7 Windstar Star Breeze Europe - Eastern Mediterranean Cruise Reviews

Booked this cruise because of the ports in Croatia, Montanegro and Italy. The ship and service turned out to be the best surprise. Prior CC complaints by cruisers were nonexistent on this trip. The ship was well maintained. Our cabin with ... Read More
Booked this cruise because of the ports in Croatia, Montanegro and Italy. The ship and service turned out to be the best surprise. Prior CC complaints by cruisers were nonexistent on this trip. The ship was well maintained. Our cabin with an ocean view was very large compared to many of our prior cruises. A balcony was not needed The staff were very approachable from the Captain to the deck force. Food was great including the post Kotor sail away deck barbecue. The morning and lunch were informal but dinner was five star food and service. Basically the staff could not do enough for us and our two teenagers on high school break. The two entertainment couples were very good and could play everything requested. This is not a ship which entertains 24 hours a day or takes a hour to get to shore. On and off the ship were a snap. The historical ports were every positive experience we expected. Wind star gets an "A". Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
We wanted a Eastern Mediterranean cruise and after researching all the options for Sept-Oct, the Star Breeze itinerary and timing fit us best. We have previously sailed with RC on larger ships and now i can't imagine going back to the ... Read More
We wanted a Eastern Mediterranean cruise and after researching all the options for Sept-Oct, the Star Breeze itinerary and timing fit us best. We have previously sailed with RC on larger ships and now i can't imagine going back to the big ships. The intimacy of the ship, the crew, the food and the people we met on board exceeded our expectations of a cruise. The ship seemed to be in great shape to us. Someone was constantly cleaning something at all hours of the day. The cabin (all suites!) was large with a big picture window, a walk-in closet and 2 sinks in the marble bathroom. The food was wonderful. The dishes in the main dining room change daily and I had a hard time decided what to order. There was a buffet as well and food ala carte for lunch and dinner. The chef is from India and for lunch one day he offered an Indian buffet. The on-deck BBQ is not to be missed...you'll be asking yourself, "how many lobster tails can i possibly eat". Skip dessert would be my advice...the apps and mains were much better. The staff in the dining room were friendly and remembered your name after the first day. So nice and accommodating. Dining outdoors at Candles was a great experience and not to be missed. The entertainment is the people you'll meet on board. You don't go on this type of ship for the entertainment. What we did enjoy was the nightly port talks, previewing the next day's port, the crew show and trivia in the Yacht Club. We also enjoyed when singers from Croatia were on board. We made use of the small gym...classes are free and the instructor is friendly and helpful. If you're over 6', you won't be able to use the treadmill because of the low ceilings. We enjoyed the jacuzzi on deck 5 in the front of the ship. It was never crowded (neither one was crowded) and it was a great place to enjoy the sunset. The Sailaway "ceremony" every night was great as well. I thought that the crew went above and beyond many times on this ship. We were informed of an emending air traffic control strike in Athens and the captain open the phone lines and provided free internet for the remaining 2 days on the ship. They also provided free transportation to the Athens airport for those wanting to depart the ship early. The ports were great...we enjoyed our daily hike to the fortress of the day. One day we signed up for the (free) trip to the market with the chef. The chef goes to the local markets in most ports to get fresh food and hitting the market with him was a great experience. The journey through the Corinth Canal was very cool to experience, as was entering Kotor. We did only one of the ship's shore excursion. It was a bit pricey but informative. The complimentary event at Magna Grecia was not that good. The food wasn't as good as we were getting on the ship and it seemed very touristy. The ship tendered in Dubrovnik which allowed the captain to open the watersports platform off the back of the ship. That was a real highlight...paddleboarding with Dubrovnik in the background. We swam and enjoyed the watersports for about 2 hours. It was great. We are looking forward to our next Windstar cruise but we will be sad that we're not traveling with the same great group of people and crew. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
Hi Guys. So here's the deal... (I always like to use that, and it works well in this case) My wife and I started out dreaming about a perfect anniversary cruise many years ago. I got the first twinkle in my eye in January 2012. ... Read More
Hi Guys. So here's the deal... (I always like to use that, and it works well in this case) My wife and I started out dreaming about a perfect anniversary cruise many years ago. I got the first twinkle in my eye in January 2012. I remember it well -- we got a mailer from Oceania, and I started to think, "...yeah, we need to do a real blow out vacation for our 30th." The more I thought about it, the more I liked the notion. Maybe a land-cruise thing. Something original and unique. Not a tightly wound-up pre-cruise deal with some operator showing their tried-and-true tourist sites, all on board the comfort (?) of a bus with a strict timetable and pre-book hotels. On no. We like doing our own thing. I wanted a land tour on our own terms -- fly in somewhere exotic, rent a car, and see the remote areas a lot of folks have yet to discover. And I really liked it to be a lead-in for a fabulous cruise to follow. I wanted to try a cruise line we'd never experienced before. After watching a lot of Travel Channel shows, reading various websites, and pouring over countless mailers from the usual suspects, it started to gel. My wife became amused at the travel planner mode I'd slipped into. "Do you want to chip in?" I asked. "No," she said; she was very happy with me figuring it all out. "Just fill me in before we buy any plane tickets or cruise packages." I obsessed about this (in a good way) for the longest time. I had spreadsheets, itinerary options, brochures, you name it. I had budget plans and calendars. Before long, the boys were also amused at all my busy-work, which was a really neat hobby. I put up with a lot of gentle ribbing. "This isn't work, this is fun", I'd say to myself. Some people really like the razzle-dazzle of a big boats, and we'd done that before (Costa, Royal Caribbean, Holland America, and Carnival). Not this time. I wanted a SMALL ship. The entertainment on board could be minimal, for all I cared. I wanted a port-intensive cruise in the Eastern or Western Mediterranean. It had to feature Venice, Dubrovnik, and Kotor; those were places I knew would be fabulous. Anything else was gravy. Hopefully, we'd have an overnight stay in Venice, but if not we could book a pre-cruise night in a local hotel. I liked the comfort of something plush, but knew we didn't need or even appreciate the strictures of formality. Service was a big deal. I liked the idea of upscale cuisine. We weren't planning on doing any onshore excursions, and so we wanted ports that would be fun just to wander around on our own. As for the pre-cruise deal, I found out about Slovenia. I specifically discovered that Lake Bled was only a short drive to Venice, and it had unbelievably beautiful scenery, Germanic cuisine and architecture. PERFECT, right up my alley -- an alpine wonderland nestled in the Julian Alps, and we could get to our cruise easily when that was done. And then I finally settled on Windstar. And I am so glad we did. So here's the deal guys.... 1. There were two perfect itineraries that suited our needs, an 8-night Venice-Rome trip aboard the sailing yacht Wind Surf (departing October 1st), and a 9-night Venice-Athens trip aboard the motorized yacht Star Breeze (departing September 30th). I really wanted the romance of the sails, and the fleet's flagship would deliver. And Wind Surf's Italian itinerary at the tail end looked more appealing than Star Breeze's planned stops in Albania and Greece. But Star Breeze had all-suite accommodations, an extra night, and everything we needed for hundreds of dollars less. Go figure. TIP: Look for the best deals as the sailing date approaches. Best prices almost always hit about 60-90 days out. For now the motorized yachts (Star Breeze, Star Legend, and Star Pride) don't have quite the same prestige/wow factor, and tend to have better final pricing than Wind Surf, Wind Star, and Wind Spirit. 2. By all means, DO schedule a one- or a two-night land component (at a minimum) as a lead-in for an overseas cruise. You'll need that to avoid suffering from jet lag. TIP: Try a longer "land tour" if you can swing it. Try setting your own plans, because you can usually save money and proceed at your own pace. 3. If you want small and intimate, even romantic, try Windstar. There are others in the same smaller boat market niche (such as Seabourn and Silversea -- expensive!), or Azamara and Oceania (less all-inclusive, but nice). But Windstar is really unique, having a loose, but upscale vibe that was perfect for us. TIP: Try the three sailing hybrid ships for the ultimate in romance. 4. Stay away from Athens, in my humble opinion. A very dirty port, a rather run-down and unattractive city, and it remains prone to economic unrest. On the next to last day of the cruise, we found out the air traffic controllers in Athens were threatening a strike. It would have stranded us for days. Thankfully, the threat blew over, but it left us shaken. TIP: Of the two itineraries we considered, I think the Venice-Rome one would have been superior for that reason. So if airline scheduling and general safety are important to you, I think the Western Mediterranean is a more stable bet for now. 5. You'll LOVE Windstar's cabins, dining, service, and value for money. The service is especially noteworthy. Everyone we encountered made a point of learning our names and the smiles were infectious. Every time I passed through security when disembarking for a port activity, the guy there would say, "Good morning, Sir Danny!" It made me feel like a knight sallying forth to slay the dragon. TIP: Remember to give praise in writing for those that impress you, because Windstar takes note of that on their exit surveys. High performers are handsomely rewarded, tend to be promoted quickly, and stay with the company. 6. Here's my praise for the MVP of the cruise -- Marius, the cruise director (not sure of his actual title) was a hero for us. His daily presentations about each upcoming port were entertaining and accurate. He was frequently funny, and a standout star in the hilarious "Liar's Club" event one night in the lounge. And when we thought we were going to have to find an alternative way to leave Greece (because of the planned strike) he went out of the way to help us make arrangements. I taught him the Americanism "warm fuzzy" after that -- "Marius, everything you did for us was so accurate, so reliable, so completely credible that it was the first time all day someone gave me a warm fuzzy". (He was glad to find out that I was talking about a feeling inside rather than something unseemly.) 7. It was a real pleasure to link up with a fellow Cruise Critic contributor, who introduced herself in the main dining room, Amphora. TIP: It was fortunate that my avatar has my photo, and that helped the other person pick me out in the crowd. As you all know, fellow Cruise critic contributors can offer great advice! 8. One final thing, a minor quibble. If you arrive in Venice for a planned sailing from San Basilo Terminal, be forewarned that it is a long trek from the gate at the port entrance (near San Maritima Terminal) to the dock. Guards will force you to get out of your shuttle/taxi and make you hoof it. So plan on taking a water taxi from the gate if the weather is rainy or hot. TIP: This is where Windstar has a chance to improve. They need to put good information online explaining how to get to the San Basilo Terminal. Very clear, concise, from A to B to C. Very lacking there -- many of us have spent a lot of time online (to no avail) trying to figure this stuff out. Until then, I imagine Venice would be a better disembarkation port since Windstar can help with transfers. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
My friend and I went on Star Breeze recently because I was a super-fan of the ship when it was with Seabourn and I have read that the ships were refurbished and have heard overall good things about Windstar. Boarding was smooth and ... Read More
My friend and I went on Star Breeze recently because I was a super-fan of the ship when it was with Seabourn and I have read that the ships were refurbished and have heard overall good things about Windstar. Boarding was smooth and efficient and we were in our room in minutes. The rooms are great, all large and comfortable. They have mini-bars and walk-in closets. The ship is 25 years old and you can see that in a few places, but overall the rooms and public areas are fresh and up to my standard for a luxury ship. We didn't purchase any of the tours, but the tour that Windstar included was fun and reasonably well-run considering the entire ship was going on it. I have found in Europe that you are generally better off hiring a car after you go off the ship to take you around. It is usually the same price or cheaper than taking an organized tour, but you are in a private car and not on a tour bus. The marina day didn't happen on this cruise because the weather wasn't cooperative and I will say that after about 6 cruises on these ships the marina day only happened about twice. Please don't raise your expectations about that. The best thing that Windstar added in the refurbishment is a coffee lounge on the top deck in the front. It is very well done with a wrap around terrace and coffee service with sandwiches and paninis available through the bulk of the day. The bar service is excellent if you choose to purchase their unlimited package. Most top shelf liquors were included such as Grand Marnier, Absolute and Tanqueray. The wines by the glass were decent, some examples would be Davis Bynum Chardonnay, Artessa Chardonnay, Erbele Zin and Rodney Strong Merlot. Nothing to get too excited about, but all the basics were represented with the exception of a decent Cremant or California sparkling wine. The bar manager CLARE was incredible as was the lead bartender SHIRLEY. They remembered our names, what we drank and made pleasant conversation. All of the bar staff were truly outstanding, even up to Seabourn's standard. My friend and I enjoy socializing on cruises and that is something that seems to have disappeared to some extent on these vessels as compared to my previous experiences. I will guess that it is because drinks aren't included people tend to not linger in the lounges. This line seems to draw an older crowd and almost exclusively Americans, seemingly mostly from the East Coast. Why? I haven't a clue. Average age onboard: 65. The food was really good, particularly in the dining room for dinner. The menu is somewhat more casual than I am used to on a luxury line, but tasty well-prepared food was in front of us daily. A surprising standout were the soups. I never like soup! My biggest disappointment with the cruise was the entertainment. Basically, it is limited to two duos. The duo Vice Versa was incredible and entertained us daily before and after dinner, but that was pretty much it. The crew did two or three shows which were very fun, but that constitutes the entertainment. It might be unfair to compare to Seabourn's entertainment on the same ship, but it was significantly more. I honestly can't recall how much the fares differed because Windstar isn't so inclusive so there were lots of add-ons such as tips and the liquor package and laundry. I would like to reiterate the staff on this ship was top notch, my only disappointment comes from the entertainment and the fact that as a matter of personal preference I prefer a more formal environment. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
We are frequent international travelers who grew tired of getting lost driving on trips . However we do like to take as much time as possible exploring sites on our own. The Windstar cruise ship Seabreeze turned out to be a great solution. ... Read More
We are frequent international travelers who grew tired of getting lost driving on trips . However we do like to take as much time as possible exploring sites on our own. The Windstar cruise ship Seabreeze turned out to be a great solution. We had plenty of time each day in port to explore and frequently were docked right at the town we were visiting. The small size of the ship ensured that we met almost all the guests and got well acquainted with the crew. We were also able to go thru the Corinth Canal which was amazing . Highlights of the cruise were: recent refurbishment of the ship (not perfect but really nice) : food that was prepared fresh each day from the local market where we were in port. Amazing staff that would anticipate your needs . Being prone to seasickness I signed us up for a middle- middle cabin (middle of the ship middle deck) which was great I never even put on the patch I brought. The cabin was spacious with a living room and queen size bedroom. We never signed up for the paid excursions which seemed pricey and had no trouble exploring on our own or enlisting a last minute local guide. My husband had taken a bad fall prior to the cruise and even the ships doctor was outstanding and thorough. Fellow passengers were friendly and most of us were in the 50-65 ish range. My favorite spot was the "yacht club" in the late afternoon where we could have a snack or ice tea. There was a small casino and some entertainment each night but we were too tired from our walks to participate. Will definitely do Windstar again Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
Could not be more pleased with our cruise on Windstar Star Breeze. We were in the forward owners suite and it was outstanding. Trip from Athens to Venice with stops in Turkey, Albania, Montenegro and Croatia. We booked our own shore ... Read More
Could not be more pleased with our cruise on Windstar Star Breeze. We were in the forward owners suite and it was outstanding. Trip from Athens to Venice with stops in Turkey, Albania, Montenegro and Croatia. We booked our own shore excursions since the Windstar trips were overpriced. Same goes for the airport transfer in Venice. Windstar wanted $240 to transport 2 couples to airport and we booked our own limo for 40 Euro. Crew is wonderful. Dining room manager (Allen) best we have ever seen. Food excellent. We took a Uniworld river cruise following the Windstar cruise and the difference was remarkable. Windstar far excels. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
We have cruised with Windstar twice. Our first was on the Windstar Sailboat between Athens and Istanbul in 2013, and that amazing cruise set the standard. This time we were on the Star Breeze, one of the refurbished power yachts that ... Read More
We have cruised with Windstar twice. Our first was on the Windstar Sailboat between Athens and Istanbul in 2013, and that amazing cruise set the standard. This time we were on the Star Breeze, one of the refurbished power yachts that Windstar purchased from Seabourne. We loved the ship. It had plenty of outdoor space, a well equipped fitness room, and excellent restaurants. Our suite was spacious and nicely decorated. The bathroom (with a tub!) was enormous! We loved being able to open our sliding door to let the fresh air in. Our only criticism is that the "pool" is a swim spa, so it can be used by one person at a time for swimming. Other than that, it was used like a hot tub. We would have liked a real pool, but it was a minor issue. Service on Windstar is always impeccable. Whether housekeepers, waitstaff, reception or other, every single employee is polite, responsive and eager to please. Windstar training is top notch. We have to hand it to these employees who work so hard day in and day out for months at a time. Food on this cruise was wonderful, much better than what we had in 2013. The main restaurant, Amphora, had a varied and interesting menu. The outdoor restaurant, Candles, was a real treat. We were very impressed by the quality of the food and service there. Be sure to order the filet mignon! The cruise ports were all lovely destinations. Of course, we liked some more than others. Most of the time we tendered at ports, and that was easy and well organized. Our favorite ports were Messina, Sicily and Rovinj, Croatia. In Sicily, we took the Windstar excursion to Taormina and then on to the organized luncheon at the Gambino Winery. Taormina was a beautiful little town, and afterwards we enjoyed seeing more of Sicily as we drove to Mt. Etna for the winery lunch. In Rovinj, we also took a Windstar excursion to a nearby hill town, Motovun, and truffle lunch at Zigante Restaurant. It was fun to see the beautiful Istrian countryside. Lunch was delicious, if a bit heavy for our taste. Our favorite part of the day was exploring the gorgeous little seaport, Rovinj, on our own. What a gem! We could have happily stayed for 3-4 days. It would have been nice if Windstar would have offered some sort of evening talks about the rich history of the regions we were visiting. As it was, the nightly port introductions were brief descriptions of available excursions. We were glad we brought guide books along so we could have some background. All in all, we had a great time. We were looking for relaxation, pampering and beauty, and Windstar delivered. We definitely recommend this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
Star Breeze Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 4.4
Dining 4.0 4.2
Entertainment 3.0 3.0
Public Rooms 5.0 4.0
Fitness Recreation 3.0 3.2
Family 1.0 3.2
Shore Excursion 3.0 3.6
Enrichment 3.0 3.4
Service 4.0 4.5
Value For Money 4.0 3.8

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