This was our first small ship experience and we loved it. I was a little worried about not having a balcony but come to find out on a small ship it is just one flight of steps to sitting outside. The cabin had enough storage and space. ... Read More
This was our first small ship experience and we loved it. I was a little worried about not having a balcony but come to find out on a small ship it is just one flight of steps to sitting outside. The cabin had enough storage and space. The outdoor area is large with a bar and also set up in the morning for a continental breakfast. Very small pool and hot tub.
The food and service was excellent and our Social Director (Felippe) was the best I have every seen. Everyone on the crew seemed genuinely happy and wanted us to have a great time.
Other than Grenada we enjoyed all the ports or I should say harbors...we tendered into most of the small islands....one time we had to take the rubber boats into land...so if you have a mobility problem this could be difficult.
Breakfast and lunch is buffet or order off the menu in a restaurant on the top level......dinner is down in the dinning room and is off a menu. You can also sign up to have dinner under the stars.........up on the deck - it was lovely. They also had a barbeque night up on the deck, most food I have ever seen and all of it was great, this was followed by line dancing with the crew.
I think we will be hard press to go back to a big ship after such a great time on the smaller ship.......granted it was a little rocky on the first night due to a super moon but it calmed down after that. Read Less
This was super fun! The ship is small, I think 190 or so passengers, and nearly a 1-1 ratio crew.
It is wonderful, watching the anchor lift up, and then the music starting, as the beautiful sails slowly unfold, and we get underway. you ... Read More
This was super fun! The ship is small, I think 190 or so passengers, and nearly a 1-1 ratio crew.
It is wonderful, watching the anchor lift up, and then the music starting, as the beautiful sails slowly unfold, and we get underway. you can’t really go wrong, with a friendly, helpful, cheerful crew, good food all day, and service, and the SEA! The magnificent, ever changing sea and sky! The fresh air, the sights, the tiny islands we visit… There are no elevators on this ship, but I was amazed at the fortitude with which some very elderly guests, went up and down the stairs several times a day, including one blind man. The guests were mixed, mostly couples, I’d say middle aged and a bit older perhaps, I’m sure it varies, with the sailing dates, as kids were back in school, when I went.
I went solo, and had a great time - my only minor whine, was that after a large dinner, they had music and dancing in the lounge, and as a single, I found it awkward to dance. On a fabulous barbecue night, outside on the deck, the entertainment directors started us line dancing, so anyone could join in, and it was a blast. It’s great to have exercise, after a big meal. The pool is very small, and not heated, and it’s also, on the deck where the outside bar is, and which turns into the alternative dining spot “Candles”, in the evening, so no lovely night time swims in the moonlight are possible, which I usually adore, especially as I’m very pale, so I can swim without worrying about sunburn. The jacuzzi is there also. “Candles” has to be reserved, and each passenger is only allowed one night’s dining in Candles, unless they have room.
They have a platform, which can be lowered, when we’re not sailing, or parked right in town, which is great fun. They provide you with snorkeling equipment, and all kinds of water sport goodies to enjoy. Luca was in charge of water sports, and very knowledgeable and helpful. The cabins are small, with no balcony, but charming, and old fashioned, and well designed. the beds are comfy, the rooms are clean, the showers hot, and there is a mini bar, plus TV with cable and DVD player. You’re allowed two bottle of wine per cabin I believe, to bring on board. Drinks are about $7.50 to $10.00 or more US.
I didn’t buy any excursions, as I had already had to pay a single supplement, but they have tenders that take you to shore, and one can explore, or go to a beach and swim. This was only a 7 day cruise, so I just wanted to relax and have fun. Breakfast and lunch are at the “Verandah” Restaurant, with some, coveted seating outside. There is a small library, small spa, and the main dining room, which one does have to dress for a bit, and which is very nice. We did hit some swells, with the full moon, so the ship was gently (mostly gently), rocking us back and forth, but if you love the sea, you won’t care. Apparently the full moon often brings swells in the ocean.
The islands we visited were beautiful, and the entertainment at night was pretty darn amusing. The singer was sweet, and had a beautiful voice, and Philipe, the head of Voyage something - was a hoot. Everyone had a great time, and everyone was sad and quiet the last night. It is just a great experience. I almost asked if they had any cabins available for the next sailing, so I could stay on another week! Read Less
After a spectacular Windstar experience through the Panama Canal several years ago, we could not wait to do it again with our two younger sons - and this time - adding our oldest son and his wife. We planned a Christmas week cruise out of ... Read More
After a spectacular Windstar experience through the Panama Canal several years ago, we could not wait to do it again with our two younger sons - and this time - adding our oldest son and his wife. We planned a Christmas week cruise out of Barbados and talked it up for months.
Our first indication that things would be different was the first night's sail away. This is Windstar's brand, their signature sail away. It's what makes the cruise so memorable and filled us with joy the last time. This time we got our drinks, met on deck, and grinned like crazy waiting to see the reaction of the oldest, his wife and new friends we had already made on the cruise. As the music hit the crescendo, the large sail didn't move. And that was it, our magical sail away hit that sour note every single night. Comments that first night and subsequent nights: "That's it?" After speaking to the crew, we found out it had been broken for at least two weeks. It remained broken through our entire cruise.
We noted small things that added up as well. The back flag was frayed, there was rust around the pool, the pool and hot tub were often empty and closed for repairs, the back stairwell smelled like cat pee (very strongly), there was only one tender making excursions a long process, they chipped rust every day off the hull, the carpet was ripped in two places in our cabin, the AC was very warm (could never get it cool enough), and there was a loud, high pitched noise anytime the engine was running (the reply was yes we know and can't find it) - just to name a few things.
Service saved the cruise for us, it was as good as the first time. For the price we paid for a small luxury cruise for 6 adults, we were very, very disappointed and will not cruise Windstar again. And we were so looking forward to experiencing their brand again - i just didn't come close to expectations.
Other comments that week from returning guests:
- They seem to be getting awfully close to cheapening their brand.
- This feels like a small Carnival ship this time
- This entertainment is so cheesy. Wasn't it much classier last time?
- That's it again? (the sail every night) Read Less
My wife and I did this cruise on Dec. 16-23. It is our second with the Windstar line and 14th overall. We picked this trip because of the given itinerary ( three days in the Grenadines) was new for us. Here is our observations:
... Read More
My wife and I did this cruise on Dec. 16-23. It is our second with the Windstar line and 14th overall. We picked this trip because of the given itinerary ( three days in the Grenadines) was new for us. Here is our observations:
Embarkation: was very smooth and quick. The reps met us at the terminal and collected our luggage. Ten minutes later a bus took us to the ship and the paperwork took us only five minutes to process. Once your issued your sea pass, your room steward will escort you to your room and will point out where everything is at.
Room: very comfortable, spacious. Had plenty of storage. Wife liked the built-in table/dinette area. Bathroom was well lit and organized.
Dining: all the meals were great. Breakfast and lunch in the Veranda was varied. Each meal had a buffet area with fruit, meat and cereals. The hot station had eight different items to choose from and a menu with five to six choices. What was nice was it never felt crowded or rushed at either meal. Dinner was nice, open seating to meet new people each night and a great four course menu with five different entrée choices.
Ship: it was very comfortable. Enjoyed sitting up by the pool or in the lounge. There were 129 passengers (out of a max of 148) for this trip and I never felt crowded at any time.
Ports: if you a lover of beach time, this is the trip for you. Grand Anse beach in Grenada, Dover beach in Barbados, Tobago Cays and Mayreau beaches were ideal. The taxi ride in Bequia was fun for us to research a couple of resorts for future trips.
Service: what made us give this review a five star was the crew. Hands down was the best we ever had in our thirteen years of cruising.
The wait staff in the dining areas and the bar staff remembered we were drinking diet coke and ginger ale and would have glasses ready as we were sitting down. That is just one example of the outstanding service we experienced from everyone on board this ship.
There are four members of the crew we would like to extend special cudos to:
Azhar (Cabin Steward): While showing us the room, Azhar had mentioned the laundry service and showed us how to fill out the form correctly. He would then follow up with us each day to see if we had anything to have cleaned. When he showed us the mini bar, he asked what we liked to drink and immediately brought extra of the diet coke. Each day he would ask if there was anything we needed to make our stay more comfortable.
Gretchan (Receptionist): She knew our names before we had even met her. She greeted us personally the first day on the way to breakfast. She made us a personalized Christmas card, which was very sweet. My husband would saran aid her when we went through the lobby and got her some Skittles for just being her.
Phillipe (Cruise Director): when our excursion did not meet the required number of people, he went to the vendor and made it happen. This was crucial because this catamaran trip to the location has been on my bucket list for ten years and he made it happen. His enthusiasm at the port talks and at trivia was welcomed.
Jeffrey (Executive Chef): on the first day we met up with Jeff and asked him if he ever did an excursion with guests when he went shopping in port. He said he had not but had no problem joining us for a trip to the Farmers Market in Grenada. He met us at reception and over the next two hours spent his time this us helping us pick out different spices. Whenever we saw him on the ship he would come and talk to us at length.
Overall this cruise was a great success, Those who would like to try the small cruise experience will have a delightful time taking this ship on any itinerary. Read Less
From the moment we boarded, we felt like we were returning family, this was our sixth cruise with WS, our first on one of their new motor launches, so we weren’t sure what to expect, but Star Breeze delivers in the same manner as the ... Read More
From the moment we boarded, we felt like we were returning family, this was our sixth cruise with WS, our first on one of their new motor launches, so we weren’t sure what to expect, but Star Breeze delivers in the same manner as the sail-ships. The check-in process went smoothly. Andre, the ship's Bar Manager made it easy for us to choose the Beverage package. Then it was straight to our Balcony Suite and what a lovely surprise, so spacious and our Cabin Steward, Abdul, was there to take care of our immediate laundry/pressing needs. The sail away is always so special and gets everyone to come together at the Star Bar or bow of the ship, the Vangelis music from the 1492 Conquest of Paradise soundtrack is inspiring every time.
EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED - FOOD & SERVICE
This was our first on STAR BREEZE (well actually, we experienced her when she was a former Seabourn ship). Seabourn it could be argued, were the first to introduce white-glove luxury to cruising. Luxury can take on many different levels; it can be a pretentious lifestyle of the rich and famous, or it can be simply, casual and elegant - a Windstar cruise is the graceful equivalent and as they are fond of saying, “180 degrees from ordinary”. So what does all this mean for the first time WS guest? Extraordinary service, as WS encourages, all you have to do is ask and I did - I like a Bloody Caesar made with Clamato juice, which they didn’t have, but after our next port call voila! Andre brought me one the next day at the appointed hour. Excellent cuisine - They say you eat with your eyes first, it was like eating in a Five Star restaurant.I can’t speak highly enough about the Chef’s presentations at dinner in the Amphora restaurant ( the curry lamb-pops, the beef wellington, the mushroom stuffed vol-au-vents and the light creamy chocolate souffle - all mouth wateringly delicious) Our wine steward, Rod proved very knowledgeable and paired our wines well with each mouth watering course. And at the Veranda for breakfast and lunch the choices were many. Chef’s one-time Indian buffet one day was so delicious, the chic-i-chic chicken with the nan bread down to the Major Grey’s Mango chutney, well let's just say the flavors literally took you on an Indian journey, the only thing missing was Ravi Shankar’s sitar music. We like to think of our cruises with WS,, as our own private yacht vacation, with a familiar ‘family-like’ crew, taking us places to escape the rat race in today’s ever fast paced world.
Our families have always been close to the sea and might be considered sailing enthusiasts, in various locations like, the Royal Sydney, Vancouver, St Lawrence and Waikiki Yacht clubs. So what do yacht clubs and Windstar have in common? “yachties”, people with a sense of adventure. Brands are sometimes difficult to define. If you look closely, the most synonymous with sailing are Ralph Lauren Polo, Docksiders, and Veuve Clicquot, they all dove-tail nicely to Windstar, casual yet stylish, even iconic. What you get on board a Windstar vessel, be it motor launch or motorized-sailer, is a guest list of diverse, successful people, from all around the world, united in one common goal, to relax, explore, dream and discover unique itineraries and ports of call, at the same time wanting for nothing.
For those reading this and other WS Cruise Critic reviews, you’ll already be on the ‘I get it page’ that a Windstar cruise, is for it’s first time and returning guests, you are rather like being a member of a yacht club, where you mingle with fellow guests, with tanned faces, white linens, popped collars, topsiders and an easy going way about them. You are not on a massive floating hotel or even an expedition cruise, you are here to take it easy and at the same time be pampered.
Having done many other WS cruises on WIND SURF (As reviewed in my article, ‘Jewels of the Caribbean’ on two weeks back to back: “All these islands in the sun hold unique memories and history from discoveries past that make them what they are - a flavor for each which makes the Caribbean dance in harmony and yet with such diversity. Our ship strung these jewels of the Caribbean together, clasped by the Wind Surf alone, a precious gem wherever she may sail.”) & WIND STAR, (As reviewed in my ‘Dreams of Tahiti - Tropical Romance’...“for Tahiti is a place unique unto herself, like an unspoiled child, precious in her innocence, like the blessing of true love newly discovered – do Tahiti, for you shall find, tropical beauty and romance in abundance, especially seen from the deck of Wind Star.”)
BOUTIQUE LIKE HOTEL AT SEA
Think for a moment about small boutique hotels (eg: Villa Rolandi - Isla Mujeres, Carl Gustav - St Barts, Chateau Eze, France - Hotel Danieli, Venice). Now think of your own small luxury floating Windstar ship - boutique hotel, taking you to any number of these exotic destinations around the world in the space of week or two. Bathed in one-on-one service at every turn, introducing you to different cultures up close and personal.
Our STAR BREEZE, Secrets of the Southern Caribbean, was no less than sublime in all categories of new ports of call, although we didn’t do many excursions, passengers who did, came back with stories to tell and seemed to have had a great time. We did do the old city tour by horse drawn carriage in Cartagena, which we thoroughly enjoyed - what fascinating history, We discovered new found friends, from the US, Canada, Great Britain some of which we definitely will keep in touch with. In summary, perhaps like BMW, which is hailed as the Ultimate Driving Machine, so to can we say WS is our ultimate cruise line. There are some legendary figures in life I have related to, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, Katherine Hepburn, Ernest Hemingway. One author who captures my sentiments most closely, Mark Twain, who said it best, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did so. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover”.
We can only add, treat yourself, give yourself permission and join the Windstar yacht club. We’re thinking our our next WS sojourn, Singapore and Thai Treasures. Like so many like & before us, you’ll soon discover why WS considers themselves to be in the magic moments business - perhaps you might like to consider them, your cultural Ambassador to the world, leaving a softer foot print wherever your Windstar cruise sails.
PS: A personal“Thank You” to crew who went above & beyond in making us feel extra special, Rod, Afrin, One, Noel, Abdul, F&B Mngr, Hubert & Executive Chef, Holvin Read Less
My wife and I were on the March 12 Wind Surf cruise. We’re in our early 50s and have cruised over 50 times. This is our second time on Wind Surf.
We flew into SXM on the Friday before we sailed. Getting through the airport was ... Read More
My wife and I were on the March 12 Wind Surf cruise. We’re in our early 50s and have cruised over 50 times. This is our second time on Wind Surf.
We flew into SXM on the Friday before we sailed. Getting through the airport was relatively easy and we took a cab to our hotel, Divi Little Bay. The hotel is in a beautiful location on Little Bay. We enjoyed our room (had a great view) and the food on the resort was good. Service, however, was terrible. We would not stay again.
We checked out of our hotel at 11 am on Saturday (no late checkout allowed) and arrived at the pier before noon. Windstar has a luggage check in near the entrance to the port but boarding does not start before 1:00 pm. Fortunately, there were plenty of places to sit in the shopping area. When boarding started, we were though security, checked in, and in our cabin very promptly. Check in as well as specialty restaurant reservations takes place onboard. Security does seem to check carry on bags for alcohol…..we had two bottles of wine, which was not a problem.
We were in a suite on deck 3. The suites on Wind Surf have been converted from two separate cabins into one suite. This allowed for 2 bathrooms and 2 closets. While the extra space may not have been needed, the extra bathroom was a nice feature. Cabin service was great all week. One afternoon, we heard a banging noise in our cabin. I reported the problem and it was resolved promptly. The reception desk called twice to make sure we had no further problem.
The Wind Surf is not large but it has several dining spaces, a nice lounge, a couple of other bars, small casino, Yacht Club, and a gift shop. There’s an outdoor pool and hot tub. Lounge chairs are spread throughout the outdoor spaces. A marina is lowered from the back of the ship when conditions permit. Unfortunately, we didn’t have very good conditions for this feature on our cruise but it’s very nice when available. Snorkel gear is available for check out from this area.
We thoroughly enjoy the dining on Wind Surf. Breakfast and lunch are served in the Verandah, which has indoor and outdoor seating. It has a buffet with several a la carte items that are ordered from the menu. Overall, we found the food to be very good. The main dining room, Amphora, is our favorite for dinner. The menus offer a variety of choices, all of which include quality ingredients and excellent preparation. The servers are great. There are two specialty restaurants (no extra charge). We enjoyed our meal in Stella Bistro, even though the AC was malfunctioning and the room was hot. The food was excellent. Candles is the outdoor dinner restaurant (uses Verandah area). This was a disappointment. The menu is limited. I ordered a NY strip steak. I was served a piece of meat so thin that I would call it a minute steak. Everything else was OK but the other venues are better. I’d rather eat inside anyway.
Once each week, there is a deck buffet for dinner. Last year, we really enjoyed this event. This time, it seemed to have gone downhill. The lobster tails were small, lamb chops were replaced with some type of lamb t-bone, and there was no chocolate fountain. Additionally, the buffet was scheduled from 7:00-8:30 but the food service ended shortly after 8:00. We tend to eat later so this was disappointing. If they are going to continue this event, they should keep Amphora open for those of us who want to eat a little later and prefer table service.
Since Wind Surf is a small ship, entertainment is limited. They have a band that plays in the lounge every night. We found them to be very good. Once each cruise, there’s a crew show. It’s very entertaining. There’s also a duo that plays in one of the bars. We never heard them play.
Daily activities are limited. On our sea day, there was a galley tour and cooking demo as well as a few other activities. For the most part, passengers simply relax and enjoy a book or movie. There are no children’s activities. This is a positive as it limits the number of children on the ship. Those that were aboard were well behaved.
We started in Antigua. We took the Reef Riders excursion. It was very well done. The Reef Rider staff was very good and the snorkeling was good. The only negative was that it was a 45 minute one way trip to/from the harbor. I think most of the excursions required a long ride. Windstar might consider using a different harbor to get passengers closer to activities.
Our second stop was Sopers Hole, Tortola. We took a snorkeling trip to Norman Island. The boat was a large catamaran, which was rated for 100 passengers. There were only 40 of us so it was very spacious and comfortable. We stopped at the “Indians,” which is a reef/rock formation off of the island. The snorkeling was great….some of the best we’ve done in the Caribbean. The second stop was supposed to be the “Pirate Caves” but we couldn’t anchor due to too many boats. We diverted to another area, which wasn’t nearly as good as the first stop. There was a third stop at “Pirates Bight,” which is a beach area with a couple of bars/restaurants. It was very nice and also very popular with boats in the area.
Jost Van Dyke is a small island with very few options, other than a couple of famous bars. We took the snorkel trip offered by the ship. The catamaran and crew were very nice but it was too crowded. The boat should have been limited to about half the number of passengers that were on it. It was very difficult to move around. The snorkel stop was OK but nothing great. The second stop was at Taboo Bar, near the “bubbly pools.” We stayed way too long at this location. There’s no reason to spend any time at a bar during a snorkeling trip. I wouldn’t recommend this one.
The stop at Virgin Gorda is for Prickly Pear Beach. The only way to see Virgin Gorda is to take a ship excursion. We didn’t but enjoyed a nice beach day. The lunch buffet was very good and there were very few people on the beach until the tours got back in the afternoon. It would be nice it some type of boat trip could be added to the Baths. The only way to see them was to take a full island tour.
Our last stop was supposed to be St. Barts. Due to wind and swell conditions, we were diverted to St. Kitts. The Captain took the time to explain this during the crew show a couple of nights beforehand. I thought he handled the situation very well and it was appreciated. We just enjoyed the ship on this day.
Disembarkation from Wind Surf couldn’t be easier. Simply retrieve your passports (they keep these at check in) in the lounge and get off. There are no crowds or lines. Luggage is placed near the taxis at the entrance to the port. Windstar will sell you a transfer to the airport for $35pp. Don’t do this….taxis are only $10 pp.
SXM is not an easy airport to get through so allow plenty of time. Check in lines can be long as can security. It’s not a US territory so there’s no TSA Pre-check. When we arrived, there was only one security line open for the entire airport. It probably took us an hour to check in (we had priority so our line was short), clear immigration, and pass through security.
We enjoy Windstar far more than the larger ships. It’s quiet and relaxing. The crew is outstanding. They remember your names and anticipate your needs. We haven’t been on any other line with this level of service. We will certainly be back. Read Less
As retired seasoned travelers who like a variety of experiences, we do not cruise a lot, but, when we do, we select our cruises based first on itinerary and secondly by cruise line. We have 4-5 companies that we will cruise with and then ... Read More
As retired seasoned travelers who like a variety of experiences, we do not cruise a lot, but, when we do, we select our cruises based first on itinerary and secondly by cruise line. We have 4-5 companies that we will cruise with and then select our ship based on the itineraries that match the interests and schedule of my wife and I. Windstar has long been on our list of cruise lines to try, but our "Best of ABC Caribbean" voyage is the first to work out for us, and it has been very pleasant.
With only about 155 passengers on board and approximately the same number of staff, service has obviously not been a problem. It is my understanding that the Legend is a smaller ship recently purchased and refurbished by Windstar’s parent company Xanterra (also the concessioner for the U.S. National Park service). Our cabin (222) was very spacious with a large bath, a walk-in closet, and sleeping and living areas that can be separated by a pull curtain. The room does not have a balcony large enough to sit on (usually a requirement for us), but it does have a double sliding glass door that can be fully opened to create a fully private balcony experience. Very nice.
As an older, smaller ship everything is, of course, smaller than one will find on the newer mega-floating hotels. Instead of ten shops, there is one, instead of Olympic-size swimming pools there are 2-3 nice spas, etc. Instead of open buffet dinners, you order from the menu, and instead of nightly musical theater there is a duo performing at the bar. Missing, however, are also curtain climbers running to and fro with their balloon floaties, and the crowds of drunken revelers.
One problem we found with the ship is that its best location for dining is the veranda where breakfast and dinner can be eaten outside; however, the veranda is right above the ship’s generator which runs all of the time and intrudes on conversation, especially if your hearing is not the best. Also, although the menu options are nice, there is little to no change from day to day.
Not Carnival or Disney (thank goodness), and certainly not for everyone, but for those who are looking for classy relaxation and a pleasant peaceful way to island hop, it is a welcome alternative that we have enjoyed very much. I have not cruised with Seabourn, but having spoken to those who have, the Windstar legend appears to provide a “Seabourn light” experience. Read Less
This was our 3rd cruise with Windstar and had an amazing time! I've been reading the other reviews about the Star Legend and was very curious to see the "complaints" for myself. I read a lot of complaints about the ... Read More
This was our 3rd cruise with Windstar and had an amazing time! I've been reading the other reviews about the Star Legend and was very curious to see the "complaints" for myself. I read a lot of complaints about the tenders. This would be the only aspect that I would agree with. We used the life boats on previous sailings, so using these tenders gave us more room and less fumes! The negative of these tenders is that the crew didn't seem to understand how to operate them. We were slammed into the dock many times before the tender was secured. This happened both times that we were anchored.
The rest for the positive: We purchased transfers from Windstar from the Barbados airport and had a quick 15-minute drive to the port. Within 5 minutes we were walking up the stairs to the yacht. Check-in was quick as usual and we were escorted to our room by our room steward.
Food was excellent everywhere - Amphora, Candles and the Yacht Club. We purchased the beverage package and had Shirley & Jocelyn making sure that our glasses were always replenished! On one day when our Windstar excursion was late getting back, the manager of Vernada/Candles (Yogi) made sure that lunch was extended until we got back to the yacht.
We purchased Windstar's nutmeg & chocolate factory excursion. Excellent tour guide & driver, but the only thing that was confusing was that both factories were closed on a Sunday. We still toured the inside of both factories. The private event on Mayreau was excellent and the BBQ was amazing! The crew work so hard to get all of the food and water sports equipment tendered to the island.
The deck party was postponed a day because of high winds in Curacao so it was re-scheduled for our last night. A perfect ending to an amazing cruise. Excellent food, excellent music by "Splash" and great entertainment from the staff. We're looking forward to booking the next cruise! Read Less
I rarely write reviews of any of our trips but feel compelled to alert others regarding this ship.
We have sailed with Windstar five previous times and this was our first cruise on a "motor" ship.
First, the good The crew ... Read More
I rarely write reviews of any of our trips but feel compelled to alert others regarding this ship.
We have sailed with Windstar five previous times and this was our first cruise on a "motor" ship.
First, the good The crew were their usual fantastic selves doing all they could to make the journey satisfactory, the entertainers were very good and the food was pretty much up to Windstar standards.The cabins were fine and larger than those on the sailing ships, but who spends much time in the cabin?
The not so good.
The first night on the ship, the air conditioning failed. My wife and I have traveled enough to know that stuff happens and have learned to live with it The problem was that no announcements regarding the problem were made until the following morning when the problem was virtually fixed. It was fixed around midday. Several people called the desk throughout the night and were assured that it would be fixed within one half hour. Several people slept in deck chairs that night. Windstar did issue a $100 per person credit for the inconvenience.
While limited smoking areas are provided on the ship on one occasion people were smoking on the outside Star Bar well away from the smoking area and on another occasion,I smelled smoke when I opened our balcony door. I found that someone one deck below and two cabins forward was smoking on their balcony. When I pointed this out to an officer on the flying bridge, he merely shrugged as if to say so what. I later pointed this out to the cruise director and the issue never occurred again.
While the crew performed admirably, I always had the feeling that they were operating short handed. Service in the restaurant just wasn't what we had come to expect on Windstar.
If you have any difficulty negotiating stairs, and expect to take any excursions that require the use of tenders, be cautious. Access to the tenders is through the bowels of the ship on two or three dark sets of steps which can be a problem. The tenders are not the life boats but real tenders, but they have been beaten up well used and need some refer,
Excursions were an aggravation. The Destinations manager did not know how to properly pronounce the names of a couple of destinations, but this was the least of the problems. On the Glass bottom Boat and Snorkel trip, I would have been sorely disappointed had I gone for the glass bottom boat ride since it lasted about ten minutes and the snorkel lasted about an hour. We snorkeled. The boats looked like our excursion might be their last. Boarding was by climbing from the dock onto a ladder and then descending onto the deck. Again, mobility could be an issue.
The Samur sail and snorkel was a farce, but I refer you to Trip Advisor for an accurate description of that fiasco. Again, if you have mobility issues do not take this excursion as you have to go from a slippery zodiac to the deck the ship by climbing up the side of the ship.
One of the things we have always loved on Windstar is the Christopher Columbus sail away music. On the Legend it was very loud at the center of the ship but should barely be heard for and aft. Disappointing
While none of these items were disastrous, They were aggravating and not up the standard txt Windstar has set on the sailing ships. Being seasoned travelers, who enjoy each others company, we enjoyed our cruise in spite of the issues. Read Less
Fantastic cruise! We are a recent empty nest couple in their late forties who love to travel. We have cruised over nine times but always on the bigger ships. Decided to try the smaller ship and see some new port sites. Really liked ... Read More
Fantastic cruise! We are a recent empty nest couple in their late forties who love to travel. We have cruised over nine times but always on the bigger ships. Decided to try the smaller ship and see some new port sites. Really liked that we didn't depart three of the islands until after 10 pm.
Overall, we loved the cruise, especially the personalized service and the wonderful fresh, delicious food. It was true that the staff learns your name and we bonded with several and enjoyed talking and seeing them everyday. Our fellow 183 passengers were a mix of mostly well-traveled, friendly age 40 thru 60s. There were a couple of family groups with older teens and twenties and some older folks but most were 50 to late 60s.
Embarkation: So easy! Boarded at 1 pm. Walked to the room and then had a delicious lunch. Toured the ship. Won a treatment in the spa raffle and enjoyed the sail away out of San Juan Pier 4. We had a small snafu as the captain changed our port in Saint Maarten to Phillipsburg from Marigot as the previous two weeks the seas were too rough to tender in. I was glad he let us know at the start so we could rearrange our independent booking.
Stateroom: We were in 129, an ocean view category S1 on Deck 4. The bathroom was great with a nice size tub and shower. The suite had lots of storage and space with a nice couch and sitting area. The only negative about the stateroom was the bed/mattress was too hard but after the first night we asked to have something put on it to soften the mattress and our steward took care of it right away and we were much happier.
It was also the first time we didn't have a balcony but thought the large window kept the room bright. Missed having a balcony when we were coming and going into islands but really was not that important as we anchored out in the bays and tendered in so it wasn’t the same as being docked. For sail-away we always just went out on the decks. I would definitely do the ocean view again for the price. The room itself was large and our attendant kept the mini bar stocked with free soda and water. We did not buy the alcohol package as we wouldn't drink that much but my husband bought three bottles of wine which each cost 45 dollars and we had some mixed drinks that cost about 12 dollars a piece. I also brought my own bottle of wine on board which you are allowed up to two. I poured a glass before dinner and on the BBQ night I easily went back to my room for a second glass. All nonalcoholic beverages were free.
Amenities: beach towels and water supplied port side and rooms stocked with good vanity necessities
Dining: breakfast and lunch were served on deck 7 aft. Breakfast was great and you could have eggs and omelet’s cooked anyway you liked and they also had made to order items such as French toast, pancakes and waffles. The buffet was also very good with fruit, pastries, yogurt, and various meat items. We had dinner in Amphora on deck 3 and thought the variety and freshness of the food was very good. Candles, located where breakfast was served, was the specialty restaurant we ate at one night. Made reservations the first day for one of the days we were in port late. Loved the filet mignon, other food and service but the area was much noisier than Amphora so we didn’t enjoy the atmosphere as well as the dining room. We did get coffee and snacks in the Yacht club, which is very beautiful and loved sitting in there talking with others at the end of the day.
Water sports: this is where my husband was a little disappointed with the lack of equipment. No waterskiing. Passengers were not able to take dinghies by themselves etc. But we spent most of our days on the islands so it wasn’t a priority for us. On Prickly Pear we were too late in the day to be able to use the bigger equipment: the one Hobby cat always had a line and we were too late i.e. another wait list to go tubing. We did kayak and many others took better advantage of the floats, paddle board etc. I did see the younger family groups spending a lot of time at the platform deck
Spa: Did a massage, which was good but expensive. No real extras/sitting areas. They did have a very small steam room and sauna.
Tenders: All worked well on this trip without problems. Minimal wait in the morning. We were either on the first or second tender as they gave priority to the passengers that bought their shore excursions but we never waited long coming or going.
Disembarkation: Easy off the boat at 830am after a full breakfast. Walked our luggage for about 10 minutes up into old San Juan and left them at Barrachina. No charge but they asked for donation. We gave them five dollars a bag. That allowed us to walk the old city and outside the wall on the trail around to el Moro. Did some shopping, ate lunch and then took a 25-dollar cab ride to the airport. Security line was long at the airport but we bypassed as we have TSA pre-check
Ended a wonderful, relaxed cruise that exceeded our expectations. Read Less
MVY Windstar - Barbados - Jan 5th 2016 - Caribbean cruise. Wonderful Cruise, wonderful people and staff, and a great ship EXCEPT for the noise in some of the cabins at night while underway. The noise is a very high pitched wine that makes ... Read More
MVY Windstar - Barbados - Jan 5th 2016 - Caribbean cruise. Wonderful Cruise, wonderful people and staff, and a great ship EXCEPT for the noise in some of the cabins at night while underway. The noise is a very high pitched wine that makes it impossible to sleep. When we complained that ultimately moved us to a cabin much further forward, The noise was almost eliminated but still there. BUT you could sleep. Many people on the cruise complained of the noise and i think they played musical cabins because one couple that we talked to had complained and we found that they were going to be moved to the cabin that we had vacated!
What really bothers me and I find unbelievable is that the noise issue has been going on for about 3 years. That the company could rent out the cabins, cruise after cruise, and put their on board staff through the process of trying to appease upset customers every cruise is, to me, unprofessional at the best and disreputable at the worst.
The cruise itself was exactly what we'd hoped for - slow and relaxing. Stopping at smaller ports, not visited by the giant cruise ships, allowed you to see what the Caribbean was all about. A couple of days spent on a white sand, sun drenched beaches with lounges and cabanas supplied by the cruise line, with clear blue water to swim and snorkel in was our idea of paradise. This was capped of on one stop with a great BBQ lunch setup on shore.
The ship itself was older but very well maintained. The hall carpets were pretty threadbare but other than that everything w was beautifully maintained.
The food was probably the best we have ever had on any cruise ship!
One other thing that bothered me was this ship has an open bridge police - that means you can visit the bridge anytime the ship is underway. In itself this was great, it gave one an opportunity to witness, first hand, what the running of a ship like this entails. Unfortunately the Captain was an arrogant and condescending individual who treated questions as if he were talking to children. Not a good representative of the company.
As I said earlier, the location, the routes, the ports visited, the ship itself, the food and most definitely the staff are all fantastic. it is too bad that the issue of the horrible whining noise had to ruin or first day but after a lot of complaining we were finally given a cabin much farther forward which was lot better. The noise was still there but did not interfere with sleep. It is just too bad that the noise has to put such a dark cloud on the cruise. I would definitely NOT recommend this ship for a cruise until they repair their very noisy propulsion motor!. I would recommend the same cruise on a different ship.
If you do doubt the noise level I am talking about go to YouTube and type in WINDSTAR CABIN 205. Some one in 2012 - 4 years prior - in Cabin 205 (the same cabin we initially had) recorded their experience with the noise.
By all means take a similar cruise just not on this ship. If you choose to go on this ship insist on a forward cabin. Read Less
I'm an avid, frequent, and very guilty cruiser. I'm guilty in that I often read reviews, but seldom write or contribute. I'm in my mid 40's and recently travelled on the New Year's sailing of the Star Legend with ... Read More
I'm an avid, frequent, and very guilty cruiser. I'm guilty in that I often read reviews, but seldom write or contribute. I'm in my mid 40's and recently travelled on the New Year's sailing of the Star Legend with my wife, 18 year old son, 16 year old daughter and my parents. By way of background, we are very experienced cruises. I'm fortunate to be approaching 80 cruises under my belt and spend about 8 weeks a year at sea. Over the years my taste in cruising has changed for a variety of reasons including maturity and unfortunately the commercialization of the cruise industry. Years ago (i.e. 1982) I loved the food, service and traditional service on lines like Princess and Sitmar. In fact, those early life cruise experiences are what ultimately conditioned my brain to subconsciously always be on the hunt for a vintage cruising experience of days gone by. The introduction of mega ships which are built with every square inch and second on board designed to be profit centers has cheapened and ruined the cruise experience in my opinion. Upcharges for eating, peeing, standing in the grand atrium etc. while fighting large crowds and eating poor quality food seems to have become the norm for many of the large mass market lines.
Over the years as my taste in cruising has changed so has my consideration of what lines I will and won't spend my hard earned dollars and vacation time on cruising. In recent years, I have really enjoyed Oceania, Regent, and Azamara as to me these lines have recreated the magic of cruising and done it so well. The two mass market lines I still think do a "good" job compared to the others are Celebrity & Holland America - especially in their suite class (I see that's a topic of many other threads).
So...for the New Year I booked my family on the Summit 7 night Caribbean cruise out of San Juan. After securing non-refundable airline tickets from Los Angeles to San Juan I learned that he Summit was due for a major refurbishment in early 2016 and was not keen on sailing on a ship about to go into dry dock. Enter the Star Legend of Windstar Cruises. It turned out the Star Legend was sailing the exact same day from San Juan as the Celebrity Summit on a 7 night itinerary so I decided to take a risk - cruising on a ship and line that non of my family had sailed on before and more worrisome had really bad reviews. I was determined to go have a great time no matter what. A new experience awaited.
We flew in a few days early and stayed at the Ritz Carlton San Juan which was a great opportunity to unwind after a long day of travel and enjoy a few days of rest and relaxation before the cruise.
On the day of embarkation we hired a van to take us to the Old San Juan Pier ($32 fixed rate for 6 people and 10 bags - they charge $1/bag). While driving to the pier we passed the mega ships. My daughter asked "daddy is that our ship?". While driving along the piers at the Old San Juan water front our driver missed our pier because he could not see the Star Legend behind the pier building. Yes - that's how small the Star Legend is - 10,000 tons. 200 passengers. Half the size as the original Love Boat (Pacific Princess 20,000 tons) with 1/3 the number of passengers.
We quickly unloaded our luggage at the pier and within 5 minutes were the only passengers (3pm) climbing the gangway to be checked in on board. Upon embarkation we were taken to the ships lounge to be checked in and were offered complimentary welcome aboard drinks. This process took just a few minutes. By far this was the best embarkation process ever. The friendly crew who checked us in also had other jobs on the ship and we saw them often.
So...off to our cabins we went to unload our carry-ons and start exploring the Star Legend. The Star Legend is the former Seabourn Legend and underwent a $8.5 million refurbishment in early 2015. For a 23 year old ship (and please remember it is a 23 year old ship!) this yachts looks fabulous! We opted for the lowest category suite (all cabins are suites) on deck 4 as I didn't see the value in upgrading to a higher deck for the same size suite and rocking is always less the lower you are. The suites were very well appointed and immaculately kept. We were all impressed by the size. The bathrooms are clearly older, but also very clean and marble clad (Carrera white). Bath amenities included L'Occitane products and large towels. There is a combined bathtub/shower combination with a handheld shower sprayer (mounted in awkward way) that always had great pressure.
Next we were off to explore this tiny yacht. Interior spaces are very well kept and the renovation was well done - in my opinion. A very warm and welcoming feeling throughout the yacht. We were disappointed by the outside decks and the restaurant/buffet on the back of the ship which had a very bad feng shui (to be kind). In my opinion, Windstar really screwed up badly by getting rid of the aft pool and replacing it with a dining platform forward of the rear buffet. My daughter referred to the pool as a bathtub. Frankly, some people probably have bathtubs at home which are larger. Our favorite outdoor spot was he forward hot tub on the bow.
After that scathing review of the pool area why would I give a 5 star review to this ship? A cruise experience is not just about being on the biggest, newest and fanciest vessel. There is so much more that goes into making memories. Let me make clear, that despite the less than ideal pool area and some really old and dilapidated other outdoor spaces (sports marina and aft crew area which you walk through to board tenders) this ship shines in every other way like a 5 star hotel.
Service was consistently excellent throughout. Food was good to very good. Being a small ship dinner options were limited and was 7-9pm in the Amphora Dining Room and 1 night during the cruise guests can enjoy Candles (verandah café turned into steak house at night). Food was consistently solid for dinner. One night the dining room is closed and dinner is a deck BBQ which was terrific and very well done. Breakfast and lunch were served in the aft buffet and offered typical fare (nothing to get excited about). Room service was outstanding, fast, and the menu extensive.
By the second day on board the crew knew most passengers by their first names and the amazing bar tenders even knew drink preferences. What a game changer.
No entertainment offered other than 2 duos (both very good).
The ambiance was incredibly friendly with most guest quickly mingling and getting to know one another. Interestingly, many of my friends thought we were crazy to bring our teenagers on Windstar as they said "there's nothing to do". As it turns out about 1/3 of the passengers were in the 15-25 age range traveling with their families. The kids/young adults LOVED this cruise! Not everybody needs to be entertained 24/7 and it was refreshing to make socializing our own entertainment. My kids even commented that they enjoyed the Star Legend more than the Oasis and Allure of the Seas. Much to be said about this and a whole commentary can be written about back to the basics.
One of the best features of Windstar is having only 200 passengers. Never a line! The ability to call on smaller ports that large ships can't was also an amazing bonus. I won't go into detail about the ports as this review is already quite long. However, I will say the ports were AMAZING! The beach BBQ on Prickly Pear Beach was the BEST we have ever experienced and Trumps (pardon the expression) Seabourn and other "luxury" lines.
Yes - it's true. Tender service is not optimal and the tenders are just that - tenders. The ship to shore boats Windstar uses on the Star Legend are NOT dual use life boats and tenders like those used on most other ships. These tenders are actually deployed from the sports marina by hydraulic devices. These boats are slow, but comfortable. Hopefully, Windstar will replace these tenders with new ones. Apparently, the Star Breeze or Star Pride has new tenders.
The sports marina was definitely one of the highlights of the trip. It was deployed daily and staffed with 2 amazing crew. We enjoyed the trampoline, water mats, kayaking and swimming. There is also a sailboat for use. My kids loved being towed around by the Zodiac on a banana boat type thing.
The captain could not have been more kind and accessible. Great sense of humor. We took advantage of the open bridge policy to watch sail away one night and were amazed at how welcome we were made to feel. Of note, the captain also had a terrific sense of humor despite previous posts.
In summary, I gave this terrific and very enjoyable cruise on the Star Legend 5 stars because of the amazing overall experience - much of which can be attributed to the most amazing, wonderful, kind and attentive staff we have ever experienced. There are a few areas where Windstar is rough around the edges, but this is not a traditional cruise and cannot be viewed as such. You really feel as if you are on a very large private yacht. My family is hooked on Windstar and cannot wait to return. Keep up the amazing work Windstar! Windstar truly is 180 degrees from ordinary. Sure, there are other ships/lines which are much more polished and luxurious, but in all fairness I don't think reviewers should be comparing the Star Legend to the likes of these other ships/lines.
The only conclusion I can take away from the negative reviews are that some people are just miserable and choose to be that way or their expectations were so off that the Windstar Star Legend experienced shocked them like jumping into cold water. I'm a luxury travel connoisseur and certainly could write a critical review of an experience that disappoints or does not meet advertised expectations. However, Windstar delivers exactly what it promises.
Thanks again Windstar! Read Less
We set sail on the Star Legend Dec.19 with great expectations of a high end cruise experience. Unfortunately it was just average, and in some perspective outright disappointing. On a positive side the room was beautiful and very spacious. ... Read More
We set sail on the Star Legend Dec.19 with great expectations of a high end cruise experience. Unfortunately it was just average, and in some perspective outright disappointing. On a positive side the room was beautiful and very spacious. The cabin service was also exemplary. The food was good, not great, but the chef was more than happy to accommodate special requests, a very nice touch. Despite Windstar having invested $18M in a makeover after acquiring the Star Legend from Seaborn, the ship still showed its age in several critical areas.
The tenders were past their useful life and failed several times during our journey. The first time we were on the tender when one of the engines quit. High seas prevented us from docking and we sat stranded for 30 minutes while they struggled to get it working. The next day we waited two hours and almost missed our excursion due to the fact that the same tender was not working, leaving one working boat. To exaserbate an already bad situation the crew had forgotten to fuel the one working tender before the start of the day and had to stop for an additional 20 minutes to refuel. Perhaps the worse part in the two hours of waiting was the fact that the staff failed to make a single announcement to advise the passengers of what was going on.
One of the amenities that attracted us to Windstar was the availability of water sports off the back platform. In seven days of sailing the platform was NEVER OPENED. We were told by the staff that it was due to the fact that the seas were to rough. Ironically on two different days we passed other cruise ships that had their platform open to guests. Talking to other members of the staff we came to learn that there were frequent mechanical issue with the platform the was complicating its use, let alone equipment challenges. Again, the communication from the staff was notably absent and left passengers guessing.
Over our past five cruises we always appreciated the memories captured by the ship photographers. Unfortunately this was not the case on this cruise. We even asked the photographer to take a formal family photo on Christmas Eve. When we went to review the pictures the next day we learned that she had only taken one photo (???) of the immediate family which she said did not turn out, and only one of the extended family was oddly centered. So much for memories.
The true test of a business is not what happens when everything goes as planned, but how they handle the situation when things run aground (pun intended). In this case the crew failed miserably. When an office could be found, and engaged, they seemed indifferent to the plight of the passengers and unwilling of take any steps toward addressing the issues at hand. How hard is it to take a passenger name and cabin and send a note of apology. Staff members we befriended told us that Windstar corporate is well aware of the tender and mechanical problems and has yet to provide a response as to when they would be addressed.
The cruise line could be amazing, but it needs to pick up its game, improve communication, take responsibility, and deliver on the promise it communicates in its marketing materials. Read Less
You might notice that I have written several (read as "a lot") of cruise reviews, having been traveling with RCCL and Celebrity for years. We're fans of the "modern luxury" approach to cruising but have wanted to ... Read More
You might notice that I have written several (read as "a lot") of cruise reviews, having been traveling with RCCL and Celebrity for years. We're fans of the "modern luxury" approach to cruising but have wanted to try Windstar for years. So if you're like us and enjoy the amenities provided by larger ships but want to dip your toe into waters of smaller ships then read on...(WARNING: long review!)
[I'm not going into the blow-by-blow detailed description of what we did every day (phew!), but instead will offer my opinion of how Windsurf differs from her significantly larger counterparts.]
A (very little) background: We're in our 50's and work in the hospitality business. We cruise for the food, relaxation, itinerary and - most importantly - service, always booking a suite category cabin. We usually find the beverage packages a good value, but lately have been happy to find that our level of cabin includes a complimentary beverage package. We don't care much for the onboard entertainment, lectures, classes, art auctions, trivia, etc. We are nitpickers - we're on vacation - so if something is awry here and there we don't stress about it.
We were sent an email offer from Windstar in the early Spring that we simply couldn't pass up. I booked over the telephone, which was easy and quick. Closer to our sailing date I also booked our shore excursions directly with Windstar as well, having the same positive experience. One of us was celebrating a birthday, which I let the booking agent know, and was informed that the information would be passed on to the ship (more on that later). Overall a very good experience with Windstar over the phone (note: the WS website is not great, so don't hesitate to contact them the old fashioned way).
Less people means a better, more personalized vacation. Embarkation was a simple no muss, no hassle affair, and from the moment you board Windsurf every staff member (Windsurf features an almost exclusively Filipino crew) learns your name and greets you with it throughout the journey and every effort is made to provide you with a customized vacation tailored to your preferences. The service was exceptional.
Unlike a lot of people who complain that the food on the large ships is not hot enough or well seasoned or too small, we find the food on the ships we have sailed to be good to excellent. The food on Windsurf is in another category altogether. There was not one single meal - breakfast, lunch, or dinner - that was not freshly prepared, visually well presented, and amazingly delicious. [I lie: The pizza at lunch in the Verandah sucks. Don't order it, it's a waste of calories and just, well, sucks!] The two "specialty restaurants" (included in your cruise fare) are equally excellent but dining in the main dining room AmphorA (yes, that's how Windstar spells it with the uppercase "A" at the end, and - no - I don't know why) is not a step down, more like a step to the side. Food on Windsurf was hands down superior to any "specialty" restaurant (that you pay for) on the bigger ships. For us this was a HUGE positive.
There are two entertainment venues one (Compass Rose) featured a duet, the other (the Lounge) featured a band. We had cocktails before dinner each evening at the CR (lovely, outdoor seating). The duet there was good, but their playlist was bit outdated (no kidding, Tom Jones and the Carpenters!) but they were playing to their audience (average age on this trip was mid-60's). Again, entertainment isn't our thing so they could have had a CD playing and we would have been happy. Point is you don't cruise on Windsurf for the entertainment. A previous reviewer suggested guest lecturers, etc. If I'm on a sailing ship in the Caribbean (or Mediterranean) I don't want to sit inside listening to someone drone on about the history of pirates unless it's Johnny Depp talking about the filming of Pirates of the Caribbean. Seriously. Big ships are known for the (mostly mediocre) entertainment so if that's your thing stick with them.
We booked a Suite at an awesome price and loved it! The suites are two cabins combined into one. The standard cabin might have been ok, but we preferred having the extra space. Love the L'Occitane bath amenities (yes, I stole some to take home) and our cabin was always spotless. For the size of cabin to ship ratio the Suite was on par with the big ships, albeit maybe a bit smaller. We thought we would miss having a balcony, but we didn't as there are tons of public areas inside and out to take advantage of. Again, who wants to sit inside when your sailing the beautiful seas?
We didn't use the Spa or the Fitness Center. Both looked lovely: the Spa offered the same menu of services you would find in the big ships and the Fitness Center was state of the art, but our dance card was filled with snorkeling and zip-lining. An amenity you will NEVER find on the big ships is the Marina, Windsurf's water activities platform at the stern (that means back) of the ship that is opened for guests' use including kayaks, floating mats, sailboats, and more. It's awesome!
As I mentioned earlier we booked our shore excursions through Windstar (i will review each port separately) and were very happy with each one. The price/value was much better than you would find on the big ships because you're not with 1000 others and having to wait for hours while this one finds the perfect tchotchke to take home and that one needs the bathroom for the bazillionth time. Smaller excursions meant more personalized attention from the tour operators as well and you got to meet and chat with more of your fellow cruisers, enhancing the fun factor of the excursion.
The "Special Event" in St. Lucia (Windstar's signature event) was okay. We took a zip-lining trip that was a little far away, so we got back with a 1/2 to spare before lunch was taken away. However, the effort that went into putting on the event was clearly evident and the officers and staff are to be highly commended and congratulated for doing such a fantastic job of pulling it off. Herculean really. Two days later the second signature event, the on deck barbecue, was held and again the staff of the Windsurf hit it out of the park. Honestly there was more food than the 250+ guests could ever eat. This event, too, was phenomenal.
[If you need to refill your coffee, now is a good time.]
It's the little things on Windsurf, like learning your name and what soda you like, that differentiate this cruise from the larger ships. I mentioned earlier that one of us was celebrating a birthday. When we returned to our cabin after an amazing snorkeling trip we found a note wishing him Happy Birthday and signed by the Captain and Hotel Director. Later than evening (at the on deck BBQ) he was presented with a birthday cake (freshly made strawberry shortcake with fresh whipped cream and berries) and sung to (you've never lived until you've heard "Happy Birthday" with a Philippine accent!). So in the midst of putting on the event they took the time to recognize one guest's special day. For us that was priceless.
Windsurf is 26 years old. Yes, she is showing her age here and there, but who cares? After 26 years on the open seas you would too, and when the Captain raises the sails to the dramatic music from Vangelis' "1492" (got goosebumps every time) and you set sail for your next port you realize it really just doesn't matter. You want brand new? Go to the bigger ships. You want authentic? With Windsurf you got it. When you go to bed and realize you don't hear the thrum of engines because the ship is actually sailing you understand THAT'S the reason you booked the trip in the first place.
OK. Enough. We're hooked. Will we go back to the bigger ships? Sure. They serve their purpose too, but any concern we had of the Windsurf being "too small" were for naught. Windstar's motto "180 degrees from Ordinary" is spot on. You won't find an experience like this anywhere. Anywhere.
p.s. - WiFi? Don't bother. No one has the technology yet. The big ships don't. Windstar doesn't. Read Less
Background: This was our first Windstar cruise, although we have logged 30+ together (mainly Princess, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity, but also Seven Seas Navigator and Paul Gauguin.) We are in our late-40's/early 50s and consider ... Read More
Background: This was our first Windstar cruise, although we have logged 30+ together (mainly Princess, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity, but also Seven Seas Navigator and Paul Gauguin.) We are in our late-40's/early 50s and consider ourselves very active, primarily interested in water activities.
Travel to Embarkation Port: Non-stop flight on Delta from Atlanta arrived on time with no issues.
Hotel: We flew in the morning of embarkation, so n/a.
Embarkation: This was the easiest embarkation ever. Not another passenger in sight as we alighted from our taxi at the pier in Old San Juan. We quickly showed our documents and met up with a porter who accompanied us all the way to the gangway. We watched him transfer our luggage onto the ship and stepped onboard. We checked in at the Lounge and were directed to our cabin by our actual steward, Jajat. It seemed as if we never stopped moving, and our luggage somehow made it to the cabin at the same time that we did.
Ship Information: This was the smallest ship on which we have sailed to date. There were 172 passengers onboard our sailing. Facilities (except tenders, more on that in Port section) seemed entirely adequate for the number of passengers onboard. We never experienced lines, chair hogs, or a wait of more than a few moments for anything except tenders.
Activities: This is not a cruise for those who need to be entertained. When we were onboard, we occupied ourselves with swimming off the watersports platform (sunning mats, a large water trampoline, and kayaks and a paddle board were available), visiting with other passengers by the pool or Star Bar, or relaxing ondeck or in our cabin with a book.
Dining: Dinner in AmphorA was usually very good to excellent, with a few misses. Menu highlights for me were the Ahi Tuna appetizer, seared Tuna entrée, seafood risotto and soups. I would say that the beef was of good quality, but not consistently cooked. (On the night we had beef wellington, mine was undercooked and DH's overcooked.) Desserts were hit or miss for me.
The deck party was one of the highlights of the cruise. An incredible selection of food, with dining on white tablecloths under the stars. We were somewhat underwhelmed with Candles. On the night we went, we were tendered at St. Barths', and the orientation of the ship combined with the canopy over the dining area gave us no view. The food was good, but I would not rate it higher than AmphorA.
Breakfast in Veranda was consistently good with a wide variety of hot, cold, and cooked to order selections. (Always omlettes and classic Eggs Benedict available, with a specialty version of EB, pancakes and French Toast each day. Lunch in Veranda was a challenge for us, probably because we typically have a salad, and the salad selections were somewhat lacking. That said, we were always able to find something to eat!
We ordered room service one morning, and our order was delivered on time and complete.
Service: Here is where Star Legend really shined for us. We enjoyed excellent service in every dining and bar venue onboard. The servers miraculously learned our names and preferences almost immediately and seemed genuinely interested in making sure that our every need was met.
Service on this cruise was warm and personal, but not formal. Servers and staff uniformly addressed us by our first names, which was fine with us. But others who expect a more formal approach might be disappointed. Special mention: Endro (dining server), Lyn, Edison & Jeem (bar servers), Jajat (cabin steward), and Janelle (water sports).
Kid's Club: n/a
Entertainment: Entertainment was limited, but not lacking, in our opinion. There were two duos who entertained in the lounges and on deck in the evening. We particularly enjoyed Splash, an engaging and energetic couple, who seemed to able to play any type of music that you might think of. We danced to their sets every night of the cruise. The other duo, Double Malt, performed acoustic music, which is just not as much our style.
Port & Shore Excursions: As opposed to another recent reviewer, we were excited to be anchored (vs. docked) and tendering into the smaller ports away from the giant ships and crowds. This also gave the advantage of having the water sports platform in operation each day (except the Prickly Pear beach experience day, when the toys were taken to the beach.)
BUT, it did result in the biggest negative of the voyage, the tendering operation. I agree with the previous reviewer who declared the equipment to be substandard and the operators poor. I was surprised to read that tender problems had occurred on earlier voyages, as the malfunction of one of the tenders on St. Barths' day seemed to have taken the staff by surprise. It really messed up tours that day, but I was impressed how fast they contracted with local options for the rest of the week. (Now not so much impressed if they had problems previously.) We came to call their docking procedure the "crash landing" approach. Also agree with previous reviewer that the path taken to the tenders was not very pretty (down steep stairs and through maintenance/crew areas). But this seems to be dictated by the design of the ship and location of platforms, so I'm not sure what could be done to improve/correct.
Culebra: We taxied to Flamenco Beach, which would have been beautiful on a pretty day. However, it was rainy and windy when we were there.
St. Barth: We took the ship's Catamaran Sailing Adventure tour. It was a lovely catamaran with a small number of passengers (tour limited to 20). Snorkeling was just OK, not great, so we did not think it a great value for the $149 pp price. (Also, our time was reduced due to the tendering delays, so it ended up being a shorter tour than advertised.)
Montserrat: The ship's Buried City tour was a highlight of our trip. The island is just gearing up again for tourism after the 1997 volcanic eruption, and we were one of the first ships to call there. The tour is a new one that takes you into the "Exclusion Zone", which is considered to be a danger area if the volcano were to erupt. The tour guides were in constant contact with the Montserrat Volcanic Observatory to make sure that we were not in any danger, and safety seemed to come first.
We actually had the opportunity to walk around the devastated city and were taken to an overlook to get a long-range view of the volcano. Last stop was a tasty lunch and steel drum entertainment at a new facility on a black sand beach.
There were some logistical hiccups, but it was a very unique and informative tour.
Marigot: We walked around town, visited the Catholic Church, and climbed to the top of the Fort. It was very hot, and we were very glad to find the air-conditioned mall.
Jost Van Dyke: We took the ship's Sailing and Snorkeling Tour, which was a bit of a misnomer, as it was a power catamaran rather than a sailing vessel. There were only 36 passengers on a boat designed for 50, so again no crowds. A couple of decent snorkel stops, and a stop at Foxy's Taboo for a Bushwhacker or Painkiller (not included in tour price.)
When was arrived back at the tender pier, we hopped in a taxi for a quick trip to Soggy Dollar Bar for a drink and photo op. Since it was getting late in the day, we were worried about getting a taxi back. Our driver said not to pay him, he would wait for us and collect the round trip fare back at the pier.
Virgin Gorda: We had planned to do the Bathes & Highlights tour, but just couldn't imagine spending another half day touring on buses when we had already been to The Baths on another trip. Good decision, as those who had gone on the tour later reported that it was a couple of hours too long for their interest.
The Prickly Pear Beach Experience was excellent, similar to a private island day on other cruise lines, but without so many people. The buffet lunch was delicious, and it was fun to have all of the water toys there.
Disembarkation: The easiest ever. We picked up our passports from Reception, enjoyed one last breakfast, and were off the ship and in a taxi in no time at all.
Summary: Much has been said lately on the Windstar message board about the line no longer being "luxury." For me, luxury is enjoying wonderful food and service with friendly, well-travelled, interesting shipmates. These two things made our cruise most enjoyable.
While every detail was not perfect, we thoroughly enjoyed our cruise and will be sailing Windstar again! Read Less
What can corporate Windstar be thinking? Just got off the Star Legend, the most dangerous and old ship I have ever sailed on in 30 cruises. No safety signs (even for wet paint and varnish), tenders don't work, people are expected to ... Read More
What can corporate Windstar be thinking? Just got off the Star Legend, the most dangerous and old ship I have ever sailed on in 30 cruises. No safety signs (even for wet paint and varnish), tenders don't work, people are expected to climb dozens of stairs to tenders and hop onto poorly parked and operated tenders - both of which are now broken - and rubber dingies. A nice but in some cases inexperienced crew can do nothing with awful, unsafe, old equipment. And it was a rocky and sea sickening ride more than 1 night. Also, ship does not port where anyone else does and doesn't tell you before hand. No board games onboard or daily activities. What a nightmare. RUN AWAY from this "luxury" cruise.
Most annoying things:
Used balcomy stateroom next to mine to store and fold sheets. Left door open at night to bang open and close; also went in and out at all hours. WHAT?
People were so bored, absolutely nothing was going on on this ship. Even movies and tv reception were lacking.
Embarkation is a nightmare. Prepare to wait in the hot sun and wait a lot more before climbing 30 stairs to get onboard and get in another line to get your keys, etc.
Tenders broken, waffle machine broken, ice cream machine broken, cannot make pancakes, cannot make a soft egg to save their lives (be it over easy or poached.)
Huge markup if you take pre cruise hotel, excursions, or transfer to or from airport (transfer was 3 times more expensive than a cab.)
One bbq and one shore party (where people got stranded for almost 2 hours) for lack of transportation does not make a good time. Read Less
This was the Classic Caribbean, St. Maarten, Barbuda, Pigeon Island, St. Kitts-Nevis, Isle de Saintes, St. Barts
It took a couple of years to convince her to go on a sailing ship. I started with the Windjammer and worked my way up. It ... Read More
This was the Classic Caribbean, St. Maarten, Barbuda, Pigeon Island, St. Kitts-Nevis, Isle de Saintes, St. Barts
It took a couple of years to convince her to go on a sailing ship. I started with the Windjammer and worked my way up. It was over dinner and a bottle of wine and some reviews and pictures of the Wind Surf that we would give it a try. This was our 15th cruise, the others have been on all the major lines, with Celebrity being our favorite. I like small and she likes big ships.
We were able to get a direct flight from O'Hare to St. Maarten, which took the stress out of getting connecting flights or going a day early. We arrive at the dock and they proceeded to check us in very quickly as it looked like we were the last to board.
The stateroom was a normal size for a cruise ship, not that you should spend much time in the room anyway. Let's get the only problem we had out of the way. We were in a stateroom mid ship. As we settled in for the night and the yacht had been underway for a few hours. Somewhere below us, in which I assume were the engineering spaces, all night long it sounded like a bowling ball in a metal tube rolling back and forth. Suffice to say I did not get any rest. In the morning I went to reception and asked them to check on what we heard. Of course had to wait till we were underway about lunch time to hear the noise reoccur. They sent an Engineering Officer down to check on the noise. She said she would check on it so we went up on deck to relax and have lunch. When we returned there was A NOTE saying that the noise was normal, but they would move us up one deck to another cabin. We took them up on the offer. Problem solved.
Everything for the rest of the cruise was 1st rate, everything from dining, room attendants, etc. was excellent. The excursions we took were 2 snorkeling trips and a kayak trip. The vendors they lined up were great in all aspects of the tours. They paid attention to us when we were in the water, safety was always at the fore front of the trips.
The day on the beach at Pigeon Island( actually a peninsula ) at St. Lucia was very well done. Everything was available to us, beach cabanas, chairs, towels, lunch was provided which was very good. From the crowd that was on the beach it looked like most of the passengers took advantage of the day.
Being on a ship we did not expect much on the entertainment side. They had two bands, one in the main lounge and one in the bar aft. They split the time so if you went to dinner you could always see one before or after. They were fine, nothing great, be sufficient. The best night was the CREW entertainment night and they packed the lounge with the passengers, they were quite good and entertaining.
Dining was above normal. Breakfast and lunch was served on deck either al fresco or you could sit inside. The menus usually consisted of 5/6 thing you could order or go to the buffet. More than enough choices. The fruit and cheeses were always plentiful. You could get omelets to order or roast turkey or beef at the carving station. The main dining room was fine, as were the two specialty restaurants, Stella Bistro and Candles (reservations required). Food and service was excellent. Service was not overwhelming just attentive enough. We wanted to order a bottle of merlot, but the wine steward suggested another brand, it was either a couple of dollars more or less I don't remember. It was an excellent choice, and later during the cruise we stopped at one of the bars and asked the bartender for recommendation and it was the same brand. We also had some port and took the recommendation of the server, which was also fine. We were able to find here at home and the reviews rated it highly.
Disembarkation went smoothly as we took a tour before returning to the airport, which helped because we had 6 hours to kill before our flight. The tour was excellent given by an Expat from New York by way of Canada. She was very knowledgeable about St. Maarten.
We would plan another cruise on Windstar either Read Less
My wife and I are in our early 50s and have taken over 50 cruises over the last 25+ years. Frankly, we are tiring of the mass market lines that crowd ever larger numbers of people on their ships and have cut the quality of food, service, ... Read More
My wife and I are in our early 50s and have taken over 50 cruises over the last 25+ years. Frankly, we are tiring of the mass market lines that crowd ever larger numbers of people on their ships and have cut the quality of food, service, and amenities dramatically. For this cruise, we decided to try Windstar…..what a huge improvement!
We were on the Wind Surf for the Classic Caribbean itinerary in March. We flew to St. Maarten the day prior and stayed at Mary’s Boon Beach Resort for one night. This property is right next to the airport runway on a very nice stretch of beach. It was a small property with a Caribbean feel. There was a nice restaurant directly on the beach. The hotel offers transportation to the pier ($30) and we arrived shortly after noon on Saturday. Windstar had a tent to take luggage near the taxi stand the then it was through security and onto the ship. Check in was completed along with dining reservations in the lounge. We found that our fellow passengers were close to our age from professional occupations. There were a few children that were very well behaved….the lack of children’s activities pretty much requires that they stay with their parents.
Wind Surf is a sailing ship but uses motors for maneuvering and for less than favorable wind conditions. After leaving port, the sails are mechanically raised one at a time, from front to back. It’s an impressive sight. The ship doesn’t move very quickly but this keeps the winds on deck to a tolerable level.
The cabins were available after checking in. They are standard size and we found plenty of storage in the cabin and bathroom. The bed was very comfortable. We were on deck 2 mid ship. It was quiet and there was only slight motion while we were at sea. We did miss having a balcony but we were in our cabin far less time than on larger ships. Cabin service was excellent.
The Wind Surf is not a large ship. It has one main lounge and a couple of other smaller bar areas. There was also a large library with a coffee shop adjacent to the lounge. The main dining room, purser’s desk, and shop were on the same deck. The casual restaurant/buffet was on a higher deck. Entertainment is limited…..there were two small bands with vocalists who performed nightly. They were very good.
There are plenty of outer decks with comfortable lounge chairs spread throughout. There is a small pool and two hot tubs on the aft deck. Windstar has an open bridge policy so you can walk right in when the ship is at sea. Although we never had much trouble finding a chair in the shade, it looks like there would be some opportunities to add some. We never sit in the sun so this is important to us.
The Wind Surf has a marina that lowers from the back of the ship when it is at anchor. There are kayaks, small sailboats, and water skiing (no charge for any of this) as well as floats and a trampoline in the water. There is always staff available in this area. We found this very enjoyable and took the opportunity to swim directly from the ship on several occasions……much better than a pool.
We found the food to be excellent. The ingredients were fresh and high quality, far better than what we’ve had recently on larger ships. We ate in both specialty restaurants (no extra charge) and found them to be very good as well. “Candles” is an outdoor restaurant, which has recently been moved from the pool area to a higher deck. This provides cover if needed and allows for the pool/hot tubs to be available later in the evening. On one evening, a deck barbeque was provided. These make me nervous because they are usually crowded with marginal food. That was not the case on Wind Surf. There were a variety of excellent choices including grilled lobster, lamb chops, ribs, and roast pork. We arrived late and a crew member ensured that we had a table.
Breakfast and lunch were served in the casual restaurant. There were a variety of buffet items along with a small made to order menu. Breakfast items included fresh squeezed OJ, quality fruit items, and waffles/pancakes made to order. Lunch always included a hot buffet, salad, and grill items made to order. The only thing we didn’t care for was the pizza. Service in all of the dining areas was very good.
Non-alcoholic beverages are included….including soda in the mini-bar. This is very convenient.
Because Wind Surf is smaller than most ships, she can call on unique places. We only saw one big ship the entire week (in St. Kitts). We started in Barbuda, which only offered one tour (to a bird sanctuary) otherwise there was nothing but a stretch of beach with no facilities. We also stopped at Pigeon Island (St. Lucia), St. Kitts, Nevis, Isle Des Saintes, Dominica, and St. Barts. The beach party was on Pigeon Island. It’s a nice spot and the barbeque on the beach was very good. It was, however, crowded when everyone got to the beach. Even for a small group, a bigger beach is needed. We took the ship’s excursions (which we rarely do) in several places. The groups were much smaller and the tours were well done. There was generally a crew member with us. We particularly liked the cooking demonstration in St. Kitts. There were only five of us, which was a shame because the grounds of the great house were very pretty and the demonstration/food was excellent. We had great weather all week.
We have never had a smoother disembarkation than from Wind Surf. There were no lines, crowds, people sitting all over, or endless announcements. You simply retrieved passports from the staff and walked off the ship. We hired a guide to give us a tour of St. Maarten before our afternoon flight. This worked out well. The airport is crowded but not too bad for the Caribbean. The security line was long but moved fairly well. There was a variety of duty free shops but not much by way of food.
Why We Will be Back
• No crowds or lines….anywhere!
• We did not see an single intoxicated person all week
• No crowds of kids running all over the ship
• No annoying cruise director and constant sales pitches
• NO BINGO
• No “stupid passenger trick” shows
• No pool games or beer chugging
• No constant pressure for up sells or gimmicks
• No singing in the dining room
• NO FORMAL NIGHTS……virtually all passengers complied with “smart casual”
• Excellent service
• The most friendly crew we have every experienced
• Excellent food (quality ingredients make a difference)
• A very relaxing cruise
This was our first trip on Wind Star….it won’t be our last! This is what cruising used to be. It is more expensive but you get value for the money spent. I will have a very hard time returning to a mass market line. Read Less
We are seasoned cruisers (Sea Goddess, Seabourn, Sea Dream, Silversea, Regent) but in the 20+ years of cruising we have never sailed on a "Wind" ship. We prefer small ships but we were concerned about the tightness of the ... Read More
We are seasoned cruisers (Sea Goddess, Seabourn, Sea Dream, Silversea, Regent) but in the 20+ years of cruising we have never sailed on a "Wind" ship. We prefer small ships but we were concerned about the tightness of the staterooms and the publicity blurb which seemed to aim at younger passengers. What a pleasant surprise! We have just completed a Windstar Caribbean cruise and found it difficult to criticise:
Suites tight but ok, with more storage space than we could fill.
Bathrooms tight but brilliantly designed with the best shower we have experienced on a cruise.
The whole ship has been beautifully and cleverly refurbished.
Food very good standard.
Crew very good, friendly and attentive - high ratio staff/passengers.
Loved the informality (which we did not believe we would!)
All officers very approachable and informative.
Passengers - good mixture of all ages and the informality is contagious.
Very good destinations and tours and sensible pricing of tours.
Enjoyed the "sailing" which they make a feature.
Laundry very good and sensibly priced (take the $109 package).
Minimal entertainment (which suited us!)
Veranda for breakfast/lunch is beautifully designed and an attractive facility.
Hated having to sign for everything.
Disliked only having portholes in suites - no fresh air.
Because of the timing of the "next day talk", there tends to be a rush for Dinner at 7.30pm.
I would have no hesitation in recommending Windstar and we will be repeating the exercise.
What a spectacular cruise. We sailed out of Barbados on February 7th. We stayed 2 nights prior, and 1 night post cruise. Of all the cruise lines I’ve been on, Wind Star is by far my #1 choice. There are no Ping-Pong or shuffleboard ... Read More
What a spectacular cruise. We sailed out of Barbados on February 7th. We stayed 2 nights prior, and 1 night post cruise. Of all the cruise lines I’ve been on, Wind Star is by far my #1 choice. There are no Ping-Pong or shuffleboard tournaments, no drinking games, no pushy drink servers - but there is a whole lot of luxury, plenty of rest, beautiful small island stops, and outstanding views all the time. Maybe young adults, who are in their teens & 20’s would prefer some craziness over these small, classy, personable cruise ships but that would have to be about it.
This was our 2nd Windstar cruise. Our last one was on the Wind Surf, only 10 months prior to this. That in itself says a whole lot about my impression of Windstar.
The Windstar’s Wind Star, had about 130 passengers this trip, so it wasn’t sold out completely but it was full. Some days it was hard to get a lounge chair, however we always did find one. The casino is very small with only 2 tables and maybe 10 slot machines, the gym had 3 treadmills, 2 bikes, & 1 incumbent machine. There were also some weights. The deck plan layout was perfect: deck 4 had the pool & Veranda for breakfast & lunch. Deck 3 was the lounge, casino, restaurant, shop, and front desk. Decks 1 & 2 are the rooms. Deck 2 has the gym & sports platform.
The meals were incredible, no complaints at all, only praise from me. They have everything at both breakfast & lunch with the buffet and/or the menu. The diner is open seating and always seemed to have a different menu.
The bar staff and crew were again perfect. If you’ve been – Charlie, Noy, Phillip, Rene, and Tata are the only names I remember now that it’s been 2 weeks since I returned. My memory fades as quickly as my tan. Those guys were all wonderful.
The island stops on this tour were superb. I can’t imagine a better itinerary.
Barbados – go to the Boatyard. They have a good beach with music and lots to do. Fun! Their price also includes a ride back to the ship.
Pigeon Island – we walked up to the fort, then down to the beach. This was our only rainy day. More like 4 hours of lite rain, mist, and clouds, then it was perfect. It’s not a tremendously hard walk up to the top, but it is steep & a little slippery when wet. I’d call it a challenging hike.
Grenada – we took a cab to The Aquarium restaurant. Excellent beach, food & drinks.
Mayreau – Beach party – it was great! Then we took a catamaran out for some snorkeling. This was worth it even though we were tired from the party & volleyball. They took us to a little sandbar island. I think it’s a Once-in-a-lifetime thing.
Bequia – we just walked around. It’s best, after you get to the dock, to walk to your right. It quickly turns very nice and leads you to the beach where the ship’s little zodiac rafts pick-up & drop-off.
Tobago Cays – we did the Tobago Cays Snorkel. $75 – absolutely worth it. My wife doesn’t snorkel, she stayed on the catamaran and spotted more turtles than I did while I was snorkeling. The fish, coral, and turtles where everywhere.
I was asked “which ship did you prefer: Wind Surf or Wind Star”.
I have to say the Wind Surf. The Wind Surf carries twice the number of passengers: 290, which is still small but there’s more of a chance to meet people of your type. And more important is the entertainment. The Wind Star had only 1 guy playing the piano – “John”. He was pretty good, but not near what the Wind Surf has: a duet up at the pool bar & occasionally in the lounge, AND there is also a 5 piece band at the lounge.
But, you tell me that I’m sailing with Windstar again, and I won’t argue about which ship I want.