Things I wish I had known:
If you are choosing a Windstar Alaska itinerary because you think the small ship will do lots of scenic cruising that large ships cannot do, be aware that during the 3 days described on the itinerary as ... Read More
Things I wish I had known:
If you are choosing a Windstar Alaska itinerary because you think the small ship will do lots of scenic cruising that large ships cannot do, be aware that during the 3 days described on the itinerary as "cruising" in Misty Fjords, the Kenai and Tracy Arm the ship does not cruise. What it does is travel into these areas and drop anchor so the boat can act as a dock for the expeditions on zodiac (1 hour) or kayak (2 hour) which passengers have paid for. The capacity of these excursions is less than half of the capacity of the ship so half of the passengers spend all day and all of the passengers spend most of the day just floating in place looking at the same glacier or treed hillside. There were no enrichment activities or entertainments or musical acts during these days. The only things on the schedule on all three days combined was one wine tasting (fee required) and a few exercises classes (fee required for most--capacity 8) and some pitches for spa products. The weather was nice enough for hot tubbing but the larger hot tub was under repair for all but the last couple days of the cruise.
The nature expeditions were exciting (we had great weather) and were the highlight of many passengers' trip. But there were lots of long boring hours involved as well.
OTHER REVIEW ITEMS:
Is beautiful and classic with nice well maintained wooden decks. It is kind of old and the carpets and furnishings show wear. There was a leak in the windows on the 6th floor lounge causing a dank smell.
The tender area is not accessible by elevator, causing inconvenience on tendered days for anyone with mobility issues
DINING and BEVERAGE
The food in the dining room was very good with interesting menus. The wine list was extensive, especially wines by the glass. Craft beer drinkers were excited to see ALASKA Brewing beer available but supplies ran out after two days and were not replenished until Juneau. The most exotic beers on board most days were Molson and Grolsch,
Breakfast in the Veranda was nothing special and pretty much the same every day. The biggest issue with Veranda at both lunch and breakfast was lack of room as it was too cool for most people to want to sit outside. The crowding made coffee and tea service hard to come by. The problem could have been helped by extending hours, but Windstar chose instead to curtail hours. On some days there was no breakfast buffet after 8:30 and on other days the dining room was open for just one hour for lunch.
Other reviewers have noted that dinner service in Amphora took an excessive amount of time and I would agree. The staff was very professional but seemed spread thin.
Our balcony cabin was spacious with a lovely sitting area and a nice walk in closet.
The bathing set up is a tub with a shower head on the end of a hose which can be mounted on the wall at kind of an odd angle. This arrangement could be a problem for anyone with mobility issues who would not want to step up into a tub.
The thermostat in our room did not work. The cabin was alternately and randomly hot or cold with no relationship to settings. We heard others passengers complain of the same thing.
The balconies on this ship are actually ledges you can step out onto. Do not expect an actual veranda.
The excursion staff was the best group on the ship. They gave good overview talks for of every port and the excursion groups were well organized.
We booked a number of excursions through Windstar and they were all as advertised and well run with good local guides.
ON BOARD EXPERIENCE
WIndstar has lots of loyal customers and they are themselves a good feature of the boat. They are well traveled and interesting and the small ship size makes it easy to mingle and enjoy each other.
The ability to visit the bridge and the officers there is a great feature.
We had trouble with on- board accounting. We managed to get a couple of errant charges reversed while on board, but once we got home discovered Windstar had charged our credit card for more than the amount shown on the "final Billing" left on our door the last morning. We have no idea what the extra amounts are and are disputing them. Windstar does not have customers present cards or sign for each purchase. Instead the staff punches in the passengers' room number. The idea that the staff knows everyone by name is supposed to insure that they notice errors, I guess. Obviously, errors get through.
There was one duo and one solo act that performed at the same hours every day.
There were two trivia contests and the Liars Club performance and the staff night entertainment.
A native dance group came aboard one day. These performers appeared to be high school or college students.
Windstar has many loyal customers and I can appreciate much of what they love about a small ship. However, a price of more the $450 per day (not including tips, beverages, excursions or transfers) for an itinerary of 12 days with only 7 days in ports, causes me to rate this as a very poor value for the money.
Compared to my previous experiences on Windstar, I found the staff to be spread very thin and the little luxuries -such as chocolates at dinner, theme dinners or parties, and even towel sculptures on my bed-- to be missing from this trip. I will be monitoring the Windstar reviews to see if some of the issues continue or begin to right themselves. Read Less