airport from which transfers (for a fee) to the ship take place. Otherwise passengers make their own transportation arrangements as some of the passengers did on our voyage. We had a great time on this voyage! Though the wind, especially in the North, can interrupt the itinerary. We were to spend first afternoon in Nicaragua but it was too windy to take the zodiacs into shore. Because this itinerary goes to out of the way stops without docks ( except Quepos) the excursions are mostly wet landings on the shore. This is not a trip for those not comfortable with these landings that can be in windy conditions. With that said, the fellow passengers were very very active experiencing the variety of excursions from easy to "strenuous". FYI, most passengers were between mid 50s to early 70s. Our excursions: 1) River Cruise and Traditions: The cruise was great and saw crocodiles, monkeys, iguanas etc. I personally did not like the "traditions " part ( not my thing but others disagreed)but the hacienda visit and lunch were nice . 2) Catamaran Adventure with snorkel: no coral in north but nice beach and saw smaller fish: puffer, angel etc . I wore a Pacifica SPF long sleeve shirt that provided a little extra warmth too . Water here was not bath water as it was further south 3) Marenco to Caletas Nature Walk: saw some birds . Walk along beach ( gorgeous rocks formations) and thru rainforest over extension bridge etc. was nice. 4) Afternoon in Bird Realm: saw hundreds and hundreds of frigates and some brown boobys and huge pelicans . Stopped at a stunning black sand beach! 5) Manuel Antonio Park: very very crowded! However saw many monkeys and cool sloth climbing down a tree 6) Curu Nature preserve: not my favorite but others including my husband loved it! 7) Tortuga Beach picnic for everyone was great! I kayaked. Others did paddle board ( younger group!). Fun day! The people who did horseback riding , rafting and zip lining ( not for the faint of heart!) were pleased with their excursions. We splurged on Juliette balcony and never shut the door! Loved it!! The barbecue on board is always fun and the staff dancing is great! Otherwise, entertainment were 2 duos in different locations. No one went to casino or at least whenever my husband showed up. Great staff! Many passengers hugging staff and saying goodbye at the end! Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
We were on the January 21st sailing of the Costa Rica & Panama Canal cruise. It was our first cruise with Windstar (over the past 10 years Oceania has been our primary line). Our cabin was very spacious and well maintained, and the ... Read More
We were on the January 21st sailing of the Costa Rica & Panama Canal cruise. It was our first cruise with Windstar (over the past 10 years Oceania has been our primary line). Our cabin was very spacious and well maintained, and the staff was very friendly and attentive. However, the ship's exterior and public areas showed more wear-and-tear than we had expected, such as rusty areas on the hull near our balcony, cracked floor tiles, and frayed carpeting in several areas. While some of these may be viewed as cosmetic, one of the hot water lines located above Deck 4 cracked and drenched several cabins. These wear-and-tear items reflect the fact that the ship (as well as its sister ships acquired from Seabourn) are now 25+ years old. Hopefully, Windstar will give these areas more attention during the next overhaul. The food during the cruise was consistently good, and sometimes very good, but generally a step down from the food on Oceania. The public spaces on the ship are somewhat chopped up. For example, there is no easily used walking track on the ship's decks. I was surprised by the lack of contact via CC's Roll Call among passengers. Part of this was due to the ship's small size (we had approximately 195 passengers aboard), but I was surprised that there were zero responses from passengers on the Roll Call that I initiated approximately 6 months prior to the sail date. As a result, all of the port tours we took were booked through Windstar. Overall, the tour prices were OK and the quality was good. The beach BBQ at Isla Perida was outstanding! We would take Windstar again if it was an itinerary that we were interested in, but we still prefer Oceania based on the condition of public areas and the quality of food. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
We spent 7 days on the beautiful Star Breeze and were totally spoiled. The crew is very friendly, service is amazing, food is delicious and the cabins are big and beautiful. We did the Naturally Costa Rica cruise and had to take zodiacs to ... Read More
We spent 7 days on the beautiful Star Breeze and were totally spoiled. The crew is very friendly, service is amazing, food is delicious and the cabins are big and beautiful. We did the Naturally Costa Rica cruise and had to take zodiacs to shore. Most were wet landings where we stepped off the zodiac into water on a sandy beach. This was easy for us as we are relatively young and mobile. This was harder for some older passengers- particularly boarding the zodiac when the waves kept it bouncing. However, the crew were great at helping us on and off the zodiacs. The highlights of the cruise were the deck BBQ and beach BBQ. We also loved that there were only 180 passengers on board and 145 crew so we were very spoiled!! Our only complaint was that at our first 2 "ports" passengers who were not booked on tours with the ship could not depart until the tours had left. As we had independent tours booked, this caused us to be late for our tour. However, from day 3 onward, the crew seemed aware of the fact that independent travellers needed to get off in a timely manner and we had no problems. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
This was our 1st cruise on a smaller ship. Really liked the size vs.the bigger ships. Windstar was 1st class from beginning to end. Personnel were friendly, polite,professional and fun. Food was excellent. Excursions were accurately ... Read More
This was our 1st cruise on a smaller ship. Really liked the size vs.the bigger ships. Windstar was 1st class from beginning to end. Personnel were friendly, polite,professional and fun. Food was excellent. Excursions were accurately described and fairly priced. The Sports Deck off the rear of the ship is an extra bonus and very enjoyable. The day on the private island was fun; and the deck party/celebration was amazing! The Panama Canal experience is most impressive and educational, and the ship does a good job presenting it. Pre and post hotels (in San Jose and Panaa City) were 4 or 5-star -- very nice. We were very satisfied and would recommend Windstar and this particular itinerary highly. P.S. while in Panama City, we hired a taxi to give us a personal, sight-seeing tour of the city. His name is Eric A. Singh; 507-6040-9459. He was great! Very fair, informative, clean/comfortable car and a real gentleman. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
We did not expect such a great experience. Our room was spacious, the service was above and beyond, the food was excellent, and the side trips were exciting. I loved that we didn't have to get dressed up to have dinner. I ... Read More
We did not expect such a great experience. Our room was spacious, the service was above and beyond, the food was excellent, and the side trips were exciting. I loved that we didn't have to get dressed up to have dinner. I appreciated morning room service. My husband enjoyed visiting the Bridge and the entire Panama Canal passing. Being on a cruise with only 147 other people was great. We are truly spoiled. The Dining was open and we could choose to sit alone or with others. No assigned seating. There was a wonderful BBQ on deck and another picnic BBQ on a private Island. No little kids on the cruise. Just one special family. This is a great cruise for active people who enjoy paddle boards and swimming. Getting ashore is on a Zodiac and is not easy. The crew is very attentive and helpful about getting people on and off the boat safely. But it would not be a good cruise for someone who has mobility problems. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
Naturally Costa Rica The arrival in to the industrial port doesn’t do this experience justice. But it is very clear when you enter the boat and start interacting with the crew that it is going to be a great time. I would say no ... Read More
Naturally Costa Rica The arrival in to the industrial port doesn’t do this experience justice. But it is very clear when you enter the boat and start interacting with the crew that it is going to be a great time. I would say no less than 20 crew members knew my name by day 2. This team takes the time to learn your name and preferences – in the hallway and around the boat they call you by name as they understand the importance of learning your name. Food was never below good and most times I would say is above average to great. It’s a boat servicing 200 people with no reservations for seated meals required – factoring that in, food was great and service was over the top (Miko, Hendry and Ram being my favorites with several others that deserve a shout out for going above and beyond). We had at least 2 days with the sports deck open and Chehab and Anna make sure you are safe and having a blast (water trampoline was probably my favorite). Some sections of the boat show its real age but the cabins and much of the shared spaces are beautifully renovated. Gym was always available with more than enough equipment and SPA offered several services. Denis gives an amazing massage and is a great source of nutritional and health knowledge (to keep you balanced as you eat and drink all day). It was rare that you could not get a seat on the deck exactly where you wanted. Ed, Jessie and others from the bar we always circling around to ensure you stayed hydrated. Getting off the boat in Costa Rica is different than usual boat exits – not an issue for us for take tender on to shore and do some wet landings (1-2 feet of water). I just recommend you ensure you ask your travel agent if you have mobility issues about the type of docking the boat does. Excursions were a variety of strenuous and mild activity levels. Some passengers go on strenuous and have some issues (heat, hills, slippery rocks, and hiking) so I recommend you read descriptions as we found them to be accurate. Our excursions were awesome – not flawless but great experiences in a beautiful area. I wish they would allow us to post reviews on their site of the excursions as that would likely help align people with the right excursions. Nightly entertainment I preferred was Jesus and Haley (Sophistication) – I could watch that duo for hours every night! They are energetic, fun and very talented. Lots of presentations (kudos to Eddie the Naturalist for knowing all about Costa Rica) and other activities you could do (triva, dancing, workouts, yoga). At age of 34 I was a bit ‘young’ compared to most of the passengers. This is no way impaired me from having a blast! Tracy Read Less
30 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
This was our second cruise with Windstar, having sailed the first time on the Windsurf last year, we were excited to see Costa Rica on their new Star Breeze. The ship was not quite full 181 pax)....perfect. We loved our cabin location ... Read More
This was our second cruise with Windstar, having sailed the first time on the Windsurf last year, we were excited to see Costa Rica on their new Star Breeze. The ship was not quite full 181 pax)....perfect. We loved our cabin location (307), and definitely loved the size! Walk in closets and larger bathrooms with double sinks are a plus. A nice little French balcony allowed you to take a peek out to see the beautiful scenery. The staff, as always, were exceptional and always wanting to do anything to make your trip memorable. The food is outstanding! Chef Budhi and his team did a great job. Chef specials from local sourced seafood in a couple of the ports were a treat. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner were all very good. Breakfast and lunch are available in the Veranda area, which has a cooked-to-order option along with a small buffet. Indoor/outdoor seating options available. Evening entertainment is limited to the occasional bar trivia or duo singers indoors and on deck... Both very good. Oh, and the deck BBQ evening is a don't miss! Great energy and fun. What we didn't care for, and what was different from the Windsurf, were the enormous swells in several of the ports making the transfer onto the rubber zodiacs (15-18 pax) very challenging! We are a pretty active/in shape couple so other than being a little tentative, we were fine, but caution is advised for those less mobile. We also did not care for the transfer buses from pier to airport, because we were informed as the bus was leaving the pier that the air conditioning was broken for our 2 hr ride....and it was hot and humid. We were given water, but there was no bathroom on the bus. We will definitely sail with Windstar again because everything about it is so nice. Our sailing had a great age mix, from 9yrs - 80+! We have cruised the big ships 20+ times and are totally sold on the small, luxury "yacht" experience. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2016
Our tour of Costa Rica and the Panama Canal was completely awe inspiring. Living in a region where there are many licks on the river, I was amazed and struck by the feat of building and maintaining the Panama Canal! It should be on ... Read More
Our tour of Costa Rica and the Panama Canal was completely awe inspiring. Living in a region where there are many licks on the river, I was amazed and struck by the feat of building and maintaining the Panama Canal! It should be on everyone's' bucket list. In Costa Rica our excursions filled with the flora and fauna of the region and did not disappoint. Other than the early wake up time to make the tour, we had no complaints (we are on vacation after all) but the timing was quickly explained as being controlled by the timing of low tide. From our arrival in San Jose, CR to final departure from Panama City, Panama the Windstar team handled everything including transporting luggage. It was such a well organized, steam lined adventure, we will certainly be repeat customers. As far as the ship, we had a French balcony suite. More then ample size for the time we spent in our stateroom. Very impressed by the walk-in closet and double vanity bathroom with tub and shower. The entire crew provided exemplary service. I, personally loved the "Sail Away" experience as we set sail each night. Even knowing what to expect, the crescendo of the music sent chills up my spine as they raised the flag. So cool! Looking forward to my next voyage. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2016
We have been on many mainstream cruises with Norwegian and Celebrity Cruise Lines. This being our first cruise with Windstar, we were quite impressed with the product and overall had a terrific time. The Star Breeze crew was upbeat and ... Read More
We have been on many mainstream cruises with Norwegian and Celebrity Cruise Lines. This being our first cruise with Windstar, we were quite impressed with the product and overall had a terrific time. The Star Breeze crew was upbeat and engaging every step of the way while delivering excellent service. Along with the small ship environment the crew really makes the product work and sets it apart from the bigger cruise lines. The cabins and public areas are well appointed. The ship is easy to get around, yet big enough to find a corner to relax. The yacht club was an especially nice place have coffee, a cocktail from the Star Bar or small snack/dessert. It was generally quiet with nice views. The cuisine was outstanding and service excellent. Plenty of menu choices. Our chef made two visits to our table to make sure everything was up to our standard. He was very engaging and genuinely interested in our feedback. All tenders were by Zodiac. We found this method of tendering to be quite refreshing vs. the traditional enclosed tenders on the larger ships. For those with mobility issues we could see how it was a bit of a challenge. The one area we thought could use some improvement was in the bar service. An indoor quiet area with bar service before dinner (5-7pm) would be nice... the lounge had loud entertainment more appropriate for later in the evening and made it difficult to have a conversation. Overall, we were very pleased with the Star Breeze cruise. We would recommend it to those who are looking to avoid the big crowds and like a quiet easy going cruise with some entertainment. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2016
This was our first cruise on Windstar. We were on the February 13-20, 2016 Star Breeze cruise from Puerto Caldera to Colon, Panama. We flew into San Jose the day before and used the Windstar transfer to the San Jose Marriott. The ... Read More
This was our first cruise on Windstar. We were on the February 13-20, 2016 Star Breeze cruise from Puerto Caldera to Colon, Panama. We flew into San Jose the day before and used the Windstar transfer to the San Jose Marriott. The hotel is in a colonial, hacienda style on a large property. Rooms are standard Marriott ( and this is meant as a complement). That evening there was a Windstar rep set up outside of the lobby to check us in and explain the transfer process. She was there the next morning also. For the transfer, there were 3 separate buses,leaving approximately 30 minutes apart. The entire process was very efficient and relaxed. The transfer to the port took almost 2 hours due to the traffic leaving the San Jose area. The port is an industrial port, but did not pose any problems or issues. The ship: Yes, this ship is 30 years old. The interior has been nicely re-done, but.. if you look close in places it will show its age. This did not take away from our enjoyment of the cruise. The exterior of the ship (not the deck areas, but the hull ) did look dingy in places, but I did note that during the week the exterior was being painted. The outside public deck areas were the passengers spent most of their time was always clean and in good repair. Because this is a small ship, the pools/whirlpools are small. While we did not use the pools, the passengers that did appear to enjoy them and there was always adequate space. Food: Food was very good. We ate at the Veranda most days for breakfast and lunch, and AmphorA for dinner. There was always a wide variety of selections, well prepared and a willingness to prepare what ever was requested within reason. We took the galley tour one day and met the Executive Chef. We explained how all dinners were prepared to order and that all bread and pastries were baked daily on board. We also ate one night at Candles, the open air part of the Veranda dining room at the rear of the ship. It is a traditional steakhouse presentation and was well done. We did have room service the evening we went through the Panama Canal and it was prompt and well presented. They brought the courses separately as they would be served in AmphorA. One slight disappointment in the Food area were the wine choices. I thought it was very limited and would have appreciated a wider selection. The cocktails were always well prepared. The lunch BBQ on the beach was extremely well done considering having to bring everything from the ship to shore. The BBQ on board was also great with grilled lobster and a roasted pig. Service: The staff was fantastic, especially the food service and bar staff. They all were very personable and remembered your name and would take extra time to have conversations. All with a smile on their face. Activities/Entertainment: There were two duos on board, both with a female lead and backup singer/ keyboard accompanist. Both were appropriate for the size of the ship and the level of interest in the passengers for this type of entertainment. They would play on deck during the sailaways and provide light entertainment in the lounge in the evening. We had a local, Costa Rican naturalist as part of the cruise staff. He provide several days of lectures with in depth information on the areas history, biology, etc. Very well done. His lectures were well attended and informative. Ports/Excursions: One aspect of this cruise that I feel Windstar should make all potential passengers aware of is that this cruise does not dock at any port except at embarkation and disembarkation. All other ports are reached by zodiac tenders boarded on the ships platform with several landings being "wet". The Star Breeze's own tender was pulled out in Balboa. The crew appeared the have the method of getting passengers in and out of the zodiac in the open seas pretty well down pat. We took Windstar shore excursions in all of the ports and we enjoyed all of them and they were all well done. Disembarkation: Disembarkation saw the most disappointing Windstar experience of the cruise. Apparently due to the pace of the Panamanian authorities to clear us and stamp our passports, the process to leave the ship was about an hour behind schedule. I don't fault Windstar for that... But, the water in the public areas of the ship was turned off during this time ( scheduled maintenance)... which means the toilets would not flush!!! Not a pleasant last memory of an otherwise great trip. We took the tour of Panama City as part of our transfer to the Bristol Hotel for one night post-cruise. The tour was OK. The Bristol Hotel was extremely nice and is highly recommended. Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2016
It's not my goal to tear Windstar to pieces, but my latest cruise on the Star Breeze was somewhat bizarre and disappointing, given the fact that I was expecting a higher-end cruise. I'm a Diamond on Royal Caribbean, and have ... Read More
It's not my goal to tear Windstar to pieces, but my latest cruise on the Star Breeze was somewhat bizarre and disappointing, given the fact that I was expecting a higher-end cruise. I'm a Diamond on Royal Caribbean, and have cruised all three of their brands. Since Windstar calls the Star breeze a "Yacht," I was expecting a higher-end experience, though I'm about the easiest to please person imaginable. But I can't imagine booking on Windstar ever again. I'm somewhat torn in writing this review, because there are things on the ship that were pretty good, and in my ratings (below) I said as much. However, RCCL's brands -except Azamara- charge a fraction of the list price of this cruise, and don't have the issues I experienced. So rather than being a Windstar "hater," I guess I just didn't see the value, and didn't experience the high-end luxury yacht feeling that I thought I was going to have. Having said that, most of the staff was excellent, the food was great, and we made friends that I think we'll be in touch with in the future. The Candles dinner on the aft deck was sublime, I loved eating breakfast out there every morning, too. The menu was great, my coffee never ran dry. The deck party on day 6 was awesome, the food delish and well presented. There seemed to always be enough deck chairs, the pads were good. The excursion that we did was great, the guide spoke excellent English and was thoroughly professional. So what is my problem? I'll try to keep it short: We showed up in Puerto Caldera. Many have asked why the ship didn't dock in Puntarenas, because the town is close, and Puerto Caldera is a more industrial port. But a lot of cruise ship ports are industrial, right? It shouldn't be a problem. But it was. Immediately adjacent to the Star Breeze was a massive container ship unloading what I thought was sawdust. I later learned that it was corn, thus the rotten fermented / garbage dump smell. The wind was blowing the wrong direction, the ship was being blasted by this dry corn / sawdust mixture for hours and hours. And hours. When darkness fell, the dust was illuminated in the lights, no one could be outside. It was thick, and it was disgusting to see what we'd been breathing all day. Windstar's fault? Probably not. But choose your dock wisely, I suppose. If a plane hits turbulence the pilot apologizes, though we know it's not his / her fault. I think a little bit of explanation would have been in order. Communication: Horribly lacking. We were supposed to depart Puerto Caldera at 6 pm, didn't leave until 9, returned to the dock and tied up again, then left. No announcement, no reason given. LAME! The next day we found that we were waiting for passengers delayed by the massive east coast snow storm, which was admirable. But please keep your passengers in the loop! The sound system on Deck seven was great and played wonderful music. But for the life of me, no one was able to hear a word that was said during the day 1 safety / lifeboat briefing. The volume was low, someone should have fixed it. Which brings to mind major problem with the ship in general...I don't think subordinates are allowed to advise of problems, so problems...remain. In hindsight, it's as if the crew was afraid to tell the captain that no one could hear him. On the beach barbecue day -which was great- the schedule called for the first tender to leave the ship at 11 am for the beach. People were lined up, standing, and waiting in the lounge for over an hour, no announcements were made as to why. We departed at 12:10. there were two security guards standing outside of the glass door, couldn't they have kept us informed? Yes, there were plenty of seats to sit on, but once the line started, people were standing and thought we'd be departing any minute... When booking the trip and again when I received my itinerary, we showed disembarkation at Puerto Caldera at 0600. I booked my flight out of San Jose accordingly, a 1015 departure. A few days prior to the end of the cruise, we recieved a questionnaire in our stateroom, asking what arrangements we made for departure day. That notice stated we'd be docking at 0700. I asked guest services what the real story was, and they stated we wouldn't be able do disembark prior to 0730. Which was absolutely true. Thanks to light traffic we made our flight, but experienced a bunch of unnecessary stress due to the inconsistencies. If you can't get off of the ship at 0600, please don't state as much. There were several other communication faults, I'm not going to nit-pick. But I'd like to think that on a 200 passenger ship, it wouldn't be too hard to keep everyone informed, if even with a note on the cabin door. -That would be classy! Ship-Shape: Our cabin was awesome, amazing, large, and cabin steward Alex did a great job. There is rust in the pipes, and there was a 50 /50 chance that the bathwater would be orange. We were told to run the water for a bit, not to worry about it. The cabin steward provides a couple of re-filled glass bottles of water daily, not sure of it's source, or if the bottles got cleaned. But on day four, my wife pointed out that the water stank, she got sick, and swears it's the water. I got the trots on the last day also, and four days later still have a bit of a bug. Is it the stinky water? As I mentioned above, we got blasted by Sawdust / Corn Dust. The exterior of the ship was never rinsed off, so it always looked kind of gross, having this thick layer of grunge on it all week. Near the hot tub on the front of the ship, there's this big wind-break half-bell looking structure that it would be cool to get your picture taken on, with the front of the ship in the background. Only it's got a bunch of drinks spilled on it, shoe scuff marks, and looks like it was painted by ugh, me. I'm a horrible painter. But I'd run a tighter ship, especially if it's being marketed as a high-end yacht. On embarkation day, my wife noticed a loose deck plank that stuck up about a 3/4 an inch, waiting to trip someone on the top deck. I assured my wife that since we were on such a high-end ship, it would be fixed by morning. It remained sticking up all week, despite staff, guests and others walking on it all day and such. Am I being overly harsh? I don't think so, given that a fall for the average elderly passenger could be debilitating and life changing. And there's a bunch of elderly passengers on this ship, trust me. I'm just assuming that plank is still sticking up. Port side, deck 8, near the radome. Watch out! The hot tubs were hot. Great! The pool was always hotter than the hot tubs. Not Great! I'm not talking a bit hot, I'm talking 110 degrees hot. People would put their foot in it and not want to get in. I asked an officer why it was so hot, she explained that it was filled with cold water in the morning, then heated all day in the sun. But I'm telling' ya, it was hot in the morning, and just as HOT in the afternoon. And pool water is generally not going to rise 25 degrees above ambient in a white pool. So one day we got off of a hiking excursion, we were hot. I wanted to take a shower before getting in the pool, the port side pool shower does not work. So I went to the starboard shower. Not much better, it spits, but only HOT water. Then I went to the pool. Yes, it was 110 degrees. Not too relaxing! BTW, I reported the showers not working to the guest services desk. They were never fixed. Sou you can assume that everyone getting into the hot tubs and pool has not rinsed off. But hey, that's what the hot tubs and pool are for, right? Gross. Not a huge complaint, but the sound system in the showroom is prone to either quitting entirely, or giving nails-on-the-chalkbaord feedback. Again, not a sign of a first-class operation. The Bridge. Open bridge policy, but don't go there. The two interns are very nice, the senior staff wants nothing to do with you, and it's uncomfortable. On embarkation day, my wife and I were up near the bridge on deck seven, and I pointed out to her the exterior controls that they use to get the ship in and out of the port. Now I have no idea what the controls do, and would never think in a million years to touch them! An angry bridge officer came out of the bridge, told us to get away from the control panel, and to go to the other side of the ship! It actually sounds funny now -to me- but on day 1, this guy missed an excellent opportunity for customer engagement, and was a jerk. I never saw him again. Maybe they were not engaging on the bridge due to the fact that I was labeled a troublemaker early on, but I can assure you, I have no desire whatsoever to get my hands on the controls! The bridge officers were so unsocial-able, I'd suggest having a permanent closed bridge in order to save the company embarrassment. Seriously. There were other things that were kind of strange, but I have no desire to go on and on and on. On the second night, there were only four of us listening to the live music. When we left at 10:30, there was no one. This pattern repeated itself nightly, but the crew was kind enough to come up and supplement the lack of passenger participation. And they -the crew-are awesome! Richard the Bartender's birthday party was a hoot. Kinda strange that only 4 of us wanted to listen to the band pretty much every night, but certainly not Windstar's fault. Due to weather, we didn't dock at the first port of call, so we actually didn't get off of the ship for the first time until day 4. Again, not Windstar's fault, I hope my critique has been fair as far a being critical of things that are directly controllable. As I stated earlier, I'm a Diamond on RCCL, and enjoy all of their brands. For the high-end I love Azamara, and Celebrity isn't too bad either. However, I'm still relatively young (52) and was hoping that I could establish a long-term relationship with a very high-end company on smaller ships. Unfortunately, I guess it won't be Windstar, I'm going to have to keep looking. :-( Read Less
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