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11 Windstar Europe - British Isles & Western Cruise Reviews

Dublin to Lisbon cruise started with ship not being in port where it was supposed to be, high winds, first night staying in port, first port of call cancelled, grey skies. Sounds bad? No it wasn´t bad at all. Ship incoming had to ... Read More
Dublin to Lisbon cruise started with ship not being in port where it was supposed to be, high winds, first night staying in port, first port of call cancelled, grey skies. Sounds bad? No it wasn´t bad at all. Ship incoming had to divert to Dublin City ( from originally Dún Laoghaire, small village south of Dublin) which we did not know about. Check in and Transfer to ship and it´s new location was painless and seamless though in Dan Laoghaire with bus transfer to ship. Arrival at ship was met by an all smiling and super friendly, mostly Indonesian crew, which set the tone for the duration of the cruise. The Crew were just outstanding and turned the whole voyage into a lovely experience, much better than even anticipated. This was my first Windstar cruise, surely not my last. Ship is in very good condition, I found the staterooms lovely and cosy in great modern condition, absolutely big enough (normally never say No to a Suite when price is right), super comfortable beds with super comfy pillows. Deck 2 selection midship turned out to be the best selection we could have made. High enough to overlook the water and as stable as possible. The size of the cabin turned out to be a big plus in high seas, which we had indeed. First port of call then was Isles of Scilly. Never thought we would be able to stop and tneder, but we did, as winds came down a bit. We had our scheduled half day in a lovely corner of South of England. Then we crossed over to Brest. Quite a ride as the winds had picked up again which also resulted in higher waves. Not a good night for everyone on board, even for quite a few Crew members. Still they were smiling and joking and assisting and serving drinks and Food. Restaurant was never really empty, so a lot of people coped quite well with the ship dancing on the waves. Weather in Brest unfortunately did not cooperate at all. It rained all day, just untill exactly when we left the port in the evening for our 2 night/1 full day crossing of the Bay of Biscayne. You guessed it, the waves got worse. It was quite a ride and quite a few passeners had a very difficult time. Sill many had no problem and enjoyed the ride, like we did. Wether only improved once we reached Spain in El Ferrol, followed by Vigo, both very nice ports with a beautiful back countryside. Next and final stop short stop in Porto was all sunny and just piccture perfect. The whole voyage was perfect, despite th weather. Ports great, excursion good, food good, ship just perfect. I really had no complaints at all. Passenger were mostly Americans, I guess 95 %, lovely as we all know them, as well as occasionally noisy, but always fun to be around. Crew as mentioned is truly exceptional !Looking forward to do it again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
We had sailed on the Windsurf in the Caribbean. We decided to choose a really different itinerary.......Dublin to Lisbon. And different it was. Originally 1st stop was Waterford, Ireland but the Irish Seas were in turmoil so the ship ... Read More
We had sailed on the Windsurf in the Caribbean. We decided to choose a really different itinerary.......Dublin to Lisbon. And different it was. Originally 1st stop was Waterford, Ireland but the Irish Seas were in turmoil so the ship couldn't visit. So we stayed in Dublin overnight. No loss, as we had been to Ireland many times. The northern stops were a bit cool, southern stops hot and sunny. The Windsurf is a beautiful sailing vessel, just the right size. With approx. three hundred passengers and two hundred crew the service is outstanding. Friendly and personal, the crew goes above and beyond to make your journey a memorable one. Highlight of the trip was the deck BBQ in Vigo, Spain. Hard to call it a BBQ with the high end food offered.. Vigo is a gorgeous harbor and sailing out of there at sunset with the sails all lit up was something dreams are made of. The captain and officers were around constantly interacting with the guests and being able to go on the bridge anytime at sea was an interesting experience. Hats off to Windstar Cruises for offering a more intimate setting than the large ships. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
Being welcomed back to the Wind Surf by our Captain Gerry Hogan and his spectacular crew made us feel as if we were being welcomed home. This particular cruise from Dublin to Edinburgh was a dream for us and almost unattainable after a ... Read More
Being welcomed back to the Wind Surf by our Captain Gerry Hogan and his spectacular crew made us feel as if we were being welcomed home. This particular cruise from Dublin to Edinburgh was a dream for us and almost unattainable after a sudden serious health issue earlier in the year. Seeing "the Surf" tied up at the dock brought tears to our eyes. Being greeted by staff who remembered us from other sailings not only made us feel instantly at home, it is also a testament to a company that must be great to work for as the crew members have choices in employers and they keep coming back. There is so much to say about this cruise starting with the ports which were all interesting with each one very different in landscape and culture. Going to Isle of Man and learning the history of this country and its part in WWII was enlightening. Kirkwall and all of the Orkney Islands, going to Scapa Flow feel like a step back into history, both modern and ancient. Portree, Isle of Skye, is one of the most beautiful places on earth; Tobermory charming and Portrush all of these rolled into one. Disembarking in Edinburgh was easy and it's understandable why people fall in love with this charming city and continue to return. The Wind Surf is in wonderful shape with excellent services, continuous smiles and a true effort to make every guest feel special. The reception staff and dining room staff are eager to do whatever it takes to satisfy each request. We eat anything an everything but met lots of people with specific food needs and all were exceedingly happy with the abundance of choices. The cabin stewards are the best in the business, keeping the cabins immaculate and will appear at a moments notice to take care of any personal need. We are always amazed that our names are remembered from day one. This particular itinerary is one that should not be missed. There were lots of fellow passengers who were interested in these countries as part of their ancestry. And if one isn't into ancestry and/or the history of Ireland and Scotland, there are always the breweries and distilleries! Great trip! Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
Great experience last year on Windstar Pride, wanted to try the sailing ship. Took two back to back cruises, starting in Lisbon, joining another in Dublin, ending in Edinburgh. Just fabulous cabins, bathrooms, great dining, good music in ... Read More
Great experience last year on Windstar Pride, wanted to try the sailing ship. Took two back to back cruises, starting in Lisbon, joining another in Dublin, ending in Edinburgh. Just fabulous cabins, bathrooms, great dining, good music in lounge, interesting historical lectures by a very informed historian. Wonderful service and extremely friendly and kind crew. Captain always actively engaged with passengers. Ability of all to remember passenger names was astounding and never experienced on any other line. Mixed age groupings, kids with grandparents and so forth, and younger crowd than Vantage or Viking get made it nice too. Ship is gorgeous under sail. We had foggy conditions and missed one port of call but no one seemed to mind and felt securely cared for by the senior staff and crew. Great land excursions, though somewhat expensive. Wonderful cruise director, who was very caring with anyone who was unsteady or needed extra time. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
Before reviewing a wonderful five-star cruise, let me dispense with my booking frustrations with the Windstar office. Without burdening you, may I simply say that the powers-that-be in Seattle need to properly train their representatives, ... Read More
Before reviewing a wonderful five-star cruise, let me dispense with my booking frustrations with the Windstar office. Without burdening you, may I simply say that the powers-that-be in Seattle need to properly train their representatives, empower them to answer concerns and questions, and then abide by their answers. Should anyone want details, please contact me. Now for the Star Legend cruise from Lisbon to Dublin with port calls in Porto, El Ferrol, Bordeaux, La Rochelle, and St Malo. First, my wife and I have been enjoying cruises for 25 years on both larger and smaller ships. As in the Goldilocks story, we found the Star Legend to be just right. Boarding was seamless and pleasant at about 1:00 in the afternoon. After having a glass of Champagne, providing our passports and receiving our boarding cards, we were escorted to our “suite” which was in order and immaculate. We were then invited to enjoy lunch on the Veranda. From that point on, for the next 10 days, service from every member of the staff was always with a sincere smile and immediate. From laundry service to in-room meals, from tour escorts to bartenders, from the personable Captain to the fellow polishing brass, everyone was willing and able to be of service. Yes this ship has some age, but I have learned to appreciate the workmanship in older vessels. The walls of our spacious cabin were solid, constructed of wood, mirrors and padded fabric. We did not hear our neighbors and I doubt they heard us. All meals were outstanding in all of the venues, with a great variety of menu selections. The wine list was more than adequate. Here I must give special kudos to the wonderful young lady who served us three meal per day, almost without exception, (not that she was assigned to us, but because we sought her, or she looked for us). Trisna, from Bali, was the most caring, attentive, friendly individual imaginable, and able to do all that she did with the graciousness of a prima ballerina. Thank you so very much Trisna! Our ports of call were unique, and great launching points for some very interesting tours. It was so nice to dock at every port. No tendering. Before wrapping this up, I must mention two tiny aspects which did not please us. One, the music provided by the entertainers included amplified computer accompaniment. In some places this was bearable, but in the Compass Rose room it was not. We entered this room on two different occasions after dinner and the volume was so loud we turned around and left. My only other gripe would be that I bristled at having time taken from my 50 min. massage to pitch my need for additional massages and a $55.00 “cooling gel.” Yes, we would do it again, and recommend it highly. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
It's hard to say enough great things about this cruise! What a fantastic experience and what an amazing boat! I've read the negative reviews about this boat, but I invite you to picture the person who wrote it. I've ... Read More
It's hard to say enough great things about this cruise! What a fantastic experience and what an amazing boat! I've read the negative reviews about this boat, but I invite you to picture the person who wrote it. I've seen them on cruises and there is no pleasing them. My wife and I and another couple, all in our early 50's, recently completed the cruise from Barcelona to Lisbon. It was superb! We had a basic cabin on a lower level and it was very spacious, clean and well appointed. Our cabin steward was great and friendly. The air conditioning was cold and easy to control. The bed/mattress was very comfortable. Pillows were soft foam and perfect! I heard someone on our cruise literally complain that they had to pick up their own glass of champaign upon boarding the boat, that it wasn't "handed" to them. If that's your biggest issue, you have a great life! We were extremely pleased to find out that the main dinner restaurant was a la carte, and wow, was it ever awesome! The chef visited every table, every day to discuss how their meal was (awesome!). The food progressively got better and better! The oso bucco was stellar as was the prime rib! Each day their were new special salads and soups to start the meal, as well as different entrees and deserts. Was it perfect? No. One day I ordered medium rare beef Wellington and it came out medium well. When the waitress noticed she asked if I'd like something different and I said yes. She brought me another meal within three minutes. Seriously, it was AMAZING service! I don't know what the other people were complaining about regarding excessive vibration and the smell of oil, there was absolutely none of that. It was clean, fancy and delicious. We did dinner one night at the reservations required steak place, Candles. Filet minion, New York strip, Mahi Mahi, all amazing! But I have to say, the main dining room was equally good, but it just didn't serve the same amount of steak. Dinner was from 7-9. With only 200 passengers, and a la carte serving (vs a crappy carnival cruise line buffet) it made complete sense. We never had to wait to get our drinks refilled (with lots of ice) or wine poured for us. The service was truly exceptional, and we found the serving staff really tried to get to know us by name and remember our drink preferences. My wife would go to the Yacht Club in the late afternoon to read and the waitress would bring her a red wine and club soda without her having to ask. Needless to say, she got a great tip! The night of the BBQ was spectacular! The lobster, flank steak, suckling pig, fish, paella and all the amazing accompaniments were outstanding! The biggest issue was finding a shady place to sit. When a server saw us sitting in the sun, she offered us an alternative in the shade just around the corner that we hadn't seen. Breakfast was great too! They had a buffet set up if you wanted to grab something quickly and get on your way, as well as an omelet bar and a la carte menu. It was a great assortment of always great food. We only ate lunch on the boat twice, once on sea day and once when we stopped in Gibraltar for the morning. It was awesome both times as well. You're not going to go hungry on this boat. If you wanted a meal outside of the normal seating times, the boat has 24 hour room service (which includes popcorn if you want to stay in your room one evening and watch a movie) as well as light meals in the Yacht Club until 5:00pm. At 6:00pm they started serving awesome appetizers in the Star Bar. Speaking of the Star Bar, it became our favourite evening hangout. Jesus and Haleigh played great music that was a combo of easy listening during the early hours, to dance music later on in the evening. We closed it down a few time! That's not to take away from the Compass Rose bar. The band there was great as well, but it's inside and we only went there on one particularly cool breezy evening. My wife and I are retired and consider ourselves rather adventurous. Our friends who were with us were equally adventurous. We saw many many couples who were much older than us on the cruise having a great time! It's clearly that this is the cruise line for cool adventurous people! We want to be like them when we get older. We also saw some people who my wife described as "cranky pants". People who needed to be treated like kings and queens or their noses would get out of joint. Fortunately these people were few and far between and we did a good job of avoiding them. I suspect the writers of the negative reviews fell into the category. I'm not going to comment in detail about each port that we stopped at. They were all awesome and unique and we had a great time at each one. If you're interested in reviews on the ports, go to tripadvisor. I will say that we did two tours arranged by Windstar, one that we organized on our own, and the rest we just walked and wondered around (which was awesome). All of them were great, but the nice thing about doing you own thing is that there are fewer people and you get a more personal experience. We will definitely be back on a Windstar boat, and hopefully on Star Breeze! Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
Along with 12 members of family and friends we took the Windsurf to the Tall Ship parade in Amsterdam. All of us were repeaters from 2nd Time cruisers to 18th with the exception of one couple. We boarded in Oslo which was efficient and ... Read More
Along with 12 members of family and friends we took the Windsurf to the Tall Ship parade in Amsterdam. All of us were repeaters from 2nd Time cruisers to 18th with the exception of one couple. We boarded in Oslo which was efficient and beautiful. Our first night we choose to eat outside at Candles which was glorious. We spend our dinner gazing out over the Oslo Fiord as we sailed along, clear, lovely night, it did not get dark until 9:45, delicious food what a way to begin a cruise. We had great weather, lovey sail into Kristiansand where we docked. I was able to buy at the famous fish market the Baltic Shrimps and bring them aboard to our friends to enjoy for lunch. Our day at sea was crossing the North Sea where it behaved, calm, a bit of rain, for those of us who wanted a bit of sea rock and roll not to be. The highlight was The Tall Ship Parade. We rose at 5 am to go through the lock. We anchored across from Java Island a beautiful spot right across the waterway which partially parallels Central Station in Amsterdam. The Tall Ships were a bit delayed and we certainly could see the sails as they came into the harbor to dock. Some people were disappointed that they were not closer or the we were actually not " in" the parade but the logistics for all ships especially our huge sail boat part must have been a nightmare. The tenders immediately began the easy five minute ride to Java Island. All day and all night thousands of small ships, barks and brigantines, schooners, pleasure craft circled us, it was memorizing. We were about 500 yards from the fireworks barge and for two nights we enjoyed 30 minutes of Grande Finale. Glorious! The Wind Surf had surprises for us as the day went by: hats with Sail Amsterdam on them, sips of special typical liquors, special food treats, a men's chorus singing sea shanteys, etc. Very surprising and generous. It was a great two days on the ship being the center of attention. The other ports were also interesting and in Vlissingen and Zeebruge Windstar provided buses to take us the the towns of Middleburg and to the rail station to get to Bruges. Very convenient and well appreciated. Service was impeccable as usual, food was delicious, creative and varied. It was a busy cruise with plenty to see and do and then come back to the ship to relax. Docking in Dover was efficient and easy. I hope in five years Windstar will repeat this cruise. It was different, totally enjoyable, a wonderful way to experience a great event. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
BACKGROUND:  We have sailed on the Wind Surf many times, including 3 cruises when it was owned by Club Med, so every new cruise is now like a family reunion of sorts for us. Since our last cruise on the Surf, there have been many changes ... Read More
BACKGROUND:  We have sailed on the Wind Surf many times, including 3 cruises when it was owned by Club Med, so every new cruise is now like a family reunion of sorts for us. Since our last cruise on the Surf, there have been many changes -- new owners (Xanterra), new ships in the fleet, newly refurbished interior decor, and a new itinerary (first time for us in Scandinavia). This May we were delighted to sail on the maiden voyage of the Star Pride, and so I was looking forward to a point-by-point comparison between the two ships. HOTEL INFORMATION: We arrived in Stockholm two days before the cruise, and stayed at the Scandic Hotel in the center of town, conveniently located just a block or so from the train station, with many nearby restaurants, and within an easy walk of the Palace, City Hall, Old Town, and other attractions. Our room was very comfortable, wi-fi service was excellent, and the hotel cafe/bar was lively and attractive, with good food. The breakfast buffet was as good as I have experienced anywhere in Europe, but it did get crowded after 8 AM. There were many other Windstar passengers staying at the hotel, as evidenced by Windstar caps, jackets, and other apparel. EMBARKATION: The ship was conveniently docked in town, so it was a very short bus ride from the hotel to the dock, and we were able to board immediately. Check-in was both smooth and quick, and by the time we got to our cabin, our luggage was already there, as was our cabin steward Christian. CABIN: We were in Cabin 136, which is midship on the lowest deck, arguably the most comfortable location for minimal motion at sea, Although we had great weather for most of the cruise, there was some rocking & rolling on occasion, especially at night. We slept like babies! As always, the cabin was spacious (188 sq ft) and comfortable. Unlike on the Star Pride, the beds were high enough to enable luggage storage underneath. They were also VERY comfortable. As always, the bathroom toiletries were by the upscale French brand L'Occitane, I have fallen in love with the Verbena scent, and so was greatly surprised to find that only the bath soap had that fragrance, while the hand soap, shampoo, and bath oil were the "Milk" variety, with a definite Baby powder aroma. Maybe Windstar got a better deal on it, who knows? SHIP/CREW INFORMATION: We were greeted at the dock by Captain Peter Harris of Britain, with whom we had sailed before. He is charming, affable, very gregarious, and extremely witty. We were pleased to receive an invitation to dine with him one night, and had the opportunity to also meet his beautiful wife and lovely daughter. What a handsome family! But we especially noted and appreciated his on-board visibility, and his effortless ability to chat up the passengers. The Hotel Manager Ratko, and Bar Manager Andrew were fairly new to Windstar, very competent, but lacked that easy manner with the guests. I was very interested to see the new Windstar decor, and to compare the WInd Surf implementation to that of the Star Pride. When cruising, I often get up very early to explore the ship, along with my camera and tripod. Windstar has used some of my photos in their publlcations and blogs, and I recognize a few on my pics in the Cruise Critic photos. Overall, I found the new Wind Surf decor to be very subdued, with a blue/brown/tan color scheme. Sleek and soothing, yes. Dazzling, no. The most noticeable change was replacing much of the carpeting with dark, high gloss oak flooring. However, it seemed to me to be a composite product of some sort, as the surface was a tad lumpy. This was especially noticeable in the transition to the Lounge, which already had real wood flooring, which was (to coin a phrase) "flat as a board." The new carpeting has a plush, almost shag-like pile to it. This worked great in the public rooms like the Yacht Club, but not so well on the stairs, where it tended to mash down on the edges, and thus looked worn even though it is still very new. ACTIVITIES/EXCURSIONS: As has been noted in almost every review I have read about Windstar cruises, planned activities are not their forte'. First, they do not really have a Cruise Director on board, and the daily activity sheet is almost identical from day to day. They do offer "Port Talks" in the late afternoon to discuss the next day's port of call, and the excursions that are available. In general, I very seldom sign up for excursions, as I find them to be overpriced, and often somewhat boring. My wife did sign up for a tour in Oslo, which she enjoyed. In my opinion, Windstar would do well to consider adopting the Viking river cruise model, and offer a complimentary walking tour at each port of call. Instead, most of their tour offerings involve climbing on a bus (or even a train) to go somewhere else. I much prefer to wander around town and take pictures. However, there ARE two planned activities that occur on almost every cruise: the deck BBQ and the crew show. The deck BBQ is OK, but I find it to be overrated, crowded (especially when the weather does not allow al fresco dining), and with just average food. The main attraction is grilled lobster or lamb chops (mine were almost raw). Big deal. The other traditional activity is the crew show, which can be pretty good if there is some talent on board, but once you've a bunch of waiters line dancing, the appeal dwindles with repeated iterations. Most of the passengers AND the crew seem to like it though, and that's what counts. Another activity that Windstar doesn't really promote at all is the popular "Name That Tune" contest that occurs twice a week in the Compass Rose after dinner. The "Rain" duo always does this, and before them, Callen & Joyce would also do it. It's VERY popular, and never fails to fill the room, with passengers forming large teams for competition. Great fun! SERVICE: What brings passengers back to Windstar again and again is the intimacy and ambiance of small ship cruising, combined with the highly personalized service provided the wait staff. They are just terrific. They greet everyone by name, quickly learn where you like to sit, and what you like to eat and drink. It's very easy to start thinking of them as personal friends instead of ships' crew. For many such as myself, the favorite dining experience is at breakfast and lunch in the Veranda, where it is not so crowded, the pace is relaxed and informal, and there is more interaction with the wait staff. On our cruise, the senior guy at lunch was "Boon", but the favorite waiter was "One", Of course, everyone had their personal favorites, which is why the result is such a pleasant experience. I only had one service complaint, which was that food service in AmphorA could be quite slow, especially when a majority of the passengers decided they wanted to be seated immediately after the dining room opened. DInner should not have to take over two hours! This was not nearly such a problem in the Candles or Stella Bistro venues. The other service complaint that comes up time and again is with the internet. It is so crummy that Windstar should just forget about it, at least while away from port. DINING: Head Chef Klaus created some great food for us throughout the cruise. No complaints whatsoever. Perhaps the one area where I would look for improvement would be to offer more European style whole grain breads. The breads offered at the Scandic hotel were better than what was served on board. The wine service on board. was VERY good. I did not opt for the premium beverage package, as it costs over $100/day per cabin, and I just can't drink that much and walk straight. Also, I stick to beer and wine, and seldom if ever order a mixed drink or cocktail The wines offered on board were of very good quality, at very reasonable prices (good selection at $7-9/glass or $26-35/bottle). Again, in my opinion WIndstar should consider the Viking Cruise model, which is to include beer, wine & soft drinks with meals, with premium beverages available from the bar. ENTERTAINMENT: Let's start with the good. "Rain" (Craig & Nicola WIlloughby) are simply outstanding, miles better than any other entertainers I have heard on any cruise ship, regardless of size. Craig is a brilliant guitarist, and Nicola has a beautiful voice. They are very versatile and entertaining, and bring a lot of energy and passion into their delivery. They usually pack the Compass Rose, with the crowds increasing every night. The main problem is that the Compass Rose room is just too small. The "Cool Breeze" band appearing in the main Lounge was mediocre at best, very much like the "Top Society" combo that appeared on the Star Pride. Vocalists were OK, but the musicians were just average at best, no energy or passion in their delivery, tired arrangements, lackluster repertoire, etc. Some nights there were only a few folks in the Lounge at 10 PM! Meanwhile, the Compass Rose was jammed. Main asset for both bands is that all the band members are Filipino, which means they can share quarters with the crew. My advice would be to dump the bands, put "Rain" (or a similar duo like "One Night Stand") in the main lounge, put a DJ or piano player in the Compass Rose. I am betting that bar sales would pick up significantly, while costs would go down. Passengers would be better served. DISEMBARKATION: Hard part is getting off the ship by 8:30 AM or so. However, it all went smoothly EXCEPT for the monster big line of folks waiting for a taxi. Luckily, we were one of the first passengers off, and we still had to wait almost 30 minutes. Lots of passengers were really unhappy, I'm sure. When meeting people, first impressions are very important. With a cruise, the last impression is often what sticks in your mind. SUMMARY: While we were on our previous cruise on the Star Pride in May, we booked another cruise on the Wind Surf to Spain for September 2015, took advantage if the on-board booking discount. Much to my surprise, Windstar apparently no longer offers a discount for an on-board booking, nor was their any on-board sales effort at all. What I did notice was cruise information displayed on the on-board computers --- but for the 2013 season! Oooooops! We are dedicated Windstar aficianados, and I am sure we will be back for many more cruises in future. I just wish Windstar would get their act together to address some of these vexing issues that would be SO easy to fix. I wish better things for them. Gary (The Hitman)   Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
"Gaelic Explorer" Itinerary - Dublin to Edinburgh - July 12-20, 2014 We'd cruised on Wind Surf three times, but always on warm weather itineraries in the Caribbean or Bahamas, and it'd been ten years since our last ... Read More
"Gaelic Explorer" Itinerary - Dublin to Edinburgh - July 12-20, 2014 We'd cruised on Wind Surf three times, but always on warm weather itineraries in the Caribbean or Bahamas, and it'd been ten years since our last sailing. We were curious how she had held up after going through three owners since the last time we were aboard. We were not disappointed. We chose to purchase Windstar's 2-night pre-cruise Dublin hotel package. We took a cab (27 Euros) from the airport to the O'Callaghan Davenport Hotel, which was centrally located within walking distance of Trinity College, shops and eateries on Grafton Street, Book of Kells, Temple Bar, museums, parks, and a hop-on-hop-off bus stop. Although rated four-stars, the Davenport was a bit frayed around the edges. Our 5th floor room was nice, although the air conditioning was so weak we had to open the window. That turned out to be problematic at bedtime because of the very popular outdoor pub just below the window. The hotel staff was friendly, and the included morning breakfast buffet was tasty. Windstar's coach transfer to the ship together with all of the other Windstar passengers staying at the Davenport was disorganized, with a lot of standing around with luggage waiting for the coaches. The Windstar on-site rep seemed to be doing the best she could. It was an easy coach ride to the ship at Dún Laoghaire. There was a several blocks hike with carryons from the cruise terminal checked-baggage drop-off to the ship. No problems the day we were there because it was a beautiful day, but it could've been problematic if it had been raining or the ferry was there. Wind Surf looked terrific, not showing her age at all. We were a bit distracted walking aboard in Dún Laoghaire because Captain Harris happened to be one of the staff greeting passengers at the bottom of the boarding ramp, and he actually carried one of our carryons inside. The major total ship refit not too long ago was quite evident on first impression. The decks, passageways, stairways, lounge, bars, dining areas, and our suite midship on deck three all looked brand-new. Smiling staff was everywhere. Check-in was easily accomplished in the lounge. Food, (always a subjective topic because everyone has individual expectations), was very good in our opinion. Better than we remember from our prior cruises, and certainly much higher quality and taste (and service) than what we usually experience on Royal Caribbean. Always fresh and tasty buffet options on the Star Deck Veranda for breakfast and lunch, plus you could order from a brief menu if you chose. When the Veranda was crowded, the adjacent Bistro was open as overflow. The reservations-required supper in the Stella Bistro was very good, although we thought the food quality and service was just as good in the Amphora main dining room. We didn't get a chance to eat at the alternative reservations-required served-outdoors Candles at supper, but because of the weather on this cruise, all Candles meals were moved into the Veranda. The Deck BBQ was also moved indoors, and the main lounge was converted into a dining room. The Yacht Club midships on Main deck had tasty sandwiches, snacks, and coffees from 7:00 AM until 5:00 PM. We were somewhat disappointed the Purell hand sanitizer dispensers installed around the ship and on the gang plank were almost always empty, and there was never any mention anywhere asking passengers to use them to help prevent the spread of norovirus. The weather. We always overpack. This time, though, what we brought home un-worn were all of our short-sleeve, warm-weather clothes. There’s a reason why the photos we all see of Ireland and Scotland show amazing greenery. It rains. Whether the weather was sunny and bright, or chilly and rainy, the temps never got much above the low 60s F. We had some very beautiful, clear blue skies days, some days when there was rain interspersed with brief periods of beautiful blue skies, and a few days when it rained most of the day. When it rained, it was mostly that horizontal rain, making umbrellas powerless. Just pack thinking when you’re out and about off the ship you’ll layer, bring a light water-resistant windbreaker, and bring an umbrella that pops back into shape when the winds turn it inside-out. Evening wear aboard was “casually elegant”. Some men wore sport coats in the Bistro and the dining room, but most wore nice slacks with collared shirts. The women looked great, as usual, but they weren’t overly dressy or wearing anything formal. The main lounge band, “Cool Breeze”, was good and the singer excellent, and the duo in the Compass Rose bar, “Rain Duo” was good, too. Don’t miss the crew talent show in the main lounge. The ports of call. We have always liked Wind Surf’s niche, being able to drop anchor in the small ports and marinas where the mega ships can’t go. For all of our stops, except our last day in Invergordon, Scotland, (where we shared our day tied up near the 3100-passenger Ruby Princess and two oil platforms), we were the largest vessel to be seen. We tendered in/out each day except at Invergordon. The trade-off being able to visit smaller ports of call is not being able to do a whole lot of online research for planning exploration on our own or pre-arrange private excursions. Although several cruisecritic.com contributors on our cruise had made their own plans, we opted to purchase Windstar’s (excessively-priced) excursions. Even with the poor Euro and British Pound Sterling exchange rates with the US dollar, the ship’s excursion prices seemed way out of line based upon the individual entry fees we saw posted at the places we visited. We did enjoy all of our daily excursions with the exception of the day at Invergordon, where our group found itself at Urquhart Castle with six or more coaches from the Ruby Princess plus many land-based tourist groups. All of our local guides were very good, and easy to understand. The excursions we chose were: Isle of Man – “Vintage Steam Train & Magnificent Castle Rushen” (excellent! - sunny) Portrush – “The Giant’s Causeway and Old Bushmills Distillery” (stormy, but beautiful) Tobermory – “Mull’s Duart Castle with Tea” (excellent! - sunny) Portree – “Dunvegan Castle & The Cullins” (stormy, crowded, but sunny late) Kirkwall – “Ancient Treasures” (rainy/cold/blowing, some sun late) Invergordon – “Loch Ness & Historic Urquhart Castle” (sunny, crowded, interesting, although didn’t stop at Loch Ness visitor’s center as described) At the end of the cruise in Leith/Edinburgh, disembarkation was easy. Our bags were waiting for us in the terminal, and there were cabs lined up outside once we'd claimed our luggage. The easy (Sunday morning) ride to the airport in a very clean local cab with a nice driver was only 26 British Pounds Sterling (compared to Windstar's $95/person airport transfer fee). In summary, we had a terrific fourth cruise aboard Wind Surf, and we agreed we’ll sail on her again in the not too distant future.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
This was a wonderful itinerary and a memorable voyage for many reasons. After 2 days at a well-located hotel in London, we were transferred by motorcoach to Wind Surf at her dock at Portsmouth. Our ports in France were Cherbourg, St. ... Read More
This was a wonderful itinerary and a memorable voyage for many reasons. After 2 days at a well-located hotel in London, we were transferred by motorcoach to Wind Surf at her dock at Portsmouth. Our ports in France were Cherbourg, St. Malo, and Brest. Cherbourg was the departure point for seeing the D-Day beaches and Sainte Mere Eglise, a very moving day. St. Malo is a great place to explore, and then explore more. Brest was my least favorite port on this itinerary; I enjoyed the castle, now open as a museum. Our ports in Spain, La Coruna and Vigo, were both interesting with lovely walking and/or excursion opportunities. Walking La Coruna's 14 km. waterfront promenade is a great way to enjoy that lovely city. Our half-day in Porto, Portugal, allowed time to walk in the central city and along the Douro River. From Porto, we sailed onward to Lisbon. I was met at the dock by Pedro of Sintra Private Tours to start our excellent tour which ended with my being taken to my hotel. The next day I used a hop-on-hop-off bus for an overview of Lisbon that included an afternoon at the excellent Lisbon Oceanarium. Wind Surf and her crew are exceptional in every way. The food was the best ever on any of my cruises. I love the size of the ship, and, as in the past (this was my 5th Windstar cruise), watching the sails unfurl as we continue on towards a new port is an exhilarating experience. The best way I can share this fine travel experience is to direct you to my just-finished on-line photo album, which I am about to post in top position on my Shutterfly travel photo site: https://fredasphotos1.shutterfly.com. After you've opened the site, click on the top album, "Wind Surf London to Lisbon". Next click on SLIDESHOW, then at upper right click on FULL SCREEN. I think it works best then to click the button at the top center to disable auto-forward of photos, after which you can click on the right-arrow when you want to go to the next photo. There are captions and text so you can view and read it as a travelogue. It was a memorable journey. I hope you'll enjoy it vicariously! Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
My husband and I had never been on a cruise - and this was our first. We have traveled - just never on a ship. We chose this particular cruise because the ship looked interesting - a sailing cruise ship with five sails! The ports were ... Read More
My husband and I had never been on a cruise - and this was our first. We have traveled - just never on a ship. We chose this particular cruise because the ship looked interesting - a sailing cruise ship with five sails! The ports were also intriguing and different - southwestern England, two ports in Wales, and two ports in Ireland. I had done my homework and had found that the Windstar has very positive reports. We started in Portsmouth, England and ended in Dublin, Ireland. We docked or moored every morning in a new port. And - by the way - it did not rain, anywhere. Our cruise turned out to be an amazing experience; exceeding every expectation. The ship was very well appointed - it had the swimming pool, the hot tubs, the recreational water equipment for warm water cruising, Spa, well-equipped exercise room, bars, and a multitude of dining rooms. It was also comforting to travel in the designated rescue boats at times to transport passengers from ship to shore. It was nice to know that they are in working order! Our cabin was comfortable, well organized, and oddly spacious. It had lots of closet space and places to secure things - all within 188 sq feet. All of the staff were exceedingly helpful and friendly at all times. The food was great and well presented; even more than I expected. The ports of call were eclectic - most were places I had never heard of. They were all fascinating in their own right - lots of history, great local food and very friendly people. They were glad to see us and curious about our five-masted sailing cruise ship. A few had not seen a cruise ship in a while. Our ship was small enough to be able to come into ports that the larger ships cannot. The shore excursions were well thought out. This was the first time our ship had ever been to these ports - and the first time in a long time that some of the ports had experienced a cruise ship. Although excellent, the shore excurions were understood by all to be too pricey. This was an incredible trip and my husband and I have had really great experiences on this ship. port #1 Portsmouth, England - departed from here We did not go on any tour here - independently took the train from tak London's Waterloo station to the "Portsmouth Harbor" station. It was an easy trip - and a short cab ride from the Portsmouth station to the ship. port #2 Dartmouth, England - We went on a Windstar shore excursion here. We got our first taste of the history of southwestern England and the small towns/ports of England here - and it was fascinating - from the castles to the architectural details of the housing and buildings. The landscape was spectacular. The transition from tender to tour and back was seamless and easy. Went on a tour boat up the River Dart to Totnes, took a steam train back to Dartmouth, and a ferry across the harbor. This was a good place to take an excursion from Windstar, because we could not have arranged it all, independently. port #4 Isles of Scilly, England - T This was our favorite port. We went out on our own here, with some of our shipmates. We set up our own tour with the boat association at the harbor. We ended up visiting three of the many Scilly Isles, all sparsely populated: Bryher (pop 92), Tresco (pop 180), St. Mary's (pop 1,666). It was all very walkable; easy. Tresco's Abbey garden was beautiful. Lots of history. It is easy to see why people from Great Britain vacation here. The weather while we were there was lovely, almost Carribean weather. We visited on a Sunday, and few stores were open on St Mary's,although I did find one where I bought a sailing shirt! I bought a book of Scilly Tales in a small little store on Bryher. Both stores opened for the cruise visitors. port #5 Pembrokeshire/Fishguard, Wales - We went out on our own here with some of our shipmates. In Fishguard, we saw the lovely and locally created "tapestry" that re-tells the story of the signing of the Peace Treaty after the last invasion of Britain in 1797. It was located in a municipal building, upstairs, near/in their library. We took a local bus from Fishguard to St. Davids - and it was really fun. We traveled on one-lane Welsh country roads with local people. They were friendly and asked us repeatedly "Are you on the cruise ship we read about in the newspaper?" Traveled back to Fishguard with youth out of school - who were very well-mannered. In St. Davids we had lunch at a local pub - full of Welsh character. We took a tour of the exterior of St. David's Cathedral - very impressive. It is a functioning cathedral and there was a funeral happening at that time we were there. port #6 Waterford/Dunmore East, Ireland - We went out on our own, visiting both the Waterford Factory and the Waterford Museum of Treasures. The Waterford Factory had a fascinating tour - and the Waterford Museum of Treasures was a small but important look at Ireland/Waterford history. We ate lunch at a local restaurant - where the proprietress knew all of her customers by their first name; great food. I believe that small children were not encouraged to travel on this ship. I did not see any programs for them, and the ship was not outfitted to protect them.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
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