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Sail Date: September 2007
We flew into Frankfurt from San Francisco and then to Istanbul. We stayed at the Four Seasons for one night and loved the hotel. The girls hired a professional shopper gal for about 5 hrs. in the morning and took us on a wonderful walking ... Read More
We flew into Frankfurt from San Francisco and then to Istanbul. We stayed at the Four Seasons for one night and loved the hotel. The girls hired a professional shopper gal for about 5 hrs. in the morning and took us on a wonderful walking tour through the bazaar and other areas. It had been 8 years since we have been on the Wind Star so we kinda new what to expect. We did a 14 day double cruise this time rather than the 7 days as before. Upon arrival everything went well and the check in went rather smoothly even though we got there the same time a "tuck" group got there at the same time. Our cabin was what we expected as have been there before but still it is so small when compared to other lines we have been on like Crystal and Oceania. As we set sail we were surprised at how run down the ship was. They were getting ready to completely remodel the ship and it was very obvious that they were not going to spend any money and keeping the appearance in first class manor. All the woodwork needed re-finishing and rust was very apparent throughout the ship. Our first port was Kusadasi, then in order Rhodes, Bodrum, Santonrini, Mykonos, and then Athens. We loved all these ports. WE did Kusadasi, Rodes, Bodrum, and Santorini on our own. We rented a car in Santorini and toured the whole island. My advise would be to get off the ship as early as possible as it is a nightmare to get on the tram with all the other cruise ship passengers. Took well over an hour standing in line. Our first tour from the ship was in Mykonos to the island of Delos. We had a great guide and loved the trip. Very windy so bring a wind breaker. About 80% of ship passengers got off at the port in Athens. We rented a taxi to take us into Athens and would recommend that rather than the train as it is so much faster and worth the extra money. We had been in Athens 3 times before so we shopped and had a great lunch. Would recommend having lunch in all the ports of call as you can go to small local restaurants and pubs and experience the local food and wines. Our next week our stopping ports were Nalplion, Gythion, Messina, Amalfi,Ponza, and the ending in Rome. We have been to these ports before and loved them. Recommend going to the Diros Caves in Gythion. It is NOT on the cruise line agenda, don't even mention them, and they are truly unbelievable. Took a local taxi to the caves and recommend using them not the bus. The bus stays for ever and the taxi again is well worth the extra money. Had a great local fish lunch after the caves. You can Google the Diros Caves. Out of Messina we took the tour to Taormina and loved the little city. The tour was only 4 hours and we could have spent the day as it is a great little city and did not have time to see it after the touring the Ruins. We loved Amalfi and would go back and use the city as a base. The ship advertised boats going to Capri at 9:30, 10:30, and 11:30 so we thought we would walk the little town in the morning and take a later boat. When we got to the dock we found out that they cancelled the later boats 2 weeks ago as the season had ended. The ship should have known this. So no Capri. The last port, Ponza, was not worth the stop. Nothing and I mean nothing there. It would have been much better to stop in Capri. Have no idea why they stop there and all the other passengers agreed. Over all the ports were great and the couple of sea days were wonderful. Now for the cruising experience. Wind Star advertises as a 4 and 5 star cruise line. They are anything but that. The ship is run down, the rooms are small, and the food barely pass's as average. The breakfast buffet is good and the lunch's are very good but who has time to eat lunch when in port. We love to eat lunch at the local ports. The dinner's were truly bad. I could go into more detail but it would take way to much time. They were just bad. The wine list barely pass's as being a "fair" rating. We ended up buying some very good local wines and took advantage of the $15 corkage charge. What made this trip truly enjoyable was the service and help. They are all well trained and truly great. I cannot emphasize enough how wonderful the service is. The tipping policy is $22.00 per day per couple and then an additional 18% added on for bar drinks and wine service. We did additional tipping to the help as the employees and service were the best of the best. It will be a long time until we do another Wind Star. Fourteen days in that small room was just a little to much and then looking forward to a poor dinner was not much fun after the first week. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2006
My first cruise on Windsurf  I have only cruised with the bigger ships before, like NCL so was looking forward to the same freestyle concept on a smaller ship Boarded in Barcelona after one night at the fantastic Le Meridian hotel ... Read More
My first cruise on Windsurf  I have only cruised with the bigger ships before, like NCL so was looking forward to the same freestyle concept on a smaller ship Boarded in Barcelona after one night at the fantastic Le Meridian hotel [recommended!] Caught a cab down the Ramblas to the pier  this cost 12¬ which is a lot cheaper than the $65 that Windstar wanted for the transfer. Boarding started at 2pm  a strange procedure  all the photos and credit card taking was done when we were on board sitting in the lounge. At least they served a glass of champers and some canapEs when we waited. We had a suite #337  port side forward  the suites are basically two back to back cabins with a hole knocked between them. No further alterations have been made so you are left with two vanity units, two cupboards, two fridges, two mini bars, four safes and best of all two bathrooms. New dEcor on the beds is a pretty gold/maroon colour  the beds seemed new and were very very comfortable. However the woodwork in the room was all chipped and scratched and looked rather tired. This was my impression of the whole ship  and I think it is going into dry dock shortly so perhaps they will give it a good revamp as it certainly needs it. On my previous cruises whenever we docked there was always some poor guy dangling over the side with a tin of paint painting the hull but this did not happen at all  and the poor hull was all scratched and marked as if the captain had had a few troubles in the past trying to park the ship!!! I took a peek into a normal cabin and these appeared to be very small with no seating area at all  unless you sat on the bed. Because the windows are portholes all the cabins are always quite dark. Food was generally very good  the breakfasts were vast spreads with separate omelette chef and the waffle chef areas. Lunches were often speciality buffets like Mexican or Greek or Lobster days and these were excellent. There was full afternoon tea at 4pm and on a few evenings they had canapEs at 6:30. Dinners were slightly disappointing  there are two restaurants and we ate every night in the smaller Bistro which requires booking on the day at 8am. Menus were simple. The dEcor in the Bistro was again rather shabby  again I am used to sumptuous dining rooms with chandeliers, ornate paintings, plush carpets, drapes and wallpaper  but the Bistro had faux wood walls, one picture and a few tired looking yucca plants! One evening they had a Indonesian theme evening which was very good and on another there was a Mediterranean themed buffet complete with suckling pigs. This was followed by the crew show which involved a few dances from their local countries [Indonesia and Philippines] and then a few more traditional show numbers like YMCA On board these smaller ships you tend to make your own entertainment. There is a small pool and 2 Jacuzzis - the chair hogs were in force and it was sometimes difficult to find a chair on sea days. In the evening there was a group who played in the lounge  the dance floor is so small though you could not really dance properly, and there was a duo who played in the Compass Rose bar  thought that the volume was rather loud for the size of the room. The ship had a casino and the usual art auctions  didnt try either. Ports of call were Ibiza, Palma, Malaga and Tangiers. I never take the ships tours and tend to do my own thing. In both Ibiza and Palma they laid on a courtesy bus to take you to the town  this ran every ½ hour. In Malaga they did not  caught a cab to El Corte Ingles [the department store] and then walked slowly back to the ship via coffee, the Cathedral and a leisurely lunch. The cathedral is spectacular and well worth a visit. In Tangiers we just took one of the local guides who met the ship  the cost was $20 for all four of us for a ½ day tour which seemed good value to me. Weather was good through out apart from a bit of rain in Palma. Even saw dolphins and a whale....! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2006
I am a married 55 year old professional who cruised with Windstar line on three or four prior occasions. I love this line. Well, I loved this line until this recent cruise. Maybe it was because the ship was a bit larger than their others, ... Read More
I am a married 55 year old professional who cruised with Windstar line on three or four prior occasions. I love this line. Well, I loved this line until this recent cruise. Maybe it was because the ship was a bit larger than their others, or maybe it was due to cost considerations by the cruise line. However, the quality and approach slipped considerably. It became ordinary. PORTS: There was no need to have two sea days. We had wonderful ports, and by using two sea days, especially when the portage in Abiza was changed to an inconvenient location with an arrival at siesta, or when a lovely local like Majorca is shorted in time, the quality of the experience is lost. Indeed timing changes caused us to miss the ability to see the Rock of Gibraltar as well! Now the food. Windstar food is top notch and 5 star - at least it was. This cruise featured the best one would expect from Dennys or COCO, NOT from a Splichel (Pinot restaurants) designed menu. Shore excursions sold out. The line made no effort to line up backup guides - leaving clients to fend for themselves in places like Tangier! While the dining room and bar staff were, as always, terrific, room service was not accommodating, food was average, ports were shortened, coke was $2.50 and beer $7.50 and one wonders: Why bother with Windstar? I doubt that I will sail them again and I was a committed Windstar booster. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2005
We were very impressed with the WindSurf. It was clean, the staff was very friendly and the food was excellent. WindStar markets themselves as being "casual elegant" and that is correct. They do not have the European level of ... Read More
We were very impressed with the WindSurf. It was clean, the staff was very friendly and the food was excellent. WindStar markets themselves as being "casual elegant" and that is correct. They do not have the European level of service as Seabourn, but you should not expect it. Service in restaurant was good and the menu between main dining room and bistro gave you ample selections to choose from. The ship is a great size and fairly stable. When we did have a 55mph headwind, we found ourselves 2-hours behind schedule and were not sure the ship would fit under the bridge going into Lisbon. It was very exciting as they sent a crewman up the mast to advise if we would not clear it - we were close! Had we not fit, they planned to tender everyone to the dock, not a good option for people with lots of luggage or flights close to arrival time. Embarkation and debarkation was among the best we've experienced. Very organized and fast. Only issue was local customs officials and we all know cruise lines can't control that. The cabins and bathroom are comfortable and have an amazing amount of storage for the overall SqFt. The bed cover is bad polyester and the bed mattress did have a worn center. Pillows are tiny so if you need support, bring your own. The fitness room is in a great all-glass room so it is wonderful for your workout. Weight machines as well as free weights, cardio machines and mats are all you need. Towels and chilled water are available, as well as antiseptic wipes for the equipment. The entertainment tried to do something for everyone, and with such a mixed crowd, somewhat missed everyone. Maybe it was the particular group on this cruise, but most people did not hang around the musical groups. They either went to their cabin or stayed out by the pool bar. The pools are small, but the two hot tubs on the back of the ship are a great way to relax, yet still be in the thick of the action. But if you are looking to soak and get away from it all, it won't work for you. As for nit-picking: * The store has very poor quality logo items and overall selection (mostly Tommy Bahamas clothes) * The ship's camera was out of focus the whole trip and the system never gives you ship's data (such as wave height, wind, direction, etc.) like other ships do * The wine stewards do need quite a bit of training. The worst offender just plunked down the wine list and mumbled "Want wine?" as he drifted past the table. * You cannot take your own beer or spirits onboard, but they don't tell you that till you are boarding and they take it from you (returning it at end of the cruise). You can take wine but there is a $10 corkage fee. * When you order a cheese tray via room service, the only crackers you can get are saltines, no variety or no-salt options. But you can pick them up at the lunch buffet. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2004
Cruises: 11/7-14/2004 - Nice to Barcelona 11/14/21/2004 - Barcelona to Lisbon Overview While no cruise is perfect, our back to back cruises on the Wind Surf were way above average. We sailed to great ports, all the while feeling that ... Read More
Cruises: 11/7-14/2004 - Nice to Barcelona 11/14/21/2004 - Barcelona to Lisbon Overview While no cruise is perfect, our back to back cruises on the Wind Surf were way above average. We sailed to great ports, all the while feeling that we were privileged and pampered. Nothing beats the feeling of being on a ship under sail, and it's a pleasure to sail with a few hundred other passengers, rather than a few thousand. For a description of the ship, public rooms, fellow passengers, fitness and recreation, family, dress code, and tipping, see the main Cruise Critic review of the Wind Surf. Best part of the trip Except for the two bad weather days, every day was a best part. The crew was friendly and helpful, the passengers were interesting, the ports were great, and the ship itself was fun. It was great having a feeling of elegance, yet not having to dress up - Windstar really does have "casual elegance." Worst part of the trip This was a tie between two things: disembarkation, and a very bumpy, unplanned sea day when everything seemed to go wrong. Both will be discussed below. Embarkation There was some confusion as to when we could board, so we were at the pier a bit after 1 p.m., but couldn't board until 2. Once we could board, embarkation was painless. (Give them a 3 for information accuracy, 5 for the actual boarding, averaging a 4.) We had left our bags on the pier around 10:30 a.m., and they magically appeared in our room. We climbed up the gangplank at 2, took the mandatory awful boarding picture, then were ushered into the lounge and handed a mimosa. We filled out forms, and that was it. Even a goof regarding our boarding cards was fixed quickly. Indeed, that became a keynote of the trip: Windstar made few mistakes; but when they did, they usually fixed it quickly. Accommodations These were the smallest rooms we'd had on our five cruises (188 square feet), and we were concerned that we would feel cramped. We needn't have had any fears: though compact, the rooms were very comfortable, and we had no cabin fever even after two weeks. There seemed to be room for all our belongings. We did miss having a bath tub; but we knew that in advance. The steward was unobtrusive: perhaps a bit too much so. However, the room was kept clean, and when we asked for something (ice, more shampoo, etc.) it arrived promptly. The towels and bathrobes were good, and the fruit bowl was kept filled. Dining The food in the dining rooms was so good, and so convenient, that we never even tried room service. Breakfast and lunch were served in the Veranda room; however, we quickly found that we could avoid crowds (the crowds weren't very big, anyway), and get waiter service for several items, if we sat in the adjacent Bistro. The breakfast choices always included pancakes, French toast, waffles, and at least one light cuisine choice. Eggs were made to order, smoked salmon was available every day, and caviar was available two or three times each week. There was lots of fruit, meusli, great breads and pastries, and stuff we never even tried, such as British breakfast, cold cereal, breakfast meats (hot and cold), etc. We had three or four lunches off the ship, mostly on excursions; but it was a temptation to eat every lunch on the ship. Most lunches had themes (Italian, Spanish, Asian), and the choices were generally interesting. Grilled food, such as fish and burgers, was always available. The salads were especially varied and interesting. There were always lots of desserts, including low fat and the famous HAL bread pudding. The review of "sfg" of a 2002 cruise mentioned the need for a sandwich bar, and said that buffet choices were not too good. We felt that buffet choices were excellent. While there still is no area where the ship crew makes cold sandwiches, there are plenty of sandwich ingredients available, including great bread, for making your own sandwiches. We never did so, because the other choices were so good. The lobster and lamb chop barbecue lunch, on the last cruise day of each week, was a highlight of the trip. If we had any quibbles with the food, it involved dinner. During the first week, when the ship had 210 passengers, everything went smoothly, and meals took a leisurely but not slow amount of time. In week two, when there were 300 passengers, service slowed, and we experienced waits on occasion. Nonetheless, our Indonesian server, Lilik, was always courteous and attentive. As for the food itself, it was not five star, but it was the best we've had on a cruise ship. There was some effort to serve food that related to where we were (the Mediterranean). There were vegetarian choices, healthy food, and "low carb" food, as well as four or five other choices. We always got a table for two, as requested, unless we asked for a larger table. One night we were at a table for six, and we had six different main courses - all good. With soup, salad, appetizer, main course, and dessert there was too much food: by the end of the trip we were consistently skipping at least one course. The menus were so good that we kept putting off trying the alternate restaurant, the Bistro. On our first try, we were too seasick to enjoy the food. This was the missed port day in Mahon, as described below, and was not a fair test of the restaurant. When we finally did try it in normal weather, we enjoyed it as much as the main restaurant. Wine and Liquor We can't really judge this area. Since we were sailing in wine country (France and Spain), we purchased almost all of our wine on shore, and paid a $10 corkage fee each time we opened a bottle. (The wine steward did give us one "freebie" each week). Similarly, the bar crew was very friendly even though we normally ordered iced tea, rather than something alcoholic. Ports and Itinerary Before we left, Walt, the host for the Windstar board, described our two weeks as a "killer itinerary." That was accurate. We had just the right mix of big cities (Marseilles, Barcelona, Malaga), medium size cities (Palma de Majorca, Tangier), and small places (Porquerolles, Ibiza, Sete, Portimao). Due to Mistral winds, we missed two ports: St. Florent, Corsica, and Mahon, Minorca. Both would have been great. However, the missed day at St. Florent resulted in one of the highlights of the trip. We went from Nice to Villefranche, a distance of about five miles, instead of going to Corsica. We took a tour to St. Paul de Vence, and placed a stone on Chagall's grave. Unforgettable. Villefranche itself was interesting, including a narrow, completely enclosed street, the Rua Obscura. Visiting Tangier, Morocco, including our excursion to Tetuan (the white dove), was like stepping into another world. Everything was exotic, from the narrow alleyways to the robes worn by the people to the vendors who kept trying to get us to bargain for and purchase their goods. I hope the line keeps this port in its itineraries, but adds western-style bathrooms to the buses. We were one of a group who needed "facilities," and when we were shown a hole with two footprints, only Joe used it. The guide here was superb, keeping the worst vendors away and keeping all of us together. Things did not turn out well for our other missed port, Mahon. (We missed the first and last scheduled ports of the first week's itinerary.) We spent a sea day in 60 knot winds. The ship is fairly stable; but no ship feels comfortable in such high winds, and Joan became seasick. To make matters worse, some thoughtless passenger flushed something that he shouldn't have flushed down a men's room toilet, and it knocked out the toilets for our entire bank of cabins and public areas. Even after the public bathroom was fixed, our toilet and the toilet in the room next to us had to be replaced. Imagine a sea day with near hurricane force winds, when you couldn't even use your own stateroom. With many empty rooms, the line could have let us rest in an empty room. Instead, we wandered from public room to public room. Joan was too doped up on seasickness pills to care, Windstar did give us a bottle of wine as a "make good," but they could and should have done more. In all justice to them, they probably had their hands full with a nasty storm and at least three broken toilets. Excursions We used ship's excursions in about half the ports. In the other ports, Patrick, the excursion director, gave us plenty of information about the port, so we could do things on our own. With one big exception, the tours were reasonably priced and interesting, and gave us a good idea of the area in which we were traveling. We avoided the big, overcrowded tour from Malaga to Granada (which was loved by the people who took it); so all of our tours were also uncrowded: always under 30 people, twice under 15. The line made an effort to run each tour, even when fewer than 20 people signed up. Windstar negotiated a favorable dollar-euro ratio for those tours, so they were competitive with your private arrangements. So what was the problem? Bathroom stops. They were too infrequent, and the bathrooms on the buses were never available. Breakfast featured excellent coffee, fresh-squeezed juice and wonderful smoothies as well as abundant ice water. The busses could drive for more than an hour before arriving at our destination. Even when the busses had bathrooms, some gibberish prevented the guides from letting us use them. As a weight watcher, we learned to drink several glasses of water upon arising. We drink more water than most, and have never used a laxative. As the population ages, this will become more of a problem. We hope the line cures this problem. Entertainment There wasn't much of it, and we didn't miss it. There was a small casino, and there were usually bands in the two lounges. They were not well populated most of the time: people were simply too tired after exciting days on shore. Most people rented DVDs, and watched them in their rooms. Still, we have no doubt that, had we been night owls instead of early birds, we could easily have made our own entertainment. Nonetheless, if you want big, glitzy shows, this may not be the ship for you. The only "show" was the weekly crew show, which was quite interesting. Level of service Generally excellent, from the hostess, Cherie, on down. The crew made us feel pampered and special. Tipping Very confusing. The "tipping not required" policy resulted in confusion about whether to tip, and how much. We ended up giving pooled tips to the dining room staff and bar staff, and individual tips to the room steward and wine steward. Clear guidelines would be better. Better still would be a slight increase in price, all of which would go into staff pay, so that tipping truly is not needed. Windstar will try this idea, as well as including wine with dinner, in its "Signature Sailings" in 2005. Disembarkation After two great weeks, even the best disembarkation would have been a downer. The actual disembarkation was worse than that. Because the ship was going into dry dock, we disembarked an hour west of Lisbon, and had a long bus trip. (In fairness, getting off the ship was quick and well organized, and would have been good had we gone directly to the pier instead of into a bus.) Once we picked up our bags (loading them onto carts ourselves, since there seemed to be no porters), there was no one to help us get a cab. Joe went back inside to use the restroom, and got locked into the port terminal. There was no one to help him get out, and we lost our place in line trying to get a cab. Although it seemed the terminal was devoid of personnel, we soon discovered many workers. A few minutes after we loaded our luggage onto carts, people in orange suits started to take the carts back. We were left with piles of luggage on the ground and no cabs in sight. The most aggressive people got cabs quickly. Finally, someone from Windstar organized a line; but the pushy people, rather than those of us who arrived first, got on line first. Meanwhile cab drivers came up to us and offered to drive us for three or four times the meter rate. Absurd! Final impressions Despite a few glitches, a fantastic trip! Bravo, Wind Surf! Read Less
Sail Date: October 2004
We sailed Rome to Nice Oct 31, 2004, and never having cruised before I will offer my opinion on WindSurf. Four of us travelled and none of us has ever cruised before so I am unable to compare ships but will offer you my opinion. FABULOUS! ... Read More
We sailed Rome to Nice Oct 31, 2004, and never having cruised before I will offer my opinion on WindSurf. Four of us travelled and none of us has ever cruised before so I am unable to compare ships but will offer you my opinion. FABULOUS! Yes you get a porthole instead of a balcony, but the size of the ship is why I chose WindSurf. I never had a desire to sail on a large ship and this was the perfect way to travel the intimate ports of the Mediterranean without hauling luggage, and knowing your accommodations were consistent. Sea sickness: one of us felt unwell on our first night, the rest of us were fine. It was quite amazing how quick you adjust. You felt some movement on the ship, but talking to other passengers, few we spoke with were ill from the movement. Sea sickness pills were available at reception and the infirmary, and you are supposed to take them 4 hours before sailing. Staterooms were really nice and serviceable. Our porthole looked directly at the ocean, that was cool. They do your rooms twice daily which was a treat. The staff were amazing, and yes, within a couple of days, they do know your names. Food was also fabulous, lots of choice without the buffet mentality, choices of salad, appetizer, soup and usually 4 - 5 entrees to choose from...excellent in both quantity and presentation. We had room service breakfast every morning, ate lunch in port and dinner on ship. Excursions: we chose to entertain ourselves and rented a car one day and took our time around the island we were on. 50 Euro for the car for the day for 4 people. Arranged all our own transportation and transfers via email prior to leaving. Our room was 118 on the lower deck and you really felt very little movement there. Room 220 on the upper deck is adjacent to where everyone gets on and off in port each day so avoid it. The noise of everyone on the stairs at 8:00 a.m. is terrible. The wonderful thing about this ship is you never have to wait for anything. The tender to and from the port would take 2 people if you were the only ones waiting to come or go! Casual Elegance is the motto and it is correct, everyone was usually dressed nicely for dinner, your choice as to how much you want to dress up, common sense seems to prevail here. Entertainment: the crew did a show one evening that was really cute, the 2 bands were excellent (played every evening) and there were a lot of people dancing. Besides, it is the others on the ship usually providing the entertainment!! Casino is small but adequate. There are casinos in port in the large cities in Nice, Monte Carlo, etc. Spa was excellent, lots of people using it, and the gym always seemed to have people working out. We worked out walking in the ports, putting on miles just walking around. The ship provided you with written material everyday on the next port, so you had some idea what to expect and what were the highlights. Overall it was 1st class, very comfortable, relaxing. You could be as organized as you wished, or simply take it day by day. Average age? 45-50 ish....in the Mediterranean. Rating...5 star in my mind! Only thing I would change is more time in Rome before we sailed!  Read Less
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