18 Windstar Wind Surf Europe - Eastern Mediterranean Cruise Reviews

Ok, first off this was a 10 day Greek Island cruise not an 18 day one that the default this review site shows. Our first trip to Greece. Took the Windstar transfer from the airport. Navigating the Athens airport was easy. Transfer was ... Read More
Ok, first off this was a 10 day Greek Island cruise not an 18 day one that the default this review site shows. Our first trip to Greece. Took the Windstar transfer from the airport. Navigating the Athens airport was easy. Transfer was a taxi driver with a sign. It was fine. Stayed at the Windstar hotel, the St. George. Lovely hotel. Rooms are fine. Location is great and the views from the rooftop restaurant and pool are spectacular. Took the transfer to the port. Bit of nonsense about having to have your luggage out 4 hours early. Don’t worry about that. You can bring it at the last minute. The port at Athens is a bit of a hassle. Pretty large and not well organized. Windstar did their best to get us on the ship as quickly as possible. But once on board it wasn’t very well done. Long line to register (which we had never experienced before). Then you had to stand in another line to book dinner in the specialty restaurants, another line for drink packages and yet another line to get the wifi package. Went to our room and signed up for the laundry package. We find this great value for the money. Never met our cabin steward until 2 days in which seemed a bit odd. Went to the main dining room, Amphora, the first night. Not our favorite. So we set out to try and get into Candles and Stella specialty restaurants the rest of the nights. Other than one night back at Amphora for a dinner hosted by the Destination Manager we managed to accomplish that. Candles is the outdoor eating experience and is our favorite spot. The French themed restaurant Stella is also very good with the best service on the ship. There is also a few nights where they offer a Sunset Dinner at the back of the ship. Not well advertised but you should take advantage of it. Our worst dining experience was actually the BBQ. We were really looking forward to it. A favorite night on our other cruises. The BBQ started at 7. It was overcrowded. We couldn’t get a seat outside. Had to sit in a corner of the bar eating almost off our laps. Food lines were long and frustrating. This one was a bust and a major disappointment. Our first stop was Napoli. We didn’t book a shore excursion there. Nice little town. Not crowded. Easy to manage on your own. Went back to the ship in the afternoon and swam off the sports deck (you had the option to do this at 3 stops). Take advantage of this. Much better than the pool. ( Before I forget, there was a very large group onboard from Purdue University. Nice enough crowd but a group booking this large kind of pushes everyone else to the side lines as the ship tends to cater first to them. ). The next stop was Mykonos. Definite hotspot for the party crowd and quite busy. We opted for a private tour here to a farm and dinner through Get Your Guide ( you can check out our review there). Great experience away from the din of the town. Then on to Syros. Place you likely haven’t heard of. Overall we liked these unexpected, unknown stops. Where the big ships dont go are the best stops. Took a ship tour of the town and monetary which we enjoyed very much. From there to the lone stop in Turkey. We really enjoyed Turkey. Took a long tour of Ephesus and a village. Ephesus was wonderful to experience. Draw back here, and it was a theme on our ship tours, you go with a bus load. The tour is long and difficult. That is spelled out in the description. But we still ended up with a contingent of folks who couldn’t handle the terrain and the pace. It caused some tension in our group. In the future we will stay away from the ship tours and book our own where we are in smaller groups. It is law in Turkey that at the end of a tour that you have to go for a Turkish rug explanation. We did this gritting our teeth knowing we had to get through it. Big surprise. We had a great time and ended up buying two carpets! Who knew. Then to top it off, of the last night of the cruise we won another carpet drawn from everyone who had bought one. That night was a big highlight. Windstar arranged for a dinner back at the ruins of Ephesus on the Harbor road where Mark Anthony and Cleopatra walked with the backdrop of the amphitheater where Paul preached to the Ephesians. It was a spectacular night that would be near difficult to beat. It was after hours and only the people from our ship. Not something that happens often. Rhodes was next. Good stop. Then on to Crete. Great time there because we booked our own tour. Went on the Landrover off road adventure through the mountains. Picked us up at the ship and took us right back 8 hours later. Toured the highest points over goat trails and had a ball with the English expat driver nick named Gary the Goat Killer (review on Get Your Guide). Lovely lunch, including our first taste of goat. Try it. It is quite good. On to Santorini. Probably our biggest disappointment. It is so overcrowded. Other than that picture card view you know, there isn’t much there. One person in our group was the victim of a pickpocketed so if you go beware in the crowded streets. We skipped the overpriced shopping and picked a lovely restaurant in Oia overlooking the sea. Excellent meal and they werent rushing us. Last stop was in Monemvasia. Only ship in port. Did the tour of the walled city and the Olive Oil farm. That would have been a real highlight if the guide wasn’t so bad. Was looking forward to the olive oil tasting at the end but she rushed us and we didn’t get the experience we wanted. There was no reason to screw it up. Our next stop was back to the ship and we had hours before it was leaving. Then overnight and our exit in Athens. Handled fairly well but it is a bit of a circus at the port. You pretty much have to trust that in the hectic place your luggage will make it to the airport. Instructions are not real clear and you have to listen to the local tour people what to do with your luggage along the curious route to the bus. Overall we enjoyed our first taste of Greece. Windstar was pretty much as expected. We did not enjoy the experience as much on Wind Surf as we have on the smaller Wind Star but not enough to keep us away. The ship is getting an upgrade in November so lets hope it looks a bit more ship shape next time we see her. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
WindStar WindSurf, booked 5/18, Dalmatian Coast and Italy. Terrific itinerary and lousy cruise. Staff was earnest at best and let's call it unresponsive at worst. Lack of planning at embarcations usually led to chaos. By all means, ... Read More
WindStar WindSurf, booked 5/18, Dalmatian Coast and Italy. Terrific itinerary and lousy cruise. Staff was earnest at best and let's call it unresponsive at worst. Lack of planning at embarcations usually led to chaos. By all means, do not purchase any of the excursions; as on so many cruises, these are considerably overpriced. On our trip, they were, well, rip-offs. Incompetent or disinterested tour guides (vendors) consistnetly failed to provide even the minimum offered in excursion descriptions. Worst of all on our cruise, and most surprisingly, service in main diningroom was more than once the worst we have experienced in almost 20 years of cruising up and down the price range: vanishing waiters, failures to deliver, missing follow-ups. Finally, we just left. Try another luxury line instead - even if, you guessed it, it costs a bit more. Based on our experience on this one trip, I'm disappointed to say: avoid WindStar. Service was so bad that I am motivated to post this review - my first anywhere, any place, about anything. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
Hi Adventurers! We recently completed a beautiful trip on board the Windstar Wind Surf across Italy, Montenegro, and Croatia and we fell in love with the boat, its crew and the beautiful port of calls. During our journey, we had the ... Read More
Hi Adventurers! We recently completed a beautiful trip on board the Windstar Wind Surf across Italy, Montenegro, and Croatia and we fell in love with the boat, its crew and the beautiful port of calls. During our journey, we had the opportunity to visit Rome, the famous Amalfi coast, Sicily, Kotor, Montenegro and three port cities in Croatia. Our trip ended in Venice where we continued our vacation. It's evident that Windsurf spends significant resources in training their associates. The Wind Surf crew was able to provide a consistently high level of customer service in all aspects of the trip; onboarding, the restaurants and the cafeteria, boutique, and the cabins, etc. We truly enjoyed the company of the entire staff; however, we fell in love with Nadine, Aditthas, one of the restaurant supervisors and the big smile and sincere disposition of our cabin butler. These three individuals exceeded our expectations consistently during our 8-day trip. The Wind Surf is a fine old dame; a five-mast schooner that brings up memories of a romantic past and pirate encounters. As you look at the Wind Surf from the distance, its beautiful display of white sails become an attractive landmark in any of the ports of call that you visit. This is not the type of cruise experience, where you are expected to be entertained by a troupe of dancers, singers and all sorts of juggling acts. Instead, passengers get intimate dining experiences, the company of other passengers, romantic cocktail hours and impressive views from any spot on the boat. The available options of shore excursions are very interesting and affordable. We thought that crew and their excursions vendors did a great job in adapting the excursions to the American market. The restaurant options are limited; however, they compensate this by providing an exceptional array of breakfast, lunch and dining options for the American palate. Our first experience with Windstar was unforgettable and we know we'll be back next year to enjoy another exciting destination. Perhaps Japan, China or the Brittish Isles. We just want to thank the Wind Surf's crew for their attention to detail and exceptional customer focus. and to Windstar for sticking to their promise of delivering "180-degree-from-the-ordinary" experiences. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
We booked two back to back cruises. The first cruise included the French Riviera, Monaco for the Formula 1 Race, Elba, and two delightful small Italian ports. The second cruise included Sicily, Malta, Sorrento, and Capri. The ship is ... Read More
We booked two back to back cruises. The first cruise included the French Riviera, Monaco for the Formula 1 Race, Elba, and two delightful small Italian ports. The second cruise included Sicily, Malta, Sorrento, and Capri. The ship is able to get into smaller ports and always has interesting itineraries. The ship is unique with sails which it uses frequently, although it has engines which assure that it arrives on time. The food is varied and excellent. The cabins are comfortable with adequate space. The dining room has open seating which assures one of meeting other guests and making interesting new friends. The dress is informal. The service on the ship is friendly and excellent. The shore excursions are varied and well planned. Water sports are available when the rear sports platform is opened and lowered into the water. This was our 4th cruise on the Wind Surf and 12th on the Windstar Line. The Wind Surf has only 250-300 passengers and avoids the crowds associated with larger ships. One can actually get to know the fellow passengers. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
We recently completed our fourth Windstar cruise, an eight day cruise from Lisbon to Barcelona. Our previous cruises over the past four years included the French Riviera, northern Europe, and the Caribbean. The Windsurf, while aging, is in ... Read More
We recently completed our fourth Windstar cruise, an eight day cruise from Lisbon to Barcelona. Our previous cruises over the past four years included the French Riviera, northern Europe, and the Caribbean. The Windsurf, while aging, is in excellent condition. We were impressed by how well maintained this almost thirty year old ship is. As in the past, service was excellent. Crew members knew our names even before we were introduced. Beverage prices were not unreasonable and seemed to not have changed over the past years. Our issue was with the food. Breakfasts, as previously, were very good. I liked them, although my wife was less enthused. We have always felt that the lunches were poor to mediocre. We ate most of our lunches ashore this time, and the few lunches we did have on the ship were no better than in the past. Hamburgers were dry and overcooked. Sandwiches on the special order menu were poor with lots of bread and little meat. Items on the buffet were bland, The major issue was with dinners. The menu always sounded great, but the food was consistently underwhelming. A "filet mignon" appeared to be a sirloin steak. Oysters Rockefeller were served cold. Items usually made with veal (veal Oscar, e.g.) were made with pork. Soups were served lukewarm even when we specifically asked for them to be hot. On several occasions, including the final evening, we could not find any appealing entree to order. On previous cruises, we were permitted to order from either restaurant menu (AmphorA or Stella Bistro) regardless of where we were eating. This time, we were told that that was "against policy." Service was very slow on several occasions. We had the impression that Windstar was just doing too much cost cutting. Nothing was terrible, but it seemed like things were not up to previous Windstar standards. We do not plan to sail with Windstar again in the future. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
We loved almost everything about the Wind Surf and we would recommend it to anyone who does not suffer a food allergy or intolerance. But for the celiac passenger in particular we strongly recommend looking elsewhere for a cruise. If you ... Read More
We loved almost everything about the Wind Surf and we would recommend it to anyone who does not suffer a food allergy or intolerance. But for the celiac passenger in particular we strongly recommend looking elsewhere for a cruise. If you don't have allergies or intolerances you will love the casual atmosphere, the friendly crew members, and the fabulous water activities at the back of the boat. Unfortunately several in our party have celiac disease/gluten intolerance. One family member is type 1 diabetic with celiac and for him it is essential not to be in an environment where he might be "glutened" (and he is very careful as a result). There were many problems with how gf was handled for our group on this cruise. First problem is that much of the food is served buffet style and there is an apparent lack of understanding how this presentation can easily cause cross contamination. On the first day at lunch we asked for some cold cuts and cheese to be brought out for 3 passengers who were gf and they brought out two thin slices of cheese, and two thin slices of meat. That set the tone (we were expected to use the buffet) but unfortunately there were other issues as well, such as learning after the fact that certain grilled meats had been marinated in something that may or may not have had soy sauce (which some did not seem to realize usually contains wheat -- particularly with the brand they referred to which was Kikkoman). They made a bigger effort with dinner but at none of the other meals was there really much confirmable "safe" food for our celiac family members much of the time. Whenever we asked about items during lunch or high tea they would start asking if we had ordered our gf dinner (as if this was the only meal they needed to provide gf offerings for). In theory since they grill there should be food available but in practice unless you are willing to eat grilled meat and rice for all meals (and skip offerings in between) it might be an issue. They rarely offered to bring substitute items when most or all offerings on the buffet were not ok for us, instead bringing the conversation around to whether we had ordered our dinner yet (again, as if the one meal a day was supposed to do it for us). Near the end they started to do more, particularly when we told them one party member had celiac and type 1 diabetes and he was having a big problem on board getting adequate food or being assured it was safe in terms of possible gluten contamination (which makes him sick and messes his blood sugar management). On the last night the chef made brownies for us, which was nice. Previous nights the dinner and dessert options mainly seemed to involve us selecting from the existing menu by guessing which items they could make for us with least difficulty. Incidentally, there is supposed to be a sandwich bar open most of the day where they offer freshly made sandwiches, but when one visits that venue the sandwiches are pre-made inside a glass display case and we did not feel that we could get a comparable gf sandwich made up on the gf sliced bread we had brought on from port. It always felt to us like we were imposing if we asked for something not in their buffet offerings, and then there was also the sense that the person asked might not know what he was doing in terms of keeping things safe from cross-contamination. They seemed to mean well but in our experience they really had no idea what we were up against in terms of trying to find safe food with what was offered. One family member lost weight on the cruise. Our overall impression is that they have not yet developed a full awareness of the needs of passengers like us, and in the future we will look elsewhere for holiday and cruise planning. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
It's hard to find any faults with the cruise. From beginning to end we were treated like royalty. Check in was so easy. The ship is beautiful. Cabins were very nice. Enough room for two without feeling cramped. Food was ... Read More
It's hard to find any faults with the cruise. From beginning to end we were treated like royalty. Check in was so easy. The ship is beautiful. Cabins were very nice. Enough room for two without feeling cramped. Food was plentiful and, for the most part, outstanding, although my wife did not really like the sandwich bar. Most evenings we ate in The Restaurant and enjoyed it. The lunch barbecue on the beach and the dinner barbecue on-board were excellent. We enjoyed the excursions -- canopy adventure on St. Lucia, river tubing in Dominica, and 4x4 island safari an Antigua. The catamaran snorkeling adventure in St. Barths was disappointing. The location where we snorkeled was not good. Very little sea-life to look at. Nights on-board were rather quiet. Older crowd, us included, that is not really looking for a wild nightlife. The band and the duet were very pleasant to listen to. The staff from the captain on down did everything possible to make the cruise enjoyable. Only complaint was the mini-bar was not kept full with coke. Had to write a note to our steward (who was excellent) to get the min-bar filled. BTW, the new policy of free soft drinks and water was very welcome for us. We are already thinking about a 2013 cruise on Windstar on the Mediterranean. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
Day 1: Istanbul Pre-Cruise We arrived in Istanbul on Wednesday evening, October 12, 2011. We had pre-arranged transportation to our hotel - Yusaf Pasa Konagi in the old city - Sultanahmet. The hotel has a great location and we walked ... Read More
Day 1: Istanbul Pre-Cruise We arrived in Istanbul on Wednesday evening, October 12, 2011. We had pre-arranged transportation to our hotel - Yusaf Pasa Konagi in the old city - Sultanahmet. The hotel has a great location and we walked around last night primarily to find an ATM and get the lay of the land. Although we had read that the place to stay in Istanbul was in the Old City, I am not sure I would do it again. Between the calls to prayer five times a day, the heavy traffic and sirens and the rooster outside our hotel room, I think I would prefer the outskirts and commute into town for the sites (unless you love living in New York City or just have a day or two in Istanbul). The next morning after breakfast in the hotel we went via taxi to the Egyptian Spice Market. All I can say is WOW. This a a must see. You can also get to the spice market via tram if you want to save a little money. The architecture in the city is quite beautiful and there is so much to see. One of the highlights of the city is the narrow roads and very heavy traffic...and since we live in Southern California we know what heavy traffic is. It is amazing to see how these drivers maneuver through these tiny roads and yet you rarely see a car with a scratch on it much less any accidents. We need some of these drivers in LA. Prices seem to be very reasonable except for the price of gasoline which is EXORBITANT..but it doesn't seem to keep people from driving. Most of the people are friendly, though be very watchful of the few who are out to take your money ...like the taxi driver who reached into my wallet to get his fare (plus a little more). Day 2: Istanbul Pre-Cruise Friday was our full day tour of the Old City - the Sultanahmet. Our tour company - Sea Song Tours - provided us with a fabulous guide who answered all of our questions and much more. Is it possible to see the sites without a tour - yes? But we wanted the inside story and the historical background. We got that and a lot more. We began our tour at the Hippodrome where the largest chariot race grounds in the Byzantine period once stood. Little remains of the actual Hippodrome except a large open area where we found lots of vendors selling umbrellas on this drizzly day. It was just a short walk to the Blue Mosque one of Istanbul's most famous sites (which gets its name from the blue tiles covering the walls). From there we walked to the Topkapi Palace. The most interesting part of the palace is the Treasury - where you can view some of the most lavish jewelry and jeweled pieces you can possibly imagine. In case you are wondering -the mystery movie with the same name was about a robbery of the jeweled sword from this palace. Just before lunch we visited the Basilica Cistern - this is where the underground water supply for the Great Palace was built. The Cistern was one of my favorite places and to think it was all done in the 6th century. Today it is not used for fresh water for the city and fishes and coins fill the waters. But the architecture and structure are simply amazing. Perhaps even more amazing is the architectural marvel: St. Sophia. Also built in the 6th century it possesses a vast open area with no supporting columns. Although originally built as a church it was converted to a mosque in 1453 and now stands as a museum for everyone to visit. Our final stop was the Grand Bazaar. The number of shops is overwhelming. However, I do have to say that we enjoyed the Egyptian Spice Market even more. We, of course, spent money on the usual tourist stuff as gifts for people back home as well as a couple of presents for us. DO NOT FORGET TO BARGAIN. The opening price has nothing to do with the value or what you should pay. If you don't like to bargain or are not at least willing to, you should buy your gifts at regular fixed price stores -otherwise you will overpay...and big time. Speaking of overpaying - that night we went to a restaurant nearby our hotel. It was recommended to us by a shopkeeper where we bought something earlier. While my expectation was that the shopkeeper might be getting a "small commission" for bring us to the restaurant, we had no idea how careful (and forceful) you need to be in Turkey. Consider this as a WARNING!!! The restaurateur who spoke beautiful English and wanted so much to please us had an agenda. Although we told him what we wanted he kept bringing extra dishes - specialties of the house. Now please understand most of them were delicious, but we were not looking for a gourmet 5-course meal - not when we were going onboard the cruise on Saturday. I figured the meal would be slightly more than we wanted to pay, but didn't know how much would be "comped". The answer was NOTHING. Compared to US standard, the meal was still not expensive (about $70 for 2), but more than double the prices of the meals we wanted. Guessing that I didn't want to make a scene, which I had every right to do, we paid the bill (without a tip) and felt cheated instead of pleased with the meal. Tomorrow afternoon we board the cruise. We will have all morning to rest, repack and visit anything else we want to see. Day 3: The Cruise Begins After a dreary, but restful morning, we began our journey on the Wind Surf Sailing ship. We immediately noticed a friendliness among the staff and passengers that put us at ease. Our cabin (excuse me, suite) was magnificent with two entire bathrooms, separate his and her closets and enough drawer space for a month long cruise or more. We put our things down and toured the ship. Check-in was done onboard and relatively simple. The usual forms, photograph, and credit card processing took just a few minutes. They do keep your passport on this ship. The ship is easy to navigate, but in several ways is very different from most other cruise ships. The restaurants on most ships are on the bottom decks in the aft section of the ship. Here the restaurants are on the 4th and 6th decks in the forward section of the ship. Dinner seating is open to both of the two primary restaurants. The main dining room changes menus daily while Degrees has the same menu throughout. The public rooms are more than adequate, but certainly don't compare to the glitz of most of the newer big ships. The food at dinner was outstanding, both in presentation and in taste. We were also very pleased with the variety of choice. We were also pleasantly surprised by the quality of the entertainment in the lounge following dinner. Their band, Top Society, played a great selection of music to dance to while up in the 6th floor lounge there was more entertainment by a group named Rain, which we plan to see later in the cruise. We also found time to visit the casino. While relatively small we were happy to see a collection of penny slot machines including two poker machines (not just those machines where you have no idea what wins and what loses. Can anyone else relate?) Having arrived three days earlier, we are experiencing no jet lag. Tomorrow is a sea day and we are looking forward to relaxing and the chef's cooking class. Day 4 -â€" Day at Sea We awoke to find the ship passing through the Dardanelles which separates the European and Asian Continents. By the way, Istanbul is the only city in the world that is situated on two continents -â€" Europe and Asia. Sailing was unbelievably smooth throughout the night and thus far in the morning. Now that we saw that we were sailing in a protected area we had a better idea of why things had been so smooth. They did become a little rockier when we hit the open seas, but the stabilizers of the Wind Surf are quite effective as the rocking was not near as much as we had anticipated or experienced on much larger ships. Breakfast on board is definitely fitting a ship of this high rating. After breakfast, we attended the cooking class with the executive Chef. The class is normally limited to 10, but they did let a couple passengers add-on to make a total of 12. Our recipe for the class was crab cakes. Each of us had our own station. We donned white coats and chef's hats and were taught by the head chef not only how to cook the dish, but how to prepare it, and how to present it. Each of us were offered the opportunity to cook our creation in a heavy (no, very heavy) skillet. We learned that real chefs don't use a spatula to turn the food, but use their wrists and toss it in the air. Easy for him to say, but we had a difficult time with the weight of the pan. Finally, we got to enjoy the fruits of our labor. A table was set just for us and the chef and our meal was complimented by glasses of champagne. The rest of the day was filled with activities, including a golf putting tournament, a trivia contest, a wine tasting demonstration, several seminars, the captain's cocktail party, and a port talk for the following day. As usual the captain introduced his key staff. But what was not as common was the humorous and entertaining manner in which he introduced them and the true connection he made with us, his passengers. We can definitely see why his crew truly enjoys working on the Wind Surf -â€" no Mr. Roberts on this ship. We chose the specialty restaurant -â€" Degree - for our dinner on this night. We now can agree with the comments we have read on Cruise Critic. While we enjoyed food and service, it does not equal the meal we had the prior night in the main dining room. That is where we plan to have the rest of our dinners on this voyage. After dinner we once again went to the main lounge. We first listened to the guest singer -â€" Steve Charles -â€" who was quite excellent and did an entire medley of Tom Jones songs. Afterwards, their lounge band, Top Society, returned and we spent the evening listening, dancing and just enjoying until it was close to midnight. Then off to bed we went as we had an early morning tour the next day. Day 5 - Kusadasi & Ephesus We awakened to the sound of a tugboat guiding us into port. We needed no tender as we docked right in the city. Disembarkation was beyond easy. Our cabin is directly one deck above the ramp and there was no line to contend with. Our tour guide was waiting for us with a sign. Based on recommendations from a friend and from comments in Cruise Critic, we had prearranged a private tour through Ephesus Shuttle. We were not disappointed. The van was extremely comfortable and the guide and driver were responsive to our needs. What does that mean - that we could control the time at each spot and not be herded like cattle on a regimented large tour. We could weave in and out of close quarters and access just about anywhere we wanted to go. Our tour consisted of the city Ephesus and all its historical sights, the Terrace houses, lunch in Sirince Village and ended with a view of the Artemission Temple. The lunch, which was included in the tour, was much more than just a quick bite. It included a sampling of Turkish specialties all prepared by a local family. Right outside the restaurant was an authentic village filled with open air shops that provided us with another opportunity to purchase gifts for friends at very reasonable prices. There was no pressure to buy, but we actually asked our driver if we could spend a little extra time at the village as we really enjoyed their handiwork. We also got a chance to look for one of the great bargains in all of Turkey -â€" a Genuine Fake Watch. Our guide offered to extend the tour with some additional shopping, but we chose to go back to the ship as we wanted to find an Internet café while in port since the wi-fi on the ship was predictably slow. Day 6 -â€" Rhodes Greece On this day we were no longer in Turkey, We arrived on the island of Rhodes, in Greece, and docked with no tendering necessary. We were able to stroll into town with our new friends from the ship. We tried to do this on our own and went in the wrong direction, but quickly found an entrance into the walled city. There is a lovely shopping area with much less aggressive shopkeepers than we found in Turkey. In fact, I found a belt that I wanted to buy and couldn't find anyone in the store to sell it to us. After a few minutes someone did show up and we bought the belt at a price lower than we found after intense bargaining in Turkey. There was a monument in the town for the 1604 members of the Jewish community who were rounded up by the occupying Italians and shipped to Auschwitz. We then asked for directions to the historical Rhodes synagogue. Instead of just telling us, one of the shopkeepers actually led us to the synagogue. We were awed by the well preserved synagogue and the museum that was attached. For anyone interested in the history of the Jewish community in Rhodes, this is a must see. From there we hired a taxi for an island tour. It was well worth the $130 Euros which we split between two couples. Our tour began at the former site of the Colossus of Rhodes, now marked by two deer, the symbol of Rhodes, guarding the harbor. He then took us to Lindos, which was also where he lived. On the way we stopped at several beautiful vistas, where we took some incredible photographs. We also stopped at a ceramics factory where they showed us how they made the pottery and of course there were lots of locally made Grecian urns to buy. Our last stop was the Acropolis. The two guys climbed to the top as the women shopped. The views from the top were quite spectacular and we were able to get some great photographs. The shops were charming and well-priced and the same low pressure ambiance we found in the city below. When we returned to the ship, we had little time to rest as there were Greek dancers entertaining us before dinner. Day 7 -â€" Bodrum This was our favorite port. There was a certain energy to the town that made it peaceful and appealing. It seemed more like a city then just a shopping stop. We could easily return here and spend more time. First of all, the ship was able to dock; no tender needed. Just after disembarking we came across a café with free wi-fi access. After checking our e-mails, we proceeded to "The Castle". There was lots to see and lots to photograph. There is also an outdoor theater and mausoleum to visit, which we didn't get to because we were sidetracked by a gorgeous restaurant right on the harbor called the Balkan Restaurant. They had these incredible prawns beautifully displayed outside the restaurant that just called to us. We are happy to say they tasted as good they looked. After spending a lovely morning and lunch in Bodrum, we returned to the ship to partake of the Jacuzzi and for a little nap. In the early afternoon, the ship had Turkish dancers from onshore as their entertainment. One of the passengers whom we had befriended was called up on stage to dance with the entertainers and became well known throughout the ship. Day 8 -â€" Mykonos We tendered into Mykonos. The streets were narrow and winding, with shops lining both sides. I was able to find some placemats at a local store, something I try to buy on nearly every trip. We also saw a processional which we guessed might be for a funeral. We then decided to take a little adventure by boarding a local bus to Paradise Beach, a place well-advertised in travel magazines and on board. What a disappointment! Just overblown hype! Dark, rocky sand, and a small beach area that was not very appealing to someone from Southern California. We would certainly have preferred spending more time in the shops, but we can say we were able to navigate the buses of Mykonos. We returned back to the ship for lunch and a fabulous bar-b-que dinner. This was our favorite meal on the ship -â€" lobster, spare ribs, a whole suckling pig, all beautifully displayed on the upper decks. The weather was also perfect for eating outside which was not possible for many of the nights earlier on our cruise. Afterwards we returned to Mykonos for what was billed as the special nightlife. I guess it was just too late in the season as nothing was going on in town. The big attraction was the sunset and that our ship was lit up with the sails flying. Day 9 -â€" Santorini As we approached Santorini early on Friday morning, we saw mountains with a white top. At first it looked like snow, but we thought how could it be? The weather, while not as warm as they have in the summer, was certainly not cold enough to sustain snowfall. As we sailed closer we thought it might be white rocks. But when we actually got close enough to see, it became apparent that at the top of these mountains, were dozens of white buildings, both commercial and residential. Many of the passengers took one of the ship's tours or decided to navigate the terrain on their own. That meant either riding up on a donkey (no way, no how) or waiting in a long line for the tram. We decided to sleep in and take the tram in the afternoon when the lines were much shorter. So after lunch we took the tender over to Santorini and took the tram up to the top. There we found beautiful views for photos and lots of little stores for shopping. The passengers who took the tours to Iao raved about the views and the tour. So this might be one city you might not want to skip, but for us we needed the rest. The next two days would be early ones for us. Day 10 -â€" Athens We docked for the final time in Athens. We had made arrangements for a private tour company to pick us up at the airport, give us a half-day tour, and deliver us to our hotel in Athens. As we disembarked our driver, Spiros, was there waiting for us. Spiros has a great love for his country and gave us much more than we had contracted for. In fact, at the end of the day we actually asked him to take us to our hotel as we were tired and needed to rest. During the tour we visited the Acropolis, the new Acropolis Museum, Hadrian's gate, the Jewish synagogue, the parliament building, and he had more that he wanted to show us. But the best part of the tour was the very special local lunch he arranged for us. Interestingly just as we were pulling up to the restaurant, another couple from the ship was leaving the restaurant. I guess the word is out about this wonderful local restaurant. We then checked in at our hotel for the night -â€" the Athens Hilton. All I can say is wow! Using my Hilton Honors points, I had arranged for a free night, but we were pleasantly surprised to be upgraded to the concierge floor. This is one of the nicest hotels I have ever stayed at. The lobby was huge, the views incredible and the upstairs lounge one of the hottest places in all of Athens. After Athens, we flew home by way of New York, so my special friend could visit some old friends and show me her roots, the places she where she grew up, played and went to school. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
We took the Rome-Venice cruise (Capri, Messina, Kotor, Dubrovnik, and Hvar as ports of call) as a 5th wedding anniversary. I had read reviews, which gave me opposite opinions, so I was certainly worried about the condition of the boat. ... Read More
We took the Rome-Venice cruise (Capri, Messina, Kotor, Dubrovnik, and Hvar as ports of call) as a 5th wedding anniversary. I had read reviews, which gave me opposite opinions, so I was certainly worried about the condition of the boat. There was nothing to worry about! Everything was excellent, and as a traveling machine (I spend more time in hotels, planes, boats, and trains than at home), I am really picky. First, the condition of the boat: It was sparkling. They clearly were paying attention to keeping the varnish new, and everything clean and dusted. The carpets had a stain here or there, but seriously, that's the worst of it. The stateroom: WAY bigger than I expected, but it's still a cruise ship. Still small, but very functional, and for a Category B, very spacious, and the bathroom was very fancy, with marble and L'Occitane products. The bed was incredibly comfortable, moreso than the hotels that followed, sadly. My husband loved that our portholes (remember no balconies on this ship) were down close to the water, but I know some may not like that. We did - it was a unique perspective. The decks: For 300 people, you have so much room on the decks, there's no reason for a balcony! We really enjoyed how uncrowded the ship was (it wasn't quite full, but probably 3/4 capacity), and every afternoon and evening we enjoyed cocktails on the deck. If we'd had a balcony, we wouldn't have used it. Embarkation/Disembarkation: Super easy, and fast. We took a private car (split with some new friends - thanks, CruiseCritic!) from Rome to get there, which was very easy. Keep in mind that there are shuttles at Civitavecchia now, and you can't go right up to the boat even in your car. Thanks for the welcome drink, Windstar, and so grateful we could sleep in just a touch on the last day (no long lines like the big ships). However, be forewarned that once you're off the ship, it can be crazy - Venice is a nightmare. Not their fault, but important to know. The clientele: We are in our early thirties, so were were afraid there'd be no people our age. In fact, we found a pack of about 3 other couples to join in our fun, in addition to a few more couples on their honeymoons who came and went. There were truly groups of all ages (except children - none of those). We loved meeting others on the boat - mostly American, but a healthy dose of Aussies, Kiwis, South Americans, and a few Europeans. What great fun finding dining companions each night - a different experience with different groups! The service: Impeccable - everyone remembered our names after about a day or two. Wine you don't finish is corked, and though your drinks are not included, I found that the difference (versus an inclusive cruise, and also versus the inclusive package they offered) was in my favor with Windstar. However, I am a young, petite woman (read: don't drink huge amounts, and also haven't ventured into extremely pricy wine snobbishness yet) - so some may not find this true. Excursions: Skip 'em. I planned all my own, and they were so fun that we wound up with an immediate line of people joining on to our own excursions. The options are limited through the ship, but you will find fun by planning your own. Great ports, and loved using the ship's tenders. Great ports! The food: Delicious, every meal - it is a cruise, so you expect excellence. The food was not 5 star, but decidedly 4-4.5 star. I enjoyed every meal, and nothing was too fussy. Breakfast was available for on-demand griddling, lunch was delicious with broad options, and dinner (four restaurants on such a small ship - amazing!) rivaled some of my favorite restaurants. Keep in mind, though, I prefer a *fun* dining experience - not a *fine* one. It is NOT casual dining, but not quite up to the Ritz Carlton, which makes it more relaxed and not so fussy. Do wear pants, gentlemen. The entertainment: Music every night, in two locations. Nice to have the backdrop, but the best parts were definitely the staff shows! Hilarious! And yes, they have STAFF SHOWS!! Overall: I never want to cruise with any other line again. There's nothing better than sitting on the deck with a few of your new best friends, watching those sails unfurl, with a cocktail in your hand, and Croatian mountains as the backdrop. Stop worrying, just book with Windstar...and take me, too! Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
In this review I will provide: • My impressions of Wind Surf and the onboard experience • A few thoughts / tips regarding beaches at the ports of call • Pros and Cons of Wind Surf versus a 5 star big ship • Top ... Read More
In this review I will provide: • My impressions of Wind Surf and the onboard experience • A few thoughts / tips regarding beaches at the ports of call • Pros and Cons of Wind Surf versus a 5 star big ship • Top experiences aboard Wind Surf • How Wind Surf can go from "good to great" Overall We had a great vacation, and enjoyed the special experiences that are unique to Wind Surf and hard to replicate on a big ship. We spent a major percentage of our "onboard time" outside on the deck, and we were amazed by the feeling of being closer to the ocean. That said, Wind Surf definitely needs refurbishment and the ship's outdated and tired interiors detracted from our overall experience. We chose this cruise because we wanted to have a low key, outdoor-oriented, yet deluxe, vacation...and we have wanted to try the Wind Surf. We also expected that the dining on Wind Surf was high quality and conducive to healthy choices thus we could stay in shape. Also, we have been to most of these ports before, so we weren't looking for in-depth tours...just a relaxing trip with more exposure to sea and sun. These expectations were met. The Wind Surf , with five masts and white sails, looks great from a distance. However, the interior is VERY tired and undistinguished. Wind Surf is definitely in need of refurbishment to bring it anywhere close to 5 star cruise ship standards, in terms of interior design and amenities. The food, however, is generally very good, and in the main restaurant it is excellent. The crew is quite friendly and wants to get to know you. On this ship, there is a sense of going on an adventure (as opposed to a party) and being close to the ocean...much more so than on the large cruise ships we have been on. It is a unique experience, and definitely different from a big ship. There are both pros and cons. We will definitely do more big-ship cruises, but would also look forward to another Wind Surf voyage if the rumored refurbishment actually occurs. (We've heard that a major refurb is in the works for Wind Surf, now that Philip Anschutz has purchased the line, but we don't know the details.) The Ship - Interior We were, to be very honest, shocked when we came aboard. I was expecting a 5 star ship. But the colors, textures, materials, lighting and layout are nowhere near five star, modern standards. We are perhaps spoiled by Celebrity's Solstice-class ships, which are spectacular, modern and elegant. In addition, other luxury new-builds like Oceania Marina and Seaborne's Odyssey-class are magnificent and will compete with Wind Star for high-end cruisers. Important interior spaces, such as the lounges, restaurants, inner hallways and cabins, are decidedly 3 star. The undecorated areas (outer hallways, stair wells, decks) are highly functional with an unadorned, nautical feel. For example, the interior stair towers are very spartan. If you have ever been on a big ship and peeked into the "Crew Only" stairways and hallways, you will have the basic sense of how Wind Surf looks. Being outside on the deck of Wind Surf is great. Inside is not too special. There are no balconied cabins - only cabins with port holes. With so much deck space, it's easy to get outside and you don't feel too hemmed in. Still, there is no substitute for a balcony. We had a Category A cabin located mid-ship, starboard side, directly opposite a stair tower. It has a standard layout, similar to the majority of cabins on the ship. Category A cabins are on Deck 2, while Category B cabins are on Deck 1. We paid about a 15% premium for Category A, which was worth it to me because we were closer to the main deck (4) and close, but not too close, to the main gangway in the aft section of Deck 2. The cabin is very well laid out and feels spacious for 188 sq ft. The fit and finish is dated and tired. I thought there was far too much use of formica- clad cabinetry (as opposed to wood) with a utilitarian look. But the room is highly functional. The bathroom is spacious and nice, with teak floors and granite counters. The shower is circular, with a shower curtain, good quality fixtures, and nice water pressure. It was a perfectly comfortable shower, even for me at 6'4". We eventually got used to the shabby chic dEcor, largely because the cruise itinerary, food, service and the outdoor experiences were so good. By why should we have to make that trade-off? A ship of this class should have beautiful interiors, and this is not currently the case. The Ship - Exterior The ship looks great from afar. It is always the most unique ship in the harbor, and it is surprisingly large. At 14,745 tonnes and 312 passengers, Wind Surf is referred to as a "small ship" but it did not feel small. It's over 600' long with a 63' beam, so there is plenty of ship there. However, when Mariner of the Seas pulled up next to us (at 138,000 tonnes and 3,100 passengers) the size difference was obvious. But for day-to-day life aboard, I felt that it was more than large enough, but not so big that it is hard to get around. I really liked the size of this ship. I like the mega-ships, too. Each has it's own benefits. Besides the sails, a major difference between Wind Surf and other ships is the large amount of outdoor space and the emphasis towards being outside on deck. There is plenty of deck space and a lot of well-spaced chairs and loungers. I read that there are 22,000 square feet of deck space for the 312 passengers. You will, of course, spend at-sea days outside, but you can also have the majority of your meals outside, too. We had all of our breakfasts and lunches at outdoor tables, and 3 of our 7 dinners. Since the ship is smaller, you are much closer to the water, which also enhances the outdoor experience. Being on the deck of the ship is fantastic, but as with the interiors, it is not as aesthetically pleasing as it should be because: • The decking seems worn out • The sight lines are sometimes marred by random wires and cables that are not professionally tacked down • The life boats look 40 years old • Some equipment that is in plain view, like folding ramps and gangways, appear old and worn • There is too much rust and decay in view • The outdoor venues, like Veranda and Compass Rose, are tired and visually unexciting We would love to see an upgrade to the exterior aesthetics to truly highlight the ship's unique qualities. But overall, we tremendously enjoyed the decks, the outdoor dining venues, and the feeling of being outside all the time. Motion The motion of this ship is more evident than on a big ship...perhaps 30% more. That said, the ship's motion would not deter me from sailing Wind Surf again, and I would say I have average, or slightly more-than-average, susceptibility to motion sickness. We had relatively calm seas throughout the trip, so I don't know how the ship handles rougher seas. When the ship was moving at cruising speed, it was quite stable. At very low speeds, and going in and out of port, the rolling was more pronounced. My wife and I each had one day of low-to-moderate motion sickness, which in my case was cured by a Bonine. Tendering We tendered at 3 of our ports of call: Mykonos, Santorini and Bodrum. Despite advertising that the small size of the ship allows Wind Surf to go where others cannot, we still docked where the big ships docked, and tendered at the same ports where the big ships tendered. I didn't see any difference at all, at least not on this itinerary. However, the tendering process is MUCH easier on Wind Surf. There was rarely a line waiting for the tender to show up (20 people max.) There are no "tender numbers" or waiting in a staging area, or any of the other hassles that tendering from a large ship entails. One annoyance was that when we arrived in certain ports, such as Santorini, we would "drift" rather than anchor. Apparently, Wind Surf's anchor chain is not long enough to set anchor in deep harbors. Thus the ship slowly drifted in a circle, which made us queasy! Entertainment The entertainment is sometimes pretty good, especially the house band in the lounge and the duet that sings at Compass Rose, and sometimes not up to par. We can certainly live without the Broadway shows and Las Vegas revues of the big ships, but we would still like to see an upgrade in the entertainment quality. The "comedian / magician" is campy and silly, which is fun for about 15 minutes, but then it wears thin. He should be a warm-up act, rather than the main event. The musical revue put on by the crew was also fun, but would be more appropriate at Karaoke night. BTW, the crew put together a terrific slide show, which gave insights to their daily efforts to keep us spoiled passengers happy! I really enjoyed it, and it was a testament to dedicated teamwork and comradery at sea. The sail away music, as I mentioned, is very well done and in keeping with the nature of the itinerary. Food and Drink Overall, we thought the food on board was excellent, and we enjoyed dining al fresco as often as possible. The main restaurant, cleverly named The Restaurant, offered truly excellent food each time we dined there. There is a new menu every night, and the cuisine is creative, delicious and tastefully presented. We live in New York city, and this is as good as many of the restaurants here. Our friends from London said the same thing...that The Restaurant could hold its own versus fine London restaurants. As with the rest of the ship, the dEcor is nothing to write home about, but the food and service are excellent. By the way, we had one evening when we did not think the service was up to standards, and we said so. The hotel manager was very responsive, and sent us a nice letter and a bottle of wine as a gesture of good will. This was greatly appreciated. All of our subsequent experiences were faultless. The alternative dining venues are all offered at no additional charge...a very nice touch. Candles, which is Wind Surf's outdoor steakhouse, was wonderful. The food is very good and the experience of dining on deck, amid the surf and the stars was magical. Have I ever had a better steak? Sure, but that isn't the point! You are only allowed to book Candles once on the trip...and I can see why it is in high demand. It's a great experience that sets Wind Surf apart. Note that dinner is served from 7:30 - 9:30. We always take second seating on cruises, as we like to dine later. But if you come in towards the end of the window (say 9:15, as we did on one evening) you will feel rushed. Degrees is another alternative fine dining restaurant which is a little more intimate and offers a different theme each night. There's a nice mural paining on the wall, too. Our night was Mediterranean-inspired. It was delicious, and a nice change of pace. Veranda is the main restaurant for breakfast and lunch. It is indoor / outdoor, so you have your choice. We always preferred outdoor seating, but many people took advantage of the air conditioned tables inside. The buffet is, of course, much smaller than on the big ships, and far more civilized. There are no lines, and they have a nice selection of very fresh fruits, salads and the usual breakfast and lunch choices. The wait staff will gladly handle a la carte orders from the menu, or customize something just for you. We greatly enjoyed having all of our breakfasts and lunches served to us at an outdoor table. A big plus versus the larger ships. One quibble about the wine temperature. On several occasions, I ordered red wine by-the-glass and it was far too warm...sometimes bordering on hot. This happened at multiple venues on-board, and needs to be corrected. Wine is not cheap on Wind Surf. A glass of Frog's Leap cabernet is $15.50. For that price, it needs to be served at the proper temperature. The outdoor bars did a nice business during the early evenings. It is a pleasure to have a drink on deck with the wind in your hair, and catch up with friends re the days events. For pre-dinner cocktails, we always stopped at The Lounge and chatted with Mikee the bar tender. Great guy. Note that there is seldom a crowd in the Lounge bar, unless there was a show...then it's quite busy. Excursion Desk / Beaches A major disappointment. Either no advice or bad advice. We are independent travelers...you know, the type that would buy a cruise billed as "180 degrees from ordinary" if you get my meaning! But the excursion desk is worse than ordinary. If you weren't buying a tour, they had very little time for you, and not much information to offer. When on Rhodes, we asked about a nice beach. The "local expert" who was brought on board to answer such questions, sent us to Faliraki beach and advised us to take the bus. Faliraki is a dirty, over-crowded beach next to an awful, low-end, "tacky tourist" town. And the bus was jammed like a Tokyo subway. Gee, thanks. In Kusadasi, we asked the excursion desk agent (the full time staffer) about nearby beaches. We got nothing but attitude and little advice. Clearly, he wanted to sell the tour to Ephesus. But we have already been there, so we just wanted to hang out on the beach. Thus, he would barely speak to us, and when he did he was quite sarcastic and dismissive. Unacceptable, and not a wise approach for a cruise line climbing out of bankruptcy. Weather Perfect. Not so much as a cloud for the entire cruise. Ports of Call The ports on this itinerary are amazing, especially if you are into history, as I am. This is a nice combination of fun-in-the-sun (e.g., Mykonos, Bodrum) and historical touring. I'm not going to say too much about the ports in this review (other than to comment on where to find nice beaches) because I am focusing on the ship and the experience, and you can get more professional reviews of the ports elsewhere. Itinerary: Athens (embark) Mykonos Santorini Rhodes Bodrum Kusadasi At sea Istanbul (disembark) More Thoughts on the Ports and Beaches on this Itinerary Mykonos Our favorite spot is Psarou beach. It is small, but with great sand, and a great outdoor restaurant...Nammos. It is quite a scene. There are 200 foot mega yachts in the cove, legions of "beautiful people" and possibly a celeb or two all trying to get a choice lounge chair or hang out at the right table in the restaurant. We spent several hours at Nammos with new friends and eating great food. The Dom P was flowing freely, and it was a whale of a time...well worth the huge tab and the headache the next day! But be forewarned...Nammos is not the "stroll in and sit down" place catering to tourists, unless you come really early. At peak times, they control it like a New York City nightclub, where the beautiful / rich / famous / connected people get highly preferential treatment, and the regular people fight for the leftovers! Even their website brags about their snobby exclusivity...which is pretty obnoxious...but we choose to overlook these issues. The other beaches in Mykonos are Paradise and Super Paradise. They have big reputations as party beaches. We have heard that P and SP are very crowded, loud and crazy, so we haven't been...we would rather stay at Psarou, which is a more civilized kind of crazy. Getting a taxi in Mykonos is quite a feat. It took us 45 minutes, but persistence paid off. The best place is near the bus station, which is the transportation hub. It's utter chaos, with hundreds of tourists queued up for buses, renting scooters or trying to find taxis. But that is what it takes to get transportation in Mykonos. Watch out for the college girls driving their rental scooters! Many people take the bus to the beaches, especially P and SP, but no bus goes directly to Psarou (you supposedly can take the bus to Platys Gialos and walk to back Psarou. We chose to fight for a cab) Santorini We wanted to see the beaches in Santorini, since we have toured the town on prior trips. We rented a car from Hertz in downtown Fira, the main town. It turned out to be a good choice for us. We got a very nice Fiat for 60 Euros / day, including tax and insurance. We drove to Oia (pronounced ee-ah), did a brief walk through that picturesque town, then headed for the beach. We ended up at Kamari beach, which is about 15 minutes outside of Fira. Very quaint and quiet village. Black pebble beach. Water shoes or Tevas required. We had lunch at King's Cafe, which I would recommend, in a thatch-covered, well-furnished gazebo along the beachfront. The beach is pretty to look at, but really uncomfortable...too rocky / pebbly for my tastes, though I am glad we went. Supposedly the better, more sandy, beach is Perissa beach, but we did not have time to get to that one. Maybe next year. Last point about Santorini...unless you have some romantic / masochistic desire to ride hot, sweaty donkeys, just take the cable car up to the top. The line can be long (we waited about 20 minutes this year; 40 minutes last year) but it is safer, much more civilized, and the views are great. Give yourself plenty of time to wait in line for the return trip, and consider the departure timing of the megaships. Rhodes We wanted to spend time on a beach in Rhodes. As discussed above, the WS excursion agent sent us to Faliraki via the crowded bus. Granted, there was a taxi strike on this particular day, so crowding was to be expected. But when we finally got to Faliraki (after passing several magnificent resort hotels in Kallithea along the way) were we shocked! Faliraki makes Daytona Beach and Panama City look like the Riviera. Faliraki village was full of tattoo parlors, sex shops, and tacky T-shirt stands ...and the beach was jam packed. What in the world compelled our excursion guide to suggest this place? We just started walking in the general direction of the nice hotels (1-2 miles north) until we got away from the sleaze. En route to Faliraki, we had passed Kallithea and several 5 star resorts. It looked really nice, so you may want to try it. Also, some of the beaches are serviced by water shuttles...which are far more pleasant than the crowed bus. We used Faliraki Sea Lines as our rescue boat out of Faliraki! They are based in Mandraki Harbor, in the Rhodes port, and there are other similar services there, too. Granted, the bus is 3 Euros and the water shuttle is 6, but the difference is more than worth it. Kusadasi We ended up at Ladies Beach, which is a short taxi ride from the pier. It is very nice, but quite crowded. There were lots of locals, who were super friendly, and the water is crystal clear. But be advised (if you've been to other European beaches you know this) every square foot of beach is occupied by beach chairs and umbrellas, all in nice rows. And the sand is coarser and pebblier than American beaches. I enjoyed it...my wife did not. The shops and cafes are somewhere between commercial and quaint (much nicer than Faliraki!) I can recommend Ladies Beach, if you want a short beach break with the friendly locals, but don't expect Kapalua! Bodrum All the in-town beaches in Bodrum were crowded, rocky and not too appealing. I am told there are better beaches outside of town, but we did not go. We went back to the ship and spent the day on Wind Surf's marina deck jumping in and out of the Aegean. It is a terrific feature...maybe the highlight of the trip... and is possibly worth the price of the cruise by itself! Istanbul Istanbul is one of the most spectacular cities you will ever see. It is in the same class as New York, Venice, San Francisco and Hong Kong in terms of gorgeous waterways framing a fascinating skyline. The history and monuments are second to none. So you should stay and play, if possible. The ship sailed into Istanbul at 6am. We have been before, so we know it's worth getting up early to see. We told all our friends to drag themselves on deck at 6, and you won't be disappointed! We glided by the famous landmarks...Topkapi, Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque...and saw the sun rise on the Bosphorus. It was almost like going back in time. We stayed two nights at the SwissHotel Bosphorus, which is in the New District, between Taksim Square and the Bosphorus. Our room (1BR suite) in the new Suite Tower had just been renovated in over-the-top, ultra-modern style. It was absolutely spectacular. The owners must have found the best designers in town and said, "create the most incredible modern apartment in Europe"...and they did. There is even a rooftop infinity pool with wonderful views. I am not sure whether the main towers (East and West) have yet been renovated, so be sure to check. But we would highly endorse this hotel. One last tip...try a Bosphorus river cruise. We really enjoyed it. There are short cruises (90 minutes) and long cruises (5-6 hours.) We took the long cruise, which travels the full length of the Bosphorus (about 16 miles), makes several stops, then drops you off in a fishing village / tourist trap called Anadolu Kavagi for a 2.5 hour lunch break. The cruise also provides a nice look at the Black Sea, which I definitely wanted to see. Overall, we would say that the benefits of the long cruise are that you see the Black Sea, you can hike up to the old castle ruins outside Anadolu Kavagi, and you sail the entire Bosphorus. The downside is that the trip is VERY long. I definitely had to cash in some brownie points with my wife after that...she was a trooper, taking the longer cruise and making the long, hot climb to the castle (300 meter altitude gain) so I could see the Black Sea. Thanks Honey! You can get 80% of the experience on the short cruise (since most of the important sites are below the FSM Bridge) but if you have to see it all, take the long cruise. Pros and Cons, versus a 5 star "big ship" You may like Wind Surf if you ... • Want a more adventurous experience, with a "going to sea" feeling • Would like to spend a lot of time outside, feeling the breeze and seeing the water • Would enjoy direct access to the ocean from the ship's marina deck (the highlight of the trip, for us!) • Prefer an uncrowded ship • Prefer a smaller ship where it's easy to get around (for example, we never used the elevator) • Prefer a relaxed yet elegant feel, where the upscale and well-travelled passengers dress "country club casual" • Like a younger crowd than some other cruise lines (there's no one in a motorized chair trying to cut you off at the buffet line!) • Don't want to fight for lounge chairs on deck • Prefer (or don't mind) a relatively quiet ship, that can at times feel empty • Enjoy the serenity of no frequent announcements and no steel drum music • Don't mind that the interiors are sub-par (to put it kindly) • Don't mind a little more motion when sailing • Can do without a crowded lido deck buffet experience (on Wind Surf, you can serve yourself at a genteel, uncrowded buffet, or be served by the wait staff) • Would enjoy fine dining on the deck at sunset! You may prefer the big ship if you... • Have to have a balcony • Really enjoy all the activities and entertainment options such as bingo, rock climbing, kids club, Broadway show, onboard shopping mall, etc. • Prefer a lot of vibrant night life onboard • Enjoy a major pool scene • Look forward to dressing up for formal night in a spectacularly grand dining room • Have mobility issues (Wind Surf has lots of stairs, hatches and high thresholds to step over) • Have lots of kids and need the kid's program • Want to load up on food at a huge buffet • For whatever reason, actually want to attend an art sales pitch at sea • Enjoy the incredible design, dEcor and artwork found in today's brand-new ships • Like the stability that a 100,000 tonne vessel provides • Prefer a state-of-the-art cabin with elegant dEcor and the latest electronics • Like a palatial feel, rather than a yacht-like feel Top Experiences on board Wind Surf • The Sail-aways, with the sails unfurled and the soundtrack from "1492 - Conquest of Paradise" playing as our theme song. Awesome! (I'm listening to it on my iTunes as I write this!) • Dining on deck, starting at sunset and moving on to starlight. It's unlike any dining experiences on our 12 previous cruises. • Spending hours in the Aegean sea off the coast of Bodrum, Turkey, utilizing the ship's marina deck, which provides direct access to the "wine dark sea." • Sailing through history in the Dardenelles. The Captain did a beautiful job of narrating our passage through these historic straits, describing the many important events that occurred here, from the Trojan War to the battle of Gallipoli. • Spending countless hours on deck. We seemed to spend our whole vacation out of doors...which was wonderful. • Choosing the next book from their well-stocked library. The ship has a surprisingly strong collection of travel and historically-themed books. Going to Bodrum? There are several books about Herodotus, one of Bodrum's native sons. Touring Athens or sailing past Troy today? Flip through the Iliad or one of the many books on Greek history. • Being pampered by the crew, who have a unique personality (Special kudos to Daddy and Mikee) From Good to Great If Mr. Anschutz happens to read this (I heard he was on board for at least one evening during this sailing) here is my advice for attracting customers like us...forty-something, upscale, frequent cruisers who are quite interested in Wind Star's essential value proposition of a beyond-the-ordinary, high-end cruise. • Offer a sophisticated, yet relaxing and authentic, at-sea experience targeted towards a well-travelled, upscale clientele who have a sense of adventure. See my list of top experiences (above) and take them to the next level • Transform the interior spaces from 3 star to 6 star. I would envision that boarding Wind Surf should be like stepping onto a billionaire's yacht. The feeling should be "Wow, I can't believe we get to do this!" instead of "Oh my, perhaps we made a mistake!" There are so many new-builds on the market which have spectacular interiors...and balconies...that Wind Star must keep up. Given all the special attributes of this ship, can you imagine how amazing it would be if the interiors were also best-in-class? • Ensure that the entertainment is more sophisticated. The lounge needs a Diva. Perhaps a Celine Dion, Sarah Brightman or Cher sound-alike. • Upgrade the exteriors to maximize the unique attributes of the ship. More teak, more varnish, more brass! Clean and paint everything! • Re-furbish the cabins. Get rid of the formica-clad cabinetry. Upgrade the electronics and TV content. • Take better advantage of the Marina deck. This is an amazing feature that few other ships have...a real point of differentiation! Is Wind Surf our next cruise? Maybe. We are huge fans of Celebrity's Solstice-class product, and will surely do that again. However, we are also starting to look at more deluxe, small ship alternatives such as Oceania and Seaborn...and we are quite interested in their new builds. We are trying to avoid anything that is "tired" and needing a major refurb, while trying to hide it with pillow menus, fancy toiletries and other band-aids. This is where Wind Surf is today. But it seems to me that Wind Surf, if significantly refurbished and upgraded, could find it's own niche in that 5-6 star class of offerings. Overall, we had a great time and we're looking forward to another voyage on an enhanced Wind Surf! Past Cruises: Wind Surf 2011 Eastern Med; Athens - Istanbul Eclipse 2011 Western Caribbean Equinox 2010 Eastern Med; Rome to Rome Constellation 2010 Baltic; Amsterdam to Amsterdam Solstice 2010 Caribbean Century 2009/2010 Caribbean Solstice 2009 Caribbean Majesty OTS 2009 Caribbean Navigator OTS 2008 Caribbean Constellation 2007 Caribbean Serenade OTS 2006 Caribbean Adventure OTS 2005 Caribbean Brittanis Caribbean Stella Maris Eastern Med Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
This cruise was our first one on Windstar and our 15Th overall . We had been to Croatia on a Costa cruise last November but it was pouring rain in Dubrovnik and what we saw of that city decided us to take whatever opportunity to come back ... Read More
This cruise was our first one on Windstar and our 15Th overall . We had been to Croatia on a Costa cruise last November but it was pouring rain in Dubrovnik and what we saw of that city decided us to take whatever opportunity to come back . Windstar provided it with a cruise on the Wind Surf at a good price . Our criteria of selection for a cruise are normally the following : 1) itinerary, 2) value ,3) ship . In this case , cruising on a sailship created an additionnal incentive. Embarkation port was Venice . We were impressed by the ship even before setting foot on it ! It did look magnificent with its tall five masts and being docked at the San Basilio terminal , on the Canale della Giudecca , did create a romantic effect . The embarkation process was very fast and within 20 minutes, we were in our cabin . At 188 square feet , it is one of the most spacious we have had so far . There is a lot of storage space and it is very easy to circulate in the cabin . The cabin was on on Deck 1 which means that our portholes were just 6 feet over the water level ! Having been on the Queen Mary 2 on our last cruise with a cabin at more than 60 feet above sea level , this was quite a different perspective and I have to say , much more interesting ! The few times that we had some waves made us appreciate how stable this ship is ! Service and food are well above average,in fact the quality of the preparation of the food is the best we have seen so far in the 8 cruise lines we have sailed with and both my wife and I are good cooks ! We have tried all the 4 restaurants on the ship for dinner and all had excellent quality ! The only minus side and it is a major one , was that 2 specialty restaurants are located outside and eating at 7.30 pm at 5 degrees Celsius ( 41 F ) is really cold even if your Fillet Mignon is perfectly cooked !!! The itinerary was quite port intensive so after walking for hours in Venice, Rovinj, Opatija , Trogir, Split and Dubrovnik and eating an elaborate dinner everyday , we did not go very often at the lounge for entertainement but what we saw of the Kool Blend group and the British singer was interesting . The choice of port of calls was very interesting ! The size of the ship enables it to go to ports that would not be accessible to other ships so Windstar was able to select ports with various points of interest in very different surroundings ! Information provided by the very knowledgeable excursion team also was very helpful to passengers wanting to visit on their own ! The time spent at each port was also more than the average spent by cruise ships ! Leaving the ports with all sails deployed also brought applause from people looking at the ship The passengers (there were 220 on this cruise) are mostly well travelled , with a majority of Americans but also coming from many different countries! On a ship of this size, it is very easy to establish contact so , after a few days , one gets the impression to know everyone aboard ! The crew knows most of the passengers by their family name and even the very young looking Captain Alan MacAry is very accessible to everyone. Disembarkation was very fast, in fact all the passengers were off the ship within 45 minutes ! We would not do a Trans Atlantic crossing on a Windstar sail ship as entertainment and speed are limited but we will definitely consider one of their vessels when we will be looking for an itinerary with original ports of call ! Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
This was our 5th cruise on Windstar and 10th cruise overall. We had sailed on Windsurf twice before and once of Wind Song (RIP) and Wind Spirit. Windstar appeals to a unique niche. If you want rock climbing, 30 restaurant and ... Read More
This was our 5th cruise on Windstar and 10th cruise overall. We had sailed on Windsurf twice before and once of Wind Song (RIP) and Wind Spirit. Windstar appeals to a unique niche. If you want rock climbing, 30 restaurant and pseudo-Broadway shows, this is NOT the ship for you. However, if you want a cruise to relax, meet people from all over the globe, eat very good food and go to ports many large ships cannot access, then Windstar is perfect. We embarked in Venice. Checking in and getting our Stateroom keys could not have been easier. It took us less than 15 minutes from the time we got on line to the time we stepped into our cabin. Luggage came about 10 minutes after that. Because Windstar is so small, it's easy to recognize the familiar faces of returning crew. As we boarded, there was a bit of a hard sell for spa services, but the staff was pleasant and it was not unlike other pitches on other cruises. It's easier to familiarize oneself with the ship. Walking the entire ship, on all decks takes maybe 20 minutes. I was pleased to see renovations and the addition of the "Yacht Club". Big screen TV where many watched the early rounds of the World Cup, a new free sandwich bar, library and great luxurious seats with headphones and ipod docs. The staterooms were pretty much the same, thought we were upgraded to a suite. In retrospect, we really appreciate the extra space and my wife loved the 2 bathrooms! There are not a ton of activities to describe on Windstar ships.Reading and talking are the main things to do. However, the rear sports deck is open when possible and kayaking and windsurfing are options. The Windsurf, the bigger of the 3 ships, added "specialty" restaurants. Degrees, was our least favorite. It says it is Mediterranean but it seemed more American/Continental and the menu doesn't really change during the week. the regular Restaurant offered more variety and was excellent. We also dined in Candles, a steak place. It was outside and accommodated only about 20 guests. Very nice setting and service. Our favorite was Le Marche, a seafood restaurant also for about 20 guests outside on the rear of the ship. Watching the sun set as you eat and drink wine was quite an experience. Service on Windstar has always been well-above average. The mostly Philippine and Indonesian staff work hard yet are always smiling. Our cabin steward, Agus, was friendly and charming and did a great job. The captain, John Clark, was very visible. Sort of the David Letterman of ships. Henri Lemay (?), the hotel manager is a long time Windstar veteran and was very attentive. Eric, in charge of entertainment, is new to Windstar. He actually performed a couple fo times and was absolutely charming. We stopped at Rovinj, Trogir and Dubrovnik in Croatia. All were wonderful and I'd strongly recommend doing these small towns on your own rather than paying for excursions. We had lunch in Trogir on a tethered barge that was absolutely romantic and charming and special. The next ports were Messina and Sorrento. Amongst the passengers, Messina got poor reviews. We didn't go to the town; rather we took the tour to Mt. Etna. We spent way too much time in the bus, but once there, it was very good. For some reason, the ship had to leave Sorrento early -at 2:30 in the afternoon. So all those who went on various tours just made it back in time. This was disappointing to all who had hoped to do the tour and get some shopping in. The traffic was unbearable (Italian roads were not built for tour buses). But our trip to Herculaneum was excellent. But again, 3 hours on the bus was not fun.Steve, the excursion director could have been more knowledgeable about the excursions, but he and his wife Amanda, were also new so I'd give him a pass. Disembarkation was as smooth as can be. The only complaint I had, and a did write directly to the company HQ, was that Windstar strangely does not acknowledge returning guests. I got a letter of apology in our room with a free bottle of wine, which was nice, but I still think a note on the computer when you check in should let the staff know who are returning guests and how often they've sailed with the cruise line. A simple, "Welcome back, we appreciate your business", would go a long way. Other than that, we will most likely sail with Windstar again. For our tastes, few other cruise lines offer what Windstar does. Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
We took a 7 day cruise on WindStar's Wind Surf, our 6th cruise but first on this cruise line. This was the smallest ship we have ever cruised on, with only 215 passengers on a ship holding 315. Since we live in Italy and would be ... Read More
We took a 7 day cruise on WindStar's Wind Surf, our 6th cruise but first on this cruise line. This was the smallest ship we have ever cruised on, with only 215 passengers on a ship holding 315. Since we live in Italy and would be arriving by train, we skipped the ship's transfer service and opted to do it on our own. The only "hiccup" of our entire trip came as we tried to find the proper dock for the Wind Surf. We rec'd no written confirmation or email from Wind Star prior to the trip and unfortunately our TA was unresponsive when we inquired about the ship's location. We mistakenly rode the port's free shuttle bus, only to arrive in the main port for larger cruise ships. We could see the Wind Surf but had difficulty reaching it. We finally arrived at the Wind Surf 2.5 hours after arriving in Venice, and after taking the vaporetto water bus and walking about 1/3 mile. In retrospect, maybe we should have paid 60E ($90 US) for a water taxi directly to the ship and avoided all the hassle, but we use public transport often and didn't realize it would be so challenging to find the ship.Check-in and embarkation were easy and quick, more laid-back than on other large 3,000 passenger ships we've cruised. I guess with only 215 guests onboard, all the procedures were faster and simpler. The entire ship was scaled down size-wise from our previous ships, but space was always roomy to adequate and we never felt cramped in any public or private areas. In the lounge where check-in occured, we were offered snacks, drinks, and info about the spa. We were escorted to our cabin & unpacked within 30 minutes of arriving at the port terminal. The ship was beautiful and well-maintained, with teak decks, two hottubs, adequate sun lounges for relaxing, and a small pool (one pool was under maintenance the entire trip). There were plenty of small tables with umbrellas on the rear decks, perfect for reading, enjoying a drink, or just watching the view as we sailed. The main level of the ship also had a large lounge with entertainment and free snacks from 6-7pm, large book and DVD library, free IPOD rental, plenty of comfortable leather chairs for reading, the shore excursion desk, reception area, and small shop for souvenirs and toiletry items. There was a small casino but it was never busy. Our cabin was a simple ocean-view stateroom. The first day I smelled a gas or diesel odor on that level when we first entered, but it wasn't overwhelming or constant throughout the cruise. Since we were at the bottom & rear of the ship, maybe cabins on higher, central or front decks would be completely free of fumes. Our cabin was very spacious, light and provided plenty of storage. There were more cubby holes, shelves, & drawers for storage than we needed. The bed was extremely comfortable and the pillows were soft but supportive. We never heard any noise and I slept like a baby. The room contained a flat screen TV, DVD-CD player with IPOD dock, underpowered hairdryer, individual room AC controls, roomy granite bath with plenty of storage, powerful handheld shower, and nice L'Occitane toiletries from France. WindStar seemed to include lots of nice amenities even though this was one of the simplest and least expensive rooms on the ship (bought last-minute at a great price!). The room was well-designed and made maximum use of the space available, and it never felt cramped. The sailing was smooth and we never felt excessive motion from the seas. Sails were unfurled via computer most days although the engine was also used to provide power. We enjoyed all the ports and could easily walk from the ship to important historic sights within 5-10 minutes. We did not take any shore excursions because we enjoy traveling independently and it was super easy to explore all the ports (no docking 50 miles from town as on large ships). Ports included Venice (overnight), Koper Slovenia, Rovinj Croatia, Split Croatia, and Dubrovnik Croatia. Port time was adequate and leaving/entering the ship, even on the tenders, was quick & easy. On 2 out of 5 ports we used tenders to reach shore, but there were no long waits and the tenders had plenty of space since they weren't full. Food aboard the ship was above average and better than Princess & Norweigan ships we've cruised on. We ordered room service twice, and the food was good and service was prompt. Breakfast & lunch buffets in the Veranda were plentiful and included lots of fresh fruit, salads, and a grill station for eggs, french toast, or sandwiches. Dinners in the main dining room were very good, and special outdoor tables were set up on the rear decks near the pool for 2 theme restaurants: one offered steaks, the other seafood. A smaller indoor dining room offered a themed menu that rotated every couple of days, from asian fusion to continental/italian. We ate there on the asian fusion night and enjoyed it. The wine/beer list was adequate but naturally smaller than on larger ships; prices were reasonable and several under $60 US bottles were offered. Service was consistently good throughout the cruise in both dining room and cabin areas. Staff members were friendly, attentive, and professional without being overbearing, and they brought extra touches around like cold towels while we lounged in the sun.The Wind Surf is not the ship for you if you like big Las Vegas-style shows, plenty of nighttime entertainment, extensive casino games, lots of shipboard activities, have limited mobility, love formal nights, or plan to bring small children under 12 years old. If you want to focus on seeing the ports, enjoy a smaller ship with no crowds, and want to enjoy a nice meal while cruising, the Wind Surf might be perfect for you. We enjoyed it and would definitely return for another 7 day cruise. Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
We finally convinced 3 other couples to sample samller ship and compre it with their Mega ship experience and I truely think their choice in the future cruising will be on smaller ship. They were relaxed and enjoyed not having to deal with ... Read More
We finally convinced 3 other couples to sample samller ship and compre it with their Mega ship experience and I truely think their choice in the future cruising will be on smaller ship. They were relaxed and enjoyed not having to deal with masses throughout the cruise.We arrived in Rome 3 days in advance of embarkation and had enough time to enjoy the historical city and on the day of embarkation, we decided to hire a van to take us direct to the port, rasther than taking the train from Terimini. Spliting the cost 4 ways certainly made a difference in keepint the cost down and the fact that we would be taken direct to the dock. My wife and I have taken the train which is very inexpensive, but made a mistake of walking to the dock from the station, because it looked so close. Not worth it, Take a taxi!Embarkation was quick as usual, but we did wait in a holding tent for a while, since we arrived early, embarkation started right on time at 1pm. Our suite 331 was very comfortable, approximately 356 sqf, it is about the size of mid range suite with balcony on Mega ships. What WindStar had put their 2 standard cabins together which resulted in two of everything in the suite. Loved the double bathrooms and closets. I have cruised on Regent Mariner and their smallest cabin with balcony equaled our suite.We sailed on Surf to Western Med in 2007 and also on Star from Athens to Istanble 5 years ago which was our intro to cruising and we have not stopped. We definitely prefer small ships which includes SeaDream with 100.We sailed on time from Chivitavecchia for Capri which was our first ports of call, but when we returned to our cabin, after our dinner, there was a note fron the Captain that Capri was changed to Sorrento. Weather palyed a part in this change, because it was too windy for safe anchorage at Capri. It certainly was a disappointment, but we under stand how dangerous tender operation can be in bad weather. We arrived in Sorrento and some of us decided on Positano visit by  traveling through beautiful Amalfi coast. It was a wonderful day to remember.Our next port was Taorimina, Sicily and it was truely a hidden jewel not often mentioned among travelers I know. It was our favorite and would like to return one day to stay longer in this lovely city. It was a subject of conversation at the dinner table by many.Surf has 4 different dinning options, two of which were open air dinning. But because of windy weather with few sprinkles, it was only opened 1 or 2 nights I believe. Needless to say were not able to obtain reservation for neither.We had our dinners in the main dinning room which was fine, although we had one dinner in set menu dinning room and it was fine. But main dinning room menu selection was much more in variety and changed daily.Service was excellent.I puchased some bottles of wine in Rome and had no problem taking them onboard and $15 corkage was charged, when I took them into dinning room.We had one day at sea, on our way to Corfu, I must say it is not my favorite pass time, since i don't read much. But I managed to keepyself occupied. One word about all inclusive cruise compared to non. I have done both and really prefer non, now that I have done both. It is true, you're not nickled and dimed to death on inclusive ships, once you've paid the set amount. But can you justify the fare difference which on all inclusive can be up to $600-800 pp per day? Just how much alchoholic beverage can you drink? The dinning options are more elegant and of higher quality, even at that the difference is excessive. I don't mind signing for every drink or bottle water and soda, because I am not a heavt drinker or demand gurmet meals 3 times a day. Back to Surf. The windy condition resulted in some ideal anchorage spots not available for use and required shuttle transportation at couple of ports, but it was fine. One thing I did notice is that some passengers were complaining that cruiseship personnel were not organized with shuttle service. There should have been staff members present at both ends, rather than just the departure point. We were left to fend for ourselves, dealiing with contracted vendor who provided the transportation.After Corfu, we headed for Duvrovnik, Croatia, again we had to give up the best anchorage due to weather and shuttled in and had to find our tour guide who was waiting at the old port docking area. But we enjoyed our visit to this historical or once war torn city with very little signs of damages we witnessed on the news. Life goes on!Our final ports of call was Havar, Croatia, charming little island which easily can be mistaken for one of the Greek islands. Very short stay and it started to sprinkle as we left.I failed to mention earlier that the group of musicians who were onboard back in 2007 had just renewed their contract and were performing onboard. They remebered us and our favorite song and played it for us almost every night, very small thing, but to be recognized and renew friendship means a great deal for customer relationship and for repeat clients. On our final morning, we entered main channel for port of Venice, San Marcos Square was in full view and everybody was on deck for an amazing viewsDisembarkation was delayed a bit due to luggage handling delay, but other than it went smoothly. Our ship docked at the main channel dockage, rather than one of those slips at the main terminal. So we were further away from everything.We had to walk few blocks to the termianl and had very few options for hotel transfer. Main terminal had a free shuttle to Piazza Rome which was sort of centeral point for various transportation options, but non where we were, only very expensive water taxi. In hind sight, it turned out to be the best option, especially with bags. Venice is not baggage friendly city with bridges and uneven roads. So, if you decide to take care of ground transfer yourself, spen a few extra euros and save yourself a major headach. Take a water taxi and have them deliver you to your hotel, right to their front step. Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
Trip to the shipThe cruise line does not furnish transportation to and from the ship. That can be costly. To the ship was e150.00 for 2. From the ship was $120.00 U.S. each. Embarkation was fairly smooth. One surprise was that X-ray and ... Read More
Trip to the shipThe cruise line does not furnish transportation to and from the ship. That can be costly. To the ship was e150.00 for 2. From the ship was $120.00 U.S. each. Embarkation was fairly smooth. One surprise was that X-ray and metal detectors are used on the ship each time you enter. What they are looking for is beyond me. I doubt any terrorists would ride that boat so it became obvious to many that they are primarily looking for alcohol. Note  They do not allow passengers to bring liquor on board. The rooms  Even though they are small in square footage, they are extremely adequate. The showers are fantastic (plenty of water.) Staff  Exceptional people. Most are from Malaysia, hard workers and very friendly. Food Adequate, nothing special, it all looks great but all is mass produced and lacks seasoning, many small portions and courses to deal with. Ports of call Most are accessible only by the ship's old tenders. They need replacing, are noisy, smelly, and slow. Several stops were obviously poorly planned as there were three-five other cruise ships in port at the same time and the crowds were nerve racking and overwhelming. (Much like being at a football game.) Seaworthiness of ship  Due to the smaller size (compared to large luxury liners) the ship doesn't fare well with rough seas. One day we were at sea all day with 10-15 foot swells, many including me got sea sick. It was so rough all the water sloshed out of one swimming pool on deck. I was in bed most of the day. The ship is also very slow and the sails couldn't be used due to wind direction. I noticed most other ships readily passing us while at sea. Entertainment None to speak of and that's good. The water sports platform on the rear of the ship is excellent for kayaking. They don't allow swimming off of the platform but you can get in a kayak and go out a short distance and swim off of it. The "Help Desk" or Reception desk They are not very helpful unless it's very simple. They refused to convert Euros to U.S., don't appear to really want to help, unable to give any alternatives to issues such as alternatives for travel/transportation off the ship, not extremely helpful. Most of the crew were friendly and helpful but not this group. Disembarkation The ship required bags to be packed and outside cabin at 1 a.m. night before disembarking so packing becomes an issue. It was a pain standing in long lines awaiting for return of our passports, awaiting baggage to be delivered off ship, etc. and ship charged $120.00/each for a bus ride to the airport from dock. Overall It's really just another cruise. The sailing sounds so romantic though. (It's not really.) Too far to travel (from U.S. to Rome and Venice back to U.S.)for the ports of call. We should have just stayed in Rome or Venice for a week and seen more interesting sites/places. On board they will nickel and dime you to death. Beers are $6.00-$9.00 each, mixed drinks are $6.00, wine corkage is $15.00 if you bring it on board and as mentioned, they do not allow passengers to bring liquor on board. (You can slip it through if you're careful. Use your imagination.) Read Less
Sail Date September 2008
First cruise ever. We had a great time but were in for a few surprises. First few minutes, a passenger (pax) complained she wanted a welcome gift. The poor crew had no idea what she meant , nor did we. She suggested a bagel? We found the ... Read More
First cruise ever. We had a great time but were in for a few surprises. First few minutes, a passenger (pax) complained she wanted a welcome gift. The poor crew had no idea what she meant , nor did we. She suggested a bagel? We found the wait staff to be wonderful while the pax were demanding, greedy, selfish to distraction. Be prepared for many from the "Big Apple". The surrounding boroughs were well represented. Pax ran the staff around like dogs. It was so embarrassing. They ordered multiple entrees at meals. They grabbed all the DVDS as we left port; they hogged all of the lounge chairs (which was really bad while at sea)....and they booked the restaurants largely day one. We didn't realize it was "Survivor" mentality. I decided I rather sink that be stuck with anyone of them on a life boat. I start with this because they were rude and obnoxious and it truly affected us. The boat was a bit shabby. The fumes of paint was apparentas they touched up the ship. We weren't looking for the QE 2 but I was a bit disappointed at how shabby it looked on the exterior. I felt that I was on the Nantucket steamship ferry. As a kid, you could run around on the big steam ships. This boat was casual and lended itself to fun. It's not a cruise for more senior folks largely due to the need to board tenders to go to shore. The state rooms were just fine. The beds very good. Water pressure excellent...room kept very clean except aged fruit wasn't removed. In our room, the steward was outstanding. The staff worked like dogs and as stated, were treated accordingly much to our dismay. The ships staff was great . The captain seemed truly distant and indifferent. We didn't run aground nor hit an iceberg so he gets a passing grade. It wasn't fancy but we didn't want fancy. It was the perfect boat for us. Small. No crowds. I felt the staff tried to please us and went over board to do so. No pun intended. The staff in The Veranda was a bit more reserved and less tolerant of the pax antics but still worked very very hard. The food was a mix of truly awful to ok. The room service food was so bad they should omit it. Nachos were broken chips with a little cheese. A grilled ceasar was worse. The breakfasts were great in the Veranda but the dinner fare was awful.I think they could relax the dress code as this isn't a formal affair (Ok I was dying to wear jeans. I'll admit it). It was my first cruise and I would do it again on this small ship. It was perfect for my interests, which was travel...rather than formality. If you want elite, formality ;don't get around well or require a balcony , don't take this ship. PS If you are a complainer , take another ship please. I had the time of my life. Its what YOU make of it and this was fun. We give the service a 5 out of 5 and a 10 out of 5 for working as hard as they do and dealing with pax. The ships boat staff was wonderful and friendly. The reception desk worked hard to please as did cheryl. Geno, Alladin and Raphael had indelible smiles and made our time wonderful on board. Embarking was so easy as was leaving the boat. The ports were a lot of fun and beautiful. We made our our plans in port. The buses were very clean and timely that took you to town. The whole endeavor was well run. All in all, we were affected by the grab while it lasts mentality but the staff made our trip outstanding. Of note, the ROme toVenice trip is amazing. Read Less
Sail Date August 2008
Our cruise on the Windsurf was wonderful. Were there one or two things I could pick at? Sure - nothing's ever perfect but I have to say we all left the ship thrilled with our cruise and wanting to go back. The experience was great and ... Read More
Our cruise on the Windsurf was wonderful. Were there one or two things I could pick at? Sure - nothing's ever perfect but I have to say we all left the ship thrilled with our cruise and wanting to go back. The experience was great and we were very well satisfied. We were a group of friends made up of 3 couples traveling together and all agreed that: - service was excellent, with very friendly and attentive staff who remembered all our first names after our first interaction. - food was excellent a lot of the time and at least good all the time. - cabins were roomy and well-designed; we had room to easily store everything (and we packed heavily). NOTE: the bed linens and towels were great - they had recently done an upgrade in that respect and it definitely showed (I'm picky about sheets). - the itinerary was excellent with no lame stops. We did an excursion with the boat and a few on our own...all were fun. - the relaxed dress and free-style dining was a really nice feature...we enjoyed the restaurant but felt like the service in the Bistro was a little better and preferred it. We were very pleased with just about everything. I did not think the couple who performed in the Compass Rose bar at night were any good (they sang cheesy songs to recorded tracks) until I went at cocktail hour - they sang relaxing songs with an acoustic guitar and were wonderful. I say DROP the tracks. Also, one of the couples in our group was a gay couple and there was no taint of oddness or discrimination on the part of anyone on board at all, I'm glad to say. I HIGHLY recommend Windstar. Read Less
Sail Date June 2006
Wind Surf Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.4
Dining 4.0 4.4
Entertainment 3.5 3.7
Public Rooms 4.5 4.4
Fitness Recreation 3.5 4.1
Family N/A 4.1
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.7
Enrichment N/A 3.5
Service 3.5 4.7
Value For Money 4.0 4.2
Rates 4.0 4.1

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