Despite rather spotty reviews regarding Star Pride and the fact that it had a grounding episode last fall, we decided to give it a try. That was based on several factors. First, it fit with the rest of our travel plans and was the right ... Read More
Despite rather spotty reviews regarding Star Pride and the fact that it had a grounding episode last fall, we decided to give it a try. That was based on several factors. First, it fit with the rest of our travel plans and was the right length cruise. Second, we had sailed twice with Windstar on two of their sailing vessels many years ago and had really loved it. Third, the ship had just gone through a major refurbishment. Fourth, an offered package including liquor, tips and unlimited wi-fi was attractively priced. Lastly, the itinerary looked appealing, combining some ports we had previously experienced like Dubrovnik and Kotor with new stops in such places as Rovinj, Split and Giardini Naxos.
It appeared that the ship's refurbishment was still a work in progress. The crew was constantly working on finishing up things such as painting. As a result there was often a smell of fresh paint on certain parts of the deck, a little off-putting if you were trying to nap and relax. There were recurrent problems with the plumbing leading to repeated reminders not to put certain objects down the toilets. There was also often a sewage smell in the mid-ship elevator and one of the aft elevators was frequently out of service. The wi-fi service was at best inconsistent. HOWEVER, all that being said we found most of the ship, including all the public spaces, to be very pleasant and enjoyable.
At 277 square feet the cabin was very spacious with plenty of closet space, a nice sitting area and a bath with twin sinks. However, continuing with the theme of incomplete refurbishment, the carpet was old, stained and not stretched tightly. That needs to be remedied. As a "French balcony" it was really usable only as a sliding glass window. Don't plan to eat breakfast on the balcony.
Absolutely one of the strong points of this cruise was the food service. We ate in both the Amphora dining room as well as the special, reservations required, Candles. Both were excellent, with Candles edging out Amphora for great food and ambiance. Breakfast and lunch were in the same area as Candles, though it was now called the Veranda. We actually enjoyed getting a cup of espresso and a roll in the Yacht Club each morning where we could watch the sail in to the next port. Beer, liquor and wine choices were all excellent, though we did wonder why they didn't have any wines representing the countries in which we were stopping. The Executive Chef, Darin, was super and very responsive to passengers' requests.
Entertainment was by two duos, all very good musicians. One of the signature activities on Windstar has always been the "Sail Away" as they pull out of port each afternoon while playing the theme from the movie, "1492". It comes across a little contrived on the motor yachts compared to the sailing vessels, but still something that everyone enjoyed as they had an afternoon cocktail.
Service: what can I say. Service was beyond excellent. From the bar to the dining room to our lovely cabin steward, Luis. My wife was on crutches with a leg injury. Luis had an ice bag waiting every evening when we got back to the cabin. That's just an example of the superb, personal, caring service from this mainly Indonesian and Filipino crew. The boat personnel helping my wife into and out of the tender was another example of the great service.
This was an excellent itinerary, from Venice to Croatia, Montenegro, Sicily, Capri and back to Rome. We did a couple of the offered shore excursions and they were generally very good with excellent guides. The "private event" in Dubrovnik was special with local singers and dancers, though the hors d'oeuvres were nothing to rave about. It did give us time to get a seafood pizza in Dubrovnik before boarding the last tender back to the ship. As always, you might be able to do better shore excursions if you arrange your own. Still, I would not have wanted to miss Trogir, Taormina or Our Lady of the Rocks in Kotor Bay.
Overall, this cruise on a yacht that held only about 200 passengers was very, very enjoyable. There are a few rough edges Windstar still needs to work out on these converted Seabourne yachts, but I think they will do that. We are already considering where we would like to do our next Windstar cruise. Read Less