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56 Windstar Panama Canal & Central America Cruise Reviews

The staff were very attentive and accommodating. Most took the time to learn your name. We had a State Room which was spacious and comfortable. A definite plus on a smaller ship which doesn't have a lot of public areas. Ship was ... Read More
The staff were very attentive and accommodating. Most took the time to learn your name. We had a State Room which was spacious and comfortable. A definite plus on a smaller ship which doesn't have a lot of public areas. Ship was very clean and you noticed the effort to keep it that way.The excursions were interesting and efficient. There was a problem with the air conditioning. State rooms could be ice cold or uncomfortably warm. The Veranda was most always too warm to sit and enjoy a meal. At the beginning of the cruise the Yacht Club was ice cold and then after complaints it became too warm....no ability to really regulate the temperature. Food was ok. A couple of nights were very good. Seemed to be a lack of vegetables with the dinners and the quality of fruit was disappointing given our location. If you are Gluten free, you should bring your own bread, crackers, cereal, and snacks. They did have non-wheat pasta and you could get gf sliced bread for dinner, but they ran out after the second night. We've only done a few other cruises, but they seemed to have a larger variety for people with wheat allergies. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
This was our second Windstar cruise, a back-to-back Costa Rica and the Panama Canal, followed by a Southern Caribbean Sweep itinerary from Colon, Panama to Cartegena, Colombia; Aruba, and Bequia in the Grenadines, with disembarkation in ... Read More
This was our second Windstar cruise, a back-to-back Costa Rica and the Panama Canal, followed by a Southern Caribbean Sweep itinerary from Colon, Panama to Cartegena, Colombia; Aruba, and Bequia in the Grenadines, with disembarkation in Barbados. We enjoyed our first Windstar cruise through the ABC Island and the Grenadines on the Star Pride so much that we wanted to sail through the Canal with this excellent upper premium level line. We are a retired couple, mid-60s, from the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area. Embarkation - Having flown in to San Jose, Costa Rica the day prior to boarding and joining some of the passengers at the Marriott hotel for the transfer to Puerto Caldera, we enjoyed the almost 2 hour bus ride as Windstar provided a Costa Rican guide who talked for about an hour about his country and how the cruise line conducts embarkation. The embarkation process in the lounge where you receive your cruise card, sign up for packages and excursions not booked online, enjoy a glass of champagne and meet some of the staff. Light lunch was also available until 3:30. Since we had boarded at 3:15, our cabin was available immediately. There was the obligatory safety drill with life jackets and a welcome aboard presentation and port talk about Quepos, tomorrow's port, before dinner at 7:00. Public Rooms - We found public rooms were well maintained and included two lounges, two bars, a complete spa and gym, counter-current swimming pool, two hot tubs (one near pool & one at bow on deck 5), the Yacht Club (for views, books, early morning continental breakfast or lunch sandwiches), library next to casino with a few one-arm bandits and a blackjack table, and Signature Shop. Specialty coffee is complimentary at any venue. See Cabin review below for details of our stateroom. The ship also has a Sports Marina aft with non-motorized equipment for use when anchored. Dining -- The main dining room AmphorA restaurant was open seating from 7-9 p.m. daily for dinner only. You can ask for whatever size table you desired and change the option nightly. Verandah which was aft on pool deck was used for Breakfast (7-9:30 am) and Lunch buffet daily (usually 12:30-2). There was indoor seating, but most guests ate on deck. There were always 4-5 options for special orders or you could help yourself at the buffet -- I never found any type of food to be missing, though the hot lunch buffet variety was lacking. Many ate fresh fruits and salads, and there were always several desserts of the cake/pastry variety and two frozen options (ice cream and sorbet) with toppings of all kinds available. Verandah is transformed into Candles at night for an upscale (think Specialty dining) experience out on deck which all guests are complimented once during the sailing; however, reservations are required due to limited space (book at embarkation). Service was always excellent at all dining venues. Activities -- There were several events that were part of the planned activities which included a deck BBQ dinner in Balboa before transiting the Panama Canal and the second week after sailing from Bequia the last night. Another event was the Beach BBQ lunch on Isla Parida where a full lunch is prepared behind the beach, Table and chairs are provided, as well as use of the marina's water toys and a couple of spa tables for massages. Some local entertainment was provided while in Costa Rica which were cultural dancing shows (one with school children); in addition, there was a naturalist who gave presentations and was available for questions on board for the entire first cruise. On the sea days (one the first week and three the second), there were several tours and demonstrations one could attend such as towel animal folding demonstration, cooking demonstration with the head Chef, galley tour, cocktail demonstration, and a photography seminar. A movie and cards, Wii, & Board games were also available. One port night in Cartegena, we sailed at 8 p.m. and had arrived at 7 a.m., allowing ample time in port; however, our time in Bequia was limited to about 4-5 hours due to late arrival and early departure at 5 pm. as well as several other ships in port. Shipboard Entertainment -- There were two duos, D'Harmony from South Africa who also performed on our Star Pride cruise and Nightlights (Elena and Julian) playing every night at the two venues of the Star Bar and Compass Rose. They also were featured during other events such as the Captain's party. There was also a Crew talent show at the end of each of the cruises, Staff/Crew/Service - With such a small ship with few guests, it was very easy to get to know everyone. The crew learns your name within 24 hours and there is great camaraderie among everyone. Some of the guest services staff, the photographer and occasionally an officer participated on shore excursions. The Captain was from Croatia, and there is an open bridge policy for guests when not sailing from or into port. There is a deck area in front of the bridge and guests did participate in viewing and photographing arrivals and departures from ports as well as the transit of the Panama Canal, while simultaneously seeing what the Captain and officers were viewing. Disembarkation - Quick and easy - We had completed customs forms several days prior which enabled Windstar to complete customs for all guests, so we merely retrieved our luggage and went on our way, with a ship's transfer to the airport. Ship's Excursions Quepos - We took the Mangrove tour to the mouth of the Quebrada River and back, seeing capuchin monkeys, iguana, numerous birds such as herons, egrets, vultures, and warblers, and an anteater. Good tour. I also took an afternoon ziplining tour through the canopy on 10 different cable runs and this was great. Balboa - Since we had been to the Canal 15 years ago, but not through it, we had seen the Gatun Locks Visitor's Center on the Atlantic side. We chose to take the Miraflores Locks tour with a stop at the visitor's center, combined with a 1-1/2 hour walking tour of the Old Town (Casco Viejo) Colonial Quarter of Panama City. Good tour. Cartegena - Our tour included a stop at San Felipe Fort for fabulous views of the city and talk about the city's history, followed by a walking tour through the Old City touring the Church/Monastery as well. At the port, passengers can view an animal park with flamingeos, square monkeys, iguanas, and peacocks; large shopping area as well. Aruba - Took private snorkeling tour. Bequia - Since this was our third visit to this port, we wanted to take a tour of the highlights which included several stops; one with an excellent view of the harbor, one with a view from the other side, of the islands of St. Vincent, Mustique, Isle a Quatre, and others; and the third at the Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary, founded and run by one man. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
Chose this because we wanted a 7-day canal transit on a small ship. First time on Windstar. Overall very good -- excellent service, food was quite satisfactory, ship was in good but not outstanding condition. The cabin space was ... Read More
Chose this because we wanted a 7-day canal transit on a small ship. First time on Windstar. Overall very good -- excellent service, food was quite satisfactory, ship was in good but not outstanding condition. The cabin space was excellent -- was skeptical of the french balcony, but liked it a great deal. Since you have a whole suite, no need for a separate balcony, and opening the sliders brought the outdoors inside. The canal transit was excellent, super informative, just what we wanted. The excursions at the Panama and Costa Rica stops were good. Time on board was generally very relaxing and pampered (see smoking exception below!). We are not foodies, but we found the food very good in selection and quality -- and again the service overall was really excellent, from top to bottom. As noted above, the ship's smoking policy was ridiculous. We enjoyed hanging out at the outdoor bar, called the Star Bar, and there is a designated smoking area right next to the bar (like maybe 10 feet away). Come on, this is the year 2018! We had perhaps 6 or 7 smokers (out of about 170 passengers), why should they smog up the place for the all the others? Of course the breeze was always blowing straight from them towards the rest of us. Worse, two people were cigar smokers, and they also puffed away. Windstar should move the smoking area away from the bar! There is plenty of space on the top deck (where the Star Bar is), and the smoking area should be moved AWAY. Before booking another Windstar I would need to investigate the details of the individual ship's policy -- I would be very cautious about booking another cruise on this ship if the policy is not changed. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
We were looking to go through the Panama Canal on a small ship and not have to visit various Caribbean islands that we have already seen. We had not visited Costa Rica or Panama so the itinerary on this ship fit our requirement. ... Read More
We were looking to go through the Panama Canal on a small ship and not have to visit various Caribbean islands that we have already seen. We had not visited Costa Rica or Panama so the itinerary on this ship fit our requirement. Embarkation was terrible and almost had us worrying what we got ourselves into. We took an independent tour from a hotel we booked on our own, which was cheaper than their transfer. We got to the port and they did not tell you that for security purposes your taxi cannot take you directly to the ship. You transfer into another van, which our tour guide seemed to know. Inside the port we were dropped off at a building stating we had to go through immigration. A porter took our bags inside the building and no one was there except a person at a table offering us cookies and lemonade. We asked what do we do and he ran out of the building to find someone. We are now standing waiting with a porter who does not speak English. The person comes back and says someone will be with us shortly. We waited 10 minutes and my husband goes out to find someone. A bus just arrived to the ship so they were busy but not having someone to great you and tell you what to do was crazy. My husband comes back with someone who provides us luggage tags (they do not provide a package in advance) and says to board they ship. We board after the bus load of people and it is a bit chaotic. You go through a metal screener, someone does a peripheral look through your carry on bags. You are asked to take your traditional picture and given some forms and go into a lounge with a number to be called. Once our number was called they state we don’t have all the forms. They ran to get us others and we had more to fill out. So confusing. Finally everything was filled in and we gave them the forms and you need to surrender your passports as they clear customs for you from Costa Rica to Panama. Once you get your key, you are escorted to your cabin and they show you around. Not the best way to start a cruise but it got better from there. There were about 190 guests with 150 crew so there were very attentive. Staff was very friendly as you met the same servers at breakfast, lunch and dinner. It was a pleasure to eat breakfast and lunch without waiting on long buffet lines and trying to find a seat that is an issue on some of the larger ship. Dinner is open seating and you have a choice to eat with other people or on your own each night. Dress is very casual and no formal nights - thank goodness! They have a specialty restaurant, Candles, where they dress up the veranda cafe used for breakfast and lunch. It is very pretty and the menu is excellent. You get to eat their once for no extra fee and if you get lucky, like we did, we ate their twice. The downside is it is a small ship with a small hot tub and circulating pool to get wet. They could not get the hot tub to the right temperature, on certain days it was too hot to go in. There is also a lack of outdoor seating in the shade. The upper deck has lots of lounge chairs but they will not open the umbrellas when the ship is moving as they will fly away. The Yacht club is very nice on the upper floor with large windows and you can find a quiet space to read or play board games that they provide. The Yacht club serves light food all day until 5 or 6 PM but after that time, you only have the main dining room or room service. I was looking for ice cream when we came back from a shore excursion but the only place to get ice cream is room service. Really? Room service is free as is all soft drinks and types of coffee and teas. There is limited evening entertainment, a piano player who was pretty poor and a duet who were talented. Select evenings they had music and movie trivia as well as Liar’s Club which were fun. Other nights they only had music. This is not a cruise for you if you want shows or late night entertainment. The ship has a very small fitness area - three treadmills, two bikes and a few weight machines. The ceiling was so low you could not stretch your arms straight up. Person giving some of the evening fitness classes seemed more interested in talking with friends than giving the class. I stopped into the spa for a manicure and they had limited nail polish colors and no drying machine. Sitting still for over an hour did not work to keep the manicure without crinkles. Bring your own nail polish remover and polish. Ship needs some TLC as it showed signs of rust and wear and tear. Rooms were very nice overall, see my cabin review. The Destination Manager, Steve, was very good and he gave a short port talk every day to give you an overview of what to expect the next day He was available throughout the day to answer questions and was very helpful. He also told you whether you were doing a wet landing or dry. They go to small ports so they use a zodiac to transport guests. It takes 18 people and 2 crew and they get the tours off first so you may have to wait if your doing something independently. The staff are great guiding you on and off and you need to bring shoes, water socks or sandles that will get wet. You usually get off in ankle or higher water on the beach on wet landings. There were people who had canes or some walking challenges who were able to make the transition but it is not comfortable especially if there is rolling waves which we had on two days. Staff do whatever they need to help. The ship opens a bay in the back which becomes a swimming platform and they place out floating mats to lay on, a trampoline with a slide, noodles as well as kayaks, paddle boards and you can sign up for water skiing and tubing - an adult playground. It is only open when the water is calm from about 10 to 2 or 3. The ship does a barbecue lunch on a beach on an island which is a national park so it has limited people visiting. You can only get there by boat. They set up lounge chairs with umbrellas or half tents, tables and chairs in a shaded area for eating, a full bar, barbecue with tons of food, a tent from the spa to sign up for massages as well as all the “toys” from the swimming platform. Great day and very well done. They also have an evening barbecue and they pulled out all the stops. They transform the open decks with tables and chairs with tablecloths and soft lighting. Food choices were everything from cold shrimp and crab legs to grilled lobster, steak, chicken, grouper, paella, salads, cheese board, desserts, etc. After they cleared the deck, they had line dancing with guests and staff, it was lots of fun. Excursions were hit or miss and I thought some were overpriced and others they did not tell you the proper travel time so you spent 3 hours on a bus for a 8 hour tour. We found some tours repetitive since the descriptions they provide are incomplete. They go to different islands, it was hard to find independent tours. The one at sea day, they had various activities, including a wine tasting, culinary demonstration and a galley tour escorted by the executive chef, various movies and documentaries and other activities. Again it is a small ship so you are not going to find sports or pool activities. I thought the sommelier, Nitish (sp?), who led the wine tasting did an excellent job, giving you information on the area where the wine was made and types of grapes. He is well informed. This was a red wine tasting so we asked if we could have a white wine tasting. He organized one after dinner one evening but because the ship was hitting some rough waters, it had to be canceled. Staff tried very hard to accommodate requests. Disembarkation went very smoothly and we booked a post cruise tour of Old and New Panama, which was good. It dropped you off at the airport but a number of us were staying overnight at the Riande Aeroport Hotel and the driver dropped us off on the way back - again very accomodating. This may not be a cruise for everyone but I very much appreciated their efforts. They have a slogan of 180 degrees from ordinary, they certainly achieved a good part of it but still have work to do. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
We choose this cruise to see Pacific side of Costa Rica and to traverse the Panama Canal. This was our first cruise in over 30 years. Overall impression is excellent. Under 200 passengers,personable service, very clean, with good food. ... Read More
We choose this cruise to see Pacific side of Costa Rica and to traverse the Panama Canal. This was our first cruise in over 30 years. Overall impression is excellent. Under 200 passengers,personable service, very clean, with good food. There is no coffee in the room, but room service starts @ 6am. There is only ONE outlet in the room involving a constant shuffle of recharging phone, tablet, camera, etc. We had a standard room with picture window (did not open), seating area, safe, TV, mini-refrig and king bed. Bathroom was adequate with a tub. All of the excursions were by zodiac, so getting off and on the ship took some maneuvering. Breakfast dining was on the back of the ship and we found we could get a table outside for most mornings. Dinner was in a large dining room and we could be seated with different travelers or with prearranged groups. The menu was varied and we never had the same thing twice (11 days). There was a piano bar, a duo who performed at the outside bar, and the staff did a couple of "entertainment" evenings. We choose mostly nature hikes and snorkeling for our excursions-there were many and varied. There was a naturalist on board who was exceptional and gave lectures concerning wildlife, history and need to know. My husband could not run on the treadmill-his head hit the ceiling. The gym did have the basics. We chose the unlimited Wi-Fi, unfortunately we could only use one device at a time and the connection was extremely slow. There were a number of lounges on the decks, but even with umbrellas there was not enough shade. We were last minute for embarkation and walked right onto the ship. After exiting the ship, we did take a land tour of Panama City before our flight home. Confession: I have not taken the Windstar cruise questionnaire because it expired 3 days after the cruse. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
We chose this cruise for the itinerary as a Panama Canal transit was a bucket list item; the itinerary was excellent, food was great, and service generally good! Our difficulties were with booking the cruise, paying for it, and then ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the itinerary as a Panama Canal transit was a bucket list item; the itinerary was excellent, food was great, and service generally good! Our difficulties were with booking the cruise, paying for it, and then getting the final bill correct. While service was generally good we found it spotty, with a very odd experience of past cruisers (Yacht Club members) being invited to a reception and no staff showing up. Booking the cruise: We booked this cruise only a few months ago, and WindStar made it clear that we needed to pay THAT DAY or we would lose the booking; we were fine to pay that day. But wait -- WindStar couldn't process AMEX transactions as they had some system outage, which went on for about a week. And we were determined to pay with AMEX. Finally they processed the payment and we felt like we had an upcoming cruise. We had also referred 9 people to a Christmas 2016 WindStar cruise. WindStar's internal process for documenting referral bonuses is rudimentary, and it took our agent more than one call to find the referral. The booking process could have been a lot better. Before embarkation: We arrived into Costa Rica the day before our cruise and had booked a driver to take us to a lodge near(er) to our departure port. Costaricadriver.net was easy to work with and provided an excellent driver. He met us at the airport and we headed to our hotel, Hotel Lapa Villas. The drive was about 90 minutes, and we knew the next day's drive to the port would be about 30 minutes. We wanted to stay somewhere local, but nearer to the port. On the way to the hotel the driver stopped at a local restaurant for lunch, Soda el Guicamo. It was delicious! The hotel itself had large but basic rooms and was located in a National Park. The sounds outside were incredible -- what I might have expected as sounds of the jungle. We did take a short hike from the hotel, where we spotted macaws, toucans, and one pizote (related to raccoon). The hotel's food and bar gave us local flavor. This was not the Four Seasons, and if you're looking for that experience, look elsewhere. One the day of the cruise, the same driver picked us up and off we headed to Jose's Crocodile Tour. Wow -- what a tour. We'd found this tour and had booked it after we'd confirmed the cruise. The tour boat captain and guide were both incredible; we spotted all sorts of birds and many crocodiles, including some 18 feet long. Our last planned stop was the port, and the driver had a surprise for us -- if we wanted to see some Capuchin monkeys. Of course we wanted to see monkeys; for a nominal fee, we were surrounded by some 15 monkeys. Yes, they climbed on our heads and shoulders. What fun. We then headed to our ship, where we quickly boarded. There were no lines. The Cruise: This was our 6th WindStar cruise -- 3 on sailing ships and 3 on the motor yachts. Ship/Cabin: Yes, the ship is older but is in generally good condition. The bathrooms in particular seem to need an update, with stained marble tiles on the floors and walls. Everything worked as advertised, and the cabins are very spacious. Dining: This was the best food we've ever had on WindStar. The menus varied and were all interesting. We dined in the main dining room on 4 of the nights, in Candles (the back area) on 2 nights, with 1 night of deck barbecue. All were exceptionally good. Service: Service was mixed. Some staff did an exceptional job. They anticipated needs, remembered our preferences, and seemed genuinely happy to see us. Some staff just did their jobs. Our cabin steward, who I only saw once in the week, for about 1 minute, was mostly missing. Yes our cabin was kept clean, but the steward just did his job. Example -- sometimes we had ince, sometimes not. This is the first time I've ever cruised and not given the room steward a nice big tip! The Officers seemed mostly missing or only talking to each other. We did see a fair amount of the Hotel Director, and on occasion we spied the Bar Manager (maybe picking up used glassware). The Yacht Club reception (past cruisers of WindStar) was a fiasco, with Yacht Club members getting printed invitations to an event and nobody from the ship showing up. I finally went down to reception to confirm we were at the right place/time, and the receptionist sprang into action. After about 5 minutes of frantic work, the Hotel Director dashed up to the top of the ship for the reception. We followed, and, well, he tried to make things right. About 30 minutes into the scheduled reception, some appetizers arrived, as did one server passing out wine. Two other officers showed up even later, looked around, spoke to each other, then left. We did get invited to a 10am champagne reception an a subsequent day, where I understand the captain attended. We chose not to go to this "make up" event given the experience we'd had. Excursions: We booked one cruise excursion, otherwise we organized our own. In Puerto Caldera, we booked the cruise's excursion to Manuel Antonio National Park. There were 39 guests booked. The park itself is beautiful but busy. The excursion was advertised as leaving early to beat the crowds. Unfortunately it took over an hour to get the 39 passengers off of the ship and onto a bus. Our time advantage had disappeared, and in the end our 3.5 hour excursion took about 5.5 hours. I would visit the park again, but do it privately. In Bahia Drake, we went to the small town and found a 4X4 operator who took us on a 3 hour scenic adventure. The highlight was a short walk through the jungle to a waterfall. It was all fun. In Golf Dulce we booked a private tour to the same chocolate plantation that the cruise visits; that tour was most interesting and the chocolate excellent. In Isla Parida we simply lounged on the beach; we spoke to folks who went on the hike (they really enjoyed it); the snorkel trip was apparently canceled when the boat broke down. Panama Canal Crossing: The actual crossing was fantastic. We were scheduled to start at around 5:30am and to finish at around 3:45pm. Times are not known until the day before the crossing. It seemed like more than half of the ship was outside on the front of the ship for the crossing. The ship provided a commentator who explained the process. We thoroughly enjoyed the event, and witnessed the first three locks from the very front of the ship (Deck 5) and the second three (last three) locks from outside the Yacht Club (Deck 8). We only used the old canal locks as the new ones are restricted to the largest ships. Tenders: All ports used Zodiac Tenders, with wet landings at two of the ports. While I quite like zodiac tenders, it can be a slow process given the boat capacity and the difficulty for some getting onto and off of the zodiacs. The cruise line did make it clear in their documentation, though I got the feeling that some passengers were surprised by the effort required. Final Billing: The preliminary bills were correct and WindStar even reminded us that we had some remaining shipboard credit. When we saw our final bill on the last day, it was not correct. Reception sorted the bill and simply stated that sometimes they have a glitch; Reception's calculation of our final bill matched our expectation and that total was about $200 less than what the final bill showed. Reception did correct the bill. Disembarkation: We had no issues on disembarkation, and we had arranged private transfers with Amber Moon Panama Taxi Service. The driver stated that WindStar calls on the container port, not the normal cruise port. There were no lines of taxis looking for customers. We love to try local beers and had booked a tour of Casa Bruja. It was a great tour and the beer was good too! Transit in Panama City was either on foot or via Uber. We also visited the old quarter, which was interesting though quiet in the daytime. I understand it's quite festive at night, with lots of restaurants and clubs sprinkled through the quarter. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
Love small ship sailing and this was no exception!! The cabins are beyond amazing!! Every room is a suite!! Fabulous!! Great staff, fantastic food and amazing wildlife!! Chocolate Farm was fun and educational!! Terrabo Sierpe ... Read More
Love small ship sailing and this was no exception!! The cabins are beyond amazing!! Every room is a suite!! Fabulous!! Great staff, fantastic food and amazing wildlife!! Chocolate Farm was fun and educational!! Terrabo Sierpe Mangroves River Tour was beyond our expectations!! Manuel San Antonio was very crowded and the tour company needs to work on organizing it better but it was a nice tour, too... The wildlife we saw on this trip was wonderful.. Four different kinds of monkeys, 2 different kinds of Sloths.. Macaws, Toucans, many many more.. Iguanas, snakes, caimens, coatimundi... Wow!! Staff was really, great especially the Naturalist, Eddie!! Food was wonderful!! Don't miss a night in Candles for the best Filet Mignon you'll ever eat!! Beautifully done.. excellent sides, too.. Nice breakfast choices , too.. Can't go wrong with the Eggs Benedict .. The fresh fruit was truly delicious !! Don't forget the truffle fries.. Wow!! Internet is expensive and tours are a little high priced but well done!! Fun watersports, beach picnic and deck bbq.. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
We choice this cruise to go through the Panama Canal and see Costa Rica. Going through the canal was great. The so called "ports" we visited consisted of tendering a zodiac from the ship to a public beach areas. One stop for a ... Read More
We choice this cruise to go through the Panama Canal and see Costa Rica. Going through the canal was great. The so called "ports" we visited consisted of tendering a zodiac from the ship to a public beach areas. One stop for a ship cookout, 2 ports with absolutely nothing in the so called "town" and one at a public marina. If you wanted to do anything at these stops it required an excursion which bused you somewhere else. The ship was fine and the staff was excellent...the itinerary made it disappointing. There was little to do on the ship while sailing. Entertainment at night consisted of 2 different duets performing in empty lounges or on deck, so if you didn't want to sit and drink while listening to music there was nothing to do after dinner. Some dinners were better than others. I would say 2 of the 7 dinners were very good the others average. The cabin was a nice size, it included a small walk-in closet and bathtub which you don't see to often. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
This is my second review of the "Star Pride" --- my first was the maiden voyage in 2014, immediately after the ship was acquired from Seabourn. I noticed several changes, almost all of which were positive. This 7-night cruise ... Read More
This is my second review of the "Star Pride" --- my first was the maiden voyage in 2014, immediately after the ship was acquired from Seabourn. I noticed several changes, almost all of which were positive. This 7-night cruise sailed on February 25, 2017 from Colon, with stops in several small ports in Costa Rica. Some recent passengers have complained that the ports are relatively unknown, but I really liked seeing the smaller venues that feature local culture and wildlife. Like us (13 previous cruises), over half of the passengers were Windstar alumni cruisers. Also in attendance were the new Windstar President John Delaney, and several members of his executive team. I had the opportunity to spend some “quality time” with John, and found him to be attentive, engaging, and passionate about small ship cruising, with many ideas for improving the Windstar brand. Prior to our embarkation, we flew into Panama City and stayed at the Bristol Hotel, located in the middle of the banking/financial district. Panama City is located on the Pacific coast, so we took an hour-long bus ride over to Colon’ on the Atlantic coast before boarding the ship. This might seem a bit odd, until you see that Panama City is a modern metropolis dominated by skyscraper hotels and high-rise office buildings, while Colon’ is mostly industrial, with little to offer tourists. SHIP INFORMATION: The Star Pride one of three (3) motor yachts purchased in late 2013 from Seabourn Cruise Lines. Most of my previous cruises have been on board the Wind Surf, which has smaller cabins, but much larger public spaces. I confess that I am very partial to the Wind Surf, but I am warming up to the Star class vessels --- they each have their charms. The ship has many features familiar to Windstar regulars: intimate "private yacht" ambiance, country club casual dress policy, attentive wait staff who learn guests' names seemingly overnight, and the open bridge policy. Cabins are all suites, with a minimum 50% larger footprint, larger marble bath, and a walk-in closet. The ship also features an aft sports platform for water activities, a small casino, and spa. Originally, the ship had two whirlpools (hot tubs) side by side on deck 7, plus an adjacent small pool, all covered by an awning. Recently Windstar removed the pool, and replaced one of the whirlpools with a slightly larger “jet” pool. When the jet is on you can actually swim against the current, and when it’s off, 6-8 people can fit in comfort. The Veranda restaurant has both indoor and open-air seating, and transforms into the Candles alternative dinner restaurant at night. The AmphorA restaurant is on the lower deck, and is handsomely decorated, spacious and comfortable, but also can be quite noisy at dinner time. Best to ask for a window table, rather than one in the middle of the room. The Lounge features a stage for entertainers and speakers, with theater type seating. Oddly enough, there is no bar in the Lounge, and so it is mostly used as a theater. The Compass Rose is located one deck higher, adjacent to the Casino, and has a very nice bar area and large dance floor. Unfortunately, it is completely indoors --- I really missed the aft ocean view from the Compass Rose on the Wind Surf. The Yacht Club is located on the top deck in front of the Star Bar. It is a handsome room with great views and comfortable seating, and a large TV for viewing photos from the ship’s photographer. Coffee, tea and pastries are offered in the morning, with light sandwiches and snacks available later in the day. EMBARKATION: With such a small number of passengers, getting on board is a brief and painless process. Passengers must fill out a few forms, surrender their passports, receive a photo ID card, and are then shown to their cabins. ACTIVITIES: All the Windstar yachts have a minimal approach to onboard activities, and the Star Pride was no exception. There are no Zumba classes, glass blowing exhibitions, or bridge tournaments such as might be found on larger vessels. Bravo! One traditional Wind Surf activity that was not offered was the afternoon tea time in the Compass Rose --- just doesn't have the same appeal indoors. The two biggest events of the week are the Beach Party (on a private island) and the Deck Barbecue, featuring line dancing afterwards. Most dancing I saw all week! The Crew Show is also a favorite, as well as the Yacht Club reception for past Windstar guests. INTERNET ACCESS: Always a sore point, especially at sea. Windstar charges $60 for 200MB of bandwidth, as opposed to a fixed number of minutes. This is a wise pricing model, in my view. Otherwise, everyone would be clogging up the works sending selfies home to their friends. Having said that, I used up my 200 MB in just two days. In hindsight, I should have scanned my email Inbox and only viewed important messages (no attachments), sent as few emails as possible, spent no time deleting messages. SERVICE: As always, the personalized service was terrific. Wait staff addressed passengers by name, and were genuinely enthusiastic about posing for pictures. Bartenders quickly learned everyone’s favorite wines or drinks. I have learned that it is almost always best to buy wine by the bottle instead of by the glass, as the wait staff are happy to store it for later use. PORT & SHORE EXCURSIONS: We took a great Dolphin Watch excursion, which was truly spectacular. After a 30 minute ride in a medium sized boat with an upper viewing deck, we saw dozens of dolphins up close and personal for over an hour. When the boat was moving slowly, the dolphins were right alongside us, and when we speeded up, they would ride the wake and leap completely out of the water time and time again. Afterwards we stopped to view a bird sanctuary, and saw frigate birds stealing fish from each other, as well as egrets, herons, green turtles and other wildlife. It was like being in a National Geographic nature show! All of the ports were quite small, which I liked. No jewelry stores, trinket shops, or tourist traps! OUR CABIN #133: Great location almost amidships, directly adjacent to the Atrium, so just one deck and a few steps from Reception. Our cabin was on the lowest of the three passenger decks, and the least expensive. We had a nice large window, but no balcony. The cabin was spacious, and seemed even larger because of the very low bed. However, the low bed also made it impossible to use for luggage storage (other than a carry-on). Although the cabins are at least 100 sq. feet larger than on the Wind Surf, the bed still sits very closely to the desk, making it a squeeze to get by. A nice feature is a curtain that can be drawn between the bed and the sitting area --- very convenient if I wanted to read after my wife went to bed. DINING: All the food was great, with very few misses. I had Eggs Benedict every morning, along with a fruit smoothy, fresh-squeezed OJ, and some smoked salmon. For lunch, it took much will power to not over indulge myself on the bread pudding with vanilla sauce. One item that we missed from previous Windstar cruises was the daily chilled soup --- much appreciated in tropical climes. Dinners were consistently delicious. One secret I have learned over the years is that if you don’t like the daily dessert offerings, you can always get Crème Brulee from Candles. Indoor seating at the Veranda restaurant was a little limited, so we always ate outdoors. Since our first cruise on the Star Pride, Windstar has added a second covered seating area (where the pool used to be) to handle a larger crowd. ENTERTAINMENT: On previous Windstar cruises, the entertainment always included a 4-5 piece combo such as “Top Society”, plus a second duo, usually a vocalist and guitarist or keyboard player. Thankfully, on this cruise there was no large combo. Instead, there were two duos – D’Harmony and Mardi Gras. D’Harmony (guitarist Eric and vocalist Monique) were our favorites, by far. DISEMBARKATION: Very straightforward. We arranged a transfer from the ship to the Marriott Hotel in San Jose, from which a driver took us to a post-cruise hotel destination. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
This was our first time on a cruise. We had never really considered taking one before but in looking for our "winter" break we thought that a trip through the Canal and up along the Costa Rican coast sounded like a fun ... Read More
This was our first time on a cruise. We had never really considered taking one before but in looking for our "winter" break we thought that a trip through the Canal and up along the Costa Rican coast sounded like a fun adventure. We didn't have particularly high expectations (nor particularly low) but were somewhat ambivalent but figured - you have to try everything once. Well we were really incredibly surprised at how wonderful the experience was. Just about everything was beyond our expectations. The cruise is amazing - a special shout out to Noel, Kennedy and Apple who really made our trip wonderful and easy. The women who worked in the spa were also amazing. The food and service really were the highlights. We enjoyed the excursions and highly recommend the Sierpe river outing. Probably the biggest let down was that the water sports wasn't available the last two afternoons of the cruise. At a minimum a bit more communication on this front for planning purposes would have been helpful The only other "complaint" we have is that it is difficult to dry out swimming suits and the like - it would be good if the ship could provide some of the "spin" ringers for clothing/suits that you sometimes find at gyms. One comment of note, while we are in our mid 50s/early 60s we were on the young side for this cruise. I think the bulk of the passengers were mid 60s to 80s - this wasn't an issue for us but something to keep in mind. Finally, it may be worth splurging for the balcony - we didn't but I think being able to open the windows would have been nice. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
We were on the January 21st sailing of the Costa Rica & Panama Canal cruise. It was our first cruise with Windstar (over the past 10 years Oceania has been our primary line). Our cabin was very spacious and well maintained, and the ... Read More
We were on the January 21st sailing of the Costa Rica & Panama Canal cruise. It was our first cruise with Windstar (over the past 10 years Oceania has been our primary line). Our cabin was very spacious and well maintained, and the staff was very friendly and attentive. However, the ship's exterior and public areas showed more wear-and-tear than we had expected, such as rusty areas on the hull near our balcony, cracked floor tiles, and frayed carpeting in several areas. While some of these may be viewed as cosmetic, one of the hot water lines located above Deck 4 cracked and drenched several cabins. These wear-and-tear items reflect the fact that the ship (as well as its sister ships acquired from Seabourn) are now 25+ years old. Hopefully, Windstar will give these areas more attention during the next overhaul. The food during the cruise was consistently good, and sometimes very good, but generally a step down from the food on Oceania. The public spaces on the ship are somewhat chopped up. For example, there is no easily used walking track on the ship's decks. I was surprised by the lack of contact via CC's Roll Call among passengers. Part of this was due to the ship's small size (we had approximately 195 passengers aboard), but I was surprised that there were zero responses from passengers on the Roll Call that I initiated approximately 6 months prior to the sail date. As a result, all of the port tours we took were booked through Windstar. Overall, the tour prices were OK and the quality was good. The beach BBQ at Isla Perida was outstanding! We would take Windstar again if it was an itinerary that we were interested in, but we still prefer Oceania based on the condition of public areas and the quality of food. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
I chose this cruise because I wanted to go to the areas along the Costa Rica Pacific coast that can be difficult to get to otherwise. Our opinions are probably colored with the horrible treatment from the Windstar headquarters, originally ... Read More
I chose this cruise because I wanted to go to the areas along the Costa Rica Pacific coast that can be difficult to get to otherwise. Our opinions are probably colored with the horrible treatment from the Windstar headquarters, originally scheduled the cruise for last year but boat ran aground, they waited 2 1/2 weeks to inform us that our cruise was cancelled so it was just 2 days before our flight out - no time to reschedule things, didn't give us enough for cancellation to even make a dent in our expenses, then they cancelled our rebooking but didn't inform us! Only found out when they called later to ask for our credit card # to refund it. This was just the start. Anyways, the actual cruise was nice, awesome port calls, going through the canal was also awesome. They cancelled the shore excursion (Corcovado Nature hike) that we were most looking forward to, the alternate was not even close. Cabin very nice, but we were told there would be fresh flowers and fruit daily. Flower left to wilt all week and fruit not replaced despite repeated requests. There's not a lot of activities to do onboard. Staff onboard are great and work hard to make things go smoothly. Smaller ship was very comfortable, very stable and no rocking. They need to give better directions to find the ship - even the port authorities were confused. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
We spent 7 days on the beautiful Star Breeze and were totally spoiled. The crew is very friendly, service is amazing, food is delicious and the cabins are big and beautiful. We did the Naturally Costa Rica cruise and had to take zodiacs to ... Read More
We spent 7 days on the beautiful Star Breeze and were totally spoiled. The crew is very friendly, service is amazing, food is delicious and the cabins are big and beautiful. We did the Naturally Costa Rica cruise and had to take zodiacs to shore. Most were wet landings where we stepped off the zodiac into water on a sandy beach. This was easy for us as we are relatively young and mobile. This was harder for some older passengers- particularly boarding the zodiac when the waves kept it bouncing. However, the crew were great at helping us on and off the zodiacs. The highlights of the cruise were the deck BBQ and beach BBQ. We also loved that there were only 180 passengers on board and 145 crew so we were very spoiled!! Our only complaint was that at our first 2 "ports" passengers who were not booked on tours with the ship could not depart until the tours had left. As we had independent tours booked, this caused us to be late for our tour. However, from day 3 onward, the crew seemed aware of the fact that independent travellers needed to get off in a timely manner and we had no problems. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
I selected this cruise because I wanted to go through the Panama Canal. I also liked the idea of a small ship. Fortunately my friend and I were upgraded to a suite, which was very nice. All in all I found it very relaxing. This is ... Read More
I selected this cruise because I wanted to go through the Panama Canal. I also liked the idea of a small ship. Fortunately my friend and I were upgraded to a suite, which was very nice. All in all I found it very relaxing. This is not one of the large ships with all kinds of activities, so be prepared to entertain yourself. The Wi-Fi was very expensive and for those who purchased the package they said it was not great. I was very disappointed with the excursions. They were very expensive and I was totally underwhelmed. The problem is, that when you stop at the ports if you don't take the excursions there is nothing else to do. I paid $199 for a boat ride and a mediocre lunch and a guy pointing out animals in the forest - most of which I didn't see. When you exit the ship for the excursions, you always have to use the zodiacs which could be challenging for some people and there were several wet landings where you got off into the water. There was some entertaining and lectures but they were mediocre at best. The food was excellent and the barbeque and buffet at the beach was great. There is a small gift shop that has high end jewelry and lots of Windstar "stuff" but nothing else. There is a small casino and nice library The key thing is DO NOT CHANGE MONEY. I got Costa Rican currency when I landed and there is no place to spend it. If you want to do any shopping this is not the cruise for you. All I wanted was a couple of tee shirts and maybe a hat - nothing - nada! My major criticism other than the expensive and underwhelming excursions is the final so called excursion. You get off the ship in Colon and have to get back to Panama City to fly out. And they once friendly crew rushes you off the ship. We bought the package that was supposed to be a transfer to the air port and tour of the city. The guide was a very snarky guy who was really a jerk who spent way too much time telling us to go to the bathroom at every stop. We go this short tour of the old and new city - 30 minutes at market which he had promised would have local crafts and they got taken to the airport. Well, my flight didn't leave until 11:50 PM and they took us to the airport at 2:30! And I paid $199 a person for this. Another passenger fortunately suggested that we stop at one of the airport hotels, which the guide dropped us off at. We ate lunch and killed some time, but it was really a waste of a day. It was a nice trip over all and I got to see what I wanted in terms of the canal. But I really think that I paid way too much for the excursions. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
This was our 1st cruise on a smaller ship. Really liked the size vs.the bigger ships. Windstar was 1st class from beginning to end. Personnel were friendly, polite,professional and fun. Food was excellent. Excursions were accurately ... Read More
This was our 1st cruise on a smaller ship. Really liked the size vs.the bigger ships. Windstar was 1st class from beginning to end. Personnel were friendly, polite,professional and fun. Food was excellent. Excursions were accurately described and fairly priced. The Sports Deck off the rear of the ship is an extra bonus and very enjoyable. The day on the private island was fun; and the deck party/celebration was amazing! The Panama Canal experience is most impressive and educational, and the ship does a good job presenting it. Pre and post hotels (in San Jose and Panaa City) were 4 or 5-star -- very nice. We were very satisfied and would recommend Windstar and this particular itinerary highly. P.S. while in Panama City, we hired a taxi to give us a personal, sight-seeing tour of the city. His name is Eric A. Singh; 507-6040-9459. He was great! Very fair, informative, clean/comfortable car and a real gentleman. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
Transportation from/to hotels and to/from ship timely and well organized. The Executive Inn is across the street from and $125 less per night than the official cruise hotel in Panama City. Lavish breakfast buffet can be supplemented ... Read More
Transportation from/to hotels and to/from ship timely and well organized. The Executive Inn is across the street from and $125 less per night than the official cruise hotel in Panama City. Lavish breakfast buffet can be supplemented from daily menu (try the French toast stuffed with Ricotta and pour on the maple syrup). Dinners will satisfy gourmet and gourmand alike. And one can eat at a different table every time (or not). One day featured a private beach, deck chairs (which had to be kept moving because of the tide), snorkel equipment, kayaks, and a lavish buffet. Note that the roads south of Manual Antonio in are almost impassable and a ship is the only way to see the South of Costa Rica. We took only two excursions--horse back riding on the beach and a boat tour of the mangroves, both of which we recommend. The ship's personnel seemed to lack knowledge of the timing of the excursions--so that a couple of our acquaintance did without breakfast to sit and wait for an hour in the lounge before going ashore in a Zodiac with limited seating. Then did without lunch because they were bumped from a returning Zodiac and had an afternoon excursion. Great crowd--older, friendly, well-travelled, not a drunk among them. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
This was our second cruise with Windstar, having sailed the first time on the Windsurf last year, we were excited to see Costa Rica on their new Star Breeze. The ship was not quite full 181 pax)....perfect. We loved our cabin location ... Read More
This was our second cruise with Windstar, having sailed the first time on the Windsurf last year, we were excited to see Costa Rica on their new Star Breeze. The ship was not quite full 181 pax)....perfect. We loved our cabin location (307), and definitely loved the size! Walk in closets and larger bathrooms with double sinks are a plus. A nice little French balcony allowed you to take a peek out to see the beautiful scenery. The staff, as always, were exceptional and always wanting to do anything to make your trip memorable. The food is outstanding! Chef Budhi and his team did a great job. Chef specials from local sourced seafood in a couple of the ports were a treat. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner were all very good. Breakfast and lunch are available in the Veranda area, which has a cooked-to-order option along with a small buffet. Indoor/outdoor seating options available. Evening entertainment is limited to the occasional bar trivia or duo singers indoors and on deck... Both very good. Oh, and the deck BBQ evening is a don't miss! Great energy and fun. What we didn't care for, and what was different from the Windsurf, were the enormous swells in several of the ports making the transfer onto the rubber zodiacs (15-18 pax) very challenging! We are a pretty active/in shape couple so other than being a little tentative, we were fine, but caution is advised for those less mobile. We also did not care for the transfer buses from pier to airport, because we were informed as the bus was leaving the pier that the air conditioning was broken for our 2 hr ride....and it was hot and humid. We were given water, but there was no bathroom on the bus. We will definitely sail with Windstar again because everything about it is so nice. Our sailing had a great age mix, from 9yrs - 80+! We have cruised the big ships 20+ times and are totally sold on the small, luxury "yacht" experience. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
Naturally Costa Rica The arrival in to the industrial port doesn’t do this experience justice. But it is very clear when you enter the boat and start interacting with the crew that it is going to be a great time. I would say no ... Read More
Naturally Costa Rica The arrival in to the industrial port doesn’t do this experience justice. But it is very clear when you enter the boat and start interacting with the crew that it is going to be a great time. I would say no less than 20 crew members knew my name by day 2. This team takes the time to learn your name and preferences – in the hallway and around the boat they call you by name as they understand the importance of learning your name. Food was never below good and most times I would say is above average to great. It’s a boat servicing 200 people with no reservations for seated meals required – factoring that in, food was great and service was over the top (Miko, Hendry and Ram being my favorites with several others that deserve a shout out for going above and beyond). We had at least 2 days with the sports deck open and Chehab and Anna make sure you are safe and having a blast (water trampoline was probably my favorite). Some sections of the boat show its real age but the cabins and much of the shared spaces are beautifully renovated. Gym was always available with more than enough equipment and SPA offered several services. Denis gives an amazing massage and is a great source of nutritional and health knowledge (to keep you balanced as you eat and drink all day). It was rare that you could not get a seat on the deck exactly where you wanted. Ed, Jessie and others from the bar we always circling around to ensure you stayed hydrated. Getting off the boat in Costa Rica is different than usual boat exits – not an issue for us for take tender on to shore and do some wet landings (1-2 feet of water). I just recommend you ensure you ask your travel agent if you have mobility issues about the type of docking the boat does. Excursions were a variety of strenuous and mild activity levels. Some passengers go on strenuous and have some issues (heat, hills, slippery rocks, and hiking) so I recommend you read descriptions as we found them to be accurate. Our excursions were awesome – not flawless but great experiences in a beautiful area. I wish they would allow us to post reviews on their site of the excursions as that would likely help align people with the right excursions. Nightly entertainment I preferred was Jesus and Haley (Sophistication) – I could watch that duo for hours every night! They are energetic, fun and very talented. Lots of presentations (kudos to Eddie the Naturalist for knowing all about Costa Rica) and other activities you could do (triva, dancing, workouts, yoga). At age of 34 I was a bit ‘young’ compared to most of the passengers. This is no way impaired me from having a blast! Tracy Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
For my wife and I, our first Windstar cruise and I would definitely consider Windstar again in the right circumstances. The great-staff in all areas of the ship,attentive,friendly and very helpful- the cabins very spacious and ... Read More
For my wife and I, our first Windstar cruise and I would definitely consider Windstar again in the right circumstances. The great-staff in all areas of the ship,attentive,friendly and very helpful- the cabins very spacious and comfortable-easy check in and departure- other guests friendly ,easy to make friends,- we found the food excellent at all meal occasions with good menu options[to many for my willpower] not so great[for us] some of the excursions-expensive - tram tour, didn't see wildlife,couldn't understand guide at the park, great view of the canal just disappointing,- mangrove tour again didn't really see enough expected wildlife, dangerous exit from tour boat,tour staff seemed unprepared, late getting back and 6 of us stranded on dock waiting for 45 minutes for zodiac to return- then there are the zodiacs,fun for some but at times, on the two days with high sea swells, a real challenge transferring to ship,particularly anyone with mobility issues. We did enjoy the chocolate farm tour. It was hot 35 to 40C every day{ it is the tropics] ,to hot to stay in sun and not much to do on the ship if you don't excursion. other observations-limited ship entertainment but what there was we enjoyed-2 sets of 2 musicians on board and we thought they were great and lots of fun but no one on our cruise seemed to stay up after 9:30 at night,a pity. The panama canal was a night trip and we saw one lock as the daylight ended. First day of cruise we went to Portabella , was not on the itinerary and there are no maps on board or tv info to show in detail the ship's position or route. our advice -research the excursions to see what suits you. We heard mixed reviews on excursions from others,some had great experiences and the area is beautiful. There may be some learning going on for Windstar with this being the first year for this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
First I must say that the ship is very nice. The staff were incredible. Loved them all. The rooms were also very nice, comfortable and clean. We went on this cruise to see and explore new things. We really looked forward to sailing the ... Read More
First I must say that the ship is very nice. The staff were incredible. Loved them all. The rooms were also very nice, comfortable and clean. We went on this cruise to see and explore new things. We really looked forward to sailing the Panama Canal. My husband actually called Windstar and talked to Jesse several times. He wanted to make sure everything was good. We booked this trip for ourselves and three other couples. As we did some research, we felt like the excursions bought from Windstar are a little expensive and we found some independent tours for half the price and amazing. We were treated very rudely because we were "independent" and had to wait until last to get off of the ship, etc. The excursions we did go on from the ship were a disaster. Snorkeling at Jiminez was a total joke. No fish, a crappy boat, and rough water. The guide on the tour said he wasn't a snorkler but a hiker. One lady slipped in the boat and injured herself. We took the Windstar tour to see the Miraflora locks. It would have been ok if so much wouldn't have been crammed in to just a few hours. Why not split it up and offer half of it the night before?? We went to the observation deck, watched one ship and were hurried back on to the bus. No time for the short movie presentation, and no time for the museum. Very disappointing as we will never be back there. The swim deck advertised also a joke. Windstar advertises waterskiing and fun. There was always an excuse to not do these things. And, don't book Panama Canal at night. I feel like we missed out on the whole experience because we were in the dark most of the way. Overall, disappointed and wont use Windstar again. Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
Our tour of Costa Rica and the Panama Canal was completely awe inspiring. Living in a region where there are many licks on the river, I was amazed and struck by the feat of building and maintaining the Panama Canal! It should be on ... Read More
Our tour of Costa Rica and the Panama Canal was completely awe inspiring. Living in a region where there are many licks on the river, I was amazed and struck by the feat of building and maintaining the Panama Canal! It should be on everyone's' bucket list. In Costa Rica our excursions filled with the flora and fauna of the region and did not disappoint. Other than the early wake up time to make the tour, we had no complaints (we are on vacation after all) but the timing was quickly explained as being controlled by the timing of low tide. From our arrival in San Jose, CR to final departure from Panama City, Panama the Windstar team handled everything including transporting luggage. It was such a well organized, steam lined adventure, we will certainly be repeat customers. As far as the ship, we had a French balcony suite. More then ample size for the time we spent in our stateroom. Very impressed by the walk-in closet and double vanity bathroom with tub and shower. The entire crew provided exemplary service. I, personally loved the "Sail Away" experience as we set sail each night. Even knowing what to expect, the crescendo of the music sent chills up my spine as they raised the flag. So cool! Looking forward to my next voyage. Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
We have been on many mainstream cruises with Norwegian and Celebrity Cruise Lines. This being our first cruise with Windstar, we were quite impressed with the product and overall had a terrific time. The Star Breeze crew was upbeat and ... Read More
We have been on many mainstream cruises with Norwegian and Celebrity Cruise Lines. This being our first cruise with Windstar, we were quite impressed with the product and overall had a terrific time. The Star Breeze crew was upbeat and engaging every step of the way while delivering excellent service. Along with the small ship environment the crew really makes the product work and sets it apart from the bigger cruise lines. The cabins and public areas are well appointed. The ship is easy to get around, yet big enough to find a corner to relax. The yacht club was an especially nice place have coffee, a cocktail from the Star Bar or small snack/dessert. It was generally quiet with nice views. The cuisine was outstanding and service excellent. Plenty of menu choices. Our chef made two visits to our table to make sure everything was up to our standard. He was very engaging and genuinely interested in our feedback. All tenders were by Zodiac. We found this method of tendering to be quite refreshing vs. the traditional enclosed tenders on the larger ships. For those with mobility issues we could see how it was a bit of a challenge. The one area we thought could use some improvement was in the bar service. An indoor quiet area with bar service before dinner (5-7pm) would be nice... the lounge had loud entertainment more appropriate for later in the evening and made it difficult to have a conversation. Overall, we were very pleased with the Star Breeze cruise. We would recommend it to those who are looking to avoid the big crowds and like a quiet easy going cruise with some entertainment. Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
This was our first cruise on Windstar. We were on the February 13-20, 2016 Star Breeze cruise from Puerto Caldera to Colon, Panama. We flew into San Jose the day before and used the Windstar transfer to the San Jose Marriott. The ... Read More
This was our first cruise on Windstar. We were on the February 13-20, 2016 Star Breeze cruise from Puerto Caldera to Colon, Panama. We flew into San Jose the day before and used the Windstar transfer to the San Jose Marriott. The hotel is in a colonial, hacienda style on a large property. Rooms are standard Marriott ( and this is meant as a complement). That evening there was a Windstar rep set up outside of the lobby to check us in and explain the transfer process. She was there the next morning also. For the transfer, there were 3 separate buses,leaving approximately 30 minutes apart. The entire process was very efficient and relaxed. The transfer to the port took almost 2 hours due to the traffic leaving the San Jose area. The port is an industrial port, but did not pose any problems or issues. The ship: Yes, this ship is 30 years old. The interior has been nicely re-done, but.. if you look close in places it will show its age. This did not take away from our enjoyment of the cruise. The exterior of the ship (not the deck areas, but the hull ) did look dingy in places, but I did note that during the week the exterior was being painted. The outside public deck areas were the passengers spent most of their time was always clean and in good repair. Because this is a small ship, the pools/whirlpools are small. While we did not use the pools, the passengers that did appear to enjoy them and there was always adequate space. Food: Food was very good. We ate at the Veranda most days for breakfast and lunch, and AmphorA for dinner. There was always a wide variety of selections, well prepared and a willingness to prepare what ever was requested within reason. We took the galley tour one day and met the Executive Chef. We explained how all dinners were prepared to order and that all bread and pastries were baked daily on board. We also ate one night at Candles, the open air part of the Veranda dining room at the rear of the ship. It is a traditional steakhouse presentation and was well done. We did have room service the evening we went through the Panama Canal and it was prompt and well presented. They brought the courses separately as they would be served in AmphorA. One slight disappointment in the Food area were the wine choices. I thought it was very limited and would have appreciated a wider selection. The cocktails were always well prepared. The lunch BBQ on the beach was extremely well done considering having to bring everything from the ship to shore. The BBQ on board was also great with grilled lobster and a roasted pig. Service: The staff was fantastic, especially the food service and bar staff. They all were very personable and remembered your name and would take extra time to have conversations. All with a smile on their face. Activities/Entertainment: There were two duos on board, both with a female lead and backup singer/ keyboard accompanist. Both were appropriate for the size of the ship and the level of interest in the passengers for this type of entertainment. They would play on deck during the sailaways and provide light entertainment in the lounge in the evening. We had a local, Costa Rican naturalist as part of the cruise staff. He provide several days of lectures with in depth information on the areas history, biology, etc. Very well done. His lectures were well attended and informative. Ports/Excursions: One aspect of this cruise that I feel Windstar should make all potential passengers aware of is that this cruise does not dock at any port except at embarkation and disembarkation. All other ports are reached by zodiac tenders boarded on the ships platform with several landings being "wet". The Star Breeze's own tender was pulled out in Balboa. The crew appeared the have the method of getting passengers in and out of the zodiac in the open seas pretty well down pat. We took Windstar shore excursions in all of the ports and we enjoyed all of them and they were all well done. Disembarkation: Disembarkation saw the most disappointing Windstar experience of the cruise. Apparently due to the pace of the Panamanian authorities to clear us and stamp our passports, the process to leave the ship was about an hour behind schedule. I don't fault Windstar for that... But, the water in the public areas of the ship was turned off during this time ( scheduled maintenance)... which means the toilets would not flush!!! Not a pleasant last memory of an otherwise great trip. We took the tour of Panama City as part of our transfer to the Bristol Hotel for one night post-cruise. The tour was OK. The Bristol Hotel was extremely nice and is highly recommended. Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
Assigned replacement cruise after January Star Pride scheduled trip was cancelled because it ran aground. Management pledged to cover all airline rebooking fees and cost up to $500 per passenger, however after nearly 2 1/2 months of ... Read More
Assigned replacement cruise after January Star Pride scheduled trip was cancelled because it ran aground. Management pledged to cover all airline rebooking fees and cost up to $500 per passenger, however after nearly 2 1/2 months of waiting and complaining they finally sent a check covering only the cancellation fee ($200) and disregarded costs incurred to obtain new airline tickets, which was totally the fault of the company.... apparently they have a serious cash problem. As for the cruise, we found crew, accommodation, service and food to be acceptable; however going through the canal at night was not what we thought we paid for. Similarly Windstar's marketing as a luxury yacht was lacking credibility, deceiving at best. We did experience on this voyage exceptional service staff in the Amphora restaurant; their menu and food presentation was as good as we have experience on other cruise lines. Overall service was good. Windstar's primary use of zodiacs for transport to shore excursions was alarming at times when moderate seas caused considerable consternation among elderly passengers. Wet landing and usually wet trip. Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
First a disclaimer. I have enjoyed five cruises on the Paul Gauguin and wanted a fair comparison between PG and the recently refitted former Seabourn ships. I understood the key difference between the two - PG as totally all inclusive ... Read More
First a disclaimer. I have enjoyed five cruises on the Paul Gauguin and wanted a fair comparison between PG and the recently refitted former Seabourn ships. I understood the key difference between the two - PG as totally all inclusive and the Winstar Star Breeze as lodging, meals and non-alcoholic included - yet eager to compare the differences in service, food, entertainment, enrichment, excursions and overall ambiance. We chose the January 23 Costa Rica cruise as a fair seven day comparison cruise. The refitting of the ship's interior was exquisite. All soft goods were fresh and new. The cabins were especially well outfitted with ample size, a walk-in closet and great bathrooms. Sadly, the same cannot be said for the ship herself. A 1989 vintage, she shows clear signs of age and her operation sports dated mechanics (more on that later). She is in bad need of a complete haul out. Deck caulking was peeling. Some deck boards were actually rising up. Rust abounded with coats of new paint in some areas not hiding the deferred maintenance well. We could have ignored this lack of attention had it not been for the real problem experienced. Communication An old Sicilian proverb concludes with the observation: A fish rots from the head down. Though staff tried mightily to overcome the corners cut by upper management, the faults of lack of guest communication, actual dangerous attempts at tender boarding and return, and an aged set of mechanics made this cruise more akin to a thrill ride than a relaxing experience. Though every cruise has its high winds and rough seas, the Star Breeze has no ability to deal with normal swells at anchor due to a lack of adequate thrusters to combat swells and current. At anchor with only one bow hook and the Captain's choice to anchor in 140-170 foot waters, we experienced considerable listing in even moderate swells. On one especially adventurous tender re-boarding, the boarding ramp rose more than four feet up and down as the rubber zodiacs fitfully tried to approach the ship. Our tender motored for more than forty five minutes while the bridge crew tried maneuvers to settle the listing. After thirty minutes in subtropical heat and blistering sun, I had new appreciation for the plight of Syrian refugees! Thoughout the cruise, there was no explanation for the extreme listing at anchor, no announcements about the next day's itinerary, and no warning about repositioning or changes to excursions. Excursion processing was abysmal as upper management chose their manager to also serve as cruise director. I do not fault the crew below chief officer level for this lack of communication. The Indonesian and Filipino staff exceeded expectations coping with a very disorganized Senior staff. I would even grant the benefit of the doubt to all staff as I believe the real problem stems from upper management who obviously have not been on board since re-fit. While this review does have serious negative concerns, Chef Budhi, hospitality and deck service staff were top notch and attentive. They simply suffered through the lack of orientation to this new ship and proper training. Food was consistently good, but certainly not comparable to either the Paul Gauguin and miles below food preparation on Oceania. In the waters of the best fishing grounds in Central America, all fish were frozen, none fresh. Wine, though fairly priced, was only mediocre. Most have already commented on the lack of entertainment, but the two musical duos were outstanding in their effort to overcome a bad sound system with no sound engineer to keep the shows seamless. Microphones experienced constant problems, and some speakers on deck were actually blown. Thoughout the cruise, the swim platform was never lowered, even on days with modest seas. It was only the final day's beach party that passengers even saw the water toys and snorkel gear was never issued for the same reason. The stark contrast between the Paul Gauguin and the Star Breeze left us with more regret than meeting expectations. I know that there are loyal Windstar devotees, and it pains me to write a review more negative than positive, but I cannot recommend that anyone sail on the "new" old Seabourn ships until they receive a thorough haul out and improve on consistency and passenger communication. I don't expect that to happen until upper management is replaced by cruise experts who deliver that proper investment and training. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
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