Okay here's the REAL deal if you're not already committed to taking this cruise, DON'T! If you are here's how to enjoy it the best you can. First the positive things. The Wind Spirit itself is wonderful. We ... Read More
Okay here's the REAL deal if you're not already committed to taking this cruise, DON'T! If you are here's how to enjoy it the best you can. First the positive things. The Wind Spirit itself is wonderful. We lived mostly on the deck. The itinerary was fabulous although it was changed a bit for our cruise. We would have preferred a half day at Jost Van Dyke (By the way use the restrooms near the Soggy Dollar NOT One Love the owner was very unpleasant) and a full day on Tortola. The excursions if you love to snorkel or dive, definitely do the Tortola snorkeling excursion at the Indians and Benure Bay on Norman Island. It was the highlight of the entire cruise! Do the Regatta in St. Martin if you haven't before but don't waste time and money on the snorkeling in St. Bart. Wasn't worth the $52/pp. On St. John we rented a jeep from Spencer's and toured the island on our own. Loved Trunk Bay and Hawksnest Bay. On Virgin Gorda you must do the Baths. The caves are for people who have a sense of balance and upper body strength. You are rewarded by the beach on the other side but during our cruise 12/14/02 the water was very rough for snorkeling or swimming. If you like to jump waves it's great. There were gorgeous views on the bus ride to and from the baths. The Food on Wed. night they served a barbecue on deck that was out of this world. The surf & turf on the menu is great too. Otherwise the food was lousy! Tasted the same day after day especially breakfast. In the dining room, ask for Daddy's section. He was the ultimate! The only crew member who delivered 5-star service. The Cabin was small but with plenty of storage. Bathroom was great and mattress very comfy. Now for the Negatives. Several key crew members were rude toward the guests, the water sports director refusing to answer questions and yelling at passengers. We were misinformed several times by the hostess (cruise director) like the supposed 10-minute walk from the ship to Pussers on Tortola (it was 2 ½ miles!). We almost missed the ship. Thank God a taxi driver came along and rescued us! ZERO pampering as advertised in the brochure (exception was Daddy, of course). Too expensive for what you get. No 24-hour bar service. The deck bar closes ½ hour before dinner forcing people to go down to the lounge for the host's announcements. She should just do it on the deck where people prefer to be. Or do it twice for our convenience not hers. The music was awful. A passenger had to donate a Bahama Breeze CD just to hear island tunes. The live entertainers were lovely Brits but totally inappropriate for a Caribbean cruise. We thought we'd have more of an island experience. There was a steel pan band on Virgin Gorda for the beach bbq but they were mediocre at best. On the Regatta excursion in St. Martin boxed lunches were handed out to us prior to sailing (not a good idea) and in a filthy dock area with no place to sit. This wasn't thought out for the convenience of the guest. Disembarkation was the last straw and the deciding factor to not take this cruise again. First, at 6 am (prior to sunrise) there's banging on your door for you to give them your luggage. And strobe lights coming thru the portholes of the customs/police as they approach the ship. They recently changed their policy about putting it outside in the hall for pick up due to fire hazards (Wind Song had fire and is being sunk within the next 2 weeks). We were told that no one leaves the ship until everyone clears customs -- how inconvenient! If you wanted breakfast you were rushed with everyone else within an hour period. On a previous cruise, my husband I and woke up at a reasonable hour. Dined at our leisure and disembarked late morning. What we don't understand is this -- the ship doesn't sail until midnight certainly they could put off embarkation for new passengers till 6 pm (instead of 3 pm) to allow a more leisurely exit for disembarking passengers (like 10 or 11 am)...or much earlier if the passenger wants to do so. There would still be ample time to prepare the ship for the next sailing. The toilets in several cabins stopped working at the same time all this was going on! We spoke to many guests as we were preparing to disembark who said, "never again!" Another guest told me she was just on the Wind Surf and it was filthy (except for her cabin). Suffice it to say we took them up on their no tipping required policy. All in all we're surprised that Windstar is associated with the likes of Holland America & Seabourn which are known for great service, food and suchlike. Perhaps we'll try them next. sculpts@cox.net February 2003 Read Less
My husband and I returned from the Wind Spirit's 7-day Costa Rica cruise a little over a month ago. This ship was built in 1988. It carries 148 passengers and is smaller than the Windsurf. The cabins are all the same except the ... Read More
My husband and I returned from the Wind Spirit's 7-day Costa Rica cruise a little over a month ago. This ship was built in 1988. It carries 148 passengers and is smaller than the Windsurf. The cabins are all the same except the Owner's Cabin which is a double room with sitting area. There are 4 decks and no elevators. To see our vacation photo album visit the following site: http://photos.yahoo.com/gvre The comfortable cabins are well designed with lots of closet and drawer space. Part of the counter turns into a table for room service trays, workspace or cocktails! The spacious bathroom has teak floors and lots of storage. The food was the best we've ever had on a cruise! The seating is open and the dress casual. Deck 3 consists of the lounge and restaurant on the opposite ends of the ship and the reception area, cabin access, store and library in between. Deck 4 has the lunch & breakfast restaurant, sun deck and the bridge which is open and may be accessed by passengers anytime. Our first day on the ship was spent on the sun deck while sailing the Costa Rican coast. The ship's small sized allowed the captain to spend a beautiful day cruising scenic Golfo Dulce. It was a treat! Day 2 the ship anchored off Coiba Island, Panama. We were taken to the beach on small zodiacs for a "wet landing". This island park is very remote. We snorkeled here in clear water and saw some large fish and big schools but nothing exciting. There is a nice beach for sunbathing and the ship offered the use of kayaks. The ship provided the passengers with a BBQ lunch that they prepared on the island and everything was great! There are two walking trails that take you to lookout points to view the dramatic vistas of the surrounding chain of islands. We were the only people around for miles (except for a small prison)! Day 3 we used zodiacs to reach San Josecito beach. We immediately had to transfer to a small fishing boat to be taken, by our guide, to Cordova Park about 20 minutes away. 2 to 3 foot waves were crashing on shore when we arrived at a beach entrance. We had to wait for a set to finish before powering on shore for another "wet landing". We toured the park with a guide and saw pairs of scarlet macaws, large groups of small raccoon like animals scampering by, sloths, and a howler monkey that had lost his troop and was really howling! We walked to a couple of waterfalls where we swam and cooled off...it was great. We were given sack lunches before returning to San Josecito beach where there is a small bar/soda fountain stand and a house with a troop of monkeys that were a hoot to watch! Day 4 we take regular tenders to the dock at Quepos which is the only town that we stopped at. We toured Miguel Antonio Park with a talented guide who was able to spot wildlife in the jungle and then let us view them with his telescope. We saw toucans, humming birds, sloth, lizards, iguanas, and a troop of white faced monkeys, with young babies clutching their mothers, that scampered right by our group while heading to the beach! The town of Quepos is very small, about 3 or 4 blocks long. This is the only place to shop on this cruise. It is very limited but we did buy some t-shirts and coffee. There is an internet cafe, grocery stores, a pharmacy and a casino. Day 5 we had another tender to the dock at Playa Flamingo. The ship's passengers are allowed to use the pool facilities at 2 nice hotels or enjoy a beautiful beach. There's not much else to do here if you don't take an excursion. We spent the day at the pool of the hotel next to the beach. There were lots of rentals available for beach or pool use, along with mopeds and bicycles. The ship offered water skiing and banana ride in the afternoon. Day 6 we had a zodiac take us to the beach at Curu Park at 8:00 a.m. It was fascinating to see a large flock of Pelicans fishing at the shore! The park has a couple of ranger's homes and small gift shop. There is an unguided nature trail that takes you through the park which consists of wet and dry jungles and mangroves. It was a nice walk but we only saw animals near the entrance! We saw scarlet macaws, a falcon and kingfisher fishing in a stream, a troop of white-faced monkeys and big iguanas that were everywhere! We returned to the ship for lunch while the ship sailed to Tortuga Island. We took zodiacs to the beach and spent the afternoon on a lovely beach next to a small private park which is available to tour at an additional charge. We came back to the ship for our last sunset and dinner. The next morning we disembarked early for our 2 hour ride back to San Jose! If anyone has any questions I'd be happy to try and answer them! gvre@ptw.comMarch 2002 Read Less
Sail Date: October 2000
Every time I go to the Cruise Critic homepage, I am amazed to see how highly rated this ship is by the members. Today, I decided to go to the individual member reviews because we had quite a disappointing experience on this ship in 2000. ... Read More
Every time I go to the Cruise Critic homepage, I am amazed to see how highly rated this ship is by the members. Today, I decided to go to the individual member reviews because we had quite a disappointing experience on this ship in 2000. I've been curious to see how things could have improved that much to give this ship such a good rating. I don't know how the ratings on Cruise Critic are arrived at, as it appears from the actual member reviews that many of the things that bothered us, are still unimproved in 2004. Our cruise began in Istanbul, and ended in Athens, and the itinerary was exquisite so certainly nothing to complain about in that category. Yes, as one member noted, there seemed to be big discrepancies in how much people paid for this cruise so one should strike a very good bargain when purchasing their tickets. It started off rather badly, when other cruise lines had people waiting in the lobby of the hotel to check people in. Windstar did not. We were never contacted by the cruise line and received a call at 8 am the next morning asking why we had not placed our luggage in the hallway the night before. We were still asleep and had absolutely no idea we were to do that. No one had contacted us at all. We hastily packed and went down to the lobby, where we sat in a group that waited a long time for our bus to arrive to take us to the dock. At the dock, we had to ask where to go. No one from the cruise line there to direct us. The cabins are very small, and we had the misfortune to be placed in one that we had to move out of on the second day. We didn't notice it when we first came on board, because the ship's engines were not running at the time. We spent most of our first evening exploring the ship, dining and later returned to our cabin where we discovered a deafening whine that apparently comes from the proximity of this cabin (and others) to the ship's turbines. We barely slept that night, but when we called guest services the next morning, they weren't at all polite and acted as if we were the first people who had ever complained of this. The steward who helped us move all our things told us this happens all the time, and that they are very aware of which cabins are problems. The food was very unsatisfactory almost all of the time. We lived in Europe at the time and were shocked at the lack of quality in the preparation of the food. No excuse for this. The open seating policy created an awkward situation several times, particularly at breakfast, when often there was no place to sit down. Don't go on this cruise if you expect elegance as portrayed in the brochure. Casual attire was the dress of everyday, every evening. Polo shirts and khakis at dinnertime. If that's what you want, that's great. But that was not what the brochure suggested. Yes, they close off the decks very early in the evening. We went out for a stroll one night before dinner and found them roped off and crews busy hosing them down. There are not a lot of places to go on a ship this small. If you get seasick, beware. We hit very rough seas going into Athens on our last evening and almost no one showed up for dinner. The worst I have ever experienced on a cruise ship. Our cabin on the lower deck had its porthole underwater (Yes, underwater!) It was creepy. Worst of all was a domestic disturbance that happened in the middle of the last night on board. I tried to help out, calling for assistance and could not reach anyone after hours. Couldn't even find a steward in the hallways. I ended up getting the ship's doctor out of bed. She wasn't at all pleased and her handling of the situation was less than appropriate. We left ship with a very bad taste in our mouths. We will not be travelling on Windstar in future. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2003
My husband and I just completed this cruise (may 18 - 25th) and had a wonderful time. we arrived in athens a day early and were able to wander around the plaza and have dinner at a scenic taverna that evening, spend the night, go on a ... Read More
My husband and I just completed this cruise (may 18 - 25th) and had a wonderful time. we arrived in athens a day early and were able to wander around the plaza and have dinner at a scenic taverna that evening, spend the night, go on a city tour of athens (including the acropolis/parthenon) that morning and then board the windspirit after lunch. we had been told that was all we needed to do in order to see the best of athens and i believe it. some people on our cruise had spent more time there but they had used it as a base to travel to neighboring sites. some advice about the ports (and the tours offered by the ship): mykonos: the tour to nearby delos is worth it. delos was revered by both the greeks and the romans as the birthplace of apollo and served as a major trading port to several ancient civilizations. wear sunscreen and a hat ---no shade. the tour goes until lunchtime and you can either return to the ship for lunch or eat out. we had already decided to eat "local" whenever possible to get as much of the experience as possible (btw the food on the ship is excellent). afterwards, there is time to visit the shops or the beach; the ship doesn't sail until late. santorini: because this route arrives here on monday, the ruins at akrotiri are closed. the only tour available takes you to the picturesque town of ia (or oia in some books). visit the town on your own --- don't bother with the tour. this is one of the two big regrets of our cruise (the other was not staying longer in istanbul). this tour took us to the highest point of the island, the profitis illas mountain, where you can see both sides of the island, which was not uninteresting but it was a big time-waster considering that the ship has to set sail at 4:30 pm in order to make rhodes by the next morning (shortest port time on the cruise) by the time we arrived in ia, we only had an hour and a half to see it. another couple invited us to rent a taxi with them to go directly to ia instead of the tour and we declined. big mistake on our part; they had time to see the whole town and do some shopping as well. rhodes: we took the tour to the acropolis at lindos and enjoyed it. the tour guide was very knowledgeable about the history of the area and from what i heard later had good advice about places to eat and shop in the town after the tour. once on our own, we paid the admission so we could walk on the top of the walls around the old fortress (again, no shade, need good sunscreen and a hat) and visited the "palace of the grand master" at the fortress -- probably the worst of the sites we visited because the pamplet and the signs explained little about the displays and the docents (if you could call them that) just said "i don't know" about everything we asked. perhaps they didn't speak english but if so, they were among the few people we met who didn't. btw: we shared rhodes and bodrum with the passengers on the sister ship windstar (the istanbul-to-athens route). we didn't have many opportunities to interact with them, but it was neat to see the two ships side-by-side in the ports. bodrum: the most relaxing and longest tour of the cruise. we hesitated taking this tour because it takes up the whole time the ship is in port and is the most expensive but it was worth it. we were broken up into groups of only 10 and taken to the port-side museum of underwater archeology. very few of the artifacts there are reproductions and span several centuries and civilizations. then, we were escorted on board a small sailboat (called a "gullet") and taken to a quiet cove where we were invited to change into bathing suits and swim (water was a little too cold for me though) and sunbathe while the crew fixed us a wonderful lunch of local dishes. we spent the rest of the day relaxing and sunning on the gullet. we needed that after 3 days of sight-seeing. when we got back to the ship, we were entertained by a troupe of local dancers along with a belly dancer in the ship's lounge and then it was time for the pooldeck bbq. tons of fun and great food and dancing under the stars. we also got the see the windstar put up her sails and head to santorini; good picture taking opportunity since you can't really get a good picture of the windspirit with sails up. many of us agreed that this was the best day of our trip. kusadasi & ephesus: before starting the cruise we booked a tour from a local company called byzance. we can't say enough great things about them and the tours they provided. guide was waiting for us at the port, ready to begin our day. i requested that we try to avoid the ship's buses, and they did everything possible to make sure this occurred! it was a pleasure to enjoy the same places that the ship offered at our own pace, staying as long or as short as we wanted for a fraction of the cost! the fact that we were "alone" made it much more personalized. on most of our tours, we had around 30 people and each and every one of them raved about the great time they had. it always seems there is usually someone who may have a concern or complaint, however this was not the case with byzance. our guide was very knowledgeable and friendly. we will most definitely use them on future cruises and from comments made from our group, i can assure you they will also! their web site is http://more.at/byzance the sea day: we needed this time off at this point. we were just about "ruin-ed out" and needed a break. we took the tour of the galley that the chef offered and had massages in the beauty salon. the dinner that night included beef tenderloin and lamb chops --- both were excellent and we celebrated over a bottle of champagne our last evening on board with two other couples we had become fast friends with. istanbul: you will regret it as we did if you do not spend a couple of days here. we used byzance here too. i could not be happier with the service we received from guide, i have never had a more positive experience with any company of any kind -- ever! i don't know what more i could say. we had to leave very early the next morning after our arrival so we only had time to see the blue mosque and the hagia sophia and walk through a small part of the grand bazaar. that means we missed topkapi palace entirely (it takes 4-5 hours to tour properly) and several other places we wanted to see. this is definitely on our list of places we wish to re-visit one day. we later debated "what if we had taken the istanbul-to-athens cruise instead?". the other route no doubt saw more port time at santorini (& would have been there when akrotiri was open) but on the other hand, their sea day came early in the trip instead of at the end when we felt we really needed it to recover and appreciate istanbul. the choice is yours. i hope this helps anyone considering this cruise. it was the trip of a lifetime for us and we have wonderful memories of the people we met and places we visited. 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Sail Date: June 2005
This was our second cruise on Wind Star, the first being in Tahiti, and we were very pleased. The cabins are very well designed, the service is excellent, the food great and there are no children! For adults who wish to enjoy a relaxing ... Read More
This was our second cruise on Wind Star, the first being in Tahiti, and we were very pleased. The cabins are very well designed, the service is excellent, the food great and there are no children! For adults who wish to enjoy a relaxing trip, Wind Star is the answer. People looking of a "family" experience should try Disney or Carnival. While the entertainment isn't on a par with a 2000-3000 passenger ship, and the casino is quite small, these are not important for us. The dining room has open seating so you do not have to sit with the same people each night. Just wander in when you feel like it and sit where you wish. The food is excellent with an on deck BBQ with lobster, ribs, steak etc. being a highlight of the trip. On board life is very casual, no one wears a jacket to dinner and many wear shorts to most meals. Kent Smith Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2006
Having cruised a number of times before (10+) and having cruised on Wind Star previously (two times), we approach this review with a non-biased and (hopefully) open mind. We made our reservations through Cruises of Distinction which ... Read More
Having cruised a number of times before (10+) and having cruised on Wind Star previously (two times), we approach this review with a non-biased and (hopefully) open mind. We made our reservations through Cruises of Distinction which doesn't really have an interactive web site, but, rather, relies on telephone service. They are great to work with and have rates that match or beat any we could find on the internet. We were with two other couples, one of whom was on our Wind Star cruise in Tahiti and the other who had never cruised on Wind Star previously. We all flew into St. Thomas one day ahead of the cruise and stayed at The Green Iguana. The cruise departed from Crown Bay March 11, 2006, and took us to St. John, St. Martin, St. Barths, Tortola, Jost Van Dyke, and Virgin Gorda. Our embarkation at 3:00 pm on Saturday was typical Wind Star ... smooth, personal and enjoyable (the Captain was even there to greet us). All the cabins on the Wind Star and Wind Spirit, save the owner's cabin, are identical in layout and appointments. We were pleasantly surprised at the changes that have been made since our last Wind Star cruise ... flat screen T.V., comfortable beds, DVD/CD players, and even iPod docking stations (you can check out a pre-programmed iPod at the desk). We immediately noticed that our itinerary had changed somewhat so that our arrival and departure times on some of the islands was shortened considerably. Many of the excursions originally offered had been eliminated with no explanation given so this meant that we would be "on our own" more than anticipated if we didn't choose to participate in the one or two excursions offered. We arrived in St. John on Sunday which wasn't conducive to shopping as most stores are closed; however, we had opted for a bus tour and snorkeling so that didn't bother us. Our tour guide was interesting enough, but he felt he had to stop at every rock and tree to explain something or another ... to the point where the passengers revolted when he tried to cut our snorkeling short with "just one more stop". We managed to get in about an hour's worth of snorkeling at Trunk Bay which was very nice but I'm not sure I'd put it on the "world's top 10 beach list" touted by National Geographic. It's a National Park so it's well maintained and has a concession stand, nice restrooms and a great shower area (even though the water was cold). Our St. Maarten tour was actually quite nice. The bus took us around the entire island and our guide gave us insight into the pros and cons of living on both the French side (St. Martin) and Dutch side (St. Maarten) of the island (I think I'd take the French side). On St. Barths, my husband and I opted for the "Independent Explorer" which gave us a car and a map and sent us on our way. St. Barths has a number of steep, windy roads and many interesting beaches. We didn't spend the entire five hours driving and swimming (the water was a little rough that day), but we did enjoy seeing the island. (However, for the price, I wouldn't do it again.) Having spent time on Tortola during a previous trip, we weren't thrilled with the prospect of driving around yet again. So, we were pleasantly surprised to find we were anchoring at the West End, just off Sopers Hole. We strolled through the charming shops (not many of them) and enjoyed a few Painkillers at Pusser's. Had anchored off Jost Van Dyke on a previous small ship sailing but never made in on shore. Found out that I hadn't missed a thing! Foxy's was the "highlight", and that isn't saying much. We had also previously visited (and stayed on) Virgin Gorda but we took the tour/snorkeling trip with the rest of our friends anyway ... and fell in love with Virgin Gorda all over again. The Baths were magnificent (calm waters so we were able to swim and snorkel) and the area around the Baths had been cleaned up considerably. We have always found the food on our Wind Star cruises to be far better than any of the other cruises we've taken. The wait room staff was friendly and very attentive (and, yes, we were in Daddy's area). We did bring our own wine and were quite thankful since we found that the prices on the wine list had increased significantly since our last Wind Star cruise (Note: we paid a $10 corkage fee for each bottle). Our cabin was fine; however, this was the first time I had booked a cabin on the "B" deck and I probably won't do it again. We encountered some pretty severe weather one night and the splashing of the waves against the hull was quite loud. (Not to mention our friends who were in the cabin next to us were a bit unnerved by the fact you could look out your porthole and actually be "under" water at times.) Now for the few cons ... and I am writing a letter to Wind Star. - We were disappointed in the docking time changes and the elimination of most of the tours. - The drinks were a bit overpriced. $5.00 for a can of coke was "over the top". - The meager excursions were overpriced and, for the most part, boring. It would be better if they just offered buses to take you to and from popular snorkeling areas. - The much-touted "swim platform" at the back of the ship is rarely ever lowered due to "weather" conditions. In fact, on all three of our trips on these ships, it was only lowered once during each cruise. - We were never really under sail until the last day when a substitute Captain came on board while our regular Captain attended a meeting offshore. Being under sail on a Wind Star is a wonderful experience and, I'm convinced, our substitute Captain was less "leery" of turning off the engines and letting this magnificent ship "do her thing". - The disembarkation was horrid. During our Tahitian cruise, we were able to eat a leisurely breakfast and disembark at around 10:00 am. This cruise we were told to have our bags ready by 6:00 am and present ourselves to the customs officials by 6:15 am. Even though our bags were ready to go the night before, this meant getting up by 5:00 am to get ready to go. Breakfast was rushed and there was no service to speak of. We had to chase down servers to get coffee and, except for a few exceptions, there wasn't a smile or "good morning" to be had. - But, to top it off, we found out, by talking to several passengers standing around waiting for taxis, that there had been an outbreak of an intestinal virus on board that left a number of passengers ill and one cabin "quarantined". Luckily, none of our party became ill but, had we known there was a threat, you can be sure that we would have been more diligent in taking our Airborne and vitamins. Will we take another Wind Star cruise? Probably, but there are many other ships to try and other places to see. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2007
We posted this last year but trip advisor didn't have a "cruise review". I happened to still have this saved, so I thought I'd try to save other travelers from wasting money! The caribbean is beautiful and we'd ... Read More
We posted this last year but trip advisor didn't have a "cruise review". I happened to still have this saved, so I thought I'd try to save other travelers from wasting money! The caribbean is beautiful and we'd definitely try another cruise there, but this time on Royal Caribbean (see my Mexico Monarch of the Seas review).... We went on a one week St. Thomas cruise to 7 other little islands in the Caribbean in Feb. 2007. Overall: 1.5 stars/D-. The only reason it even got 1.5/D- rating is because the Caribbean is so beautiful- great destination (but the beauty of the destination has nothing to do w/ Windstar...you can do this on your own w/ either a "regular" big cruise or all-inclusive land vacation. If you want to save yourself a big waste of your hard earned money (an all inclusive land package would've been half the cost if not less), read this. Also, during our trip they announced Windstar had been sold (which helps explain the crappy management on board). The current owner is Holland America and they will complete the sale in April 2007. TIP: don't buy the "whole travel package" from Windstar...big rip off. Better off taking taxi ($5-10 vs. Windstar's $64), and booking your own airline. They market themselves as "180 degrees from ordinary" and 5 star/first class. Their brochure shows everything under the sun...but unless the only vacation you've ever been on has been a $29 special to Vegas, you will be sorely disappointed when you get on board (others on our cruise said the same thing). We asked some other cruisers how this compared vs. a "regular big cruise line" and they reacted this way "Uh, well...dead silence"...enough said. I just wish I would've known this before wasting so much money. We wanted to try a cruise so badly and decided to start w/ "the best" which is what they proclaimed to be...not so!! Read on. Airport customs at St. Thomas: great; very efficient & short both ways. Workers: Since they nickel & dime you for everything ($2.50 for a can of soda + 15% service charge on every single drink purchase + a daily tip fee of $11 per day PER PASSENGER )...unless you are buying booze or soda, hard to get them to wait on you (which makes sense since the workers don't get "paid" for serving the free drinks which is only tea and water). Water sports are supposed to be all included, but we found that they didn't really have any water sports except for one kayak & a little boat thing (and snorkeling gear)...all weather depending of course. You can only check out the snorkeling gear when they say so which is typically 7-8 am- so much for sleeping in (whatever happened to focusing on customers?) However, the sports platform is pretty cool whenever they were open (this is where all this stuff takes place). We got to swim in the ocean from the boat...but they were only open for a few hours twice in a one week cruise. Very different from Sandals (where we typically go for vacation), where everything is truly all inclusive. Rooms: Standard, very small (it's a cruise ship so we weren't surprised). But there's nothing 5 star about it. Equivalent to Days Inn. You get two HARD twin beds pushed together. Very uncomfortable. Bathrooms (both in cabin & throughout ship) are like being in a port-o-potty...no ventilation...smells horrible!! Restaurants: The only "saving grace". Gourmet like- the 2 restaurants are great. You won't be disappointed w/ the food...if you can manage to get in a meal...since the dining hours are TERRIBLE! e.g.,. one day, b'fast was 7-9 am (hello, you're on vacation), lunch was 1-2:30, and dinners are always 7:30-9:30. It was so sad, people are literally waiting for the doors to open to get their lunch & dinner. Many of us on board were disappointed and irritated at the extreme limited dining hours. WARNING: don't do the shore excursions. Alot of pple. on our cruise said what a rip off they were (overpriced, misleading descriptions). We paid $260 for a catamaran snorkeling trip and saw one fish! Another couple paid $400 for a "beach escapade" to be pampered at a 5 star resort and they came back irritated at having spent so much for "swimming at a hotel and getting a crappy lunch"... BTW, at a land all inclusive vacation, you get snorkeling, catamaran, etc. all w/o any add'l costs! They NICKEL & DIME you for EVERYTHING! Food is the only thing included (when you can get food). They had a special "Captains Sailaway" and "Beach BBQ" event and charged for all drinks...we figure that the average cabin paid an extra $1000-$2000 on excursions and beverages. From what I hear from the "big cruises" at least you can eat 24 hrs/ and get free sodas. They have NO amenities. The "pool" & jacuzzi...seats 4-5 people (yes I'm talking about the pool). They're not heated. Jacuzzi is like warm bath water at best. If more than a few pple. got in the pool or jacuzzi, forget about using it...no room for you. Nothing to do on the ship unless you're on the excursion b/c the ports they take you to have nothing to do. One port we went to was literally you get dropped off and walk up & down a sandy road w/ 2-3 stores and that's it...so you go back on board and there's nothing to do b/c they don't feed you til 1pm! Their "wind spa" that they brag about is in reality a teeny, tiny cabin w/ a massage bed in a small room. We did get a massage to try and recover from the plane ride, and it was good, but she doesn't massage your arms or front of your legs (all other 50 min massages I've gotten is full body). Fitness center has one treadmill (the other one broken), one elliptical & stairmaster & 2 bikes, & some weights. But if you're a man taller than 5'7 forget about using them, the ceilings are so low you'll hit your head. Management: TERRIBLE! But since they've sold the company, it doesn't surprise me. We brought up a couple of issues and they didn't resolve anything. Basically, even reasonable customer requests are ignored and you're told "this is our policy"... I kid you not, they will only replace your shampoo if they have proof that it's used up EMPTY and in your trash can (so I guess they rummage thru guests' trash cans, which is kind of scary). One day, since they didn't replenish our toiletries b/c our existing set wasn't 100% empty (and I had left it in the shower, instead of the trash), I had to call 3 times and beg them for more shampoo so I could was the gritty sand out of my hair! Yes, this is a true experience. Geez, even Holiday Inn & Motel 6 gives free shampoo!! The best comparison I can make is that they're like the Northwest Airlines of cruises (yes, quite an insult). NWA charges you extra if you want to sit next to your travelling companion. Here, they charge for every little thing. And on the last day, once they have gotten all your money they turn off the air conditioner and 150 passengers are sweating in the lobby going thru customs for over 1 hr! Overall, I guess it's to each his/her own. Some pple on board thought this was the greatest vaca. ever...go figure. But there were enough "negative" comments on board that I felt I should post this to warn other travellers. I would give anything to get my money back. The only saving grace was that the destination/scenery of the Caribbean is so gorgeous, and perfect weather nearly everyday (but again, this has nothing to do w/ Windstar)...you could get the exact same thing on a big cruiseline for about 1/3 of what we paid...also, to be fair...the food was very good (but it's comparable to Sandals resorts, which includes all beverages (non & alcoholic) and all activities. I wish Trip Advisor had some reviews on Windstar B4 we booked, so I decided to be the first. Anyone who is a discerning traveller who is accustomed to really nice vacations will be very disappointed by this. We don't mind paying more, if we actually get something for it. This is so overpriced, that even if they offered me $1,000-$2,000 off a future cruise w/ them, I wouldn't do it. Do yourself a favor...just book any all inclusive vacation....you'll pay less and get more w/ better service. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2008
This is a belated review of our marvelous Wind Spirit Caribbean voyage round trip out of St. Thomas in January 2008. It was a wonderful travel experience in all respects. I traveled with my sister, who flew to St. Thomas from her ... Read More
This is a belated review of our marvelous Wind Spirit Caribbean voyage round trip out of St. Thomas in January 2008. It was a wonderful travel experience in all respects. I traveled with my sister, who flew to St. Thomas from her home in Hawaii; I live on Whidbey Island, WA, and flew out of Seattle. We arrived two days before our cruise began in order to have a rest after our long red-eye flights. We stayed at The Green Iguana, a small hotel up on the hill next to Blackbeard's Castle. It was a fine place to stay, from which you can walk into downtown Charlotte Amalie; it's an easy walk DOWN the "99 Steps", much harder back UP those many steps! On our extra day between arrival at STT and our departure on Wind Spirit, we booked a private tour with T.J.'s Terrific Tours, and as it happened we had Thomas's entire safari-type open air vehicle to ourselves. This was great for us (but not so great for his budget, so we tipped him more than the cost of the tour) as he would show us exactly what we wanted to see, and skip what did not interest us. He picked us up at The Green Iguana and returned us there at the end. At our request, he also stopped at a grocery store frequented by locals to buy wine to take on board with us. He's affable and knowledgeable, highly recommended. The Wind Spirit was as wonderful as her sister ship, Wind Star, whose Costa Rica cruise I had loved a year earlier. The ship's size is wonderful, the passenger mix interesting, the food fine, the crew marvelous, and the itinerary is lovely. Our weather was perfect as well, always a big plus! For photos with captions and descriptions, done as a "photo story", go to http://fredasphotos1.shutterfly.com and go down the page until you come to "Caribbean on Wind Spirit"; click on that, then click on "Slideshow" to see photos in large size with captions and explanations. This will give you a feel for the ship, the trip, and the islands we visited, and will tell you more than I can do with words in this report (remembering that a picture is worth a thousand words!). It's a good idea when booking this cruise to plan on one or two hotel overnights in St. Thomas before the cruise, and an additional night after the cruise. This gives you a day for exploring St. Thomas, which is most enjoyable, and also, on the day the ship returns to Charlotte Amalie, saves you from finding yourself off the ship with your luggage, wondering how to amuse yourself until it's time to go to the airport. We solved it by taxiing to the Marriott for a leisurely lunch, after asking the concierge to keep our bags until it was time to go to the airport for our late afternoon flights. If you have a late morning flight, no problem, then just go to the airport from the ship. But it seems most flights out of STT leave mid- to late afternoon. My plan for all future cruises is to have one or two overnights before the cruise (important to guard against your incoming flight being delayed, which could result in your missing your cruise), and one or two more after the cruise to avoid the problem of being stuck toting your luggage around between disembarkation and time for your flight. Other specific recommendations from our experience: TJ's Terrific Tours on St. Thomas; Joyce Prince's private tour on St. Maarten/St. Martin; the ship's excursion to The Baths (it's very difficult to get there on your own, and it's a highlight site to visit); White Bay Beach for snorkeling on Yost Van Dyke. St. Barths was a favorite port, especially Shell Beach, an easy walk from the dock and a nice place for swimming and a GRAND place for hunting through the infinite number of shells on that beach, huge swathes of shells, sometimes 2 feet deep. Spend a lot of time on deck with those glorious sails! Enjoy the crew, the sights, the sun, the sand, the cuisine, all of it! I loved the experience so much that I'm booked on Wind Surf's southbound itinerary out of Barbados for January 2009, and as well, a cruise leaving just a week from today, on November 1 2008, from Barcelona to Lisbon. As you can see, I love Windstar ships. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2008
This was our first cruise on Windstar. We have sailed with Regent/Radisson six times and Oceania once. We usually make our own pre- and post-cruise arrangements. This time, we used our American miles to fly first class from Los Angeles. We ... Read More
This was our first cruise on Windstar. We have sailed with Regent/Radisson six times and Oceania once. We usually make our own pre- and post-cruise arrangements. This time, we used our American miles to fly first class from Los Angeles. We had a brief layover in Chicago before continuing on to London, where we spent a few days. We planned this trip with a couple from Iowa that we met last year on our Oceania cruise. We met up with them at Heathrow and continued on to Istanbul together. I am happy to report that everyone's connections went smoothly, our luggage made it safely, and we thought that Terminal 5 was definitely worthy of all the hype. The British Airways lounge there was by far the nicest airport lounge we have ever visited! Please be aware that if your flight lands in Istanbul, you need to purchase your Turkish visa BEFORE going through the long Passport Control line. The visa window is to the left of Passport Control, and you probably wouldn't see it unless you knew where to look. Our visas were $20 USD. ISTANBUL: We spent four nights before our cruise at Hotel Nena, in the Sultanahmet district. We loved this little boutique hotel. The room rate was reasonable, and included transfers from the airport and to the ship, an excellent breakfast, and a 50% off coupon for the hotel's rooftop restaurant. Free internet was available in the hotel lobby. Our "triple" room was huge and clean, and the service overall was great. On our first night, we had dinner at the rooftop restaurant and enjoyed a spectacular view of the full moon over the Blue Mosque. We had a private guide, Kagan Kosagan, for two days, and would also highly recommend him. On our first day with Kagan, we visited the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace (don't miss the Harem section), Haghia Sophia, and the Basilica Cistern. At the end of the day, all four of us were hot and tired, and decided to pass on the Archaeology Museum. My husband and I ended up going to a Turkish bath instead. The one we visited was "Cagaloglu Haman." It was a short walk from the hotel and is mentioned in the book, "1000 Places to See Before You Die." It was definitely a unique experience! Then we had dinner at a nearby restaurant, "Kir Evi," which was recommended by the Nena. The food was pretty good and there was live entertainment. We also had a margarita at the fake El Torito around the corner from the hotel. The next day, we visited the Grand Bazaar, Chora Church, the Taksim neighborhood, and Galata Tower. Suleyman Mosque was originally on our schedule but turned out to be closed for restoration. After our tour with Kagan, we headed back to the Grand Bazaar, where we had great fun chatting with the vendors and looking at the "Genuine Fake" watches. We had dinner that night at a restaurant, "Kalamar," also recommended by the Nena. It was in the Kumkapi fish market district, and they sent a van to pick us up and bring us back. The fried mussels were especially good. Kagan was unavailable the next day, so we had planned a tour through the Nena instead, which turned out to be a mess. Had we known the tour involved a Gray Line bus, we would never have booked it. Our first stop was the Spice Bazaar, which was a fifteen minute walk from the hotel. It took us two buses and almost two hours to get there. And then, since we were running so late, we were only allowed to spend a few minutes there. The next thing was a cruise up the European side of the Bosphorus, and back down the Asian side, which was nice, but was more crowded than we were led to believe it would be. We left the tour at this point, and went to the nearby Dolmabache Palace on our own, instead of waiting for the bus. Then we rode the public tram back to the Spice Bazaar and had plenty of time to explore it at our leisure. The prices seemed better here than at the Grand Bazaar, but it wasn't quite as much fun. That evening, our friends stayed in, and had another nice dinner at the Nena's restaurant. My husband and I had dinner at a "famous" kebab restaurant, "Hamdi." (His lamb and veal kebabs were excellent; my chicken ones were just OK.) Then we went to the Whirling Dervish show at the Sirkeci train station, which used to be the destination of the Orient Express. The hotel was able to arrange the tickets for us at the last minute. We enjoyed the show very much. The next morning, before checking out of the hotel, our friends visited the Archaeology Museum, and said it was great. We went back to the Grand Bazaar. We were completely fascinated by the place! I think all of us thought that four nights in Istanbul was just about the right amount of time. We had ample time to see and do everything we wanted, and a few extra things as well, without feeling rushed. We loved Istanbul and especially the people, but by embarkation day, we were looking forward to getting on the ship. THE SHIP: Upon boarding the Wind Spirit, my first impression was that this was going to be a LOT different from any of our previous cruises. The Captain greeted us and introduced us to some of the other officers. We were escorted to the lounge, where we were offered a mimosa, and were asked to fill out a couple of forms. We then went to our cabins, and our luggage was already there. We had cabins on the first floor, which were less expensive than those on the second floor. The cabins are identical, with the exception of one larger Owner's Suite that we didn't see. I didn't see any advantage to being on the second floor, unless stairs might be an issue. There were no elevators on the ship. Our cabin was organized efficiently and we had more than enough room for our belongings. There were two closets and ample drawer space. I am a bit claustrophobic, and wondered how I would do with just a porthole window, but it was fine. The bathroom was nicely appointed with L'Occitane toiletries and we especially liked the shower. There was never a problem with water pressure or temperature. The service we received from our cabin steward, Agus, was exceptional. Our room was usually made up by the time we returned from breakfast, our ice bucket was full at all times, and the conditioner in the bathroom was replaced before I had to ask for a new bottle. The cabin service was much better than what we had experienced on our Oceania cruise and our last Regent cruise. Actually, overall the service EVERYWHERE on the ship was probably the best we have ever had on any cruise. And the crew members just seemed happier to me than on our other cruises. Not that those crews seemed unhappy, but to me it seemed like there was a difference with this group. Every time we passed the crew area in the stairwell, I could hear laughing and joking from behind the door. And every time that door opened, the person who opened it had a smile on his face. We peeked in the gym but didn't use it, rationalizing that we would get our exercise wandering the ports. It looked fine though. I didn't visit the spa either, but the services seemed reasonably priced. My friend reported that her pedicure was great. There were two computers in the library, and there were three internet packages available for purchase. We bought the middle one, which was 100 minutes for $55, which also seemed reasonably priced. Usually, at least one of the computers was available. There was not much in the way of entertainment, which was not an issue with us. We figure we'll go to Vegas if we want to see a Vegas-type show. There was a piano player in the lounge, and a couple of times there were local folkloric dancers that came on board and performed on deck. A big difference on this cruise was that we felt like we were actually on a boat, instead of a fancy floating hotel. Maybe that wouldn't appeal to some people, but we liked it a lot. There were 130 passengers on this cruise, and it always felt like there was plenty of room for us everywhere on the ship. We never had to wait for a table in the dining room, which was open seating, and there were always chairs available on deck. I looked for chair-hogging, having had issues with that on other cruises, and didn't see any. We did notice one possible downside to being on such a small ship. There were two large groups on board, and I could see how that might negatively affect your cruising experience if you weren't part of the group. We experienced two minor incidents relating to this. One morning, we had been waiting about fifteen minutes for a tender. When it finally arrived, we were ordered to "step aside" for the large Tauck tour group that was on board. They boarded the tender, and there was no room for us and the other people who had been waiting in line. Fortunately, Windstar resolved this quickly. They called back another tender and we ended up having to wait only ten more minutes instead of half an hour. The other incident involved a group of about twenty who were on some sort of reward trip. We met many of the people in this group, and they were really nice, but when they were all seated at the same huge table in the middle of the dining room, they were loud and obnoxious. One night it was so bad that we were unable to carry on a conversation at our own table. The wait staff appeared to be just as annoyed as the other passengers. DINING: I really wanted to give this cruise a 5 +, but unfortunately, the food fell a little short of our expectations. After we boarded, there was a welcome buffet consisting of little tea sandwiches and hot dogs. The hot dogs were OK. The sandwiches were inedible, as in, I had to actually spit mine out. Fortunately, it got a lot better after that. Breakfasts and lunches were very good to excellent. There was always a nice buffet, and there were several additional items that you could order from the menu. Plus you could get eggs or omelets cooked to order at breakfast, and hamburgers (that were REALLY good) at lunch. But the dinners, for us anyway, were just OK. The wines were good and reasonably priced, and again, the service was great. But the food at dinner just seemed bland to us, although we realize that we like our food spicier than most people do. The desserts were just OK as well. Nothing was bad, really. It just wasn't great. There was ONE dinner, however, that was exceptional, and that was the deck "BBQ Dinner Under the Stars" toward the end of the cruise. The grilled lobster tails were the best I have ever had in my life. We went back for seconds, and they went ahead and gave us thirds. PORTS: Our first day was at sea, and then we were scheduled to stop in Kusadasi, Rhodes, Didim, Santorini, and Mykonos before the cruise ended in Piraeus (Athens). Every evening in the lounge, the ship's hostess would give a brief talk about the next day's port. She provided useful information for independent travelers as well as for those going on the ship's tours. We appreciated that since we rarely book excursions through the cruise line. KUSADASI: We had a private tour booked with "Ekol Travel." We enjoyed our day but unfortunately were disappointed with our guide. She was scheduled for knee surgery and had mobility issues. This was mostly a problem for us because we had specifically requested to see the Terrace Houses, and our guide informed us that she would not be able to accompany us there because of the stairs. She also didn't seem to be that motivated and excited about the rest of the tour. She told us she had been a tour guide for thirty-something years, so maybe she was burned out. We stopped by the Temple of Artemis, the Basilica of St. John, and the House of the Virgin Mary before making our way to Ephesus, and the Terrace Houses, where we tried to eavesdrop on other guides. After the tour, our guide wanted us to stop by a carpet store, her friend's restaurant, and her own shop, but we declined. We wished we had known that we could have booked Kagan for this tour before we paid Ekol their money eleven months in advance. We returned to Ephesus that night for the only ship's excursion that we booked, "Dining Among the Ruins," which I believe is only offered on the Istanbul to Athens sailings. We were served a delicious dinner in front of the Celsus Library, and enjoyed listening to a chamber ensemble. The wine was free-flowing, and as the sun set, they lit up the Library. It was absolutely gorgeous and we had an incredible evening. Don't miss this excursion if it is available on your cruise! RHODES: We had decided just to explore the old town on our own. Some passengers visited the ruins at Lindos, and others explored the nearby beach, which they reported was just OK. They have a "Valley of the Butterflies" nearby that we would have visited, except that it was too early in the year to see any butterflies. Rhodes is one of your typical pretty, walled medieval villages with touristy shops and cafes. The shops were different and more upscale than the ones we had gotten used to in Istanbul and Kusadasi, and it was a nice change. We browsed for a while, and walked up the Street of the Knights to the Palace of the Grand Masters, which we didn't go into because some other passengers told us that most of it was closed, and not worth the price of admission. We stopped at a cafe for an overpriced beer in a strange boot glass, and then we headed back to the ship. DIDIM: This was a new port for Windstar. Our itinerary originally called for a stop in Bodrum, but that was changed to Didim for some financial reason. We received some information from our travel agent which led us to believe there might be some private beach day here, but that turned out not to be the case. We had a nice day though. We just walked along the beach through the town, and stopped for lunch at a cafe at the far end. We made friends with the guy who talked us into eating there, and he told us a bit about Didim. It seemed to be a relatively low-cost beach vacation spot for British tourists, and it reminded us a little of how Mexico is to us. Most of the restaurant menus advertised dishes like Yorkshire Pudding and English Breakfast, and the prices were listed in both Turkish lira and pounds. There were umbrellas and chairs available for rent along the beach, and also at least one place where you could rent waverunners and kayaks. If you were looking for a beach day on this cruise, this would be the best place to do it. We talked to other passengers who found taxis at the pier to take them around, and to more ruins, and they enjoyed their day too. We tendered back to the ship and went to the sports platform at the back, where we jumped into the surprisingly cold and choppy water. There were a couple of people kayaking, and a few others in the water, but the conditions weren't nearly good enough for water-skiing, which I was kind of hoping we would get to do. They were actually starting to close down the platform when we got there, but they were happy to accommodate us and we didn't feel like they were rushing us to leave. SANTORINI: The main town on the island, Fira, is perched on a cliff high above where the ships anchor. We rode the tender to shore, and then were faced with three choices to get up to Fira. The first choice was to take the cable car, which is what our friends did. The second choice was to ride a donkey up the steep path. (The ship's hostess had suggested that if we wanted to ride one at all, it might be better to do it on the way back down in order to avoid smelling like the donkey all day.) The third choice was to walk up the donkey path, which is what we decided to do. The main problem with this was trying to avoid the donkey droppings. We found that the farther along we went, though, the less we cared about it. Our friends were waiting at the top, and we rewarded ourselves with a Mythos beer and some tomato fritters at a nice little taverna. Then we took a cab to the village of Oia, which is the town you see in all the postcards. It looks exactly like the pictures and has to be one of the most beautiful spots on the planet. We had a wonderful Greek salad at a restaurant called "Kastro" that had an incredible view. It just seemed like the colors there were so much more vivid than they are at home! The sky, the water, the flowers, even the tomatoes in our salads were all brighter and more beautiful. We poked around the shops for a while and took the public bus back to Fira. There was a schedule posted that didn't seem to have anything to do with when the bus was actually supposed to get there. Back at Fira, we explored the town some more, then eventually made our way back down the donkey path to the tender and back to the ship. MYKONOS: Unfortunately, we didn't get to stop here, due to high winds and safety concerns about tendering in. We had a pretty scary tender experience once, so we understood. The Captain announced that we would be heading straight to Piraeus and would arrive there at 6:00 in the evening instead of the next morning as originally planned. We had a few hours of rough water and I felt seasick for the only time on the trip. ATHENS: This was possibly the easiest disembarkation in the history of cruising. We didn't have to put our luggage out in the hallway the night before. Instead, we were told to leave our bags just inside the door, and our cabin steward would pick them up at 7:00 AM. And as independent travelers, we could just get off the ship whenever we wanted, instead of waiting for our luggage tag color to be called. We had a last leisurely breakfast before leaving the ship. We had arranged for Spiros to pick us up, take us on a tour, and drop us off at our hotel. There was nothing in any of our correspondence with him that indicated that our guide would be anyone other than Spiros himself. Well, it turned out that we had Mike instead. Mike was a nice enough guy, and an excellent driver, and even though he got the job done, it wasn't a great tour. Our first stop was the Acropolis, which was incredible, and if I ever go back to Athens, I am going to figure out how to get an actual TOUR of it, instead of having some guy in a taxi drop me off and point me in the right direction. Our other stops included the Temple of Zeus, the Olympic stadium, TWO Changings of the Guard (I really didn't even need to see the first one), Lycabettus Hill, the Roman Agora, and the Ancient Agora. At most of these places, we really didn't even know what we were seeing, and had to look everything up later. We did had a nice lunch in a supposedly non-touristy restaurant. Mike dropped us off at our hotel, Hotel Plaka, at the end of our day. We were relieved that all of our bags were still with us. There wasn't nearly enough room in the trunk for our luggage, so Mike had just crammed everything in there, left it wide open and tied a couple of bungee cords around our belongings. We drove around like that all day long. You could spot our cab from a mile away. We decided on Hotel Plaka mostly based on information from TripAdvisor and Frommer's. The Plaka location was great, the rooms were large and clean, and we had a nice view of the Acropolis from our window. The service wasn't that good though, and if I were to return to Athens (which would only be in conjunction with another cruise), I'd probably spend a little more money on a nicer hotel. Our friends were staying two nights, and we were staying for three. Driver Mike had recommended a "secret, no-name" restaurant in the Plaka district for dinner. It turned out to have a name, "Psara's", and not only was it featured prominently in the hotel's tourist map, it was packed. Leaving the hotel, we ran into another couple from the ship who had eaten there and said it wasn't that good. We thought we would try it anyway, but after waiting for a long time, and then finally being seated at a dirty, crowded table on an incline on top of some smokers, we changed our minds. We opted for a nearby restaurant, "Sissifos," which turned out to be dreadful, and then they tried to add fake charges to our bill until we called them on it. The next day, we visited the National Archaeology Museum, which was amazing, and nothing like I expected. We couldn't believe how old, and how BIG, the pieces on exhibit were. If I had one day in Athens, I would go to the Acropolis in the morning and this museum in the afternoon, and maybe not even do anything else. We walked around the Plaka for a while, but by now we were kind of tired of the touristy shopping experience. That night, we had dinner at Daphne's. We had called the day before for a reservation. It was excellent and we wished we would have eaten there the previous night too! Our friends went home the next day. We spent much of it resting, since we were awakened in the middle of the night by some young drunk kids who were partying in the hall and pounding on our door. They discharged the fire extinguisher and set off the alarm, and then they were kicked out of the hotel. We were hoping to sleep in, but the housekeeping staff loudly got to work at about 7:00 AM cleaning up their mess. We had an early flight the day after that, and had the hotel call a cab to take us to the airport. Of course it was a few euros more than the price that was quoted to us. Frankly, we were weary of feeling like we had to constantly be on guard in Athens. We flew back to Terminal 5 at Heathrow, connected to Terminal 3 easily, and retraced our steps from there, stopping in Chicago on our way back to LAX. Overall, we had a wonderful vacation, and we loved the cruise. We enjoyed all the ports, but Istanbul was my favorite, and I would recommend spending at least three nights there. On the other end, two nights in Athens would have been plenty. As far as the ship, we loved it, especially the service and the low-key, civilized atmosphere on board. We are looking forward to our next Windstar cruise. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2008
Please enter your review. I cruised on Windspirit from Athens to Istanbul from August 22 to Aug 30, traveling by myself. The ports and final destination are the highlight of this cruise: Mykonos, Santorini, Rhodes, Bodrum, Kusadasi for ... Read More
Please enter your review. I cruised on Windspirit from Athens to Istanbul from August 22 to Aug 30, traveling by myself. The ports and final destination are the highlight of this cruise: Mykonos, Santorini, Rhodes, Bodrum, Kusadasi for Ephesus, at sea,and then Istanbul. Most passengers stayed in Istanbul several days at the end of the cruise. Being on a small sailing ship between those ports captures the real feeling of those islands and their history. The service was the best I have ever had on any vacation land or sea:expert, friendly but unobtrusive. The food was delicious, the open seating dining and breakfast and lunch was perfectly managed, the small number of people made it possible to have your breakfast eggs prepared exactly the way you wanted without holding any one up.The breakfast and lunch buffets had a nice choice of items and included food in the local style. Dinners were gourmet and the food was arranged with artistry. Room service was available but the dining rooms were too pleasant to miss. The ship's shore excursions were well thought out and well executed and came with a bottle of water included. You could also go out on your own and not have to compete with 3000 people for taxis. When you returned to the ship, you were met with ice cold wet towels and ice tea,a most welcome touch since it is very hot in August in that part of the world. There was a small spa with excellent massage.In the afternoon there were sandwiches, desserts and tea and coffee on the pool deck.In the evening in the lounge there were delicious appetizers before dinner while we enjoyed the piano music and the informative talk on the port call for the next day. In Rhodes and in Bodrum local dance troupes came on ship and performed before our late evening sail away. Then there was the ship's open air barbeque with everything you could think of, including perfectly done lobster tails. There was a casino and a library/internet room, but aside from the piano music, evening entertainment was using your cabin's DVD and flat screen TV and choosing from 500 available DVDs or a number of TV channels and movies changed everyday. The passengers were more friendly to each other than on any other ship I've been on. One of the highlights was the spirited "Name that Tune" competition in the lounge.I was very happy on this ship. But if you want your cruise to provide extravagant decor, pool or other games, professional evening shows and a variety of places to go on board, this is not the ship for you-you should cruise on a larger ship which has what you want. I used the cruise line's air and transfer arrangements which were very smooth. Just outside of Customs and Immigration in Athens, I found the Windstar rep who put me into a taxi that went straight to the air conditioned cruise terminal. While there were several hours before embarkation, a Windstar rep took my luggage, so I was free to walk around the terminal or the outside neigborhood.Embarkation was also smooth and friendly and the luggage arrived at my cabin promptly. Disembarkation was also smooth and efficient and a full breakfast was served early enough to enjoy it and return to your room for your luggage. Read Less
Wind Spirit Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 0.0
Dining 4.0 0.0
Entertainment 3.0 0.0
Public Rooms 2.5 0.0
Fitness Recreation 4.0 0.0
Family N/A 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.5 0.0
Enrichment 4.0 0.0
Service 4.5 0.0
Value For Money 4.0 0.0
Rates N/A 0.0

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