We booked the Windsurf to celebrate our 25th Anniversary. The food was amazing and the service extraordinary, better than anything we’ve experienced on our other cruises. There were some snags along the way with the ports, but Windstar ... Read More
We booked the Windsurf to celebrate our 25th Anniversary. The food was amazing and the service extraordinary, better than anything we’ve experienced on our other cruises. There were some snags along the way with the ports, but Windstar went out of their way to try to please us because of these.
Would definitely book a Windstar cruise again, but due to the lack of balconies on the Windsurf ship, would choose a yacht with balcony next time. Although there were always seats and privacy available on deck, we really missed being able to sit out on a private balcony in the wee hours of the morning, early afternoons after visiting ports and watching the stars in the late evening.
We did notice a sewer and occasional smoke odor by our cabin (Deck 1, #155, front). Think it would have been better to have chosen a front cabin on a higher deck.
We met wonderful people on this cruise and due to the small amount of people onboard (about 220 passengers; 196 employees), we ran across each other frequently.
We decided to fly in from Tampa to Miami to do our Global Entry interview (more about that later) and then connect to St. Martin. Grabbed a taxi ($25 due to late arrival time). The driver asked if we’d mind if he stopped in a local grocery store enroute. He was in there for about 10 minutes with some “quirky” people hanging outside the store which made me a bit uneasy. All turned out well and the driver gave us a brief “tour” as we headed to the hotel. Arrived at the Royal Pasanggahran Guest House on Front Street in Phillipsburg around 10:40pm.
We were dismayed at the outside of the hotel from the Front St. entrance, but were pleasantly surprised at the inside of the hotel, entrance from beach and our fabulous room in the new section that was more like a suite. There was a 4 poster bed with nice mosquito net over it, a separate room for toilet, huge tub, shower, bathroom, outside huge balcony facing beach and ships. Next time we’d ask for a room higher up for more expansive beach view. Nice, hard mattress; very low quality sheets, pillows and beach towels.
Only saw one mosquito in the room, but lots of small ones outside at dawn and dusk. Had our Deet on so no bites thankfully.
Great Bay beach was nice enough although not as amazing as other BVI beaches. Free beach chairs and umbrellas outside of our hotel. Saw 4 ships come into St. Martin port from balcony as well as our Windsurf ship entering port and docked.
I was a little uneasy about having to sign a blank credit card sheet at check-in (the type they slide through machine). When one checks out they put the expenditure amounts in.
Went to breakfast at hotel restaurant overlooking beach…Amazing food and good service.
Visited the Blue Bitch Bar/Caribbean restaurant on beach for lunch. Good wings, portabella mushroom wrap. Slow service. Caribbean band outside the restaurant was wonderful, interacting with passersby, etc.
Great deals on Front St. for drinks, buckets of beers, chairs, etc. Usually about $20 - $25 for 2 chairs with various drink deals included. Timeshare salespeople annoying, trying to get us to do an hour presentation for freebees, etc.
Had dinner at The Greenhouse on the beach across from a marina, easily walkable from our hotel. Food was great and they offered 2 for 1 drinks during a time period. This offer included huge, delicious drinks, any type liquor, frozen drinks, etc.
Watched someone climbing up trees, cutting coconuts down right on Front St. to sell at his stand the next day.
Returned to our hotel with nice music playing outside, but we were tired so went right to sleep.
Day 1 of cruise
After another great breakfast at hotel, we headed to Sang’s grocery for wine (2 bottles permitted per cabin on ship) and suntan lotion (couldn’t put in our carry-ons due to liquids rule/amounts). Had to cross busy road to get there, but prices reasonable and decent selection. Tip requested by person who didn’t pack our items at register, but offered to carry our groceries outside. We told him, “thanks, but we’re walking…He says “I work for tips sort of angrily. Maybe that’s how they do things there? We gave him a buck and left.
We did carry-ons only this cruise due to connecting flights, coming back to Charlotte through customs and having a great laundry package onboard ship. $109 total for week. Laundry put out before 9am was back on hangers by 4 the next day. Sometimes even the same day. Can specify hand wash, don’t put in dryer, etc.
That being said, when on direct flights or connecting flights in US only, we prefer checking a bag for return souvenirs and not having to lug carry-ons around with us.
Arrived at ship at 12:30PM. Boarding commenced at 1pm…not a minute before! Waited outside (hot in sun!).
Went through security in tent and boarded. Complimentary cocktail, greetings by ship’s staff. Found our cabin and were pleasantly surprised at the size and storage space. We knew that we’d only have portholes due to no balconies on ship. Fun seeing waves splash over them occasionally. Really missed balcony though.
Linens and pillows were very good quality and comfortable. Cabin had l’occutaine (sp?) toiletries – wonderful. Bose unit nice.
Unpacked and headed to buffet. Lots of choices and wonderful sitting outside on deck. By the end of the first day most personnel know your first names and greet you by them. Nice touch. A special thanks to Sherwin, Maria, Tissi, our cabin stewardess, and the cook for breakfast and lunch on veranda. One could order from menu or enjoy buffet. The food on this ship was the best ever.
Our cabin was kept immaculate by Tissi although we hardly saw her. One night we returned to find a huge 2 kissing swan towel display with a bow and arrow made out of gold foiled chocolate candies on our bed. (25th anniversary)
Didn’t feel like we were nickeled and dimed on this cruise at all and felt that the employees and officers really wanted us to have a great time. Their smiles were genuine.
Announcement made that due to mechanical problems the ship was not leaving port at 7pm as originally scheduled to arrive in St. Barts in the morning. We were disappointed that we’d miss the first night’s sailing to St. Barts as well as the second night of our cruise, overnighting in St. Barts. So we stayed at the St. Martin Dock for the first 2 nights of our cruise.
Windstar did provide free ferry passes the next day from St. Martin to St. Barts. We originally signed up for these. However, in the morning we thought about having to wait for groups to gather, wait for ferries and stick strictly to the ferry times we had chosen. Decided to go to Orient Bay Beach instead which turned out to be a great decision. Fabulous beach which we’ve always enjoyed. Spoke to people who had done the ferry to St. Barts and they really were upset at late ferries, etc.
Windstar offered free water taxi rides to Front St. the next day. We took advantage of this offer and visited the shops.
We were also told that the Beach BBQ with toys would not be a Prickly Pear Beach in Virgin Gorda, but had been rescheduled to Fischer’s Cove. Another disappointment, but it turned out well. More info on this below.
On another note, we weren’t able to use the water toys off the back of the ship for the duration of our cruise. We were told the current was too strong.
To make up for lost ports, in addition to the above-mentioned ferry and water taxi trips, Windstar extended a $300 per cabin on-board credit which could be used for everything except tips. Also gave us free drinks the first 2 days of the cruise. Since we already had a $300 OBC, that gave us $600 to use onboard. We were first told that we couldn’t use this for a future Windstar cruise, but when I expressed disappointment about that, I received a letter on my door staying we could use the $300 to do so.
Unpacked and headed to pool deck. Comfortable deck chairs, lounges tables, umbrellas. Never had to look for empty lounges during trip.
Had our usual cocktails around 6pm and attended an informative port talk around 6pm. My very fussy husband, who has his nightly martinis at home, a little dry and just a little dirty, claimed he didn’t get a good martini for the duration of the trip. Great OJ so my screwdrivers were wonderful. (Fresh squeezed OJ daily at breakfast also.) Delicious appetizers passed at the bar during cocktail hour. We were surprised that the bars never seemed to have much camaraderie barside before dinner.
Dinner was fabulous. Seafood Risotto and fish dish, panna cotta and butter pecan ice cream for dessert. The food portions on this trip weren’t large, but more than enough to enjoy. Restaurant service excellent in all 3 restaurants. Still managed to put on some pounds during trip! Drink/wine prices about $8.50 each/$38.50 average bottle (and up, of course). The food displays on plates were impressive.
Enjoyed the Compass Rose lounge in evenings. Nice atmosphere, opening up to outside seating area. Listed to music by Duo, Mellow Yellow. Girl singer very good; guy not a great singer, but good on keyboards. Danced quite a bit.
There was also a band nightly in the lounge. Girl singer pretty good, but we really didn’t enjoy the band at all. Comfortable seating. We liked the nightly port talks, captain’s cocktail party, introductions to Officers etc.
Library and DVD selection decent. Girls at reception desk pleasant and went out of their way to help. I had difficulty checking into AA at their computer for my return flight. She helped me do so and print my boarding tickets. Dinner second night – short ribs w/pasta, great; beef wellington just okay; shrimp cocktail soggy, escargot delicious.
Impressed by offering us black napkins instead of white since we were wearing dark clothes. Never had to wait to be seated for dinner. Choice of seating for 2 or larger table.
Although we weren’t looking for the hairy chest contest, etc., we were surprised that there were absolutely no activities during the day inbetween excursions and seeing ports. Seem to remember just one day of trivia. Perhaps it’s because most people are off the ship visiting ports.
Hubby visited the fitness center a few times. Satisfactory based on size of ship. They also listed free yoga and stretch classes daily besides spa treatments, etc.
Sailed to Sopers Hole, Tortola, the next day at 1pm. Finally got to see sails unfurl to music. Terrific. Took lots of photos. Fabulous lunch buffet, napped on deck. Dinner at Stella Bistro (need to make reservation upon boarding). Lamb shank, mussels, raspberry crème brulee…delicious.
Watched a DVD movie – went to bed early.
Tortola – Took ship’s snorkel excursion. Was supposed to go to Caves and Norman Island, but weather didn’t cooperate so visited 2 snorkel stops in Norman Island vicinity. Good equipment, fun crew, nice boat, rum punch after snorkeling. Not as many fish as I remember seeing there years ago. Lots more in Chankanaab, Cozumel. Coral better at Norman Island though.
Stopped at Pirate’s Blight resort/beach on way back for about 45 minutes. Nice beach, excellent painkillers!
Back at 12:30 or so. Went to Yacht Club for delicious sandwiches. They have various, delicious coffees, little cakes and sandwiches from 6am – 6pm. Windsurf’s coffee best we’ve ever had on cruises. Specialty coffees included in cruise cost unlike most other cruiselines.
BBQ moved from deck to lounge area for dinner due to possibility of showers. Words cannot describe it. HUGE selection with everything from salads to wonderful king crab legs, big shrimp, paella (best I’ve ever eaten), lobster tails, whole pig, lamb, etc.
Linedancing with crew in lounge afterward.
Jost Van Dyke – Arrived in evening. We intended to go to Foxy’s, but just too tired to do so.
Awoke to showers. Bored in cabin. Headed to Jost late AM. Thankfully the weather cleared around 1pm so we had a great day. Jost is much more commercialized than last time we visited, many years ago. Still lots of fun. Hendo’s Hideaway next door also looked nice. Had our share of painkillers and the best fish and chips at Jost beach.
Dinner at Candles Outside restaurant. (make reso when boarding). Full moon over water, fabulous veal chop and perch dish, crème brulee. Received a nice cake acknowledging our 25th anniversary. Amazing night.
The Crew Show took place in the lounge that night. Appreciated their enthusiasm, but not our thing.
Virgin Gorda – Took 9:30 tender to another boat to a very pretty Fischer’s Cove beach (substitute for Prickly Pear). Great day using Windsurf’s SUP, kayaks, trampoline, raft, etc. Volleyball with staff, excellent Caribbean band amazing BBQ on beach etc. Others told us that Prickly Pear was nicer. Reasons for skipping that beach were varied. Not sure if Windsurf will ever visit there again.
We were told that this was the ship’s first visit to Fischer’s Cove. Things seemed to go well except for having few beach chairs and lounges. They seemed to have worked this out though, bringing more chairs as needed.
Antigua – Were going to do what I read was a short walk to Pigeon Point Beach. Guess we and other fellow cruisers missed the trail to do so. Grabbed a cab - $5pp….Short ride, but a lot easier. Very hot out. Decided to skip historic Dockyard and Shirley Heights.
The beach wasn’t great, but a nice cove and atmosphere. Not many fish seen while snorkeling.Hubby went to Gertrudes for a pina colada and gave them a $20 bill. Wanted to give him change in their currency. He told them he didn’t want that. They gave in and he got $8 USD back. Have to say they made a great drink.
There is a BBQ shack bar/restaurant, Bumpkins, down the other end. Very rustic, but nice people who called us a taxi back to ship later in the day. Someone told me that their beers were ridiculously expensive. We hadn’t done beer that day so not sure.
Last night onboard – Captain and entire crew paraded into the lounge. The Stewards carried in towel animals, some very different and impressive. All departments recognized and everyone sang “That’s what friends are for”…Very nice.
Since our return flight wasn’t til 3:25 and we had carry-on luggage with us, we decided to take a ship’s excursion the morning of debarkation. We met around 7:45am and were delayed til around 8:15 due to one couple’s not showing up. Tour guide asked if we wanted to skip stopping back at Phillipsburg due to delay. We all agreed to do so.
Took a nice tour to Oyster Pond and Orient Bay areas for photos; shopped and had a wonderful peach tart and cappuchino at Seraphina’s bakery in Marigot (loved the French atmosphere!); had a terrific pizza and drinks at Sunset Grill area restaurant. Unfortunately, just 2 small planes passed overhead, but we had been there before so just sitting in the restaurant was fine for us.
Got to airport on the tour bus about noon. Enjoyed the reasonably priced shopping and the Souliga lounge at airport though our Priority Pass. Complimentary drinks, light snacks, coffee, wifi, newspapers.
Boarded our flight to Charlotte airport. Had burger and beers at Tequiliera restaurant there. Not good at all and expensive.
Plane out of Charlotte to Tampa had to be de-iced so delayed. 32 degrees in Charlotte. Freezing to us Floridians. We hadn’t thought about it being cold so only had light clothing and sweaters with us.
Economy parking/shuttle at Tampa airport was great. No waiting at all. We didn’t get home til 1:30am.
Thanks to Windsurf for a wonderful cruise. Hope to sail another Windstar ship with balcony in the future! Read Less