Perhaps because it was over the Thanksgiving holiday, the pricing for this cruise was a bargain, 14 days for around what most of the 7 day cruises run. We really did enjoy the 5 days we were on the ship, though not the itinerary change ... Read More
Perhaps because it was over the Thanksgiving holiday, the pricing for this cruise was a bargain, 14 days for around what most of the 7 day cruises run. We really did enjoy the 5 days we were on the ship, though not the itinerary change from Viequez to St Thomas (apparently Viequez is still recovering from Maria). The Sunset sail excursion on St Barth's was only 90 minutes instead of 3 hours, snacks nothing special, thus not worth the price. The buried city tour on Montserrat turned out to be a substitute that we weren't told about until everyone was on the bus and the door closed! Apparently a bridge was unsafe to cross due to flooding. So we got a tour of the current occupied portion of the island, did get to hear the personal stories of our guides, two women who had lived through the volcanic eruption and multiple earthquakes on the island. There were many complaints about not seeing the buried city (not sure why they couldn't have substituted one by boat that at least glimpsed it from the water--such a tour had originally been listed but later was not mentioned as an option) so Windstar ultimately gave everyone a 50% discount on the tour. Also the tour operators served a sparse, mediocre menu for lunch and even ran out of food since those on the first bus (accustomed to generous portions on the ship) consumed most of it and we who arrived later were lucky to get a chicken wing or 2, and some rice--veges were all gone, fruit & desert gone, drinks were only water or rum punch. The beach was a muddy path below us beyond a chain link fence and shrubbery. I do think many of their excursions are a bit overpriced. The America's Cup racing sailboat excursion on St Maarten was fun and worth the $.
I still don't know, for sure, if I was charged for the one on which I nearly drowned, but I hope they have switched to a more safety-conscious operator. Only two leaders on the excursion boat (Captain + 1) and only one joined us in the water for about 20 guests. They passed out inflation vests but didn't explain how to use them (and you can't blow into one anyway if you can't catch your breath), didn't ask if anyone wanted a life jacket, or even tell us where to find them. Had to ask for water, none was offered. No instructions of advice of any kind (other than not to touch the coral) for newer snorkelers or those who hadn't done it in a long time nor in choppy conditions like we had. I floated on the surface but got tired continually clearing my mask, blowing out water, other than some schools of yellowtail snapper there wasn't a lot to see; got short of breath and decided to return to the excursion boat (no skiff/dingy had been launched), others had ventured further around the rocks, I made it to another excursion boat that was anchored closer, they let me rest there then took me in their skiff to our boat, our group was returning (leaders clueless about my not being with them), I thought I'd be ok to go with them to another part of Norman's Island (where a beach bar was located, snorkeling excursion guys probably getting a kickback) which they were going to snorkel from. But upon suggestion of the people from the other excursion boat, they decided to call the volunteer speedboat rescue squad, who came quickly (not sure if they checked my vitals, snorkeling guys sure didn't) who took me to Tortola where an agent for Windstar transported me to Peebles Hospital. Turned out my heartrate had soared to 182 and was irregular, though I'd never had any history of heart issues, high blood pressure, etc (only mild asthma). I naively thought I'd get checked out and return to the ship, anchored at Jost Van Dyke, the same day, but I was treated with IV fluids & meds, injections, nebulizer (for water in my lungs), pills, etc over two days till my heart rate dropped to normal rate and rhythm. My husband had stayed on the ship, it took him most of the day to make it to the hospital, couldn't get a tender ride for a few hours then had to take a ferry, check into an overpriced hotel a few miles from the hospital, etc. We hoped we could meet up with the ship at another port but inter-island flights are infrequent, afternoons only, so would arrive after the ship departs (not to mention they're expensive, and trip interruption insurance would not cover expenses to return to the ship). So we unfortunately had to make the decision to return home early and make expensive last-minute alternative flight arrangements from Tortola to San Juan (then stay 2 days in San Juan since flights were full with approaching holiday) then home from there. So we are in process of filing a reimbursement claim with our Allianz travel insurance, for the medical bills from the hospital (including $870 echocardiogram), 9 missed nights of our cruise + alternative flights, lodging, meals, ground and ferry transportation. Hopefully, all will be covered but it's been a hassle gathering all the documentation & receipts. My husband had to pack up our luggage once it was known I'd be at the hospital overnight (or longer), and was assisted very ably and courteously by our cabin steward, Ronnie--any way we could get an extra gratuity to him, somehow (hubby thought we'd be rejoining the ship so didn't think to offer one before he left)?
Everyone on the ship was wonderful, had learned our names, treated us like royalty. The food was fabulous in both the main dining room and Candles, where we ate one night. Certainly our stateroom was comfortable and spacious. I would have enjoyed more entertainment aboard, there was only a duet couple performing after dinner, trying to switch between genres of music they didn't really seem to be 'into'. Also one night a Nashville recording Christian music artist, wonderful voice but we could have done without the sermons between each song (or exclusively Christian music that she performed). Apparently there was a group of people from Christian radio circles aboard the ship and she'd been invited/recruited by them. We met some nice folks aboard, many of whom had been on more than a dozen Windstar cruises. However, the general tone of comaraderie and shared adventure that we'd experienced aboard an UnCruise 75-passenger ship in Alaska was missing. The beach bar b que was moved from Prickly Pear to another beach on Virgin Gorda, but was excellent quantity and quality of food and terrific steel band and nice beach. Wish we could have finished out the cruise, we had been enjoying it so-far despite some disappointing excursions. Yes, we would choose Windstar again, subject to getting an equally attractive price again, perhaps Croatia or another itinerary where we could combine it with a land tour and/or bike n' barge river trip before or after. We have no desire to sail on a floating city, are even hesitant to consider one on an 800-900 passenger Crystal, Viking, etc. Read Less