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4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
Concerns about Turkey and Istanbul in particular before leaving the US. These concerns were quickly overcome by this 7-day cruise from Istanbul to Athens. Stayed at the Pera Palace for a couple of days prior to departure and toured the ... Read More
Concerns about Turkey and Istanbul in particular before leaving the US. These concerns were quickly overcome by this 7-day cruise from Istanbul to Athens. Stayed at the Pera Palace for a couple of days prior to departure and toured the city. Istanbul is a great mix of history and modern, the hotel spectacular! Embarkation was a breeze and the ship was in great shape following its recent dry dock. The itinerary started off with a day at sea and gave the 80 guests a chance to get to know one another, very easy on Wind Star as it is a small vessel. Enjoyed the time on the open bridge and even got some star identification training from the Watch Officer. The various ports of call were a great recap of history. The top was Ephesis and the private event at the Celsus Library. Windstar does this event right! From the minute you arrive you are taken back in time, no other visitors to be seen or heard, music playing in the library upon arrival, photographer at the ready and they don't charge you for the pictures. Dinner was served, dusk settled in, and then the lights illuminated the library, pathways, and colusium, very SPECIAL! The other stops were also well done though too many other cruise ships were with us in Santorini, you lost some of the intimacy that we experienced elsewhere. Athens was a huge let down, the Parthanon and museum were as expected. However, Athens as a city is a dump, don't bother spending any extra nights here. We got the news of the Istanbul bombing just as we got home and felt fortunate with our timing. Turkey was the unexpected highlight of our trip and would love to return when it settles down again. The Wind Star crew is top notch and looking forward to another Windstar trip soon. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2015
Cruised to Palma, Sardinia, Corsica, and Elba. OUTSTANDING Windstar-hosted complimentary shore excursion in Palma - wines, tapas, tour of museum - just great - highlight of the cruise! Not to be missed. Walked around on our own at the ... Read More
Cruised to Palma, Sardinia, Corsica, and Elba. OUTSTANDING Windstar-hosted complimentary shore excursion in Palma - wines, tapas, tour of museum - just great - highlight of the cruise! Not to be missed. Walked around on our own at the other ports and they were nice with good shuttles, dining, and shopping options. Didn't hear of any other outstanding tours and many were l-o-n-g. Great crew highlighted by hotel mgr Jeffrey Jack who is always all smiles. Nice fellow passengers though the number of smokers was high and trashed the starboard rear deck. Big business incentive group from Australia (half the ship) made it a younger crowd than usual for Windstar. Only serious beef was our cabin midships on Deck 1 was the noisiest cabin we have every had in 14 cruises on 7 lines. We have been on both the Windstar Wind Surf and Wind Spirit and never experience the VERY LOUD whining whenever the ship was underway. It would stop as soon as we docked so it was a generator or turbine. Very difficult to get more than 4 hrs sleep even with earplugs and the bottle of wine they comp'ed us. Many fellow passengers in the same area of the ship experienced same thing (including the free bottle of wine). But wine does not equal sleep. Would not cruise on this ship again until they get it fixed. Add to this the incessant banging and scraping of the crew working on the hull at mid-afternoon after excursions return when everyone is tired. Sounds like constant banging of a ball peen hammer outside your porthole. They can't do it when we're off the ship - has to be at naptime? Food was standard and after over 30 days cruising with Windstar we FINALLY convinced the chef to make some whole wheat, high fiber, multigrain bread to augment the bunny bread and white rolls they serve. Good for him and the baker - bread was great and fellow passengers loved it as well. Outstanding food and new expanded menu at Candles so eat there as often as you can and weather allows. We squeezed in 2 nights. Dining room food very good. The renovated cabins actually allow for a nice in-room dining experience if you are into that or need it because you are not feeling well. Buffet food always seems overdone at lunch - too many strange ethnic dishes and heavy stuff, salty soups, and sweet fruit soups (maybe crew likes these leftovers?). Salad bar could benefit from some riper tomatoes and lighter dressings - very heavy/mayonnaisey dressings. Lunch buffet needs more cold sandwich meats. We had mortadella and mortadella (Italian bologna) so you can make a sandwich. A neat light lunch trick is to order a sandwich or salad from room service and have it delivered to the pool bar/deck. The mid-afternoon/teatime offerings were pretty bleak. Breakfast buffet is good and plentiful though the bacon was consistently overcooked and corned beef hash undercooked (just warmed from can). You have to watch the omelet cook like a hawk to make sure he doesn't burn your omelet. They use way too much oil (like 3 TBSPs) to keep the omelet floating while it cooks without stirring until he flips it in the air. Poor, showy technique that results in an overdone omelet. Fried eggs or excellent scrambled eggs from buffet better and we added our own toppings from omelet station. We brought on 2 bottles of wine to enjoy in the cabin and ordered another. Wines and beer are fairly priced as you would pay in a fairly-priced restaurant or hotel ashore. The liquor packages are crazy expensive and I think you need to be a full-blown alcoholic drinking 10+ drinks a day to make the unlimited alcohol package any kind of value. The unlimited laundry package, on the onther hand, is a super deal and after a multi-day visit in Spain we came on with everything dirty and left with everything clean in Rome for the next 10 days in Italy. Used laundry package in transatlantic before as well and it saves an entire suitcase of packing and schlepping. Watersports platform was down for a couple of hours i Alghero but 59 degree water meant there were few takers. Still, nice they did it. Overall, we will try again if we can get a cabin we can get some sleep in. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2014
Could be your cruise of a lifetime, but I was expecting a bit more My wife and I recently completed the "Riviera" cruise from Rome to Barcelona during the period of June 19 to 26, 2014. We were celebrating our 5th wedding ... Read More
Could be your cruise of a lifetime, but I was expecting a bit more My wife and I recently completed the "Riviera" cruise from Rome to Barcelona during the period of June 19 to 26, 2014. We were celebrating our 5th wedding anniversary and were doing the trip "first class". As such, we booked one of Wind Surf's suites -- cabin #501 -- at a total cost of $9,000. I can honestly say we have never anticipated a trip more and very much wanted to enjoy every aspect of the Windstar experience and make it our preferred cruise line going forward. There are so many aspects of this cruise line that are really great. - We loved being at port each day of the trip. - We found the food to be quite good (with some exceptions I will note later). - The "on deck" dinner bar-b-q celebration was excellent and a true highlight of the week. - The size of the ship was wonderful for easily meeting new friends and quickly getting around. - The on-ship laundry service was very convenient and fairly priced. - The water sports platform off the back of the boat is fun after exploring a port all day. Note that I used the word “after” here. Despite all of these positives, there are some troubling negatives that really affect whether I will ever cruise with Windstar again. They are: - Suite #501 is unacceptably noisy. At the beginning of the trip we dealt with extreme vibrations from the mounted flat screen TV. While annoying, we solved the problem and were able to fall back to sleep. The last night was absolutely awful though. There is a metal track on the foot of the bed's head board. Extremely loud noises from elsewhere in the ship kept coming up through this metal track. It kept us up all night. For $9,000, there should be no problems with a room. - We had to take tenders at 5 of the 6 stops. This is the exact opposite of the "experience" that Windstar touts of being able to reach ports that other cruise ships cannot. The need for tenders was most annoying in Monaco and Cannes. At Monaco, most people dressed up at night to go to the Grand Casino. Wearing evening clothes on a tender is not very comfortable. At Cannes, our plan was to take a tour to a winery in the day and then go to a beach in the afternoon. I assumed a quick change would be possible if the ship was docked. However, the extra 45-50 minutes it takes to use the tender made this plan impractical. I suppose Windstar could say that tenders were used in order to have the water sports platform opened all day, but I suspect that more passengers would have preferred less time with the water sports platform if it meant being able to avoid tenders at least part of the day. - Further on the docking, the city of Monaco has awful taxi service yet the tenders had to dock a considerable distance from the Grand Casino. It would have been a nice extra touch to have a shuttle bus waiting for people in the evening to take them to the Grand Casino. - The welcome luncheon was very low quality. Our first experience on the ship should be top notch to set the correct tone. Instead, some of the lunch choices were Chicken-Al-a-King and Beef Lasagna. Really? This is what I would expect to see at a budget all-you-can-eat buffet -- not on a cruise ship charging top dollar. - The specialty restaurants -- Stella's and Candles -- had inferior menus to the main dining room. We discussed this with other passengers who shared a similar opinion. The main dining room was very good though. - We were unable to make any of the group talks about the next day's stop due to its scheduled time just when people are getting ready for dinner. However, given how little nearly every member of the Wind Surf staff knew about a stop, I question how much value these meetings could have been. We literally got no guidance on the best beaches to visit or wonderful little towns just outside of the port city. We got lucky to have found out about Eze outside of Monaco and Collioure outside of Port Vendres since the Windstar staff provided no guidance at all. - Port Vendres was definitely the worst stop by far. I have no idea why Windstar chose to tender there instead of Collioure, which was so much more scenic. We all joked that Port Vendres must have paid Windstar to stop versus the other way around (I am not sure it is so far-fetched though). - The explanation of the tipping service was very poor. I asked on the last night about the policy. The main desk gave an answer that suggested the base cruise fare included tips and anything I give specific cruise staff was in addition to this amount. As such, I proceeded to give out about $150 in "extra" tips. You can imagine my surprise (anger?) when I saw that gratuities were added to my on-board expenses. I gave Windstar an opportunity to respond to these criticisms before writing a review. I got a basic form letter response with a modest incentive to cruise with them again by 2015, which I will be unable to use. Despite this long list of “complaints” the ship and cruise experience could be really special if they just learn to pay a little more attention to details. I cannot say for sure I would rule them out for future travel, but I do know they missed the mark a bit too often on this past trip.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2014
This was our fifth Windstar cruise and definitely not our last.  The Islands of the Western Mediterranean is only offered once each year, but for those of us who have cruised the Riviera coast from Barcelona to Rome in the past it is a ... Read More
This was our fifth Windstar cruise and definitely not our last.  The Islands of the Western Mediterranean is only offered once each year, but for those of us who have cruised the Riviera coast from Barcelona to Rome in the past it is a wonderful alternative. It is also an opportunity to visit Spain, Italy and France in one cruise. For some reason, embarkation seemed more congested than usual. It still was very quick compared to large cruise lines, just more chaotic than we’ve experienced previously. Maybe there were more people arriving by plane that morning (like us) and not really having enough time to do anything in Barcelona other than head to the port. We were really happy to see so many familiar faces upon boarding – Gusman, Ragam, Erwin, Daddy, Robert. Our cabin attendant, Anang was one of the best we have ever had. After a second cruise with the new cabin design, I can still say I absolutely love it! Very well planned with more storage than we ever need. The only problem with our cabin, 106, was that there was some engine noise. It never really bothered us until the last night when we also started experiencing a very noticeable loud humming sound around 3AM which did disrupt our sleep. I could see the cabin noise as being a problem if the occupants were light sleepers. Whether ordering off the menu or choosing buffet items, both breakfast and lunch provided great selections. My main complaint (as it has been from our very first cruise) is that I really dislike the coffee. I wish they would do something about it since I frequently hear others complaining as well. This cruise I elected to just bypass the coffee and go straight to cappuccinos for both breakfast and dinner. The evening meal selections varied from good to excellent – in fact, Tom enjoyed one fish entrée so much that he declared it was one of the best meals he’s ever had on any cruise ship. Dining room service was outstanding as always. We decided not to partake of Candles on this cruise since the weather was a little chilly in the evenings. The on-deck BBQ was fun and Tom declared that the paella was better than what we had in Soller, Spain. Our fellow cruisers ranged in age from two well-behaved children around eight to ten years old to a lovely woman in her 90’s travelling with her grandchildren. Average age was probably 40-60, and many on this cruise seemed to be the adventurous type ready to explore and go off on their own. This may explain why some of the shore excursions were cancelled – not enough people signing up. We took two ship excursions – one in Alghero and one in Portoferraio, one was good and the other just OK. We ventured out on our own in Soller and Porto Vecchio. The one disadvantage to visiting ports that are not frequently visited is that the usual hints you can get from crew members is more limited. But because of that, it seemed we saw more crew members out and about experiencing the port with us. We’ve enjoyed all our cruises with Windstar, but I think this itinerary proved to be the best well-rounded one for us. Just the right amount of sightseeing, relaxation and great fellow cruisers.   Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2013
I have been looking forward to the Windstar Cruises "Treasures of Southern France" cruise for about half a year. The minute I saw the photo of the lavender fields on the brochure page of this cruise I knew I just had to go. And ... Read More
I have been looking forward to the Windstar Cruises "Treasures of Southern France" cruise for about half a year. The minute I saw the photo of the lavender fields on the brochure page of this cruise I knew I just had to go. And so we booked the cruise departing Nice on July 13. My husband and I arrived to Nice a day early and spent the first night at a hotel which was great. We then took a cab to the point of embarkation. Windstar tends to select smaller, commercial ports so we were lucky that our taxi driver knew where to drop us. The moment I got on board, Gonzalo, the Destination Manager, welcomed us. I told him I was so excited to be seeing those lavender fields that they had in the brochure. I then asked which tour I could take to see those fields and he told me "they are everywhere! Take any tour." He then tried to sell me on the $1,499 private car and driver which I thought was a ridiculous price and so I signed up for an excursion to Aix en Provence on Tuesday and later the French Impressionists tour that Thursday. When Tuesday morning came around, we were up, dressed, and had breakfast well before 8 a.m. as our departure was at 8:15 for this tour. Gonzalo saw me in the hallway, pulled me aside, and then told me that he checked in with an associate, and the lavender fields are not in bloom now and that I will not see any. He then told me that I could get my money back if I wanted for the tour. Incredibly disappointed, I took the tour anyway as we were already up and ready. It was a really bad tour. The guide had a hard time with English and just "ummed" the entire time. When we got to Aix en Provence, we were dropped off by a flea market and once the guide starting talking about the exterior of some such building, my husband and I just took off on our own. We didn't really like this area at all. It was VERY commercial and touristy and not at all what I had imagined the medieval little towns of Provence to be. Even the waiters in the cafes were surly. The town was so overcrowded, we couldn't wait to get back on the bus. We had heard that the ship was renovated and were surprised when we got on board and our cabin steward took us to our stateroom and proceeded to tell us that they were probably renovating the cabins later this year or early next year. Sure, they had put in some new carpeting (which was already quite dirty) and had new linens, but the room still looked worn. The furniture was the same and our bathroom had rust around the door frame. The cabin steward kept the room very clean and we thought the laundry package was a great deal. But they had this rough, woolen blanket on the bed which I thought was very out of place and not at all luxury. Breakfast on the ship became somewhat of a joke. Every day you had a choice of a different Eggs Benedict. They had a waffle or pancake for good measure and always the same display of meats (many of which were discolored) and fruits. Lunches were also quite horrific. The menu showed hot dogs and hamburgers, perhaps a burrito, they had a greasy Gyro one day. And here we are in the South of France? What about the fresh veggies and fish we saw in the markets each day? We ended up dining ashore for lunch most days. Dinners, while tasty, were the same dinners Windstar serves no matter where in the world you happen to cruise. Here we are in the South of France and there wasn't even a French wine on the wine list! Hungarian Goulash, Turkey and Stuffing? Really? They had one appetizer and one entree that said "local specialty" as a choice each evening and while the food was tasty and the service was excellent, once again, you weren't dining on the specialties you could find ashore. These towns had fabulous markets and when you saw the quality of the foods there, it was disappointing to see what you got on board. Also, Windstar tendered for the first few days into Cannes and Sanary Sur Mer, but then we docked in a horrible area of Marseilles that didn't seem safe (our ship was behind barbed wire with uniformed guards) and other commercial ports so while you were trying to enjoy a relaxing breakfast on deck, all that you heard were jackhammers and construction vehicles. Tendering would have been so much better. The ship also only sailed each evening starting at 10 p.m. and you were usually docked by 7 or 8 a.m. so you hardly got any opportunity to experiencing cruising which is why we were there wasn't it? The rest of the time we were docked at these ugly commercial noisy ports. Windstar always positions itself as a luxury cruise line and that its journeys are 180 degrees from ordinary, but after having completed by third cruise with them and my husband's fourth cruise, they have gone downhill. The type of passenger has gone downhill, and what they try to get away with is incredible. They are not a luxury cruise line anymore. Luxury isn't having hot dogs and hamburgers on the menu. Or no European wines (everything was from the Napa Valley). If you want something really unique and luxurious and you are a foodie, go to a Seabourn or more upscale line. They just don't really care about delivering what they promise. And when you complain, they offer to give you a limited discount on your next cruise! Like why would you cruise with them again?! Most disappointing was that they position this as a cruise to the South of France where you will see the lavender fields they show on the website and in the brochure. Yet the destination manager on board is clueless about the destination (he's from Mexico) and can't even direct you properly to see what they supposedly sell about the destination. This was a very disappointing experience and not at all luxury if you are a true five-star hotel traveler who enjoys luxury and good food and wine. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2013
I will be a Windstar cruiser for life after our 2nd voyage with them. After a wonderful week on board the Windstar going from Istanbul to Athens with 5 stops in between it got even better. I had left my University of Florida Football ... Read More
I will be a Windstar cruiser for life after our 2nd voyage with them. After a wonderful week on board the Windstar going from Istanbul to Athens with 5 stops in between it got even better. I had left my University of Florida Football National Championship ring in our stateroom when it fell out of my backpack. Our wonderful steward, Cecep, found it and had it forwarded to our Athens hotel before I even knew I had lost it. I will be forever grateful to Cecep for his honesty and integrity. The week started well when several crew members remembered my wife and me from a cruise we took last year. By the 2nd day of the cruise every food and beverage service member would know all 140 of us by name. It's amazing how they do that on Windstar cruises. The food and service was excellent and the crew could not have been nicer. The Captain and I were discussing the Costa tragedy and without my asking he had a good magazine article sent to our room for me to enjoy. The refurbished ship was beautiful and the afternoon treats on deck never failed to cool us off. As did the ice wash cloths waiting for us when we returned from our tours every day. If you are looking for comfort and personal service, on a ship that makes you feel like you are really on a boat, Windstar is the cruise line for you. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2012
Having sailed three times on the Windsurf we were slightly apprehensive about how it would be on a smaller ship.Windsurf had always felt 'just right' in terms of size and passengers.Well,we were in for a surprise.There were just ... Read More
Having sailed three times on the Windsurf we were slightly apprehensive about how it would be on a smaller ship.Windsurf had always felt 'just right' in terms of size and passengers.Well,we were in for a surprise.There were just 118 passengers on board this sailing and it felt almost like being on a private yacht. The boarding process was the easiest ever.We arrived at the port of Pireaus via the bus 040 from Athens as we like a bit of a challenge rather than the easy option of ship transfer or taxi.Yes,we had to walk for 5 mins or so along the front and round to the terminal but it was not a problem with wheely luggage.As we entered the terminal at around 1pm (the earliest boarding time) we were approached by a Windstar rep asking if we were cruising with Windstar.We were told that we were good to board and went straight through security and out the door to the waiting ship.I was actually the first passenger to board.Boarding early like this gives you a whole afternoon on board to unpack and relax a little before life boat drill.There was a limited buffet lunch available for early boarders. The cabin was a little different to what I recall on the Windsurf but not much.There were new linens on the bed. The public areas had all been re-fitted and the lounge and dining room looked very nice. The food was good but not always excellent.There was not as much choice for breakfast or lunch as on the Windsurf (as far as I recall) but it was always nicely presented.Dinner,was usually very good. My husband declared his steak in Candles to be excellent and my grilled fish was very tasty.I think there is room for improvement with the afternoon tea selection.It was mostly the same selection every day and the little open rolls left on the tray soon became very dry.There were always loads left over.The cookies were the same each day and the cake selection was not very appetising.I think they should just have a cookie selection and one very nice type of cake plus some closed sandwiches.People are not usually very hungry at this time of day but it is nice to be tempted by something special. On this cruise we needed tenders every day.One day there was a bit of a swell and they had to take the tender to the other side of the ship to try there.Whilst we were waiting for this,trays of orange juice appeared to refresh us.Another day,because of the swell,we had to use the Capri port tenders. I had my birthday on board and had a card from the captain and crew and a birthday cake in the dining room. The barbecue evening was really fun.A good selection of grilled meats and plenty of salads.There was a 'mini' crew's show and line dancing.We all had a great time. The water sports platform was down just about every day we were in port and we well used as it was extremely hot. We really loved the little exra things which made this cruise so special.Like the Windsurf,there is an open bridge policy so it was interesting to be able to call in there to get your bearings.The stars were wonderful.One day there was an opportunity to have your photo taken with your own camera on the bow spit.This was really special,not something you would get on a larger ship.By the second day we knew so many people by name and the crew knew ours,along with our breakfast and drink preferences.One day when a large number of passengers were still on shore on a tour there were only a couple of dozen of us on board.On the open deck by the bar we were just eight.Suddenly,cocktails appeared,courtesy of the captain.These are little things you remember. The crew was outstanding.We had so much fun with Yen and Uus who served us at breakfast and lunch.Gusman and Wahid too,Anthony,the 3rd officer,Montse and Gonzalo, and Jenny on reception.I miss you all and wish I were back on board with you.Our captain,Aristeidis Mertzanis was such fun and mingled freely with the guests and kept us abreast of anything happening with the ship. This cruise has converted us.Our next one will be on one of the smaller ships for the friendliness and personal service. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2010
As veteran cruisers we're always looking for new ports & new cruising "experiences". Sure, we'd been to Rome before, but how much can you see in 8 hours... this time things would be different... maybe even a little ... Read More
As veteran cruisers we're always looking for new ports & new cruising "experiences". Sure, we'd been to Rome before, but how much can you see in 8 hours... this time things would be different... maybe even a little "too" different in some respects. Admittedly our 3 day days our Athens Greece "pre-cruise" was anticipated as a "warm-up" to the real thing... a seven night sailing adventure aboard a small wind-powered schooner... the sails billowing overhead, and the smell of the salt air conjuring up what would have to surely be an image of "Capt. Jack Sparrow" at the helm of our very own sailing adventure ! Sounds cool doesn't it ? While much of the anticipated trip was up to expectations, some of it was, well, a little less than we had hoped for ! The "Windstar" is one of three ships sailing under the "Windstar" brand name... it's not the largest one... and doesn't hold many guests... but that's kinda what attracted us to it. A sleek white vessel in need of some minor maintainence, this vessel would spend the next 7 days transporting us, feeding us, and yes... even boring us. While there are many of us that would like nothing more than to curl up with a good book and sail off into the sunset, I'm more of the "let's get going and explore unchartered territories" kind of guy, and so follows my observations of our cruise. Boarding the Windstar was effortless, the ship is staffed by a marvelous crew who seemed to be just about everywhere at once. From our waithers to our room steward the courtesy and efficiency of the crew was as good as any we've encountered. The food on the ship was plentiful and above average... sometimes even great ! Any of you that are used to food on Holland America or Norwegian are in for a real treat if you should take a Windstar cruise... if you're use to Celebrity you'll be dealing with a similiar kind of fare. The cabins are top notch... ingenious attention to cabin design has turned these modestly sized abodes into something very unique and dare I say it ?... "nautical". The closed space was ample, the bathroom was out & out "cool", and the room stewards were top notch. We encountered some fairly rough seas on our journey and were grateful we'd book the upper of the two cabin decks on the ship. The public rooms were clean, spacious, uncluttered, and neatly efficient. There was one lounge/entertainment area on the ship... one piano... one pianist... and two bars available. We all want a good "deal" when booking a cruise, and Windstar had been working on only a marginal profit (when it's not losing money) to provide us all with an affordable vacation experience. For the folks at Windstar:... PLEASE, charge us a little extra and hire professional entertainment ! When only one "entertainer" is on board (in this case a pianist by the name of Roy who spends half of his year digging irrigation ditches in South Africa) it better be a good one! Electronic music "enhancing" devices, minimal musical skills, and marginal stage presence just doesn't cut it ! THIS is supposed to be "Windstar".. THIS is suppose to be something "special". THIS ISN'T !!!!!!!! THE JOURNEY... This is a tough one to talk about, so I'll try to make it brief. After departing the Greek island we embarked on our trip to Messina... a sea day was involved and we encounted 10-foot seas. Rocky... sure, but no problem. THE PROBLEM IS the top speed of the ship (supposedly about 10-11 knots on an ideal sea) was not up to the challenges of a mildy-rough seas journey. YES... we had the scheduled day at sea... but the next day we had nothing to do but wave at "Messina" (Sicily) Italy as we had fallen so far behind we had to skip the port... now we were up to 2 days at sea during a 7 day cruise... the next day?,,, Scheduled for a 9am arrival we actually made it to Capri (an incredible place) at 10:30 and were permitted to de-bark at 11 am. The last tender back (and all ports were tendered) was at 2:30 pm... so after 2 1/2 days at sea we were granted 3 1/2 hours on land before heading to Rome ! WHAT HAPPENED TO ITALY ?... WHAT HAPPENED TO OUR PORTS ?... here we were, like a bunch of over-fed prisoners on a ship that in effect had morphed almost into a "cruise-to-nowhere" !!!! Look, I know this doesn't happen on every cruise... but I also know that I'll probably never make another trip to Sicily, or be able to afford to see Capri in the way it should be. A simple observation... WINDSTAR... If you folks can't predictably visit ports don't advertise them ! There's more to this... but enough already. Would I take Windstar again... maybe... but not likely. I was really expecting so much more, so much much more. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2009
FYIMy husband and I have never gone on a cruise in our lives. We have traveled widely, but never with a group. We have pretty high standards for food, lodging and wine, although we have experienced everything from $5 a night rooms in the ... Read More
FYIMy husband and I have never gone on a cruise in our lives. We have traveled widely, but never with a group. We have pretty high standards for food, lodging and wine, although we have experienced everything from $5 a night rooms in the Third World to Relais and Chateau lodging.  We have also done some bareboating. That said, we give a thumbs up to the Windstar.  It really is an "experience" and is probably vastly different from the large cruise ships.   We loved the idea of the boat being under sail. That means there isn't much deck room and all of the public spaces are tiny. If there is bad weather, the options for hanging out anywhere but your cabin are extremely limited.  The cabins are small, but we felt were efficiently designed so that nothing seemed cluttered. Staff was great and the cabins were quickly cleaned in the mornings. We got used to the port holes, but you will definitely feel the rocking of the ship, particularly in high seas. Wear a patch! The food quality varied. Breakfasts were good and very generousfresh eggs, lots of fruit, croissants and smoked salmon. Lunch (which we had on the ship once) was surprisingly good. I ordered off the menu and had salmon in a buerre blanc sauce with fresh vegetables which was better than any of the evening entrees. There were a few instances when it seemed that the entire ships decided to eat at the same time, but the crew handled it well. We waited for a table (for two) just once. Dinner, with several choices for appetizer, soup, salad, main course and dessert, is slightly above average with some hits on the really good side.  The wine selections were below average (standard California mid-range) that were over-priced. Alcohol in general is expensive, with cocktails in the $10 range. There are "packages" and daily specials. They do allow you to bring wine on board the ship and charge a $15 corkage fee. That seemed a bargain. The type of people on the cruise surprised us. We had hoped it would be a mature but adventure-minded group. However, there were older kids (around 10), party animals (and boy, did you know they were aroundtook up all the lounge chairs and generally made spectacles of themselves) who you would expect would be more at home on a Carnival cruise ship. The "informational" sessions about the ports of call was very minimal. It would have been interesting to have someone with some background in art history to give a quick third-grade level style class on some of the sights, since we were cruising through some important archeological sites in the Greek Isles. We did a variety of things in port. We rented a car and used a map on our own twice and seemed to have done more than anyone else that we talked with. We paid for the cruise excursion once andalthough a bit on the cheesy sidethought it was worth it. We "missed the boat" one day and walked around the port city, which was okay, but not great. We did a private guide that was pre-arranged and felt that it gave us a very unique experience. The "day at sea" was pretty boring and you don't have many options except to eat and read (or watch a dvd in your room) or get up at the crack of dawn and place dibs on a lounge chair on deck and bake in the sun. (The pool is about the size of a large spait fit 2 to 3 comfortably.) We didn't do the water sports from the back of the boat, since the two times they were available, we were on land. We felt the good things about the Windstar definitely outweighed any complaints. With all four sails up as we sliced through the water, the Windstar may not be the biggest and flashiest way to go, but it certainly is the most romantic. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2007
We flew to Barcelona five days before our cruise and stayed in an apartment we rented. We had used miles to upgrade to Business Elite on Delta, and the extra for the upgradeable ticket was definitely worth it, as we were rested and able to ... Read More
We flew to Barcelona five days before our cruise and stayed in an apartment we rented. We had used miles to upgrade to Business Elite on Delta, and the extra for the upgradeable ticket was definitely worth it, as we were rested and able to hit the ground running when we landed in Barcelona. We boarded the Wind Star on October 20 at about 1:30 PM. We immediately saw some of the cruise from our May 2006 trip from Istanbul to Athens, and, amazingly, they remembered us by name! Embarkation was smooth; we were handed champagne and appetizers and shown to our cabin, where our luggage had already been delivered. The cabins are small, but very well-designed, with plenty of cupboard and drawer storage, but not quite enough hanging clothes space. The bathrooms are well-laid out and although big enough for only one person at a time are efficient. There was a new chef onboard who was East Indian and that influence was apparent in the menu offerings. The food was always well presented, served at the appropriate temperature, and delivered timely, but it wasn't as good as on our first cruise. My husband is allergic to legumes, including peanuts and lentils, so menu selections were a particular challenge for him, given the heavy use of legumes in Indian foods. Another odd thing I noticed on this trip, but not on the prior one, was that it was quite obvious when the Chef was serving dishes using "leftovers" from the prior day. I'm sure it's a fine thing to not waste food and that many lines do this, but I've never noticed it on any of the other four cruises we've taken. We visited Cartagena, Almeria, Cadiz (from which we took a shore excursion to Seville), Ceuta (Spanish Morocco - rough seas got us into port 5 hours late so the shore excursion was canceled; a pity, but Morocco deserves a trip of its own anyway!), Portimao and ended up in Lisbon, where we had also rented an apartment for another five days. With the exception of Portimao, the tour guides were excellent. The young lady there was knowledgeable, but she absolutely wouldn't stop taking for even a few seconds and kept repeating the same things over and over and over to the point that one passenger offered to strangle her! I think the passenger was kidding, but I'm not absolutely certain. ;-) Although the crew was constantly cleaning, things did not sparkle, primarily because the ship is showing her age and was fully ready for the 3-week drydock that was to take place immediately after our cruise. The other two ships in the line have already undergone extensive refurbishments and at least according to the pictures I've seen are lovely. The Wind Star earns many points for her crew; each and every person was helpful, courteous, attentive and friendly. We had a new cruise director and hostess (a couple I believe) and both were vast improvements over the folks who had those rules when we sailed the prior year. The music was truly awful - a lone musician who sang and played the keyboards. His repertoire was miniscule and by the third day we had heard every song he knew several times. He was, without a doubt, the weakest link! We had been eager to see what, if any, changes had taken place since the line was sold to Majestic. The only things we noticed are that gratuities are now added automatically to your bill - we feel this practice is just fine, particularly since Wind Star pricing is quite good for the quality; and, bottles of water were provided free to those leaving the ship for shore excursions. The year before we had to pay $2-$3 per bottle, which we thought was ridiculous given the cost of the shore excursions. With respect to fellow passengers, it seemed to us that we were younger than many of those onboard. No children and not many people under the age of 50, as nearly as we could tell. Another thing to bear in mind on ship of this size is that since there are so few passengers (less than 150), larger groups have quite an impact on the overall experience. Each time we've sailed on the Wind Star there was a large group (25-50 people) and they made their presence known. Finally, the very thing that makes the Wind Star so terrific is the reason I couldn't do more than a 7-day trip on her or the Wind Spirit: the gym is really tiny (maybe this changed in drydock?) and there no way other than using the treadmill to actually walk on board. But for a one-week trip, it is quite lovely and seems to us to be a good value for the money. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2007
We flew into Frankfurt from San Francisco and then to Istanbul. We stayed at the Four Seasons for one night and loved the hotel. The girls hired a professional shopper gal for about 5 hrs. in the morning and took us on a wonderful walking ... Read More
We flew into Frankfurt from San Francisco and then to Istanbul. We stayed at the Four Seasons for one night and loved the hotel. The girls hired a professional shopper gal for about 5 hrs. in the morning and took us on a wonderful walking tour through the bazaar and other areas. It had been 8 years since we have been on the Wind Star so we kinda new what to expect. We did a 14 day double cruise this time rather than the 7 days as before. Upon arrival everything went well and the check in went rather smoothly even though we got there the same time a "tuck" group got there at the same time. Our cabin was what we expected as have been there before but still it is so small when compared to other lines we have been on like Crystal and Oceania. As we set sail we were surprised at how run down the ship was. They were getting ready to completely remodel the ship and it was very obvious that they were not going to spend any money and keeping the appearance in first class manor. All the woodwork needed re-finishing and rust was very apparent throughout the ship. Our first port was Kusadasi, then in order Rhodes, Bodrum, Santonrini, Mykonos, and then Athens. We loved all these ports. WE did Kusadasi, Rodes, Bodrum, and Santorini on our own. We rented a car in Santorini and toured the whole island. My advise would be to get off the ship as early as possible as it is a nightmare to get on the tram with all the other cruise ship passengers. Took well over an hour standing in line. Our first tour from the ship was in Mykonos to the island of Delos. We had a great guide and loved the trip. Very windy so bring a wind breaker. About 80% of ship passengers got off at the port in Athens. We rented a taxi to take us into Athens and would recommend that rather than the train as it is so much faster and worth the extra money. We had been in Athens 3 times before so we shopped and had a great lunch. Would recommend having lunch in all the ports of call as you can go to small local restaurants and pubs and experience the local food and wines. Our next week our stopping ports were Nalplion, Gythion, Messina, Amalfi,Ponza, and the ending in Rome. We have been to these ports before and loved them. Recommend going to the Diros Caves in Gythion. It is NOT on the cruise line agenda, don't even mention them, and they are truly unbelievable. Took a local taxi to the caves and recommend using them not the bus. The bus stays for ever and the taxi again is well worth the extra money. Had a great local fish lunch after the caves. You can Google the Diros Caves. Out of Messina we took the tour to Taormina and loved the little city. The tour was only 4 hours and we could have spent the day as it is a great little city and did not have time to see it after the touring the Ruins. We loved Amalfi and would go back and use the city as a base. The ship advertised boats going to Capri at 9:30, 10:30, and 11:30 so we thought we would walk the little town in the morning and take a later boat. When we got to the dock we found out that they cancelled the later boats 2 weeks ago as the season had ended. The ship should have known this. So no Capri. The last port, Ponza, was not worth the stop. Nothing and I mean nothing there. It would have been much better to stop in Capri. Have no idea why they stop there and all the other passengers agreed. Over all the ports were great and the couple of sea days were wonderful. Now for the cruising experience. Wind Star advertises as a 4 and 5 star cruise line. They are anything but that. The ship is run down, the rooms are small, and the food barely pass's as average. The breakfast buffet is good and the lunch's are very good but who has time to eat lunch when in port. We love to eat lunch at the local ports. The dinner's were truly bad. I could go into more detail but it would take way to much time. They were just bad. The wine list barely pass's as being a "fair" rating. We ended up buying some very good local wines and took advantage of the $15 corkage charge. What made this trip truly enjoyable was the service and help. They are all well trained and truly great. I cannot emphasize enough how wonderful the service is. The tipping policy is $22.00 per day per couple and then an additional 18% added on for bar drinks and wine service. We did additional tipping to the help as the employees and service were the best of the best. It will be a long time until we do another Wind Star. Fourteen days in that small room was just a little to much and then looking forward to a poor dinner was not much fun after the first week. Read Less
Wind Star Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.5 4.4
Dining 4.0 4.5
Entertainment 3.0 3.2
Public Rooms 4.5 4.4
Fitness Recreation 3.0 3.5
Family N/A 3.5
Shore Excursion 5.0 3.9
Enrichment 3.0 3.8
Service 5.0 4.9
Value For Money 4.5 4.1
Rates 5.0 3.8

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