We had extremely high expectations for this cruise, and rightfully so given our previous excellent experience on the Wind Surf along the Croatian Coast. Let's begin with the ship. The Star Breeze is a different type of vessel from ... Read More
We had extremely high expectations for this cruise, and rightfully so given our previous excellent experience on the Wind Surf along the Croatian Coast. Let's begin with the ship. The Star Breeze is a different type of vessel from those who are accustomed to the Windstar sailing ships, but we knew that going in. Having acquired the ship from Seabourn, and recently completed a much touted multi-million dollar renovation, our expectations for the ship were higher than what was delivered.
The staterooms are more spacious than on the sailing ships -- a big positive. The public areas are ok, but a bit underwhelming. The main dining room is the nicest area on the ship, as far as the public areas go, and they certainly did much to make it elegant. The "Candles" restaurant really is not a step up in food quality from the main dining area, and other than the fact that you are seated outdoors, there is nothing special about the ambiance. It is the same area used for serving breakfast every morning. With that said, we certainly did enjoy the outside seating and the wait staff did an excellent job with their service. Larry is the ship's officer responsible for the dining room staff, and he is truly committed to service excellence and to making sure that the client experience is very positive. We found him to be very personable and engaging.
One of the most frustrating aspects of the ship was the horrible internet infrastructure onboard. I have an extensive background in technology and am well aware that satellite-based internet service is inherently slow. That's not the issue. The issue was the ongoing outages and continual dropped connections to the ship's router that occurred throughout the duration of our cruise. There were times that I got dropped 10-12 times over an attempted 1 hour session -- finally giving up in frustration.
One morning, I got up almost 2 hours early to take care of some time-sensitive business matters back home, only to find that the internet connection was down completely. I politely complained about all of the above to the nice young woman at the reception desk, only to be told, "I'm sorry sir... our officers have been made aware of the problems..." I'm now in Day 9 of our trip and I feel like there should be some adjustment made to the outrageous $250 fee I paid for "unlimited" internet use. It has not been offered yet, although I intend to ask for one at the end of the cruise.
Today, our port of call was Capri. Knowing it was a "short" day with the last tender returning to the ship at 3:45pm, we were up waiting for the first tender at approximately 8am. Nothing happened. The number of people started to build in the waiting area, and clearly there was frustration. No communications. Finally, the Captain made an announcement over the ship's PA system at around 9:30am, explaining that they had been negotiating with the Port for a place to anchor and regarding the use of the ship's tenders, versus the port's. This made no sense to me since it is well known that Capri requires the use of their own tenders.
We watched the "comedy" as the Italian tenders from Capri were sent out to the ship, as they bobbed and rolled in the fairly mild seas, yet posing great difficulty for people to safely board from the ship. Ultimately, only one of their tenders was useable, and it needed to be shared with the larger ship anchored next to us. We ended up waiting until about 11 am to finally board and head to shore. We also observed the crew staff tell one of the other passengers that he and his family needed to wait because first priority boarding was being given to passengers who booked shore excursions through the ship. He politely told the crew staff that he had his own excursion and was going to board the tender with the same priority as those who purchased theirs through the ship.
Unexpected things happen in every business, and how you handle matters with your customers differentiates the best businesses from the others. This matter was very poorly handled by the Windstar crew, and ultimately the responsibility resides with the Captain who was nowhere to be seen. Frankly, he should have left his ivory tower and explained the situation to the multitude of very upset passengers... personally, and not via the PA system. People should have been offered refreshments to keep them comfortable, and there should have been ongoing communications about the problem, what was being done to resolve it, and when people should expect to make it onshore.
Instead, there was very little communication, and the ship's staff appeared to be confused and ill-prepared to handle the problem. The finger of responsibility was pointed at the Italian's at Capri's port, but this issue was totally foreseeable. Instead, many of us felt that there was a lot more to the "story" than was being communicated to the passengers. Even though the shore time was extended by almost 2 hours to "make up" for the delay, many passengers lost confidence in the system that would supposedly get us back to the ship, and ended up cutting the afternoon short in order to return early and avoid the chaos we had witnessed in the morning.
After missing one of our earlier ports of call due to heavy seas, our final port of call in Capri was substantially compromised. It was not a positive way to conclude our cruise experience on the Star Breeze. Read Less