My wife and I and two other couples met in Edinburgh, where we spent three days getting over jet lag and enjoying this fun city (we highly recommend the food tour Eat Walk Edinburgh). The cruise terminal in Edinburgh was small with few ... Read More
My wife and I and two other couples met in Edinburgh, where we spent three days getting over jet lag and enjoying this fun city (we highly recommend the food tour Eat Walk Edinburgh). The cruise terminal in Edinburgh was small with few amenities, but the boarding process went smoothly enough. From the start, the Wind Surf staff were friendly and welcoming. Our cabin (one of the standard cabins, but upgraded to be on the 2nd level midship) was compact and efficient, with two porthole windows, and we found it quite comfortable. There is an elevator, but we used the stairs, which gave us a lot of exercise during the 11-day cruise. The public areas were nice, and we ate dinner a few times each in the upscale restaurant, in the main dining room, and (our favorite during good weather) on the poolside deck. We also spent several evenings in the main lounge where we enjoyed pop music (Cool Breeze band) and dancing. There was live entertainment also in a smaller bar area, but we did not go there. I enjoyed using the hot tub (there are two) and also the small pool several times. Few guests used the pool, which made it that much easier and less crowded for me. I also used the exercise room a couple of times, and it seemed to be pretty available. I did not try the spa. People seemed to enjoy the game room and my wife and I shopped in the ship store. Open deck space and lounge chairs were in short supply at times, but compared with some ships, there was adequate outdoor space to enjoy and walk around. One time in the Baltic Sea we swam off the ship's swimming area, and enjoyed that (but water temp was 62 degrees!). Throughout the cruise, staff were very nice and competent. An especially positive feature is the open door policy on the bridge and in most areas of the ship. We took a very interesting galley tour. The captain and hotel manger could not have been nicer or more open to conversation, and this set an open and friendly tone throughout.
The food was very good in all restaurants onboard. Alcohol choices were good and prices comparable to restaurants at home. We chose to eat a few lunches on land, just to get a better feel for the areas we visited.
We loved the choice of port stops - a good mix of cities and smaller towns. In every case the ship docked in a convenient location. The shore excursions offered by Windstar seemed to be over-priced, so we did not take any of them. Instead, we did a little advance planning and arranged tours and activities on our own, including a food tour in Copenhagen (excellent). We rented bikes in Skagen and arranged a guided walking tour in Warnemunde. We explored Oslo, Visby and Sandhamn on our own. We also purchased the two day hotel extension in Stockholm, and explored that on our own (from the Scandic Anglais Hotel, which was nice and had an excellent location). In Copenhagen and Stockholm we used the hop-on/off boats, and recommend them (but not the buses).
Although the cruise was wonderful, my one suggestion for improvement is that the quality of handouts and information given prior to each port stop be more complete, more up to date, and more professional (such as using real maps, in English; and providing information about where to eat, shop, and get cash, as well as transportation tips). The port information lectures were not well done and seemed aimed at marketing the shore excursions (which is necessary, but not sufficient).