We posted this last year but trip advisor didn't have a "cruise review". I happened to still have this saved, so I thought I'd try to save other travelers from wasting money! The caribbean is beautiful and we'd ... Read More
We posted this last year but trip advisor didn't have a "cruise review". I happened to still have this saved, so I thought I'd try to save other travelers from wasting money! The caribbean is beautiful and we'd definitely try another cruise there, but this time on Royal Caribbean (see my Mexico Monarch of the Seas review)....
We went on a one week St. Thomas cruise to 7 other little islands in the Caribbean in Feb. 2007. Overall: 1.5 stars/D-. The only reason it even got 1.5/D- rating is because the Caribbean is so beautiful- great destination (but the beauty of the destination has nothing to do w/ Windstar...you can do this on your own w/ either a "regular" big cruise or all-inclusive land vacation. If you want to save yourself a big waste of your hard earned money (an all inclusive land package would've been half the cost if not less), read this. Also, during our trip they announced Windstar had been sold (which helps explain the crappy management on board). The current owner is Holland America and they will complete the sale in April 2007. TIP: don't buy the "whole travel package" from Windstar...big rip off. Better off taking taxi ($5-10 vs. Windstar's $64), and booking your own airline. They market themselves as "180 degrees from ordinary" and 5 star/first class. Their brochure shows everything under the sun...but unless the only vacation you've ever been on has been a $29 special to Vegas, you will be sorely disappointed when you get on board (others on our cruise said the same thing). We asked some other cruisers how this compared vs. a "regular big cruise line" and they reacted this way "Uh, well...dead silence"...enough said. I just wish I would've known this before wasting so much money. We wanted to try a cruise so badly and decided to start w/ "the best" which is what they proclaimed to be...not so!! Read on. Airport customs at St. Thomas: great; very efficient & short both ways. Workers: Since they nickel & dime you for everything ($2.50 for a can of soda + 15% service charge on every single drink purchase + a daily tip fee of $11 per day PER PASSENGER )...unless you are buying booze or soda, hard to get them to wait on you (which makes sense since the workers don't get "paid" for serving the free drinks which is only tea and water). Water sports are supposed to be all included, but we found that they didn't really have any water sports except for one kayak & a little boat thing (and snorkeling gear)...all weather depending of course.
You can only check out the snorkeling gear when they say so which is typically 7-8 am- so much for sleeping in (whatever happened to focusing on customers?) However, the sports platform is pretty cool whenever they were open (this is where all this stuff takes place). We got to swim in the ocean from the boat...but they were only open for a few hours twice in a one week cruise. Very different from Sandals (where we typically go for vacation), where everything is truly all inclusive. Rooms: Standard, very small (it's a cruise ship so we weren't surprised). But there's nothing 5 star about it. Equivalent to Days Inn. You get two HARD twin beds pushed together. Very uncomfortable. Bathrooms (both in cabin & throughout ship) are like being in a port-o-potty...no ventilation...smells horrible!! Restaurants: The only "saving grace". Gourmet like- the 2 restaurants are great. You won't be disappointed w/ the food...if you can manage to get in a meal...since the dining hours are TERRIBLE! e.g.,. one day, b'fast was 7-9 am (hello, you're on vacation), lunch was 1-2:30, and dinners are always 7:30-9:30. It was so sad, people are literally waiting for the doors to open to get their lunch & dinner. Many of us on board were disappointed and irritated at the extreme limited dining hours. WARNING: don't do the shore excursions. Alot of pple. on our cruise said what a rip off they were (overpriced, misleading descriptions). We paid $260 for a catamaran snorkeling trip and saw one fish! Another couple paid $400 for a "beach escapade" to be pampered at a 5 star resort and they came back irritated at having spent so much for "swimming at a hotel and getting a crappy lunch"... BTW, at a land all inclusive vacation, you get snorkeling, catamaran, etc. all w/o any add'l costs! They NICKEL & DIME you for EVERYTHING! Food is the only thing included (when you can get food). They had a special "Captains Sailaway" and "Beach BBQ" event and charged for all drinks...we figure that the average cabin paid an extra $1000-$2000 on excursions and beverages. From what I hear from the "big cruises" at least you can eat 24 hrs/ and get free sodas. They have NO amenities. The "pool" & jacuzzi...seats 4-5 people (yes I'm talking about the pool). They're not heated. Jacuzzi is like warm bath water at best. If more than a few pple. got in the pool or jacuzzi, forget about using it...no room for you. Nothing to do on the ship unless you're on the excursion b/c the ports they take you to have nothing to do. One port we went to was literally you get dropped off and walk up & down a sandy road w/ 2-3 stores and that's it...so you go back on board and there's nothing to do b/c they don't feed you til 1pm! Their "wind spa" that they brag about is in reality a teeny, tiny cabin w/ a massage bed in a small room. We did get a massage to try and recover from the plane ride, and it was good, but she doesn't massage your arms or front of your legs (all other 50 min massages I've gotten is full body). Fitness center has one treadmill (the other one broken), one elliptical & stairmaster & 2 bikes, & some weights. But if you're a man taller than 5'7 forget about using them, the ceilings are so low you'll hit your head. Management: TERRIBLE! But since they've sold the company, it doesn't surprise me. We brought up a couple of issues and they didn't resolve anything. Basically, even reasonable customer requests are ignored and you're told "this is our policy"... I kid you not, they will only replace your shampoo if they have proof that it's used up EMPTY and in your trash can (so I guess they rummage thru guests' trash cans, which is kind of scary). One day, since they didn't replenish our toiletries b/c our existing set wasn't 100% empty (and I had left it in the shower, instead of the trash), I had to call 3 times and beg them for more shampoo so I could was the gritty sand out of my hair! Yes, this is a true experience. Geez, even Holiday Inn & Motel 6 gives free shampoo!! The best comparison I can make is that they're like the Northwest Airlines of cruises (yes, quite an insult). NWA charges you extra if you want to sit next to your travelling companion. Here, they charge for every little thing. And on the last day, once they have gotten all your money they turn off the air conditioner and 150 passengers are sweating in the lobby going thru customs for over 1 hr! Overall, I guess it's to each his/her own. Some pple on board thought this was the greatest vaca. ever...go figure. But there were enough "negative" comments on board that I felt I should post this to warn other travellers. I would give anything to get my money back. The only saving grace was that the destination/scenery of the Caribbean is so gorgeous, and perfect weather nearly everyday (but again, this has nothing to do w/ Windstar)...you could get the exact same thing on a big cruiseline for about 1/3 of what we paid...also, to be fair...the food was very good (but it's comparable to Sandals resorts, which includes all beverages (non & alcoholic) and all activities. I wish Trip Advisor had some reviews on Windstar B4 we booked, so I decided to be the first. Anyone who is a discerning traveller who is accustomed to really nice vacations will be very disappointed by this. We don't mind paying more, if we actually get something for it. This is so overpriced, that even if they offered me $1,000-$2,000 off a future cruise w/ them, I wouldn't do it. Do yourself a favor...just book any all inclusive vacation....you'll pay less and get more w/ better service. Read Less