1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
We were excited about this cruise, having been on a cruise on the Royal Clipper several years ago and expecting it to be a similar experience. We were disappointed that it wasn't. Prior to the cruise the admin left a lot to be ... Read More
We were excited about this cruise, having been on a cruise on the Royal Clipper several years ago and expecting it to be a similar experience. We were disappointed that it wasn't. Prior to the cruise the admin left a lot to be desired as we didn't get any final documentation until a few days before we left despite having paid in full when we booked. Although loyal Windstar cruisers on CC assured us that we didn't need any paperwork, we did actually really NEED to know which port to go to and at what time!! Fortunately this info did arrive in time and we were otherwise happy with the embarkation process which was very straightforward. Although our cabin was one of the cheapest we were pleased with it and it compared well with our cabin on Royal Clipper which WASN'T the cheapest. The shower was one of the best we've experienced on a ship! We didn't have a balcony but we were hoping for an active cruise so didn't think we'd miss it. We did! Our fellow passengers were quite a bit older than we'd expected. We are active 60+ year olds but certainly didn't feel older than the majority.....the reason for this became clear as the cruise progressed. We were expecting this to be quite an active cruise......a sailing ship with a watersports platform going into bays where larger cruise ships can't dock. This was exactly what we experienced on Royal Clipper where, if the platform couldn't be put out due to rough seas or for any other reason, the staff took all the water 'toys' onto the beach and guests were able to use them there. There were sailing dinghys, windsurfers, kayaks, snorkelling gear and even an opportunity to try water skiing. The engines were turned off at some point during every sail so we could experience the feeling of truly sailing. Unfortunately, with Windstar the sails and watersports platform are just ornamental. We didn't ever sail without engines and the watersports platform was only in use for one short afternoon. And on that occasion the activities consisted of swimming and there were a couple of kayaks available, but the ship was so far away from the shore that there was nowhere interesting to go with them. We tried one for about 10 minutes then got bored, and one other woman went in one, paddled about 10 metres and then returned!! But even the opportunity to swim would have been welcomed but this wasn't offered more than on that one occasion.. Perhaps one of the reasons for this may have been that, if too many activities were offered for free, people may not have bought the very expensive shore excursions? And the company are making a killing from these!! Virtually everyone on the ship went on one every day.....and the reports back from them generally weren't very good. Though there were occasional exceptions. The other very expensive extra being pushed by staff were the beverage packages. On arrival on the ship we were told that we only need to drink 4 drinks a day in order to make a package worth it. Not true.........in fact we would have needed to drink about 7 each! The barman tried again when we ordered our first drink. He told us we would be in profit at over 3!! And he was VERY pushy!! On the plus side, apart from that barman we found all of the rest of the staff to be excellent....extremely friendly, efficient and helpful. Another big plus was the food which I really couldn't fault. The whole dining experience was excellent. But our biggest disappointment of this cruise were the changes made to the original itinerary. As I said before, we were expecting a similar experience to the Royal Clipper and we were drawn to the itinerary which offered several islands and bays off the coast of Panama and Costa Rica. Even before the cruise started (and only 2 days after we booked!) we were sent an e-mail to say that one of the islands had been swapped for another day in Panama City. We were unimpressed as were a good number of other passengers. Many people had spent a few days there before the cruise so were really not happy to have yet another day added to the one we already had there. If they DID need to take out the original island then I think more effort could have been made to swap it for something offering an equivalent experience. To make matters worse, during the cruise the captain advised that high winds made it impossible to visit another island on our itinerary. This was then replaced by another port which again didn't offer anything like the experience (the Beach BBQ) we were expecting. It was a small port with virtually nothing to do unless you went on an excursion and with nowhere to swim. And to make matters worse the expected high winds did not materialise!! Windstar has a lot of repeat guests and loyal customers but I'm afraid we won't be joining them. We were expecting more of a small ship expedition experience but what Windstar seems to offer is a more traditional cruise ship experience (with expensive excursions, drinks packages etc) on a smaller scale so without some of the amenities you would expect on a larger ship (no balcony cabins, no swimming pool, no casino and only very limited entertainment consisting of one pianist and a not very good vocalist) This isn't what we want though it certainly seems to keep quite a few people happy so I accept that it's 'horses for courses.' Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
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
1 Helpful Vote
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: December 2018
Decided to try Windstar after liking the smaller ship experience on Viking and Azamara and Viking River. Overall, the food was very good, the crew friendly and eager to please however we started off by delaying our sail away by a day due ... Read More
Decided to try Windstar after liking the smaller ship experience on Viking and Azamara and Viking River. Overall, the food was very good, the crew friendly and eager to please however we started off by delaying our sail away by a day due to "two small holes" in the hull that required underwater welding. This resulted in a sea day instead of our scheduled port of call in Cartagena which was the main reason for some passengers picking this trip. There really is not much to do on such a small ship on sea days - they could easily schedule more activities such as Trivia or quiz shows, but don't. During the first sea day, we hit some swells that resulted in furniture sliding across the floor, broken glass during a group screening of a movie on the Panama canal. They aired the film later on the in room TV but the sound never worked. They had open bar for one day to make up for the missed port, but that doesn't really do it, especially for those who didn't drink. The food overall we very good quality, but with there could have been more variety and I would have appreciated some menu selections reflecting the local cuisine. The staff seemed to bend over backwards for those passengers with multiple food allergies. The ship's excursions where easily double the price of Viatour or shorexcursions.com for the exact same activity. A few of the ports were "in the middle of nowhere" so unless you like hot, humid, sunny beach activity, there was not much to do. The weather in December in Central America is very humid - we had little rain and temps in the 83-90 degree range and we were all sweating like pigs. The gym is TINY and very hot - if there are 3-4 people in there it is too crowded. Someone took the 5 lb weights early in the cruise and the staff never did find or replace them. Lots of complaints about the sports platform not being operational at all during this cruise and the week before coming form Barbados to Aruba - we had not tried it before but were looking forward to using it so this was a disappointment too. The room itself was small but had adequate storage, no USB ports and one US and on European outlet by the bed. The bathroom was small with one of those plasticy shower curtains that some don't like (doesn't bother me). Our cabin steward kept it spotless. We met many friendly passengers, mostly in their upper 50 to lower 70's, mostly retired and very well traveled, mosty repeat Windstar customers. A common theme was the man wanted to see the Canal (the engineering, etc) and the woman wanted to go on a cruise. Some remarked that this Windstar cruise was not up to par in comparison to their previous sailings. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
Bucket list item was the Greek isles and since we prefer the smaller ships, opted for a Windstar cruise. Only 135 or so guests so no crowds or lines. Ship is a little old but well maintained and except for the air conditioning and the ... Read More
Bucket list item was the Greek isles and since we prefer the smaller ships, opted for a Windstar cruise. Only 135 or so guests so no crowds or lines. Ship is a little old but well maintained and except for the air conditioning and the internet, very comfortable and enjoyable. Except for Monemvassia, there were no big buses for the tours which was nice but that may be dependent on the number of folks that signed up. All vehicles were comfortable.Crew was hospitable except for one wine steward and when brought to the attention of management, things changed promptly. Ports were all very enjoyable though I was pretty tired of ruins once everything was over. Stayed in the Electra Hotel for a few nights in Athens and it was nice with a rooftop dining area with views of the Acropolis. Just avoid room 211 which had a toilet so close to the wall and shower one had to be a contortionist to use. Last night we moved to the Grand Bretagne and it was a beautiful old hotel but probably not worth the extra money. Tried to get reservations for our group of 8 several weeks before for dinner on the rooftop but they were full. Could not even find space to have a cocktail that evening as most of the space was closed off for some reason. Went next door to King George hotel and had a wonderful meal on the top floor with even better views of the Acropolis. Highly recommend this! Crew was polite and accommodating but not as nice as Crystal Esprit. Food in the dining room was good but not exceptional. Candles was better and especially the on-deck barbecue...that was amazing. Dinner at the Celsus Library was also amazing. Went to the opera afterwards in the old theatre and sitting on stone, even for an hour, was awful. Delos and Turkey were wonderful stops but all were excellent. Chartered a private catamaran in Santorini instead of the ships cat tour and it was fantastic. Breakfasts were nice with a wide selection of food on the buffet with the opportunity to order off the menu if desired. Bridge tour was nice and informative. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
This was our fourth Windstar trip. The 3rd on a sailboat. We love the informality of Windstar. If you are looking for a Seaborne experience with butlers and dressy evenings this is probably not for you. We loved the sail as we wanted to ... Read More
This was our fourth Windstar trip. The 3rd on a sailboat. We love the informality of Windstar. If you are looking for a Seaborne experience with butlers and dressy evenings this is probably not for you. We loved the sail as we wanted to get an overview of the islands. Patmos was lovely and not filled with hordes of tourists. I’d love to go back! Santorini has breathtaking views from the island and from the boat at night where we were having a barbecue on the deck. We did a non Windstar winery tour with Safowi and it was outstanding! Mykonos was a beautiful busy island where we did our only Windstar tour which was to spend the day at gorgeous new luxury beach resort where we swam in the sea and infinity pool. The Windstar event of dining at the ancient Celsius Library at Ephesus in Turkey was beyond amazing and reason alone to do the cruise! We had some wonderful fish dinners as the chef bought fresh fish at local ports. Eating local food is important to us so we ate every lunch at a local taverna. We had some heavy seas and some people were seasick one evening. My husband managed ok with medication. Lastly, don’t expect good entertainment! We retired after dinner except for my husband stopping at the small casino a few nights. We swam off the boat the last day and it was heaven! We spent 4 nights on Milos prior to the cruise and loved it! Spectacular beaches! Windstar has it on its itinerary next year. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
Booked this cruise due to itinerary and being a small ship. The whole cruise was terrible starting with the ship not arriving into New York at 1 pm instead we boarded at 11.30 pm. Our first port of call was cancelled with a $55 refund ! ... Read More
Booked this cruise due to itinerary and being a small ship. The whole cruise was terrible starting with the ship not arriving into New York at 1 pm instead we boarded at 11.30 pm. Our first port of call was cancelled with a $55 refund ! Very little to do on board on the sea days. Food very average and sometimes cold. Shore excursions over priced and poorly run with guides that did not speak very clear English. The ship always docked way out of the towns, whilst other cruise ships docked in the towns. The information on the daily news sheet was never correct. There was no evening entertainment apart from two singers who were not very good and required an ipad to sing the words. Our cabin, whilst spacious, was old with the door not closing (requiring a total lock replacement) the shower over the bath did not drain and one of the vanity basins did not work. The cruise was a total nightmare with the detailed credit on our final statement never refunded. In 40 years of cruising this was just the worst ever. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
Overall, this was an excellent cruise. The food is fabulous and despite the small size of the ship, the cabins are relatively spacious. The crew were extremely friendly and made a point of knowing everyone by name. Unlike larger ships, ... Read More
Overall, this was an excellent cruise. The food is fabulous and despite the small size of the ship, the cabins are relatively spacious. The crew were extremely friendly and made a point of knowing everyone by name. Unlike larger ships, there is no fighting for deck chairs, etc. A very relaxed experience. There were, however a couple of issues that need to be addressed. The WIFI on the ship is extraordinarily expensive (even when purchasing an internet package prior to sailing), which would be acceptable if it worked - it doesn't. Coverage was spotty at best and extremely slow. Windstar should really upgrade their equipment - I have been on other cruises where the Internet was fantastic even out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean a thousand miles from land. Shore excursions - Most were quite good, but we had a horrible experience in Nafplion. We were on an excursion that visited Mycenae and the guide was very longwinded, and did not allow us enough time to tour the entire site. To make matters worse, she made a stop at what can only be described as a tourist souvenir shop along the highway - we were forced to stay there for a bout 20 minutes while the proprietors gave us a hard sell on their "genuine, fake" reproductions of Greek trinkets. Really, this is not something one would expect from a luxury cruise line like Windstar. As mentioned in a previous review, the water sports platform is only open when the ship is at anchor (4 of the 7 ports of call). However they cannot open the water sports platform in Santorini because they are required to run the engine at all times. In the other three ports the sports platform was not open do to winds - so on a 7 day cruise, we were never able to swim in the Aegean! Read Less
28 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
Pros and Cons As always, the ship’s staff were very friendly, and the waiters and much of the staff always remember your names. There is always at least one crew member (this trip, two) who remembers us from a previous cruise (my ... Read More
Pros and Cons As always, the ship’s staff were very friendly, and the waiters and much of the staff always remember your names. There is always at least one crew member (this trip, two) who remembers us from a previous cruise (my wearing a Windstar T-shirt doesn’t hurt). Breakfast and lunch in the Terrace is always a nice buffet, and there are also items available from a menu if you want to order them. The destination manager Kuba always gave a 15-minute overview of the next day’s destination before dinner began at 7:00. The first day in Quepos we did the national park trek, and we saw both 2- and 3-toed sloths, capuchin and howler monkeys, beautiful blue morpho butterflies, and some assorted birds and lizards. The second day in Juarez we did the dolphin watch excursion. Judging by the excitement of our guide, we had very good success. For over an hour we encountered several pods of many spotted dolphins, which from time to time were jumping out of the water. We were invited to the captain’s table the second night for dinner. Captain Chris Dodds and Hotel Manager Henri Lemay were both very enjoyable dining companions, as were the other guests. The next evening we did the outside dining, called Candles; it began raining just before it got underway, so the staff had to move all the tables under the roof. They had several additional choices beyond the choices in the main dining room that evening, including two kinds of fish, lamb chops, all grilled well done. Also a number of choices of side dishes were available, and three choices for dessert. The sapecial attention was nice, but I did not think the food was really anything special. One day we swam off the back of the ship’s marina, but the current was quite strong, so most of the time we had to hold on or stay near the rope and floating pads they deployed. We brought our snorkel masks for some minor snorkeling at Panama’s Isla Parita, but when we wanted to check out flippers from the marina at the back of the ship, twice they tried to talk us out of it. We were not expecting that we would see that much, but it would be our one snorkeling day, and we finally succeeded in checking out flippers. The beach day on Isla Parita was fine, the small beach was very nice, and the water was nice and warm. The lunch barbecue did not have the traditional BBQ chicken and ribs, just some spicy chicken, hot dogs, and hamburgers. But the jambalaya was very good. They also had salads, some side dishes, banana bread, sweet potato bread, and cookies. So it turned out despite having low expectations, we were glad that we did the snorkel. We saw lots of small and large sergeant majors, semicircle angelfish, some schools of silver fish, a few butterfly fish, a pufferfish, a sea star, several blue-headed wrasse, some parrotfish, and a couple of queen triggerfish. We were wearing our skins for sunblock and protection and were fine, but apparently a couple of people were stung by jellyfish that we did not notice. Windstar every afternoon puts out some light snacks and tea or coffee on the pool deck at 3:00, but they never list it in their daily program. They had a Costa Rican naturalist on board who gave three lectures. One day they brought on board Costa Rican musicians, and another day they invited dancers from a local school. The dancers ranged in age from 21 to 4 and were awesome, with beautiful costumes. During our one day at sea, we competed in a trivia quiz, attended the naturalist’s lecture on Central and South American mammals, and did the galley tour. Head chef Danilo did a great galley tour presentation. It was very impressive that most everything is made from scratch, which is why the food tastes so good. It was obvious how dedicated he is to his work. The Miroflores Lock and Old Panama City tour was good, and we had a good guide, but we thought they could have scheduled the timing of the tour a little better. When we got there, the 4th floor viewing platform was already very crowded with other tour groups, and you couldn’t get near the rail to see very well the last of the northgoing ships going through the lock. Also, there was not enough time to watch the movie presentation. We walked right by some nice looking gift shops, and local vendors in the park, to instead stop for 15 minutes at a REALLY inferior souvenir place. The penultimate evening of the cruise we had a great barbecue out by the pool, followed by music and dancing. All the food was terrific. Finally, the last day of the cruise we went through the Panama Canal. There were three sets of locks, for a total of six separate times our ship was raised or lowered in a different lock. There was a guide on the ship’s PA system explaining things as we went, but outside, on deck, it was sometimes hard to hear him. It took about seven hours to make the transit through the canal to the Caribbean Sea. We spent much of the time out on deck, and it was an awesome experience. Sometimes there would be a big cargo ship near us in the other lock, and it was cool seeing these much larger vessels going up or down. Unfortunately, the hot tub never was very hot, just lukewarm. One day they allowed couples to go to the very overwater bow of the ship to take pictures of the guests. The last get together before the Friday dinner time he entire staff of the ship from all departments came to say goodbye, and then asked us to sing with them a goodbye song. During dinner the dining room manager, Abdul, would go from table to table to make sure everything was all right, and the last dinner even the head chef came by. Service was sometimes a little slow, but acceptable once you knew everything was made from scratch and prepared after you ordered it. The only thing I would like to improve is adding a fish entree to the normal dining room menu. The reception ladies and the woman at the small onboard shop were also very friendly and helpful. There was a singer and musician that played music in the evenings before and after dinner. All in all, a nice cruise again on Windstar. Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
After a lengthy break from multiple sailings on Windstar, it was with some trepidation that we decided to book this trans-Atlantic crossing from Lisbon to Bridgetown on the Wind Star. We were concerned that we would be longing for the ... Read More
After a lengthy break from multiple sailings on Windstar, it was with some trepidation that we decided to book this trans-Atlantic crossing from Lisbon to Bridgetown on the Wind Star. We were concerned that we would be longing for the "old days" on this cruise. We shouldn’t have worried. The “new” Windstar exceeded our expectations in all areas with two exceptions that I will describe at the end of this review. We spent a couple of nights in Lisbon before the cruise. We stayed at the Hotel Avenida Palace. The positive reviews we read online were accurate, and we would happily stay at the hotel again. The staff could not have been more gracious or accommodating, and the location was perfect for both walking on our own as well as taking tours/trams, etc. Next time, we would, however, ask for a room with a renovated bathroom. The Lisbon Cruise Terminal was a short taxi ride from the hotel. We were dropped off at the terminal where a check-in table was set up outside. Both the Wind Star and the Wind Surf had passengers embarking at the same terminal. Each passenger gave their name and the ship they were sailing. The staff then chose the appropriate luggage tag for the ship, wrote the cabin number on the tag, and then attached the tag to the luggage. Porters took the luggage and it was not seen again until it was placed in the cabin. The terminal had a waiting area where Windstar had set up water (and juice, I think) for passengers waiting to board the ships. We had a bit of a wait when we arrived because there were passengers from three different ships that needed to board. The Wind Star was the last to be called. Once we cleared passport control, it took us less than five minutes to board the ship. At the bottom of the gangway, there was some of the crew to help with carry-on bags. The Captain and some of the other staff were at the top of the gangway to welcome passengers onboard. Formal check-in was in the lounge. This is where we filled out the final paperwork. When the paper work was completed, we went to the onboard check-in desk; passports were taken (kept until we arrived in Barbados), photos were taken, and room keys were provided. We had a beverage package, and gave our room key to a person who placed a sticker for the beverage package on the key. Another person made our dining reservation at Candles. (I recommend signing up for a dinner at that time if you have a specific day that you would like to book. It was first come, first served, and it was a popular venue. ) After we had completed formalities, a member of the crew took the carry-on and walked with us to our cabin. By the time we got to our cabin, the first of our bags had already arrived. Shortly after that, our second bag was delivered. While I set to unpacking (my choice), my DH went to have lunch in the Veranda. Lunch was served from 1:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m. The longer lunch hours were much appreciated by passengers. Muster, which is mandatory for all passengers, was at 4:15 p.m., and the sailaway was at 5:00 p.m. After the sailaway, it was time to go down to our cabin to get ready for our first dinner onboard. Although the layout of the cabins was always efficient, the new layout made the cabin appear more spacious and, also, provided a sense of separation from the bed to the seating area. A cabinet that contained shelves, a BOSE system, water with glasses and ice bucket; a minibar, and a fridge was placed between the two areas. The seating area contained two upholstered corner seats with an expandable table in the middle. Under the upholstered seats were storage compartments. Under the table was a removable stool for additional seating. There were two plugs on the wall over the table, one North American and one European. The area functioned perfectly as a desk, or dining table. It's also a great place to read or use the computer without disturbing one's spouse/partner/travelling companion. There was an end table (shelf) on the side of the bed closest to the portholes, but no end table on the other side of the bed. There was a narrow passage between the bed and the wall adjacent to the foot of the bed to access the porthole side of the bed. The side of the bed closest to the cabinet had a built in narrow shelf where one could keep the TV remote, a couple of books, etc. There were also both European and North American outlets in this area, and I found it the perfect place to charge my iPad and phone. On this crossing, there were more options for planned activities than I had expected. There was the morning Yoga, and Walk a Mile (where the distance increased each day of the cruise). There was a guest lecturer onboard who provided sessions on how to "Write Your Life Story". One could choose to go to Trivia, Name that Tune, play sports against fellow guests on the Wii, take a galley tour, visit the bridge, play in Blackjack tournaments, go to a wine tasting, cocktail demonstrations (where you try the cocktails if you want), a ship building contest, dance classes, a Tagalog class, napkin folding, and a cooking class. There was also unhosted chess and bridge for those passengers who were interested. We had some other special events that also took place. The crew and staff spent a couple of days decorating the ship for Halloween, and it looked amazing. Halloween was filled with surprise events. In the morning, we had a "Very Bloody Mary" with different types of Bloody Mary drinks. Then, there was a fabulous BBQ deck lunch with sausages, hamburgers, chicken, fish and vegetables; jambalaya; seafood mac and cheese; potatoes; various salads; and other cold dishes. At 6:30 p.m., we had "A Halloween Surprise" from the crew. Later that evening, we had a Halloween Party. It was all great fun! Later in the cruise, we had another deck BBQ lunch featuring a lot of the same foods as the first BBQ, but also an Indian curry and pappadoms. It was nice to have a menu that offered some “heat” as well as lots of choices for those who preferred to have no spice. One night, we had a wonderful Deck BBQ “Under the Stars”. Shrimp, lobster, whole roast pig, various vegetable dishes, salads, cheese, and other delights were available. It was amazing to watch the crew set this up, the chefs prepare the meal, and the passengers (and staff) enjoy every moment of this special event. I can’t provide much information on breakfast as we only ate one breakfast and we ordered room service for that breakfast. We had one order of Eggs Benedict and one order of poached eggs on toast. Both orders were cooked to perfection. Lunch was served in the Veranda from 12:00 p.m. until 2:00 p.m. on all days with the exception of the deck BBQ lunch days. The Veranda had a small menu from which one could place orders with the wait staff. There was a self-serve buffet that included salad choices, a soup, different hot mains and vegetables, a carving station, and various desserts that always included bread pudding. Dinner, which was from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 pm in the MDR, Amphora, was outstanding. All of the wait and bar staff provided a five star dining experience. Chef Eddy, and those who assisted him, created marvelous meals and we enjoyed every single course of every single dinner in Amphora. We also loved dining on the deck in the evening at Candles, and were able to make more than one reservation. The service was top notch and the entrees were all cooked perfectly. The side dishes were “hit and miss” because they were not always hot enough; however, they were never overcooked (which, IMO, makes them inedible). As our waiters could attest, we definitely enjoyed most of the side dishes despite the fact they were not hot. The evening entertainment consisted of a duo onboard, David and Marianne, who were great and played a wide range of music. If one didn’t feel like going to the lounge, there was always the choice of going up on deck, working on a large jigsaw puzzle, or watching a movie/reading/relaxing/sleeping in the cabin. There were a couple of things that had a negative impact on the crossing: Instead of putting the ship in dry dock, major maintenance/replacement of parts/etc. were completed on the whole crossing. Some of the work included fixing/replacing the hydraulics (?) and/or mechanical mechanisms on all of the sails; a crew of specialists boarded in Lisbon to complete this mammoth task. There were almost always areas of the outside deck one could not go. There was also the constant noise associated with the work being completed. (Lousy for us, but terrible for the crew who could not sleep during their rest times because of the noise.) The internet was abysmal. Usually, we have to work and/or be in contact with work while we are cruising. It’s a good thing that this was not the case for most of this crossing. The internet was the worst that we have ever experienced on any ship on any crossing (Atlantic or Pacific). It took multiple attempts to be able to log on or stay logged on long enough to access our e-mails. It took me hours to send an e-mail with a document attached. Unfortunately, unlike the past, there was no access to a fax on the ship (probably because everything is done over the internet). Anyone who needs to be in frequent contact with the “outside world” should check more recent reviews to determine if the internet continues to be a problem. Despite those issues, we still had a wonderful cruise because we sailed with friends, and had the pleasure of becoming reacquainted with other passengers whom we had met on previous Windstar trans-Atlantics. In summary, the small ship experience, dining, officers, staff and crew were all fantastic. If Windstar could assure us that there would be no major maintenance on another cruise, and could also assure us that they had improved their internet service, we would not hesitate to sail on Windstar again. Read Less
Wind Star Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.5 0.0
Dining 4.0 0.0
Entertainment 3.0 0.0
Public Rooms 4.5 0.0
Fitness Recreation 3.0 0.0
Family N/A 0.0
Shore Excursion 5.0 0.0
Enrichment 3.0 0.0
Service 5.0 0.0
Value For Money 4.5 0.0
Rates 5.0 0.0

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