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3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2014
Could be your cruise of a lifetime, but I was expecting a bit more My wife and I recently completed the "Riviera" cruise from Rome to Barcelona during the period of June 19 to 26, 2014. We were celebrating our 5th wedding ... Read More
Could be your cruise of a lifetime, but I was expecting a bit more My wife and I recently completed the "Riviera" cruise from Rome to Barcelona during the period of June 19 to 26, 2014. We were celebrating our 5th wedding anniversary and were doing the trip "first class". As such, we booked one of Wind Surf's suites -- cabin #501 -- at a total cost of $9,000. I can honestly say we have never anticipated a trip more and very much wanted to enjoy every aspect of the Windstar experience and make it our preferred cruise line going forward. There are so many aspects of this cruise line that are really great. - We loved being at port each day of the trip. - We found the food to be quite good (with some exceptions I will note later). - The "on deck" dinner bar-b-q celebration was excellent and a true highlight of the week. - The size of the ship was wonderful for easily meeting new friends and quickly getting around. - The on-ship laundry service was very convenient and fairly priced. - The water sports platform off the back of the boat is fun after exploring a port all day. Note that I used the word “after” here. Despite all of these positives, there are some troubling negatives that really affect whether I will ever cruise with Windstar again. They are: - Suite #501 is unacceptably noisy. At the beginning of the trip we dealt with extreme vibrations from the mounted flat screen TV. While annoying, we solved the problem and were able to fall back to sleep. The last night was absolutely awful though. There is a metal track on the foot of the bed's head board. Extremely loud noises from elsewhere in the ship kept coming up through this metal track. It kept us up all night. For $9,000, there should be no problems with a room. - We had to take tenders at 5 of the 6 stops. This is the exact opposite of the "experience" that Windstar touts of being able to reach ports that other cruise ships cannot. The need for tenders was most annoying in Monaco and Cannes. At Monaco, most people dressed up at night to go to the Grand Casino. Wearing evening clothes on a tender is not very comfortable. At Cannes, our plan was to take a tour to a winery in the day and then go to a beach in the afternoon. I assumed a quick change would be possible if the ship was docked. However, the extra 45-50 minutes it takes to use the tender made this plan impractical. I suppose Windstar could say that tenders were used in order to have the water sports platform opened all day, but I suspect that more passengers would have preferred less time with the water sports platform if it meant being able to avoid tenders at least part of the day. - Further on the docking, the city of Monaco has awful taxi service yet the tenders had to dock a considerable distance from the Grand Casino. It would have been a nice extra touch to have a shuttle bus waiting for people in the evening to take them to the Grand Casino. - The welcome luncheon was very low quality. Our first experience on the ship should be top notch to set the correct tone. Instead, some of the lunch choices were Chicken-Al-a-King and Beef Lasagna. Really? This is what I would expect to see at a budget all-you-can-eat buffet -- not on a cruise ship charging top dollar. - The specialty restaurants -- Stella's and Candles -- had inferior menus to the main dining room. We discussed this with other passengers who shared a similar opinion. The main dining room was very good though. - We were unable to make any of the group talks about the next day's stop due to its scheduled time just when people are getting ready for dinner. However, given how little nearly every member of the Wind Surf staff knew about a stop, I question how much value these meetings could have been. We literally got no guidance on the best beaches to visit or wonderful little towns just outside of the port city. We got lucky to have found out about Eze outside of Monaco and Collioure outside of Port Vendres since the Windstar staff provided no guidance at all. - Port Vendres was definitely the worst stop by far. I have no idea why Windstar chose to tender there instead of Collioure, which was so much more scenic. We all joked that Port Vendres must have paid Windstar to stop versus the other way around (I am not sure it is so far-fetched though). - The explanation of the tipping service was very poor. I asked on the last night about the policy. The main desk gave an answer that suggested the base cruise fare included tips and anything I give specific cruise staff was in addition to this amount. As such, I proceeded to give out about $150 in "extra" tips. You can imagine my surprise (anger?) when I saw that gratuities were added to my on-board expenses. I gave Windstar an opportunity to respond to these criticisms before writing a review. I got a basic form letter response with a modest incentive to cruise with them again by 2015, which I will be unable to use. Despite this long list of “complaints” the ship and cruise experience could be really special if they just learn to pay a little more attention to details. I cannot say for sure I would rule them out for future travel, but I do know they missed the mark a bit too often on this past trip.   Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2014
I was particularly excited about the evaluations mentioning the uniqueness of the Wind Star ships. Wind Surf is indeed a pretty sailing ship, small yet very comfortable and with 300 guests and 200 crew. Very promising! Stateroom / ... Read More
I was particularly excited about the evaluations mentioning the uniqueness of the Wind Star ships. Wind Surf is indeed a pretty sailing ship, small yet very comfortable and with 300 guests and 200 crew. Very promising! Stateroom / bathroom were very good, comfortable, well designed and with enough cabinets and small storage places to organize your goods. However, the safe is too small. It was generally well kept, but occasionally we found empty water carafes (they do not keep water bottles in the minibar) and used glasses at bed time. Wifi never worked, but at least we were properly refunded. What really bothered me was the lack a lounge to stay protected against the sun and wind in the upper deck with expanded forward and side views. The internal lounges were not comfortable and had no view. The pool area – aft – is too small, with limited view and always packed. In my previous cruises I always enjoyed such a lounge for reading or enjoying a drink with a nice view, specifically when departing, approaching the port or sundown. Outside in the top deck there is a very limited space – or not at all – to enjoy an open shaded area with some protection against the wind. We always had pretty sunny days, but I wonder where to stay in a day at sea in a rainy day. Breakfast and lunch at the Veranda were very nice, a lot of buffet and a la carte options and great service. Dinner had a lot of high and lows: the Amphora - the standard, daily restaurant – was reasonable, but occasionally we found some food – such as the Alfredo pasta – totally tasteless. Candles – the small outside restaurant that must be booked – was the best option, with good main courses and great service (they even provided blankets when it was too chilly). Seafood spear and steak were superb, but the “shrimp and salmon carpaccio” was simply a thin, round smear of paté. The biggest disappointment is the supposedly top French bistro, Stella’s: portions were ridiculously small: the escargot appetizer was small and we got just a few in a big pastry; the scallops were only 4 small ones, smaller and less than any regular seafood restaurant; rack of lamb was small (the rack and the lamb itself). I know one can order more, but it was never offered. I know what a French restaurant is and how small their portions may be (not in a bistro, usually more generous), but Stella was simply ridiculous! The menu also did not reflect what the food was, fancy names and poor food. The espresso and sandwiches bar was nice and a good option for a drink or snack. Entertainment was poor: a small band with a singer also with high and lows, but she really improved during the cruise. No other decent options, on top of 1 evening with a crew show: entertaining and funny, even when they performed poorly! Shore excursions were limited and expensive for what they delivered. Many were cancelled due to lack of attendees. They made daily presentations of the next port of calls in the evening. It would be nice, but they presented the port of the day after, and it was confusing: even the presenter said “tomorrow” when she meant “the day after tomorrow”. Probably they wanted to give some more time for guests to think about and buy packages, but at the end of the day a presentation and a vrief recap of the last one was simply confusing. Services, generically speaking, were great: the waiters and supervisors, reception, tender, and so on. To my great disappointment, the last dinner – survey had been delivered and tips settled – was simply awful: no one paid attention to us, the smiling faces were gone, the beverage steward never showed up and I had to order cocktails to the waiter. After a long, long time they arrived: wrong order and exactly when they served dinner and the bottle of wine I had in storage. Even the waiter we had dearly recommended in the survey could not manage to keep our water glasses filled. Even with the “Ups” we experienced more “Downs”, and it was certainly the worst cruise we experienced. WindStar, never again!   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2014
This was our fifth Windstar cruise and definitely not our last.  The Islands of the Western Mediterranean is only offered once each year, but for those of us who have cruised the Riviera coast from Barcelona to Rome in the past it is a ... Read More
This was our fifth Windstar cruise and definitely not our last.  The Islands of the Western Mediterranean is only offered once each year, but for those of us who have cruised the Riviera coast from Barcelona to Rome in the past it is a wonderful alternative. It is also an opportunity to visit Spain, Italy and France in one cruise. For some reason, embarkation seemed more congested than usual. It still was very quick compared to large cruise lines, just more chaotic than we’ve experienced previously. Maybe there were more people arriving by plane that morning (like us) and not really having enough time to do anything in Barcelona other than head to the port. We were really happy to see so many familiar faces upon boarding – Gusman, Ragam, Erwin, Daddy, Robert. Our cabin attendant, Anang was one of the best we have ever had. After a second cruise with the new cabin design, I can still say I absolutely love it! Very well planned with more storage than we ever need. The only problem with our cabin, 106, was that there was some engine noise. It never really bothered us until the last night when we also started experiencing a very noticeable loud humming sound around 3AM which did disrupt our sleep. I could see the cabin noise as being a problem if the occupants were light sleepers. Whether ordering off the menu or choosing buffet items, both breakfast and lunch provided great selections. My main complaint (as it has been from our very first cruise) is that I really dislike the coffee. I wish they would do something about it since I frequently hear others complaining as well. This cruise I elected to just bypass the coffee and go straight to cappuccinos for both breakfast and dinner. The evening meal selections varied from good to excellent – in fact, Tom enjoyed one fish entrée so much that he declared it was one of the best meals he’s ever had on any cruise ship. Dining room service was outstanding as always. We decided not to partake of Candles on this cruise since the weather was a little chilly in the evenings. The on-deck BBQ was fun and Tom declared that the paella was better than what we had in Soller, Spain. Our fellow cruisers ranged in age from two well-behaved children around eight to ten years old to a lovely woman in her 90’s travelling with her grandchildren. Average age was probably 40-60, and many on this cruise seemed to be the adventurous type ready to explore and go off on their own. This may explain why some of the shore excursions were cancelled – not enough people signing up. We took two ship excursions – one in Alghero and one in Portoferraio, one was good and the other just OK. We ventured out on our own in Soller and Porto Vecchio. The one disadvantage to visiting ports that are not frequently visited is that the usual hints you can get from crew members is more limited. But because of that, it seemed we saw more crew members out and about experiencing the port with us. We’ve enjoyed all our cruises with Windstar, but I think this itinerary proved to be the best well-rounded one for us. Just the right amount of sightseeing, relaxation and great fellow cruisers.   Read Less
Sail Date: April 2014
This was Windstar's inaugural food and wine cruise of Spain. My girlfriend and I jumped at the chance to book, since we'd been drinking the wines of Spain and enjoying authentic Spanish food at home and at the two local ... Read More
This was Windstar's inaugural food and wine cruise of Spain. My girlfriend and I jumped at the chance to book, since we'd been drinking the wines of Spain and enjoying authentic Spanish food at home and at the two local restaurants in Atlanta that serve it. Bottom line: the cruise delivered. It was just what I was hoping for and I can enthusiasticlly recommend it to others. I had never cruised Windstar or the smaller ships before. I researched extensively online and mostly found comments saying simply "you're going to love it." To help other newbies or those considering future food and wine cruises, I'll try to give the details that stayed with me. We boarded around 5:30 pm in Lisbon after spending a day and a half there on our own (no cruise hotels or transfers). I believe boarding started at 1:00 pm and all aboard was 10:00 pm for a 11:00 pm sail away. I was surprised to see what looked like the majority of passengers already on board and in the middle of the first wine tasting at 5:30 or 6:00. We had missed the muster drill but were pointed to someone from the bridge who gave us our own personal safety demonstration. We had also missed the first wine talk and general introduction of the men and the company who were providing the wine, but we weren't the only ones and we jumped right in. There was a wine tasting and passed hors d'oeuvres every evening from 6:00 to 7:00. The atmosphere was that of a 300-person cocktail party -- festive and enjoyable, but it was challenging to hear the descriptions and discussion of the wines because we never arrived early enough to get a seat up front. The talk lasted about 15 minutes, all the while the hard-working staff circulated with generous samples of the evening's four featured wines. Windstar gave each of us a nifty little notebook to make notes on the wine, with preprinted pages where you could fill in the name, vintage, your thoughts, etc. These same wines were available that evening at dinner or later in the bar at no charge. I read elsewhere on the forum (thanks, r&rd) that there were 450 cases of wine for 320 passengers. It was more than ample! Obviously, I was super glad that I didn't spring for the alcohol package. I sure hope the bartenders and servers were compensated for lost tips, which usually come on the slip you sign for each drink. We tried to do our part. There were a number of things that made this cruise different from the normal Lisbon to Barcelona sailing (I'm guessing here, since I don't have anything to compare it to). We had two wine pairing dinners, both excellent (although the only food complaints I heard all week were about the dry pork on the first pairing dinner. I can't say; I had the fish and it was excellent). Each course was paired with a wine that we had heard about in that evening's wine talk. I honestly couldn't tell if the food itself was Spanish-influenced; it didn't seem so to me, and that would have been a nice touch. There were two excellent cooking demonstrations by chef Seamus Mullen, the first on our day at sea and the second on the final afternoon. I missed the second one but tasted the result -- really good paella. I was so happy they distributed the recipes because we will definitely try our hand at making them. One evening a local flamenco troupe was brought on board, and I enjoyed every moment. They were fabulous. Again, so happy about that extra touch (which I've read happens on other Windstar cruise as well) because we otherwise wouldn't have an opportunity to see flamenco shows which are always at night. Another feature of this cruising was two complimentary food/wine-themed shore excursions. These were the only excursions we took, Windstar or otherwise. The rest of the time we explored the port towns on our own. I was pleased with both the sherry cellar tour in Jerez de la Frontera and the vineyard tour outside Valencia. Both included city tours and the guides and buses were first-rate. I had wondered how I would fare on a small ship, in terms of seasickness. I had no problems whatsoever, and we experienced a few high seas here and there but not much. My girlfriend, a more experienced cruiser than I, has always worn the patch but tried going without and she was fine too; didn't ever need the Dramamine we brought. The boat rocked a little but I found it pleasant. Although at times I did have to use the handrails walking around, just briefly. The cabin was roomy and comfortable with plenty of space for our things. Liked the L'Occitane bath products. Our travel agent advised selecting a cabin in the middle of the ship for stability purposes. Our porthole was a few feet above the water and I spent a lot of time (probably too much) just staring out at the waves and being mesmerized. The one maintenance issue we had was fixed within hours. We made use of the Bose speaker, hooking it up to our iPhones. If you have the newer phone with the redesigned pin, you just ask at reception for an adapter. There was one outlet in the cabin (maybe suites have more, I don't know). It had two plugs, one European and one US. Since our cabin was on the lowest level the watertight doors in the hallway were closed when we were coming into or leaving port. These were every 40 feet or so and there is stairway access in each 40-foot section, so we weren't prevented from going up or down. It was just surprising and we always seemed to forget about it, so we'd go up the stairs to the second level and try to estimate where to go down again, since the cabin numbers don't directly correspond. Maybe other folks are familiar with this but it was new to me. Getting on and off the ship at ports of call was always smooth and easy. Sometimes we walked right into town, other times there was a shuttle. Disembarkation in Barcelona was especially painless and well-organized. There was a slight change in our itinerary, which their website or materials prepare you for, and that was docking in Palma, Mallorca instead of tendering to Soller. The seas were evidently too rough to tender, so everybody was pretty happy that the captain made the call. No excursions were harmed in the making of this change. I've never been to either city, but I was delighted with Palma -- probably my favorite port on this itinerary. The service was very good, as other posters have written. I think reading all the other comments had set my expectations very high and the service didn't quite live up to them but was still very good. It's been years since I cruised and that was on a big NCL ship. I imagine the service we received on the Wind Surf was much better than the big ships can offer, but I didn't experience the bit where "the crew addresses you by name early in the cruise." The only ones who addressed us by name were our wonderful cabin steward and, interestingly, the woman in the gift shop. But I'm not complaining in the least. The servers had a huge job to do, with the nightly wine tastings and the two pairing dinners where everyone was seated at the same time. And we never hung out in one area or one bar long enough to really get to know the staff so that's part of it too. Food is such a subjective thing but I'll give my take. The dinners were tasty with a good selection of entrées. There was always the option of ordering salmon, streak, chicken and one other dish if none of the selections appealed. The quality, presentation and portion size were good. My only complaint is a minor one: the bread, butter and coffee were really subpar. Especially since the bread and coffee are so good in Spain, it was disappointing to be served dull bread, low quality butter and weak coffee. I tried the coffee shop for lattes and espressos, but it was the same week coffee in a different form. The drinks were priced well and we enjoyed the daily cocktail, an interesting concoction named after a city we'd recently visited. We only ate one or two breakfasts and lunches on board, preferring to eat those meals in port. But the ones we ate had a good selection of fresh food. We ordered room service one night and were very pleased with it. Stella Bistro was a nice change of pace (or menu, anyway) from the dining room. After the first night, dining at Candles was moved inside due to windy conditions. That was a-okay with me, because it did not look pleasant for the diners (or the waitstaff) that first night on deck. One thing that stood out and really exceeded my expectations was the deck barbecue. I wanted to eat one of everything (and maybe five servings of lobster) and then go back for seconds and thirds. On everything. It was a gorgeous evening, the band from the lounge was playing, Spanish wine was flowing -- a stellar night. As far as activities and entertainment, I like the idea of Windstar's low-key approach of not having a lot of planned events. This cruise may have been a little different because it *did* feel like there were a number of activities, with the daily wine talks and tastings and the two cooking demonstrations. I enjoyed the two singing groups in the evening, and there was a guest entertainer as well. The engine room tour felt special; I wouldn't expect to get to go behind the scenes like that and walk through the engine room on any other ship. We missed the shopping trip in port with the chef because of an excursion, and they didn't seem to offer the galley tour on this cruise. I like how Windstar doesn't make many announcements over the intercom. There was generally one each day, usually as we were leaving port. It became a running joke between my girlfriend and I that the captain always apologized for making the announcement -- politeness is always welcome, but it's okay, one announcement a day is nothing to apologize for. I think an officer on the bridge got in a bit of trouble for announcing that there was a pod of whales to be seen; I was glad he told us! But I think it was at the tail end of the last dinner seating so I can understand not wanting everyone in the the dining room to rush to the windows. We used the fitness center twice. I loved watching the sea as I rode the bike or used the elliptical. I was rewarded for my attempts at fitness by a dolphin sighting! We didn't use the laundry service so I can't comment on that. There was hardly any smoking on deck. Very rare and not a bother at all. The passengers ranged in age a good bit. The majority seemed to be late 50s or 60 and older. Being in my mid-40s I was curious how many near-ish my age there were, and I estimated 30 or so people under 50, which is more than I had expected. The other passengers were friendly, no stuffiness at all. The casual evening attire (as compared to coat and tie or black tie) was welcome. Some dressed more elegantly than others but really, anything other than jeans was fine. Overall, an excellent experience on board. Very good service, a stunning vessel, an emphasis on the local food and drink, enchanting ports of call -- I highly recommend it. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2013
My husband and I embarked on our Venice to Rome cruise last fall with high expectations. As third time guests of Windstar, we felt we knew what to expect and were prepared for an enjoyable cruise. The ship itself was well appointed and we ... Read More
My husband and I embarked on our Venice to Rome cruise last fall with high expectations. As third time guests of Windstar, we felt we knew what to expect and were prepared for an enjoyable cruise. The ship itself was well appointed and we were very pleased with the beautiful accommodations. But what Windstar failed to disclose when we booked our cruise (almost a year out) was that our sailing was essentially a charter cruise. More than half the guests on board were media advertising groups cruising on a corporate junket. I knew from previous reviews that if a large group is onboard, it can negatively impact the cruise for other guests. Sadly, this was very true in our case. These large groups took over the Terrace Bar and deck each evening for a private reception, which precluded anyone else from enjoying that area. They congregated at the bars in large, loud groups making it impossible for others to be in the same space. But the worst behavior was reserved for the dining room each evening, when large groups, dressed down in jeans, would drink their way through dinner, often shouting to friends at nearby tables and in one unbelievable incident, eating with their hands from platters of food they had ordered for the table. The noise level made it impossible to have conversation and twice we left the restaurant early without finishing our dinner. The party-like atmosphere that dominated the cruise really devalued the Windstar experience for us. We will not cruise with Windstar again.   Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2013
I have been looking forward to the Windstar Cruises "Treasures of Southern France" cruise for about half a year. The minute I saw the photo of the lavender fields on the brochure page of this cruise I knew I just had to go. And ... Read More
I have been looking forward to the Windstar Cruises "Treasures of Southern France" cruise for about half a year. The minute I saw the photo of the lavender fields on the brochure page of this cruise I knew I just had to go. And so we booked the cruise departing Nice on July 13. My husband and I arrived to Nice a day early and spent the first night at a hotel which was great. We then took a cab to the point of embarkation. Windstar tends to select smaller, commercial ports so we were lucky that our taxi driver knew where to drop us. The moment I got on board, Gonzalo, the Destination Manager, welcomed us. I told him I was so excited to be seeing those lavender fields that they had in the brochure. I then asked which tour I could take to see those fields and he told me "they are everywhere! Take any tour." He then tried to sell me on the $1,499 private car and driver which I thought was a ridiculous price and so I signed up for an excursion to Aix en Provence on Tuesday and later the French Impressionists tour that Thursday. When Tuesday morning came around, we were up, dressed, and had breakfast well before 8 a.m. as our departure was at 8:15 for this tour. Gonzalo saw me in the hallway, pulled me aside, and then told me that he checked in with an associate, and the lavender fields are not in bloom now and that I will not see any. He then told me that I could get my money back if I wanted for the tour. Incredibly disappointed, I took the tour anyway as we were already up and ready. It was a really bad tour. The guide had a hard time with English and just "ummed" the entire time. When we got to Aix en Provence, we were dropped off by a flea market and once the guide starting talking about the exterior of some such building, my husband and I just took off on our own. We didn't really like this area at all. It was VERY commercial and touristy and not at all what I had imagined the medieval little towns of Provence to be. Even the waiters in the cafes were surly. The town was so overcrowded, we couldn't wait to get back on the bus. We had heard that the ship was renovated and were surprised when we got on board and our cabin steward took us to our stateroom and proceeded to tell us that they were probably renovating the cabins later this year or early next year. Sure, they had put in some new carpeting (which was already quite dirty) and had new linens, but the room still looked worn. The furniture was the same and our bathroom had rust around the door frame. The cabin steward kept the room very clean and we thought the laundry package was a great deal. But they had this rough, woolen blanket on the bed which I thought was very out of place and not at all luxury. Breakfast on the ship became somewhat of a joke. Every day you had a choice of a different Eggs Benedict. They had a waffle or pancake for good measure and always the same display of meats (many of which were discolored) and fruits. Lunches were also quite horrific. The menu showed hot dogs and hamburgers, perhaps a burrito, they had a greasy Gyro one day. And here we are in the South of France? What about the fresh veggies and fish we saw in the markets each day? We ended up dining ashore for lunch most days. Dinners, while tasty, were the same dinners Windstar serves no matter where in the world you happen to cruise. Here we are in the South of France and there wasn't even a French wine on the wine list! Hungarian Goulash, Turkey and Stuffing? Really? They had one appetizer and one entree that said "local specialty" as a choice each evening and while the food was tasty and the service was excellent, once again, you weren't dining on the specialties you could find ashore. These towns had fabulous markets and when you saw the quality of the foods there, it was disappointing to see what you got on board. Also, Windstar tendered for the first few days into Cannes and Sanary Sur Mer, but then we docked in a horrible area of Marseilles that didn't seem safe (our ship was behind barbed wire with uniformed guards) and other commercial ports so while you were trying to enjoy a relaxing breakfast on deck, all that you heard were jackhammers and construction vehicles. Tendering would have been so much better. The ship also only sailed each evening starting at 10 p.m. and you were usually docked by 7 or 8 a.m. so you hardly got any opportunity to experiencing cruising which is why we were there wasn't it? The rest of the time we were docked at these ugly commercial noisy ports. Windstar always positions itself as a luxury cruise line and that its journeys are 180 degrees from ordinary, but after having completed by third cruise with them and my husband's fourth cruise, they have gone downhill. The type of passenger has gone downhill, and what they try to get away with is incredible. They are not a luxury cruise line anymore. Luxury isn't having hot dogs and hamburgers on the menu. Or no European wines (everything was from the Napa Valley). If you want something really unique and luxurious and you are a foodie, go to a Seabourn or more upscale line. They just don't really care about delivering what they promise. And when you complain, they offer to give you a limited discount on your next cruise! Like why would you cruise with them again?! Most disappointing was that they position this as a cruise to the South of France where you will see the lavender fields they show on the website and in the brochure. Yet the destination manager on board is clueless about the destination (he's from Mexico) and can't even direct you properly to see what they supposedly sell about the destination. This was a very disappointing experience and not at all luxury if you are a true five-star hotel traveler who enjoys luxury and good food and wine. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2013
I will be a Windstar cruiser for life after our 2nd voyage with them. After a wonderful week on board the Windstar going from Istanbul to Athens with 5 stops in between it got even better. I had left my University of Florida Football ... Read More
I will be a Windstar cruiser for life after our 2nd voyage with them. After a wonderful week on board the Windstar going from Istanbul to Athens with 5 stops in between it got even better. I had left my University of Florida Football National Championship ring in our stateroom when it fell out of my backpack. Our wonderful steward, Cecep, found it and had it forwarded to our Athens hotel before I even knew I had lost it. I will be forever grateful to Cecep for his honesty and integrity. The week started well when several crew members remembered my wife and me from a cruise we took last year. By the 2nd day of the cruise every food and beverage service member would know all 140 of us by name. It's amazing how they do that on Windstar cruises. The food and service was excellent and the crew could not have been nicer. The Captain and I were discussing the Costa tragedy and without my asking he had a good magazine article sent to our room for me to enjoy. The refurbished ship was beautiful and the afternoon treats on deck never failed to cool us off. As did the ice wash cloths waiting for us when we returned from our tours every day. If you are looking for comfort and personal service, on a ship that makes you feel like you are really on a boat, Windstar is the cruise line for you. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2013
This was our first time cruise on Wind Star and we were very pleased. The cabins are very well designed, the service is excellent, the food great.For adults who wish to enjoy a relaxing trip, Wind Star is the answer. While the ... Read More
This was our first time cruise on Wind Star and we were very pleased. The cabins are very well designed, the service is excellent, the food great.For adults who wish to enjoy a relaxing trip, Wind Star is the answer. While the entertainment isn't on a par with a 2000-3000 passenger ship, and the casino is quite small, these are not important for us. The dining room has open seating so you do not have to sit with the same people each night. Just wander in when you feel like it and sit where you wish. The food is excellent with an on deck BBQ with lobster, ribs, steak etc. being a highlight of the trip. On board life is very casual, no one wears a jacket to dinner and many wear shorts to most meals.I found this ship to meet all our cruising needs and then some. I would definitely take this line again.. My wife and I look forward to our next cruise and meeting more cruise critic members during the meet and greet. Happy sailing! Read Less
Sail Date: October 2012
Overall, the Islands of Italy cruise on the Wind Surf can count as a true travel experience highlight. The ship, the itinerary, the food and most of all, the service are excellent. Reminder, the WindStar experience is not for those who ... Read More
Overall, the Islands of Italy cruise on the Wind Surf can count as a true travel experience highlight. The ship, the itinerary, the food and most of all, the service are excellent. Reminder, the WindStar experience is not for those who need climbing walls, ice rinks, big shows and large casinos, although there is nothing wrong with those large cruise ships. With that in mind, I will try to provide an overall picture of our truly excellent cruise on the Wind Surf in October, 2012 to the Italian (and one French) islands. Pre-cruise: WindStar Cruises offers pre-cruise hotels and in some cities they are excellent choices. In Rome, we thought it was overpriced and booked our own hotel. With WindStar, however, they meet you at the airport and transfer you back and forth from the ship. Even with the additional costs of transfers added, we found a less inexpensive approach by going to a travel agent and showing her what they offered and she was able to beat the price. One advantage of the WindStar pre-cruise package is that they take very good care of you and you have to do no follow up like re-confirming or guessing what time you will leave the ship. It may well be worth the difference in plain comfort and security. Also, check out the final excursion which may take you to Rome so you can avoid that transfer. Embarkation: Even though this is a small ship with about 300 passengers, if everyone appears at the exact hour of embarkation, you will have to wait in a line to enter the ship. So, if for example, the embarkation time is 1 PM, go at 2 PM and you will have no wait to get on board and your luggage will get to you almost immediately anyway and the buffet will still be open. Ship: The ship is every bit as elegant as we remembered it from 4 years ago. We choose the lowest level cabin since there really is no difference in the size of the non-suite cabins and the ship has two elevators. The stateroom is lovely and though small, amazingly well organized. There is plenty of storage. I am not sure whether the Surf has been totally renovated as the public areas and corridors seemed fresh and up to date. Our stateroom did show some minor signs of needed maintenance, two small carpet stains, a balky storage drawer, some marks on the cabinets. Also we did hear engine noises at night so maybe the even number cabins in the B level might be worth investigating. They leave fruit and a single rose in your cabin. If these observations appear picayune, remember this is a line that is striving for at least luxury-lite status and so many other aspects of the cruise experience are of such a high level. Staff: This is the strength of the Wind Surf. Every single staff member is terrific. Their ability to remember passengers names and preferences is almost uncanny. They strike the perfect balance of professionalism and familiarity. I repeat this is the asset that takes Wind Surf above so many other ships (yachts as they call them). There were far too many pleasant experiences to pick out one or two, but trust me, from the Captain and Chef down to the room stewards, this is a fabulous crew. Food: Uniformly very good to excellent depending on your choice of meal, though I must admit every appetizer and dessert was terrific. There is a great attention to detail and as stated before the service is terrific. As an example, one of the dinner companions was only having soup while others were enjoying their entrees, so the staff supplied her with a far larger serving to compensate. The main dining room is as good as the other restaurants (which charge no extra fees) but the dinner on the deck at Candles is worth making the reservation just to eat outside in a truly beautiful setting. The fact that you can always get a table for two is just delightful. Bobby, the wine steward can even find wines not on the list. The casual cafe for breakfast and lunch is just great! Entertainment: The lounge band was a family that were excellent, there was another couple that were also wonderful. A featured singer also was very talented. Do not miss the crew's show, talent sometimes questionable, enthusiasm fabulous. A real hoot! Excursions: We only took one and it was good and worth the money. Some others seemed expensive so we struck out on our own and did just fine. Cool thing: swimming and kayaking off the back of the ship while in ports where there are tenders. Disembarkation: Excellent, easy and there is an area to wait for your rides and the Wind Surf staff stayed with us and called the car service to get updates. A nice touch that made us feel very comfortable. Ports: Capri -- As corny and crowded as it is, GO TO THE BLUE GROTTO! The excursion can be booked right at the dock. The whole thing is a true Italian experience with loud, off key singing in the Grotto and loads of fun watching the chaos outside the entrance. Capri can be crowded so we took the funicular ride to Anacapri, visited the museum and a church and found several charming cafes offering inexpensive lunches. Busses had lines so if you can find another couple to share a taxi, do it. Sorrento -- lovely tourist town and a jumping off point for a drive down the Amalfi coast. We actually arranged to share a drive from a couple on a Cruise Critic role call. Positano, Amalfi and Ravello are lovely. Lipari -- small lovely island where we went to a beach. Negotiate the taxi fare down or take the bus. Stromboli -- an active volcano that is spectacular at night especially from the deck side extravagant bbq Corsica -- interesting island, wroth walking about Elba -- turned out to be our favorite! My suspicion is it is mobbed in summer but when we were there it was just terrific. Note: we used the internet cafes at several stops for mere 2 or 3 Euro as opposed to the ships internet that we found frustrating. Enjoy lunch in the ports. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2012
I love cruising. Big boats, barges, small boats all have their pluses and minuses. The Windsurf is the big sister ship to the Windstar and the Wind Spirit. We traveled on the Wind Spirit and it was great. Close to the water, intimate, ... Read More
I love cruising. Big boats, barges, small boats all have their pluses and minuses. The Windsurf is the big sister ship to the Windstar and the Wind Spirit. We traveled on the Wind Spirit and it was great. Close to the water, intimate, a feeling of adventure without danger. The Windsurf felt big by comparison(not by comparison to Allure of the Seas), a little clumsy It had the drawbacks of small ships however. i.e. entertainment limited at best, no balconies, no speakers, not much activity. Windsurf has exceptional staffing and food. The excursions were well run and the ports made every day a new experience. I would recommend taking a cruise on Windstar if it goes where you want to go. I would choose the smaller ships however. They are more like sailboats. When you do book be aware that on board credits cannot be used for gratuities, and may only be used for excursions and items purchased on board (not precruise). Read Less
Sail Date: July 2012
Having sailed three times on the Windsurf we were slightly apprehensive about how it would be on a smaller ship.Windsurf had always felt 'just right' in terms of size and passengers.Well,we were in for a surprise.There were just ... Read More
Having sailed three times on the Windsurf we were slightly apprehensive about how it would be on a smaller ship.Windsurf had always felt 'just right' in terms of size and passengers.Well,we were in for a surprise.There were just 118 passengers on board this sailing and it felt almost like being on a private yacht. The boarding process was the easiest ever.We arrived at the port of Pireaus via the bus 040 from Athens as we like a bit of a challenge rather than the easy option of ship transfer or taxi.Yes,we had to walk for 5 mins or so along the front and round to the terminal but it was not a problem with wheely luggage.As we entered the terminal at around 1pm (the earliest boarding time) we were approached by a Windstar rep asking if we were cruising with Windstar.We were told that we were good to board and went straight through security and out the door to the waiting ship.I was actually the first passenger to board.Boarding early like this gives you a whole afternoon on board to unpack and relax a little before life boat drill.There was a limited buffet lunch available for early boarders. The cabin was a little different to what I recall on the Windsurf but not much.There were new linens on the bed. The public areas had all been re-fitted and the lounge and dining room looked very nice. The food was good but not always excellent.There was not as much choice for breakfast or lunch as on the Windsurf (as far as I recall) but it was always nicely presented.Dinner,was usually very good. My husband declared his steak in Candles to be excellent and my grilled fish was very tasty.I think there is room for improvement with the afternoon tea selection.It was mostly the same selection every day and the little open rolls left on the tray soon became very dry.There were always loads left over.The cookies were the same each day and the cake selection was not very appetising.I think they should just have a cookie selection and one very nice type of cake plus some closed sandwiches.People are not usually very hungry at this time of day but it is nice to be tempted by something special. On this cruise we needed tenders every day.One day there was a bit of a swell and they had to take the tender to the other side of the ship to try there.Whilst we were waiting for this,trays of orange juice appeared to refresh us.Another day,because of the swell,we had to use the Capri port tenders. I had my birthday on board and had a card from the captain and crew and a birthday cake in the dining room. The barbecue evening was really fun.A good selection of grilled meats and plenty of salads.There was a 'mini' crew's show and line dancing.We all had a great time. The water sports platform was down just about every day we were in port and we well used as it was extremely hot. We really loved the little exra things which made this cruise so special.Like the Windsurf,there is an open bridge policy so it was interesting to be able to call in there to get your bearings.The stars were wonderful.One day there was an opportunity to have your photo taken with your own camera on the bow spit.This was really special,not something you would get on a larger ship.By the second day we knew so many people by name and the crew knew ours,along with our breakfast and drink preferences.One day when a large number of passengers were still on shore on a tour there were only a couple of dozen of us on board.On the open deck by the bar we were just eight.Suddenly,cocktails appeared,courtesy of the captain.These are little things you remember. The crew was outstanding.We had so much fun with Yen and Uus who served us at breakfast and lunch.Gusman and Wahid too,Anthony,the 3rd officer,Montse and Gonzalo, and Jenny on reception.I miss you all and wish I were back on board with you.Our captain,Aristeidis Mertzanis was such fun and mingled freely with the guests and kept us abreast of anything happening with the ship. This cruise has converted us.Our next one will be on one of the smaller ships for the friendliness and personal service. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2012
Having sailed on all of the Windstar ships many times since 1987, from places like Malaysia, the South Pacific, Tahiti, Europe, Caribbean, Belize and Costa Rica, I confess to being somewhat biased in my long love affair with these unique ... Read More
Having sailed on all of the Windstar ships many times since 1987, from places like Malaysia, the South Pacific, Tahiti, Europe, Caribbean, Belize and Costa Rica, I confess to being somewhat biased in my long love affair with these unique and special ships and the outstanding, personal service by their dedicated crew. We just returned home from another fantastic 14 day crossing on the Wind Surf from St Maartin to Lisbon. (March 2012) The cabins and suites have all been remodeled since last year and the new furnishings fabrics and colors are stunning. The new hallway carpeting, plus carpet pad and dramatic lighting (pictured) are beautiful. (Both smaller ships are currently undergoing similar refittings). In regard to the remodeled cabins, I particularly appreciated the plush new mattress and the new, soft, all cotton, bed linens. The individual directional reading lights over each bed are a nice addition, making it possible to read without disturbing anyone. Our suite (320). The new furniture (2012) is a big improvement, much nicer as well as more usable and comfortable. The only quirk we experienced with our cabin was that an engineer had to be make adjustments behind the HVAC grill to fit our particular room temperature preference after we were sailing. The new carpeting is luxurious, but with it's textured pile, is a curious choice. While the carpet remains perfectly clean, the textured pile shows all scuff marks from shoes on it's textured surfaces. For those with engineering backgrounds, the ship's vacuum septic system which services all the cabins has been upgraded as well. This Fall (November 2012) the remaining public areas, including the three dining facilities, are scheduled to be refitted. THE Officers and CREW continue to be the OUTSTANDING attribute. It is the high standards they maintain and the level of personal service makes sailing on Windstar so special. In addition to the usual daytime activities, for the first time ever, an introduction to TAP dance was offered for free. The passenger participation was so enthusiastic and everyone worked so diligently learning their steps, a TAP dance FINALE was performed at the end of the cruise in the Windstar Lounge and everyone in the show received a standing ovation. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2011
This was my sixth cruise on the Wind Surf, and in many ways the most enjoyable. My wife Linda and I celebrated not only our 44th wedding anniversary, but also my 67th birthday. We traveled with a high school friend from California and ... Read More
This was my sixth cruise on the Wind Surf, and in many ways the most enjoyable. My wife Linda and I celebrated not only our 44th wedding anniversary, but also my 67th birthday. We traveled with a high school friend from California and her niece (first time cruiser), and had a wonderful time. Boarding the Wind Surf for me is always a "homecoming" experience. It seemed that the entire crew knew me by name within a few hours! Since I was traveling with 3 women, our favorite waiter "One" started referring to us as "Charlie and the Angels". I was pleased to see that the ship was not nearly in as bad shape as I had read about in some recent reviews. True, the carpet in the Yacht Club area was stained, and the "guide book" in our room was frayed. But overall, I saw few visible signs of deterioration. There were new rattan lounges on the pool deck, replacing the previous white plastic lounges --- a nice upgrade. The exercise equipment also looked new, and I used it every morning. I have seen the renderings of the new decor that is planned for the Wind Surf, & can't wait to see it in reality. Entertainment was mostly excellent. Our friends Craig and Nikola (aka "Rain") were in the Compass Rose, and I spent many hours listening to their musical offerings. Craig is a big fan of Dire Straits, and he uses their songs to showcase his prodigious guitar skills. Nik was also in great voice, and they have some CDs for sale in the ship's boutique. The Filipino band in the main lounge was competent, but lacked a bit in the energy department. Fortunately, there was also a British guest vocalist on board named Andrea Whitfield, who was very polished, professional, and skilled. She really knew how to "work" the room. I am hoping to seem more entertainment of this caliber on future cruises. Our cruise featured a full night and following day in Venice prior to setting sail, which was very nice. We normally fly into our embarkation port a full day ahead of time, just to allow for unforeseen travel delays. No such need on this cruise. We were able to stroll around Venice during the morning, return to the ship for lunch, then go out again in the afternoon. Lots of walking, but with a nice respite during lunch. As always, the food and service was impeccable. My only complaint was with the red wine, which was served at room temperature --- too warm. My wife and I were invited to have dinner with the restaurant manager, so I was able to voice my opinion to him. He agreed with my observation, said it was an area they were "working on". I thought the wine offerings were somewhat better than on some of my previous cruises, if perhaps a bit pricey. We enjoyed spectacular weather throughout the cruise, albeit a bit on the warm side. There was also a full moon on several nights, with the moon arising over the horizon right at dinnertime. Spectacular! The itinerary featured several small Croatian ports such as Korcula and Trogir, ending in Dubrovnik. We took two excursions. The first was the "Hilltops of Istria", featuring several very small hilltop towns --- very scenic. The second was in the port of Trogir, a bus trip to the nearby waterfront city of Split, site of the Diocletian Palace. Again, very scenic and informative. Can't for my next Windstar cruise! Read Less
Sail Date: August 2011
We just got back from a Windstar cruise from Barcelona to Rome. The ports were amazing - Mahon, St Tropez, Monte Carlo, portofino and Livorno (OK). The ship was OK too, not quite as nice as we expected - we saw wear and looked a bit dated. ... Read More
We just got back from a Windstar cruise from Barcelona to Rome. The ports were amazing - Mahon, St Tropez, Monte Carlo, portofino and Livorno (OK). The ship was OK too, not quite as nice as we expected - we saw wear and looked a bit dated. Everything was clean, tidy and nice, but just wasn't as luxurious as we expected. The food was the biggest dissapointment. Breakfast and Lunch were good, but dinner was awful. We really tried to have good attitudes about it because we wanted to love this cruise, but time after time our food was over cooked and/or side dishes were cold. We sent food back regularly. The only good dinner we had was the night they held a BBQ on deck. One evening I ordered surf and turf, the lobster was hard as a rock and the drawn butter had solidified (obviously left on the plate for a long time). I requested a new plate and they brought me another lobster cooked hard as a rock with two more things of butter that had also solidified. Not sure where these supposed awards for their food came from... I also took a yoga class which was a waste of money - I heard the teacher was also the manicure/pedicurist (which was accompanied by another bad story). The ship also offers a water sports deck which is great idea during some ports. We used the kayak and layed out on the water mat. This was definitely a plus of the ship. The only thing was that they also got us excited about using the wakeboard and water skiis and in the end their little boat was broken and we never got to take advantage of this. The liquor selection was really basic - don't expect to find something as simple as Maker's Mark. Its Jim Beam, Jack Daniels etc... The wine selection was OK too, but lacking creativity. All California. Overall, we had a good vacation. The service was very good, the cabins were nice, the ship size is wonderful and overall it was a really nice vacation... just disappointed that this cruise had the potential to be great and kept missing the mark. Not sure if the recent changeover has something to do with it... Read Less
Sail Date: June 2011
This was our first Windstar Cruise. I must say that I have talked to several folks that have sailed with Windstar multiple times and love it. I can't say I'd been in that category. Would I sail with Windstar again, maybe, based ... Read More
This was our first Windstar Cruise. I must say that I have talked to several folks that have sailed with Windstar multiple times and love it. I can't say I'd been in that category. Would I sail with Windstar again, maybe, based on the route and ports of all.What we liked. The room was very comfortable and there was more than enough room for clothes and toilietries. Our room steward was very polite and took wonderful care of your room and laundry. We got the $99 laundry package for unlimited service. The food was plentiful at breakfast and lunch buffets and the waitstaff was for the most part friendly and most of the time were there to get you whatever you wanted. Diner in the main dining room and Degrees was very nice, but I would have preferred to be seated with some couples rather than the 2 of us by ourselves. That wasn't an option that was presented to us, but on the last night we were asked if we would like to be seated with a gentleman and his daughter and I really enjoyed that. Guess that we could have asked. The food was very good. One dish I had was so over powered with Thyme that I sent it back. The young couple that sang and played guitar were wonderful very talented and knowledgeable...he is just an encyclopedia of modern music. In general the common areas are kept clean and are well appointed.What we didn't like. First impression of the hallways was old needing to be updated. The Veranda, restaurant for breakfast and lunch, old needing to be updated. The dinning rooms indoors could stand a bit of updating as well. Ask to be seated away from the kitchen as the noise can be pretty loud. The big lounge entertainment was too loud and imposing. If you want visit with new friends, this is not the place. The main lounge was usually about the temp. of a meat locker!Don't order lemonade! it is $6.00! and its a lemon juice in sprite. Ask if there is a charge first.Internet service! OMG can you believe $29.50 for 30 minutes! Your computer or theirs! and it is terribly slow. I little disappointing when it is in the Windstar literature that Wifi is available in your cabin and in the common areas...the missing piece is that you l have to pay dearly.OUr next door neighbors had cash taken from their cabin on the first day. A safe is provided for valuables. The other unfortunate experience was to watch someones luggage get put on the conveyor but not all the way and plush, it was in the water. No equipment to retrieve it either. One of the dockworkers fished it out. That was one very unhappy passenger.First day the reception desk personnel was rather curt. It got better. The hotel manager is a Frenchman, so I was expecting wonderful croissants when I saw them on the breakfast buffet. They are dry and tasteless. I called this to his attention and he replied that he doesn't eat breakfast, but thanks for letting me know. Wonder if he will make any improvements? I'm not filled with confidence! So in summary most of the cruise was enjoyable but compared to a recent river cruise we took, I'm underwhelmed. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2011
Though we liked a lot about our cruise and the ship, the disappointment with some of the aspects outweighed the desire to ever take another cruise with Windstar. The good: 1. Small ship/yacht with only 148 well-traveled and friendly ... Read More
Though we liked a lot about our cruise and the ship, the disappointment with some of the aspects outweighed the desire to ever take another cruise with Windstar. The good: 1. Small ship/yacht with only 148 well-traveled and friendly passengers. 2. Early bird breakfast buffet (cold cuts, pastry and coffee/tea) on a desk at 6am on an open deck - feels like a yacht. 3. Staying in some ports later than big ships. 4. Breakfast and lunch buffet on a deck. 5. Boutique with useful items with the outstanding saleswoman. The bad: 1. Dinners started late at 7:30pm and took a very long time. Their kitchen is very small and can handle only 3 orders at a time. Each table counted as one order and all dishes in the order were cooked at the same time and then placed under a heating lamp for the duration of the dinner. The tables are for 8 and 4 people. Since each table counts as one order, it means that if you have three tables of 8 ahead of you, we have to wait for 24 full dinners ahead of you to be fully prepared before they start on your order. By the time you finish your dinner it is around 10pm and you go to bed on a full stomach. There was also no way to take a walk on this ship. Our stomachs rebelled and we had to skip dinners all together. Their room service for dinners was set up the same way - took long time and you had to wait in your cabin. 2. We used room service once. It took 40 minutes for the order to arrive and the food was not what we have ordered and not good at all. We could not eat it. 3. The cabin was small and dark with pothole windows which were advertised as the ocean view cabins. BWY, the cabins were BELOW the sea level and should never be advertised as the ocean view, pothole windows or not. It is a a false advertisement. 4. Their "Fitness Center" was so small that 2 people was a crowd. 5. We tendered at most of ports, even the ports where bigger ships where docked. Tendering so much was inconvenient. 6. Based on a high cost I expected much more decent experience and I would not return even for a small fraction of a cost. After this so-so trip we booked with another cruise company on a mid-size ship and had such an outstanding experience that we booked with them again while still on-board. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2011
This was our 8th Wind Star cruise (six on the Wind Surf, two on the Wind Spirit). As Wind Star cruises emerges from bankruptcy for the second time in 5 years, we had some concerns as we boarded the Wind Surf on Easter Sunday in Barcelona. ... Read More
This was our 8th Wind Star cruise (six on the Wind Surf, two on the Wind Spirit). As Wind Star cruises emerges from bankruptcy for the second time in 5 years, we had some concerns as we boarded the Wind Surf on Easter Sunday in Barcelona. Fortunately the cabin stewards, restaurant and bar staff all delivered excellent service throughout our cruise. No complaints. We remain amazed at the staff's level of professionalism, their positive attitude,their enthusiasm and competence.The ship carried 200 passengers(2/3rd occupancy) on our cruise from Barcelona to Civitavecchia with stops in Majorca, St Tropez, Monte Carlo and Portofino. We were traveling with 2 other couples who had never sailed on a cruise ship before. We enjoyed pleasant weather for most of the cruise.My wife and I sailed on the Wind Surf in the Med previously in September 2010 (Venice to Civitavecchia). On both cruises we noticed a deterioration in the quality of evening meals served. Breakfasts and lunches were excellent, but suppers were hit and miss. Our other criticism revolve around the excursion staff. At our first port of call, Palma (Majorca), the ship arranged for hourly complimentary bus transfers between the ship and town-center. We were given a schedule when we left the ship. On our return many passengers were waiting at the designated pickup location for over an hour because the bus driver was following a less frequent schedule. We showed the driver our schedule but she told us that she would only follow the schedule that her employer gave her. Three of us took an excursion to Le Lavandou, a coastal town in Province, about a 45 drive west of St Tropez. It was a bad $79 per person investment. The trip lacked any significant points of interest. We drove through several interesting villages (such as Bormes-les-Momosas) but we were not allowed to explore them. Lastly the excursion directors on both cruises were of little value to independent travelers. The information provided at the nightly 10 minute lectures was disappointing. Requests for train schedule information and travel info received little attention.Our friends who just completed their 4th Wind Star cruise on the Wind Spirit (Civitavecchia to Anthens), reported to us that evening meals on their cruise were disappointing. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2010
My wife and I just finished a 7-day Rome/Rome cruise on Wind Spirit. The ship is gorgeous. In spite of a dry-dock and extensive refit this past spring, the crew was constantly busy scrubbing, painting and polishing. Although the ship is ... Read More
My wife and I just finished a 7-day Rome/Rome cruise on Wind Spirit. The ship is gorgeous. In spite of a dry-dock and extensive refit this past spring, the crew was constantly busy scrubbing, painting and polishing. Although the ship is over 20 years old, she's aging beautifully. We saw neither a spec of grime nor any signs of deferred maintenance. Cabin was wonderful. Extremely comfortable bedding and pillows. Lots of storage. 110v and 220v power. Great bathroom layout. Plenty of light once we finally figured out the switches. That plus the hideaway table we didn't discover until day six causes me to recommend that you ask the room steward to show you the features of your cabin! Food was absolutely top notch (a Dutch chef with a degree from the Culinary Institute of America). The service was even better. In spite of open seating, the dining staff knew our names by day 3. The bar staff knew our names AND favorite drinks in the same period. A majority of the waitstaff we talked to started on big ships, and have been with Windstar for over a dozen years. Professional and attentive service in a relaxed setting. My wife enjoyed the watersports platform (she tried the kayaks and the small sailboat). We both thought the piano player was great --- an accomplished musician with a quick wit. My favorite feature? An open bridge with friendly officers! We are in our 50s. This was our 15th cruise. Have tried the bigger boats and don't much care for the crowds. It was interesting to arrive in a small port with the Wind Spirit. The quaint places we visited (Italian coast and Corsica) were only charming until one of the big cruise ships arrived to share it with us. As soon as their swarm of passengers descended, we found ourselves retreating inland or back to the ship. (When I was on one of those bigger ships, I never realized their profound effect on small ports.) We fell in love with the Wind Spirit, and have already booked another cruise on her next fall. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2010
As veteran cruisers we're always looking for new ports & new cruising "experiences". Sure, we'd been to Rome before, but how much can you see in 8 hours... this time things would be different... maybe even a little ... Read More
As veteran cruisers we're always looking for new ports & new cruising "experiences". Sure, we'd been to Rome before, but how much can you see in 8 hours... this time things would be different... maybe even a little "too" different in some respects. Admittedly our 3 day days our Athens Greece "pre-cruise" was anticipated as a "warm-up" to the real thing... a seven night sailing adventure aboard a small wind-powered schooner... the sails billowing overhead, and the smell of the salt air conjuring up what would have to surely be an image of "Capt. Jack Sparrow" at the helm of our very own sailing adventure ! Sounds cool doesn't it ? While much of the anticipated trip was up to expectations, some of it was, well, a little less than we had hoped for ! The "Windstar" is one of three ships sailing under the "Windstar" brand name... it's not the largest one... and doesn't hold many guests... but that's kinda what attracted us to it. A sleek white vessel in need of some minor maintainence, this vessel would spend the next 7 days transporting us, feeding us, and yes... even boring us. While there are many of us that would like nothing more than to curl up with a good book and sail off into the sunset, I'm more of the "let's get going and explore unchartered territories" kind of guy, and so follows my observations of our cruise. Boarding the Windstar was effortless, the ship is staffed by a marvelous crew who seemed to be just about everywhere at once. From our waithers to our room steward the courtesy and efficiency of the crew was as good as any we've encountered. The food on the ship was plentiful and above average... sometimes even great ! Any of you that are used to food on Holland America or Norwegian are in for a real treat if you should take a Windstar cruise... if you're use to Celebrity you'll be dealing with a similiar kind of fare. The cabins are top notch... ingenious attention to cabin design has turned these modestly sized abodes into something very unique and dare I say it ?... "nautical". The closed space was ample, the bathroom was out & out "cool", and the room stewards were top notch. We encountered some fairly rough seas on our journey and were grateful we'd book the upper of the two cabin decks on the ship. The public rooms were clean, spacious, uncluttered, and neatly efficient. There was one lounge/entertainment area on the ship... one piano... one pianist... and two bars available. We all want a good "deal" when booking a cruise, and Windstar had been working on only a marginal profit (when it's not losing money) to provide us all with an affordable vacation experience. For the folks at Windstar:... PLEASE, charge us a little extra and hire professional entertainment ! When only one "entertainer" is on board (in this case a pianist by the name of Roy who spends half of his year digging irrigation ditches in South Africa) it better be a good one! Electronic music "enhancing" devices, minimal musical skills, and marginal stage presence just doesn't cut it ! THIS is supposed to be "Windstar".. THIS is suppose to be something "special". THIS ISN'T !!!!!!!! THE JOURNEY... This is a tough one to talk about, so I'll try to make it brief. After departing the Greek island we embarked on our trip to Messina... a sea day was involved and we encounted 10-foot seas. Rocky... sure, but no problem. THE PROBLEM IS the top speed of the ship (supposedly about 10-11 knots on an ideal sea) was not up to the challenges of a mildy-rough seas journey. YES... we had the scheduled day at sea... but the next day we had nothing to do but wave at "Messina" (Sicily) Italy as we had fallen so far behind we had to skip the port... now we were up to 2 days at sea during a 7 day cruise... the next day?,,, Scheduled for a 9am arrival we actually made it to Capri (an incredible place) at 10:30 and were permitted to de-bark at 11 am. The last tender back (and all ports were tendered) was at 2:30 pm... so after 2 1/2 days at sea we were granted 3 1/2 hours on land before heading to Rome ! WHAT HAPPENED TO ITALY ?... WHAT HAPPENED TO OUR PORTS ?... here we were, like a bunch of over-fed prisoners on a ship that in effect had morphed almost into a "cruise-to-nowhere" !!!! Look, I know this doesn't happen on every cruise... but I also know that I'll probably never make another trip to Sicily, or be able to afford to see Capri in the way it should be. A simple observation... WINDSTAR... If you folks can't predictably visit ports don't advertise them ! There's more to this... but enough already. Would I take Windstar again... maybe... but not likely. I was really expecting so much more, so much much more. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2010
BACKGROUND This was my 6th cruise on the Wind Surf, first 3 times were when it was the Club Med 1 (Caribbean, Mediterranean, and Polynesian itineraries). I have also cruised several times on the Wind Star and Wind Spirit, most recently ... Read More
BACKGROUND This was my 6th cruise on the Wind Surf, first 3 times were when it was the Club Med 1 (Caribbean, Mediterranean, and Polynesian itineraries). I have also cruised several times on the Wind Star and Wind Spirit, most recently in Costa Rica. This was also my 3rd time sailing out of Civitavecchia, once on the Club Med 1, later on a (now defunct) Renaissance ship, and now again on the Wind Surf. Although the experiences were similar (all of them GREAT), there were some notable differences. First, the Wind Surf Review that was written by Cruise Critic contributor Jana Jones is very comprehensive and accurate, so I will try not to repeat any of this basic information. I love the Wind Surf, and small ship luxury cruising in general. I cannot imagine enjoying one of those mega-sized cruise ships with thousands of passengers. If you have ever been in St. Thomas when a large ship is in port, and seen the throngs of passengers wandering the streets at 10 AM in the morning, with beers in hand, you may understand my viewpoint. TRAVEL TO THE PORT We chose a Rome-Rome itinerary because of the fantastic price we got from Windstar via the Foremast Club (previous Windstar cruisers), and the reasonable air fare resulting from flying into and out of Rome (no 3-way itinerary). We got a great Delta airfare of $649 out of the Baltimore-Washington airport, connecting through New York. Unfortunately, the trip both ways was a real nightmare, mostly due to routing complications caused by the volcanic eruption in Iceland. Or flight from NY to Rome was delayed 4 hours, then cancelled due to mechanical problems with the plane. We then got on an Alitalia flight to London, which had to turn around and return to NY mid-flight due to another mechanical problem. As a result, we arrived in Rome over 12 hours late, thoroughly exhausted and frazzled. Luckily, we choose to travel with carry-on bags only, which really saved our bacon on more than one occasion. More on that later. One fellow traveler offered this observation about Delta --- DELTA = Doesn't Ever Leave the Airport, or alternatively, DELTA - Don't Expect Luggage to Arrive. In Delta's defense, their customer service staff was overwhelmed by the many schedule disruptions, but did their best to re-schedule flights, and otherwise accommodate their customers. After our return, my wife and I each received a nice letter from Delta, along with 17,500 complimentary frequent flier miles. HOTEL INFO Because we had visited Rome twice before, we chose to go directly to Civitavecchia from the airport. We booked a room at the Hotel Bramante, which I researched via the Travel Advisor website, and Expedia. The hotel arranged ground transportation for us (nice Mercedes van). We previously had travelled to Civitavecchia by means of the train, and since there is a train terminal right at the airport, this would have been very economical and convenient. However, since we actually arrived so late, it was nice to have a driver waiting for us, with a relaxing 45 minute drive to the hotel. The hotel is small, but sparkling clean, and very comfortable. There was a nice continental breakfast, and complimentary shuttle service to the dock. The hotel is not located in a very scenic part of town, so we did no strolling about. Checking in at dockside was a breeze, and we were soon aboard. STATEROOM We were in Cabin # 148, very convenient to the forward elevator and stairs. No surprises there --- the cabin was clean and comfortable. We unpacked, went right up to the Veranda to enjoy some lunch. SHIP INFO Again, no surprises for us. The crew was installing brand-new fitness equipment, and the bar staff was replacing all of the crystal and stemware, so it was obvious that Windstar is serious about maintenance and upkeep. One thing I did notice on this and other cruises on the Wind Surf, is that the sails were never up for more than a few minutes, despite some fairly steady breezes. I am suspecting that this may be due to some sort of mechanical problems, and also because the larger size of the ship compared to its smaller sisters. Last year in Costa Rica, the ship got up to 14 knots on sail power alone. That REALLY got everyone excited! DINING As usual, the food was excellent, without being over the top. We took breakfast and lunch on deck whenever possible, weather permitting. I really enjoyed the fresh-squeezed OJ, ripe melons, and smoked salmon for breakfast, and looked forward to the cold soup of the day at lunch, along with the brad pudding. It was too cool in the evening to eat on deck, so we didn't get to try Candles or Le Marche. There was also no BBQ night, again possibly due to the coolish weather. Highlight of the cruise was having dinner with the captain, along with Fran Bigelow (Guest Lecturer) and her husband. Low spot for me was the coffee --- too strong and bitter (I DO like my Starbucks). Also, in my opinion, the wine list is pretty average. ACTIVITIES There were only 140 passengers on board, so many of the activities were very lightly attended. There was a Wii tournament, which was fun, and also a Blackjack tournament which I missed (I have won several times on previous occasions). CHILDREN'S CLUBS There were no children on board, and I don't ever remember seeing any on a previous Windstar cruise. SERVICE Excellent, as usual. Several staff recognized me from previous cruises, and vice versa. ENTERTAINMENT This is an area where Windstar definitely needs to improve. The Wind Surf almost always has a large combo playing in the main lounge before and after dinner, and a guitarist/vocalist playing in the Compass Rose for Happy Hour, and after dinner. The Phillipino musicians in the combo were skilled, especially the lead singer, who must have watched a lot of Tom Jones videos. But they were extremely laid back, with no spark or energy --- a real snoozefest. In contrast, the Compass Rose had Callen & Joyce, who were outstanding. Callen is a gifted guitarist, and he does his own computerized arrangements, which allows him to sound like a full combo, with bass, drums, keyboards, etc. Joyce is only an average vocalist, but makes up for it with an infectious, sparkly personality. They have an extensive playlist, and do requests as well. They filled the bar up every night, especially when they had a "Name That Tune" contest, with a bottle of champagne as a price. It was so popular they did it again on our last night, to everyone's enjoyment. Another highlight was the Guest Lecturer, Fran Bigelow, who has a gourmet chocolate business based in Seattle, Washington. Her presentation on the history and joys of chocolate was both entertaining and informative. One night she hosted a "tasting" of high-cocoa dark chocolates paired with vintage port. WOW! The rest of the entertainment was dreadful. One night there was a comedy magic act that was really cornball. Another night Mark, the "Cruise Director" performed his cabaret act, which was also mediocre. He has a fine voice and is a polished performer, but the material is mostly show tunes, some of which featured "specialty" lyrics. If you like the Catskills in the '50's, you'd probably like his act. The rest of the cruise, he was almost invisible, which makes one wonder what his role was. The weekly show put on by the staff and crew is OK, but after you've seen it a few times, the novelty of seeing the waiters perform their line dance gets a little old. In general, it seems that Windstar has been trying in recent years to broaden their entertainment offerings, but without much success. For me, I would much rather listen to a good guitarist than watch a second-rate comedian or magician. PORT & SHORE EXCURSIONS We visited 5 ports --- Porto Vecchio, Corsica; Messina, Sicily; Sorrento, Italy; and the Italian islands of Capri and Ischia. In general, I find many of the shore excursions to be very average and a bit overpriced. In many ports, renting a car and/or hiring a cab will allow you to see the same sights at a lower cost. In Corsica, we took the tour to Bonifacio, which is incredibly scenic, well worth the visit. It's only about a on-hour drive from Porto Vecchio. In Messina, we stayed on the ship, and I didn't hear anyone raving about their time ashore. In Sorrento, my wife took the tour of Herculaneum, near Vesuvius, and greatly enjoyed it --- as the site is much better preserved than Pompeii. In Capri, we visited Anacapri, and took the chair lift to the top of the island, with spectacular views of the Faraglioni rocks below. I was greatly disappointed that when the ship set sail (speaking figuratively) from Capri that evening, it did not sail over by the rocks, which are not only scenic, but have been featured in so many movies. There was plenty of time, since Ischia is only a few miles away --- go figure. Unfortunately, the Blue Grotto was closed due the combination of rough water and high tide. In Ischia, we saw the "La Roca" castle, and visited a small fishing village on the other side of the island --- very scenic. Again, we could have done this very easily by taxi, at much lower cost. DISEMBARKATION AND RETURN HOME We shared ground transportation (another nice Mercedes van) back to Rome with another couple, probably could have done it just as easily and much cheaper via the train. Our flight back home was delayed 9 hours, then was routed North of Iceland, so we could look out the window and see that pesky volcano belching smoke and ash. Arrived in NY around 11 PM, but were able to breeze through Customs and baggage check (no checked luggage), got in the head of the line at the Delta Service Desk. We then lucked out when Delta decided to put us up for the night at the local Doubletree. After 4 hours sleep, and a flight through Atlanta back to Baltimore, we go home just about a full day late. SUMMARY Another GREAT Windstar cruise! Can't wait until the next one. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2009
We were very impressed with the WindSurf. It was nice and clean, the staff was really friendly and the food was excellent. WindStar advertised themselves as being "clean and elegant" and we found that they more then met these ... Read More
We were very impressed with the WindSurf. It was nice and clean, the staff was really friendly and the food was excellent. WindStar advertised themselves as being "clean and elegant" and we found that they more then met these expectations. The service in the restaurant and the menu had a wide variety of dishes. Embarkation and debarkation was efficient everything was very well organized and professional. We find that on the smaller ships that you are mostly left to your own devices for entertainment. There are two jacuzzis and a small pool and the two hot tubs in the back of the ship are a nice way to unwind after long days sight-seeing and the jacuzzi were a nice place to interact with your fellow cruisers. But one detraction was that if we wanted to get away and soak up the sun and get away from it all that was a near-impossible possibility. Chair hogs were in full force and sometimes it was hard to find a chair on sea days. In the evening there was a group who played in the lounge but we found the dance floor to compact to really dance properly. If you enjoy gambling or you are a art enthusiast there are casinos and art auctions the ship. The cabins and bathroom provided a nice amount of comfort and found the storage space for the overall Sq Ft. One issue I did have was that the pillows were too small but I just know that next we'll bring our own. The fitness room is in a big all-glass room so it is so beautiful for your workout. Weight machines as well as free weights, cardio machines and mats are all you need. For after your work-out towels and chilled water are available, as well as antiseptic wipes for the equipment. Ports of call were Ischia, Palma, Capri, Amalfi, Ajaccio Livorno and Rome. I never take the group tours and tend to arrange everything trough my travel agent, but this time I decided to organize private ship excursion and tours in Rome with a Tour Company called Easitalytours.com, which was higly reccommended to us from a friend of mine who did some tours with them last year. We did some pre-cruise tours with them in Rome before our cruise, and private tours in Amalfi, visiting Positano and Pompeii, where Antonela gave us a wonderful two-hour tour in the ancient city. Our Driver Philippo was so nice and informative too, and he took us to Chez Black, a water front restaurant in Positano where we tasted some delicious seafood appetizers and a great white wine. In Livorno we met Marco, what a great experience! He was able to take us to see the best of Florence, including the David. Marco was very knowledgeble, and he took such wonderful care of us! The highlight of our trip was indeed the time we spent in Rome with Fabio. This man has a beautiful spirit and his knowledge impressed my husband as well, who studied art history. With his passion Fabio made Rome to come alive to us. We enjoyed our time with him so much that we decided to book him for our post cruise in Rome. He took us in a gorgeous location called Castel Gandolfo, just outside Rome where we had a great wine tasting in a old wine cellar, and there we had also the best meal of the entire trip in a restaurant called "Pagnanelli", which is next the Pope's summer residence overlooking a beautiful lake. You could not ask for better cuisine and scenery! Our guide for the Vatican Julia was a beauty! Her explanations about the Sistine Chapel were quite impressive, she gave us the perfect tour, between precious information and funny anecdotes. Her knowledge, her beautiful Italian accent, and endearing charm made our visit so amazing. My husband and I will have beautiful memories about our cruise and the tours we did in Europe! We traveled throughout the world but we never had such attentive people taking fine care of us in a special and professional way. I definitely recommend Easitalytours.com to all who want to have private tours in Italy. They have brand new Mercedes vehicles and the drivers and tour guides we had spoke all a perfect English. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2009
FYIMy husband and I have never gone on a cruise in our lives. We have traveled widely, but never with a group. We have pretty high standards for food, lodging and wine, although we have experienced everything from $5 a night rooms in the ... Read More
FYIMy husband and I have never gone on a cruise in our lives. We have traveled widely, but never with a group. We have pretty high standards for food, lodging and wine, although we have experienced everything from $5 a night rooms in the Third World to Relais and Chateau lodging.  We have also done some bareboating. That said, we give a thumbs up to the Windstar.  It really is an "experience" and is probably vastly different from the large cruise ships.   We loved the idea of the boat being under sail. That means there isn't much deck room and all of the public spaces are tiny. If there is bad weather, the options for hanging out anywhere but your cabin are extremely limited.  The cabins are small, but we felt were efficiently designed so that nothing seemed cluttered. Staff was great and the cabins were quickly cleaned in the mornings. We got used to the port holes, but you will definitely feel the rocking of the ship, particularly in high seas. Wear a patch! The food quality varied. Breakfasts were good and very generousfresh eggs, lots of fruit, croissants and smoked salmon. Lunch (which we had on the ship once) was surprisingly good. I ordered off the menu and had salmon in a buerre blanc sauce with fresh vegetables which was better than any of the evening entrees. There were a few instances when it seemed that the entire ships decided to eat at the same time, but the crew handled it well. We waited for a table (for two) just once. Dinner, with several choices for appetizer, soup, salad, main course and dessert, is slightly above average with some hits on the really good side.  The wine selections were below average (standard California mid-range) that were over-priced. Alcohol in general is expensive, with cocktails in the $10 range. There are "packages" and daily specials. They do allow you to bring wine on board the ship and charge a $15 corkage fee. That seemed a bargain. The type of people on the cruise surprised us. We had hoped it would be a mature but adventure-minded group. However, there were older kids (around 10), party animals (and boy, did you know they were aroundtook up all the lounge chairs and generally made spectacles of themselves) who you would expect would be more at home on a Carnival cruise ship. The "informational" sessions about the ports of call was very minimal. It would have been interesting to have someone with some background in art history to give a quick third-grade level style class on some of the sights, since we were cruising through some important archeological sites in the Greek Isles. We did a variety of things in port. We rented a car and used a map on our own twice and seemed to have done more than anyone else that we talked with. We paid for the cruise excursion once andalthough a bit on the cheesy sidethought it was worth it. We "missed the boat" one day and walked around the port city, which was okay, but not great. We did a private guide that was pre-arranged and felt that it gave us a very unique experience. The "day at sea" was pretty boring and you don't have many options except to eat and read (or watch a dvd in your room) or get up at the crack of dawn and place dibs on a lounge chair on deck and bake in the sun. (The pool is about the size of a large spait fit 2 to 3 comfortably.) We didn't do the water sports from the back of the boat, since the two times they were available, we were on land. We felt the good things about the Windstar definitely outweighed any complaints. With all four sails up as we sliced through the water, the Windstar may not be the biggest and flashiest way to go, but it certainly is the most romantic. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2009
Five stars!  We just returned from a 7 day Wind Surf cruise from Civitavecchia (Rome) to Nice. The ship had just 135 passengers on board (capacity is about 200 more than that), so, as you can imagine, our experience may not be the norm, ... Read More
Five stars!  We just returned from a 7 day Wind Surf cruise from Civitavecchia (Rome) to Nice. The ship had just 135 passengers on board (capacity is about 200 more than that), so, as you can imagine, our experience may not be the norm, but it was a delight. We have nothing but the highest praise for the crew and staff whose friendly attitudes enhanced our overall trip experience. We arrived about 4pm for a 6pm departure and were among the last to arrive since we had spent as much time as possible in Rome. We took a train from Termini in Rome and I agree with other posts that note the walk from the rail station in Civitavecchia to the port entrance dragging bags is not something everyone will want to do, especially if it's hot out. We did that, however, and then caught a bus inside the Port entrance to our ship. Cabs are available at the train station and will drop you right at the luggage tent. Check-in was a breeze with drinks and hors d'oevres offered. We were escorted to our cabin and our luggage arrived at the door within 30 minutes. The cabin was a standard (not suite), which was more spacious than we had envisioned....we were glad we had not opted for the higher priced suite. There was more than enough storage space, the suitcases fit under the bed, and we settled in quickly. The bathroom was modern, clean, very nicely lit and well stocked with wonderful L'Occitane shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and lotion. I would have liked an exhaust fan, but you can't have everything! The room had an Ipod dock (Ipod rentals available, though we had our own. Note that it DOES NOT charge the Ipod while in the dock, but the front desk staff graciously recharged our Ipod twice) and DVD player - great to have since there was little in the way of television programming available. With just 135 passengers our experience was certainly one of ample access to all aspects of the ship. We dined in each of the evening restaurant venues - 2 indoor, 2 outdoor - somehow managing to select the perfect nights to dine outdoors when several evenings were a bit too windy or were hampered by a late afternoon shower. We found the food to be consistently excellent and the service just outstanding throughout. We actually preferred the main dining room menu to the other venues, though they were also good and offered a nice change of scene.  The waiters, wine stewards, and bar staff could not have been more delightful or accommodating. The dining rooms were never full, so every night everyone had a lovely window view to enjoy. With a port stop every day we never enjoyed a lunch aboard ship, but the breakfast spread was tremendous, with hot made-to-order items (omelets, crepes, French toast, etc.) available as well. In chatting with other passengers there was some agreement that a casual, available anytime, restaurant would be a nice addition to the ship, since the dinner period (7:30-9:30) was open seating, but was like dining in a very nice restaurant - not someplace you could drop in to grab a hamburger if you're tired from a long day of touring. Room service was available, but it was inconvenient to eat in your room since there was only one chair that tucked in under the desk/vanity. If you're looking for entertainment or after dinner activities, you're pretty limited here - but you probably wouldn't be considering this cruise if you wanted the big after-dinner show and bingo! The DVD library seemed to be popular and offered quite a large selection. After a long day in port many passengers seemed very happy to just take a movie back to their room and relax. That's not to say there wasn't some nightlife available if you wanted it. There are two lounges - one offered a 6 piece group playing dance tunes suitable for couples dancing, and in the other, smaller Compass Rose bar, a duo playing more contemporary rock n roll. With such a reduced passenger load we found that few people spent time after dinner in the larger lounge - those who wanted to drink and socialize mostly spent time in the Compass Rose. The casino is small with just 4 tables and about 25 slot machines, however, that drew an enthusiastic blackjack group each evening - and I'm happy to report my DH's winnings were able to finance the tab at the end of the trip - so, yes, some folks came out ahead. The tables were $5 minimum for blackjack, which makes it an affordable diversion. The joviality of the shipboard casino was in sharp contrast to the port casinos (Monte Carlo, Nice), where gambling is quiet and serious. Note that the casino did not open until the ship had sailed from port - so with an 11pm sailing time each evening, gambling was a late night activity. I can imagine that with a full ship the casino could seem too small, but that was not an issue on this sailing. The crew show on Friday night was charming and fun, and was a very nice way to see another side of these hardworking crew members, almost all from Indonesia.  Our itinerary required tendering service in LaSpetzia, Portfino and St. Tropez. We found that service to be quick and efficient - we never waited more than a few minutes in either direction. The advantage of the anchorage was that the water sports deck was then opened - in this case, in Portofino and St. Tropez.  So some passengers were swimming, sailing and kayaking. We did not avail ourselves of spa services, but those who used the services were very complimentary. As you can imagine, there were "specials" offered during the week to entice passengers to indulge. The daily newsletter and evening briefing on the next port of call were both very helpful. We did not go on any ship sponsored excursions, preferring to extend our days and take the excellent public transportation available. Those who did go on the excursions seemed to like them very much and the photographs taken by the ship photographers certainly seemed to show happy groups. Several excursions were cancelled due to lack of adequate enrollments. We saved A LOT of money using the trains instead of excursions, but recognize that some will opt for the convenience value of just hopping on the bus on the dock. Having done a lot of research about our ports of call ahead of time, however, we felt very confident going it alone - and it paid off with unique experiences that only come when you're on your own and not in a large tour group. (special shout out to fodors.com forums and tripadvisor.com - a wealth of information available that helped immensely in planning for each port of call)Our itinerary was wonderful. A nice combination of the big city and the small villages. The only disadvantage to this itinerary was Monday in Florence since the Uffizi and Accademia museums are closed on Mondays. We knew that ahead of time and decided there is much to see in Florence, so we focused on the positive and will save those visits for another trip. As hiking enthusiasts the highpoint for us was the stop in LaSpetzia and visiting the Cinque Terre. We hiked between 4 of the 5 towns and took the train to the 5th - a long day, but one filled with natural beauty, fantastic food (ask me about panna cotta in Vernazza!) and little glimpses into the lives of the 5Terre residents that will be long remembered. It didn't hurt that the weather was nearly perfect throughout the week (high 70's/low 80's and sunny 90% of the time) and we hit just before the peak season, so crowds weren't an issue. We would certainly choose June again, as the water was warm enough for swimming, but the heat of the summer not yet uncomfortable. Evenings were cool enough to require a sweater on deck...and always in the ship's public areas, which were kept very cool (too cool in my opinion, but my DH liked it fine). Overall, we had a excellent cruise experience, enjoying our traveling hotel room and the congeniality of other passengers and the crew. This is not the ship for those who are looking for constant entertainment, glitz or buffet extravaganzas. But if you're looking for a low key, more casual, and romantic cruise with a focus on providing a comfortable backdrop to your port adventures, this could be the ship for you. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2008
This was our third trip on the Windsurf, the first 2 were in the caribbean. We arrived in Nice on the 8th of May and travelled thru Italy by train for 10 days prior to the cruise. We had wonderful food, met many interesting and kind people ... Read More
This was our third trip on the Windsurf, the first 2 were in the caribbean. We arrived in Nice on the 8th of May and travelled thru Italy by train for 10 days prior to the cruise. We had wonderful food, met many interesting and kind people and saw some pretty awesome sights. The day of our embarkation on the Windsurf we took an earlier train from Manarola (than we thought we needed). We arrived a little after 4pm went to the airport to collect a stored bag and took a taxi to the ship for our 10pm departure. We were pulling into the port only to our dismay to see the Windsurf leaving. I pulled out my documents and checked them and of course they said all aboard 10pm. We then flagged down the harbormaster, he radioed the ship and were told that the ship's agent would have to come and try to help us. I spoke by cellphone to the purser and she was aware that some documents were "misprinted". We waited about a half hour for the ships agent to arrive, he said we could stay in Nice overnight or go to St Tropez by taxi and spent the night for embarkation the next morning. We had the nicest taxi driver from the airport who was so kind to stay with us and try to help us thru our ordeal. I asked him if he wanted a good fare for a run to St Tropez (on the cruise line of course). He called his wife and she agreed to let him work a few extra hours so off we went. Meanwhile the ship's agent was arranging hotel for us in St Tropez. We had about a 2 hr ride and the driver who spoke fair english filled us in on some of the sights and history of the area. He earned a 340 euro fare for his effort. We arrived in St Tropez and were very pleased with the hotel they put us up at. It was the Byblos. They also arranged dinner for us at "Spoon" which is a famous restaurant at the Byblos hotel. They even had a bottle of champagne in our room for us Crystal was the brand. The next morning they had a taxi waiting to take us to the ship. We tendered to the ship, waited for the ships fire drill to end and were settled in our cabin by about 11:30. We went up for lunch thinking well we had all the good food on our trip prior and were not expecting what we were about to experience. What we experienced was the best food for the entire trip of any cruise ever. We've been on Regent, Windstar, Sea Dream, Celebrity and others. The staff is the same friendly, helping, fun and efficient people we had on our previous 2 Windsurf trips. I will single out some names hopefully for the good recognition they deserve. Dani, Putu, Yogi, Sammy, and many others made the trip exceptional. We consistently had excellent service and food in all the dining venues. I credit the food to the head chef ERWIN who was everywhere making sure things were right. This trip was all about the Cannes film festival and the Monaco Grand Prix. We anchored overnight in Cannes but since it was crowded and we are not the celebrity seekers, we took the train to EZE where we spent a great afternoon on our own. Next port was Santa Margarita. This is a gem that they added as a last minute change. We had a wonderful day just exploring all the villas, shops and restaurants. We found a local place on the water had a morning espresso. The owner was so kind and friendly and we told him we would come back for lunch. About 3 hours later we returned and he was so pleased he gave us the best table in the house. On to Monaco for the Grand Prix. We opted not to buy the ships package but I bought tickets on line from a local restaurant that had bleachers about 200 meters past the start finish line. I'm a bit of a motor-head and I was in heaven for 2 days on earth. It was all I expected and more. (My wife even became an F1 fan on this trip) I bought a Massa shirt and proudly wore it to dinner after he was the top qualifier for the race. The ship went all out for the Grand Prix, even making a life size cake model of one of the F1 cars. The Med was pretty rough for the 2 days we were in Monaco, tendering was very difficult. The day of the race we were told we would be tendered ashore but the ship was moving early to Nice so there would be a couple ferries hired to take all the passengers there. It was a smart move as we saw some other ships tenders having major trouble loading and unloading. My final comments on the trip are as follows, The ships staff, food quality, fellow passengers and the Monaco experience made this the best cruise ever for my wife and myself. The fact that our documents were printed wrong (by the cruise line) is totally inexcusable. All our arrangements for the transfer and hotel in St Tropez were done by the staff of the Windsurf (purser) and the ships agent. After we returned we contacted Majestic lines (the owners of the Windsurf) and feel the offer they made us was very poor and insufficient for what we went thru. I commend the crew and staff of the ship for salvaging a wonderful trip for us. The only reason we will return and we will return is the outstanding crew this ship has. A bit of advice to the Management, the ships staff is the main reason so many people repeat. You cannot ever pay them too much. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2007
We flew to Barcelona five days before our cruise and stayed in an apartment we rented. We had used miles to upgrade to Business Elite on Delta, and the extra for the upgradeable ticket was definitely worth it, as we were rested and able to ... Read More
We flew to Barcelona five days before our cruise and stayed in an apartment we rented. We had used miles to upgrade to Business Elite on Delta, and the extra for the upgradeable ticket was definitely worth it, as we were rested and able to hit the ground running when we landed in Barcelona. We boarded the Wind Star on October 20 at about 1:30 PM. We immediately saw some of the cruise from our May 2006 trip from Istanbul to Athens, and, amazingly, they remembered us by name! Embarkation was smooth; we were handed champagne and appetizers and shown to our cabin, where our luggage had already been delivered. The cabins are small, but very well-designed, with plenty of cupboard and drawer storage, but not quite enough hanging clothes space. The bathrooms are well-laid out and although big enough for only one person at a time are efficient. There was a new chef onboard who was East Indian and that influence was apparent in the menu offerings. The food was always well presented, served at the appropriate temperature, and delivered timely, but it wasn't as good as on our first cruise. My husband is allergic to legumes, including peanuts and lentils, so menu selections were a particular challenge for him, given the heavy use of legumes in Indian foods. Another odd thing I noticed on this trip, but not on the prior one, was that it was quite obvious when the Chef was serving dishes using "leftovers" from the prior day. I'm sure it's a fine thing to not waste food and that many lines do this, but I've never noticed it on any of the other four cruises we've taken. We visited Cartagena, Almeria, Cadiz (from which we took a shore excursion to Seville), Ceuta (Spanish Morocco - rough seas got us into port 5 hours late so the shore excursion was canceled; a pity, but Morocco deserves a trip of its own anyway!), Portimao and ended up in Lisbon, where we had also rented an apartment for another five days. With the exception of Portimao, the tour guides were excellent. The young lady there was knowledgeable, but she absolutely wouldn't stop taking for even a few seconds and kept repeating the same things over and over and over to the point that one passenger offered to strangle her! I think the passenger was kidding, but I'm not absolutely certain. ;-) Although the crew was constantly cleaning, things did not sparkle, primarily because the ship is showing her age and was fully ready for the 3-week drydock that was to take place immediately after our cruise. The other two ships in the line have already undergone extensive refurbishments and at least according to the pictures I've seen are lovely. The Wind Star earns many points for her crew; each and every person was helpful, courteous, attentive and friendly. We had a new cruise director and hostess (a couple I believe) and both were vast improvements over the folks who had those rules when we sailed the prior year. The music was truly awful - a lone musician who sang and played the keyboards. His repertoire was miniscule and by the third day we had heard every song he knew several times. He was, without a doubt, the weakest link! We had been eager to see what, if any, changes had taken place since the line was sold to Majestic. The only things we noticed are that gratuities are now added automatically to your bill - we feel this practice is just fine, particularly since Wind Star pricing is quite good for the quality; and, bottles of water were provided free to those leaving the ship for shore excursions. The year before we had to pay $2-$3 per bottle, which we thought was ridiculous given the cost of the shore excursions. With respect to fellow passengers, it seemed to us that we were younger than many of those onboard. No children and not many people under the age of 50, as nearly as we could tell. Another thing to bear in mind on ship of this size is that since there are so few passengers (less than 150), larger groups have quite an impact on the overall experience. Each time we've sailed on the Wind Star there was a large group (25-50 people) and they made their presence known. Finally, the very thing that makes the Wind Star so terrific is the reason I couldn't do more than a 7-day trip on her or the Wind Spirit: the gym is really tiny (maybe this changed in drydock?) and there no way other than using the treadmill to actually walk on board. But for a one-week trip, it is quite lovely and seems to us to be a good value for the money. Read Less
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