7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2012
We just completed a second transatlantic cruise with the Windstar's ship Windsurf it was a wonderful cruise in so many ways. Of couse embarking is easy and quick with 107 fellow passengers, 89 who were repeat and 18 who were new to ... Read More
We just completed a second transatlantic cruise with the Windstar's ship Windsurf it was a wonderful cruise in so many ways. Of couse embarking is easy and quick with 107 fellow passengers, 89 who were repeat and 18 who were new to the cruise line. Many of the passengers have made multiple crossing and often meet each other either every or every other year. So, for many people it is a reunion. For a ship that can carry 312 people, having only 107 it was like having your own private yacht. For a crossing it takes a special passenger. You have to be happy making your own fun and activities and you have enjoy quiet and solitude. While there are few formal activities there is: reading, ocean and star gazing, a group of women did needle point and made jewelry, one lady painted, the ship does organize games such as trivia and ship golf, a group of people enjoyed putting together complicated puzzles, the ship publishes daily word and number games, there is musical entertainment in the evening and the ship had an evening movie and popcorn! This trip there was a popular tap dancing class initiated by a fellow passenger. As you can see much of activities are self driven and low key. The pool at the beginning of the trip was widely used and the hot tubs were always in use. One of my happy anticipations was the daily noon announcement by the Captain of our position, weather report, nautical miles to land, ocean depth and distance to the horizon. The bridge was happily open 24/7 for curious people like myself. While on this transatlantic we saw a whale, a shark, dolphins, 2 other ships and had a beautiful sail by the Azores. Despite the few number of passengers there was an outside eating restaurant In which the meat was extraordinary, the main restaurant and the bistro along with the Veranda restaurant for lunch and dinner. The food was consistently excellent and varied throughout the journey. The outside barbecue was truly under the stars. The Yacht Club, with the best sandwiches one could wish for, was always open. The cabins are spacious and comfortable, great in-cabin entertainment either a selection of 100s of DVDs or the 3 daily movie offerings.Windstar cruises are known for the superb service and this continued only the staff had more time to converse so we were able to spend more time in conversation with these wonderful people. A crossing is truly an amazing way to relax and Windstar has fined tuned it to the perfect vacation. I would rather take14 days sailing across the ocean than 7hours in a plane any day. Docking in Lisbon is a great experience because before you dock you go under a bridge that spans the harbor for that great optical illusion of the sails almost touching the bridge. The ship has to go under at low tide, this time it was 3:30 am and there were at least 40 people on deck watching this event. A fine way to say good by after 14 days of bliss. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2012
Having sailed on all of the Windstar ships many times since 1987, from places like Malaysia, the South Pacific, Tahiti, Europe, Caribbean, Belize and Costa Rica, I confess to being somewhat biased in my long love affair with these unique ... Read More
Having sailed on all of the Windstar ships many times since 1987, from places like Malaysia, the South Pacific, Tahiti, Europe, Caribbean, Belize and Costa Rica, I confess to being somewhat biased in my long love affair with these unique and special ships and the outstanding, personal service by their dedicated crew. We just returned home from another fantastic 14 day crossing on the Wind Surf from St Maartin to Lisbon. (March 2012) The cabins and suites have all been remodeled since last year and the new furnishings fabrics and colors are stunning. The new hallway carpeting, plus carpet pad and dramatic lighting (pictured) are beautiful. (Both smaller ships are currently undergoing similar refittings). In regard to the remodeled cabins, I particularly appreciated the plush new mattress and the new, soft, all cotton, bed linens. The individual directional reading lights over each bed are a nice addition, making it possible to read without disturbing anyone. Our suite (320). The new furniture (2012) is a big improvement, much nicer as well as more usable and comfortable. The only quirk we experienced with our cabin was that an engineer had to be make adjustments behind the HVAC grill to fit our particular room temperature preference after we were sailing. The new carpeting is luxurious, but with it's textured pile, is a curious choice. While the carpet remains perfectly clean, the textured pile shows all scuff marks from shoes on it's textured surfaces. For those with engineering backgrounds, the ship's vacuum septic system which services all the cabins has been upgraded as well. This Fall (November 2012) the remaining public areas, including the three dining facilities, are scheduled to be refitted. THE Officers and CREW continue to be the OUTSTANDING attribute. It is the high standards they maintain and the level of personal service makes sailing on Windstar so special. In addition to the usual daytime activities, for the first time ever, an introduction to TAP dance was offered for free. The passenger participation was so enthusiastic and everyone worked so diligently learning their steps, a TAP dance FINALE was performed at the end of the cruise in the Windstar Lounge and everyone in the show received a standing ovation. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2009
Background: This was my 8th Atlantic crossing, after one on a freighter, 4 on Cunard, and 2 on Crystal. Wind Surf was a very different experience, but the one it most resembled was the freighter. Arrival and embarkation: As is ... Read More
Background: This was my 8th Atlantic crossing, after one on a freighter, 4 on Cunard, and 2 on Crystal. Wind Surf was a very different experience, but the one it most resembled was the freighter. Arrival and embarkation: As is strongly recommended, I flew into Lisbon a day early. Having been there previously, I opted to stay in Sintra (Tivoli Sintra), a charming town about 40 minutes away by train. There are 2 terminals in Lisbon. The primary one is right at the Alacantra Mer train station and is used primarily by the megaships. We were docked at the Cais da Rocha Conde do Obidios, about towards town from the station. The police there told me it was 3 km and gave me misleading directions, so I took a cab for the final leg to the ship. The cruise documents said "Boarding 10:00am, All aboard 1:00" for a 2:30 departure. When I arrived about 12 the only thing they were doing was accepting baggage; a number of people were hanging around the terminal, mostly standing, and we were told check-in would not begin until 1. I went back out of the terminal and found that we were only an easy 10-minute walk from where I had boarded the cab. Check-in did not begin until 1:00 and it was after 1:30 when I stepped on board the ship. Ship info: The Wind Surf is a "Motor Sailing Yacht". It has sails, but they appear to be more for show than functional, as the ship is really not designed to maximize their benefit. We did sail about 70 miles without the engines at about 5 knots, but it appeared we were getting at least as much push from the current as we did from the sails. My observation was that when we were under sail power, the motion of the ship was quite evident as there was little water flowing past the stabilizers. The ship is small at 312 passengers and 6 decks, and has some really odd quirks. The cabin numbering starts from the stern of the ship, while the stairways are numbered from the bow, and start with stairway 2. Unlike Windstar's 2 smaller ship, the Wind Surf has 2 elevators. A final oddity is that the bottom 2 decks have a series of waterproof doors that must be closed when the ship enters of leaves a port. There was no warning of this before we started our muster drill making it a real "Chinese Fire Drill" finding the right stairway down to my cabin to retrieve my life jacket for the drill. Windstar was formerly affiliated with Holland America and has changed ownership in the recent past. The opinions I heard from veteran passengers was that the line has either changed little or gotten somewhat better after the change in ownership. Staterooms: The rooms are fairly large (188 square feet minimum), comfortable, and generally well laid out. The exceptions are having the life jackets in a ceiling compartment, not obvious to find, and not easily reached, and having all the electrical outlets in an awkward spot under the desk. I also found the 110 volt outlet not working when I arrived; I reported the matter to my room steward and it was corrected within 4 hours. With the exception of these minor issues, the room (the lowest category on the ship) was superb. The Wind Surf has no cabins with balconies. Dining: The Restaurant (Deck 4, forward) is the primary location for dinner, and has an open seating policy. I generally prefer early seating, and the 7:00pm opening was a bit late for my tastes, but was a pleasant surprise from the 7:30 opening published in Windstar literature. It was generally 7:30 by the time my table filled up and an order was taken. It was open seating but I generally dined with the same people since there was a fairly small number of early diners willing to share a table. The menu was varied and the service was excellent. There were 3 alternate dinner venues. Degrees (Deck 6, forward) served a 6-course fixed menu (with a vegetarian option) with 4 menus rotating by day of the week. The other 2 venues were actually parts of the deck with tables set up for dinner. Le Marche was a seafood restaurant on deck 6 aft is set up with service provided from the Terrace Bar. I do not eat seafood and thus did not try Le Marche. Candles is set up around the pool on deck 4 aft and offered a limited menu, mostly charcoal grilled meats baked potatoes, and corn on the cob, supplemented by an excellent Tiramisu. Le Marche and Candles used the same staff as Degrees, so when they were open Degrees was closed. The alternative venues required reservations but did not impose a supplemental fee. The Verandah (Deck 6, midship) was the primary venue for breakfast and lunch. It is set up as a buffet, but is well staffed with waiters eager to make the trip through the buffet line and bring passengers whatever they want. The seating is about half inside and half on deck. The outside portion has a grill booth where eggs are prepared for breakfast and burgers for lunch. Other items such as pancakes and waffles are also prepared to order from the galley. The Compass Rose bar (deck 5, aft) serves a continental breakfast 6-11am and is the site for afternoon tea. Activities and entertainment: Not much to speak of. There is no cruise director in the traditional sense. A "hostess" (actually a couple in this case) organizes a few activities, including a daily trivia contest and a cruise-long shipbuilding contest. They appeared to be volunteers cruising for free in exchange for their services and the results were pretty amateur, but they took a genuine interest in the passengers. The sports team had some activities and classes and wii tournaments were a big draw as were near-daily cooking demonstrations. Mostly, though activities consisted of reading, knitting, and relaxing. In the evening, there were small bands in two of the lounges, and one night there was a combined crew-passenger talent show. On one evening each of the passengers received an invitation to dinner from one of the staff. Some came from departments like the casino and gift shop, others from ships officers. One issue with this event was it was poorly publicized and many passengers declined the invitation thinking it was a sales pitch or other come-on. The groups were re-shuffled and combined to form full tables. I ended up with a Cadet (officer in training near the end of maritime school) and a Junior Officer who were very gracious hosts and enjoyed a wonderful evening. As on most repositioning cruises there was an emphasis on crew training and one day they did an abandon ship exercise where they set up a life raft in the swimming pool. At the conclusion of the drill there was an opportunity for the passengers to board the raft. It was a very interesting experience and gave me a real desire not to ever have to go through for real. There were walking decks around the ship on both decks 5 and 6, although deck 5 was closed for most of the voyage for maintenance of the teak. The deck 6 track was labeled 5.5 laps per mile, although most walkers thought it was mislabeled and actually about 6.5 laps per mile. There were DVD players in the rooms and a good selection of movies in the library but entertainment was distinctively do it yourself. Service: The service was excellent, friendly and attentive without hovering. Like many of the small, premium lines the staff at reception knew everybody's name by about day 2. Captain Mark Boylin was out around the ship and very approachable. He knew many of the repeat passengers and was always willing to stop and chat even with the newcomers. Children: There were no specific childrens' facilities on the ship. While port intensive Windstar cruises may be ok for children, the transatlantic voyage would certainly not. Ports: Disembarkation: Disembarkation was smooth and finished by about 9am. The taxis in Barbados were all about 12-passenger vans, and waited for a nearly full van before leaving. My taxi took a group to another hotel on the way to my hotel. Summary: Ratings are a very subjective matter. What is good really depends on the individual's point of view. I would have preferred a few more activities, especially the enrichment programs offered by the likes of Cunard and Crystal on their transatlantic voyages, but still immensely enjoyed my crossing. The biggest disadvantage of Windstar for me is really that they do not return to the US, so extensive air travel is required at both ends of the cruise. I have booked a Mediterranean Voyage for fall 2010 and will then get a feel for Windstar on a port intensive itinerary. Read Less
Wind Surf Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.5
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 3.8
Enrichment N/A 3.6
Service 3.5 4.7
Value For Money 4.0 4.2
Rates 4.0 4.1

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