Sail Date: January 2005
A Solid 8.5-9.0 Just returned from the Wind Surf, traveling from Cozumel to Honduras and Belize. A good mix of mostly US passengers, where average age was around 55 or so. This was a very good mid-level to semi-luxury cruise, with ... Read More
A Solid 8.5-9.0 Just returned from the Wind Surf, traveling from Cozumel to Honduras and Belize. A good mix of mostly US passengers, where average age was around 55 or so. This was a very good mid-level to semi-luxury cruise, with exceptional food and service from a continually smiling crew. With two restaurants, they served excellent tasting food (a solid 10), with a flair for presentation and options. The Bistro offers a nice alternative, although somewhat difficult to get a reservation there since some passengers book there every night on their first day, leaving few daily openings per the posted regulations. Also, it seemed to us and others that starting dinner service at 7:30 was a little late since it took about 2 hours to complete. Rooms were larger than expected, with plenty of closet and bathroom space, and well appointed. The bed was fairly hard, although we slept well most nights. The hot tubs were great, but the pools were small and rarely used. Exercise room was very functional and the spa was nice. Several bars to choose from and great food during happy hour. Main complaints were around the shore excursions, as the ship enjoys charging about double what you can book them for on your own. Also, choices were limited in Honduras, or very expensive ($400 pp for one tour to see some Mayan ruins that included air). Diving was $120 for most 2-tank dives ($200 for some specialty dives), although local operators typically charged $50-60. Some passengers seemed irked by traveling to a 3rd world country like Honduras, but we thought it to be interesting. Also, if you are not on one of their pricey shore excursions, you are not allowed on the first tender to shore each day, even if you are waiting first in line. Also, we left port each day around 5:00, meaning we had limited time to visit a port after an excursion, and were constantly looking at the watch. Drinks were also fairly pricey ($5 for a US beer), small and some tasted watered down. Room service was very fast with same great food as the restaurants. The Internet service only worked for one day, which presented other inconveniences. A nicely laid out ship with two elevators for the elderly or tired. Casino was nice but not used much. Some of the senior level crew seemed to have an attitude to passengers, but others were truly great and made it clear they enjoyed their job. Made lots of new friends and did enjoy our vacation, but will likely try their smaller ships or Star Clippers as that is more our style. But, this is a good value to those looking for an enjoyable ship, experience and itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2004
Cruises: 11/7-14/2004 - Nice to Barcelona 11/14/21/2004 - Barcelona to Lisbon Overview While no cruise is perfect, our back to back cruises on the Wind Surf were way above average. We sailed to great ports, all the while feeling that ... Read More
Cruises: 11/7-14/2004 - Nice to Barcelona 11/14/21/2004 - Barcelona to Lisbon Overview While no cruise is perfect, our back to back cruises on the Wind Surf were way above average. We sailed to great ports, all the while feeling that we were privileged and pampered. Nothing beats the feeling of being on a ship under sail, and it's a pleasure to sail with a few hundred other passengers, rather than a few thousand. For a description of the ship, public rooms, fellow passengers, fitness and recreation, family, dress code, and tipping, see the main Cruise Critic review of the Wind Surf. Best part of the trip Except for the two bad weather days, every day was a best part. The crew was friendly and helpful, the passengers were interesting, the ports were great, and the ship itself was fun. It was great having a feeling of elegance, yet not having to dress up - Windstar really does have "casual elegance." Worst part of the trip This was a tie between two things: disembarkation, and a very bumpy, unplanned sea day when everything seemed to go wrong. Both will be discussed below. Embarkation There was some confusion as to when we could board, so we were at the pier a bit after 1 p.m., but couldn't board until 2. Once we could board, embarkation was painless. (Give them a 3 for information accuracy, 5 for the actual boarding, averaging a 4.) We had left our bags on the pier around 10:30 a.m., and they magically appeared in our room. We climbed up the gangplank at 2, took the mandatory awful boarding picture, then were ushered into the lounge and handed a mimosa. We filled out forms, and that was it. Even a goof regarding our boarding cards was fixed quickly. Indeed, that became a keynote of the trip: Windstar made few mistakes; but when they did, they usually fixed it quickly. Accommodations These were the smallest rooms we'd had on our five cruises (188 square feet), and we were concerned that we would feel cramped. We needn't have had any fears: though compact, the rooms were very comfortable, and we had no cabin fever even after two weeks. There seemed to be room for all our belongings. We did miss having a bath tub; but we knew that in advance. The steward was unobtrusive: perhaps a bit too much so. However, the room was kept clean, and when we asked for something (ice, more shampoo, etc.) it arrived promptly. The towels and bathrobes were good, and the fruit bowl was kept filled. Dining The food in the dining rooms was so good, and so convenient, that we never even tried room service. Breakfast and lunch were served in the Veranda room; however, we quickly found that we could avoid crowds (the crowds weren't very big, anyway), and get waiter service for several items, if we sat in the adjacent Bistro. The breakfast choices always included pancakes, French toast, waffles, and at least one light cuisine choice. Eggs were made to order, smoked salmon was available every day, and caviar was available two or three times each week. There was lots of fruit, meusli, great breads and pastries, and stuff we never even tried, such as British breakfast, cold cereal, breakfast meats (hot and cold), etc. We had three or four lunches off the ship, mostly on excursions; but it was a temptation to eat every lunch on the ship. Most lunches had themes (Italian, Spanish, Asian), and the choices were generally interesting. Grilled food, such as fish and burgers, was always available. The salads were especially varied and interesting. There were always lots of desserts, including low fat and the famous HAL bread pudding. The review of "sfg" of a 2002 cruise mentioned the need for a sandwich bar, and said that buffet choices were not too good. We felt that buffet choices were excellent. While there still is no area where the ship crew makes cold sandwiches, there are plenty of sandwich ingredients available, including great bread, for making your own sandwiches. We never did so, because the other choices were so good. The lobster and lamb chop barbecue lunch, on the last cruise day of each week, was a highlight of the trip. If we had any quibbles with the food, it involved dinner. During the first week, when the ship had 210 passengers, everything went smoothly, and meals took a leisurely but not slow amount of time. In week two, when there were 300 passengers, service slowed, and we experienced waits on occasion. Nonetheless, our Indonesian server, Lilik, was always courteous and attentive. As for the food itself, it was not five star, but it was the best we've had on a cruise ship. There was some effort to serve food that related to where we were (the Mediterranean). There were vegetarian choices, healthy food, and "low carb" food, as well as four or five other choices. We always got a table for two, as requested, unless we asked for a larger table. One night we were at a table for six, and we had six different main courses - all good. With soup, salad, appetizer, main course, and dessert there was too much food: by the end of the trip we were consistently skipping at least one course. The menus were so good that we kept putting off trying the alternate restaurant, the Bistro. On our first try, we were too seasick to enjoy the food. This was the missed port day in Mahon, as described below, and was not a fair test of the restaurant. When we finally did try it in normal weather, we enjoyed it as much as the main restaurant. Wine and Liquor We can't really judge this area. Since we were sailing in wine country (France and Spain), we purchased almost all of our wine on shore, and paid a $10 corkage fee each time we opened a bottle. (The wine steward did give us one "freebie" each week). Similarly, the bar crew was very friendly even though we normally ordered iced tea, rather than something alcoholic. Ports and Itinerary Before we left, Walt, the host for the Windstar board, described our two weeks as a "killer itinerary." That was accurate. We had just the right mix of big cities (Marseilles, Barcelona, Malaga), medium size cities (Palma de Majorca, Tangier), and small places (Porquerolles, Ibiza, Sete, Portimao). Due to Mistral winds, we missed two ports: St. Florent, Corsica, and Mahon, Minorca. Both would have been great. However, the missed day at St. Florent resulted in one of the highlights of the trip. We went from Nice to Villefranche, a distance of about five miles, instead of going to Corsica. We took a tour to St. Paul de Vence, and placed a stone on Chagall's grave. Unforgettable. Villefranche itself was interesting, including a narrow, completely enclosed street, the Rua Obscura. Visiting Tangier, Morocco, including our excursion to Tetuan (the white dove), was like stepping into another world. Everything was exotic, from the narrow alleyways to the robes worn by the people to the vendors who kept trying to get us to bargain for and purchase their goods. I hope the line keeps this port in its itineraries, but adds western-style bathrooms to the buses. We were one of a group who needed "facilities," and when we were shown a hole with two footprints, only Joe used it. The guide here was superb, keeping the worst vendors away and keeping all of us together. Things did not turn out well for our other missed port, Mahon. (We missed the first and last scheduled ports of the first week's itinerary.) We spent a sea day in 60 knot winds. The ship is fairly stable; but no ship feels comfortable in such high winds, and Joan became seasick. To make matters worse, some thoughtless passenger flushed something that he shouldn't have flushed down a men's room toilet, and it knocked out the toilets for our entire bank of cabins and public areas. Even after the public bathroom was fixed, our toilet and the toilet in the room next to us had to be replaced. Imagine a sea day with near hurricane force winds, when you couldn't even use your own stateroom. With many empty rooms, the line could have let us rest in an empty room. Instead, we wandered from public room to public room. Joan was too doped up on seasickness pills to care, Windstar did give us a bottle of wine as a "make good," but they could and should have done more. In all justice to them, they probably had their hands full with a nasty storm and at least three broken toilets. Excursions We used ship's excursions in about half the ports. In the other ports, Patrick, the excursion director, gave us plenty of information about the port, so we could do things on our own. With one big exception, the tours were reasonably priced and interesting, and gave us a good idea of the area in which we were traveling. We avoided the big, overcrowded tour from Malaga to Granada (which was loved by the people who took it); so all of our tours were also uncrowded: always under 30 people, twice under 15. The line made an effort to run each tour, even when fewer than 20 people signed up. Windstar negotiated a favorable dollar-euro ratio for those tours, so they were competitive with your private arrangements. So what was the problem? Bathroom stops. They were too infrequent, and the bathrooms on the buses were never available. Breakfast featured excellent coffee, fresh-squeezed juice and wonderful smoothies as well as abundant ice water. The busses could drive for more than an hour before arriving at our destination. Even when the busses had bathrooms, some gibberish prevented the guides from letting us use them. As a weight watcher, we learned to drink several glasses of water upon arising. We drink more water than most, and have never used a laxative. As the population ages, this will become more of a problem. We hope the line cures this problem. Entertainment There wasn't much of it, and we didn't miss it. There was a small casino, and there were usually bands in the two lounges. They were not well populated most of the time: people were simply too tired after exciting days on shore. Most people rented DVDs, and watched them in their rooms. Still, we have no doubt that, had we been night owls instead of early birds, we could easily have made our own entertainment. Nonetheless, if you want big, glitzy shows, this may not be the ship for you. The only "show" was the weekly crew show, which was quite interesting. Level of service Generally excellent, from the hostess, Cherie, on down. The crew made us feel pampered and special. Tipping Very confusing. The "tipping not required" policy resulted in confusion about whether to tip, and how much. We ended up giving pooled tips to the dining room staff and bar staff, and individual tips to the room steward and wine steward. Clear guidelines would be better. Better still would be a slight increase in price, all of which would go into staff pay, so that tipping truly is not needed. Windstar will try this idea, as well as including wine with dinner, in its "Signature Sailings" in 2005. Disembarkation After two great weeks, even the best disembarkation would have been a downer. The actual disembarkation was worse than that. Because the ship was going into dry dock, we disembarked an hour west of Lisbon, and had a long bus trip. (In fairness, getting off the ship was quick and well organized, and would have been good had we gone directly to the pier instead of into a bus.) Once we picked up our bags (loading them onto carts ourselves, since there seemed to be no porters), there was no one to help us get a cab. Joe went back inside to use the restroom, and got locked into the port terminal. There was no one to help him get out, and we lost our place in line trying to get a cab. Although it seemed the terminal was devoid of personnel, we soon discovered many workers. A few minutes after we loaded our luggage onto carts, people in orange suits started to take the carts back. We were left with piles of luggage on the ground and no cabs in sight. The most aggressive people got cabs quickly. Finally, someone from Windstar organized a line; but the pushy people, rather than those of us who arrived first, got on line first. Meanwhile cab drivers came up to us and offered to drive us for three or four times the meter rate. Absurd! Final impressions Despite a few glitches, a fantastic trip! Bravo, Wind Surf! Read Less
Sail Date: October 2004
We sailed Rome to Nice Oct 31, 2004, and never having cruised before I will offer my opinion on WindSurf. Four of us travelled and none of us has ever cruised before so I am unable to compare ships but will offer you my opinion. FABULOUS! ... Read More
We sailed Rome to Nice Oct 31, 2004, and never having cruised before I will offer my opinion on WindSurf. Four of us travelled and none of us has ever cruised before so I am unable to compare ships but will offer you my opinion. FABULOUS! Yes you get a porthole instead of a balcony, but the size of the ship is why I chose WindSurf. I never had a desire to sail on a large ship and this was the perfect way to travel the intimate ports of the Mediterranean without hauling luggage, and knowing your accommodations were consistent. Sea sickness: one of us felt unwell on our first night, the rest of us were fine. It was quite amazing how quick you adjust. You felt some movement on the ship, but talking to other passengers, few we spoke with were ill from the movement. Sea sickness pills were available at reception and the infirmary, and you are supposed to take them 4 hours before sailing. Staterooms were really nice and serviceable. Our porthole looked directly at the ocean, that was cool. They do your rooms twice daily which was a treat. The staff were amazing, and yes, within a couple of days, they do know your names. Food was also fabulous, lots of choice without the buffet mentality, choices of salad, appetizer, soup and usually 4 - 5 entrees to choose from...excellent in both quantity and presentation. We had room service breakfast every morning, ate lunch in port and dinner on ship. Excursions: we chose to entertain ourselves and rented a car one day and took our time around the island we were on. 50 Euro for the car for the day for 4 people. Arranged all our own transportation and transfers via email prior to leaving. Our room was 118 on the lower deck and you really felt very little movement there. Room 220 on the upper deck is adjacent to where everyone gets on and off in port each day so avoid it. The noise of everyone on the stairs at 8:00 a.m. is terrible. The wonderful thing about this ship is you never have to wait for anything. The tender to and from the port would take 2 people if you were the only ones waiting to come or go! Casual Elegance is the motto and it is correct, everyone was usually dressed nicely for dinner, your choice as to how much you want to dress up, common sense seems to prevail here. Entertainment: the crew did a show one evening that was really cute, the 2 bands were excellent (played every evening) and there were a lot of people dancing. Besides, it is the others on the ship usually providing the entertainment!! Casino is small but adequate. There are casinos in port in the large cities in Nice, Monte Carlo, etc. Spa was excellent, lots of people using it, and the gym always seemed to have people working out. We worked out walking in the ports, putting on miles just walking around. The ship provided you with written material everyday on the next port, so you had some idea what to expect and what were the highlights. Overall it was 1st class, very comfortable, relaxing. You could be as organized as you wished, or simply take it day by day. Average age? 45-50 the Mediterranean. Rating...5 star in my mind! Only thing I would change is more time in Rome before we sailed!  Read Less
WORST PART OF THE TRIP Getting there and getting back, Barbados and Nevis. The Miami airport is awful. There appeared to be no organization to clearing customs. Barbados and Nevis are 3rd world countries. Personally, if I want to see ... Read More
WORST PART OF THE TRIP Getting there and getting back, Barbados and Nevis. The Miami airport is awful. There appeared to be no organization to clearing customs. Barbados and Nevis are 3rd world countries. Personally, if I want to see unemployed vagrants, I can go to any inner city for a lot less $$$. The immigration people in Barbados when we entered were scowling, humorless, and irritated that we were there to spend money in their poor run-down island. BEST PART OF THE TRIP The other passengers and the ship itself, which is in great condition. We met so many really nice and interesting people - who also had good manners. If you like to drink too much and boogy till ya puke, this isn't the cruise for you. Most passengers are experienced, interesting people with lots of good conversation to share. Their company was truly a highlight. There were several children on this trip, except for 1 boy in a stroller who was loud, all were well-mannered and cute fun kids. ACCOMMODATIONS Very nice cabins - even standard size. The suites are very spacious, but not necessary. Cabin stewards are excellent. There's fresh fruit and a small vase of fresh flowers as well as a very nice assortment of soaps, shampoos, and body lotions. Towels were large enough to easily wrap around and the bathrobes were nice and eliminated the need to take on along. The hair dryer is kind of lame, but did ultimately do the job. TV and VCR were great with some movies to watch that I had not seen. DINING Both the Restaurant and the Bistro were very attractive. The breads and deserts were all simply wonderful. Appetizers, soups, and salads at dinner were great - better on some nights, but over all, really good. I only have a couple of "areas for improvement" to note. The fish entrees were ALWAYS overcooked (except the lobster which was always perfect). The sirloin was tough - well gee, why wouldn't it be - it's tough on land as well. The filets were just fine when delivered as ordered. Filet serving sizes were small, but after all the preliminary courses, they were more than adequate. Lunch and breakfast choices were good. Breakfast was particularly good - eggs a zillion ways, smoked salmon everyday, great pastries, cereals hot and cold, fresh melons, pineapple, grapes as large as plums - all were very good. Lunch was the least exciting. The buffet items were not too good and I didn't care for all the marinated/vinegar type salads. One day there was a meat in a gravy dish, but no pasta or rice to put it over which seemed a little odd to me. A good sandwich bar would have been a welcome choice. BAR The bar staff is really good. The white wine selection is fine - if the only wine you like is a chardonnay. The second day out, they were out of the pinot grigio with no replenishment. The liquor selection isn't extensive, but is adequate in terms of quality range and choice - after all this isn't a giant ship with storage for 5 different port selections. Beer selection is adequate for mainstream consumption - Bud, Bud Light, Hiney, and one or two others. COFFEE All of it good - not wimpy. Espresso, cappacino, laite available w/meals. ROOM SERVICE Zippy - fast - efficient and a good selection. This was a good vacation. I appreciated the lack of announcements all day long. On Christmas Day, we sailed around under sail power. It was a great day, although it was the first time I ever ate French fries and played a slot machine on Christmas day. The ports of St. Barts and Isle de Sainte were really nice. I suspect the French islands are a lot nicer than some of the others. Ship management gets FOUR HAPPY FACES for the way everything is handled. When seas were too choppy to go to Anguilla and St. Martin (French side), we sailed around until we could dock on the Dutch side. When the sister ship, Club Med, was in the vicinity, they arranged for us to sale next to them for a while to get some really good pictures. This is one area where the differences were apparent - Wind Surf sails are clean - Club Med sails dirty w/soot. The ship is very clean everywhere. It was a good vacation. Read Less
Wind Surf Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 0.0
Dining 4.0 0.0
Entertainment 3.5 0.0
Public Rooms 4.5 0.0
Fitness Recreation 3.5 0.0
Family N/A 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 0.0
Enrichment N/A 0.0
Service 3.5 0.0
Value For Money 4.0 0.0
Rates 4.0 0.0

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