The Wind Surf is a unique sailing ship. Although entertainment is somewhat limited to a house band and two others in the Compass Rose lounge.
This ship is not for those looking for 24 hour non stop entertainment. No casino, no rock ... Read More
The Wind Surf is a unique sailing ship. Although entertainment is somewhat limited to a house band and two others in the Compass Rose lounge.
This ship is not for those looking for 24 hour non stop entertainment. No casino, no rock climbing walls, no disco, no waterslide.
The ship and the smaller destinations are the draw.
The crew is fantastic.
The food is excellent. The on deck BBQ was great.
We met many other loyal Windstar passengers including several from our Japan tour in March. In fact, several repeat customers book trips to Russia (Wind Surf) and also Egypt & The Middle East in October on the power boat.
Unfortunately, there were a few people on the ship who took every opportunity to complain: lack of upgrade, tours sold out, two medical issues requiring us to return to port and miss the first port. However, having sailed with Seabourn and Oceana there are the usual complainers on those ships as well! Frankly, Windstar is not for anyone seeking a Silversea experience!! Read Less
My spouse, and my brother and sister with their spouses decided to try to get a vacation together and visit the South Pacific. it was easy to pick the islands around and including Tahiti. Should we cruise to do land tour.
After only a ... Read More
My spouse, and my brother and sister with their spouses decided to try to get a vacation together and visit the South Pacific. it was easy to pick the islands around and including Tahiti. Should we cruise to do land tour.
After only a brief discussion, we chose Windstar Cruises, Wind Spirit and, boy are we glad!
The ship is small, only 148 passengers tops. The staterooms are on two decks, every one of them nearly identical. Practical room with room to hide suitcases. Bathroom only accommodates one at a time, but it works fine.
Food, what can we say but, great! Great variety at all meals starting with breakfast. The one "specialty" restaurant is Candles, overseen by Assistant Maitre'd Prast. He and crew of wizards lay out great dinners under the stars on the rear deck.
The Wind Spirit's entire crew are always welcoming guest when they see them, a very nice touch. The have a open Bridge Policy. You can tour the bridge at almost anytime. We met several very friendly officers while on the bridge. The Captain, Lyubo Garcityanov is available at all times. We had several very nice and long conversations with the Captain, who told us he evens call his mother regularly. A really nice man.
Between ship arranged BBQ's on Motus and crew talent shows, it hard to thinks of a funnier cruise ship on the seven seas!
The Wind Spirit is just the ideal ship for those who don't like crowds, who want good food, and the most beautiful islands anywhere. Read Less
The Star Legend will be in dry dock soon to completely refurbish it and add 100 staterooms. And it need it. Everything was from gently to quite worn. Seals were broken on three large windows in the Yacht Club lounge, obscuring the view.
... Read More
The Star Legend will be in dry dock soon to completely refurbish it and add 100 staterooms. And it need it. Everything was from gently to quite worn. Seals were broken on three large windows in the Yacht Club lounge, obscuring the view.
That said, the staterooms were quite comfortable and the house staff attentive.
Excursions are extremely expensive. Choose wisely. It’s much more fun to explore charming towns like Wrangell and Sitka on The zodiac tour of Tracey’s Arm glacier was worth it in every way.
Food was hit and miss. The hits were lunch and breakfast, and dinner had some poor choices, like a seafood bisque with uncooked seafood in it. The Indian dishes, including a curry bar, were beautifully seasoned. Candles featured fresh salads and fish and meats grilled to order.
Overall, for a luxury cruise, we thought Windstar could have done better with the condition of the ship furnishings, and attention to detail at Amphora Restaurant.
The staff was gracious and the naturalists knowledgeable. Read Less
This was our second Windstar cruise following last summer’s Norway/Iceland voyage which was marvelous. Sufficiently marvelous that we invited three friends from NYC to join us this time. We previously sailed once on Regent which was but ... Read More
This was our second Windstar cruise following last summer’s Norway/Iceland voyage which was marvelous. Sufficiently marvelous that we invited three friends from NYC to join us this time. We previously sailed once on Regent which was but decent and once on Silversea which was slightly better than decent. Windstar ran rings around them on both our sailings aboard Legend and Pride.
See our cabin review below, it was very good and comfortable but also most expensive suite available. You get what you pay for. My friends had regular cabins (following luxury marketing rules, these are referred to as suites, haha) which they thought sumptuous, comfortable and well designed.
This cruise had half-a-dozen naturalists on board, fully credentialed for all things Alaska including flora, fauna — birds, orcas, whales, otters, seals, sea lions, glaciers, earthquakes, volcanos, weather, cultures, and more. Plus, they led many of the zodiac and other excursions so could narrate in real time.
This was a case where having an onboard marina on deck 3 made a qualitative difference and enhanced the cruise for many.
Because this ship carries only 212 passengers max, we were small potatoes when it comes to the gargantuan vessels you may be imagining. And that’s exactly how we like it! When it comes to Alaska, we were able to cruise where larger vessels (Regent, Crystal, Disney, Princess, etc.) cannot go — right up lengthy fjords to glacier front (Tracy Arms Fjord and Kenai Fjord). Not to mention some of the sweet smaller villages.
On a twelve-day voyage we had only two sea days.
Food was very good and better than that. Room service meals very good. Coffee uniformly very good. Cappuccino in the Yacht Club was marvelous. Our “crew” of five were mostly delighted and sometimes wowed. Wines — we eschewed drink package and opted for two bottles of wine at dinner every night: the Sokol pinot noir and a sancerre or pouilly fume.
The lectures were relevant, excellent, informative and fun. Great delivery with enthusiasm. As for entertainment, we did not go there, we are classical music sorts.
Staff was amazingly kind, efficient and on top of their game. Not a snooty nose to be seen. An occasional incompetent in the dining room but that happens. The Captain stood at top of gangway to greet and farewell passengers when boarding and disembarking. He is quite the gentleman with a lovely British accent.
Ship environs are comfortably chic, no godawful “art.” Plenty spacious. Yacht club crowded only on the two glacier days and then, only in the mornings. Furniture very comfortable with nary a bulky vulgar barrel chair to be seen.
Fellow passengers trended to the fit middle aged, less-fit middle aged and older, some younger folk, and a few in recovery including me (broken leg/ankle four months gone). Plus my beloved Jim the Demented.
Meanwhile Alaska is drop-dead gorgeous and fascinating; just exactly the sort of place that lends itself to cruising. We now are motivated to look into a train tour and a Denali expedition. Can’t say how wonderful was Alaska, disvover it for yourself. No, I do not (yet) work for the Alaska Tourist Board.
It was a grand voyage, and lovely to travel with our own comfy crowd who like to scrabble and puzzle.
For us, Windstar is perfect, the motor “yachts” that is. Read Less
Iceland bucket-list trip on a tired old ship. Everything about the ship was off on this trip--rooms were worn, carpets stained, tables scratched, etc, tours late or over-booked, food so-so-ish, and service mostly good, but occasionally ... Read More
Iceland bucket-list trip on a tired old ship. Everything about the ship was off on this trip--rooms were worn, carpets stained, tables scratched, etc, tours late or over-booked, food so-so-ish, and service mostly good, but occasionally lax. Everyone from the Captain, yes the Captain, on down seemed unhappy with the ship and the itinerary. Rumors circulated that the Captain had complained about being saddled with this route at the Captain's dinner--"what did I do to deserve this...."
My sense was that Windstar was just trying to get through a few more cruises on this ship before it enters drydock for a major overhaul in October. The ship's team talked constantly about the need to move on--every complaint was met with a sigh and a promise that the overhaul will fix all bad things. Don't like the broken shower faucets? We're fixing it. Don't like the drink stains on the table? We're replace them all. Wonder about all the repair work? Give us some duct tape and come back a year from now.
Windstar did this to itself in many ways. Part of selling future cruises on this Iceland trip was to explain the company's desire to add cabins to every ship--the plans were widely advertised to passengers as a way to keep Windstar in the small-ship category by getting as close to 350 cabins without crossing over. Hence, the conversation was almost always about how tired the ships all are--"we'll be converting staterooms on the Wind Star here and on Star Pride there, etc., but will never go over.
The whole dialogue was a distraction and left me wondering why we weren't told that this was a bucket of bolts before booking. And it definitely was a bucket of bolts. It was a great ship ten years ago after it was updated before joining the Windstar fleet, but it has suffered at every turn and the company has spackled its way to the drydock.
Food was good, but this ship is not designed for an Iceland itinerary--not easy to eat outside when it is near freezing outside. And the inside amenities were, as noted, aging. Three ancient treadmills and two stationary bikes is not a fitness room and looping the same movies over and over day by day is not an entertainment program.
As for ongoing service, reception desk was great but couldn't solve most problems--took us too long to get small things fixed and the ship was confused from time to time with scheduling, in part because Captain Surly was anti-social.
The frontline staff was terrific as usual--highly motivated, but worn out by a brutal schedule. Lovely folks out of SE Asia for the most part on short-term contracts and 7-day schedules. Got to love them for their enormous effort. Nothing they could do about the ship's condition so far from the penny-pinchers in Seattle.
Would I go on another cruise with the Windstar fleet after this? Absolutely. It's a fine company that cares about quality. I just wouldn't sail with them again this year or next. Give Windstar time to work through the kinks as its fleet goes into the renovations--these are major, major changes that involve cutting ships in half and adding new sections of cabins (see the promotional material at https://www.windstarcruises.com/starplus/). This is not just a little paint and new beds.
I'm of the opinion that how a ship goes out is just as important as how it comes in. This cruise was a joy on many levels, but our satisfaction was IN SPITE of the company, not because of it. They have let this ship decline ever since they decided on the upgrades and it shows. Be careful about this, Windstar. Your own advertising about the upgrades contains the shadow of the neglect you've tolerated as everyone waits for the teardown. It showed on this voyage. If we had known more about it before booking, we would have taken another ship. Once burned, forever shy?
(Oh, why does embarkation have to be such a crowded mess on Windstar? Not enough people and too little space to do this right on this ship. A mess and uncomfortable. Is that because the all-you-can-drink package sales-team is trying to make a sale? It's the last stop on this brutal, unhappy welcoming.) Read Less
My husband and I, and 2 other couples, chose this ship because we wanted a small ship. It was perfect in size...getting on and off ship was easy and quick. We were in cabin 240 which is at the very end of the hall. It proved to be a ... Read More
My husband and I, and 2 other couples, chose this ship because we wanted a small ship. It was perfect in size...getting on and off ship was easy and quick. We were in cabin 240 which is at the very end of the hall. It proved to be a great room in the sense that there wasn't much foot traffic outside our door. The cabin had more than enough storage cabinets and plenty of under bed storage for suitcases. Bathroom had a great shower and all amenities were good.
My complaint about this ship is the last night before disembarking, they seemed to shut off all A/C. It wasn't just our cabin, but everyone else's, too. Don't know what the deal was, but our final night on board was sleepless...very hot.
The gym was small, but adequate with a couple tread mills, 1 elliptical machine, 1 stationary bike and lots of free weights. None of us had a bad meal and all dinners exceeded our expectation. Cabin attendants were very good and all the staff was very helpful and kind.
ENTERTAINMENT: Windstar needs to work on this aspect. Most of the music played outside around the bar and deck area was so old and tired...Jackson 5 genre. It seemed like our party ages 55-60 were the youngsters, and maybe the majority who appeared to be 70's and 80's enjoy that era of music. We would've enjoyed more current music. Our cruise had a pianist and singer that performed most evenings, but the room was small with low ceilings so the music was too loud. We always left for areas that we could converse. Our party of 6 did not go on any Windstar excursions because we found better value by booking private tours on our own. All in all, we loved the ship and would consider going again based on the service we received and the small ship size. Read Less
Wanted a smaller ship for the Greek Isles. The crew was great. The bar service was slow. They needed more bar staff. Meals were adequate. Went to the Crystal Restaurant our last night and my husband and I enjoyed a delicious meal on ... Read More
Wanted a smaller ship for the Greek Isles. The crew was great. The bar service was slow. They needed more bar staff. Meals were adequate. Went to the Crystal Restaurant our last night and my husband and I enjoyed a delicious meal on the deck. Also, the dinner seafood bar b que on deck was excellent. All excursions and guides were good, well organized and informative. Our room 211 was noisy from engine. More then a hum. The room was well organized and suitcases were stored under bed. I would not choose this ship again because the engine noise at night was too loud. See cabin review below for more details. Motor Coaches were comfortable. Enjoyed the Acropolis and Museum Tour when we disembarked. Athens was fun and Hotel Grand Bretagne was excellent. Enjoyed walking from hotel, view from our balcony of Parliament, the Square, the Acropolis. Weather was perfect. Read Less
We chose this cruise because of the intimacy of the ship. We might have sacrificed all of the bells and whistle of a larger ship, but being on a smaller ship was well worth it. Embarkation was done in a very smooth and orderly fashion ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the intimacy of the ship. We might have sacrificed all of the bells and whistle of a larger ship, but being on a smaller ship was well worth it. Embarkation was done in a very smooth and orderly fashion and we were in our cabin within 15 minutes of boarding the ship. After ready some of the previous reviews, I was nervous about the age of the ship and it's condition, but our balcony cabin was clean and extremely spacious Yes, the cabins do need some updating, which they are planning a full refurbishment in the next year or so, but we were pleasantly surprised that it wasn't as bad as I had read.
One of the things that makes this cruise line special are it's crew. They are so welcoming and friendly. They know your name with in the first day or so. The service level is amazing. Before you even take your last sip, they are right there asking if you would like another. Never a dirty glass or plate is sitting in front of you.
And the FOOD!! Every night they offered their James Beard Foundation specialties along with other gourmet dishes and for those who are picky, they offer steak and chicken every night. Everything was done to perfection. The Executive Chef went over and above when we asked for a special dessert that was not being offered that night. The breakfasts were very good also. You can have made to order omelets along with a buffet. Or you can order something off the menu like waffles or pancakes or Egg Benedict. Same goes for the lunches where you can order a hamburger or chicken sandwich along with the buffet selections. Also the deck BBQ that they offered the evening we were in Cannes was spectacular! They bought fresh Sea bass that day and cooked it right there on the spot. Also, they had lobster and roasted pig, shrimp, carved beef, BBQ chicken and so much more. Then afterwards, they had line dancing that was so much fun! The crew really makes it a special night.
The entertainment was what you might expect from a smaller ship. They had a duo singing every night up on the pool deck. And usually a special event in the Compass Lounge with fun things like a "Name that Tune" trivia game or the "Liars Club" where you had to guess which of the crew was telling the truth, and the crew talent show, which was very entertaining. But if you are expecting a big production show like what is on a large cruise ship, you will not see that here.
We arrived in Rome a few days before the cruise and explored the city. We had Rome Cabs pick us up at the airport and give us a mini 1 hour tour of the city where we go out and visited the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain. We had never been to Italy and we went to the usual touristy spots. The next day we went to The Colluseum where an archaeologist gave us a tour of the underground parts of the Colluseum then we had our regular tour guide take us round the rest of the Colluseum and the Forum. Very informative tour of these spectacular historical wonders. And on our last day in Rome, we went to the first entry to the Vatican, then it was off to our ship. The ports of call were very good. We did take a shore excursion through Windstar in Portofierro, Elba. It was well organized, even though it was supposed to be a morning departure and they had to change it to afternoon due to work being done on Napoleon's summer house. But our guide was very knowledgeable and got us back to our ship in time. We especially loved Portofino and Sanary Sur Mer probably because we like how small and quaint these ports were and their beauty! In Portofino, we walked to the top of Castle Brown, were the views were spectacular. Then we just walked around the beautiful little village. And Sanary Sur Mer was the prettiest little fishing village. There was a farmers market at the time where they had the fisherman, who just came in from the sea, put their fish on display along with fresh fruit and vegetables and lots of other items. Cannes and Monte Carlo, we just did our own thing, but the they are beautiful cities. The Grand Prix was just the week before, and they had an exotic car show going on the day we were in port. We saw many high end luxury sports cars being displayed and driven around the streets. Fun to see! We stopped in the small fishing village of Palermo, Spain where we did a lot of shopping. The prices were much more reasonable there and enjoyed our stay there. Our last stop was Barcelona where we disembarked. Again, this went very smoothly. We had a driver and guide waiting to pick us up for a private tour of Barcelona. Barcelona is a beautiful city with amazing architecture. We enjoyed our tour very much.
I enjoyed our trip so much and was so sad to see it end. This is an older ship, but Windstar has kept it looking nice and clean. The service, food and overall experience was top notch! I would not hesitate to return to Windstar and am looking forward to our next cruise with them! Read Less
My husband and I just came home from the Lisbon to Barcelona cruise in April. It is our third cruise with Windstar.
The staff is wonderful. They know your name by the second day.
The food is good particularly the barbeque ... Read More
My husband and I just came home from the Lisbon to Barcelona cruise in April. It is our third cruise with Windstar.
The staff is wonderful. They know your name by the second day.
The food is good particularly the barbeque on the deck. There is a nice variety of food to please everyone.
The suites are spacious. King size beds, a sitting area, a double variety bathroom, and a walk-in closet.
The ship is very clean.
The security on and off the ship is good.
The shore excursions to Gibraltar, Alhambra and Seville were very good.
The daily programs and nightly talks are very helpful for background information.
Embarkment and disembarkment are quick and efficient.
We extended our stay at the end of the trip to Barcelona. It was wonderful!
The shore excursions are expensive.
WiFi is not included and should be.
Wine and beer should be included not an additional charge.
A lovely vacation! Read Less
Our first Windstar cruise, based on a recommendation from a friend who knows that we like smart and engaging people, don't like rowdy drunk crowds, and want a genuine experience. We learned a lot and immediately signed back up for ... Read More
Our first Windstar cruise, based on a recommendation from a friend who knows that we like smart and engaging people, don't like rowdy drunk crowds, and want a genuine experience. We learned a lot and immediately signed back up for more Windstar!
What can I say other than "amazing!". While the large ship experiences bring their own attributes, this ship size, itinerary, and staff have us sold on Windstar, since they brought so many terrific benefits.
I could go on forever, but I'll limit it to a few key topics, and a story of special coverage by the crew that was exceptional.
SHIP: small, as cruise ships go, but never felt crowded, never waited in lines (except for the topside cookout in which everyone rushed the line but ten minutes later was cleared). There are plenty of places to get alone by yourself, do morning stretches, have a quiet moment with a loved one, etc.
BARS: the outdoor topside bar was by far the most popular given weather, ability to spread out, but also to meet nice and interesting folks.
FOOD: Terrific all around! Main dining Amphora was stellar every night. Candles night was intimate, delicious, and fantastic! Breakfast and lunch buffets are great, fresh, and the staff is totally focused on making your meal ideal, so just ask for anything special. All-day breakfast and sandwich counter made a great fill-in when we got back from sightseeing.
OFFICERS, CREW, & STAFF: This is where I have to focus most. Incredibly nice, friendly, accommodating, and professional from top to bottom. Every individual we met was terrific.
But the real story was about a bad situation that they made infinitely better. Just prior to the cruise, a family friend passed away, who was not only my godfather but also as much a father to me as my own, and in recent decades more so, and a dear friend. Our families consider each other extended family. The funeral had to occur during our cruise, on Day 8 of 10, so we worked with Windstar to allow us to disembark in Grenada, fly home to make the funeral, of which i was to officiate and sing. Needless to say, a very emotional situation. We had shared the fact that we were leaving early with staff that would be affected or those that simply asked and expressed condolences.
We disembarked, went to the airport, and long story short, found that our flight was cancelled, and at 5pm found out that we would NOT be able to leave the island until the following afternoon, thereby missing the funeral we worked so hard to coordinate to make. With literally NO time to spare, we called the ship, asked if we could reboard, sailed through customs with the help of American Airlines staff, had a cab fly through town, and we made it to the pier with just minutes before Sail Away.
Although devastated by the events so far, the next 24 hours were incredible. The Chief Pursor, front desk staff, Hotel Manager all met us and assured a smooth process, even to the extent of them asking if there was anything at all they could do to help. They were amazingly empathetic, and genuinely worked that day and the next to give us every assistance we could want, including calls, Internet, etc. The Dining staff gave us special attention, delivered us a wonderful in-room meal, and the bar staff brought us wine as we "licked our wounds". The next day, every staff member we came into contact expressed genuine concern, and went out of their way to help us enjoy this day at sea with tons of kindnesses and support.
We were incredibly moved at the empathy and wonderfulness of the entire crew including officers, the bar team, the dining team, the breakfast cooks, and so on. While they may have forgotten us as they move forward to accommodate every guest every day, we will never forget them. Thank you Windstar! Read Less
First, we are a French Canadian couple in our early 50’s from Montreal. We sailed 5 times with Celebrity prior to sailing on Wind Surf for the first time in 2013. We have since sailed 7 times with them, all in the Caribbean with cruises ... Read More
First, we are a French Canadian couple in our early 50’s from Montreal. We sailed 5 times with Celebrity prior to sailing on Wind Surf for the first time in 2013. We have since sailed 7 times with them, all in the Caribbean with cruises on the Wind Star (1) Star Pride (2), Star Legend (1) and Wind Surf (3). What we love about Windstar is the small ships, the fact you can do things independently easily, the relaxed dress code, the food, which keeps getting better, and last but not least the great service staff which goes out of its way to make your cruise memorable. This was our first cruise back on a sail ship after 3 cruises on the motor yachts. We did Classic Caribbean itinerary from Feb 2nd to 9th as we had done the Yachtsman’s Caribbean itinerary twice already and did not like the fact they had changed some of the stops in the BVI. In the end we really enjoyed this itinerary with Barbuda and Dominica being new stops for us. The weather was just about perfect and seas were the calmest of all our cruises. We noticed the demographics of this cruise were probably a little older than our previous Windstar cruises with a good majority of guests over 70-75 but this did not hinder in any way our enjoyment as fellow Windstar passengers are all fairly active and well travelled. Finally, we travelled with another couple for which this was a first cruise on Windstar and likely not their last. Another great cruise with Windstar
We booked just over 2 months ahead by pure accident as we typically wait for annual Christmas Sale as we feel prices get better closer to sailings (we always go for lowest priced cabin as location is not necessarily important to us). We called the company directly (we do not use a travel agent) to inquire about availability and they said that there was a promotion for Canadian residents with a $500 discount on the cruise price. I could not find this special on their website and the timing of my call was perfect as this special did not last very long. The 4 of us each got the $100 referral OBC which in our case was applied against our drink package purchased when we got onboard. We were assigned room 153 at front of ship and we were “upgraded” to 141 more in the center a few weeks later. Our friends were also upgraded from 103 to 122. Windstar also offered a 20% discount on the price of internet, drink package and laundry if all taken together prior to cruise which we did not take as we did not care for the ship’s slow and expensive internet (we had access to a good roaming package which we used most of time as we were always close to islands).
Although we typically fly in the day before, our schedule did not allow for such luxury this time around. Our plane landed in SXM at 16h30 on departure day (ship’s departure scheduled at 19h00) and we got out of the terminal around 17h15. Cabs were plentiful and we ended up sharing one with another Canadian couple on same flight that was also boarding the ship. Cab ride was $30 for the 4 of us and took 30 minutes. We boarded the ship at 17h45 and check-in was swift at front desk given our tardiness . Sail away was on schedule at 19h00. Not the ideal situation for travel but things worked out nicely. We were told our cruise was fully booked, so around 310 passengers on board. This was not an issue throughout the cruise as the Wind Surf remains very spacious with nooks and crannies for everyone.
We were in 141 and our friends in 122 (both added to Wind Surf stateroom sticky forum). Cabins are well designed with plenty of storage if required. 141 was quiet and had no issues although on 3 occasions, we had to call maintenance to fix our toilet as vacuum system had problems and toilet risked overflowing. In all 3 cases (one time at 3 am) the problem was fixed quickly by maintenance staff. Our room attendant was attentive although we did not have any special requirements. Reusable water bottles we refilled every day (one with flat water, the other sparkling) and our ice bucket was kept full with ice every day. Our friends in 122 complained about regular banging noise which we suspect was due to some gangway or tender equipment hanging above their room.
We were also wondering how we would find going back to the smaller sail ship staterooms after experiencing the larger suites on the Star ships on our last 3 cruises. Well it wasn’t an issue as the rooms are very well designed and we were really only in our room to sleep or change over for dinner. We did not use room service nor laundry service this time. Bathroom was compact and well designed but starting to show its age. Occitane toiletries are provided in all rooms.
Bars and Entertainment:
Drinks were mostly taken outside at Compass Rose or Pool Bar. Did not go to Lounge except for Talent Show but band seemed competent. Bar service was always good. Duo at Compass Rose was OK and had guests dancing and when finished around 11pm, guests would come in to plug IPad playlists in system to keep party going a little longer. This happened a few evenings with people dancing a little past midnight. A lot of fun.
Again food was a highlight. We ate at Amphora 4 times, one time each Candles and Stella Bistro and Deck BBQ on the late night in St-Kitts. Menu was varied although gluten free items remain limited (our friend suffers from gluten intolerance and we were just more sensitized to his diet challenges throughout the cruise). Breakfast was good with buffet or a la carte items available. Couple of things we noticed were the poor quality of orange juice which in the past was freshly squeezed and now is a watered down Tropicana version and the fact there were no fresh peeled orange slices on the buffet whereas these were always on buffet in the past.
We had good lunches at Veranda when we made it back in time from the island as the venue is only open from 12h00 to 14h00. We were late a few times and had to settle for food at Yacht Club. Lunch should be extended to 14h30 to accommodate those with dietary restrictions as the menu at the Yacht Club, while good, remains limited for them. Service in the dining rooms at dinner was fast and efficient (sometimes too fast) with meals lasting 1.5 to 2 hours. We mostly had dinner around 8pm and never had to wait more than a few minutes for a table and by the time we were finished, most of the time we were the last table in dining room. Menus were varied with several fish, meat and vegetarian dishes and all 4 of us were impressed by the quality and presentation of food. Deck BBQ food was great although lobster was a little chewy. We did not do the Dining Under The Stars (offered twice on our cruise) as it was not offered to us. This was a bit disappointing.
Beach BBQ was held on Pigeon Island, which is our least favourite Windstar Beach BBQ location (the others being Mayreau and Virgin Gorda). While food was good, beach is too small and not necessarily the nicest.
A couple of evenings, we were treated to canapés at Compass Rose before dinner. Usually had 2 different types of them but just one tray so these would disappear very fast with literally no chances for seconds. I suspect these were also served in the Lounge but we never went to the Lounge for pre dinner drinks so cannot confirm.
We are a bit picky about our coffee and the caffe lattes at Veranda in the morning were good (regular coffee not so much) but even better at Yacht Club. We did try a few of the the latter’s sandwiches and sweets offered in the afternoon on one occasion and all were good.
3 of us were on the recently introduced TopMast Discoveries drink package at $49 while the 4th party was on the CaptainsExclusive package at $59. This created confusion with servers with several drinks (liquor) being charged to our room although drunk by our friend on the full drink package. All charges were reversed but this was a hassle as we needed to check bill daily to ensure charges were being reversed overnight and that no new ones were being added. Drink package probably makes sense if you have 5 or more drinks per day and even though we were drinking our quota, we generally felt that the value proposition of the drink packages had come down markedly from the previous iterations with price of package going up $7 and the wines offered having a price point no higher than $9.50/$10 vs a max of $11.50 under previous package. We will likely need to re-think this aspect on our next cruise.
We did not use the marina this time around but it was open in Barbuda, Les Saintes and St Barth. We saw several people using it when available. The water toys were also brought to the beach on Pigeon Island for the Beach BBQ
Our friends each got a $50 spa voucher (good on port days) offered by Windstar to all first time cruisers which they used for a very relaxing hot stone massage.
Gym: we did not use gym but it looked clean and well equipped and did not seem overcrowded
Tenders were used in all ports except Dominica where we were docked at the industrial dock, not the more central cruise ship dock (occupied by Silverseas on that day). While tender service was good, the tenders themselves are in need of a total overhaul. During our cruise we got to see the Seabourn, Club Med 2 and Star Clipper tenders and all of them were in substantially better condition than the Surf’s. They will be changing the tenders on the Motor Yachts, they probably should do the same with the sailing ships.
Did not visit the bridge this time around and whereas in the past there was a photo opportunity at the bow of the ship, we did not see this on this cruise.
Stops and excursions:
We generally are not the type to book ship excursions as we feel they are overpriced and like to do things on our own. I typically like to do my own research and do not like to plan too long ahead.
Nothing planned. Only tour offered was to view frigate bird sanctuary which did not interest us. We instead took a cab to Princess Diana beach ($30 each way). Very nice pink sand beach with nobody other than a few fellow cruisers on it. No facilities so bring water and some food if you are going to spend a long time. We were there for about 3 hours and got on the ship around 2pm just in time to catch lunch at Veranda. The ship leaves early at 3 pm on this day.
Again we stepped out of ship and hired a cab to go to Ti-Tou Gorge and Trafalgar Falls. Cost was $160 for the 4 of us and lasted 2.5 hours. Ti-Tou Gorge is not to be missed as you swim in a crystal clear river canyon up to a small waterfall. Very nice. The drive to both these spots is also spectacular as the road sits at the top of a high mountain ridge. We were back on the ship by 1h30 and had lunch at Veranda. Found a chair on deck for the remainder of day and used pool and hot tubs. Although the Island suffered extensive damage from Hurricane Maria in Sept 2017, the island infrastructure and vegetation is recovering nicely.
This was our 4th time to Pigeon Island and it is our least favourite spot for the Beach BBQ. The beach is small and crowded although the area in the back where they actually serve the BBQ is nice. The water toys were brought to the beach, as well as paddle boards and kayaks. They also offered waterski and wakeboardings runs for those who wanted. Club Med 2 (Wind Surf’s twin) was also in port that day which made for interesting pictures.
This was our third time to Les Saintes and we continue to enjoy this stop. There is a quaint village with some interesting shops and a Fort (Fort Napoleon) from which the views of the bay and our sail ship are simply breathtaking. Note the Fort is only open until 12h30 and bring €5 cash if you want to get in. We rented a 4 seat electric golf cart (cost €75) from Green Car Rental to tour Island but you need to reserve it in advance as these get taken up very quickly (we had learned this the hard way the previous time we were there). Wanted to go to Pain de Sucre Beach but path is somewhat steep and rocky which required shoes we did not have. Instead went to Pompierre beach (no facilities). Nice beach but the palm trees have taken a beating as a result of hurricane Maria last year. Had a good lunch in town at Cafe de la Marina with a nice view of the port while the ladies shopped linen at Mahogany next door.
Our initial plan was to get off ship, take the 9h30 ferry to Nevis ($16 each way/pers), hire a cab for a few hours to do tour of island, visit plantation and get dropped off at Pinney’s Beach. However we were a bit tired that morning and thus proceeded to a less intense plan B which was to take a cab ($30 each way) to go to Cockshell Beach at the far South end of the Island. We rented chairs ($5 each) and umbrellas ($10) at the Spice Mill and also had good lunch there. Beach is nice and was somewhat crowded, something rare on a Windstar cruise but there were another 2 ships in port, so this was to be expected. Ship left late at 10pm and this was night of deck BBQ.
We had reserved a convertible Mini Cooper to tour Island ahead of time with Sixt Car Rental. Called them up 30 minutes prior to going to shore so they were there to pick us up and take us to airport to fill out docs. Cost was a bit steep at €105 but we had fun touring. Went to Saline and Gouverneurs beaches, did some shopping and had lunch at Nikki Beach in St-Jean. Lunch was good although this is St-Barth and everything is pricey. Returned the car at airport, got shuttled back to port and did some more shopping in Gustavia. Took tender around 6pm back to ship.
Debarkation was trouble free. Had breakfast around 8am after picking up our passport and having face to face meeting with Immigration on board ship around 7h30 (this is new as we usually just picked up passport on ship and passed Immigration once on shore). Our flight was late (5pm) so we took a cab to Holland House, took up their day pass offer which for $25 includes 2 chairs, 4 drinks,use of shower, Wifi and facilities. Had good lunch at their restaurant and left at 2h30 for airport. Ride was $30 for the 4 of us and took just under 30 minutes and this concluded another wonderful Windstar cruise. Read Less
La Ora Na! Just returned from a dream-like 10-night Tahiti & Tuamotu Island Wind Spirit Cruise. A trip to French Polynesia has been on my bucket list for many years and the time was right to celebrate our 30-year wedding anniversary. ... Read More
La Ora Na! Just returned from a dream-like 10-night Tahiti & Tuamotu Island Wind Spirit Cruise. A trip to French Polynesia has been on my bucket list for many years and the time was right to celebrate our 30-year wedding anniversary. This was our third Windstar Cruise but first on a sailing ship. Everything was wonderful from the ship and the crew to the great food, fellow passengers and the beautiful islands. We loved every minute from the diving, snorkeling, beaching, Polynesian luau, Beach BBQ, cultural and scenic excursions to just being together in paradise.
We left during the rainy season and so knew we were chancing some bad weather but we were very fortunate as we only had three solid cloudy and/or rainy days and 9 really good days with very little clouds and rain. It was hot and humid.
Only one drift snorkeling excursion was canceled due to strong winds and current in Fakarava. A few people were sick with motion sickness at the beginning of the cruise going out to Tuamotu Islands but we took Bonine. (meclizine) and had absolutely no problems. When in the Society Islands there was very little motion and no one had any problems.
We had our outgoing flight from LAX to PPT on Air Tahiti which was fine. (older plane). Upon arrival to PPT at 11 pm we took a taxi and stayed overnight at the cheaper but nice/adequate Hotel Sarah Nui. We were a five-minute walk to the Moorea Ferry dock where we bought tickets in the morning and took the first ferry to Moorea and spent the full day and night at the very nice Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort & Spa. It was rainy and cloudy but the snorkeling in front of the resort was stunning with the water clarity, colorful coral and fish life. We took a special deal and just stayed in a garden room but it was very nice. Some of our fellow cruise passengers stayed in the over the water bungalows for the unique experience. Depends on where you want to put your vacation dollars.
Took the late morning ferry back to Tahiti and literally walked off the one ferry and down the port to the Windstar which was boarding. Waited in a short line as they manually checked luggage. (different than in San Juan) but it was quick efficient and staff was very nice. Crew greeted us and escorted us to our cabin AX 205 which was very conveniently located mid ship. Though smaller than the motorized ships rooms. (Legend and Pride) it had great storage space. Did miss the large picture window. (just two port holes) but overall very nice for the smaller space. We then went to a full buffet lunch on the Veranda before heading back into Papeete to the market as my hubby had forgotten his sunglasses. We browsed and got some ideas and ended up coming back and buying a pearl necklace at the end of the cruise.
We really enjoy the food on the Windstar, particularly the breakfast on the Veranda. Maybe it was our jet lag but we woke up each morning hungry and the breakfast was great. You can order special dishes from the menu. (various types of egg Benedicts, French toast, pancakes, waffles, and usually some other items). There was also an egg station where my husband had eggs over easy and they made tasty personalized omelets. Great fruits, cheeses, yogurts, bacon, sausages and various pastry. We made it back most days for lunch and then went back into the port. Dinners varied for us but we enjoyed some nights alone at a couples table. (tired after long day) but other nights we ate with others and really enjoyed talking and getting to know our fellow cruise mates. It was a very interesting mix of people. Most seemed well traveled and active and ranged in age from late 40s to late 60s. We didn’t buy the beverage package but bought reasonably priced bottles of wine to drink with dinner. There weren’t a lot of activities on board especially after dinner but we usually found we were tired after the long port days and sleep was great. We did love the deck party dinner, the Polynesian show/dinner on the private motu in Bora Bora and the lectures given by Dr. Kess on Polynesian history. We also enjoyed happy hour before dinner where we sat and talked with fellow cruisers about the day and listened to the destination manager talk about the upcoming port. Several nights we walked the deck and just looked at the glorious night sky. Captain Garciyanov came out of the bridge to show us the southern cross and constellations. He was not only approachable but approached us and other passengers’ multiple times. He was so friendly and energetic. He gave us a great bridge tour. We had just come from getting our picture taking at the bow. (think Titanic and King of the world).
Shore Excursions: We did three through the ship and the rest independent. The ships excursions were all good and everyone we talked to thought they were of high quality. We just like doing things independently and on our own timeline but it was a good mix. I will give some detail to what we did as it was hard to find info on some of these islands
Fakarava: Fantasy Island came to mind as we first visited Fakarava one of the largest and most beautiful atolls (land formed by the rising reef). The extremely windy weather caused some adjustments to the plan as our drift snorkeling was cancelled but my husband was able to Drift Dive the Garuae Pass through a private company known as O2 Fakarava as he is an advanced diver. He had emailed them before we left home and arranged the dive. He had never seen so many sharks concentrated together hunting the extremely large schools of fish. The current was rapid and the water clarity pristine. He was super pumped after the dive!
I took the ship’s excursion to the gorgeous but remote Blue Lagoon. The shallow waters shone in the most brilliant colors of turquoise and jade-green. As I snorkeled on my own in the lagoon, black tip reef sharks swam all around me. It was electrifying! Unfortunately the current was too strong to go to Pufuna to drift snorkel.
Rangiroa: Let the adrenaline begin! The second day, we visited Rangiroa know as the The Endless Lagoon. From there Michael and I went on a private excursion with Rangiroa Plongee. It was a drift snorkel through the famous Tiputa Pass. As we rode through 10-foot waves in our little zodiac to the ocean side of the pass, our guide said ok when we see the pod of dolphins we are all going to quickly jump into the ocean and swim with them....WHAT! ....And so, we did......TWICE!......It’s one of the moments when you can’t think too hard as the waves are crashing but there are dolphins next to your little zodiac so we dove in and the first time a whole family swam with us and the next jump was just one dolphin but she came up to me as I squeaked my hello. It was sheer joy! We then drift snorkeled through the pass to see a couple large Spotted Eagle Rays, numerous black tip reef sharks, moray eels and tons of fish. The water clarity again was suburb. We also snorkeled in the area known as the Aquarium. Michael then went on another drift dive while I took a walk and relaxed at Hotel Kira Ora resort on the beach. It was serene drinking a Pina Colada and sitting by the beach and water.
Taha’ a: This is the port you need to have a ship’s excursion as they only will tender you to the private motu for a day at the beach. We did the Scenic Exploration of Taha ’a and had a fascinating experience visiting a local pearl farm and watching them harvest the pearls from the oysters. We toured the scenic island, a vanilla farm, ate some local fruit and “learned” a traditional Tahitian dance. Spent the afternoon with “ok” snorkeling around the motu. It was a very cloudy, rain off/on day.
Bora Bora: Our favorite island of the trip. It’s beauty was simply stunning with luscious green mountains surrounded by a crystal clear blue and turquoise lagoon. The weather gods gave us two sunny days and we took full advantage of our short time. Fortunately, the ship spent two days at the island but I was itching for more. It had everything from water to land adventures!
The first day we rented our own private dive boat with dive master,. David from H20 Bora Bora took Michael diving with manta rays and along a spectacular coral reef . In the afternoon, we all snorkeled three more spectacular sites. It was like swimming in an aquarium. We swam with a squadron of spotted eagles rays, many sharks, eels and so many beautiful fish. The water was so nice. We also had a spectacular lunch on the beach and I witnessed Michael eating two things I never thought he would. Raw fish and coconut. Poisson cru au lait de coco. It was very tasty.
The next day we rented a Scooter through Avis (shop right at port) and circled the main island, exploring the beautiful landscape and snorkeling the southern beach on our own. We ended the day with a Polynesian luau on a private motu sponsored by Windstar. Such a Romantic, gorgeous sunset and setting that made us wish we could stay there forever. Loved! Loved ! Bora Bora
Huahine Nui: was an island that really captured the history and culture of French Polynesia. We decided to go on a guided tour of the sacred sites with a local archeologist. In an open air Le Truck, we toured the ruins of Maeva village, a vanilla plantation and an area with 500-year-old fish traps that are still used today. The tour then ended with lovely views and the feeding of the sacred blue eels. The island was beautiful, quiet, laid back and I learned a lot about the way of life and history of the French Polynesian . We then went back to the ship for lunch and back out to the local beach by the port to snorkel
Moorea: Returned to a now sunny beautiful island. After a slow start as Albert Transport was an hour late picking us up at the port to take us to rent the car. They were on “island time” but then made us still pay for the full 8-hour car rental even though they were an hour late. We had the email confirmation of pick up time (this was our only “mess up” of the cruise) We then spent the day driving, exploring, and snorkeling in our rented car. (Belevedere Lookout, Opunohu Valley, snorkeling at Temae/Public Beach)
As we sailed away from Moorea, someone spotted a pod of dolphin and we all ran to one side of the ship. How can it not make you smile, laugh and feel joy as you watch dolphins surfing and playing in the waves? I do think the captain was afraid of us tipping the ship especially as it was the last day of a 10-day feast of food! Wonderful way to end our 10-day cruise Read Less
We typically choose active, land-based travel but decided to do a cruise for a special anniversary. We chose the Star Breeze for its mixture of small luxury ship with casual attitude, small ports of call, and availability of water sports. ... Read More
We typically choose active, land-based travel but decided to do a cruise for a special anniversary. We chose the Star Breeze for its mixture of small luxury ship with casual attitude, small ports of call, and availability of water sports. We wanted to have fun, but we did not want the fussiness of formal dinner nights. We were not disappointed. The ports of call included a good mix of those with many tourists and those with very few tourists. (It was helpful to know some Spanish but not necessary). We booked one excursion with the cruise line in Puerto Jimenez, but explored on our own the other days. We were able to do water sports off the ship in one port of call and on the private island day. For some reason, they couldn't offer waterskiing, although the equipment was available. Not a big deal, but it was something we were looking forward to. Otherwise, the crew really worked hard to impress. The cabins were spacious, well appointed, and serviced several times a day. Service was phenomenal and always with a smile. The food was excellent. We liked that they sourced fresh seafood from locals and that the chef made all of his stock on board. No corners were cut! We dined most nights at Amphora, which was consistently excellent. We did take advantage of Candles, which is a romantic steak house offered for free once per voyage. The special BBQ night was a highlight and not to be missed. Breakfast and lunch offered the ability to order a la carte or dine from the buffet. One exception: the coffee at the Veranda had an odor. I typically took my coffee at the Yacht Club (which offered continental breakfasts, non-smelly coffees, and light lunch fare) and then went to the Veranda for a full breakfast. Late afternoon activities included cultural talks and/or performances, with a next day port briefing just before dinner. The ship has a "pool" (it's really just a large, warm bathtub) and 2 hot tubs. We never had a problem finding a poolside lounge chair. The 5th deck hot tub is a great place to stargaze at night (or look for porpoises), but carry a cellphone for the flashlight. We did go to the gym several times, which was better than I expected. The ceiling is low, so tall people would have a problem with the treadmill and one cannot do overhead weights without sitting down. The fitness classes are basic and nice for a good stretch. With the average guest age being in the 60-75 range, there was not a lot of night life. We enjoyed the guitarist, who sang a mix of contemporary slow pop, Latin music and oldies but goodies. He also played great dance music. The other couple, the Radio Stars, were fine for music while you sunbathed but really not good for evening entertainment. The crew also entertained us with a crew talent show one night and line dancing after the outdoor BBQ. A number of activities were offered on our day at sea, including a cooking demo, galley tour, and blackjack tournament. We were saddened to learn that Star Breeze will go into dry dock this year and its size will be increased by 50 suites. We think this will alter the small ship experience significantly. In summary, this ship is great for couples aged 45+ who want some interesting port adventures and some luxurious pampering without the stuffiness of a more formal cruise line. Read Less
We chose this cruise for the itinerary and small ship size and we were not disappointed! We were aboard for 3 segments: Comprehensive Indonesia, Borneo and Philippines and Icons of S.E. Asia (Vietnam), all of which gave us an insight into ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the itinerary and small ship size and we were not disappointed! We were aboard for 3 segments: Comprehensive Indonesia, Borneo and Philippines and Icons of S.E. Asia (Vietnam), all of which gave us an insight into the culture and beauty of the various ports and countries. We were fortunate to be in Vietnam during Tet (Chinese New Year) so we got to partake in many festivities, including the most amazing fireworks display in Saigon, where Star Legend was docked in the perfect location. We enjoyed all of our 37 nights, with the exception of crossing the South China Sea from Philippines to Hong Kong, which was very bumpy, but other than that we hardly felt any motion. We did a mixture of shore excursions, some with Windstar, but most booked independently after making connections through Cruise Critic, which significantly less costly. Our cabin 124 was perfect, low deck and mid ship and very comfortable. The housekeeping staff took care of us very well and the service from the wait staff and bar staff was great. Kudos to all the crew. Food was excellent in Amphora Reataurant and Candles as well as the deck BBQ, and room service was quick and hot when it arrived. The evenings were sometimes quiet as a lot of the guests retired early, but we enjoyed dancing on the Star Deck and trivia at Compass Rose most nights. The ship is in great shape for its age, well maintained and soft furnishings are very nice. We definitely recommend Windstar and plan to sail on Star Legend again after it had been refurbished and stretched to accommodate 300 guests. Read Less
Crew – 5 stars, Food – 4 to 5 stars, Ship – 4 stars
EMBARKATION – in Aruba – a long walk from where the cab drops you off to the yacht, because only the big ships get front docking. They have a shuttle, but we elected to walk ... Read More
Crew – 5 stars, Food – 4 to 5 stars, Ship – 4 stars
EMBARKATION – in Aruba – a long walk from where the cab drops you off to the yacht, because only the big ships get front docking. They have a shuttle, but we elected to walk our luggage, so that was a bit hot in the blazing sun. Covered tent at the gangway with someone to check off your name and label your bags that the crew will take to your room. Once up the gangway, you’re taken into the lounge to register, get your photo taken and your room key provided, as well as sign up for a beverage package if you haven’t already. There really wasn’t much of an orientation or anything, then you go to your room and wait for your bags (relatively quick). The process was average, but not difficult. There really didn’t seem to be much of an orientation – you could take tour of the common areas that was scheduled within an hour or so after you boarded – otherwise you were pretty much on your own.
DISEMBARKATION at the end of the cruise – in Puerto Caldera Costa Rica – one of the worst things they did on this cruise. The good thing was that your bags didn’t have to be outside your room until 6am on disembarkation day (but you were welcome to put them out the night before). And you received colored tags depending on what time you were scheduled to disembark, and that schedule was provided with the program the evening before. Disembarkation morning, they were way behind schedule, and almost every passenger was in the lounge at 815 am (first group was supposed to be off by 7:30am) and no announcements had been made about what was causing the delay and there were no crew around to ask, and there was standing room only in the lounge (and everyone had their carry on bags). The gangway was down, and luggage was out on the pier, but folks weren’t allowed to get off. Finally, a group decided to leave the lounge anyway, which caused a herd mentality to exit into the lobby area, which only got more confusing and congested. When I asked a receptionist to at least make an announcement (because security had finally started letting people off because it was too crazy in the lobby now), she just said they would make one in a few minutes! Anyway, by the time they finally made an announcement (10 minutes after I’d requested), most of the first two groups had disembarked and were trying to find their luggage. Once it was our turn, we got off, identified our bags and they were swiftly put on the bus – we were about an hour behind, and our group was doing a city tour and then airport transfer. More on that when I mention excursions later.
SMALL SHIP VS BIG SHIP – doubt we’ll ever do another big ship again. We don’t need an abundance of evening entertainment. We go onshore at every port, and almost always do an excursion. We love not having ridiculous crowds, the ease of getting on and off the yacht in port and by tender, the crew ratio, the personalized cooked to order meals. Liked that there’s an open bridge policy so you can almost always wander in and look at the equipment, see what’s going on (we never did). We felt more motion on this ship than other others in the past, and even had a slight queasiness the first few days; I’m not sure if it was the ship or the seas (weather was good). If you’re susceptible to motion sickness, you might want to be prepared with the bracelets or Dramamine, and make sure your room is in the center of the ship. All that being said, we’ve heard Star Breeze is about to undergo a major refurb where they cut the ship in half and insert another 50 rooms, more restaurants and deck space, all doing a refurb on the rest of the rooms at the same time. I’m sad about that – really loved that there were only 200 passengers on this yacht. Often when the yacht is anchored, they’ll open the back sports deck and put the pool/ocean toys out (noodles, SUP’s, mats, ocean raft/trampoline), so you can swim in the ocean just off the ship. If you're not used to cruising, read your daily program!! You'll find almost everything there; you're responsible for finding things out yourself! There aren't a ton of announcements. Love the Sail Away song and flag raisin on the deck when sailing away from certain locations.
INTERNET – really really slow and spotty. The price you pay for an internet package is ridiculously expensive and then it’s too slow to upload anything, often don’t get or can’t see emails and can’t get to many websites. Forget about posting much to Facebook. There are many spots within the yacht that have no service.
ROOMS - the room size is excellent! LOVE the big walk-in closet and the bathroom with two sinks. The rooms with the opening French windows have a step-in tub/shower combo, but you can get a walk in shower in rooms with stationary windows. We were SO HAPPY to have upgraded to a room with the opening doors/windows – there’s a tiny platform you can step out on, but the doors open so you have floor to ceiling opening (glass balcony too) that allows in fresh air day or night – well worth the extra spend! The room finishes and many of the common area finishes are dated, and you can tell the ship is old by the many layers of paint, chipped marble/floor tiles, missing/stained grout, etc. The room furniture was dated, sort of beat up and chipped – but the size of the room made it ok. Wish there were more power plugs – only two US ones in the room – one in the bathroom and one at the little desk in front of the bed. We were constantly alternating charging things. There’s a small fridge with stocked mini-bar and a DVD player for your small tv (big enough to see from the bed and the living area). The walk-in closet had shelves, a couple of drawers and plenty of space for hanging clothes (and they brought us extra hangars immediately upon request). There were a couple of drawers in the little desk opposite the bed. The room’s walls are metal, so you can bring your own magnets and put up your daily programs, excursion tickets, etc, and not clutter your desktop with them. There’s plenty of storage in the bathroom, too: open corner shelves on each side adjacent to the mirror, a long shelf under the sink, and a small cabinet where you can put other toiletries. We had more than enough room, and I bring lots of different lotions and sunscreen. There’s shelving in the shower with enough space for your goodies, and a small ledge along the tub. Their L’occitane products are good if you don’t want to bring your own shampoo, conditioner, body gel and soap. We were glad we brought our own air freshener (car-style, paper) for the restroom, though the vacuum system seemed to take a lot of any odor out. We kept our French windows open most of the time, too, so maybe that helped. When you’re choosing your room, think about what direction your yacht will be traveling, and what side you’ll be on so you can choose to see sunrise or sunset from your room. We prefer sunrise, since I’m always up early and don’t necessarily want to go right upstairs at 5:30am (especially since you can’t get fresh coffee/latte until 6am). And with French windows, you can just open the doors wide and see the most amazing sunrises!! For sunset, we’re happy to be on deck having a cocktail, so didn’t care if we could see from our room or not.
CREW – the staff is absolutely outstanding! Our cabin steward (Hasan) knew our names the first day, and always used them, even out of context when we saw him around the ship or on a port tender. He was personable, always greeted you with a smile and asked how your day was, was always upbeat and always asked if there was anything he could do to make our trip special. We’re not high maintenance, so didn’t ask for much, but he was quick with ice when requested, provided a spectacularly clean room, and once, when I came back early from dinner to retrieve something, he gave me personal instruction on how to make a towel animal.
The wait and bar staff were phenomenal, too! They got to know our names really quickly, and even what our preferred drinks were. Yogi in the Yacht Club coffee bar, knew my preferred drink style and every day when I was up there at 6am, he’d greet me by name and make my Americano just the way I liked it! I still miss his morning greeting and coffee. I had no idea he worked both the dinner service and the 6am coffee service until I saw him at dinner one day (he was usually at tables toward the back, and we were always at the front) – not sure how he managed to keep his amazing attitude with hours like that, but as the first person I saw every day (my husband was usually still asleep when I went for coffee), he really started every day out for me with sunshine!
Some of our other stellar crew: Apple, both bartender/waiter in the deck bar and wine steward in the dining room. She’s also phenomenal, again greets you by name, and knows your preferred drinks within a day, and can recommend others based on what you seem to like. She went out of her way to make other things special, too, whether your food, dining table, just anything. And she’d come over and say hi and see how you were doing, even if you weren’t seated in her area. After our first dinner without her, we asked to be seated at one of her tables every other night. We also made that request, because then our waiter would be the same – Deva! He was fun, funny, helpful, entertaining, and always wanting us to enjoy our time. Again, he provided breakfast service on the Verandah and dinner service, and even if he didn’t have our table at breakfast he would come by to say hi and make sure we were being taken care of. Noel was also another of our favorite bartenders/waiters – we mostly saw him only in the deck bar, but he would also always go out of his way to make sure we had everything we needed, could suggest alternative drinks, etc. I must also mention that every other crew member we came across, from people-facing, to kitchen and laundry, to engineering/maintenance – they always greeted you with a smile and wished you a good day! Really, I don’t know how the crew knows your names so quickly (I do know they post the photos in the galley, but still!) and what you like, OR how they keep their amazing friendly and helpful attitudes when they work the hours/days they do – whatever Windstar does to train their staff really makes the trip the absolute best! The funny thing is, the few times we saw officers (pretty rare), they were the least friendly!
FOOD – from good/very good to excellent! For dinner, your entrée is cooked when you order. And if everyone goes into the dining room at the same time, there may be a bit of wait. But well worth it. Most of our dinners were excellent! With good variety from meal to meal, plenty of options of different meat, fish and vegetarian. We often chose to split an entrée as a starter and that was never an issue. If you want to blend two entrees – no problem! Two starters – no problem! Portion sizes are good, too, so you can avoid overeating (unless you over-order ). Plenty of greens available. We wished there’d been a pizza place or pizza on the menu – never appeared once and I bet the kitchen could make a mean pizza! Breakfast doesn’t start til 7am, which seems late to me, is outside or inside at the Verandah – buffet eggs, pastries, fruit bar, cold cuts and cheese, with bacon/sausage and potatoes. Fruit smoothies, too. Made to order specials every day (several kinds of benedicts, fruit pancakes, waffles, etc) and you can also order eggs any way you want every day. Full coffee service (brewed, lattes, etc). Another breakfast option, though, is the Yacht Club, which opens at 6am with coffee any way, pastries, smoothies, fruit and yoghurt. Lunch is also in the Verandah, and is full buffet with a huge salad bar, several hot options, a carving station with one different meat/fish every day, dessert bar. Lunch was usually pretty good, you’ll find something there, or you can order the special hot sandwich of the day (reuben, monte cristo, etc) or a grilled chicken sandwich or hamburger. Any pasta on the buffet was usually overcooked, but that’s hard to do. Our least favorite food was usually desserts – the lunch desserts often seemed tastier than the dinner. The sorbets were good, and they would have different ice cream flavors, but the cakes, puddings, etc, usually fell flat. There is one specialty dining restaurant, where you’re guaranteed at least one seating – it’s actually in the breakfast/lunch spot on the verandah (outside, but covered) and they put out tablecloths and candles. Same menu all the time, but they have steak (no lobster), which you don’t get much of in the regular dining. The steak was very good, but nothing else was better than the regular dining room, other than eating outside. We liked the dining room selections better so didn’t go back. They actually offered on-deck dining twice on our cruise – grilled meats and a salad and dessert bar. Food was good, but offerings not as good as the dining room – and since there’s very little seating, you had to book a reservation as soon as it was announced! We loved being able to sit outside as the temperatures were perfect. One night, dinner was a barbeque on the deck – this was AMAZING! The salad bar, cold cuts /cheese and dessert bar were huge with a ton of variety. There was fresh grilled lobster tails and lamb chops (while you waited), chicken, paella, and probably so much more I’m forgetting. Thank goodness again for a small ship, where lines were short and there’s room for everyone to sit outside on deck, once they added more tables and chairs (removed lounge chairs). And, of course, both the single and duo musicians played while you ate – really lovely. And one day there’s a special beach barbeque where the crew moves everything to a private beach and freshly grills hamburgers & specialty hot dogs, and arroz con pollo in the big paella pan, along with providing a veggie/salad and dessert buffet. You can sit in your beach lounge chair, or at one of the dining tables they set up. They also bring along full bar service (pay according to your drink package, if any).
BEVERAGE / LAUNDRY PACKAGE – about a week or two prior to the cruise we received a notice of a discount package that would include our tips (they will charge you $13.50/day each no matter what), laundry service, internet service and a premier beverage package (includes all cocktails, all wines by the glass, and full minibar). We chose to do this for each of us. It seemed to make sense if we had 4 alcoholic drinks per day each. Which didn’t seem so unreasonable if you thought you might have a beer at lunch, a cocktail at sunset and two glasses of wine at dinner. And that’s probably about what we averaged. We loved the convenience of turning our laundry over in the morning and having it back by 5pm every day! They handled it all perfectly, including the cold water wash. It allowed us to pack a bit less, and we liked that, too. I would be we about broke even on this discounted deal.
ENTERTAINMENT – the crew does a talent show – do not miss it! It takes guts, folks, to get up in front of a crowd and sing, dance, play music, or put on a skit – kudos to them for making it so fun! They appreciated our encouragement and applause before during and after the show. We missed the line dancing they did on deck one night – we hadn’t realized it was the crew starting it off (for 20-30 minutes) and thought only it was music for passengers. The music duo played mostly older music that at least was good background for the lounge and bar, and there was a solo male who played a bit more current music at the bar. One of the at-sea events was a towel animal “seminar” – it was not a convenient time for us, so we missed it – wished they’d had more than just the one. Also, we’d heard their galley tours are fun, but they never did have one on our trip – wish they had!
SPA - we didn’t use – prices seemed a bit high for massages, nails, etc. But they did have stretching and yoga classes almost every day, though I heard it was hard to do some with the ship’s movement! There’s basic gym equipment, but it’s older.
DECK CHAIRS – there aren’t enough to go around. And unfortunately, people go up early and put stuff on the chairs to hold them, but don’t show up for hours – some seemed to be vacant all day. Windstar should not allow this and should either provide more chairs or move belongings if a chair has been vacant more than an hour. We could usually find a table and upright chair at the bar.
SHORE EXCURSIONS – the good thing about going with Windstar’s is that if you’re late, or your port is canceled, etc, Windstar handles the logistics. For most of the ports, you’re a ways away, and not within walking distance of anything interesting, so you’d have to book a private tour or cab if you don’t go with Windstar. However, it always feels like you’re paying too much for Windstar’s, especially when you consider the number of people going (usually 20-30 on the ones we went on). Know that some ports are docked at a pier and some anchored and you’ll need to take a tender. Windstar sometimes uses a zodiac boat (like a blow-up/pontoon) and sometimes local boats and sometimes it can be challenging to get onto the boat and/or out of the water – you definitely want water shoes or sandals – good strong sandals might be best if you plan on leaving them on and hiking/walking in them.
CARTAGENA City Highlights – the fort, the dungeons (now artisan craft shops), the cathedral and the old town. We enjoyed this. The amount of time allowed for shopping was plenty. Liked the goods and prices at the dungeons a bit better than in the old town. Old town was pretty and well maintained, with some cools shops and restaurants – we really didn’t need any more time than the extra 40 minutes provided. Our guide provided good narrative. You could always go out on your own ($20-$30 cab ride each way?) and just go to the old town (Bocagrande?), but going with an excursion
PANAMA CITY - Best of Old & Modern Panama – they don’t tell you it’s an hour bus ride to get to the city. The first part of “Old” means some boring ruins and a museum with a quick run through – with how Panama City came into being. More boring. You barely see any of the current modern city as you ride through with the bus, just that it’s dirty and uninteresting. Our driver was unaware of the upcoming Christmas parade and we got detoured and delayed. Then to the colonial “old city” with is barely in a gentrification stage – some quaint façades of old homes and buildings, but no time to shop or browse in the few stores. Then on to a marina area and a restaurant for dry fish or pork and rice and overcooked veggies, before the one hour ride back to the yacht. Wouldn’t do this again, though we did figure out we would not come to Panama City if we ever returned to Panama (expats must be going to the countryside – this did not look enticing at all). Also heard the locks and boat tour was not very good.
PANAMA CANAL TRANSIT itself (on the yacht, not an excursion) – phenomenal. We were lucky with sunshine and beautiful weather, and our original start was rescheduled from 4am to 8am. They brought a guide onboard to narrate what was happening all the way through, but the ship’s speaker system wasn’t working and you could only hear them in two locations (that didn’t have the best viewing) – so we went through without hearing the details.
PEARL ISLANDS – we anchored, they lowered the back exit and discovered the seas were too rough to go out. So we waited another two hours to see if they would calm and they did not. So we raised anchor and headed off to Isla Parida a day early. Somehow the crew managed to pull off landing at Isla Parida a day early, and a new stop in Puerto Jimenez to replace this one!
ISLA PARIDA – this is the private beach where the entire crew gets off to set up and pull off a beach barbeque. They did a phenomenal job! They also bring the yacht’s own beach toys and kayaks. And there are plenty of lounge chairs and dining tables. See the food section above for the food. The hike they offer as an excursion is not worth it. You can walk the loop trail yourself, having a guide didn’t offer much benefit; the trail is a bit strenuous in a few parts. If we had known they had the beach barbeque there when we booked our excursions, we might not have booked the hike.
PUERTO JIMENEZ - Tropical Gardens & Beach Scape - we were not told before booking it was an hour local boat ride across the gulf to visit the gardens (and that some of us would get soaking wet), nor that we would not have an opportunity to go into town when we did this; based on the port talk we thought we would end up in town and be able to spend an hour there if we wanted. The boat took us over by a bunch of pelicans in trees over the water – really not that interesting. The gardens were interesting, but really no birds (two toucans you could barely see as they flew by, and two scarlet macaws so high you could only tell what they were by their shape) and we were much more interested in seeing birds than the few orchids we actually saw. They should not have included the beach time - it's not a good beach there, and only one person did while the rest of us sat around for over 30 minutes waiting!
QUEPOS – Manuel Antonio National Park Nature Walk – this is a quick bus ride from the pier. There weren’t as many varieties of wildlife as we might have expected, but we probably saw 8 to 10 sloths! Several were moving, and the guides have little scopes so you can look through a telephoto lens and see them up close; otherwise they are quite high in the trees and hard to see, much less get a good photo. The guides are also good at spotting other rodents, lizards and crabs. We finally saw a group of capuchin monkeys as we were about to leave the park – and we felt like it’d been a pretty good trip. There’s a break for a beach/swim spot, but it’s a pain to carry your stuff around on the walk, so that was a bit of a waste of time. We left and walked on our own for that 30 minutes until we met back up with the guide again. It’s important this tour is early morning, as only a certain number of visitors are allowed daily and once they reach their limit, they close, only re-opening later once a certain number have left. It’s also nice to walk through when it’s a bit less crowded. The marina where you tender to is a nice little place with a variety of restaurants and bars and a few cute boutiques. We had sushi at the restaurant Sunrice, with fresh tuna from the local fishermen – a much appreciated change of pace from the cruise meals. Town is only a few blocks from the marina, also walkable, for your standard tourist shopping.
SAN JOSE – city tour and aiport transfer. As noted above, disembarkation was poor and we were an hour late to start. There were only supposed to be folks with the airport transfer and one hotel transfer on our bus, but somehow a number of people were booked into other hotels and thought they could find their way from either the airport or the other hotel, not really checking to see how far their hotels were from those drop-offs. We had also picked up folks from the Wind Star sailing ship which had docked right next to us, and they had told passengers to get on our bus and they would be dropped off at a downtown hotel – and they weren’t supposed to be. It was all a cluster. The San Jose city tour was worthless. The city is ugly (1960’s/1970’s almost communist-era looking architecture) and crowded and a bit dirty, though there are pedestrian ways for shopping. We went to a gold/currency museum that was half closed (not that interesting) and the Opera House (where we could only get into the lobby), and mostly dealt with traffic. I would have no interest in seeing this city. Waiting at the airport for 4 extra hours would have been preferable. Read Less
17 nights on Wind Spirit in French Polynesia was the cruise of our lifetime. The ship, food, staff and amenities were perfection, and our clothes were wet with tears having to disembark. The staff literally knock themselves out trying to ... Read More
17 nights on Wind Spirit in French Polynesia was the cruise of our lifetime. The ship, food, staff and amenities were perfection, and our clothes were wet with tears having to disembark. The staff literally knock themselves out trying to please and make the experience something you'll never forget. We chose this because we sailed a 7 day on the original Windsong Tahiti 25 years ago- it was a dream of a cruise then and just as wonderful this time only 10 days longer. We are water people, former divers and long time snorkelers. Figured we'd never tire of being in the water with all but 2 days of 17 in port. We were right.
A caveat- this is not a cruise for anyone with a mobility problem. Most of the excursions are for people with a moderate tolerance for physical activity. If you like the water you should be a decent swimmer and moderately good snorkeler, although there are beginner diving excursions. There are a lot of land tours on each island however that work for everyone.
Had gorgeous weather. Just two days of rain in 17 days, the rest sunny and spectacular. It is the rainy season though so the humidity was high.
We headed to Papeete on Air Tahiti Nui from LAX. The flight was decent even though it was one of their older planes, good food, good service and right on time. I'd pre-reserved a router online with Tahiti Wifi that worked great in port everywhere but Fakarava and Rangiroa. Pick up at the airport in Papeete was easy. We met the B&B proprietor Beni from Fare Suisse right in the pickup point at the airport just as he did last year when we visited. Fare Suisse has simple, but comfy rooms, extremely clean and a nice breakfast. There are 10 rooms and they offer airport pickup and dropoff at the port. Beni and wife Therese could not be nicer more generous people. We visited the market down the street for some toiletries we'd forgotten. There's an ATM there too.
Boarding started about 12-1pm. There was a short line to wait while staff did a manual luggage screening. It was quite cursory though, we had some airline type containers of alcohol and they weren't found although I saw they'd confiscated some full bottles. Then we were on board that sleek gorgeous ship with a welcome mai tai and off to a beautiful lunch spread in the Veranda. Always several hot dishes, and salads, incredible cheeses and breads and of course the fabulous desserts. There is also a special cooked to order daily, first day was prime rib. Bar service began that first lunch and waiters knew and addressed us by our names from then on.
Our cabin was a BX Deck 1, #129. Wonderfully laid out and remarkably designed storage. The bathroom was very comfortable with a roomy shower and nice fixtures. Our cabin attendant Ady was superb. Explored this gorgeous ship for the rest of the afternoon spending most of our time relaxing on a deck chair on the bow. Husband is fond of working out and his only disappointment was the gym- decent equipment but small space. Get 3 people in there and it really heats up. There is yoga and Pilates every morning starting at 7am on the top deck.
Dinner in Amphora, as breakfast and lunch, were just remarkable.The variety and consistency were mindblowing. We had the good luck to be booked on a James Beard Foundation cruise with a pastry chef who gave demonstrations every other day. On alternate days there were wine tasting (complimentary!) events. Most we didn't make due to excursions unfortunately but those who did just raved. Service in Amphora was superb- seemed we never had to wait for a course. The maitre d' gave us the same table for 2 almost every night in the quietest part of the dining room. Although service was so good we'd have been happy with any of the waiters we had. I'd probably choose Adhe as number one though. If I have a complaint it would be that the dining room is very noisy. But the FOOD- unbelievable. Infact Cruise Critic gave Oceania the nod for best luxury line cruise food...our most frequently traveled line is O and we give them a 4.75. We give Windstar a 5.
I have to say something about breakfast! First of all as with lunch we could eat out on deck in a covered area looking out at the ocean. There was the usual gorgeous spread, fruits, pastries, to order eggs, bacon, sausage etc but there is a menu to order from too with different selections each day- eggs benedict, raisin brioche french toast, belgian waffles with raspberries and blueberries, flax seed pancakes. Try spoiling us more. Coffee was just ok with a weakness on the cappuccinos and espresso. Good but not delicious. With everything else so drop your socks coffee gets a pass. Was wonderful to wake up at 6am and enjoy the gorgeous mornings with coffee and pastries on a chair overlooking the ocean and the next island we were closing in on.
Candles was lovely. We had four nites in Bora Bora and were fortunate to have both our nights in Candles on the overnight in Bora Bora- very calm and peaceful. Could have had more nites in Candles but the food in the dining room was so good it was hard to pass up the nightly selections there. Wine service was excellent, terrific selection with good prices. Cocktails reasonably priced too.
Lucked out and had free laundry service for the whole cruise- what a gift. Not only could we pack lighter but everything came back in beautiful shape, even silk shirts and bathing suits. They said pressing was not included but everything looked pressed to me! In before 9am back by 5pm same day.
The library had limited inventory as you might expect- bring your kindle. The shop was well stocked for the size of the ship.
We aren't night people but passed through the lounge after dinner and sometimes sat to listen to the two person group softly singing popular tunes. The young woman had a spectacular voice- Time To Say Goodbye and Don't Cry for Me Argentina were outstanding. The gentleman sat on deck by the pool some afternoons and played softly.
The deck party dinner was superb. Food selections and atmosphere were wonderful. As was the dinner on the motu in Bora Bora. The show including the fire dance was phenomenal. The motu day off Tahaa was a nice surprise too. Decent snorkeling, water toys, good lunch, beautiful location.
The parts I love the best are the evenings. The sail away. The sails open and ahhhhh. So lovely. And the nights on the bow of the boat. The stars so bright and the moon on the water. Truly magical. One night we were out and one of the officers pinted out the constellations to us.
Shore excursions.....did all but two independently. The ship's tours we took were surprisingly good as they seemed to be with most of the people we spoke with. Just a lot more expensive than independent.
Fakarava- one reason I wanted to do this cruise was to do Fakarava. And to tour with the famous Ato. It didn't work out. He needed 8 people, we only had 6 a few days before the trip and he could not confirm us. So in order to have something we were assured of doing, I booked the Blue Lagoon with the ship. The day before the tour Ato emailed saying he'd take us, but at that late date I had no access to email. He showed up at the dock, but not me not ever thinking it was still on. So he ended up taking just 4 other people at only 75% of the price he quoted me. Not nice and I was sorely disappointed. Those folks said they had one of the best tours they'd ever taken just as I knew it would be. Dang. The Blue Lagoon was pretty good- saw a protected bird motu from a distance and visited the Blue Lagoon. Spectacularly colored water but we spent almost 2 hours just hanging around with a guide who carried on a long convo with some French speaking Canadians while the rest of us sat on a coral mound and watched crabs. We stayed so long there we had very little time to snorkel at Pufuna which would have been the highlight for us. Maybe 10 minutes there to get back to the ship just in time before it departed, and it would have been terrific snorkeling had we been able to stay longer. The excursion was OK but could have been better.
Rangiroa- independent drift snorkel and the Aquarium. Very exciting. You need to be a good snorkeler. The day we were there the current was moving fast. You jump in and the current takes you past tons of fish while holding onto a small raft behind your guide. There's really not time to stop to adjust your mask so you have to be READY! A good reason to bring your own snorkel equipment so you know everything fits and works for you. We had three runs one of which was a mile long and marvelous. Afterwards we visited the aquarium with tons of fish, big moray and resting big nurse shark.
Tahaa- the Coral Garden with the ship. It was terrific. Beautiful 30 min. boat ride with about 6 others to a gorgeous channel between motus. You get out of the boat and walk to the site where you begin your drift snorkel with water shoes carrying your fins(Yes bring water shoes. Neoprene gloves and pants or tights and rash guard too to cover body. Very sharp coral on this tour and we saw lots of injuries. You can find this stuff on Amazon for next to nothing) Then entering the water with your fins (with lots of direction!) you sail down a channel lined with coral seeing some gorgeous sealife. It was some of the best snorkeling I've ever done. This is not to be missed. Your guides will help you along the way. If the water is flowing fast it's a lot harder to stay on course but your guides will nearly pick you up and redirect your body. The water is very shallow- you can stand up. Everyone has to do this! It's one of the most incredible snorkeling sites we've ever done. At the very minimum pack water shoes. Mine were $12 on Amazon.
Bora Bora- had 4 days there and did 3 different tours. The very best was Tohora Bora Bora. I was not expecting it to be so wonderful having added it on at the last minute. The guide Simon was fantastic. Exuberant, excited about teaching about his lagoon and island, and this was all about snorkeling with dolphins, manta rays, eagle rays, stngrays, sharks and a coral garden with the clearest water I've ever seen. We were wowed not just by the scenery but also by a guide who was truly mesmerized still by his environment after living in Bora Bora for 20 years. If your go May through October he will take you to see whales!
We also did Pure Snorkeling and Lagoon Service and while they were very good they were not quite as good as Tohora Bora Bora. Pure Snorkeling brought us to most of the same sites as Tohora did but the guide was very quiet while a very sweet guy. The guide at Lagoon Service was a little impatient with a few of the slower people on the boat telling them to hurry up while trying to get up on the ladder. It's not easy for new snorkelers to get in and out of a boat. Then they brought us to their gorgeous private motu for lunch. Everything was fine until we the time kept passing and we realized it had been 2 hours since we'd seen our guide. Thought that he was ready to bring us back to the ship about 2:30 until they brought out another guy who wanted to show us how to open a coconut. He loved to TALK and that went on for 45 minutes! The tour is great but just do the morning tour- no lunch. I should add that in the morning they brought us to the open ocean and we snorkeled with lemon sharks. It was worth it just for that.
Moorea- jet ski with Moorea Activities Center. A blast! Exceedingly nice family company. We went most of the way around the island. My husband is a fast but terrible driver. Midway he told me "I can't see a thing!". We snorkeled about 3 sites and ended up in a shallow area full of stngrays. They are so sweet and loving. Like amorous cats. Do this. It was only $185 for 2 people. Ship was charging $399. The company picks you up right on time at the dock.
Mid-cruise we stopped in Papeete as the 10 day part of the cruise ended and the 7 day began so we picked up more passengers. We took the ferry back to Moorea (easy) for a day stay at the Hilton Moorea. $90pp for all day, use of pool and beach and toys and fabulous lunch. Terrific snorkeling. Used Torea Nui Transport in Moorea- right on time. Another family outfit- nice people and they do island tours too. Reasonable.
There are tons of stray dogs in Tahiti as there are all over the world. Tahitians don't believe in spay/neuter either. So lots of skinny, sad dogs but especially so in Moorea. A few are owned but most are free. There were lot of us buying food at grocery stores feeding along the way. It's heartbreaking.
Our next day in Moorea we'd planned to rent a car and go to the Lagoonarium, but it rained very heavily all day so we returned the car early and went back to the ship.
Raiatea- wow, another amazing day. We did L' Excursion Bleue with Bruno. Fabulous. He has a boat that accommodates 12 people but he'd just booked the two of us. Instead of canceling he took just the two of us around the whole island of Tahaa snorkeling- same tour as he does with the big groups probably at a loss to him. He's a sweet man. First place we stopped was teeming with sharks- there must have been 50 at least. We swam with them all around us and stingrays floating around too. The nicest thing was that he seemed in no hurry- he'd let us stay in the water wherever we stopped as long as we wanted. Another stop to snorkel and then a vanilla and pearl farm. Could have done without those but they were brief and no pressure to buy at all. Another snorkel stop and then back to the Coral Garden drift which we'd done before. We were so happy to be returning as it is so spectacular. He was a much better guide this time too.
Huahine- another day with Sailing Huahine Voile. Did this last year. A beautiful sailing boat for 12 moored in Fare right off the dock where tender arrives. There were just 4 of us and it was a lovely day. Two snorkel sites with lots of background history and explanation of sealife. Again lunch a little too long and it's bring your own from the local market. Huahine is probably my favorite island. Very unspoiled. The couple who operate the boat are characters- a lot of fun.
If it were possible we would have done Ile Aux Recifs in Rangiroa with Leon. They have a 6 passenger minimum. By the time I got the 6 together I stopped getting emails from them. But give it a try- it's supposed to be wonderful. firstname.lastname@example.org
Sorry so long. But just returned last night and still coming off the high of all this. Everyone who has the means and the physical ability needs to do this. It's hard to describe how magnificent this cruise is. Just do it. Read Less
My husband and I had an excellent time on our 14 day southern Caribbean cruise. We spent one night pre-cruise in San Juan. Embarkation and disembarkation were flawless. The ports of call were fun and new places to explore. We especially ... Read More
My husband and I had an excellent time on our 14 day southern Caribbean cruise. We spent one night pre-cruise in San Juan. Embarkation and disembarkation were flawless. The ports of call were fun and new places to explore. We especially enjoyed our time at Maho beach in Saint Martin, Princess Margaret beach in Bequia and Grand Anse Beach in Grenada. The weather was great but the highlight of the ship was the service and the food. The staff are so well-trained to provide very personalized service without being in your space. The food was by far the best food I’ve had in 80 cruises. We loved the sailaway ceremony in each port. Swimming off the back water sport deck is a fun way to end the day’s activities. WindStar has become our new top cruise line after having sailed many mainline larger cruise ships. The decor and the flexibility of being on a smaller ship fit our cruising lifestyle perfectly. Read Less
The Star Pride, food service and crew met all of our expectations and are the reason we continually pick Windstar. On board services were first class.
Now for the cons:
Since space is not available for a large swimming pool, the Swim ... Read More
The Star Pride, food service and crew met all of our expectations and are the reason we continually pick Windstar. On board services were first class.
Now for the cons:
Since space is not available for a large swimming pool, the Swim Tub is a good idea; however, most passengers use it as a second jacuzzi and just sit there. This means that those of us wanting to swim, have no facility. Windstar needs to figure his out.
We would like to see more reasonable priced ship sponsored tours that are comparable to local tours obtained through services like trip advisor.
Our biggest grip and disappointment on this cruise was most port stops the first week did not met what I would call Windstar standards.
We suggested to Windstar the following:(like they would listen to me.)
No visits to St Thomas on Sunday , or better yet, none at all. Town completely closed down and a waste of time to visit. Folks in town that I spoke to said,” there is no way they will open on a Sunday to a 200 passenger ship”. Poor port choice.
No stops in Montserrat, Little bay. Nothing, absolutely nothing to do but see the volcano.and exclusion zone. Waste of time. Roads are poorly maintained and dangerous to drive on. Taxis in poor condition. Why not cruise off shore from volcano, explain eruption and exclusion zone on speaker system and continue on to next destination. Very poor port choice
Josh Van Dyke. worst port of all. Too devastated, a shanty town. White beach okay but figure out how to get tender there instead of docking on out skirts of town and then forced to take a taxi to beach.
Virgin Gorda another do nothing stop. The chosen beach BBQ area was picturesque and fully functional but immediate surroundings were devastated by the hurricane. Due to rough seas we had an fabulous BBQ on the ship. Poor port choice.
It feels Like no one from Windstar has really assessed the Montserrat, Jost Van Dyke or the Virgin Gorda environment. Very, very poor port choices
Conclusion is Windstar must do a better job in selecting ports of call on the first week of the San Juan and Virgin Islands itinerary,especially for islands affected by Hurricane Irma. We were very displeased and disappointed.
Our stops on the second week, Windward Island surf and Sunset cruise were far better than first week.In fact, if I would have known how badly devastated some areas were the first week, We would have only booked the Windward Islands segment.Shame on me, should of done my home work, I hate learning the hard way.
I also feel more reasonable beverage prices would be appreciated . $7.99 for a mini bar beer is outrageous and gouging. I stopped drinking the second week. Beverage packages are not designed for those of us that have partners who do not drink or for those who have a couple drinks a day.
Dress codes are hard to enforce but at times there are violations that should to be addressed. For instance every night at dinner either at Candles or Amphora, their are guests wearing shorts, or blue jeans, tee shirts and sandals. Windstar is a cut above the rest and dress code violations should not be permitted or Windstar should change the code.
Overall we have graded this cruise experience as a 3 out of 5 due to the first week’s choice of ports. We have done four Windstar cruises this is our the first “3”, all the rest graded “5+”. Read Less
I really wanted to love this cruise. My husband and I are at a point in our lives where we are often willing to pay extra for a little luxury and ease. Windstar promised that, but only partially delivered. The value was just not there. ... Read More
I really wanted to love this cruise. My husband and I are at a point in our lives where we are often willing to pay extra for a little luxury and ease. Windstar promised that, but only partially delivered. The value was just not there.
--Small ship with sails: we don’t enjoy large ships anymore and the sails were beautiful
--Excellent service: from the Captain on down, everyone was charming with just a very few exceptions (see cons)
—Good food: Mostly excellent. No fails!
--Nice fitness room
—Aging ship that needs total re-furbishing: Formica EVERYWHERE, stained carpets, lots of thick, painted-over rust. Small porthole windows and no balconies.
—We felt nickeled and dimed: expensive beer and wine prices made us buy the package. Then they tried to up-sell us to the fine wines and mixed drinks. WIFI package was $60 and data ran out in just one day of checking email. So slow! Shore excursions are very pricey—none are included.
—Itinerary should have been tweaked for this late-in-the-season cruise. Ibiza was a ghost town—should have been replaced. We did not get Windstar’s usual on-shore special event. Why not?
—Docking: the line advertises its ability to dock in small towns and ports, however, we were always docked in a large, industrial port.
—Staffing: the front desk staff was cold and dismissive. Everyone else was warm and tried very hard. However, the lounge is terribly understaffed at cocktail hour. Table service was almost non-exisistent! You had to fight your way to the bar and wait.
I guess we were hoping for more of a river cruise experience, but perhaps that was unreasonable. I doubt that we will try Windstar again. We will try other small, high-end lines and hope for a better value. Read Less
Embarkation is a walk right on, and too long of a wait. They have different stations to visit, port excursions, spa, drink package, etc. They take your credit card and give you your key and you are free to go to your room and wait for your ... Read More
Embarkation is a walk right on, and too long of a wait. They have different stations to visit, port excursions, spa, drink package, etc. They take your credit card and give you your key and you are free to go to your room and wait for your luggage or go to lunch.
Our bags came just as we were about to go to lunch, so we unpacked and barely made lunch.
We chose this cruise for the islands. It left and returned to San Juan, Puerto Rico, and stopped in St. Maarten, Guadaloupe, Bequia, Grenada, and St. Lucia.
The food was amazing, and the service is impeccable. They really do anything they can to make you feel like family. So genuine.
The entertainment is not that of a larger ship, but there was usually one or two places you could go hang out with live music, dancing, or a hilarious game. The staff puts on a dance/singing show one night, also. It's a bit quieter than a large ship because there are not as many people on board.
We enjoy being able to get on and off the ship without ever waiting in a long line. Even on days where they tender you off. We really enjoyed St. Maarten, Bequa, and Grenada the most for the beaches.
In Guadaloupe we rented a scooter. Very small island! Just know that they close for siesta between 12 and 2:30, so don't expect to turn your golf cart or scooter in during those times. We were hunting for a rental place during that time and found one still open. Good way to go to the top of the fort, but they were closed too! We found a beach for the day.
We got chairs on Bequia at Fay's and had rum punch all afternoon. We walked over to Jack's and had a delicious lunch. Walked back to the ship after a lazy day in the water and on the beach. Some friends took a cab back.
The day we were supposed to have a shore excursion on Grenada through Windstar, it got cancelled the night before due to not enough people. You would think they would've said something earlier so we could recruit, but we enjoyed our beach day. We took a cab to the beach and a guy was delivering rum punch to us on the beach. Grand Anse is beautiful!
St. Lucia (Pigeon Island) was lovely. It rained off and on, but there was a wonderful beach party bbq lunch. The property is next door to one of The Sandals Resorts. We had a fun day in the water, and floating lilly pads and trampoline. You can walk up to a fort but we didn't because we thought it would be too slippery with the heavy rain. It was beautiful! There are locals with jewelry set up as you are walking to the private beach. Windstar also was selling bug spray, sunscreen, sweatshirts. They had steel drum music being played, too.
At Disembarkation, we signed up for a Windstar Old San Juan Walking Tour. Could have done that on our own for way less and seen more because our tour got cut short due to someone not able to walk any further and the van picked us all up and took us to our hotel or airport depending where you were going. Oh well!
This was our 2nd Windstar Cruise, as we did Tahiti last year and loved it! Yes we are hooked. I don't love waiting in lines or crowds. I enjoy finding a lounger at the pool when I feel like going out on the deck. Nobody hogging them with their towels all day long and nowhere to be seen. We had a fun time! Read Less
We were part of a Tauck group that began with a 2 night stay in Lisbon and ended with a 2 night stay in Barcelona. This was our first Windstar cruise, but we've been on quite a few other cruises. Our cabin was the largest cabin ... Read More
We were part of a Tauck group that began with a 2 night stay in Lisbon and ended with a 2 night stay in Barcelona. This was our first Windstar cruise, but we've been on quite a few other cruises. Our cabin was the largest cabin we've ever stayed in! It's was great: had a doorbell, a walk-in closet, a full bathtub, and double sinks in the bathroom! Yes, it was older, but it was very comfortable. We had ample storage space! The ship is a little "dated," but otherwise very nice. The food was outstanding! This was the best cruise line food we've ever had. Service from the crew was friendly and many of them learned our names quickly.
We really liked the itinerary. We were very anxious to see Gibraltar and it did not disappoint! We also really liked Seville, Malaga, and Mallorca. We would have liked an overnight in one of these cities, so we could explore more. We were blessed with beautiful weather and that enhanced our experience. Except for our two days in Barcelona, it was warm and sunny (with no humidity). Barcelona turned chilly and rainy and we hadn't packed appropriately for the sudden change in weather.
Since we were with a Tauck group, all our excursions were separate from the ones offered by the ship (although very similar in most cases). Tauck kept us busy; we either had 2 excursions each day, or one very long one. Consequently, we were away from the ship most of the day and didn't get to do much on the ship. And, we were not encouraged by our Tauck Tour Director to participate in Windstar activities (or mingle with the non-Tauck guests). We had daily meetings in the Compass Rose lounge, and that was where we returned (on our own) at other times.
To me, the Star Breeze is like a "shrunken down" cruise ship. It has some of the same amenities as a bigger ship, but on a much smaller scale. There is no specialty restaurant; at night, the breakfast/lunch buffet becomes "Candles" for a small number of passengers, and if the weather cooperates, passengers have the option of dining outside. There wasn't much entertainment offered (there was a good duo in the Compass Rose lounge). There was a very small "casino" but I didn't see anyone in it. We did not use the spa or the fitness room (we had only one sea day and the remaining days, we were on excursions). We discovered the lovely Yacht Club lounge late in the cruise. We probably should have done some exploring on our own early in the cruise!
In summary, this was a very nice cruise! Read Less
We chose this cruise for our 30 th anniversary thinking it was going to be about luxury. The cabins were spacious but outdated. Our cabin steward was great and Maria ( ship consultant) tried to keep customers upbeat with her great ... Read More
We chose this cruise for our 30 th anniversary thinking it was going to be about luxury. The cabins were spacious but outdated. Our cabin steward was great and Maria ( ship consultant) tried to keep customers upbeat with her great attitude. At dinner, the food was good and the dining room was nice. The service was usually mediocre. Breakfast and lunch was served at an indoor/outdoor area. The inside could accommodate 30 people and our cruise had 200 passengers. What that meant was that when everyone got off their excursion at the same time, all of us were at the same time. Several meals were spent outside (covered) but sometimes cold and rainy. Oh, they would give you blankets...who wants to wear a blanket or shiver eating a meal ? Not me. We rushed several meals just to get back inside. We did room service a few times so we wouldn’t have to sit in the cold. Most of the excursions were nice but a little pricey. Entertainment was 2 sets of duos, elevator music but they could sing well...just not very upbeat. This was my first Windstar cruise-just average , nothing extravagant. The ship rocked and rolled our last night which gave a lot of passengers motion sickness. I will not be a return customer on Windstar. Many repeat customers said this cruise did not measure up. I was a little disappointed. Read Less
Booked the Rome to Venice cruise on the recommendation of some friends and enjoyed it. Pre-cruise Windstar reps were readily available to answer questions with details and options. We utilized the well appointed gym most days and thought ... Read More
Booked the Rome to Venice cruise on the recommendation of some friends and enjoyed it. Pre-cruise Windstar reps were readily available to answer questions with details and options. We utilized the well appointed gym most days and thought the staterooms were as described with plenty of storage and a comfortable bed. Service and food was excellent throughout the ship. We elected to sign up for two excursions through Windstar and did others on our own, which was the right combination for us. There was a glitch with an engine communication issue that added a day at sea, but they made some adjustments to try to alleviate the impact—we were glad the issue was resolved. The onboard internet did not work as advertised. To Windstar’s credit, we were refunded charges we had paid in advance, but would have made other arrangements had we known onboard connectivity would be fairly nonexistent. We travelled as a couple, and it was nice to have options to either share a table at dinner or dine as a couple and enjoyed meeting fellow guests. We like a variety of modes of travel, but Windstar is a very good option for a small luxury cruise. Read Less
Our travel agent raved about Windstar, told our group how excellent they were. She is now our ex travel agent. This experience was'nt even close to what she told us.
Most everything was poor, I don't know where to start, but ... Read More
Our travel agent raved about Windstar, told our group how excellent they were. She is now our ex travel agent. This experience was'nt even close to what she told us.
Most everything was poor, I don't know where to start, but here is my review.
Starting with the positive, the ship was clean, the room was of good size. That's the positive. NOW, for the negative, being genereous the food was hit and miss, mostly a miss. The service in the dining room was slow. The coffee bar had stale cupcakes, they were stored in the frig and displayed the next day, and the next day, etc. We were suppose to have fresh fruit in our suite, had it for a few days, then it stopped. I asked reception why I had no fruit as advertised, they told me that I had to request it, which I did. After a few days they ran out of bananas and plums. They also ran out of the kleenex that fits under the bathroom sink. Also the coffee bar ran out of oatmeal cookies. It looks like Windstar has cut alot of corners all over the ship and it shows. The staff looks overworked. The excursions were overpriced and hit and miss. One was so bad, Windstar gave us a full refund, when many guests complained. There were many unhappy people on this cruise. As far as entertainment goes I did not expect much, but got much less. Non existant, with two terrible hookey acts. No lecturers as promised, we basically got nothing. We had a Captian's party, one drink, one appitizer. This cruise was comparable to a Carnival cruise, if not worse. One guest who was on his third cruise with Windstar, was so disgusted, he said, he would never cruise with Windstar again, nor would I. There were many more negative things, but I don't even want to discuss then. All I can say is don't pay luxury fares for a low end cruise.
, Read Less
This was advertised as a "sailing" ship," filling its sails with the tradewinds of Tahiti" in every advertisement, and we fell for it. As experienced sailors on a 40' sailboat, San Diego to Hawaii and back, ... Read More
This was advertised as a "sailing" ship," filling its sails with the tradewinds of Tahiti" in every advertisement, and we fell for it. As experienced sailors on a 40' sailboat, San Diego to Hawaii and back, pacific northwest, central america and panama canal, we know sailing. The feeble efforts to make this look like sailing consisted of releasing tiny pieces of storm jib type sails for photo purposes, playing a sailing song, and departing port. The Captain himself said one sail was missing, and a crew member said the hydraulics weren't working--however, on excursion days we could look back and see that once again those fragments of sails were set while at anchor strictly for photographic value. Rough nights on board could have been improved with stabilizing sails, and the winds of 25 knots would have provided a wonderful experience. But this ship doesn't sail. We gave up the option of a veranda and having the fresh tropical air waft through our cabin with the expectation there would be sailing. Instead, the ports were sealed (two 16" port holes per cabin) and our cabin was a snug air conditioned capsule with no outside contact. From deck 1 it required 4 sets of stairs to get to the pool deck and breakfast. (we were on deck 2--only 3 sets) To depart the ship, however, required maneuvering down and back a steep 25 step stairway which hugged the side on the hull. On the plus side, the cabin space was well designed , sparkling clean, the crew was fantastic and friendly and the food was good. The high priced excursions varied in quality, several required riding in truck beds with boards on each side for seats, others used small SUV's requiring a lot of crawling into them. There was one well narrated comfortable bus ride. Our excursions alone for two cost about $1700 dollars. The worst was one advertised as a "romantic sunset cruise" and it turned out to be a small runabout boat, that speeded around for about an hour, served tiny plastic glasses of champaigne, got several of us wet with spray--all for a price of $300 for two. Dining on deck in Candles was magical, but had to be reserved. Amphora was the main dining room, very large, extremely noisy. One of the most disappointing aspects was their failure to obtain return airline seating assignments for us, claiming all they promised was a seat. This problem was not made known until we had paid all fees. As a result we ended up in separate seats on the 8 hour return flight. I had tried to correct this well prior to departure,with multiple phone discussions with an unhelpful staff member, but could not get her manager to return calls or emails or provide access to their air department. We have taken tours with Viking and their customer service far exceeded the haphazard approach found on Windstar. Their sales staff, of course, was charming and helpful. Never again!!! Read Less