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24 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
I had a wonderful experience on the Wind Spirit in 2014 going through the Panama Canal. When Windstar advertised a trip to the Italian and French Riviera, stopping for the Monte Carlo Grand Prix, I was all in. Expensive, but I expected ... Read More
I had a wonderful experience on the Wind Spirit in 2014 going through the Panama Canal. When Windstar advertised a trip to the Italian and French Riviera, stopping for the Monte Carlo Grand Prix, I was all in. Expensive, but I expected it would be worth it. It wasn't. We were on the Star Breeze, one of the three ships they purchased from another cruise company. The room was nice, but the ship is poorly managed, poorly maintained and just not a place you want to be. The officers don't care and make excuses for their failings. Food service is a disaster, tender service is worse. We paid a lot of money ($15,000 for a couple before shore excursions) for a luxury cruise that we did not get. Food was mediocre, availability limited and service very disorganized (other than the lady in the "Yacht Club" where you could get sandwiches and snacks - she was phenomenal!). Tender service was a joke. Poor operation, long waits, rocky rides, crash landings. Rarely anyone on the dock to assist you. We had a pre-arranged, all passengers invited dinner part at the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo. When we returned on the bus (arranged 100% by Windstar), there were no tenders to take us to our ship. More than enough to take passengers to the Wind Surf (a sister ship of the original sailing type), but 100 or more of us were stranded in fancy clothes, cold weather, at 11:30 pm. Finally a 24 person tender arrived. I was on the first tender, but I understand that it took more than an hour to get everyone back to the ship. No one from our ship came to help, by the way. We were assisted by the Wind Surf's Hotel Manager. There were many maintenance issues, the staff was nice by untrained, and the officers were unhelpful and largely disinterested. When things did not go well, it was someone else's fault. When we disembarked in Nice (and we were SO READY to disembark) it seemed orderly until we got out and realized everyone that had preceded us to the dock to get their luggage was still there - no ground transportation was available. It took about 90 minutes to get 100 or so people into cabs or vans. We were simply going to a hotel, so it was not such a big deal. But many people were concerned about missing flights or were just unhappy with this final coup de grace. Importantly, the Hotel Manager and other officers were rather disinterested. They passed out water bottles but, par for the course with this ship, took no effort to solve the problems. Fortunately, a couple of energetic young women made continuous phone calls and finally got everyone off of the dock. But it was just a fitting end to an otherwise poorly managed, chaotic, amateurish cruise experience. Avoid this cruise ship. Growing pains is one thing. This is a cultural faux pas. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2015
This was a terrible, terrible experience. It was Star Breeze's first full itinerary cruise after it's quick push from Rome to Barcelona. Spanish coast up to Lisbon. To say this ship was not ready for prime-time is an ... Read More
This was a terrible, terrible experience. It was Star Breeze's first full itinerary cruise after it's quick push from Rome to Barcelona. Spanish coast up to Lisbon. To say this ship was not ready for prime-time is an understatement. The guest-relations crew was totally lost--no one, and I mean no one, has prevailed the short excursions, and the ship was jammed with a 70-member party that shared absolutely no space with anyone. Had five shore excursions, but cancelled three because the first was just awful. Sunday morning on Majorca Spain with a complete idiot. History apparently started on the Island in 1700. No Moors, nothing. Luckily, as he told us, there's no tide in the Mediterranean Sea, so no worries about anything. Smart guy. The other shore excursions were pretty bad, too, but I did one more to go horseback riding. I'm pretty good at it--grew up training horses, Brochure said the tour accommodated any level of expertise, but it was nose-to-butt all the way. Received half of the cost back. Boat was just okay. Service terrific as expected. Captain surly. Entirely newly renovated; toilet ventilation very poor. This cruise has been completely redesigned for this summer--no more Majorca on Sunday (not exactly hopping--nothing open), but guide was quite happy to tell off-color jokes about bull testicles. He's off the schedule now. Gibraltar was dropped in favor of Morocco--not bad idea, but caters to ancient passengers who just couldn't deal with crowds and long walk from berth in incredible heat. Also dropped Seville. A real disappointment there--engine failed, or so the ship steward said, so we couldn't make it into the city. 90 minute bus ride from Cadiz, but Cadiz itself was interesting. All in all, a real disappointment at the prize point, and so radically different from Wind Star ships. A real sense of social class differences on this bigger boat that just isn't on the sailing ships. This is a mini-Carnival cruise ship. Very indifferent to passengers and a deer-in-the-headlights attitude. Maybe it will get better. But why not save the money and go on the real Carnival. You won't be able to tell any difference. 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
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