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7 Windstar Europe - British Isles & Western Cruise Reviews

My husband and I have traveled on several cruise lines ranging from the large Royal Caribbean boats to the river cruises such as AMA Waterways and in between on Oceania. We were looking forward to this Windstar cruise to see what they ... Read More
My husband and I have traveled on several cruise lines ranging from the large Royal Caribbean boats to the river cruises such as AMA Waterways and in between on Oceania. We were looking forward to this Windstar cruise to see what they provided on their newer style of motorized cruising. They purchased ships from the Seabourne line. The ship we were on is the Star Breeze. It is about 30 years old and it shows. Embarkation went very smoothly and our luggage appeared in our room in a timely fashion. Our room was quite comfortable and large with a walk in closet, full tub with shower and large sitting area. Very comfortable indeed. The service in the cabin was just what we needed with our cabin staff being very responsive to our needs. The food in the main dining room is average. There is nothing overtly wrong with it but it is not exciting, interesting or especially tasty. The one exception being the 'indoor BBQ' night necessitated by bad weather. On this night the ships galley was our BBQ area and it was fund to walk through the galley and the food was excellent. The service in the main dining room was weak regardless of where we sat and who attended to us. At times it would be difficult to get wait staff to come to the table. Water was poured before we could get the word sparkling out of our mouth and then a look of annoyance appeared when we asked to switch. The food and service in the private dining room was a different story. Both were excellent. Entertainment was practically non-existent. In comparison to river boats where local talent is featured many evenings and lectures on others there was pretty much nothing offered after dinner except a duo then ended early. Shore excursions were good and interesting. Unfortunately we were battling bad weather throughout the journey. In fact, our day in Portrush had to be cancelled as the tenders were not able to run. This was very unfortunate as the cruise had no back up plan for onboard activity this day. We had nothing to do all day. Yes, we did get to the next port that night and were allowed off the boat but the city was shut down by the time we arrived. This seemed to be poor planning. The ship itself clearly shows its age especially in the dining room and stage lounge and is in serious need of a facelift. We will likely not travel this line again as there are too many better options. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
I took this cruise because it was a James Beard Food Cruise. The suite offered very little I wouldn't pay extra for it. This is the second time I booked on this cruise line and was disappionted both times.The communication was ... Read More
I took this cruise because it was a James Beard Food Cruise. The suite offered very little I wouldn't pay extra for it. This is the second time I booked on this cruise line and was disappionted both times.The communication was not good aboard the boat. There were activities that were not listed except if you found something in small print so you had to make sure you kept up. Examples the chefs on shore food purchases were not communicated, the galley tour was orly communicate and so was the star light dinner. So for a person who paid top dollar did not get any benefits. Other lines provide a person that takes care of the suites . I think they should adopt that practice. Food on the ship was ok even though it was such a small boat and a special James Beard cruise. Entertainment was limited but acceptable. This is an al carte cruise so everything is extra. While annoying we knew that going in. The staff was great . Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
This small yacht has one of the better cabins than Regents, Celebrity, Paul Gauguin, etc. The cabins have no balcony but an open space for double doors. The interior design includes a walk-in closet. That is a WOW. The trip sailed ... Read More
This small yacht has one of the better cabins than Regents, Celebrity, Paul Gauguin, etc. The cabins have no balcony but an open space for double doors. The interior design includes a walk-in closet. That is a WOW. The trip sailed around Iceland and the shore excursions were plentiful. Perhaps the cost of living in Iceland is high, it appears that the shore excursions are more expensive than the other cruises. Not a great deal of travelers heard of WindStar. But if this cruise line is going to Asia, their WIFI program needs to work at a better level than at the present. Entertainment is very low key. Most of all, confusions with communications appeared quite often, resulting in conflicts with travelers. On the whole, it is a pleasant, cold and windy cruise in the midst of summer so that I can say I crossed the Article Circle in style. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
My wife and I and another couple chose this cruise for the timing, the itinerary, the small ship and the food/wine theme. We had all used Windstar before (Windsurf) and loved it. As other reviewers have testified, this cruise was ... Read More
My wife and I and another couple chose this cruise for the timing, the itinerary, the small ship and the food/wine theme. We had all used Windstar before (Windsurf) and loved it. As other reviewers have testified, this cruise was marred by engineering malfunctions, and was less organized than one would expect on a luxury cruise. The pre-cruise experience was mixed; we booked over a year in advance, and were told we would be able to benefit from any subsequent price reductions. I had to be very alert and very assertive to get these, though. Had I waited until the last minute to book, I would have saved some money (but that is not really practical because of the need to plan ahead for this major a vacation). We enjoyed most of the places we visited (especially St. Malo, Bordeaux, El Ferrol, and Lisbon, where we stayed an extra 3 days). We also enjoyed meeting and spending time with many other passengers. The food was excellent for the most part, and the wine was pretty good. The deck layout is not as functional as on other cruise ships of this size. The cabin was fine (when the plumbing worked). The front line staff members were very nice. Some of the shore excursions were poorly planned with too much time in a bus and not enough time to explore or have a meal. The special evening at the Bordeaux wine estate was disappointing. We enjoyed exploring the cities of St. Malo, Bordeaux, El Ferrol and Lisbon on our own. I, especially, loved the two oyster farm tours (Cancale and La Rochelle). We enjoyed the on board entertainment (small lounge, Fado singer), but this was not a major feature of the cruise. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
My husband and I went on the Star Breeze for a trip around Ireland and Scotland. The itinerary was wonderful and we enjoyed the excursions that the cruise ship laid on ; they were VERY expensive but well run and first class all the way. ... Read More
My husband and I went on the Star Breeze for a trip around Ireland and Scotland. The itinerary was wonderful and we enjoyed the excursions that the cruise ship laid on ; they were VERY expensive but well run and first class all the way. We stayed in Suite 6. It was a two room suite, not too bad until you went to the windows. Outside our bedroom was a very restricted view ( lifeboat hanging there). Outside one living room window the curtains were never opened because the view out there was just a mess of steel supports, beams, ropes and general mess. The sliding balcony was another story. Half of the overhead space was taken up by an old "rescue" boat. Heaven forbid if they ever have to use it. It was held together ( barely) with black tar and tape that was hanging off. Really unsightly. Needless to say we were not out on our balcony very often. If you go on this ship stay away from Suite 6! Also the ceiling above the bed had rust stains on as though there had once been a leak in there. I know that they spent money refurbishing this ship but certainly a lot of areas were left completely untouched. It really could use a thorough inspection. I can't really say that the food was all that great. Some nights good, some nights just okay. To much sodium in most dishes. Lunch time looked more like a cheap cafeteria. There was no imagination used in the salads whatsoever and it was the same old thing every day. ( Raw broccoli or cauliflower anyone) . Also on some nights the waiters had no idea how to explain the food that was on the menu. One item I asked about was described as a Spanish rice - it was actually and awful colored sauce, full of peppers and spices that was poured all over the fish. Sad, to say- all of the best meals that we had were off the ship as we decided to eat lunch out on most days that we were on shore. Staff were really nice and friendly. All in all - good cruise just a little more attention needed to the menus, the food in general and the items around the ship that still needed attention. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
This was our 3rd cruise on the Windsurf in recent times. We booked a back to back trip, having learned on prior trips that a 7 or 8 day journey simply doesn’t seem enough … Enjoyed the sails and the feel of the yacht, which ... Read More
This was our 3rd cruise on the Windsurf in recent times. We booked a back to back trip, having learned on prior trips that a 7 or 8 day journey simply doesn’t seem enough … Enjoyed the sails and the feel of the yacht, which still makes Windstar so unique in the cruising market. We like the size of the Windsurf – there is always enough space to find a private corner somewhere. There are plenty of dining options and a couple of entertainment options in the evening. All very chilled and relaxing. We also enjoy meeting a lot of the guests on board … many are fellow travellers who are quite low key, but appreciate their luxuries and enjoy exploring the world. Unfortunately, many of the capable crew we were pleased to getting to know on previous trips, had moved on to other newer Windstar ships . They were replaced by lesser-experienced, but still very friendly and helpful crew. What some of the crew lacked in experience, they made up for with tremendous charm and a great willingness to help and serve the guests on board. The officers were very friendly and approachable, regularly mixing with guests. Despite our appreciation of the crew’s efforts, we noticed a deterioration of standards from prior cruises: The embarkation was delayed and the waiting area in Lisbon certainly wasn’t designed with comfort in mind. The Captain managed the situation well by communicating directly to the waiting passengers. The cabins are well designed, but the light colored carpets showed stains - so badly - that we asked the Cabin Steward to have them cleaned, which he promptly did. The chocolates left during turndown service are a nice idea, but do they have to be unwrapped? The quality of the food, never outstanding on past trips either, left much to be desired. It certainly does not pass for a fine dining experience. It is ok – mediocre. Even the specialty restaurants ‘Stella Bistro’ and ‘Candles’ struggle to set themselves apart from the main dining room. The BBQ is quite fun and the freshly grilled food is enjoyable. The bar staff was absolutely wonderful and so was some of the dining room staff. The shore excursions were ok, but tend to be geared towards more mature clientele. With a bit of research beforehand, we managed to have very enjoyable self-guided tours ashore. The fitness offerings are also geared towards an older crowd. What was meant to pass for yoga, had very little to do with yoga. It was held in the midst of the weight machines in the tiny little gym on board, while there was plenty of fabulous open deck space to conduct a yoga session. We would have gladly signed a release if that was the reason an outdoor space wasn’t chosen. If Yoga is advertised, one would expect a certified yoga instructor. The instructor teaching the class couldn’t even name the poses! We became aware of some Windstar HQ related politics … subtle signs that would increase significantly on the second leg of our journey and unfortunately endured for months after our trip. More on this in the review of our second leg on this trip: Dublin to Edinburgh. Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
I want to state clearly and emphatically that WE LOVE WINDSTAR!! My wife and I have now been on seven Windstar cruises, including five on the Wind Surf. We have frequently recommended Windstar to relatives, friends and sometimes to ... Read More
I want to state clearly and emphatically that WE LOVE WINDSTAR!! My wife and I have now been on seven Windstar cruises, including five on the Wind Surf. We have frequently recommended Windstar to relatives, friends and sometimes to complete strangers. The two couples traveling with us on this last voyage have sailed on multiple Windstar cruises with us. We recruited them to Windstar several years ago. These three couples have taken a combined total of eighteen Windstar cruises. We are invested in Windstar and want it to succeed. But we are in agreement that this most recent cruise was the least satisfying and most disappointing by far. Before describing the disappointments, I'll highlight some of the many positives. ** The food service staff was, as always, outstanding. The waiters – many of whom we knew from previous cruises - were friendly, fun and efficient, and worked hard to cater to whatever we needed. After only a day or two, they knew our names and many of our preferences. Abdul did a great job. ** The housekeeping staff was also excellent. Our cabin steward, Darta, was friendly and efficient. Somehow, he always seemed to know when we were gone, because by the time we returned the cabin was always clean and straight. What few requests we had werequickly taken care of. ** Kudos to Klaus, the head chef! The food at all the restaurants was outstanding, perhaps the best we have ever had on a Windstar cruise. Good variety, well-prepared and beautifully presented. (I especially enjoyed the bison steak, which Klaus arranged for me to special order even when it wasn't on the menu.) Portion sizes were just right. ** The senior staff were terrific. Captain Peter Harris is certainly a very capable boat driver, since we regularly sailed from port to port safely and comfortably. But we especially appreciated his friendly, personable demeanor, his on-board visibility, and his willingness and eagerness to interact with passengers. We saw more of Peter, and spoke more with him, than any other ship captain we have encountered in many years of cruising. Likewise with Hotel Manager Ratko Strbac, who I was fortunate to get to know, like and respect. Ratko had only been with Windstar for a few weeks when we met him. He knows his business, and Windstar is fortunate to have him. His approach to guest relations will make the Wind Surf a much better ship on which to cruise. ** The lounge band was quite good; Coco has a terrific voice. But we found ourselves spending most evenings in the Compass Rose listening to Rain Duo. Craig and Niki were awesome! I could listen to Niki's sweet, beautiful, mesmerizing voice all night. And Craig's vocals and guitar playing would give Mark Knopfler a run for his money. (This is a great compliment, by the way.) ** The Wind Surf, and its smaller siblings, are, of course, one of the primary reasons we often sail with Windstar. We love these beautiful ships . . . the ambiance, the comfort and informality, the homey feeling. We enjoy, as well, many of the small, off-the-beaten-track ports of call. Alas, this recent Windstar cruise was fraught with disappointments that tarnished the brand and seriously diminished our enjoyment of this vacation. Most of our concerns can be traced directly back to Windstar headquarters. For example: ** Initial check-in, and the few weeks leading up to it, were a mess. For the first time ever, no embarkation documents were mailed to us . . . instead, Windstar emailed us (through our travel agent) an ”eDOC TICKET”. This document was confusing and contradictory. It stated that check-in began at 1:00 pm; All Aboard was 4:00 pm; and departure was at 2:00 pm !!?? How does that work? We never could get clarification from Windstar, so, to be safe, we arrived at the terminal at 10:30 am, and then sat around for three hours twiddling our thumbs waiting to board. Because of Windstar's communications incompetence, we wasted an entire morning during which we could have been exploring Lisbon. This was an ominous beginning to our 16 day cruise on the Surf. ** On-board, we soon discovered that the Surf no longer has a Cruise Director. It now has what they call a “Destination Manager”, whose primary job seems to be to sell overpriced shore excursions. Her port talks spent precious little time promoting the sights, sounds, attractions and charm of the port city. Instead, she mostly encouraged folks to hop on a bus and go somewhere else. On top of that, information she did share with us was often incorrect or incomplete. Almost never did she discuss or promote any on-board activities. For example, trivia night, line-dancing instruction, market tour with Klaus, wine-tasting etc., etc., are all fine activities, but no one with Windstar, including our destination manager, promoted them. ** Speaking of on-board entertainment, the afternoon of third day, a Folklore song and dance group was brought on board.. They were very good, but passengers wouldn't have known about them unless they carefully read the daily program. The destination manager had said nothing about them the night before, and the lounge was barely half full. Those who did attend, (we did), were given no information at all about the performers. Where were they from? What region, or era, or ethnicity did their music and dance come from? What did their costumes represent? We don't know. The Windstar officer introducing them said little more than “Here's your entertainment”, after which no more words were spoken. What a wasted opportunity. ** Bar service in the lounge, and wine service in Amphora was often poor. We don't blame this on the servers . . . they were uniformly very good, friendly and attentive. There simply weren't enough of them to handle crowd. We can only guess that dictates from headquarters resulted in under-staffing, We were told that many of the more experienced staff had been transferred to the Star Pride. ** WiFi on board was awful! Connections were slow, intermittent or nonexistant. I signed up for access on the first day, and by the third day was so frustrated that I asked them to disconnect me. They did so without argument and with a full refund. ** The Dublin to Edinburgh portion of our back-to-back cruise started on an even worse note than it did in Lisbon. We had never been to Dublin before, so we signed up for the “special” Dublin city tour that would also transfer departing guests to the airport or a hotel. I asked the ladies at the reception desk several times if we would have to go to the airport ourselves. I told Ice that if the tour did require us to accompany the other passengers to the airport, that we would cancel. She checked with Jeff, who reportedly made a call or two, and then confirmed that after the Dublin tour we would be dropped off at the Davenport Hotel at 1:00 pm, and from there would join up with other guests going to the Wind Surf. Because of this promise, we took the tour. It was mostly a waste of time. We were very rushed. There was no expedited ticketing to anything, so we ended up standing in line for forty minutes to see the Book of Kells and then had only fifteen minutes there before we had to move on. We then started a whirlwind tour of St. Patrick's Cathedral at 11:45 am. We were told to be back on the bus at 12:05 pm, at which time our guide told us we were now heading for the airport. I asked “To the airport??!!” Yes, indeed. Precisely what we were promised would NOT happen was happening. I was incredulous – and furious - and told him to stop the bus. My wife and I got off the bus, not where we wanted to be but at a place better than a scenic drive to the airport. When we finally returned to the ship, I described to Jeff what had occurred. Jeff wasn't much help, but ultimately, Ratko, (the aforementioned hotel manager), stepped in and resolved the situation to our satisfaction. My thanks to Ratko for his concern, his empathy and his personal involvement. Windstar is a great brand. We have traveled with Windstar often in the past, and will probably do so in the future. However, we are very concerned about what we felt was a marked deterioration in communications and service from previous Windstar cruises. This last Windstar cruise just didn't seem as special . . . too many corners had been cut. We worry that quality of the Surf, Spirit and Star will continue to suffer as the three Seabourn ships are brought on line and their experienced staff are diluted even more. We will be taking many more ocean cruises in the coming years. For the first time, however, we'll be seriously considering Azamara and Oceana and Viking as viable alternatives to Windstar.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
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