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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2016
It was a smaller ship and the destinations in the French and Italian Rivieras. The service was great and the staff made a point of remembering your name. At the end of the cruise, the entire senior staff was on the pier and thanked ... Read More
It was a smaller ship and the destinations in the French and Italian Rivieras. The service was great and the staff made a point of remembering your name. At the end of the cruise, the entire senior staff was on the pier and thanked everyone for coming. The side trips on shore were very good too. Some of the destinations were better seen by boat: Portofina, Monte Carlo, Cinque Terre, for example. In Monte Carlo, we were able to dock in the inner harbor, which worked out better for the special event at the Casino in the evening. It was a dessert/champagne reception which was on an open rooftop. As the evening progressed the sun set and the town was illuminated with lights. We enjoyed the food but what really made the cruise memorable was the kind and dedicated staff in all parts of the ship. There was no formal dinner on the last night but they did a BBQ dinner on the deck by the pool--lobsters, beef, lamb, suckling pig, ribs, salads, dessert bar--plus music and staff line dancing. Very fun! Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2013
I have been looking forward to the Windstar Cruises "Treasures of Southern France" cruise for about half a year. The minute I saw the photo of the lavender fields on the brochure page of this cruise I knew I just had to go. And ... Read More
I have been looking forward to the Windstar Cruises "Treasures of Southern France" cruise for about half a year. The minute I saw the photo of the lavender fields on the brochure page of this cruise I knew I just had to go. And so we booked the cruise departing Nice on July 13. My husband and I arrived to Nice a day early and spent the first night at a hotel which was great. We then took a cab to the point of embarkation. Windstar tends to select smaller, commercial ports so we were lucky that our taxi driver knew where to drop us. The moment I got on board, Gonzalo, the Destination Manager, welcomed us. I told him I was so excited to be seeing those lavender fields that they had in the brochure. I then asked which tour I could take to see those fields and he told me "they are everywhere! Take any tour." He then tried to sell me on the $1,499 private car and driver which I thought was a ridiculous price and so I signed up for an excursion to Aix en Provence on Tuesday and later the French Impressionists tour that Thursday. When Tuesday morning came around, we were up, dressed, and had breakfast well before 8 a.m. as our departure was at 8:15 for this tour. Gonzalo saw me in the hallway, pulled me aside, and then told me that he checked in with an associate, and the lavender fields are not in bloom now and that I will not see any. He then told me that I could get my money back if I wanted for the tour. Incredibly disappointed, I took the tour anyway as we were already up and ready. It was a really bad tour. The guide had a hard time with English and just "ummed" the entire time. When we got to Aix en Provence, we were dropped off by a flea market and once the guide starting talking about the exterior of some such building, my husband and I just took off on our own. We didn't really like this area at all. It was VERY commercial and touristy and not at all what I had imagined the medieval little towns of Provence to be. Even the waiters in the cafes were surly. The town was so overcrowded, we couldn't wait to get back on the bus. We had heard that the ship was renovated and were surprised when we got on board and our cabin steward took us to our stateroom and proceeded to tell us that they were probably renovating the cabins later this year or early next year. Sure, they had put in some new carpeting (which was already quite dirty) and had new linens, but the room still looked worn. The furniture was the same and our bathroom had rust around the door frame. The cabin steward kept the room very clean and we thought the laundry package was a great deal. But they had this rough, woolen blanket on the bed which I thought was very out of place and not at all luxury. Breakfast on the ship became somewhat of a joke. Every day you had a choice of a different Eggs Benedict. They had a waffle or pancake for good measure and always the same display of meats (many of which were discolored) and fruits. Lunches were also quite horrific. The menu showed hot dogs and hamburgers, perhaps a burrito, they had a greasy Gyro one day. And here we are in the South of France? What about the fresh veggies and fish we saw in the markets each day? We ended up dining ashore for lunch most days. Dinners, while tasty, were the same dinners Windstar serves no matter where in the world you happen to cruise. Here we are in the South of France and there wasn't even a French wine on the wine list! Hungarian Goulash, Turkey and Stuffing? Really? They had one appetizer and one entree that said "local specialty" as a choice each evening and while the food was tasty and the service was excellent, once again, you weren't dining on the specialties you could find ashore. These towns had fabulous markets and when you saw the quality of the foods there, it was disappointing to see what you got on board. Also, Windstar tendered for the first few days into Cannes and Sanary Sur Mer, but then we docked in a horrible area of Marseilles that didn't seem safe (our ship was behind barbed wire with uniformed guards) and other commercial ports so while you were trying to enjoy a relaxing breakfast on deck, all that you heard were jackhammers and construction vehicles. Tendering would have been so much better. The ship also only sailed each evening starting at 10 p.m. and you were usually docked by 7 or 8 a.m. so you hardly got any opportunity to experiencing cruising which is why we were there wasn't it? The rest of the time we were docked at these ugly commercial noisy ports. Windstar always positions itself as a luxury cruise line and that its journeys are 180 degrees from ordinary, but after having completed by third cruise with them and my husband's fourth cruise, they have gone downhill. The type of passenger has gone downhill, and what they try to get away with is incredible. They are not a luxury cruise line anymore. Luxury isn't having hot dogs and hamburgers on the menu. Or no European wines (everything was from the Napa Valley). If you want something really unique and luxurious and you are a foodie, go to a Seabourn or more upscale line. They just don't really care about delivering what they promise. And when you complain, they offer to give you a limited discount on your next cruise! Like why would you cruise with them again?! Most disappointing was that they position this as a cruise to the South of France where you will see the lavender fields they show on the website and in the brochure. Yet the destination manager on board is clueless about the destination (he's from Mexico) and can't even direct you properly to see what they supposedly sell about the destination. This was a very disappointing experience and not at all luxury if you are a true five-star hotel traveler who enjoys luxury and good food and wine. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2011
My husband and I have sailed many times before on Princess, Carnival, Norwegian, as well as Crystal and Oceana; so while we had some idea of what to expect on a cruise, sailing on a small yacht was a whole new experience for us and we ... Read More
My husband and I have sailed many times before on Princess, Carnival, Norwegian, as well as Crystal and Oceana; so while we had some idea of what to expect on a cruise, sailing on a small yacht was a whole new experience for us and we loved it!! We arrived a few days ahead of disembarkation, giving us time to enjoy Nice, and its environs such as Cannes. We stayed at Best Western Hotel Roosevelt, where we found the staff to be friendly and helpful. The hotel's location was great: close to Rue Massena, old Nice and the train station. From the hotel, we took a taxi to the port where we found the boarding to be very easy. Even though we had five ports and one sea day, we still found this cruise to be relaxing. Breakfast was served in The Veranda on the upper deck, with windows all around or for those who wanted to enjoy the fresh air, there were tables just outside of the restaurant. They offered a good selection of breakfast options, my favourite being the muesli which was not overly sweet as it can be. We often made sure we were on board for lunch, again, served in The Veranda. Lunch options included many different salads which were very imaginative in the combinations of fruits, veggies, nuts and meats. There were also soups and hot entrees. I found the salads were more than enough for me. (My mouth just waters when I think of those fabulous salads!). Dinner in the Restaurant on deck three was just as special as the other meals of the day. Again great imagination was evident with the appetizers and entrees and again all were delicious. Accompanying this wonderful food was the attentive wait staff. One day, I took a tour of the galley which was fascinating, it's amazing that so much scrumptious food can come out of such a small space! Another day, I attended a cooking demonstration, pestos and oil infusions. Tours of the engine room and the bridge were also available; but we did not take advantage of them. As well there was a trip to a local market with the chef offered at one of our ports; but due to inclement weather, it had to be cancelled. My husband and I enjoyed the ports of call especially since we had never visited three of them: two in Corsica and one in Elba. The other two ports, Monaco and Villefranche we had visited before on our own previously. Unfortunately, the day we were in Villefranche it rained the entire day. We stayed on board but some of our fellow passengers ventured out, returning wet to the bone. While the cabins are spacious and comfortable they are a little tired; but no worries, Windstar is planning on remodeling its fleet over the next several months. The bathrooms were nicely laid out with the scent of L'Occitane products permeating the space. My only concern was the lack of novels in the library. I realize that many people have electronic gadgets for accessing books but I still appreciate having a selection of books on board to choose from and read. Disembarkation in Rome was very easy. We pre-arranged for a driver to pick us up to take us and another couple who we had just met on board to the airport. We enjoyed our cruise so much that we took advantage of their future cruise program which is a great deal. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2008
This was our third trip on the Windsurf, the first 2 were in the caribbean. We arrived in Nice on the 8th of May and travelled thru Italy by train for 10 days prior to the cruise. We had wonderful food, met many interesting and kind people ... Read More
This was our third trip on the Windsurf, the first 2 were in the caribbean. We arrived in Nice on the 8th of May and travelled thru Italy by train for 10 days prior to the cruise. We had wonderful food, met many interesting and kind people and saw some pretty awesome sights. The day of our embarkation on the Windsurf we took an earlier train from Manarola (than we thought we needed). We arrived a little after 4pm went to the airport to collect a stored bag and took a taxi to the ship for our 10pm departure. We were pulling into the port only to our dismay to see the Windsurf leaving. I pulled out my documents and checked them and of course they said all aboard 10pm. We then flagged down the harbormaster, he radioed the ship and were told that the ship's agent would have to come and try to help us. I spoke by cellphone to the purser and she was aware that some documents were "misprinted". We waited about a half hour for the ships agent to arrive, he said we could stay in Nice overnight or go to St Tropez by taxi and spent the night for embarkation the next morning. We had the nicest taxi driver from the airport who was so kind to stay with us and try to help us thru our ordeal. I asked him if he wanted a good fare for a run to St Tropez (on the cruise line of course). He called his wife and she agreed to let him work a few extra hours so off we went. Meanwhile the ship's agent was arranging hotel for us in St Tropez. We had about a 2 hr ride and the driver who spoke fair english filled us in on some of the sights and history of the area. He earned a 340 euro fare for his effort. We arrived in St Tropez and were very pleased with the hotel they put us up at. It was the Byblos. They also arranged dinner for us at "Spoon" which is a famous restaurant at the Byblos hotel. They even had a bottle of champagne in our room for us Crystal was the brand. The next morning they had a taxi waiting to take us to the ship. We tendered to the ship, waited for the ships fire drill to end and were settled in our cabin by about 11:30. We went up for lunch thinking well we had all the good food on our trip prior and were not expecting what we were about to experience. What we experienced was the best food for the entire trip of any cruise ever. We've been on Regent, Windstar, Sea Dream, Celebrity and others. The staff is the same friendly, helping, fun and efficient people we had on our previous 2 Windsurf trips. I will single out some names hopefully for the good recognition they deserve. Dani, Putu, Yogi, Sammy, and many others made the trip exceptional. We consistently had excellent service and food in all the dining venues. I credit the food to the head chef ERWIN who was everywhere making sure things were right. This trip was all about the Cannes film festival and the Monaco Grand Prix. We anchored overnight in Cannes but since it was crowded and we are not the celebrity seekers, we took the train to EZE where we spent a great afternoon on our own. Next port was Santa Margarita. This is a gem that they added as a last minute change. We had a wonderful day just exploring all the villas, shops and restaurants. We found a local place on the water had a morning espresso. The owner was so kind and friendly and we told him we would come back for lunch. About 3 hours later we returned and he was so pleased he gave us the best table in the house. On to Monaco for the Grand Prix. We opted not to buy the ships package but I bought tickets on line from a local restaurant that had bleachers about 200 meters past the start finish line. I'm a bit of a motor-head and I was in heaven for 2 days on earth. It was all I expected and more. (My wife even became an F1 fan on this trip) I bought a Massa shirt and proudly wore it to dinner after he was the top qualifier for the race. The ship went all out for the Grand Prix, even making a life size cake model of one of the F1 cars. The Med was pretty rough for the 2 days we were in Monaco, tendering was very difficult. The day of the race we were told we would be tendered ashore but the ship was moving early to Nice so there would be a couple ferries hired to take all the passengers there. It was a smart move as we saw some other ships tenders having major trouble loading and unloading. My final comments on the trip are as follows, The ships staff, food quality, fellow passengers and the Monaco experience made this the best cruise ever for my wife and myself. The fact that our documents were printed wrong (by the cruise line) is totally inexcusable. All our arrangements for the transfer and hotel in St Tropez were done by the staff of the Windsurf (purser) and the ships agent. After we returned we contacted Majestic lines (the owners of the Windsurf) and feel the offer they made us was very poor and insufficient for what we went thru. I commend the crew and staff of the ship for salvaging a wonderful trip for us. The only reason we will return and we will return is the outstanding crew this ship has. A bit of advice to the Management, the ships staff is the main reason so many people repeat. You cannot ever pay them too much. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2004
Cruises: 11/7-14/2004 - Nice to Barcelona 11/14/21/2004 - Barcelona to Lisbon Overview While no cruise is perfect, our back to back cruises on the Wind Surf were way above average. We sailed to great ports, all the while feeling that ... Read More
Cruises: 11/7-14/2004 - Nice to Barcelona 11/14/21/2004 - Barcelona to Lisbon Overview While no cruise is perfect, our back to back cruises on the Wind Surf were way above average. We sailed to great ports, all the while feeling that we were privileged and pampered. Nothing beats the feeling of being on a ship under sail, and it's a pleasure to sail with a few hundred other passengers, rather than a few thousand. For a description of the ship, public rooms, fellow passengers, fitness and recreation, family, dress code, and tipping, see the main Cruise Critic review of the Wind Surf. Best part of the trip Except for the two bad weather days, every day was a best part. The crew was friendly and helpful, the passengers were interesting, the ports were great, and the ship itself was fun. It was great having a feeling of elegance, yet not having to dress up - Windstar really does have "casual elegance." Worst part of the trip This was a tie between two things: disembarkation, and a very bumpy, unplanned sea day when everything seemed to go wrong. Both will be discussed below. Embarkation There was some confusion as to when we could board, so we were at the pier a bit after 1 p.m., but couldn't board until 2. Once we could board, embarkation was painless. (Give them a 3 for information accuracy, 5 for the actual boarding, averaging a 4.) We had left our bags on the pier around 10:30 a.m., and they magically appeared in our room. We climbed up the gangplank at 2, took the mandatory awful boarding picture, then were ushered into the lounge and handed a mimosa. We filled out forms, and that was it. Even a goof regarding our boarding cards was fixed quickly. Indeed, that became a keynote of the trip: Windstar made few mistakes; but when they did, they usually fixed it quickly. Accommodations These were the smallest rooms we'd had on our five cruises (188 square feet), and we were concerned that we would feel cramped. We needn't have had any fears: though compact, the rooms were very comfortable, and we had no cabin fever even after two weeks. There seemed to be room for all our belongings. We did miss having a bath tub; but we knew that in advance. The steward was unobtrusive: perhaps a bit too much so. However, the room was kept clean, and when we asked for something (ice, more shampoo, etc.) it arrived promptly. The towels and bathrobes were good, and the fruit bowl was kept filled. Dining The food in the dining rooms was so good, and so convenient, that we never even tried room service. Breakfast and lunch were served in the Veranda room; however, we quickly found that we could avoid crowds (the crowds weren't very big, anyway), and get waiter service for several items, if we sat in the adjacent Bistro. The breakfast choices always included pancakes, French toast, waffles, and at least one light cuisine choice. Eggs were made to order, smoked salmon was available every day, and caviar was available two or three times each week. There was lots of fruit, meusli, great breads and pastries, and stuff we never even tried, such as British breakfast, cold cereal, breakfast meats (hot and cold), etc. We had three or four lunches off the ship, mostly on excursions; but it was a temptation to eat every lunch on the ship. Most lunches had themes (Italian, Spanish, Asian), and the choices were generally interesting. Grilled food, such as fish and burgers, was always available. The salads were especially varied and interesting. There were always lots of desserts, including low fat and the famous HAL bread pudding. The review of "sfg" of a 2002 cruise mentioned the need for a sandwich bar, and said that buffet choices were not too good. We felt that buffet choices were excellent. While there still is no area where the ship crew makes cold sandwiches, there are plenty of sandwich ingredients available, including great bread, for making your own sandwiches. We never did so, because the other choices were so good. The lobster and lamb chop barbecue lunch, on the last cruise day of each week, was a highlight of the trip. If we had any quibbles with the food, it involved dinner. During the first week, when the ship had 210 passengers, everything went smoothly, and meals took a leisurely but not slow amount of time. In week two, when there were 300 passengers, service slowed, and we experienced waits on occasion. Nonetheless, our Indonesian server, Lilik, was always courteous and attentive. As for the food itself, it was not five star, but it was the best we've had on a cruise ship. There was some effort to serve food that related to where we were (the Mediterranean). There were vegetarian choices, healthy food, and "low carb" food, as well as four or five other choices. We always got a table for two, as requested, unless we asked for a larger table. One night we were at a table for six, and we had six different main courses - all good. With soup, salad, appetizer, main course, and dessert there was too much food: by the end of the trip we were consistently skipping at least one course. The menus were so good that we kept putting off trying the alternate restaurant, the Bistro. On our first try, we were too seasick to enjoy the food. This was the missed port day in Mahon, as described below, and was not a fair test of the restaurant. When we finally did try it in normal weather, we enjoyed it as much as the main restaurant. Wine and Liquor We can't really judge this area. Since we were sailing in wine country (France and Spain), we purchased almost all of our wine on shore, and paid a $10 corkage fee each time we opened a bottle. (The wine steward did give us one "freebie" each week). Similarly, the bar crew was very friendly even though we normally ordered iced tea, rather than something alcoholic. Ports and Itinerary Before we left, Walt, the host for the Windstar board, described our two weeks as a "killer itinerary." That was accurate. We had just the right mix of big cities (Marseilles, Barcelona, Malaga), medium size cities (Palma de Majorca, Tangier), and small places (Porquerolles, Ibiza, Sete, Portimao). Due to Mistral winds, we missed two ports: St. Florent, Corsica, and Mahon, Minorca. Both would have been great. However, the missed day at St. Florent resulted in one of the highlights of the trip. We went from Nice to Villefranche, a distance of about five miles, instead of going to Corsica. We took a tour to St. Paul de Vence, and placed a stone on Chagall's grave. Unforgettable. Villefranche itself was interesting, including a narrow, completely enclosed street, the Rua Obscura. Visiting Tangier, Morocco, including our excursion to Tetuan (the white dove), was like stepping into another world. Everything was exotic, from the narrow alleyways to the robes worn by the people to the vendors who kept trying to get us to bargain for and purchase their goods. I hope the line keeps this port in its itineraries, but adds western-style bathrooms to the buses. We were one of a group who needed "facilities," and when we were shown a hole with two footprints, only Joe used it. The guide here was superb, keeping the worst vendors away and keeping all of us together. Things did not turn out well for our other missed port, Mahon. (We missed the first and last scheduled ports of the first week's itinerary.) We spent a sea day in 60 knot winds. The ship is fairly stable; but no ship feels comfortable in such high winds, and Joan became seasick. To make matters worse, some thoughtless passenger flushed something that he shouldn't have flushed down a men's room toilet, and it knocked out the toilets for our entire bank of cabins and public areas. Even after the public bathroom was fixed, our toilet and the toilet in the room next to us had to be replaced. Imagine a sea day with near hurricane force winds, when you couldn't even use your own stateroom. With many empty rooms, the line could have let us rest in an empty room. Instead, we wandered from public room to public room. Joan was too doped up on seasickness pills to care, Windstar did give us a bottle of wine as a "make good," but they could and should have done more. In all justice to them, they probably had their hands full with a nasty storm and at least three broken toilets. Excursions We used ship's excursions in about half the ports. In the other ports, Patrick, the excursion director, gave us plenty of information about the port, so we could do things on our own. With one big exception, the tours were reasonably priced and interesting, and gave us a good idea of the area in which we were traveling. We avoided the big, overcrowded tour from Malaga to Granada (which was loved by the people who took it); so all of our tours were also uncrowded: always under 30 people, twice under 15. The line made an effort to run each tour, even when fewer than 20 people signed up. Windstar negotiated a favorable dollar-euro ratio for those tours, so they were competitive with your private arrangements. So what was the problem? Bathroom stops. They were too infrequent, and the bathrooms on the buses were never available. Breakfast featured excellent coffee, fresh-squeezed juice and wonderful smoothies as well as abundant ice water. The busses could drive for more than an hour before arriving at our destination. Even when the busses had bathrooms, some gibberish prevented the guides from letting us use them. As a weight watcher, we learned to drink several glasses of water upon arising. We drink more water than most, and have never used a laxative. As the population ages, this will become more of a problem. We hope the line cures this problem. Entertainment There wasn't much of it, and we didn't miss it. There was a small casino, and there were usually bands in the two lounges. They were not well populated most of the time: people were simply too tired after exciting days on shore. Most people rented DVDs, and watched them in their rooms. Still, we have no doubt that, had we been night owls instead of early birds, we could easily have made our own entertainment. Nonetheless, if you want big, glitzy shows, this may not be the ship for you. The only "show" was the weekly crew show, which was quite interesting. Level of service Generally excellent, from the hostess, Cherie, on down. The crew made us feel pampered and special. Tipping Very confusing. The "tipping not required" policy resulted in confusion about whether to tip, and how much. We ended up giving pooled tips to the dining room staff and bar staff, and individual tips to the room steward and wine steward. Clear guidelines would be better. Better still would be a slight increase in price, all of which would go into staff pay, so that tipping truly is not needed. Windstar will try this idea, as well as including wine with dinner, in its "Signature Sailings" in 2005. Disembarkation After two great weeks, even the best disembarkation would have been a downer. The actual disembarkation was worse than that. Because the ship was going into dry dock, we disembarked an hour west of Lisbon, and had a long bus trip. (In fairness, getting off the ship was quick and well organized, and would have been good had we gone directly to the pier instead of into a bus.) Once we picked up our bags (loading them onto carts ourselves, since there seemed to be no porters), there was no one to help us get a cab. Joe went back inside to use the restroom, and got locked into the port terminal. There was no one to help him get out, and we lost our place in line trying to get a cab. Although it seemed the terminal was devoid of personnel, we soon discovered many workers. A few minutes after we loaded our luggage onto carts, people in orange suits started to take the carts back. We were left with piles of luggage on the ground and no cabs in sight. The most aggressive people got cabs quickly. Finally, someone from Windstar organized a line; but the pushy people, rather than those of us who arrived first, got on line first. Meanwhile cab drivers came up to us and offered to drive us for three or four times the meter rate. Absurd! Final impressions Despite a few glitches, a fantastic trip! Bravo, Wind Surf! Read Less
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