4 Windstar Star Pride Europe - Western Mediterranean Cruise Reviews

Cruise review Tauck - Small Ship Cruising Treasures of Spain & Portugal (Eastbound - Lisbon to Barcelona) April 19 - May 1, 2017 By Ken Montgomery- Irvine, CA Summary - This was the initial cruise for Tauck with this ... Read More
Cruise review Tauck - Small Ship Cruising Treasures of Spain & Portugal (Eastbound - Lisbon to Barcelona) April 19 - May 1, 2017 By Ken Montgomery- Irvine, CA Summary - This was the initial cruise for Tauck with this itinerary and this Windstar ship. Thus, this trip was a bit of a shake down cruise, but Tauck did their usual up-scale fantastic job. The ship for the cruise portion of the trip was the Windstar Star Pride, a first class smaller cruise ship. Portugal & Spain have great ports for the cruising industry and there is a lot to see within range of their port cities. The itinerary required a moderate amount of walking and a fair amount of stair climbing and bus boardings. The weather was generally cooler and windier than normal for the area, but we didn't have much more than a few sprinkles. Early May might be warmer and more conducive to cruising. Pre-Trip. Landed at Lisbon airport Tuesday morning around 8:00 am, breezed thru Passport Control in under 5 minutes. Tauck met us and 4 other couples at the airport and drove us to Intercontinental Hotel and the rooms were ready! I think Tauck had something to do with that, but no guarantees on the early check-in. The high season in Lisbon hadn’t quite started yet, so the hotel could get us in early. After a nap, we rode the “Hop on- Hop off” bus for a few hours, which was a great introduction to the City. The hotel was very nice and has a great breakfast included. We even had a nice view of the City and river Tagus from our 14th floor room. Wednesday (on our own)- Before we left home, we set up a Viator trip to Fatima and the Atlantic Coast (north). We lucked out, this was a great trip. We walked to the pick up point, the Hard Rock Cafe corner, about a 25 minute downhill walk from the hotel. Our tour was in a nice Mercedes van. There were a total of 7 passengers and a great guide, Pedro Dos Santos. He gave commentary in Spanish and English and drove professionally at the same time. We got back at 7:00pm, so we missed the cocktail party portion of the Welcome Party. The announcements were made after dinner, so we caught that. Viator booked the tour (on-line, very easy) and "Inside Lisbon Tours" operated the tours. There were about 8 tours leaving from the Hard Rock Cafe corner at 9am, so there was a lot of confused customer milling around until a driver showed up and announced the 7 or so names he or she was taking. This was a little bit of a chaotic way to start the tours, but everyone was off on their way within 10 minutes or so. Tauck Tour Day 1 of Tour - Wednesday evening- Intercontinental Hotel - Lisbon - Welcome Cocktail Party & Dinner 6:00 pm at Intercontinental Hotel. Nice dinner and a good way to meet fellow “Tauckies”. Day 2 - Thursday- Lisbon Highlights bus tour - 9:00am to 1:30 - lunch and rest of afternoon & dinner were on your own. The Tauck bus will leave you near in the City Center or take you back to the hotel. Most people left the bus in the City Center and continued on foot. Our tour guide showed us a few restaurants and then left us on our own. We walked down to the Tagus River front and found some nice restaurants with a view of the river Tagus. We then rode a few more routes on the Hop on Hop off bus. There are 3 companies doing this, and they all seam to stop at the same stops. You can buy a ticket on board with Euros. Each company has 2 or 3 routes with each route taking about 90 - 100 minutes. This is a great way to see the City. Bring your own ear phones, the ones they give you are low quality. Day 3 - Friday - Lisbon - Bags out at 6:45m, bus tour to Sintra and other stops west of Lisbon. We got back to Lisbon to board the Windstar Star Pride around 2:30pm. There were 40 Tauck passengers on the 212 passenger boat. On this cruise there were a total of 170 passengers. The check in process was quick and efficient. They kept the restaurant open until 4:00 so the 40 Tauck passengers could eat a late lunch. The bags were in the room when we arrived unless your bag had a bottle in it as shown in an X-Ray. We had a bottle of wine in one of our bags and we received a call to come down to security, they wanted us to open that bag. You can bring 2 bottles of wine with you, but no bottles of liquor. If your bottle turned out to be liquor, they kept the bottle and promised to return it at the end of the cruise. The mandatory safety drill was at 4:15. The Tauck passengers then had their nightly cocktail hour at 6:00 pm in the Compass Rose (deck 6) where you could get free wine or cocktails & peanuts. This was a very nice nightly private party. Announcements were made during the party about the next day's activities. You also received a copy of the Tauck itinerary in your room. You also received the Windstar daily itinerary. Reception distributed a small English language world news summary. Dinner was at 7:00 pm nightly in the main dining room. Windstar has open seating and one upgraded restaurant where the menu is a little nicer. Tauck customers received free house wine at dinner. The wine was excellent. Friday night had rough seas, hard to sleep. Due to the rough seas, we arrived in the next port 2.5 hours late. Day 4 - Saturday: Portimao, Portugal- the Tauck bus tour left the ship at 11:30. We returned to boat for lunch and then boarded the bus again for an afternoon wine tasting trip. Back to boat at 5:20, the boat sailed at 6:00 pm. My wife & I had dinner in the special restaurant, and the food was a notch above the main dining room. Had a table outside in the setting sun, and it was not windy. Saturday night was smooth, no big seas, good sleeping. Day 5 - Sunday - Seville, Spain - we boarded buses in Cadiz and drove to Seville. Due to weather and sea state caused delays, we didn't have time to take the ship up the river up to Seville, which would have been nice, beats a long bus ride. Spent a full day seeing Seville, then back to the Ship by 6:30. The Tauck cocktail hour lasted till 7:30 and then onto dinner. The bus rides were about 2 hours each way including a restroom stop at the halfway point. Weather was cool in the morning and low 80s in the afternoon. Seville is a great City for tourists and the Tauck guides got us to the front of the line - always. Day 6 - Monday -Gibraltar- we docked at noon. We did a 2 hour tour, then back to the boat at 4 pm, or you could stay in the town and walk back. Boat departed at 10 pm. Weather was in the mid 60's. No Cathedrals today! The "Rock Apes", (monkeys) were very cute and photogenic. Windy day! Day 7 - Tuesday - Malaga, Spain. 9:00 am depart for Andalusian Manor Hacienda La Esperanza. Our group of 40 was treated to a private visit, horse show and tapas tasting, back to ship by 1 pm. At 2:30 pm we left on a Malaga sightseeing tour and a walking tour thru the Old Town where you could visit the Picasso art gallery. Temps in the 70's, not much walking. Day 8 - Wednesday. - Almeria, Spain. - Departed at 8:00am for 2.5 hour bus ride, including a bathroom stop, to Granada. We had a tour of the amazing Alhambra Palace and lunch at the Alhambra Palace Hotel. Back by 5:30pm. The Windstar ship crew put on their big BBQ that night on deck 7 despite the wind, with dancing on deck afterwards. Temps in the mid 60's. there were a fair amount of walking and stairs in this visit. Day 9 - Thursday - at sea- cold, windy, rocky, not a lot to do. We were glad we brought some “Great Courses” DVD's with us. Our Tauck tour director gave us a lecture on the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), which was very interesting. There is a lot less to do on days at sea on a small cruise ship compared to large cruise ships. Windstar should work on this. Give us a few lectures or even video presentations about upcoming ports. It was too cold to sit outside for long. If the weather was warm, I’m sure everyone would have been on deck getting sun. Day 10 - Friday - Palma de Majorca - a beautiful city, we had a tour of the city in the morning, lunch on the ship, or stay in the city, then a visit to a private palace with a folk dancing performance with wine & cheese in the afternoon. Great weather, high 60's and sunny. Day 11 - Saturday- Barcelona - disembarkation- bags out before 5 am, which means the night before. We left the ship at 8:45 am and then toured the major sights of Barcelona, an amazing city. I love how Tauck gets the group to the front of the line, we never waited in line. We checked into the El Palace Hotel around 4pm, very nice hotel. Most people walked the Las Ramblas and found a place for dinner. There were lots of choices. Weather was cool and windy. Day 12 - Sunday - Barcelona - met the bus at 8:15 for another day touring Barcelona. We had a private organ recital in the "Music Palace" (Palau de la Musica), another Barcelona architectural masterpiece. We had a walking tour of the old city, then lunch on our own, then bused back to the hotel. Tauck had the farewell cocktail party and dinner at the "Silk Palace", leaving the hotel at 6 pm, back around 9:15. Day 13 - Monday - Barcelona - going home - we had a 10:50am flight to Newark, so Tauck arranged the airport transfer at 7:15 am. The United check-in counters didn't open until after we were standing the airport looking for the United check-in counters. Around 8:00 am, 5 United check-in counters opened. Checking in was easy. A security officer did a short interview with each passenger before they proceeded to check-in. They wanted to know where you had been, so it helps to rattle off a few of your ports and Cities visited. Several passengers stayed a few extra days in Barcelona and Tauck took care of their transfers on their day of departure. Comments on the Windstar Star Pride Beautiful ship, smooth sailing and docking. No tendering on this cruise, the ship tied up at the dock at all the ports on this cruise Security getting back on the ship varied from port to port, some places had airport style inspection, other places a quick visual inspection. Efficient, responsive & friendly crew Some cabins experienced plugged toilets which were repaired by crew Food is very good Entertainment is limited to piano bar type entertainers Each cabin has a DVD player Ship has a library of books and DVD's for lending Ship has a small pool and 2 jacuzzis Wifi is spotty and slow, but you will get your emails and some websites, but don't try to download a Netflix movie or even a U-tube clip Cabin 316 was spacious with a walk in closet, lots of drawers, a safe and small balcony Cabins have one - 110 volt and one - 220 volt outlet. Ships store has a good selection of Windstar logo clothes. They also have sundries at reasonable prices. The store is only open when the ship is moving. Reception also sells toiletries. There is a small casino with 1 poker table and 1 blackjack table and some machines. Gymnasium - outstanding - 5 treadmills, 3 stationary bikes, 1 rowing machine, 1 arm cycling machine, many single purpose weight stack machines, free weights, bar bells, yoga mats. There was also a Personal Trainer available. Spa - full service Comments on Tauck Bus tours were very comfortable, great buses and informative commentary by our guides. Rest stops every 60 to 90 minutes. They have a rotating seat assignment system, which works great. Everyone gets to sit in front once during the trip. Seat assignments are posted outside the bus, so you know where to sit. Water is always provided. The tour directors are amazing people, they handle all the issues and unplanned challenges on the fly without a problem. Thank god for cell phones and the Tauck support staff back at headquarters to help with challenges. Tauck provided unique touring experiences and set up private entertainment performances. There was a private wine tasting & wine education in Portugal, a couple of dance performances, and an organ concert, just for our group. Tauck seems to be sensitive about not taking their guests to too many cathedrals, as many companies seem to do. There was usually free time for people to visit more cathedrals if they wanted to. Wifi was free but slow on the ship. The wifi was good in the hotels. The hotels did not have DVD players. Dress code - about half the men wore sport coats for the welcome & farewell dinners, although this is not required. Most of the time, the dress code on the ship is "Resort Casual” (pants with a colored shirt) We have heard that the Tauck “Treasures of Spain & Portugal” Cruise has been booked up for many months out and I can see why. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
We were on the Star Pride sailing on October 7, 2016 from Civitavecchia to Portoferraio, Cannes, Monte Carlo, Nice (nice surprise port), Portofino, and Portovenere. I have sailed on Norwegian, Celebrity, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and ... Read More
We were on the Star Pride sailing on October 7, 2016 from Civitavecchia to Portoferraio, Cannes, Monte Carlo, Nice (nice surprise port), Portofino, and Portovenere. I have sailed on Norwegian, Celebrity, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Costa. This was my first Windstar experience and it did not disappoint. The staff is truly unbelievable with their friendliness, attention to detail, and they clearly try to go out of their way to make your trip enjoyable. It was an amazing cruise, A+ job by the staff. We took a 1 hour regional train from Rome (~7 Euros each) and arrived at the port of Civitavecchia around 12:00pm and they began to board at exactly 1:00pm. With under 200 guests on board it took about 30-45 minutes to board, fill out the necessary paperwork and receive your room cards. After reading the tips on here I carried on 2 bottles of wine to consume in our stateroom and that was not an issue. I should note that this limitation is very relaxed and throughout several other ports I was able to carry on an extra bottle of the local wine with no questions asked. As for the condition of the ship, the public spaces were recently updated and the ship is in as good of condition as you would anticipate at this age. There were some areas of rust and the bathrooms were starting to show their age but that’s about all. Although we had the cheapest stateroom it was very nice. The food was exceptional, probably the best of any cruise I have ever been on. The first thing we did when we got on board was to book a reservation at Candles, the rest of our dinners took place in the dining room and service was quick and attentive. The only option for lunch and breakfast is at the rear of the ship again it was very good with menu items, buffet items, and a made to order bar. We spent quite a bit of time at the “Yacht Club” at the top/front of the ship where you could enjoy cappuccinos, expresso, and tea along with snacks until 5:00pm each day. We were also very impressed by the DVD collection within the library. Due to the itinerary we were always up early and the first ones off the ship so we didn’t spend any time in the evenings listening to the entertainment so I can’t comment on the quality of that. We were docked in Portoferraio, Monte Carlo, and Nice. Cannes, Portofino, and Portovenere had 2 ship tenders running all day long, it was never more than a 10-15 minute wait for a tender and many times we were the only ones on board. We were supposed to spend 2 days in Monte Carlo but after docking the first day we were going to be tendering the 2nd day but the seas were scheduled to be rough and a spot opened up in Nice so the captain moved us down the coast to dock and spend a day in Nice which was a nice surprise. The sports platform was open while we were anchored and we took the opportunity to go swimming in the Mediterranean in October! The water was actually quite pleasant. They had foam swim cushions, individual kayaks, and 2 person kayaks along with a skiing/wakeboard boat. This was our first time on a small ship and we don’t know if we will ever go back to a big ship. The only time we ever waited in a line was when we boarded, that’s it. Definitely worth the slightly higher cost! Please keep in mind that our experience was based on a very affordable room that in October is the same price if not cheaper than many Caribbean cruises so we were not expecting a “luxury” experience, just a fun trip on a small ship. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
My family and I chose this cruise because we wanted to go on a less crowded cruise, a relaxing and well facilitated one. This was perfect, hardly any flaws, impeccable service. Lots of things to do for entertainment- my favourite was ... Read More
My family and I chose this cruise because we wanted to go on a less crowded cruise, a relaxing and well facilitated one. This was perfect, hardly any flaws, impeccable service. Lots of things to do for entertainment- my favourite was working out in the gym. I'd like to give a special thanks to all the staff, especially the waiters and waitresses who worked so hard for so long and the lovely personal trainer onboard, Louis. His workouts kept me in shape even when I thought it was impossible after eating all the amazing food on the cruise! Food was impeccable, absolutely outstanding. Would definitely recommend Candles and The Amphora restaurants, both of high quality. I would say that Amphora is more family-friendly and has a "cosier" setting, one could say; Candles is perfect for couples who want to dine whilst watching the sun set. I went to both with my family as both were suitable, however if you choose not to eat at either and you want something so chilled you can eat in your pajamas, room service is just a phone call away! There were many excursions that were available and swimming in the sea will be a big hit with many people (no, not just the kids) as the sea is absolutely beautiful and the sun is shining and the view is jaw-droppingly amazing, definitely one of the best parts. BBQ night was most likely my favourite nigh onboard- aside from the crew's talent show...that was quite something ;)- there was so much dancing and incredible Mediterranean food, it was bliss. Everything was just lovely. So relaxing and by the end if the week you really felt as if everyone was family, so it broke my heart to have to say goodbye, both to the crew and fellow passengers. I would just like to say thank you so much to all of the Windstar crew who really made my summer memorable and I hope to travel with you all again very soon! Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
On one of Star Pride's first cruises coming off of a very long dry-dock to the tune of $4+ million, I must say we found the ship looking great, and it was hard to believe she was first launched in 1988. Lots redone to the public ... Read More
On one of Star Pride's first cruises coming off of a very long dry-dock to the tune of $4+ million, I must say we found the ship looking great, and it was hard to believe she was first launched in 1988. Lots redone to the public areas - besides the new flooring, the designs of the two restaurants were tweaked and improved. Library updated, screening room replaces the old card room, main lounge redone. New pool added, deck above the pool was actually widened to allow for loungers. I didn't see them, but heard that the Classic Suites were totally redone. Service was exemplary, with a high staff-to-guest ratio. Loved our very friendly and engaging crew who made our experience even more personalized. Many remembered our favorite beverages and menu choices. We very much appreciated the ship keeping us hydrated (our ports were very warm and humid), offering bottled water as we went ashore, and setting a large bottle of water and glasses on our nightstand at night. I had heard that many of the crew came from other Windstar ships, along with the new Captain. One day in port, the Executive Chef invited any and all to accompany him to the local markets to shop. Great fun and lots of samples. While the dining choices in the restaurants were delicious enough, he was very open to suggestions. I think Windstar is all about the itinerary and ports, so onboard activities were kept to a minimum. Port talks almost every day, and a small handful of organized amusing activities (games) and two musical duos performing after dinner. But this was an active itinerary (only one sea day) and most of the ship seemed to disappear into their cabins by 10:30 PM. We loved the open dining option, no formal dressy nights, and plenty of two-top tables if you wanted a romantic dinner for two. Otherwise, it was easy to strike up conversations and share tables, as most of our fellow passengers were amiable and well traveled. Shore excursions were low-key, and it seemed that many passengers were well-versed DIY-ers who planned their own independent excursions. We did a mixture of independent and ship tours; big kudos to the Mt. Etna/Taormina excursion that took us part-way up the volcano (unexpected) for a fun lunch and exploration of the craters. Our only criticism - and it is a very small one - is the limited menu offerings between the time lunch service ends (2 PM) and dinner service begins (7 PM). While we generally had a small lunch or snack onshore, if we came back to the ship after 2 PM the only option was a few sandwiches and desserts up in the Yacht Club lounge. Would love to see this expanded to include a few salads (green, veggie, pasta) and maybe some chips with those little sandwiches. Cheese, crackers, fruit would be another idea. This was our first Windstar Cruise and it definitely will not be our last. If you want a solid easy-going, sophisticated cruise, unstuffy, unpretentious, IMHO this is the way to go. And because it's not all-inclusive, you don't feel like you are over-paying for what you don't use (e.g. alcohol). Most of the ship reviews are from 2015 and older; with the new Windstar president/leadership and policy changes, there's a bright light at the end of the tunnel for future Windstar cruisers! Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
Star Pride Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 4.3
Dining 4.5 4.4
Entertainment 3.5 3.1
Public Rooms 4.0 4.1
Fitness Recreation 4.5 3.5
Family 2.5 3.5
Shore Excursion 5.0 3.5
Enrichment 3.5 3.3
Service 5.0 4.5
Value For Money 4.5 3.7
Rates N/A N/A

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