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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2019
First, we are a French Canadian couple in our early 50’s from Montreal. We sailed 5 times with Celebrity prior to sailing on Wind Surf for the first time in 2013. We have since sailed 7 times with them, all in the Caribbean with cruises ... Read More
First, we are a French Canadian couple in our early 50’s from Montreal. We sailed 5 times with Celebrity prior to sailing on Wind Surf for the first time in 2013. We have since sailed 7 times with them, all in the Caribbean with cruises on the Wind Star (1) Star Pride (2), Star Legend (1) and Wind Surf (3). What we love about Windstar is the small ships, the fact you can do things independently easily, the relaxed dress code, the food, which keeps getting better, and last but not least the great service staff which goes out of its way to make your cruise memorable. This was our first cruise back on a sail ship after 3 cruises on the motor yachts. We did Classic Caribbean itinerary from Feb 2nd to 9th as we had done the Yachtsman’s Caribbean itinerary twice already and did not like the fact they had changed some of the stops in the BVI. In the end we really enjoyed this itinerary with Barbuda and Dominica being new stops for us. The weather was just about perfect and seas were the calmest of all our cruises. We noticed the demographics of this cruise were probably a little older than our previous Windstar cruises with a good majority of guests over 70-75 but this did not hinder in any way our enjoyment as fellow Windstar passengers are all fairly active and well travelled. Finally, we travelled with another couple for which this was a first cruise on Windstar and likely not their last. Another great cruise with Windstar Booking: We booked just over 2 months ahead by pure accident as we typically wait for annual Christmas Sale as we feel prices get better closer to sailings (we always go for lowest priced cabin as location is not necessarily important to us). We called the company directly (we do not use a travel agent) to inquire about availability and they said that there was a promotion for Canadian residents with a $500 discount on the cruise price. I could not find this special on their website and the timing of my call was perfect as this special did not last very long. The 4 of us each got the $100 referral OBC which in our case was applied against our drink package purchased when we got onboard. We were assigned room 153 at front of ship and we were “upgraded” to 141 more in the center a few weeks later. Our friends were also upgraded from 103 to 122. Windstar also offered a 20% discount on the price of internet, drink package and laundry if all taken together prior to cruise which we did not take as we did not care for the ship’s slow and expensive internet (we had access to a good roaming package which we used most of time as we were always close to islands). Embarkation Although we typically fly in the day before, our schedule did not allow for such luxury this time around. Our plane landed in SXM at 16h30 on departure day (ship’s departure scheduled at 19h00) and we got out of the terminal around 17h15. Cabs were plentiful and we ended up sharing one with another Canadian couple on same flight that was also boarding the ship. Cab ride was $30 for the 4 of us and took 30 minutes. We boarded the ship at 17h45 and check-in was swift at front desk given our tardiness . Sail away was on schedule at 19h00. Not the ideal situation for travel but things worked out nicely. We were told our cruise was fully booked, so around 310 passengers on board. This was not an issue throughout the cruise as the Wind Surf remains very spacious with nooks and crannies for everyone. Cabin: We were in 141 and our friends in 122 (both added to Wind Surf stateroom sticky forum). Cabins are well designed with plenty of storage if required. 141 was quiet and had no issues although on 3 occasions, we had to call maintenance to fix our toilet as vacuum system had problems and toilet risked overflowing. In all 3 cases (one time at 3 am) the problem was fixed quickly by maintenance staff. Our room attendant was attentive although we did not have any special requirements. Reusable water bottles we refilled every day (one with flat water, the other sparkling) and our ice bucket was kept full with ice every day. Our friends in 122 complained about regular banging noise which we suspect was due to some gangway or tender equipment hanging above their room. We were also wondering how we would find going back to the smaller sail ship staterooms after experiencing the larger suites on the Star ships on our last 3 cruises. Well it wasn’t an issue as the rooms are very well designed and we were really only in our room to sleep or change over for dinner. We did not use room service nor laundry service this time. Bathroom was compact and well designed but starting to show its age. Occitane toiletries are provided in all rooms. Bars and Entertainment: Drinks were mostly taken outside at Compass Rose or Pool Bar. Did not go to Lounge except for Talent Show but band seemed competent. Bar service was always good. Duo at Compass Rose was OK and had guests dancing and when finished around 11pm, guests would come in to plug IPad playlists in system to keep party going a little longer. This happened a few evenings with people dancing a little past midnight. A lot of fun. Food: Again food was a highlight. We ate at Amphora 4 times, one time each Candles and Stella Bistro and Deck BBQ on the late night in St-Kitts. Menu was varied although gluten free items remain limited (our friend suffers from gluten intolerance and we were just more sensitized to his diet challenges throughout the cruise). Breakfast was good with buffet or a la carte items available. Couple of things we noticed were the poor quality of orange juice which in the past was freshly squeezed and now is a watered down Tropicana version and the fact there were no fresh peeled orange slices on the buffet whereas these were always on buffet in the past. We had good lunches at Veranda when we made it back in time from the island as the venue is only open from 12h00 to 14h00. We were late a few times and had to settle for food at Yacht Club. Lunch should be extended to 14h30 to accommodate those with dietary restrictions as the menu at the Yacht Club, while good, remains limited for them. Service in the dining rooms at dinner was fast and efficient (sometimes too fast) with meals lasting 1.5 to 2 hours. We mostly had dinner around 8pm and never had to wait more than a few minutes for a table and by the time we were finished, most of the time we were the last table in dining room. Menus were varied with several fish, meat and vegetarian dishes and all 4 of us were impressed by the quality and presentation of food. Deck BBQ food was great although lobster was a little chewy. We did not do the Dining Under The Stars (offered twice on our cruise) as it was not offered to us. This was a bit disappointing. Beach BBQ was held on Pigeon Island, which is our least favourite Windstar Beach BBQ location (the others being Mayreau and Virgin Gorda). While food was good, beach is too small and not necessarily the nicest. A couple of evenings, we were treated to canapés at Compass Rose before dinner. Usually had 2 different types of them but just one tray so these would disappear very fast with literally no chances for seconds. I suspect these were also served in the Lounge but we never went to the Lounge for pre dinner drinks so cannot confirm. We are a bit picky about our coffee and the caffe lattes at Veranda in the morning were good (regular coffee not so much) but even better at Yacht Club. We did try a few of the the latter’s sandwiches and sweets offered in the afternoon on one occasion and all were good. 3 of us were on the recently introduced TopMast Discoveries drink package at $49 while the 4th party was on the CaptainsExclusive package at $59. This created confusion with servers with several drinks (liquor) being charged to our room although drunk by our friend on the full drink package. All charges were reversed but this was a hassle as we needed to check bill daily to ensure charges were being reversed overnight and that no new ones were being added. Drink package probably makes sense if you have 5 or more drinks per day and even though we were drinking our quota, we generally felt that the value proposition of the drink packages had come down markedly from the previous iterations with price of package going up $7 and the wines offered having a price point no higher than $9.50/$10 vs a max of $11.50 under previous package. We will likely need to re-think this aspect on our next cruise. Marina We did not use the marina this time around but it was open in Barbuda, Les Saintes and St Barth. We saw several people using it when available. The water toys were also brought to the beach on Pigeon Island for the Beach BBQ Spa: Our friends each got a $50 spa voucher (good on port days) offered by Windstar to all first time cruisers which they used for a very relaxing hot stone massage. Gym: we did not use gym but it looked clean and well equipped and did not seem overcrowded Tenders: Tenders were used in all ports except Dominica where we were docked at the industrial dock, not the more central cruise ship dock (occupied by Silverseas on that day). While tender service was good, the tenders themselves are in need of a total overhaul. During our cruise we got to see the Seabourn, Club Med 2 and Star Clipper tenders and all of them were in substantially better condition than the Surf’s. They will be changing the tenders on the Motor Yachts, they probably should do the same with the sailing ships. Bridge Did not visit the bridge this time around and whereas in the past there was a photo opportunity at the bow of the ship, we did not see this on this cruise. Stops and excursions: We generally are not the type to book ship excursions as we feel they are overpriced and like to do things on our own. I typically like to do my own research and do not like to plan too long ahead. Barbuda: Nothing planned. Only tour offered was to view frigate bird sanctuary which did not interest us. We instead took a cab to Princess Diana beach ($30 each way). Very nice pink sand beach with nobody other than a few fellow cruisers on it. No facilities so bring water and some food if you are going to spend a long time. We were there for about 3 hours and got on the ship around 2pm just in time to catch lunch at Veranda. The ship leaves early at 3 pm on this day. Dominica: Again we stepped out of ship and hired a cab to go to Ti-Tou Gorge and Trafalgar Falls. Cost was $160 for the 4 of us and lasted 2.5 hours. Ti-Tou Gorge is not to be missed as you swim in a crystal clear river canyon up to a small waterfall. Very nice. The drive to both these spots is also spectacular as the road sits at the top of a high mountain ridge. We were back on the ship by 1h30 and had lunch at Veranda. Found a chair on deck for the remainder of day and used pool and hot tubs. Although the Island suffered extensive damage from Hurricane Maria in Sept 2017, the island infrastructure and vegetation is recovering nicely. Pigeon Island: This was our 4th time to Pigeon Island and it is our least favourite spot for the Beach BBQ. The beach is small and crowded although the area in the back where they actually serve the BBQ is nice. The water toys were brought to the beach, as well as paddle boards and kayaks. They also offered waterski and wakeboardings runs for those who wanted. Club Med 2 (Wind Surf’s twin) was also in port that day which made for interesting pictures. Les Saintes: This was our third time to Les Saintes and we continue to enjoy this stop. There is a quaint village with some interesting shops and a Fort (Fort Napoleon) from which the views of the bay and our sail ship are simply breathtaking. Note the Fort is only open until 12h30 and bring €5 cash if you want to get in. We rented a 4 seat electric golf cart (cost €75) from Green Car Rental to tour Island but you need to reserve it in advance as these get taken up very quickly (we had learned this the hard way the previous time we were there). Wanted to go to Pain de Sucre Beach but path is somewhat steep and rocky which required shoes we did not have. Instead went to Pompierre beach (no facilities). Nice beach but the palm trees have taken a beating as a result of hurricane Maria last year. Had a good lunch in town at Cafe de la Marina with a nice view of the port while the ladies shopped linen at Mahogany next door. Basseterre St-Kitts: Our initial plan was to get off ship, take the 9h30 ferry to Nevis ($16 each way/pers), hire a cab for a few hours to do tour of island, visit plantation and get dropped off at Pinney’s Beach. However we were a bit tired that morning and thus proceeded to a less intense plan B which was to take a cab ($30 each way) to go to Cockshell Beach at the far South end of the Island. We rented chairs ($5 each) and umbrellas ($10) at the Spice Mill and also had good lunch there. Beach is nice and was somewhat crowded, something rare on a Windstar cruise but there were another 2 ships in port, so this was to be expected. Ship left late at 10pm and this was night of deck BBQ. St-Barth: We had reserved a convertible Mini Cooper to tour Island ahead of time with Sixt Car Rental. Called them up 30 minutes prior to going to shore so they were there to pick us up and take us to airport to fill out docs. Cost was a bit steep at €105 but we had fun touring. Went to Saline and Gouverneurs beaches, did some shopping and had lunch at Nikki Beach in St-Jean. Lunch was good although this is St-Barth and everything is pricey. Returned the car at airport, got shuttled back to port and did some more shopping in Gustavia. Took tender around 6pm back to ship. Debarkation. Debarkation was trouble free. Had breakfast around 8am after picking up our passport and having face to face meeting with Immigration on board ship around 7h30 (this is new as we usually just picked up passport on ship and passed Immigration once on shore). Our flight was late (5pm) so we took a cab to Holland House, took up their day pass offer which for $25 includes 2 chairs, 4 drinks,use of shower, Wifi and facilities. Had good lunch at their restaurant and left at 2h30 for airport. Ride was $30 for the 4 of us and took just under 30 minutes and this concluded another wonderful Windstar cruise. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
La Ora Na! Just returned from a dream-like 10-night Tahiti & Tuamotu Island Wind Spirit Cruise. A trip to French Polynesia has been on my bucket list for many years and the time was right to celebrate our 30-year wedding anniversary. ... Read More
La Ora Na! Just returned from a dream-like 10-night Tahiti & Tuamotu Island Wind Spirit Cruise. A trip to French Polynesia has been on my bucket list for many years and the time was right to celebrate our 30-year wedding anniversary. This was our third Windstar Cruise but first on a sailing ship. Everything was wonderful from the ship and the crew to the great food, fellow passengers and the beautiful islands. We loved every minute from the diving, snorkeling, beaching, Polynesian luau, Beach BBQ, cultural and scenic excursions to just being together in paradise. We left during the rainy season and so knew we were chancing some bad weather but we were very fortunate as we only had three solid cloudy and/or rainy days and 9 really good days with very little clouds and rain. It was hot and humid. Only one drift snorkeling excursion was canceled due to strong winds and current in Fakarava. A few people were sick with motion sickness at the beginning of the cruise going out to Tuamotu Islands but we took Bonine. (meclizine) and had absolutely no problems. When in the Society Islands there was very little motion and no one had any problems. We had our outgoing flight from LAX to PPT on Air Tahiti which was fine. (older plane). Upon arrival to PPT at 11 pm we took a taxi and stayed overnight at the cheaper but nice/adequate Hotel Sarah Nui. We were a five-minute walk to the Moorea Ferry dock where we bought tickets in the morning and took the first ferry to Moorea and spent the full day and night at the very nice Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort & Spa. It was rainy and cloudy but the snorkeling in front of the resort was stunning with the water clarity, colorful coral and fish life. We took a special deal and just stayed in a garden room but it was very nice. Some of our fellow cruise passengers stayed in the over the water bungalows for the unique experience. Depends on where you want to put your vacation dollars. Took the late morning ferry back to Tahiti and literally walked off the one ferry and down the port to the Windstar which was boarding. Waited in a short line as they manually checked luggage. (different than in San Juan) but it was quick efficient and staff was very nice. Crew greeted us and escorted us to our cabin AX 205 which was very conveniently located mid ship. Though smaller than the motorized ships rooms. (Legend and Pride) it had great storage space. Did miss the large picture window. (just two port holes) but overall very nice for the smaller space. We then went to a full buffet lunch on the Veranda before heading back into Papeete to the market as my hubby had forgotten his sunglasses. We browsed and got some ideas and ended up coming back and buying a pearl necklace at the end of the cruise. We really enjoy the food on the Windstar, particularly the breakfast on the Veranda. Maybe it was our jet lag but we woke up each morning hungry and the breakfast was great. You can order special dishes from the menu. (various types of egg Benedicts, French toast, pancakes, waffles, and usually some other items). There was also an egg station where my husband had eggs over easy and they made tasty personalized omelets. Great fruits, cheeses, yogurts, bacon, sausages and various pastry. We made it back most days for lunch and then went back into the port. Dinners varied for us but we enjoyed some nights alone at a couples table. (tired after long day) but other nights we ate with others and really enjoyed talking and getting to know our fellow cruise mates. It was a very interesting mix of people. Most seemed well traveled and active and ranged in age from late 40s to late 60s. We didn’t buy the beverage package but bought reasonably priced bottles of wine to drink with dinner. There weren’t a lot of activities on board especially after dinner but we usually found we were tired after the long port days and sleep was great. We did love the deck party dinner, the Polynesian show/dinner on the private motu in Bora Bora and the lectures given by Dr. Kess on Polynesian history. We also enjoyed happy hour before dinner where we sat and talked with fellow cruisers about the day and listened to the destination manager talk about the upcoming port. Several nights we walked the deck and just looked at the glorious night sky. Captain Garciyanov came out of the bridge to show us the southern cross and constellations. He was not only approachable but approached us and other passengers’ multiple times. He was so friendly and energetic. He gave us a great bridge tour. We had just come from getting our picture taking at the bow. (think Titanic and King of the world). Shore Excursions: We did three through the ship and the rest independent. The ships excursions were all good and everyone we talked to thought they were of high quality. We just like doing things independently and on our own timeline but it was a good mix. I will give some detail to what we did as it was hard to find info on some of these islands Fakarava: Fantasy Island came to mind as we first visited Fakarava one of the largest and most beautiful atolls (land formed by the rising reef). The extremely windy weather caused some adjustments to the plan as our drift snorkeling was cancelled but my husband was able to Drift Dive the Garuae Pass through a private company known as O2 Fakarava as he is an advanced diver. He had emailed them before we left home and arranged the dive. He had never seen so many sharks concentrated together hunting the extremely large schools of fish. The current was rapid and the water clarity pristine. He was super pumped after the dive! I took the ship’s excursion to the gorgeous but remote Blue Lagoon. The shallow waters shone in the most brilliant colors of turquoise and jade-green. As I snorkeled on my own in the lagoon, black tip reef sharks swam all around me. It was electrifying! Unfortunately the current was too strong to go to Pufuna to drift snorkel. Rangiroa: Let the adrenaline begin! The second day, we visited Rangiroa know as the The Endless Lagoon. From there Michael and I went on a private excursion with Rangiroa Plongee. It was a drift snorkel through the famous Tiputa Pass. As we rode through 10-foot waves in our little zodiac to the ocean side of the pass, our guide said ok when we see the pod of dolphins we are all going to quickly jump into the ocean and swim with them....WHAT! ....And so, we did......TWICE!......It’s one of the moments when you can’t think too hard as the waves are crashing but there are dolphins next to your little zodiac so we dove in and the first time a whole family swam with us and the next jump was just one dolphin but she came up to me as I squeaked my hello. It was sheer joy! We then drift snorkeled through the pass to see a couple large Spotted Eagle Rays, numerous black tip reef sharks, moray eels and tons of fish. The water clarity again was suburb. We also snorkeled in the area known as the Aquarium. Michael then went on another drift dive while I took a walk and relaxed at Hotel Kira Ora resort on the beach. It was serene drinking a Pina Colada and sitting by the beach and water. Taha’ a: This is the port you need to have a ship’s excursion as they only will tender you to the private motu for a day at the beach. We did the Scenic Exploration of Taha ’a and had a fascinating experience visiting a local pearl farm and watching them harvest the pearls from the oysters. We toured the scenic island, a vanilla farm, ate some local fruit and “learned” a traditional Tahitian dance. Spent the afternoon with “ok” snorkeling around the motu. It was a very cloudy, rain off/on day. Bora Bora: Our favorite island of the trip. It’s beauty was simply stunning with luscious green mountains surrounded by a crystal clear blue and turquoise lagoon. The weather gods gave us two sunny days and we took full advantage of our short time. Fortunately, the ship spent two days at the island but I was itching for more. It had everything from water to land adventures! The first day we rented our own private dive boat with dive master,. David from H20 Bora Bora took Michael diving with manta rays and along a spectacular coral reef . In the afternoon, we all snorkeled three more spectacular sites. It was like swimming in an aquarium. We swam with a squadron of spotted eagles rays, many sharks, eels and so many beautiful fish. The water was so nice. We also had a spectacular lunch on the beach and I witnessed Michael eating two things I never thought he would. Raw fish and coconut. Poisson cru au lait de coco. It was very tasty. The next day we rented a Scooter through Avis (shop right at port) and circled the main island, exploring the beautiful landscape and snorkeling the southern beach on our own. We ended the day with a Polynesian luau on a private motu sponsored by Windstar. Such a Romantic, gorgeous sunset and setting that made us wish we could stay there forever. Loved! Loved ! Bora Bora Huahine Nui: was an island that really captured the history and culture of French Polynesia. We decided to go on a guided tour of the sacred sites with a local archeologist. In an open air Le Truck, we toured the ruins of Maeva village, a vanilla plantation and an area with 500-year-old fish traps that are still used today. The tour then ended with lovely views and the feeding of the sacred blue eels. The island was beautiful, quiet, laid back and I learned a lot about the way of life and history of the French Polynesian . We then went back to the ship for lunch and back out to the local beach by the port to snorkel Moorea: Returned to a now sunny beautiful island. After a slow start as Albert Transport was an hour late picking us up at the port to take us to rent the car. They were on “island time” but then made us still pay for the full 8-hour car rental even though they were an hour late. We had the email confirmation of pick up time (this was our only “mess up” of the cruise) We then spent the day driving, exploring, and snorkeling in our rented car. (Belevedere Lookout, Opunohu Valley, snorkeling at Temae/Public Beach) As we sailed away from Moorea, someone spotted a pod of dolphin and we all ran to one side of the ship. How can it not make you smile, laugh and feel joy as you watch dolphins surfing and playing in the waves? I do think the captain was afraid of us tipping the ship especially as it was the last day of a 10-day feast of food! Wonderful way to end our 10-day cruise Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
My husband and I are in our 60s and have traveled around the world creating our own itineraries and arranging our own transportation. We never thought cruising was for us but in the last few years we have sampled several medium to large ... Read More
My husband and I are in our 60s and have traveled around the world creating our own itineraries and arranging our own transportation. We never thought cruising was for us but in the last few years we have sampled several medium to large ships with friends (Royal Caribbean, Princess, Carnival). The Panama Canal transit with WindStar seemed a pleasant way to experience a small ship environment. Pre-cruise and embarking/disembarking was painless. We arrived at 2 AM a day early in Panama City from Fort Lauderdale. We stayed at a hotel near the airport because of the time and found it easy and inexpensive ($25-$30) to Uber into Panama City to do a little sightseeing. Panama is the only country in Latin America where Uber is legal and it is ubiquitous. Transportation from Panama City directly to the cruise port in Colon was by pre-arranged driver (Amber Moon Panama-$90 cash on arrival). Colon is sketchy. Our driver was a local and he said he does not walk around parts of Colon, even in the daytime. The cruise terminal in Colon is very small. There is a tiny shop with a small selection of wines if you want to buy a bottle to take on board. Notably missing at embarkation was the assault to start buying extras from the cruise line. We were handed a lovely cold cocktail or glass of champagne, were greeted warmly, and got our room key within minutes. No one asked us to take a picture, spend money in the spa, book an excursion, register for an art auction, schedule a special dinner, or tried to sell us jewelry. We left the cruise at Puerto Caldera by pre-paid driver. The trip to the airport in San Jose was $130 by credit card - Transportation in Costa Rica. Windstar is a beautiful lady aging gracefully. We didn't see a tear, a stain, or a break in any of the furnishings. If you like warm wood panelling, shiny brass fixtures, and comfortable seating this is the ship for you. Everything is understated luxury. Think Hyannis Port rather than Vegas. The atmosphere is egalitarian and there are no special perks for big spenders. Passengers are well-traveled and tend to be 40+ and active. The dress code is dressy/casual. All the cabins, except one, are identical. There are no balconies. Plenty of storage room. Comfortable beds. A small table with built-in seating. Plush towels, good sheets, robes, slippers, great toiletries. The shower is the biggest we've had on a ship. On the negative side - Windstar makes it very clear in their literature that there is no elevator on this ship. There are several decks. Cabins are on deck 1, the lower deck, or deck 2, one floor up and one set of stairs below the lobby. If you have ANY mobility issues involving stairs you should book on deck 2. Not only are there a few less steps but while docking and during the transit through the locks a watertight bulkhead closes off access from part of deck 1 to the regular stairs. Passengers are then required to walk a circuitous path up, down, and around to get to and from their cabins on deck 1. Air conditioning in the cabins is inconsistent. At sea the room temperature was fine but anchored or at dock the rooms heated very quickly. We closed our curtains during daylight and we packed a small battery operated fan anticipating the hot, humid climate. The two strategies worked well in making our room comfortable all day. The food was FABULOUS! Dining service was impeccable. By the second day our waiter Alun knew that my husband always orders extra maple syrup for his waffles and pancakes and it would appear magically on the table. We were saddened to discover that Windstar has eliminated the casino from this ship. It has been replaced by a coffee bar that provides a civilized afternoon tea after 3 PM with scones fresh from the oven and clotted cream. The barista Gede soon learned that I like a touch of strawberry jam on those decadent scones and he made sure there was a little chilled jam jar on my plate every day. Michael and Kevin smoothly handled bar service in the lounge each evening and the pool bar is open during the day. We enjoy our evening cocktails, wine, and an occasional beer but did not think the drinks package was good value. There is a happy hour (literally one hour) each night with a limited selection of $5.50 pours and a specialty cocktail for around $9.00 every day. You can take one bottle of wine aboard for each passenger. An important consideration in selecting this Windstar cruise is entertainment and activity. Local groups performed on two afternoons. Windstar partners with the small school in Playa Jimenez and contributes to their education fund in exchange for an excellent show by the kids, several with special needs. The staff performed at the at-sea dinner on deck and during a great talent show. There was a pianist and vocalist in the evenings (Ben and Jacqui) who also coordinated all the audio-visual equipment and DJ'd briefings and events. A professional-quality yoga class was offered each morning by the Spa Director Sue who also led line dance classes two afternoons. The gym was small, poorly ventilated and offered more form than function. There is no easy or safe way to jog around the deck. There were two hosted trivia games. On the one at-sea day the staff put some boxed games out on tables in the lounge. There was a large jigsaw puzzle in the lobby that passengers added pieces to occasionally. Basically, entertainment is low-key and you are on your own for on-board activities. As previously stated, definitely NOT Vegas! If you are not content with peace and quiet and can't entertain yourself you will not appreciate Windstar's offerings. Service was unbelievable. Cabins were cleaned by elves (Anang). Eerily, staff and crew were cheerful around the clock. All of our questions and requests were responded to rapidly. There was no waiting or lines for anything, ever. Excursions: The day on the beach in Isla Parida was fabulous. Warm water, great lunch, fun water toys. We took snorkeling equipment from the boat but didn't use it because visibility was poor. Playa Jimenez - We went to the Blue Osa Yoga Retreat. One of us had a fabulous yoga hour, the other swam in the beautiful pool, strolled the resort, and walked the sandy beach. The lunch was gourmet quality and locally sourced. Lots of flowers and plants. Quepos - Mangrove tour. Slow relaxing boat ride through mangroves. Lots of birds. Nice discussion of area history enroute. No mammals sighted. Finally, the whole point of this cruise is the Panama Canal and the natural beauty of the area. The itinerary and vessel are designed to bring passengers as close to natural habitats as possible. There are no travel guides or taxis descending on the ship when it docks. It doesn't dock! Wet landings are wet. Getting on and off the ship requires dexterity. The ports are teeny tiny. It is hot and humid and buggy. It is mostly rainforest. There is no guarantee you will see any or all of the animals/plants you imagine. It is not a zoo and if anyone can summon or predict animal sightings in the wild they are either planted or illegally lured. Alternatives to excursions arranged by Windstar are limited. The Shore Director Mariana and Naturalist Diego were a perfect team. Mariana handled all the logistics of getting on/off the ship, scheduling excursions, coordinating the movement of passengers and staff while Diego, the ship's Naturalist and resident Latin American, made sure we understood the culture and surroundings. They were efficient and informative. Unlike any other cruise staff we've encountered they not only explained in their briefings what to expect on the purchased excursions but how to experience each port WITHOUT the excursions! Astounding! They both demonstrated tremendous patience under pressure from passengers who were either unwilling or unable to educate themselves about the ports and excursions. Wet landings means YOU WILL GET WET! No matter how many times Mariana said to wear/bring beach shoes and shorts people still showed up in socks and loafers and long pants. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
The cabin size and the decor, the staff, the food - all excellent. The staff were amazing and always tried to please and solve any issues. But our cabin 300 right up front on deck 6 was extremely disappointing as we felt every ... Read More
The cabin size and the decor, the staff, the food - all excellent. The staff were amazing and always tried to please and solve any issues. But our cabin 300 right up front on deck 6 was extremely disappointing as we felt every little wave on the ocean. I have never felt so much motion in a cabin before. When traveling on a small ship make sure you are midship and down low. Unfortunately my cabin mate was sick for a lot of the cruise. I actually slept on the couch a few nights as this gave more support than the twin bed. Few activities on board. Pool area was disappointing with a very small above ground pool. More activities could have been organized e.g. films in the lounge. I was some what disappointed with the ports of call. Puerto Princesa and Brunei were the only interesting ports to me. All told a very disappointing cruise for us. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
My wife & I sailed on 1/12/19, Our 6th Windstar cruise, 3rd on Wind Surf. Room 126. The ship – Wind Surf – was built in 1990, and is showing its age in too many areas. Rust, loose planks, paint peeling, bent railings, and I ... Read More
My wife & I sailed on 1/12/19, Our 6th Windstar cruise, 3rd on Wind Surf. Room 126. The ship – Wind Surf – was built in 1990, and is showing its age in too many areas. Rust, loose planks, paint peeling, bent railings, and I could go on. The most odd part is that I didn’t see any maintenance crew guys doing repairs. Which to me means that there is something else, a problem that goes deeper but I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s the cruise Captain, or it’s the upper management cutting back on costs, I really have no idea. Also, FYI – Windstar Cruise line is pulling out all the casinos. Which means that in the evening, for entertainment outside of your cabin, your only choice will be the band, or duo. That’s it. Granted the casinos are rarely filled, and are never very lively – but that’s the casino staff’s responsibility and they fail here. And it gives you another form of entertainment. The other crew members – bar, serving, house-keeping staff all seemed to be a little less friendly this trip. What’s going on ? Some were good though – Maria, Ace, Mel, and Eugene were great bar people. Alex was a super room steward. But other than those 5, everyone seemed a bit agitated, or distracted. The people/fellow passengers seem to always consist of “my kind of people” unlike the larger ships. Almost everyone is friendly, classy, and talkative. Again, this was now our 6th cruise and we have never had a problem with our fellow passengers. This sailed of St Maarten, 7 nights, 1 sea day. I didn’t really care for the sea day but I certainly got a great tan. The ports were all good, as always. A bonus I thought was that the normal stop for the beach party was still in ruins, so they parked at a different side of the island. And this stop was a short cab ride to the Baths. No tour needed. All in all, we had a great time. But I expected a little more. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
We took the 14 day cruise on the Wind Surf Caribbean Exploration Cruise. We left from St. Martin and were very thrilled to see that the island is coming back so nicely. We have only sailed on Wind Star in the Caribbean for we love the ... Read More
We took the 14 day cruise on the Wind Surf Caribbean Exploration Cruise. We left from St. Martin and were very thrilled to see that the island is coming back so nicely. We have only sailed on Wind Star in the Caribbean for we love the sails and the experience that Windstar Cruises offers their guests. The embarkation this time was the easiest and quickest. Drop you bags at the Wind Star tent at the cruise port, they give you luggage tags, walk to the ship or take a little golf cart van, go through security with your hand luggage, get on the ship , go directly to get your picture taken, give them your credit card, voila done. Drop your hand luggage in your room, have a delightful and delicious lunch, after lunch your luggage should be in your room. You are on and ready to go. I think that the hot water and water pressure can not be beaten and of any hotel I have been in the showers on the Surf are the best. We are neatniks so the storage in the cabins is perfect for us. We love the water splashing against the portholes. We feel thisnship is our home in the Caribbean. We have been cruising on Wind Star Cruises since 1999 and we think that the food continues to improve. We think the James Beard experience has really enhanced the food and the selection. We are not big meat eaters but we do love the steaks especially the filet mignon at Candles the outside dining grille venue. The Stella Bistro is authentic French, which we also love. The Yacht Club serves delicious Italian coffee, authentic. That is good for us because we do not drink regular coffee. We appreciate that it is open early for we are eary risers and we love our coffee with the sunrise. The Wind Surf visited many islands that were destroyed during the hurricane. We were so happy to see Dominica coming back, Barbuda coming back and happy to say Jost Van Dyke is back. We are not group tour people but took our own tours in Dominican and Barbuda. We love to swim and beach. Weather is always great in January in the Caribbean, this year it was especially great: Dramatic sunrises, more dramatic sunsets, rainbows after a few 10 minute showers, the breeze was great not to windy but perfect to keep one cooler. We can not imagine going to the Caribbean and not being on the Wind Surf. The service is the best, the deck space is emormous and you never feel crowded,you can always find your own nook, the Sail Aways never get old to the music of 1492 as the sails unfurl leaving the harbors, healthy and delicios food, generous drinks and wine at a fair price, the laundry service superb. It is a perfect way to discover the beauty of the Caribbean for the first time or to revisit the beauty time and again which is what we do. The Wind Surf is a gracious, beautiful old lady, high maintenance but very well kept. She is generous and graceful. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
We typically choose active, land-based travel but decided to do a cruise for a special anniversary. We chose the Star Breeze for its mixture of small luxury ship with casual attitude, small ports of call, and availability of water sports. ... Read More
We typically choose active, land-based travel but decided to do a cruise for a special anniversary. We chose the Star Breeze for its mixture of small luxury ship with casual attitude, small ports of call, and availability of water sports. We wanted to have fun, but we did not want the fussiness of formal dinner nights. We were not disappointed. The ports of call included a good mix of those with many tourists and those with very few tourists. (It was helpful to know some Spanish but not necessary). We booked one excursion with the cruise line in Puerto Jimenez, but explored on our own the other days. We were able to do water sports off the ship in one port of call and on the private island day. For some reason, they couldn't offer waterskiing, although the equipment was available. Not a big deal, but it was something we were looking forward to. Otherwise, the crew really worked hard to impress. The cabins were spacious, well appointed, and serviced several times a day. Service was phenomenal and always with a smile. The food was excellent. We liked that they sourced fresh seafood from locals and that the chef made all of his stock on board. No corners were cut! We dined most nights at Amphora, which was consistently excellent. We did take advantage of Candles, which is a romantic steak house offered for free once per voyage. The special BBQ night was a highlight and not to be missed. Breakfast and lunch offered the ability to order a la carte or dine from the buffet. One exception: the coffee at the Veranda had an odor. I typically took my coffee at the Yacht Club (which offered continental breakfasts, non-smelly coffees, and light lunch fare) and then went to the Veranda for a full breakfast. Late afternoon activities included cultural talks and/or performances, with a next day port briefing just before dinner. The ship has a "pool" (it's really just a large, warm bathtub) and 2 hot tubs. We never had a problem finding a poolside lounge chair. The 5th deck hot tub is a great place to stargaze at night (or look for porpoises), but carry a cellphone for the flashlight. We did go to the gym several times, which was better than I expected. The ceiling is low, so tall people would have a problem with the treadmill and one cannot do overhead weights without sitting down. The fitness classes are basic and nice for a good stretch. With the average guest age being in the 60-75 range, there was not a lot of night life. We enjoyed the guitarist, who sang a mix of contemporary slow pop, Latin music and oldies but goodies. He also played great dance music. The other couple, the Radio Stars, were fine for music while you sunbathed but really not good for evening entertainment. The crew also entertained us with a crew talent show one night and line dancing after the outdoor BBQ. A number of activities were offered on our day at sea, including a cooking demo, galley tour, and blackjack tournament. We were saddened to learn that Star Breeze will go into dry dock this year and its size will be increased by 50 suites. We think this will alter the small ship experience significantly. In summary, this ship is great for couples aged 45+ who want some interesting port adventures and some luxurious pampering without the stuffiness of a more formal cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
I love Windstar’s small-boat (148 passengers) approach to cruising, but I found this particular boat, their flagship, to be lacking and I was also dismayed by several avoidable missteps by the ship’s management. The destinations ... Read More
I love Windstar’s small-boat (148 passengers) approach to cruising, but I found this particular boat, their flagship, to be lacking and I was also dismayed by several avoidable missteps by the ship’s management. The destinations are a wonderful experience. The Panama Canal, Panama City and Costa Rica in January are absolutely must-do experiences. The destinations are 5+. Windstar (really Xanterra, the same folks who service many of the U.S National Parks), on the other hand, was disappointingly lacking in some ways that compromised an otherwise fabulous cruising experience. The ship Wind Star (the initial ship in their fleet) was commissioned in 1987 and is showing a lot of age. I find most complainers to be boorish, and, all-in-all I want to like Wind Star for the many positives they bring to a cruise; however, it seemed like this particular ship brought with it a number of issues due to age and lack of attention at the management level. Throughout much of the cruise, the deck spa was broken and leaky, requiring days of repair work. It appeared to be working toward the end, but it continued to make a loud ghastly belching noise every minute or so. The cabins are small and manageable, but even the premium cabins have only two dirty portholes for an outside view. Each cabin has its own thermostat, but they don’t work. Our first night on board, our cabin (221) was very stuffy. We prefer about 20 Celsius, but when I adjusted the thermostat there was no response, just the same weak movement of slightly cool air through an overhead vent. I then moved the thermostat down as far as it would go and no response. I reported the problem to the onboard reception desk where I was promised that someone would come by and check out the problem. No one ever arrived. Finally, once the ship began to move, the room cooled slowly to a reasonably tolerable temperature, but, the thermostat was never inspect and we had no in-room temperature control for the entire cruise. We witnessed at least three water leakages within the first week of our voyage, one of which flooded a cabin and out into the hall. Another occurred in our own cabin (221). The toilet wouldn’t stop running at 11:00 p.m. and began flooding the bathroom. No one answered when we tried to phone for help, so, my wife kept flushing the stool while I went out and found help. Once found, both crew members were very attentive and repaired the problem via a hallway access panel, allowing us to go back to bed and sleep. Finally, Cabin 221 is midship upper deck and I selected it months in advance. It is directly beneath the entrance to the main dining room, which was no problem except one night at 10:00 p.m. when the management directed staff to strip the wooden floor of the dining room entrance and wax it. I was in bed trying to sleep, and I assumed the movement of furniture and associated noises directly overhead were temporary and would subside, but after an hour, I decided to go upstairs to investigate and found out what was going on. I apologized, I knew the workers had a job to do but I told them that the noise from their work was keeping us awake. They apologized and said they would tell their boss. Apparently, they did, and the noise stopped, only to wake me up when it restarted at 7:00 a.m. the next morning. Most disappointing was the fact that the original itinerary called for a day of snorkeling on an island just off the Panama coast. This was cancelled a couple of months before our sailing date. When I phoned about this, I was assured that Windstar would find a suitable and equal substitute. However, the day that we boarded, we were told the alternate landing site had not worked out, and we would be staying in the Panama City port of Balboa a second day. Just about every passenger had arrived in Panama City for the trip and many had already seen Panama City prior to the cruise, so adding a second cruise day in Panama City WITHOUT any excursion was a true breach of contract on behalf of Windstar. The weather was beautiful and the sailing conditions excellent, but Windstar had not done its due diligence over the months prior, leaving their guests to fend for themselves during Day 2 in Panama City. What was the compensation offered by Windstar? An open bar one evening. My wife and I don’t drink. Thanks very much. To further compound Windstar’s negligence, they offered no suggestions of how their passengers might spend the extra day, despite the fact that a wonderful Smithsonian wildlife refuge and a fantastic Frank Gehry-designed Bio Museum were both within walking distance of the port. We did both and ended up having a day well-spent, but no thanks to Windstar! Some excursion descriptions appeared to be intentionally misleading. For example, the descriptions for both Corcovado and Carara National Parks led guests to anticipate hikes through trails plentiful with some of the most diverse fauna (birds, mammal, reptiles, etc.) in the world, when, in fact, Windstar personnel know full well that the chances of such sightings are very low. I understand the disclaimers not guaranteeing sightings, but the descriptions are written to infer that no sightings are the exception, not the rule. The diverse wildlife does exist within these two parks, but primarily in the interior, not as commonly along the perimeter trails that are open to the public, and certainly not at mid-day! Prime time for wildlife sightings in these parks is within 1-2 hours of sunrise or sunset (5:45 am. and 5:10 pm. in January. When were we present in the park? 9:45 am – noon. The absolute worst times to see wildlife, and we indeed SAW NOTHING except for a couple of lizards at Carara. We did see a Macaw at both Corcovado and Carara, and in both cases the bird was too far away to see well even with a sighting scope. During the dry season, the hours of operation for Costa Rican national parks are 7 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., so, even though these hours prevent Windstar from having guests at the parks during prime sighting times, to fulfill the expectations Windstar creates with its customers, their excursions should be at the parks at 7:00 a.m. ready to go. Windstar’s current approach is intentionally deceptive and misleading and certainly not worthy of a company that wants to be regarded as a step above their competition. Old ship needing work, a last-minute downgrade to the itinerary and a failure to provide useful information to their customers are all marks of a cruise company with some serious management flaws. On the good side: Windstar offers small boat sailing catered to older customers. Their waitstaff and room attendants are first class. Of course, staff members are standard cruise personnel comprised of young people from economically-deprived countries who are worked to the bone, but they each work as hard as they can to provide the highest quality personalized service possible. I have now sailed Windstar twice. Will I cruise with them again? Quite possible, but I would not want to return the ship Wind Star, and, if I return, it will be with a jaundiced eye and less loyalty than I felt when we agreed to cruise the second time following a very pleasant initial cruise in the Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
We chose this cruise for the itinerary and small ship size and we were not disappointed! We were aboard for 3 segments: Comprehensive Indonesia, Borneo and Philippines and Icons of S.E. Asia (Vietnam), all of which gave us an insight into ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the itinerary and small ship size and we were not disappointed! We were aboard for 3 segments: Comprehensive Indonesia, Borneo and Philippines and Icons of S.E. Asia (Vietnam), all of which gave us an insight into the culture and beauty of the various ports and countries. We were fortunate to be in Vietnam during Tet (Chinese New Year) so we got to partake in many festivities, including the most amazing fireworks display in Saigon, where Star Legend was docked in the perfect location. We enjoyed all of our 37 nights, with the exception of crossing the South China Sea from Philippines to Hong Kong, which was very bumpy, but other than that we hardly felt any motion. We did a mixture of shore excursions, some with Windstar, but most booked independently after making connections through Cruise Critic, which significantly less costly. Our cabin 124 was perfect, low deck and mid ship and very comfortable. The housekeeping staff took care of us very well and the service from the wait staff and bar staff was great. Kudos to all the crew. Food was excellent in Amphora Reataurant and Candles as well as the deck BBQ, and room service was quick and hot when it arrived. The evenings were sometimes quiet as a lot of the guests retired early, but we enjoyed dancing on the Star Deck and trivia at Compass Rose most nights. The ship is in great shape for its age, well maintained and soft furnishings are very nice. We definitely recommend Windstar and plan to sail on Star Legend again after it had been refurbished and stretched to accommodate 300 guests. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
I’ve been on one of windstars Mediterranean sailing cruises and it was wonderful, but the star pride Caribbean cruse has been a horrible waist of money. Not a nice experience at all. Unlike the sailing ships the star pride is run down. ... Read More
I’ve been on one of windstars Mediterranean sailing cruises and it was wonderful, but the star pride Caribbean cruse has been a horrible waist of money. Not a nice experience at all. Unlike the sailing ships the star pride is run down. They run the engine so hard at night we can’t sleep because our bed shakes so bad. Not rocking of the boat or poor weather but engine rattling that makes your teeth chatter. Our shower has a back flow issue and we come back to find it filled with mearky water even when we haven’t been using it. The worst part is that the cruise is full of drunk rude and rowdy teenagers. They will keep serving the 16 year olds alcohol as long as the parents say it’s ok. But the parents don’t watch them and let them have the run of the ship. I didn’t pay $2000pp for the spring break in Tijuana experience. If I wanted that I’d go on a cheaper large cruse. This makes it a terrible cruse for couples dealing a quite nice experience. Communication with the crew is poor. Many of them don’t speak much English. I also get the feeling many of them are unhappy and probably live in terrible conditions from our interactions. The excursions are really disappointing for the money. We landed in Monserrat and they didn’t tell us until the night before there is no was of getting around the island and nothing to do unless you had booked one of the booked out excursions. We paid $100 per person to book the last remaining activity and it was just a drive to a place where you can see a few posters explaining the volcano and watch a 30 minute video. You couldn’t even see anything else. Then you get driven to a very small garden and told it’s another $10 to go in. The other “snokeling” excursion at St. Thomas was just a booze cruse. The boat is crowded and eating onboard for breakfast and lunch is fine because it’s a buffet but dinner is very slow. We wait on average an hour for our entrees. My husband has a special diet due to a very serious health condition but the crew we interact with don’t have strong enough English to understand what he needs. They run out of things constantly. Imagine being on a cruise where you can’t get any olive oil, only dressings with sugar on your salad. We tried ordering inadvance but it does no good. He still gets the wrong things when it comes time for dinner. Also it’s very hard to eat healthy on board we’ve found a lot of things have corn starch in them. The food it’s self is still pretty good for someone with no dietary needs. Read Less
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