11 St. Maarten to Caribbean - Southern Windstar Wind Surf Cruise Reviews

My wife and I were on the March 12 Wind Surf cruise. We’re in our early 50s and have cruised over 50 times. This is our second time on Wind Surf. We flew into SXM on the Friday before we sailed. Getting through the airport was ... Read More
My wife and I were on the March 12 Wind Surf cruise. We’re in our early 50s and have cruised over 50 times. This is our second time on Wind Surf. We flew into SXM on the Friday before we sailed. Getting through the airport was relatively easy and we took a cab to our hotel, Divi Little Bay. The hotel is in a beautiful location on Little Bay. We enjoyed our room (had a great view) and the food on the resort was good. Service, however, was terrible. We would not stay again. The Ship We checked out of our hotel at 11 am on Saturday (no late checkout allowed) and arrived at the pier before noon. Windstar has a luggage check in near the entrance to the port but boarding does not start before 1:00 pm. Fortunately, there were plenty of places to sit in the shopping area. When boarding started, we were though security, checked in, and in our cabin very promptly. Check in as well as specialty restaurant reservations takes place onboard. Security does seem to check carry on bags for alcohol…..we had two bottles of wine, which was not a problem. We were in a suite on deck 3. The suites on Wind Surf have been converted from two separate cabins into one suite. This allowed for 2 bathrooms and 2 closets. While the extra space may not have been needed, the extra bathroom was a nice feature. Cabin service was great all week. One afternoon, we heard a banging noise in our cabin. I reported the problem and it was resolved promptly. The reception desk called twice to make sure we had no further problem. The Wind Surf is not large but it has several dining spaces, a nice lounge, a couple of other bars, small casino, Yacht Club, and a gift shop. There’s an outdoor pool and hot tub. Lounge chairs are spread throughout the outdoor spaces. A marina is lowered from the back of the ship when conditions permit. Unfortunately, we didn’t have very good conditions for this feature on our cruise but it’s very nice when available. Snorkel gear is available for check out from this area. Dining We thoroughly enjoy the dining on Wind Surf. Breakfast and lunch are served in the Verandah, which has indoor and outdoor seating. It has a buffet with several a la carte items that are ordered from the menu. Overall, we found the food to be very good. The main dining room, Amphora, is our favorite for dinner. The menus offer a variety of choices, all of which include quality ingredients and excellent preparation. The servers are great. There are two specialty restaurants (no extra charge). We enjoyed our meal in Stella Bistro, even though the AC was malfunctioning and the room was hot. The food was excellent. Candles is the outdoor dinner restaurant (uses Verandah area). This was a disappointment. The menu is limited. I ordered a NY strip steak. I was served a piece of meat so thin that I would call it a minute steak. Everything else was OK but the other venues are better. I’d rather eat inside anyway. Once each week, there is a deck buffet for dinner. Last year, we really enjoyed this event. This time, it seemed to have gone downhill. The lobster tails were small, lamb chops were replaced with some type of lamb t-bone, and there was no chocolate fountain. Additionally, the buffet was scheduled from 7:00-8:30 but the food service ended shortly after 8:00. We tend to eat later so this was disappointing. If they are going to continue this event, they should keep Amphora open for those of us who want to eat a little later and prefer table service. Entertainment Since Wind Surf is a small ship, entertainment is limited. They have a band that plays in the lounge every night. We found them to be very good. Once each cruise, there’s a crew show. It’s very entertaining. There’s also a duo that plays in one of the bars. We never heard them play. Daily activities are limited. On our sea day, there was a galley tour and cooking demo as well as a few other activities. For the most part, passengers simply relax and enjoy a book or movie. There are no children’s activities. This is a positive as it limits the number of children on the ship. Those that were aboard were well behaved. Ports We started in Antigua. We took the Reef Riders excursion. It was very well done. The Reef Rider staff was very good and the snorkeling was good. The only negative was that it was a 45 minute one way trip to/from the harbor. I think most of the excursions required a long ride. Windstar might consider using a different harbor to get passengers closer to activities. Our second stop was Sopers Hole, Tortola. We took a snorkeling trip to Norman Island. The boat was a large catamaran, which was rated for 100 passengers. There were only 40 of us so it was very spacious and comfortable. We stopped at the “Indians,” which is a reef/rock formation off of the island. The snorkeling was great….some of the best we’ve done in the Caribbean. The second stop was supposed to be the “Pirate Caves” but we couldn’t anchor due to too many boats. We diverted to another area, which wasn’t nearly as good as the first stop. There was a third stop at “Pirates Bight,” which is a beach area with a couple of bars/restaurants. It was very nice and also very popular with boats in the area. Jost Van Dyke is a small island with very few options, other than a couple of famous bars. We took the snorkel trip offered by the ship. The catamaran and crew were very nice but it was too crowded. The boat should have been limited to about half the number of passengers that were on it. It was very difficult to move around. The snorkel stop was OK but nothing great. The second stop was at Taboo Bar, near the “bubbly pools.” We stayed way too long at this location. There’s no reason to spend any time at a bar during a snorkeling trip. I wouldn’t recommend this one. The stop at Virgin Gorda is for Prickly Pear Beach. The only way to see Virgin Gorda is to take a ship excursion. We didn’t but enjoyed a nice beach day. The lunch buffet was very good and there were very few people on the beach until the tours got back in the afternoon. It would be nice it some type of boat trip could be added to the Baths. The only way to see them was to take a full island tour. Our last stop was supposed to be St. Barts. Due to wind and swell conditions, we were diverted to St. Kitts. The Captain took the time to explain this during the crew show a couple of nights beforehand. I thought he handled the situation very well and it was appreciated. We just enjoyed the ship on this day. Final Thoughts Disembarkation from Wind Surf couldn’t be easier. Simply retrieve your passports (they keep these at check in) in the lounge and get off. There are no crowds or lines. Luggage is placed near the taxis at the entrance to the port. Windstar will sell you a transfer to the airport for $35pp. Don’t do this….taxis are only $10 pp. SXM is not an easy airport to get through so allow plenty of time. Check in lines can be long as can security. It’s not a US territory so there’s no TSA Pre-check. When we arrived, there was only one security line open for the entire airport. It probably took us an hour to check in (we had priority so our line was short), clear immigration, and pass through security. We enjoy Windstar far more than the larger ships. It’s quiet and relaxing. The crew is outstanding. They remember your names and anticipate your needs. We haven’t been on any other line with this level of service. We will certainly be back. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
You might notice that I have written several (read as "a lot") of cruise reviews, having been traveling with RCCL and Celebrity for years. We're fans of the "modern luxury" approach to cruising but have wanted to ... Read More
You might notice that I have written several (read as "a lot") of cruise reviews, having been traveling with RCCL and Celebrity for years. We're fans of the "modern luxury" approach to cruising but have wanted to try Windstar for years. So if you're like us and enjoy the amenities provided by larger ships but want to dip your toe into waters of smaller ships then read on...(WARNING: long review!) [I'm not going into the blow-by-blow detailed description of what we did every day (phew!), but instead will offer my opinion of how Windsurf differs from her significantly larger counterparts.] A (very little) background: We're in our 50's and work in the hospitality business. We cruise for the food, relaxation, itinerary and - most importantly - service, always booking a suite category cabin. We usually find the beverage packages a good value, but lately have been happy to find that our level of cabin includes a complimentary beverage package. We don't care much for the onboard entertainment, lectures, classes, art auctions, trivia, etc. We are nitpickers - we're on vacation - so if something is awry here and there we don't stress about it. We were sent an email offer from Windstar in the early Spring that we simply couldn't pass up. I booked over the telephone, which was easy and quick. Closer to our sailing date I also booked our shore excursions directly with Windstar as well, having the same positive experience. One of us was celebrating a birthday, which I let the booking agent know, and was informed that the information would be passed on to the ship (more on that later). Overall a very good experience with Windstar over the phone (note: the WS website is not great, so don't hesitate to contact them the old fashioned way). Less people means a better, more personalized vacation. Embarkation was a simple no muss, no hassle affair, and from the moment you board Windsurf every staff member (Windsurf features an almost exclusively Filipino crew) learns your name and greets you with it throughout the journey and every effort is made to provide you with a customized vacation tailored to your preferences. The service was exceptional. Unlike a lot of people who complain that the food on the large ships is not hot enough or well seasoned or too small, we find the food on the ships we have sailed to be good to excellent. The food on Windsurf is in another category altogether. There was not one single meal - breakfast, lunch, or dinner - that was not freshly prepared, visually well presented, and amazingly delicious. [I lie: The pizza at lunch in the Verandah sucks. Don't order it, it's a waste of calories and just, well, sucks!] The two "specialty restaurants" (included in your cruise fare) are equally excellent but dining in the main dining room AmphorA (yes, that's how Windstar spells it with the uppercase "A" at the end, and - no - I don't know why) is not a step down, more like a step to the side. Food on Windsurf was hands down superior to any "specialty" restaurant (that you pay for) on the bigger ships. For us this was a HUGE positive. There are two entertainment venues one (Compass Rose) featured a duet, the other (the Lounge) featured a band. We had cocktails before dinner each evening at the CR (lovely, outdoor seating). The duet there was good, but their playlist was bit outdated (no kidding, Tom Jones and the Carpenters!) but they were playing to their audience (average age on this trip was mid-60's). Again, entertainment isn't our thing so they could have had a CD playing and we would have been happy. Point is you don't cruise on Windsurf for the entertainment. A previous reviewer suggested guest lecturers, etc. If I'm on a sailing ship in the Caribbean (or Mediterranean) I don't want to sit inside listening to someone drone on about the history of pirates unless it's Johnny Depp talking about the filming of Pirates of the Caribbean. Seriously. Big ships are known for the (mostly mediocre) entertainment so if that's your thing stick with them. We booked a Suite at an awesome price and loved it! The suites are two cabins combined into one. The standard cabin might have been ok, but we preferred having the extra space. Love the L'Occitane bath amenities (yes, I stole some to take home) and our cabin was always spotless. For the size of cabin to ship ratio the Suite was on par with the big ships, albeit maybe a bit smaller. We thought we would miss having a balcony, but we didn't as there are tons of public areas inside and out to take advantage of. Again, who wants to sit inside when your sailing the beautiful seas? We didn't use the Spa or the Fitness Center. Both looked lovely: the Spa offered the same menu of services you would find in the big ships and the Fitness Center was state of the art, but our dance card was filled with snorkeling and zip-lining. An amenity you will NEVER find on the big ships is the Marina, Windsurf's water activities platform at the stern (that means back) of the ship that is opened for guests' use including kayaks, floating mats, sailboats, and more. It's awesome! As I mentioned earlier we booked our shore excursions through Windstar (i will review each port separately) and were very happy with each one. The price/value was much better than you would find on the big ships because you're not with 1000 others and having to wait for hours while this one finds the perfect tchotchke to take home and that one needs the bathroom for the bazillionth time. Smaller excursions meant more personalized attention from the tour operators as well and you got to meet and chat with more of your fellow cruisers, enhancing the fun factor of the excursion. The "Special Event" in St. Lucia (Windstar's signature event) was okay. We took a zip-lining trip that was a little far away, so we got back with a 1/2 to spare before lunch was taken away. However, the effort that went into putting on the event was clearly evident and the officers and staff are to be highly commended and congratulated for doing such a fantastic job of pulling it off. Herculean really. Two days later the second signature event, the on deck barbecue, was held and again the staff of the Windsurf hit it out of the park. Honestly there was more food than the 250+ guests could ever eat. This event, too, was phenomenal. [If you need to refill your coffee, now is a good time.] It's the little things on Windsurf, like learning your name and what soda you like, that differentiate this cruise from the larger ships. I mentioned earlier that one of us was celebrating a birthday. When we returned to our cabin after an amazing snorkeling trip we found a note wishing him Happy Birthday and signed by the Captain and Hotel Director. Later than evening (at the on deck BBQ) he was presented with a birthday cake (freshly made strawberry shortcake with fresh whipped cream and berries) and sung to (you've never lived until you've heard "Happy Birthday" with a Philippine accent!). So in the midst of putting on the event they took the time to recognize one guest's special day. For us that was priceless. Windsurf is 26 years old. Yes, she is showing her age here and there, but who cares? After 26 years on the open seas you would too, and when the Captain raises the sails to the dramatic music from Vangelis' "1492" (got goosebumps every time) and you set sail for your next port you realize it really just doesn't matter. You want brand new? Go to the bigger ships. You want authentic? With Windsurf you got it. When you go to bed and realize you don't hear the thrum of engines because the ship is actually sailing you understand THAT'S the reason you booked the trip in the first place. OK. Enough. We're hooked. Will we go back to the bigger ships? Sure. They serve their purpose too, but any concern we had of the Windsurf being "too small" were for naught. Windstar's motto "180 degrees from Ordinary" is spot on. You won't find an experience like this anywhere. Anywhere. p.s. - WiFi? Don't bother. No one has the technology yet. The big ships don't. Windstar doesn't. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
My wife and I are in our early 50s and have taken over 50 cruises over the last 25+ years. Frankly, we are tiring of the mass market lines that crowd ever larger numbers of people on their ships and have cut the quality of food, service, ... Read More
My wife and I are in our early 50s and have taken over 50 cruises over the last 25+ years. Frankly, we are tiring of the mass market lines that crowd ever larger numbers of people on their ships and have cut the quality of food, service, and amenities dramatically. For this cruise, we decided to try Windstar…..what a huge improvement! We were on the Wind Surf for the Classic Caribbean itinerary in March. We flew to St. Maarten the day prior and stayed at Mary’s Boon Beach Resort for one night. This property is right next to the airport runway on a very nice stretch of beach. It was a small property with a Caribbean feel. There was a nice restaurant directly on the beach. The hotel offers transportation to the pier ($30) and we arrived shortly after noon on Saturday. Windstar had a tent to take luggage near the taxi stand the then it was through security and onto the ship. Check in was completed along with dining reservations in the lounge. We found that our fellow passengers were close to our age from professional occupations. There were a few children that were very well behaved….the lack of children’s activities pretty much requires that they stay with their parents. Wind Surf is a sailing ship but uses motors for maneuvering and for less than favorable wind conditions. After leaving port, the sails are mechanically raised one at a time, from front to back. It’s an impressive sight. The ship doesn’t move very quickly but this keeps the winds on deck to a tolerable level. Cabin/Ship The cabins were available after checking in. They are standard size and we found plenty of storage in the cabin and bathroom. The bed was very comfortable. We were on deck 2 mid ship. It was quiet and there was only slight motion while we were at sea. We did miss having a balcony but we were in our cabin far less time than on larger ships. Cabin service was excellent. The Wind Surf is not a large ship. It has one main lounge and a couple of other smaller bar areas. There was also a large library with a coffee shop adjacent to the lounge. The main dining room, purser’s desk, and shop were on the same deck. The casual restaurant/buffet was on a higher deck. Entertainment is limited…..there were two small bands with vocalists who performed nightly. They were very good. There are plenty of outer decks with comfortable lounge chairs spread throughout. There is a small pool and two hot tubs on the aft deck. Windstar has an open bridge policy so you can walk right in when the ship is at sea. Although we never had much trouble finding a chair in the shade, it looks like there would be some opportunities to add some. We never sit in the sun so this is important to us. The Wind Surf has a marina that lowers from the back of the ship when it is at anchor. There are kayaks, small sailboats, and water skiing (no charge for any of this) as well as floats and a trampoline in the water. There is always staff available in this area. We found this very enjoyable and took the opportunity to swim directly from the ship on several occasions……much better than a pool. Dining We found the food to be excellent. The ingredients were fresh and high quality, far better than what we’ve had recently on larger ships. We ate in both specialty restaurants (no extra charge) and found them to be very good as well. “Candles” is an outdoor restaurant, which has recently been moved from the pool area to a higher deck. This provides cover if needed and allows for the pool/hot tubs to be available later in the evening. On one evening, a deck barbeque was provided. These make me nervous because they are usually crowded with marginal food. That was not the case on Wind Surf. There were a variety of excellent choices including grilled lobster, lamb chops, ribs, and roast pork. We arrived late and a crew member ensured that we had a table. Breakfast and lunch were served in the casual restaurant. There were a variety of buffet items along with a small made to order menu. Breakfast items included fresh squeezed OJ, quality fruit items, and waffles/pancakes made to order. Lunch always included a hot buffet, salad, and grill items made to order. The only thing we didn’t care for was the pizza. Service in all of the dining areas was very good. Non-alcoholic beverages are included….including soda in the mini-bar. This is very convenient. Ports Because Wind Surf is smaller than most ships, she can call on unique places. We only saw one big ship the entire week (in St. Kitts). We started in Barbuda, which only offered one tour (to a bird sanctuary) otherwise there was nothing but a stretch of beach with no facilities. We also stopped at Pigeon Island (St. Lucia), St. Kitts, Nevis, Isle Des Saintes, Dominica, and St. Barts. The beach party was on Pigeon Island. It’s a nice spot and the barbeque on the beach was very good. It was, however, crowded when everyone got to the beach. Even for a small group, a bigger beach is needed. We took the ship’s excursions (which we rarely do) in several places. The groups were much smaller and the tours were well done. There was generally a crew member with us. We particularly liked the cooking demonstration in St. Kitts. There were only five of us, which was a shame because the grounds of the great house were very pretty and the demonstration/food was excellent. We had great weather all week. We have never had a smoother disembarkation than from Wind Surf. There were no lines, crowds, people sitting all over, or endless announcements. You simply retrieved passports from the staff and walked off the ship. We hired a guide to give us a tour of St. Maarten before our afternoon flight. This worked out well. The airport is crowded but not too bad for the Caribbean. The security line was long but moved fairly well. There was a variety of duty free shops but not much by way of food. Why We Will be Back • No crowds or lines….anywhere! • We did not see an single intoxicated person all week • No crowds of kids running all over the ship • No annoying cruise director and constant sales pitches • NO BINGO • No “stupid passenger trick” shows • No pool games or beer chugging • No constant pressure for up sells or gimmicks • No singing in the dining room • NO FORMAL NIGHTS……virtually all passengers complied with “smart casual” • Excellent service • The most friendly crew we have every experienced • Excellent food (quality ingredients make a difference) • A very relaxing cruise This was our first trip on Wind Star….it won’t be our last! This is what cruising used to be. It is more expensive but you get value for the money spent. I will have a very hard time returning to a mass market line. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
This was the Classic Caribbean, St. Maarten, Barbuda, Pigeon Island, St. Kitts-Nevis, Isle de Saintes, St. Barts It took a couple of years to convince her to go on a sailing ship. I started with the Windjammer and worked my way up. It ... Read More
This was the Classic Caribbean, St. Maarten, Barbuda, Pigeon Island, St. Kitts-Nevis, Isle de Saintes, St. Barts It took a couple of years to convince her to go on a sailing ship. I started with the Windjammer and worked my way up. It was over dinner and a bottle of wine and some reviews and pictures of the Wind Surf that we would give it a try. This was our 15th cruise, the others have been on all the major lines, with Celebrity being our favorite. I like small and she likes big ships. We were able to get a direct flight from O'Hare to St. Maarten, which took the stress out of getting connecting flights or going a day early. We arrive at the dock and they proceeded to check us in very quickly as it looked like we were the last to board. The stateroom was a normal size for a cruise ship, not that you should spend much time in the room anyway. Let's get the only problem we had out of the way. We were in a stateroom mid ship. As we settled in for the night and the yacht had been underway for a few hours. Somewhere below us, in which I assume were the engineering spaces, all night long it sounded like a bowling ball in a metal tube rolling back and forth. Suffice to say I did not get any rest. In the morning I went to reception and asked them to check on what we heard. Of course had to wait till we were underway about lunch time to hear the noise reoccur. They sent an Engineering Officer down to check on the noise. She said she would check on it so we went up on deck to relax and have lunch. When we returned there was A NOTE saying that the noise was normal, but they would move us up one deck to another cabin. We took them up on the offer. Problem solved. Everything for the rest of the cruise was 1st rate, everything from dining, room attendants, etc. was excellent. The excursions we took were 2 snorkeling trips and a kayak trip. The vendors they lined up were great in all aspects of the tours. They paid attention to us when we were in the water, safety was always at the fore front of the trips. The day on the beach at Pigeon Island( actually a peninsula ) at St. Lucia was very well done. Everything was available to us, beach cabanas, chairs, towels, lunch was provided which was very good. From the crowd that was on the beach it looked like most of the passengers took advantage of the day. Being on a ship we did not expect much on the entertainment side. They had two bands, one in the main lounge and one in the bar aft. They split the time so if you went to dinner you could always see one before or after. They were fine, nothing great, be sufficient. The best night was the CREW entertainment night and they packed the lounge with the passengers, they were quite good and entertaining. Dining was above normal. Breakfast and lunch was served on deck either al fresco or you could sit inside. The menus usually consisted of 5/6 thing you could order or go to the buffet. More than enough choices. The fruit and cheeses were always plentiful. You could get omelets to order or roast turkey or beef at the carving station. The main dining room was fine, as were the two specialty restaurants, Stella Bistro and Candles (reservations required). Food and service was excellent. Service was not overwhelming just attentive enough. We wanted to order a bottle of merlot, but the wine steward suggested another brand, it was either a couple of dollars more or less I don't remember. It was an excellent choice, and later during the cruise we stopped at one of the bars and asked the bartender for recommendation and it was the same brand. We also had some port and took the recommendation of the server, which was also fine. We were able to find here at home and the reviews rated it highly. Disembarkation went smoothly as we took a tour before returning to the airport, which helped because we had 6 hours to kill before our flight. The tour was excellent given by an Expat from New York by way of Canada. She was very knowledgeable about St. Maarten. We would plan another cruise on Windstar either Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
Once again, Windstar out does itself! This time aboard the Wind Surf with another couple (their first). We opted for the beverage package, it suits our needs. We didn't do any excursions since we had been to all the ports previously. ... Read More
Once again, Windstar out does itself! This time aboard the Wind Surf with another couple (their first). We opted for the beverage package, it suits our needs. We didn't do any excursions since we had been to all the ports previously. We used the spa services, which were very good. We toured the galley and the engine room. We did a vow renewal ceremony, which was incredible! But, the best part of the cruise was Captain Harris and his amazing crew. One crew member, Ace, remembered us from our cruise 3 years ago. We were greeted each day by name and a wonderful smile, had many interesting conversations and just enjoyed their company. Our cabin, 222, was located pretty close to the disembarkation area at most ports. It really didn't both us much, except passengers standing in our way when trying to get to and from our room. The passengers on this cruise were about the same age group as the last cruise, but pretty quiet and to themselves (except for a few). While we loved the Wind Surf, I think we like the small Wind Spirit better. Just liked the layout of the ship and the smaller group better. Will we cruise Windstar again, Absolutely! It may be another 2-3 years, but we will be back!! Read Less
Sail Date February 2014
3.16.13 -- St. Marten Took a (very) early morning flight from JFK to St. Marten. DW and I arrived around 11:30am. Customs was painless -- one small note -- the FAs on Delta insisted that the Immigration cards for SXM were one per family ... Read More
3.16.13 -- St. Marten Took a (very) early morning flight from JFK to St. Marten. DW and I arrived around 11:30am. Customs was painless -- one small note -- the FAs on Delta insisted that the Immigration cards for SXM were one per family -- they are really one per passenger. Only place I know where the immigration officer says, "it's no problem -- just remember for the next time." Ahhh, already know we're on vacation. The reps for Windstar were waiting right outside Customs for us. The drive from SXM to the port took about 25 minutes. We got to the pier at about 12:20 -- about 40 minutes before boarding. Dropped our luggage off at the Windstar tent, then went to grab $5 margaritas at a pier bar. Turns out the Windstar was docked right next to the ill-fated Carnival Dream. Based on our conversations with Dream passengers at the pier, the Dream trip didn't seem too ill-fated. Yes, the toilets did back up for a bit. Carnival fixed that pretty quickly and the ship (outside of being able to move) is fully functioning. To boot, they've gotten to stay on the ship and everything is free! While I'm sure I wouldn't be pleased, all in all could be worse. Boarded the Windsurf right at 1pm. Sign-on was a breeze -- maybe took 10 minutes. You pick up paperwork, fill out forms in the lounge, have some rum punch, turn in paperwork, and then voila -- you're being escorted to your cabin. Walking through the yacht, it's clear it just went through a facelift. The modern-nautical theme really works -- that said, it's clear the upgrades were purely cosmetic. Some of the carpet is worn, porthole sealing is decaying, etc. To be fair, you'll have to look really hard to find this stuff. Our cabin on Deck 2 is surprisingly large -- the bathroom is definitely the best layout I've seen at sea. Shower is quite spacious. After dropping off our stuff, we headed upstairs for lunch at the Veranda and to make dinner reservations. Based on what we read on the CC boards, we were expecting something terrible -- it wasn't bad at all! The salad bar is quite delicious. Beyond lunch, I strongly suggest making specialty dinner reservations ASAP. It was quite obvious that the line for dinner reservations got much larger as the day went on. For us -- Candles on night 2, and Stella Bistro on night 6. After lunch our luggage had been delivered to our cabin (quite fast!), so we unpacked and then headed up to the pool deck to get some sun and read. This is when we noticed we were on a yacht and not a ship -- the staff actually recognizes you -- already. They would say things like "Hello, again," etc. I could get used to this. Hung out by the pool until about 5, then back to cabin to shower and get ready for the muster drill. Post muster drill, went to the Compass Rose for appetizers and drinks. Dinner at AmorphA was quite good -- DW had butternut squash soup and veggie napoleon for dinner. For myself, the snapper special appetizer and seafood risotto. Our mains were definitely better than the apps -- soup was too watery, snapper was a bit bland. AmorphA itself is incredible -- really feels like a high-end NYC restaurant. Highlight of tonight was definitely our sail-away from SXM. The minute we pulled out of the port, Captain Alan unleashed the sails. I'll admit -- I was VERY skeptical that we would ever sail under the full power of sails without the engines. I was wrong. Totally. Night 1 and we we're sailing under the power of seven sails. Another tip -- we highly recommend walking up to front of the bridge deck for sailaway. For one, you can watch the happenings of the bridge firsthand and two, the sight of the sails unraveling are incredible! Post watching the sails unravel, we hung out on the loungers by the Veranda. Spent 45 minutes on deck and saw not a soul. Really felt like our own ship. Night 1 and I've already sipped the Windstar cool-aid. This is very easy to get used to! 3.17.13 - Antigua Awoke early and went upstairs just in time to see the captain and his crew rolling in the last of the sails for our entry into Antigua. There is something magnificent about seeing the sun rise at sea -- it never gets old. Had breakfast this morning at the Veranda -- DW and I treated ourselves to the buffet of lox and fresh backed breads, all of which were quite good. Unbeknownst to us, there is also a breakfast menu you can order off of -- we'll save that for tomorrow. Breakfast on deck was capped off with a cappuccino -- delicious! After breakfast, we ventured out on the tender to the port of Falmouth. We passed many a yacht on the tender! The port itself was nothing special. The minute we got off the tender, we took a taxi to Pigeon Point -- the closest beach. While it looked nice, we knew it wasn't for us -- it's right on a road, no chairs to rent, etc. Realizing we weren't thrilled, the cab driver drove us to his favorite beach -- Valley Church Beach -- about 35 minutes from the port. It was amazing -- I have never seen such pristine water! We spent five hours at Valley Church and maybe saw 15 other people in total. You can rent beach chairs for $5 each at the beach as well as umbrellas and towels. Towels at the beach are $7, but the ship gives them to you for free -- so remember to grab them on your way out. We returned to the Wind Surf around 3pm and grabbed sandwiches from The Lounge and ate poolside (try the French -- brie and onion compote on a fresh baguette -- very good!). We lounged poolside until sunset, when the pool closed for Candles setup. One small annoyance at the pool -- the towels at the pool were completely out for most of the afternoon and the towel return was overflowing -- it wasn't addressed until I went till the guest services desk and mentioned it to them. I found this a bit surprising, but by no means was it terrible. Upon returning to the cabin to ready ourselves for dinner, there was a bottle of champagne and appetizers in our cabin for our anniversary -- a very nice treat! Dinner tonight was at Candles. On the recommendation of the crew, we chose to eat at Candles on a night when we were in port because there is less wind. Dinner again was very good. DW had caprese salad and lamb chops (very tender!) and I had a caesar salad and marinated sea bass. At the end of dinner the ship surprised us with a cake and sang to us -- definitely got the DW blushing. Ended the night by listening to the duo in the compass rose. Another great day! 3.18.13 -- Antigua/At Sea Although we were still docked in Antigua, DW and I spent most of the day on the aft of the Star Deck lounging in the sun. We had breakfast again at the Veranda -- DW had the California Benedict and myself a Breakfast Burrito -- both were just okay. Her poached eggs were overcooked and mine was just bland. I think we'll stick to the buffet in the morning. As I was lounging, I realized -- I think we're one of the few on board who enjoy "big ship" cruising too -- many people we talk to shun it and I certainly understand why. I am loving Windstar, but this isn't a cruise -- it's an "anti-cruise" cruise. Days are passed by relaxing in the sun -- no activity list to follow, no announcements about an art auction, just you, the sea, and (maybe) a good book. Lunch again was on the Veranda and it was very, very good. With all passengers back on board with our impending departure, it got very crowded. DW and I actually sat in Stella. I had a delicious chicken caesar salad and DW had a turkey sandwich that was out of the world. Our sail away from Antigua from phenomenal too -- once again, under the full power of sails. After an afternoon of sun, we attended the captain's welcome gala in the lounge at 6pm (side note -- I found it ironic that on the same night as the welcome gala we received our departure questionnaire at turn down. Really Windstar? Can't you just wait one more night...). Dinner followed in AmorphA. DW and I agree -- tonight's dinner was one of the best meals we've had at sea -- not just on this cruise. DW and I both started with the beef carpaccio. For dinner, DW had duck a l'orange and I had the lobster ravioli -- both were superb. One other tip -- at some point during the trip you must try the french fries with truffle oil and parmesan as a side dish. YUM. We shared a cheese plate for dessert. A great way to top off a wonderful meal. We visited the bridge post-dinner, then on to the casino and the compass rose. It was a very relaxing day/evening. All that said, the ship was very rocky tonight -- we overheard many people talking about their battles with sea sickness. Lucky for us, we weren't affected. If you are one to battle sea-sickness, remember to bring your remedies. According to the captain, the seas were calm tonight -- boy, were we rocking! 3.19.13 -- Torola/Jost Van Dyke The seas calmed early this morning. Finally! Stuck with some lox and bread for breakfast, then on to the first tender to Tortola. Soper's itself is a very small port -- a few stores -- you can walk the entire port in 10 minutes. After we walked the port, we jumped in a taxi with some others from the ship and headed towards Roadtown. For me, Tortola was a bit of let down -- I thought Roadtown would be a nice quaint town to walk around. While it's a perfectly fine and safe place to walk around, it's not very picturesque. After about an hour, we had enough and went back to the ship. After a quick lunch, DW and I ventured out to the watersports deck -- lots of fun! We probably made a fool of ourselves on the water trampoline, but luckily no one was around to see us. On our way back in from the watersports deck, we made appointments at the spa for foot massages later in the day -- there was a special in today's program, 30 minutes for $39. We pretty much had the ship to ourselves this afternoon. It was great! Unfortunately, the clouds rolled in and it rained a bit. Oh well, time for our massages anyway. The massages were wonderful. After our massages, the ship made the 5 nautical mile journey to Jost Van Dyke. Along the way, an incredible rainbow appeared. Very cool. Tonight was the big barbeque on board. The rain forced the ship to move the event inside to the lounge. It was still lots of fun though (and delicious!). Lobster tails, shrimp, roast pig, skirt steak, seafood jambalaya. One suggestion -- definitely try the grilled bananas for dessert. Yum. The Wind Surf is anchored in JVD tonight. It seems like many passengers on the ship are heading to Foxy's tonight for some libations and good times. DW and I are enjoying life on the ship and just don't feel like getting ourselves on another tender. We're quite content hanging out reading our books. 3.20.13 -- Jost Van Dyke/Virgin Gorda After a quick breakfast, we hopped the first tender to Jost Van Dyke and took a cab to White Bay/Soggy Dollar Beach. JVD is a VERY small island -- no banks, no ATMs, only five cab drivers -- truly unspoiled Caribbean. Once on the beach, I wrote to our family "I've never really been searching for Heaven, but I've found it." JVD is incredible -- the water, the sand, the view, the drinks from the bar -- everything about it was euphoric. The beach is small, but delivers a big punch. Just grab a towel on your way off the boat, buy a drink at the bar and you're all set. As long as you buy stuff from one of the bars, you can use the chairs on the beach. In terms of drinks, you have to try a Painkiller, but we liked the Nilla Killa better. We ate lunch at the Soggy Dollar, but we heard the restaurant One Love was very good too -- it's just down the beach from Soggy Dollar. As the afternoon goes on, the beach gets more crowded as the hotels from St. Thomas bring their guests for the day, but the whole experience is just fantastic. Once we left the soggy dollar, we took a quick cab ride back to our pier and quickly walked into Foxy's. To be honest, I didn't get the hype -- it's a bit of tourist trap. I know I'm in the minority hear, but Soggy Dollar was more my style. Back on the ship, we hung out the pool as the ship readied to sail to Virgin Gorda. I left JVD praying we'll return soon. The sail to Virgin Gorda takes about three hours. We stood on the bridge as the ship headed into the Bitter End Yacht Club (where it docks). Sailing in, we passed the Seabourn Legend. It was quite exciting to be on the bridge as this all happened. The captain took a ton of care to make sure all went well. The passage into Bitter End is very, very narrow and filled with yachts. I imagine it's one of the captain's more nerve-wracking moments of the itinerary. At dinner, we ended up being seated right next to the Captain's Table (lots of eavesdropping ensued) and learned lots. He said that on an average cruise 40-60% of guests are repeat cruisers -- on TAs that number jumps to 96%! Dinner itself was amazing tonight. DW had bruschetta caprese, lobster bisque, and the most succulent lamb chops ever. I had shrimp cocktail, the bisque, and an out-of-this-world stir-fried Thai shrimp. We split a piece of banana cream pie for dessert -- also very good. Today was truly a day in heaven. I'd happily repeat it again and again and again. 3.21.13 -- Virgin Gorda We had to get up early today because of our shore excursion to The Baths. I would guess about 45% of the ship went on the tour. Since there were a lot of shore excursions going out today, they started breakfast service early. The shore excursion meeting process was very seamless -- I guess it helps when you don't have to corral thousands of passengers at once. The Baths were stunning. There are parts of the climb that do get a little hairy (ie -- you need to use a rope at some points), but it's not like you are hiking Mount Everest. I thought climbing Dunn's River Falls was much harder (and a lot scarier) than this. We heard some people on our ship complain that they thought The Baths were too crowded (the Carnival Breeze was docked in Tortola and had a shore excursion going too), but we didn't experience this. One tip -- our ship gets you there earlier than the big ships -- don't dilly dally at the first beach -- go through The Baths right away. This will help you avoid the crowds and you'll get to enjoy Devil's Bay Beach at the end. The tender from the shore excursion took us right to Prickly Pear, where the beach barbeque was being held. The food was very good -- burgers, dogs, brats, salads, noodles, etc. The queue for the salads builds up for some reason -- if you don't want a salad just go straight to the bbq line. Many people didn't realize this (including us) -- we were starving having just gotten done with The Baths and spent 15 minutes waiting in line for something we didn't even want. As we ate Captain Alan unfurled the sails on the ship so passengers could take photos. The ship looked beautiful with its sails out. After sunning a bit, we headed back on to the ship to watch our sail out. This time the captain kept the bridge closed -- I certainly understand why. Dinner tonight was at Stella. The DW really liked it, I thought it was good, but certainly not the best meal I've had onboard. DW had duck pate, mushroom soup, and the steak frites. Her pate was extremely dry. I had the goat cheese souffle and the poached salmon with asparagus. My souffle was very good. Overall, I'm glad we only went once. While the service was impeccable, I preferred Candles. Tonight was the crew talent show. It was great to see the crew in a whole different environment. Tomorrow is St. Barth's and we are very excited! 3.22.13 -- St. Barth This morning breakfast was to the scenic view of our sail in to St. Barth. A lot of ships appear to be in port this morning -- Holland America, Star Clipper, and Paul Gauguin. We ordered off the menu again -- DW had poached eggs with salmon hash and I had southwest steak and eggs. We quite enjoyed both -- much better than our first attempt at the menu. Once again, we were the first tender off the ship. Town was crowded, but nonetheless we enjoyed our walk around the ship. Following our walk around the downtown, we took a cab to Nikki Beach in St. Jean where we had reserved an umbrella and a beach bed. Nikki Beach was tons of fun -- certainly something we wouldn't do on most our vacations. It's definitely a place to see and be seen. Our lunch at Nikki Beach was good -- steak tartar and a pesto chicken wrap. Their mojitos were very good -- they claim to have the best in the world, but I wouldn't go that far. We returned to the ship and packed up. We booked transfers through the ship and our disembarkation time is 8:30am. Post packing, we headed upstairs, grabbed a drink and listened to a few tunes from the guest singer. It was another solid night in the dining room -- DW had caprese salad and porcini mushrooms with fettuccini. I had escargot and the grilled snapper with a mango salsa. I would say my dinner was better on the whole, but both were very good. For dessert, we split the chocolate banana tarte and highly recommend it. It's hard to believe that our seven nights has come to a close. Luckily, our trip has felt much longer than seven nights. Both the DW and I agree that Windstar has exceeded our expectation in every way imaginable. We look forward to returning in the very near future. Some Final Thoughts The Ship: Quite honestly, it's hard to believe the ship is over 30 years old. They have kept very good care of it. Although we we've never been on it before, DW and I both agree the refurbishment did the ship well -- it's really stunning. As the days went on, it really did feel like more of yacht than a ship. As we got familiar with the layout it felt smaller and smaller -- something we both really enjoyed. We loved the amount of deck space the ship has -- never once do you have to fight for a lounger. To sum up, it's simplistic yet elegant. The Crew: Amazing. Every single crewmember works incredibly hard (as they do on all ships). However, something was different on Windstar -- the crew seems to genuinely enjoy their job and it's shows in their service. By the end of the cruise, most of the crew we interacted with on the ship knew our names. They always remembered my wife's drink order -- iced tea with sweet and low -- and would have one ready for her promptly. The officers of the ship are the friendliest bunch of ships' officers we've met. They do not carry a pompous air like most of the big ships. One small note -- we were surprised we never met our cabin steward -- not once. I wouldn't be able to recognize him if I walked right into him. He took excellent care of our cabin, so perhaps this is intentional. However, it would have been nice to meet him at least once. All that said, the crew is really what made the trip special. Special thanks to the bartender Ed, Ziggy the dining room steward, and Harry the dining room steward. These three gentlemen went out of their way to make our trip special. The Food: I won't go into great detail here as I feel the trip report pretty much sums it up. The cuisine ranged from good to excellent and I would say averaged out at very good. Needless to say, you won't be disappointed with the cuisine. Go with an empty stomach and enjoy. We enjoyed that the focus of this cruise was not food -- we did not walk out of any one meal overly stuffed. It's clear great attention is put on quality not quantity. If you are looking for the twenty-four hour lido buffet, pick another cruise. Tips for Future Cruisers: - Always grab towels when you disembark - Tenders are usually ready to go thirty minutes before the published time - Eat at candles on a night when the ship is docked -- it can get very windy otherwise - Make reservations for dining right when you embark - There is only one American outlet in the Windsurf cabins, if you need more bring an extender. - Be careful using powerful blow dryers -- they will blow the fuse in your cabin. - If the lights don't turn on in your cabin, try pressing the "general" button near your cabin door -- this controls the overall power - Make a point to visit the bridge at least once when entering/exiting a port -- it's a very neat experience Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
After sailing on several other cruise lines, I finally tried Windsurf. I have enjoyed most of my previous cruises....large or small. What attracted me to the Windsurf was the sailing feature. It was also very convenient sailing out/into ... Read More
After sailing on several other cruise lines, I finally tried Windsurf. I have enjoyed most of my previous cruises....large or small. What attracted me to the Windsurf was the sailing feature. It was also very convenient sailing out/into St. Martin. We vacation in St. Martin often. This time we stayed in St. Martin and then cruised...best of both worlds. Boarding was so easy. As stated, boarding started at 1pm. Our bags were given cabin tags and quickly delivered to our cabin. Unlike other ships, the bags were placed inside the cabin on the bed. No need to lift. We unpacked and went to lunch at the Veranda. The Veranda was a combo of buffet/menu service for lunch and breakfast. There were tables inside and on on the deck. Service was outstanding. Food was excellent. For dinner, we could choose from 3 venues. Main room was AmphorA, french bistro Stella Bistro, and outdoor Candles. Also, room service was available 24/7. Compass Rose, a aft bar, served continental breakfast and afternoon tea. Yacht Club served light breakfast and sandwiches. Bars were located all around the ship. All non alcoholic drinks were free. Wine and other alcoholic drinks were fairly priced...and they poured heavy. For those huge drinkers, there was a beverage package. We did not buy that package. We also enjoyed the bbq dinner on deck with lobsters. Cabin was well organized. Bed was very comfortable. Linens were good. The soap, shampoo, conditioner, etc. were L occitane.....very nice. We opted for the unlimited laundry package at $109/week. Same day service. I loved it. Entertainment was simple. No big productions or loud games. Outdoor pool and hot tubs, water sports platform, and beautiful water views were excellent. We also enjoyed the time sailing with the sails hoisted....quiet and beautiful. In most ports we tendered. Tenders were frequent....no lines Unlike other cruises which seem to close down a few days before you depart, the Windsurf continued operating everything until midnight of the last day. Disembarkation was easy. We left at 8:45 am and easily found our luggage which was in a tent next to the taxi stand. Within minutes we were on our way to the airport. $10 per person including luggage. Windsurf was fantastic. Everything worked, service was superb, and I came home with a suitcase full of clean clothes. Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
Windsurf has changed. This was our 7th Windstar cruise overall and 4th on the Windsurf. In 2012, the ship was given a face-lift; not the overall refurbishment the line's Facebook page implied. Windstar is almost there. Almost, but ... Read More
Windsurf has changed. This was our 7th Windstar cruise overall and 4th on the Windsurf. In 2012, the ship was given a face-lift; not the overall refurbishment the line's Facebook page implied. Windstar is almost there. Almost, but not quite at the true luxury level. Degree Restaurant was replaced by Stella Bistro (yet the guest comment card still lists Degrees). Stella was very good and the design is modern. The French-influenced food and service were quite good. The same holds for Candles, held over in the re-design. The dining venue is outside on deck under the moon and stars. Cannot be beat! The main restaurant is now called AmphorA (yes, two capital A's). This is perhaps the most prominent example of the ship's renovation. It even smells new. New carpeting, table and chairs and a daily changing menu. The food was quite good, and the service, as it is throughout the ship, was excellent. I'm not really a wine expert, but I do think the wine list contained some interesting and reasonably priced options. Rommel, the bar manager, has been with Windstar since 1998 and knows his wine. But unless you and your traveling partner are really big drinkers, the beverage package seems like a huge waste of money. Breakfast and lunch are served in an indoor/outdoor setting called the Veranda. There's always a buffet in addition to a menu of eggs cooked to order, pancakes, burgers, dogs and fries. The staff, who seem to work 24/7, are terrific. A couple of servers, Ziggy and One, even remembered us from a cruise we were on a year and a half ago. Upon check-in on the pier in St. Maarten, there was only one official processing people. Most of us had just gotten off long flights and were standing in the warm sun. In the past, check-in was quicker with more personnel helping out. However, the process moved along quickly and were on board within 20 minutes. Once on the ship, getting your picture taken and getting your room key is a smooth and quick affair. Luggage was delivered about 90 minutes later, during which time we had lunch. The cabins on the ship had undergone some updates. New bedding and curtains, but the same somewhat tired carpeting. The ship is pushing 20 (or more) and the carpeting shows it's age. Bathrooms on Windsurf are spacious and uniquely designed in a roundish pattern. The shower has round walls, as does the space for the toilet. Surprisingly, even someone 6'2" fits easily. Towels and toiletries are quite good and the cabin is serviced well by the hard-working stewards. The ports-of-call on this itinerary sounded good when we booked. Antigua, Tortola, Virgin Gorda, St Barth. But the excursions left much to be desired. Although she seemed to work hard, the excursion director, TJ, didn't seem too well informed about the trips. And the few slides she showed the evening before were not very informative. There are Information sheets available for each port, but a helpful touch would be a map on the reverse side showing where the shop docks in relation to restaurants, bansk, beaches, etc. People complained about long bus rides, not so nice beaches, and not enough time t enjoy the scuba diving and snorkeling, etc. By an informal poll the trip to The Baths on Virgin Gorda was the best excursion. Wiggling through narrow openings between boulders was, for some, a bit strenuous, but worth it when we got to Devil's Bay. As usual, Windstar's picnic on the beach was great, as was the final night's bar-b-que on deck. A great assortment of options, even for vegetarians. Anyone who has ever sailed with Windstar knows the entertainment options. A competent house band, which has been playing for guests for quite some time, and a duo in the upstairs Compass Rose. That's it. For those of us who return to Windstar, this is fine and we don't want or expect more. If you want Las Vegas style pomp, this isn't the place for you. I said earlier that Windstar had changed. One negative is that things seemed much less organized. Events were listed in the daily program without times (wine-tasting, cooking class) or the wrong time. An early morning stretching class listed as starting at 8:00, actually began at 7:30, surprising the guests who arrived at 8:00. There are so few scheduled events on these small ships, you'd think keeping track of them would be easy. Even the ever-pleasant women at Reception were unsure of when things started and where they would take place. Back to the cabin...many guests' room locks didn't work. Batteries and to be replaced. The once modern and useful Bose sound docks also were prone to problems. All matters were addressed quickly, but there seemed to be a lot of such issues. Two other observations. The cabins could use another electric outlet. People today travel with a ton of electronics and all need to be charged. So a nice addition would be one or two more plugs. Also, who designed a toilet with the flushing device behind the seat? Talk about sanitary! One has to do one's business, close the lid and reach behind the toiled and pull up on a knob to flush. One great thing about Windstar is that there is no waiting for anything. On a recent cruise on a large ship (2,000) passengers, there was a 20 minute wait to get into the main dining room. Never happens on Windstar. You can eat whenever and with whomever you please and you are seated with a minute of coming to the door. The same holds for getting on and off the ship. Never a wait of more than a minute or two. The open bridge policy still is in effect and you can wander in and ask questions almost anytime. The captain made himself quite visible throughout the trip even though he wasn't feeling well. I would like those see Windstar do more to recognize return passengers. Because this cruise line caters to a very specific niche, I would think much of their business comes from word of mouth. Airlines and hotels reward frequent travelers (as does Seabourn) with perks. Maybe an upgraded room. Maybe shipboard credit. Maybe a free spa service or bottle of wine. Not on Wndstar. Regarding Windsurf spa, the women who seemed in charge was surly, rude and impatient. A very unusual trait for a cruise employee. When people had questions, or wanted to change or cancel an appointment, she look quite annoyed. One therapist even administered even administered a massage after admitting she had a cold. With so many precautions taken on cruise ships about disease prevention, how could this woman knowingly give a passenger a massage when she knew she had a cold? Overall, Windstar is a great choice for a cruise vacation. When the sails go up, when they play Vengelis' 1492 during sail away, nothing beats it. But the line still has a way to go to be considered a luxury-level fleet Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
After traveling with Celebrity on our last six cruises, the wife and I decided to try something different. We picked the Windsurf (Dec. 8-15) because of the smaller size ship and the port destinations (Martinque and Les Saintes). This is ... Read More
After traveling with Celebrity on our last six cruises, the wife and I decided to try something different. We picked the Windsurf (Dec. 8-15) because of the smaller size ship and the port destinations (Martinque and Les Saintes). This is what we experienced: Embarkation: went smoothly and quick. After dropping off our bags and a quick ID check, it was a small walk to the ship. Paperwork took less than five minutes. It was nice that we had a room steward take us to our room and give us a rundown on where all the switches were. Room: Comfortable,bed was fine, bathroom had enough space and plenty of storage for your clothing. Cosmetically it looked old, too much white. But we only stayed in room for sleeping and changing. TV was small and satellite was not working, but never turned it on. Public Rooms: very nice. Lounge was big, never did watch a show. The Compass Rose is beautiful, spent most of our time there to talk to other couples and relax. The pool area was nice, pool is only good for wading, no swimming. The water platform was great, went and used it each day. Watch out though, the current is strong.Restaurants: both the Amphoria and the Stella Bistro looked great. The selection of meals were plentiful and the portions were large. The quality at the Amphoria was excellent. Unfortunately, the wife's meal at the Bistro was undercooked for three of four servings. Dinner at Candles was nice, we had little wind compared to some of the nights. The BBQ on board got rained on so people had to scramble. The beach BBQ also was cancelled because of rain. Did use the sandwich shoppe, was very tasty. Ports: La Marin: very little shopping around if you are looking for anything. We did the Jeep tour and had a great time stopping at the Rum distillery and Pottery. There was a shopping area at the pottery, but they only take euros. Pigeon Island: two very small beaches to use but was comfortable, had many lounge chairs. Les Saintes: beautiful little island, the shopping area was perfect, not big and it seemed every thing was local. St Kitts: what a change since our last time there. The port now reminds me of a little St. Maartan. Thirty areas of shopping with every jewelry store known to man. I liked it better when it was quiet.Debarkation: again was very quick and easy. Got off the ship at 8 am. Went on the Post tour of the island. Make sure when you sign up ask if they are going to Marigot first. We went to Phillipsburg first and all the shops were closed. did like the Marigot shopping area. Bus got us back to the airport by noon. I wanted to try to compare this with our experiences on our last cruises with Celebrity. Very hard to do. Pros: no rush, no lines, quiet, met some nice people from all around the States, free soda. Cons: less activities if you want them. Overall: would I cruise Windstar again. Yes, if the price is right. I paid the same as a balcany room on a large ship for this cruise. If that price were higher, I don't believe I would. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
Embarked on the WindStar's Windsurf for their Yachtman' Caribbean from Dec 24, 2011 through Dec 31, 2011 out of St Maarteen. Overall, this was an outstanding cruise. The wife and I have never been on the Windstar line before, ... Read More
Embarked on the WindStar's Windsurf for their Yachtman' Caribbean from Dec 24, 2011 through Dec 31, 2011 out of St Maarteen. Overall, this was an outstanding cruise. The wife and I have never been on the Windstar line before, and after cruising many other large ships decided to try this out. We both agreed that as long as we can help it, we will never do another large cruise ship again. Since this was Christmas week, the demographics of the boat were somewhat different as there were some families, but the boat primarily was primarily filled with "older" couples in their late 40s to early 60s (we are in our early 30s). Even though the boat was "booked" at capacity, I think like 312 or so, the entire week we always felt that we had the boat to ourselves. The largest "gathering" of people typically occurred during the port talks in the evenings and had about 40 or so people in the lounge. We never found it difficult to find a lounger outside or get a table to ourselves at dinner, or find a spot to just sit alone when we wanted to. And on the flip side, if you wanted to be social and sit with others, that was not an issue either. To be honest, there were not that many "recent" reviews of Windsurf out there and I was a little nervous about booking. However, now I am a little nervous about writing this review because I don't want others to find out how great it was! FOOD: The food overall I would classify as one notch about a large cruise line. My wife is vegetarian and never had an issue finding dishes she could eat. They are all typically marked with a V on the menu and after Day 1, the crew knows and remembers your preferences. For such a small boat you have a couple different places to eat. "The Restaurant" -- Basically your main dining room, in which you could eat anytime between 7pm and 9pm. The menu changed each night. There was someplace called "Degrees" that you could eat at, but we never did. You could also eat outside at their 2 "special" restaurants which required a reservation. We ate at "Candles" one night, basically a steak house menu, and ate on the aft portion of the boat outside. It was nice to be outside, but did not think the food was any better then what was inside. They just brought out whatever the vegetarian option was from the inside menu for the wife, not a big issue. For breakfast we would always go to the Terrace which consisted of a good sized/optioned breakfast buffet along with a short menu to order from. For lunch, we would always stop by the "Yachtclub" and grab some sandwiches which we would bring ashore with us. CABIN: For a small boat, the cabin was of ok size. We thought we would miss having a balcony, but did not since you are really rarely in the cabin. So the bottom 3 decks are basically all cruise passenger cabins and seemed to be based on class of pay. Deck 3 was all the suites (basically 2 rooms joined together), Deck 2 was normal sized cabins, and Deck 1 was normal sized cabins. When I originally priced out the cruise, of course 3 were the most expensive, then 2, then 1. We ended up in a cabin on deck 1, don't see any reason why I would want to spend more money to get a cabin on deck 2 as they are all the same. Maybe you upgrade to deck 3 for a suite if you want more room, but since you spend so little time in the cabins and there are no balconies, deck 1 made the most since to us. Overall the cabins were always very clean (along with the rest of the ship). The ship actually had just completed a refit 2 weeks prior to us coming aboard, so there was lots of new carpet, etc. Ship looked great, not aged at all. DAY 1: Arrival to St Maarten / Ship Departure We arrived into St Maarten on Saturday Dec 24 on USAir from CLT. Not a bad flight arriving around 220pm. The boat left at 7pm and they asked you to be onboard by 6pm, so we just took a taxi from the airport to the port. Cost was $20 for the 2 of us. No issues, only took about 30 mins to get to the port. Would say this method was less expensive than the cruise ships prearranged transportation and not difficult. All you had to do was get your luggage and walk outside. Checking in seemed to be very informal compared to other cruise lines. You walked onboard, they checked your name, then at one station they provided you paperwork to fill out. Then you would go into the lounge, fill out the paperwork (they provided free fingerfood and drinks), and then you would go drop off the paperwork at another station, they would take your picture and then you went to another station to get your room key. Sounds complicated, but was pretty easy and stress free compared to waiting in large lines with other cruise lines. That night was pretty uneventful, we did the lifeboat drill, ate some dinner, watched the boat leave, and then went to bed. Day 2: Tortola / Jost Van Dyke Arrived at Tortola's Soper's Hole at 10am. Last tender back to the ship was 530pm, so plenty of time on shore. With it being Xmas day, there was not a lot of activity on the island and cabs were just not around much. We ended up going to "Nani Cay" which was probably not one of the better beaches, but its location near a main road and cab stand gave us a better option of getting back to the boat. Soper's Hole is also home to Pursers Rum (misspelled?) and we drank some painkillers at the bar. The boat left Tortola around 6pm and arrived at Jost Van Dyke at 7pm. Last tender back to the boat was at midnight, so plenty of time to hangout of Foxy's which was great. The boat tendered us in to the side that Foxys was on, so made it very easy to get to. And the good news is that the Captain decided to change up the itinerary (originally supposed to depart Jost Van Dyke at midnight and go to Virgin Gorda) and decided for us to stay overnight at Jost Van Dyke until the following afternoon so we could enjoy the beaches here as well. Day 3: Jost Van Dyke / Virgin Gorda Tenders ran from early morning to 3pm on Jost Van Dyke so plenty of time to experience the island and the beaches. We walked from the little town that Foxys is in over the mountain to the beach that Soggy Dollar Bar is out and spent the day. It was a very hilly walk over there and took about 35 mins, but worth the views (and we took a cab back, only $10). Beach was great, got some chairs and drinks and watched all the boats come and go into the area. That evening we went back to the boat and enjoyed the sail over to Virgin Gorda. We anchored near the Bitter End Yacht club and went ashore to the club that evening. A pretty cool place overall with some neat bars. Lots of private boats anchored in the harbor and their crews and passengers ashore having a good time. Day 4: Virgin Gorda Tenders started at 8am and went through 450pm. The tenders went in a triangle from the boat to Bitter End Yacht Club, then to Prickly Pear Island, then back to the boat. Prickly Pear is a small island that the Windsurf I guess rents and they through a beach BBQ on it that afternoon. The island and beach are pretty nice, the boat brings over all the water toys (kayaks, sailboats, etc) and you can use them on the beach. The one thing they do not do is bring you over to the main island (say if you wanted to go see the baths) but they do have an excursion for $49/person to do this which gets you about 1 to 1.5 hours there). So we decided to try to go ourselves and it ended up being pretty easy. You tender to the Bitter End, then go to the reception for the hotel, have them organize a cab on the main island to meet you where the Bitter End's free tender service drops you off. So you take the Bitter Ends free tender service to the main island and then a $25 cab each way to the baths. So it was really not that difficult, just had to ask some questions on how to do it, but you save half the price and you can spend as much time at the baths as you would like. Day 5: Basseterre, St Kitts Tenders started at 8am and last one was to the boat was 530pm. We had been to St Kitts before and were not that impressed. Granted you are forced to enter through the port at Basseterre which is very touristy and oriented to cruise ship passengers. Locals try very hard to get your business for cabs and to take pictures with Monkeys. We ended up taking a cab to the other side of the island (facing Nevis) and went to the beaches there. Not horrible, and St Kitts is a very beautiful island, but would rather go somewhere else. The entry into the island kind of spoils the experience. Day 6: Les Saintes, Guadelope Tenders started at 8am and last one from ashore was 345PM. This was really the "gem" of the trip. Very small French island and the local population do not care if you are there or not. We got off the tender and walked around the little town then hiked over to one of the beaches. The walk there and back took about 1 hour total, 30 mins each way. On the way back we spent some more time in the town and literally caught the last tender to the boat. While we walked, others rented scooters and saw more of the island. Looked like this would have been a pretty good option as well as there was not much traffic or people around. Day 7: St Barts Tenders started around 10am and last tender back to the boat was midnight. I had high expectations for the island but was a little disappointed. It was neat to anchor were we did among all the high private yachts (including the largest in the world) and just see all the money! But, the island was very crowded, probably in anticipation of New Years on the following day and there were literally no rental cars or scooters available to rent. In addition, the island is VERY expensive. A cab to a beach on the other side was like 25 euros one way. We ended up just walking to "Shell Beach" about a 10 min walk from the port. Nice beach and lots of shells. Certainly not the highlight would think St Barts is best when it is not super busy unless you enjoy that type of thing. Day 8: St Maarten / Departure Boat arrived at some point in the morning and everyone was required to be off by 845am. Since we had until ~300pm to be at the airport, we rented a car in the port that could be returned to the airport and just drove around the island. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
Wind Surf Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.4
Dining 4.0 4.4
Entertainment 3.5 3.6
Public Rooms 4.5 4.3
Fitness Recreation 3.5 4.1
Family N/A 4.1
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.7
Enrichment N/A 3.5
Service 3.5 4.7
Value For Money 4.0 4.2
Rates 4.0 4.1

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