1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2019
This was our second Windstar cruise following last summer’s Norway/Iceland voyage which was marvelous. Sufficiently marvelous that we invited three friends from NYC to join us this time. We previously sailed once on Regent which was but ... Read More
This was our second Windstar cruise following last summer’s Norway/Iceland voyage which was marvelous. Sufficiently marvelous that we invited three friends from NYC to join us this time. We previously sailed once on Regent which was but decent and once on Silversea which was slightly better than decent. Windstar ran rings around them on both our sailings aboard Legend and Pride. See our cabin review below, it was very good and comfortable but also most expensive suite available. You get what you pay for. My friends had regular cabins (following luxury marketing rules, these are referred to as suites, haha) which they thought sumptuous, comfortable and well designed. This cruise had half-a-dozen naturalists on board, fully credentialed for all things Alaska including flora, fauna — birds, orcas, whales, otters, seals, sea lions, glaciers, earthquakes, volcanos, weather, cultures, and more. Plus, they led many of the zodiac and other excursions so could narrate in real time. This was a case where having an onboard marina on deck 3 made a qualitative difference and enhanced the cruise for many. Because this ship carries only 212 passengers max, we were small potatoes when it comes to the gargantuan vessels you may be imagining. And that’s exactly how we like it! When it comes to Alaska, we were able to cruise where larger vessels (Regent, Crystal, Disney, Princess, etc.) cannot go — right up lengthy fjords to glacier front (Tracy Arms Fjord and Kenai Fjord). Not to mention some of the sweet smaller villages. On a twelve-day voyage we had only two sea days. Food was very good and better than that. Room service meals very good. Coffee uniformly very good. Cappuccino in the Yacht Club was marvelous. Our “crew” of five were mostly delighted and sometimes wowed. Wines — we eschewed drink package and opted for two bottles of wine at dinner every night: the Sokol pinot noir and a sancerre or pouilly fume. The lectures were relevant, excellent, informative and fun. Great delivery with enthusiasm. As for entertainment, we did not go there, we are classical music sorts. Staff was amazingly kind, efficient and on top of their game. Not a snooty nose to be seen. An occasional incompetent in the dining room but that happens. The Captain stood at top of gangway to greet and farewell passengers when boarding and disembarking. He is quite the gentleman with a lovely British accent. Ship environs are comfortably chic, no godawful “art.” Plenty spacious. Yacht club crowded only on the two glacier days and then, only in the mornings. Furniture very comfortable with nary a bulky vulgar barrel chair to be seen. Fellow passengers trended to the fit middle aged, less-fit middle aged and older, some younger folk, and a few in recovery including me (broken leg/ankle four months gone). Plus my beloved Jim the Demented. Meanwhile Alaska is drop-dead gorgeous and fascinating; just exactly the sort of place that lends itself to cruising. We now are motivated to look into a train tour and a Denali expedition. Can’t say how wonderful was Alaska, disvover it for yourself. No, I do not (yet) work for the Alaska Tourist Board. It was a grand voyage, and lovely to travel with our own comfy crowd who like to scrabble and puzzle. For us, Windstar is perfect, the motor “yachts” that is. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2019
This was a "Star Collector" cruise, featuring two 9-day back to back itineraries. We chose the itinerary because the first leg featured visits to Madeira and the Canary Islands, neither of which are offered very often. The ... Read More
This was a "Star Collector" cruise, featuring two 9-day back to back itineraries. We chose the itinerary because the first leg featured visits to Madeira and the Canary Islands, neither of which are offered very often. The second leg featured the Channel Islands, Cherbourg, and Bruges, none of which we had previously visited. One of the nice features offered by Windstar on these longer itineraries is free laundry service, greatly appreciated. Windstar loyalists such as us keep returning again and again because of the great personalized service. 56% of the passengers were Yacht Club members, and we won a bottle of champagne for having the most previous cruises. Captain Dmitri was extremely personable, and could often be found in the forward "Yacht Club" lounge chatting with passengers. The bar and dining room teams were excellent. However, the star of the show was Olga, who was in charge of signing up passengers for future cruises. She had a truly encyclopedic knowledge of every Windstar itinerary and details of every ship. We signed up for two cruises in 2020 (at a nice discount)! Something new this year was Windstar's partnership with the James Beard Foundation, including customized recipes from award-winning chefs that were incorporated into the daily menus. The food was outstanding, as was the wine list. Some of the wines by the glass were a bit pedestrian, but the overall selection was great. The onboard entertainment was average at best. There was a pianist/singer who lost his voice immediately after his Elton John "tribute" performance, and a Spanish duo (guitarist & vocalist) who made us long for the return of our all-time favorites "Rain". At least there was no dance band, as is often the case on the Wind Surf. There was also a couple on board who were professional photographers and who gave instructive talks every day about tips and techniques. However, Windstar no longer has a resident photographer, and they have also removed all of the casinos. No loss there... The itinerary was very good, but the excursions were just OK. Madeira was gorgeous, with absolutely mind-boggling topography unlike anything I have ever seen before. One of our future trips will be in March, 2020 for the inaugural cruise of the refurbished and lengthened Star Legend. Can't wait to see the improvements. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
The cabin size and the decor, the staff, the food - all excellent. The staff were amazing and always tried to please and solve any issues. But our cabin 300 right up front on deck 6 was extremely disappointing as we felt every ... Read More
The cabin size and the decor, the staff, the food - all excellent. The staff were amazing and always tried to please and solve any issues. But our cabin 300 right up front on deck 6 was extremely disappointing as we felt every little wave on the ocean. I have never felt so much motion in a cabin before. When traveling on a small ship make sure you are midship and down low. Unfortunately my cabin mate was sick for a lot of the cruise. I actually slept on the couch a few nights as this gave more support than the twin bed. Few activities on board. Pool area was disappointing with a very small above ground pool. More activities could have been organized e.g. films in the lounge. I was some what disappointed with the ports of call. Puerto Princesa and Brunei were the only interesting ports to me. All told a very disappointing cruise for us. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
We chose this cruise for the itinerary and small ship size and we were not disappointed! We were aboard for 3 segments: Comprehensive Indonesia, Borneo and Philippines and Icons of S.E. Asia (Vietnam), all of which gave us an insight into ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the itinerary and small ship size and we were not disappointed! We were aboard for 3 segments: Comprehensive Indonesia, Borneo and Philippines and Icons of S.E. Asia (Vietnam), all of which gave us an insight into the culture and beauty of the various ports and countries. We were fortunate to be in Vietnam during Tet (Chinese New Year) so we got to partake in many festivities, including the most amazing fireworks display in Saigon, where Star Legend was docked in the perfect location. We enjoyed all of our 37 nights, with the exception of crossing the South China Sea from Philippines to Hong Kong, which was very bumpy, but other than that we hardly felt any motion. We did a mixture of shore excursions, some with Windstar, but most booked independently after making connections through Cruise Critic, which significantly less costly. Our cabin 124 was perfect, low deck and mid ship and very comfortable. The housekeeping staff took care of us very well and the service from the wait staff and bar staff was great. Kudos to all the crew. Food was excellent in Amphora Reataurant and Candles as well as the deck BBQ, and room service was quick and hot when it arrived. The evenings were sometimes quiet as a lot of the guests retired early, but we enjoyed dancing on the Star Deck and trivia at Compass Rose most nights. The ship is in great shape for its age, well maintained and soft furnishings are very nice. We definitely recommend Windstar and plan to sail on Star Legend again after it had been refurbished and stretched to accommodate 300 guests. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
Just got off the wind star legend....wow...good thing they are taking this ship into reparations... It has seen better days... No thermostats work in the suites, 1 ply toilet tissue, main dining room a/c stuck on coldest setting, so low ... Read More
Just got off the wind star legend....wow...good thing they are taking this ship into reparations... It has seen better days... No thermostats work in the suites, 1 ply toilet tissue, main dining room a/c stuck on coldest setting, so low , a large % of passengers got a cold in the first 3 days and passed it around for a week. Outdoor seating on upper deck fine dining area had incredibly uncomfortable chairs, the skinny legs of the cheap seating kept getting stuck in the grates of the floor tipping them sideways. The 'Candles' experience was 'filled" with reservations and when you got one ,you noticed very few people there because they were so understaffed... Fillet mignonette was precut to 6 ounces , served medium to medium well no matter what you requested. Service was spotty, some nights good, some you had to ask for water. Servers would often approach table interrupting guests in middle of a sentence.. Dining hours reflected the understaffing, very limited hours it became necessary to plan around so as not to run out of certain selections. Room service menu was a set menu devoid of nightly specials... Seldom could you make a selection where to eat... Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
"Comprehensive China Exploration" Beijing to Hong Kong or reverse The title suggest that there is more “China” than there was, even before one port was deleted. But we certainly hit a lot of countries on the trip. (Note ... Read More
"Comprehensive China Exploration" Beijing to Hong Kong or reverse The title suggest that there is more “China” than there was, even before one port was deleted. But we certainly hit a lot of countries on the trip. (Note that you should get the 10-year “Multi-Entry” visa from China if you go on such a trip. It costs the same as a “Single-Entry” visa, and uses the same annoying application form.) This itinerary is part of a long sweep of Star Legend cruises from Southeast Alaska to Malaysia and beyond. This may be the one with the most sea days, and it would be hard to market without Beijing and Hong Kong. But I would suggest that they reduce the total mileage covered. It was just too many sea days and too many lines for immigration. But if you stayed several days in Beijing before the cruise (which we did not, having been on the previous cruise), you might feel differently about the title! We booked fairly close to the trip, because of a Windstar sale announcement in their weekly specials. We had to pay the full amount at the time of booking. It was interesting to note that the Windstar proprietary "travel insurance" product is priced on the total actually spent, so it was an especially good value when the cruise has been discounted. Number of ports: 6 159 Guests of 212 possible, 161 Crew 7 Australia 2 Belgium 24 Canada 1 China 3 Germany 2 Mexico 2 Netherlands 4 UK 113 USA If starting here, please read my description of Embarkation from Beijing/Tianjin in the other review. I also (at the end of the linked review) make some general comments about Windstar cruising and about Star Legend in 2018: https://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/memberreview.cfm?EntryID=639146 Now that I understand the CC system, I'm entering the port descriptions separately as designed. I hope you can see how the itinerary required so many sea days. That's our only disappointment with the trip. At the reception for repeaters, the couple that "won" the bottle of Champagne had been on more than 20 Windstar cruises. Our Captain had just reported to the Star Legend on the immediately preceding cruise leg. On this, his second, we did not notice a Captain's Table at a dinner. We did notice two nights when the ship's senior officers each hosted a table at dinner, providing wine for their guests. Because we had been invited to the Captain's table on the previous leg, we didn't mind not being invited (or however it was that the officer tables were created) to any of these. I think we had been invited because, with 8 cruises, we had the high number on the previous leg. We had booked Back2Back, and the second Embarkation was Tianjin, China. The second cruise had two independent groups, about 14 that may have been “Scientific American”, and 44 from a Seattle boutique travel agent The first group had many private activities, and dined together. The larger group mixed freely with us, the opposite of stand-offish. They were going to meet up with "Alan" at Disembarkation. I'm repeating some of my description of Tianjin from my previous review, because it's the Embarkation point for this cruise. Tianjin, China (for Beijing). It takes two sea days to get to Tianjin, China, the port for Beijing. There may be a high-speed train from Beijing to Tianjin city, but it seemed that the Windstar embarkation transfers were by three-hour bus from Beijing. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
Wanted a smaller, less crowded ship, as we are not fans of the 3000 person ships. This had an itinerary that was heavy in ports with many overnight stays in bigger cities. We do not prefer so many "at sea" days. The ... Read More
Wanted a smaller, less crowded ship, as we are not fans of the 3000 person ships. This had an itinerary that was heavy in ports with many overnight stays in bigger cities. We do not prefer so many "at sea" days. The smaller ship has less amenities, so "at sea" days are not as enjoyable. This smaller ship was able to dock closer the many of the downtown areas, since it could navigate the rivers to get closer to towns, making exploring independently easier. The staff on this ship was very competent and responsive to all the guest's needs. There were reviews the evening before each port, providing information about that port, as well as promoting the ship's excursions. This information was helpful, although sometimes not totally accurate on dress requirements of temples, etc. The cabins are very spacious, although they are getting somewhat dated. We were told that Windstar is remodeling and expanding their fleet, one ship at a time. We will definitely cruise again on a Windstar ship. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
Our cruise departed from Tokyo in October, 2018, from the Harumi Port. If you're a fanatic about avoiding cab rides, we took the subway from our independent Shinjuku-area Hilton's Tochomae Station (E28, Oeda line), a 30 minute ... Read More
Our cruise departed from Tokyo in October, 2018, from the Harumi Port. If you're a fanatic about avoiding cab rides, we took the subway from our independent Shinjuku-area Hilton's Tochomae Station (E28, Oeda line), a 30 minute ride to Kachidoki Station (E17.) Crossing the street (depending on which exit you use), you have to determine (say, with Google Maps) the correct direction for the 03 or 05-1 bus to the nearby end of its line, Harumizen. This is, literally, the Cruise Terminal, so don't get off at any of the nearby hotels just before the end of the line. It looks like a transportation terminal! Another guest told us there was a convenient city bus from the Tokyo rail station, which is much closer to Harumi Port than Shinjuku. There were all-afternoon lunch hours upon boarding, so you did get a round three-meals for every day of the cruise. Shimizu, Japan, our first stop was a short run. This is not much of a town, although they did give our small ship a warm welcome, with a ceremonial fireboat, and a sweet send-off, with local musicians and a small display of daytime fireworks! The reason to come here is to, maybe, view Mt. Fuji in the distance. Although they told us that the last two Windstar visits revealed no trace of the mountain, we were luckier! Happening to have a starboard cabin, when we threw back the curtains during the 7 AM pilotage, we found Mt. Fuji magnificently in front of our window. In addition, our ship-tour to a mountain shrine (Kunozan Toshogu), accessed by a five-minute cable car ("ropeway") ride just happened to coincide with a seasonal costumed procession and devotional ceremony by local civic groups and supporting businessmen in suits. No one had to tell us to step back respectfully and stand quietly. But the locals warmly gestured for us to join them in paying their respects. You may know that this is called by some travel-book readers a "Rick Steves moment." Many steps had to be climbed, despite the cable-car ride. It is theoretically possible to do this outing independently, with a local bus. I don't know the details. Our ship excursion included a second stop at a 2-story tower for viewing Mt. Fuji. It was starting to cloud over by then, and was invisible when we got back to the ship. Osaka, Japan The second cruise stop was not far away, an overnight stay. Our Tempozan port was just three blocks, in a straight line, from elevated rail station C11, (Chuo line). This gives you prompt, full access to the city. (There is a very nearby free city ferry to the next peninsula, but it looks like the other ferry stop could be a mile from Universal Studios and Harry Potter.) But I will suggest that (especially since the overnight stay eliminates any danger of missing the ship's departure) that you skip Osaka and go on your own to Kyoto. If you have been to Kyoto, you could go to Nara for the day instead. Both trips are quite inexpensive. Osaka, Kyoto, and Nara use the same RFID public transit card. Even the differently-named RFID card popular in Tokyo works in these three cities too. You can even use the card to pay for single JR tickets. However, I never found any way to put money onto the card other than (obviously, Japanese) CASH. And I didn't have time to get my 500 Yen deposit back by turning in the card. I cannot overstate how wonderful are Kyoto and (the lesser of the two ... ) Nara. We slept three nights in Kyoto and two nights in Tokyo before the cruise. It is true that many of the finest Kyoto (many, UNESCO WHS) sights are not near subway stations. This means either learning about busses and waiting for them, or lots and lots of walking. We also stopped at Inari, just outside Kyoto, to walk the four kilometers (!, and "uphill both ways") of vermilion Tori (gates) that inspired Cristo's "The Gates" of Central Park, NYC. We're garden fans, so we enjoyed Osaka's 95% indoors plant conservatory Sakuya Konohana Kan, left over from a 1990 Osaka exposition. It's a 15-minute walk through the park/exposition grounds, now filled with elementary school fresh-air outings, from Subway station N26 (Tsurumi-Ryokuchi). Tamano, Japan/Uno Port is the gateway to Kurashiki, known (a slight exaggeration) as "the Bruges of Japan." It is a pretty canal town (one hour away), with ancient warehouses converted to restaurants, ryokans, and decent art and craft shops. (Credit cards often accepted.) Our ship tour had a superb (if very ethnic and fishy, not to the taste of every cruiser ... ) lunch in the pretty Turugata restaurant. Shoes off, we had a gracious private tatami room, but with western chairs to sit on. We had lovely, restful views of their Zen gardens, through glass windows. This town is also the home of the multi-building Ohara Museum of Art. His "Annunciation" by El Greco is enjoyable even for those who don't care for El Greco. But much of the collection is of competent Japanese artists painting in European styles. Better to concentrate on the Ohara's archaeology, applied arts, and printmaking pavilions. Most ship tours here also (ours did) go to Korakuen Garden, one of the three finest gardens in Japan. (It is wonderful, but is only 1/20 the size of Longwood Gardens or Huntington Gardens.) Buy the ship excursion, although it might be possible to do just one or the other independently by rail. Hiroshima, Japan offers either the chance to take a substantial bus ride to Miyajima island, to see the famous red Tori in the water, and the UNESCO WHS Itsukushima Shrine, or to explore the city of Hiroshima and visit the sobering museum and associated outdoor memorials. The Atomic Bomb Dome building is a UNESCO WHS, that is viewed only from behind a railing. Importantly for cruise travelers, the outdoor portions never close. We were there before any buildings opened. The port provided an hourly shuttle to the Peace Memorial Museum. It looked like there is a subway stop within a half-mile of the port, but it's a desolate (not "scary") industrial area with no charm. There's a tram terminus stop about a mile from the port. We also visited the excellent small but exquisitely landscaped Shukkei-en Garden, which is adjacent to an art museum we didn't have time for. We managed to use our Kyoto transit cards by presenting them to the tram driver upon entry, rather than touching them to the unattended contact panels, where they didn't work. Busan, Korea, was a revelation. It makes current high-rise redevelopment in New York City look like amateur hour! The city is splayed out over miles and miles to provide as much sea view as possible, and the average height for hundreds of buildings seems like fifty stories. (Opinion, not actual statistic.) This sprawl, even with a vast Metro subway, makes seeing very much on your own a challenge. There is not much "old Busan" to see, but our first-day tour (Sea Breeze of Busan) included the busy but charming seaside Beomusa Temple, as well as some forgettable modern architectural landmarks, and a large and pretty urban beach. There is surprisingly little pedestrian traffic in downtown Busan. I'd say that Korea is ripe for a commercial "real estate bubble." On the second Busan port day, we chose the ship tour "Journey Back In Time." This is 90 minutes each way, (with heavy 12-lane highway traffic both ways) to the multiple-UNESCO WHS ancient sites of Geyongju. This covers many square miles, and some mountain sites are accessible only on foot. But we saw several highlights, the Tumulus Park, with 20 Shilla Dynasty tombs, one open with replicas of the (moved to a museum) artifacts found there; That National Museum, with five modern buildings of exhibits, plus outdoor material; and the first-rate Bulguksa Temple Complex. Lunch was in a clean, fast, attractive modern highway Korean BBQ restaurant. It was worth the $189 p/p. We barely got back in time for the Deck Barbecue at 7 PM. One Windstar option in Busan was a very expensive train trip and overnight stay in better-known Seoul, Korea, including a visit to the DMZ near the border between the two Koreas. You could also take a very long same-day trip to Seoul. Because we were on the "next" cruise as well, and a stop in Incheon, Korea was substituted for a scheduled port, we could take a much shorter excursion to Seoul from Incheon. Those on the double cruise (maybe 14 people) were allowed to cancel previously-ordered "long" excursions to Seoul from Busan. Please read about Seoul in my post about the second cruise segment if that's important to you. Karatsu, Japan This tiny modern town is a perfect example of everything good about Windstar. Everything (almost, maybe not the castle) is within walking distance of the port's short shuttle bus to the center of town. I can't imagine a big ship coming here. The major sights are: A local style of modest art pottery, with modern kilns and showrooms, and a few ancient kilns; Twelve 19th century wooden floats hand-rope pulled through town every year in a November featival (that has an element of neighborhood competition); An adjacent mostly-modern multi-temple complex; A deceased coal baron's splendid estate and mansion; And a large and imposing (but concrete replica) castle. If you've been to concrete Osaka castle, you can skip this one in favor of the estate. Their middle & high school brass concert band saw us off, with 3 jazzy school singers and dancers. It was just charming. There is also a nearby contemporary art island accessible by ferry. Tianjin, China (for Beijing). It takes two sea days to get to Tianjin, China, the port for Beijing. There may be a high-speed train from Beijing to Tianjin city, but it seemed that the Windstar embarkation transfers were by three-hour bus from Beijing. Those of us taking the back-to-back cruises that bookend in Tianjin, did NOT have the option to visit Beijing. (We had previously been, on a Viking Yangtze River trip.) Tianjin city was still an hour by bus from the ship. It seemed wise to get off, but with nothing to do within many miles (and new passengers boarding from 1 PM to 5PM), we paid for Windstar's Tianjin tour. Much of our visit was free time on the "Ancient culture street scenic area pedestrian", which was neither ancient nor cultural! We did manage to find a more remote local flea market area where used books, stamps, old bank notes, army insignia, and the like were browsed by a mainly male audience. Many of the escalators (on the "Ancient street!") were broken, but the frequent public restrooms were perfectly satisfactory. Most of the merchandise was regional snacks and sweets prepared under questionable conditions, plus a vast array of (opinion!) fake jade, porcelain, and mineral specimens. This was better than sitting in our cabins while the ship was cleaned, but not a memorable outing. There was a misunderstanding about lunch being included, although I could see there was no time for it, or need to include it. (That's because the ship had lunch from 1-5 for new passenger arrivals. Everyone on the tour got a $50 credit back to their account, although I would not have filed a complaint.) Because the Windstar Star Legend is only 440' long, (212 passenger capacity) it is sometimes able to use a better port location than larger ships. This was our first time (of 8 cruises) on Windstar when the Voyage Leader's "Port Talks" specifically and very usefully addressed the needs of INDEPENDENT travelers in each port. OTOH, the long distances between some of the cities on our dual (i.e. two ten-night back-to-back cruises) cruise created a lot of at-sea-days, and a lot of immigration formalities. I can't blame Windstar, because we knew the itinerary before we paid for it. The ship averaged 12 knots on the long runs, so they weren't taking it easy. One of our ports had to be changed after Embarcation (Incheon, Korea replacing Quingdao, China) because of Chinese decisions about a shipping concept I had never heard of, "cabotage." We bought this pair of cruises on a substantial, Windstar-promoted discount. Some possibly useful Windstar ANY CRUISE tidbits: 1. If your cruise has an overnight in a port, there could be either a special dinner (i.e. the elaborate Deck Barbecue), or you might have the option, rather than eating in the indoor restaurant, to make a limited reservation for "Dinner Under The Stars." In a special port with a skyline like Shanghai, or an 8 PM laser light show like Hong Kong, that might even be your choice, over a local shore Michelin place. The electric votive lights don't illuminate the outdoor food very well, so you might bring a folding book light to dinner! 2. The alternate normal dinner-dining option is mostly outdoors but under well-lit cover, in the breakfast restaurant (The Veranda), weather permitting. It's called "Candles", and has a grill or steakhouse focus. It's much smaller than the Deck 3 indoor, open-seating, "European" Amphora dinner restaurant, and requires a reservation. Some guests really liked the difference, but we didn't find it very special at all. The Amphora maitre d' asks couples if they want to share a table or have a private 2-top. 3. Exceptionally, Amphora was opened for two lunches on sea days that were expected to be very cold or rainy. Normally, the fresh-air, railing deuces in the outdoor part of Veranda are the most popular breakfast and lunch seats. 4. P.O.S.H.: Our phone bank sales rep suggested that we select a starboard side cabin because our cruise sailed primarily southwards. But because our sea travels were typically 50 miles offshore, we saw nothing until approaching a port. Perhaps a trip south from Amalfi to Sorrento is a different matter! Furthermore, the fact that our "Balcony Room" window (with floor to ceiling glass french doors) faced the pier :-( in the STUNNING-skyline tie-ups of Shanghai and Hong Kong, does not prove to me that you should choose a port side cabin for our destinations. In fact, we did have a (starboard) dead-on view of Mt. Fuji upon arising during the approach to Tamano/Uno Port, Japan. But the heavy harbor traffic we always saw does not make me confident that the harbor pilot would not jump on an opportunity to rotate the ship in preparation for departure. OTOH, both those lovely ports were a straight shot to tie-up forwards on the direction-of-travel side of the channel (i.e. starboard parallel parking.) 5. Look around for reviews of the cabin air conditioning if you're going on a Tropical cruise. We had two nights, in southern Japan and in Hong Kong when we felt our cabin (despite the thermostat on the wall ...) was too warm. 6. We hate days at sea, but a few 500-mile runs required them.(We only had sea days that we signed up for in the original itinerary.) One couple made the brilliant decision to fly to Beijing (at their own expense, of course) from Karatsu, Japan, in order to avoid the TWO upcoming sea days and to sleep three nights in Beijing. Note that because we were staying for the second cruise segment, we had no option to even set eyes on Beijing (3 land hours away) during the 8-5 Disembarkation/Embarkation day in Tianjin. I'm mystified by reviews saying there is nothing to do on sea days. I agree that there isn't a lot, and you can't make people participate, but I'd say there was some stereotypical boat activity every two hours. We enjoyed the galley tour and the okonomiyake demonstration, and also got in some quality gym time. 7. We had two nights with noticeably rough water, one due to a rainstorm, and another due more to the open sea on a two-day run. There was difficulty sleeping due to the bouncing, but there was not the smashing, yawing motion that makes me quickly feel ill. We both take Meclizine prophylactically. It was not the roughest passage we've ever had. But some other guests reported illness, and one guest fell at night (in the Compass Rose bar … ) and had to be hospitalized, I think.) No ports were changed. 8. EVERY port stop on these two cruises was tied up to a concrete pier. (We've had some annoyingly long tenders on some other Windstar trips.) Sometimes we saw a larger, more conventional cruise ship in another part of the same terminal. Several ports (not, "Windstar") provided an hourly or half-hourly shuttle bus to a midtown point. They only promised to carry ONE busfull. These cruises had a LOT of immigration sessions. They were often expedited, but still could call for extra-early rising, or a brief delay for independent visitors so the ship tours could get off. Several of our immigration processes left us with rubber-stamped color copies of our passports, with the actual passports held by the ship. 9. We learned that Star Legend will be drydocked soon for a month to replace the elderly diesel engines and, perhaps, alter the cabins. I'm filing two reviews, but am not repeating all this preliminary data in the post for the second cruise. Note that the marketing titles of the cruises are likely to change, as they refine and vary the itineraries in the future. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
We were very disappointed with this cruise. The food was of poor quality and boring. The breakfast and lunch area was in crowed space at the back of the ship and smelled of exhaust when the wind was in the wrong direction. Plus they ... Read More
We were very disappointed with this cruise. The food was of poor quality and boring. The breakfast and lunch area was in crowed space at the back of the ship and smelled of exhaust when the wind was in the wrong direction. Plus they seemed to varnish the deck furniture next to the entrance to the eating area. There were very few onboard activities. On sea days most guests seemed to be in their cabins watching movies on their tvs. The shower head was mounted in the corner of the shower so that it was next to useless. Sometimes the ship docked in very nice locations, other times it docked far from town. For those not taking the overpriced excursions, getting into town was a challenge, either had to get through the gauntlet of hawkers, or there was no taxi at all. We had booked for 34 days, it was actually 3 segments, so their limited activities and food preparation was repeated 3 times! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2018
We chose this itinerary as we wanted to return to Alaska, the Bering Sea was enticing and we love sea days. Japan ports Kishiro and Miyako were an added bonus. When we arrived at the port in Seward we were pleasantly surprised to see the ... Read More
We chose this itinerary as we wanted to return to Alaska, the Bering Sea was enticing and we love sea days. Japan ports Kishiro and Miyako were an added bonus. When we arrived at the port in Seward we were pleasantly surprised to see the Legend alongside the enormous NCL ship. It is a beauty with clean clear lines. Granted there are some rust spots, but remember it is a ship in the salty ocean air. The crew worked on it daily. The only port we missed was Sand Pointe due to fog and it being an anchor port. The Captain waited a bit then announced we would just carry on to Dutch Harbor and Unalaska. Perfect for us as we had a private tour booked with Extra Mile Tours in the afternoon and we wanted to explore more of the area if given the chance. The sea days was relaxing (except for the one big storm with 18 foot waves) and we filled the days up with wine tasting, sake tasting and spa treatments. Kishiro was a fun port with the fish market and the Japanese Crane Park. Beautiful birds! Miyako was a pleasant surprise as the locals came out with fun things to do at the dock. The school orchestra played, they had free Ramen Noodles, get your name written in Japanese, and a small market. The area is just beautiful and is recovering nicely from the 2011 Tsunami. Overall I loved this cruise and it was one of our favorites. The Deck 8 Yacht Club morning cappuccino is the best. Yes you do have to pay for extras like wine, alcohol, excursions and spa treatments, but you have to on all other cruise lines too. The excursions were limited and we prebooked our Katmai Bear Viewing privately. My only complaint was the housekeeping staff did not do our room until after their lunch and break. We are early risers and went to the gym or walked deck 8 every morning after breakfast. Was surprised it was not cleaned when we returned. The food was good, we ate at Candles 5 times so the menu got a little boring. Lobster was only on the last night and I was disappointed they did not have crab (since we were on the Bering Sea and the crabbing capital). Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
This cruise went to Alaska. Chose Windstar because of port visits. This is my fifth cruise to Alaska; before this always the same ports. Windstar substitutes smaller towns — Haines, Sitka; and Wrangell. The main problems are ... Read More
This cruise went to Alaska. Chose Windstar because of port visits. This is my fifth cruise to Alaska; before this always the same ports. Windstar substitutes smaller towns — Haines, Sitka; and Wrangell. The main problems are passenger comfort and excessive nickel and dimeing. The ship, in an apparent effort to save costs, is too cold. Most passengers wear winter coats to the longes, casino, and dining rooms. Initially the cabins were also icy, but that has improved thought not toasty. We have been on other cold weather crises, including around Patagonia, and never experienced this problem. Another extremely irritating condition is excessive promotion of products and services including costly liquor packages. Everything is for sale. The crew takes every opportunity to promote shore excursions. The eat more and weigh less seminar seemed to be a thinly disguised promotion for electronic monitoring and sale of a pill package. The fitness facilities are limited, but OK. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
Star Legend is not suited for Alaska but rather warmer climates. For example the only indoor bar area, the Compass Rose, was so cold at night that they were actually handing out blankets to try and keep passengers warm. Other ships we have ... Read More
Star Legend is not suited for Alaska but rather warmer climates. For example the only indoor bar area, the Compass Rose, was so cold at night that they were actually handing out blankets to try and keep passengers warm. Other ships we have been on have entertainment at night but all Star Legend had was a duo who sang and unbelievably on some nights were scheduled to perform on the open deck at 9.15pm in Alaska! I went up there one night at 9.30 pm and the whole area was empty and the 2 entertainers were sitting in the corner wrapped in blankets. It was quite obvious that Windstars focus was how to extract as much money as possible from the captive passengers onboard, the land excursions were very expensive being 50 to 100% more than what you could buy the same excursion direct from the operator onshore and everything onboard, excluding the food, cost money including the WiFi. On the positive side the layout of the cabins were very good but the showers were warm at best and the "balcony's" are only 1 foot wide ledges. The crew being mainly Indonesian and Filipino were very good as they are on all cruise ships. The itinerary was too long and just focused on the excursions so that we ended up in tiny little towns like Wrangel which you could walk around in less than an hour but we were there for the entire day. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
Overall- Very good service and excellent crew; highlights were the exceptional nature staff for lectures and tours. Nice introduction to Inside Passage and Alaska small town life. Small ship with interesting guest ... Read More
Overall- Very good service and excellent crew; highlights were the exceptional nature staff for lectures and tours. Nice introduction to Inside Passage and Alaska small town life. Small ship with interesting guest interactions. Service: excellent Food: very good: served dinners, breakfast and lunch buffets Ship: old ship and good condition; elevators; meeting rooms okay. Itinerary: okay; 6 sea days, 6 touring days; 12 days Van/Van. Tours: very good guides; nice 6 person Zodiac; good tour guides. Cabin: spacious, heater and A/C worked; Lighting very good Communications: daily plan delivered, daily orientation talks. Entertainment: 2 duets each day; not a major feature Highlight: 8th floor forward assembly room: Yacht Club Lowlight: 6th floor aft meeting room (cold): Compass Rose -- Spent 3 pre-cruise days in Victoria; took V2V jet boat to Vancouver spent 3 post-cruise days in Vancouver -- a la carte pricing: alcohol, spa, tours-- your choice, you pay for service. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
My husband and I have always wanted to see Alaska. Unfortunately, we chose Windstar's costly 14-day cruise on the 200-passenger Star Legend and 4-day pre-cruise to Denali. We were extremely disappointed. After many cruises on lines ... Read More
My husband and I have always wanted to see Alaska. Unfortunately, we chose Windstar's costly 14-day cruise on the 200-passenger Star Legend and 4-day pre-cruise to Denali. We were extremely disappointed. After many cruises on lines ranging from Tauck, Silverseas, and Star Clipper to Royal Caribbean, this is--by far--the worst experience we ever had. The 4-day pre-cruise trip through Denali was a total ripoff. For $5,000, Windstar provided a bus trip, a few hours on the Alaska railroad, 2 dinners and a box lunch, with a boring tour guide who spent as little time and energy as possible with the oversized 38-person group. For example: Day 4 took us from Talkeetna to Seward, an area with hundreds if not thousands of wonderful things to see and do, but it seemed as if Windstar only wanted to burn up the time with as little cost to Windstar as possible. We were bussed to downtown Anchorage and deposited at a museum for several hours, then dumped at a FLEA MARKET where we were told to scrounge our lunch among filthy food stalls before being bussed to the ship in Seward. Really? for $1,250 a day? Thank goodness our I-Phone directed us to a clean restaurant and edible food to wait out our precious, costly day in this magnificent area. If you want to see Denali, fly to Anchorage and rent a car or take the train, hire a flight seeing tour in Talkeetna and take the Park Service bus tour in Denali; you will have a much better experience for a fraction of the cost. Onboard the Star Legend, the staff's principal mission is to extract as much onboard revenue from each passenger as possible. Everything but the food was extra: excursions, fitness classes and other onboard activities, drinks, wine with dinner, etc., and involuntary service charges were added to our account daily regardless of the service provided. Another passenger warned us too late to make our own inventory of the in-room bar, as she and others were charged for items that weren't provided in the first place. There was something wrong with the ship's engines, causing a vibration that often made it difficult to sleep. The ship was designed for warm weather locations. We had to walk outside to reach the Veranda/Candles dining area and a lot of the dining and bar space was outdoors, where it was too cold and rainy for use during most of our cruise. The temperature control didn't work; our stateroom and the Compass Rose and other public areas were frequently too cold. Most of the passengers came down with a bad cold, which was undoubtedly due to the poor housekeeping and lack of ventilation. Our stateroom was large and well-arranged, but the carpet was worn and dirty and the housekeeping was not properly managed or supervised. The room was never made up until late afternoon. Glasses were removed but not replaced, dust cloths and trays were left behind, and we had to ask for shampoo, water and other necessities. Nothing was ever really cleaned. I dropped an earring and looked under the bed for it; no one had vacuumed there in a long time. The food quality was good, but the service and use of venues was not properly managed. The large dining room, AmphorA, had impossibly slow service at breakfast and lunch, which drove everyone to the buffet at Veranda. With little indoor space, Veranda was overcrowded but no effort was made to extend the breakfast and lunch hours there or provide a buffet option or better service in AmphorA. The fixed menu at Veranda/Candles was good but boring. The excursions were just commercial operations any traveler could use at a much lower cost. Windstar added no value and did nothing to assure the safety or comfort of its passengers, but added 80% to 100% to the cost. No Windstar representative accompanied any of the excursions. No headphones or microphones were provided by Windstar, so it was often impossible to hear speakers and guides. We had several upsetting experiences. For example: 1. We took a jet boat excursion up the Sitkine River ($350 each), a wild river in a wilderness area. After the driver drove recklessly and put the boat aground on a shoal, we learned that he had no tow line, no dock line or other line of any kind, no anchor or winch, and had not even connected his GPS to the Coast Guard emergency system. A second boat also lacked any rescue line, anchor or winch, but had an old dock line. The passengers were told to stand in the stern while the other boat tried to tow us off the shoal. The line broke, the boat jerked violently, and the second crewman went hurtling through the passengers, knocked my grip off the rail, and pushed me down the steps from the stern to the floor of the cabin. I suffered bruises that have still not healed. After several more broken lines, the boat was finally towed off the shoal and they raced through the remainder of the tour with no refunds. When I complained about the operator's lack of safety equipment and procedures, Windstar's destination manager was unable to understand that any responsible boat operator carries a rescue line and other safety equipment and connects his GPS to the Coast Guard system. He gave us a partial refund of $340 and never inquired about my injuries. 2. In Sitka, my husband went sport fishing ($299) while I took the wildlife excursion ($149). The previous day, we conferred with the destinations manager on where and when we could meet to continue our day together, and were told both boats returned to the same dock next to our ship. When I returned, I checked again and was told to wait on that dock for the fishing excursion to return at 1:30. When it didn't return, no one on Windstar could locate the 8 missing passengers or contact the operator, who for his own convenience had left them on a dock in downtown Sitka. The fishing excursion had been extremely rough, because the driver did not know how to operate the boat properly in that weather. Eventually, my husband made his way back to the ship, but it was too late to salvage our chance to see Sitka. 3. In Juneau, we had reserved a dogsledding excursion by helicopter on the Mendenhall Glacier ($629 each) and were scheduled for a 2:45 pm departure. The dogsledding trips were cancelled at 9 am that morning, but Windstar did not inform us of the cancellation until 2:00 pm. We waited all day for the 2:45 excursion, when we could have walked down the dock and taken a seaplane to see the entire Juneau Icefield or many other commercial offerings. Windstar deliberately wasted our day, so our only option would be their abbreviated helicopter trip to the bottom of the Mendenhall ($365 each). Locking in their profit was far more important than our experience. The best thing about this trip was the onboard kayaking and zodiac expeditions. The expedition crew was well-organized, safety conscious, and knowledgeable. However, there were only four opportunities to use these resources and the ship only carried a handful of kayaks and three zodiacs so only a fraction of the passengers could go. On the days the ship anchored in the scenic fjords for the 2-hour kayaking and 1-hour zodiac trips, there was nothing else to do. The other saving grace was the passengers, interesting people and pleasant company. There were several enrichment activities, but no set schedule for them. Entertainment consisted of 2 duos who repeated the same playlists. We tried to enjoy drinks and dancing in the lounge after dinner, but it was extremely cold and the "dance music" was more suitable for 20-somethings than the demographics of the passengers. There was no outside entertainment. The final straw came at disembarkation, when we were required to drag all of our luggage through the dock terminal in Vancouver to the city tour with hotel ($79 each plus hotel). No one from Windstar accompanied the passengers from the dock terminal. When we reached the hotel, our luggage was left in the driveway and we were on our own. Even on inexpensive student tours, I have never seen a company fail to transfer the passengers and their baggage to their hotel or the airport in a considerate manner. This was like a kick in the pants as we walked out the door, pockets picked. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
The pre-cruise land tour spent most of its time figuring out how to fill time instead of showing us the sights. The guide was less than knowledgeable. We paid a great deal, but were often told to go out and get our own meals at our ... Read More
The pre-cruise land tour spent most of its time figuring out how to fill time instead of showing us the sights. The guide was less than knowledgeable. We paid a great deal, but were often told to go out and get our own meals at our expense. It became obvious that the person in charge of the tour had no interest in the excursions nor any knowledge of how good they were. This characteristic continued when we arrived on the boat. Windstar has no quality control mechanisms in place to assure that any land side excursions are reputable or even safe. The ship was OK, but was in need of refurbishment. The engines/transmissions/propellers were not in-tune so the ship vibrated significantly. Carpeting needs replacing, doors don't align with jams, deck flooring uneven. Cabin was spacious and well-designed. It's maintenance was the problem. They just don't clean well. Food was good though it started to get boring during the second week. Entertainment was marginal and not that good. Service consists of trying to get more money out of your pockets. Not what I expected. The shore excursions were not good at all. One was downright dangerous. A jet boat up a river ran aground. That has to be expected. BUT, the boat had no tow line or any line that could be used to pull it off into floatable water. The cowboys who were running the boat had no idea what to do. Worse, they did not have the GPS system linked to the VHF radio or the boats registration entered into the radio. If anyone on board would have pushed the VHF radio's Emergency Button, the Coast Guard would not get any information about the boat's type, location, or anything. Windstar really lets their guests go on such slovenly boats??? There was a Windstar Exec on board. He was totally uninterested in the quality of what the guests were receiving. Friends had told us that Windstar was great. People on board told us that Windstar was great. Windstar was absolutely despicable for the price they charged. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
We are faithful Windstar clients who have always enjoyed sailing and cruising with Windstar! When we were on Star Legend last summer they announced that the ship would be cruising to Alaska from Vancouver BC. We booked our suite ... Read More
We are faithful Windstar clients who have always enjoyed sailing and cruising with Windstar! When we were on Star Legend last summer they announced that the ship would be cruising to Alaska from Vancouver BC. We booked our suite immediately. Get a balcony for this voyage!!!! Star Legend with its great captain and crew made every journey into the three fjords amazing experiences! There are so many options at every port that you could do this trip more than once and have two completely different great experiences. As usual all of the officers, staff and crew were great! Food and service was exceptional. Guest experience staff led by James and Kristi were the best ever! Theme song for repeat clients of Windstar should be "we are family!" Zodiacs and kayaks made for great viewing of the glaciers! Windstar is our cruise line of choice. When others share they prefer small ships or even large ships we do not argue with them. We just know that Windstar is in a class of its own and we will always have our expectations exceeded by the officers and crew and staff when we choose to sail with Windstar! Approximately 200 passengers with almost 1-1 staff support results in an amazing experience! Cruising the inside passage to Alaska was like being on your own private yacht. We will return!!!! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
Star Legend is a small luxury, all suite ship with all the amenities. The service was excellent, and all staff were friendly, and enthusiastically helped in every way possible. Even an entry level suite, cabin 102, was spacious and ... Read More
Star Legend is a small luxury, all suite ship with all the amenities. The service was excellent, and all staff were friendly, and enthusiastically helped in every way possible. Even an entry level suite, cabin 102, was spacious and included a walk in closet, large bathroom, and seating area with sofa, chairs and table. There was a large picture window. Even at the front of the ship, noise and motion were not a problem. Gourmet meals were available in the Amphora Dining Room, or the smaller more casual Verandah dining area which provided views of the spectacular Alaska scenery. Sandwiches, pastries, and beverages were available throughout the day in the top deck Yacht Club. Zodiac excursions, led by experienced and knowledgeable naturalists enabled close up views of South Sawyer Glacier and Tracy Fjord. Naturalists were on board throughout the cruise and available for discussions. The ship also had a casino, library, spa, and 2 bars with entertainment area. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
We wanted to cruise Alaska for a long time but the large ships were totally unappealing to us as our preferred cruise line has been Windstar for many years. We had high expectations as Windstar advertised this as more of an "off the ... Read More
We wanted to cruise Alaska for a long time but the large ships were totally unappealing to us as our preferred cruise line has been Windstar for many years. We had high expectations as Windstar advertised this as more of an "off the beaten path" experience with "signature expeditions". We were NOT disappointed! Not only was the expedition staff great with their lectures and knowledge of glaciers, bears, whales, seals, sea lions and everything else that roams Alaska, they were really great fellow travelers who enjoyed the cruise as much as the paying passengers. We had almost perfect weather which was a plus; beautiful sunshine most days and very little rain but cool and refreshing days. We were thrilled with the food and presentation on this sailing. Windstar has really upped the quality and presentation as a result of their James Beard Foundation partnership. Because of the cooler weather they opened more dining venues for both breakfast and lunch which made for nice choices. The new zodiac expeditions and kayaks were a great addition and gave us the ability to get "up close and personal" with the glaciers. Riding on a zodiac while seeing mountain goats as ice floated by from a calving glacier was a total thrill! The shore excursions were mostly exceptional with lots of opportunity for "flightseeing" over glaciers, fjords, etc. For those who were interested, there were lots of cultural opportunities to learn about the native Alaskan tribes and visit their villages. We also did the 5 day land tour of northern Alaska and Denali. It was a first for Windstar in Alaska and could have used a few tweaks here and there but also a great experience. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
Things I wish I had known: If you are choosing a Windstar Alaska itinerary because you think the small ship will do lots of scenic cruising that large ships cannot do, be aware that during the 3 days described on the itinerary as ... Read More
Things I wish I had known: If you are choosing a Windstar Alaska itinerary because you think the small ship will do lots of scenic cruising that large ships cannot do, be aware that during the 3 days described on the itinerary as "cruising" in Misty Fjords, the Kenai and Tracy Arm the ship does not cruise. What it does is travel into these areas and drop anchor so the boat can act as a dock for the expeditions on zodiac (1 hour) or kayak (2 hour) which passengers have paid for. The capacity of these excursions is less than half of the capacity of the ship so half of the passengers spend all day and all of the passengers spend most of the day just floating in place looking at the same glacier or treed hillside. There were no enrichment activities or entertainments or musical acts during these days. The only things on the schedule on all three days combined was one wine tasting (fee required) and a few exercises classes (fee required for most--capacity 8) and some pitches for spa products. The weather was nice enough for hot tubbing but the larger hot tub was under repair for all but the last couple days of the cruise. The nature expeditions were exciting (we had great weather) and were the highlight of many passengers' trip. But there were lots of long boring hours involved as well. OTHER REVIEW ITEMS: THE SHIP Is beautiful and classic with nice well maintained wooden decks. It is kind of old and the carpets and furnishings show wear. There was a leak in the windows on the 6th floor lounge causing a dank smell. The tender area is not accessible by elevator, causing inconvenience on tendered days for anyone with mobility issues DINING and BEVERAGE The food in the dining room was very good with interesting menus. The wine list was extensive, especially wines by the glass. Craft beer drinkers were excited to see ALASKA Brewing beer available but supplies ran out after two days and were not replenished until Juneau. The most exotic beers on board most days were Molson and Grolsch, Breakfast in the Veranda was nothing special and pretty much the same every day. The biggest issue with Veranda at both lunch and breakfast was lack of room as it was too cool for most people to want to sit outside. The crowding made coffee and tea service hard to come by. The problem could have been helped by extending hours, but Windstar chose instead to curtail hours. On some days there was no breakfast buffet after 8:30 and on other days the dining room was open for just one hour for lunch. Other reviewers have noted that dinner service in Amphora took an excessive amount of time and I would agree. The staff was very professional but seemed spread thin. CABIN Our balcony cabin was spacious with a lovely sitting area and a nice walk in closet. The bathing set up is a tub with a shower head on the end of a hose which can be mounted on the wall at kind of an odd angle. This arrangement could be a problem for anyone with mobility issues who would not want to step up into a tub. The thermostat in our room did not work. The cabin was alternately and randomly hot or cold with no relationship to settings. We heard others passengers complain of the same thing. The balconies on this ship are actually ledges you can step out onto. Do not expect an actual veranda. EXCURSIONS The excursion staff was the best group on the ship. They gave good overview talks for of every port and the excursion groups were well organized. We booked a number of excursions through Windstar and they were all as advertised and well run with good local guides. ON BOARD EXPERIENCE WIndstar has lots of loyal customers and they are themselves a good feature of the boat. They are well traveled and interesting and the small ship size makes it easy to mingle and enjoy each other. The ability to visit the bridge and the officers there is a great feature. We had trouble with on- board accounting. We managed to get a couple of errant charges reversed while on board, but once we got home discovered Windstar had charged our credit card for more than the amount shown on the "final Billing" left on our door the last morning. We have no idea what the extra amounts are and are disputing them. Windstar does not have customers present cards or sign for each purchase. Instead the staff punches in the passengers' room number. The idea that the staff knows everyone by name is supposed to insure that they notice errors, I guess. Obviously, errors get through. ENTERTAINMENT There was one duo and one solo act that performed at the same hours every day. There were two trivia contests and the Liars Club performance and the staff night entertainment. A native dance group came aboard one day. These performers appeared to be high school or college students. SUMMARY Windstar has many loyal customers and I can appreciate much of what they love about a small ship. However, a price of more the $450 per day (not including tips, beverages, excursions or transfers) for an itinerary of 12 days with only 7 days in ports, causes me to rate this as a very poor value for the money. Compared to my previous experiences on Windstar, I found the staff to be spread very thin and the little luxuries -such as chocolates at dinner, theme dinners or parties, and even towel sculptures on my bed-- to be missing from this trip. I will be monitoring the Windstar reviews to see if some of the issues continue or begin to right themselves. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
We chose this cruise for the small ship experience. It also called at ports not available with larger ships. It was our first cruise with Windstar. While it would have been interesting to explore Vancouver before the cruise, we scheduled ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the small ship experience. It also called at ports not available with larger ships. It was our first cruise with Windstar. While it would have been interesting to explore Vancouver before the cruise, we scheduled air the same day as embarkation. Embarkation was smooth although delayed due to loading and unloading of supplies and waste.Disembarkation was also slightly delayed, although announcements were clear. The ship was in good condition with maintenance occurring continuously as the cruise proceeded. This was only a problem when painting and varnishing occurred in the vicinity of the public areas, particularly the Yacht Club (the room above the bridge with great views, puzzles and games as well as snacks, sandwiches and barista service), where the smell was unpleasant. We had chosen a lower cost cabin back in February and received an upgrade before the cruise started. The cabin was spacious (compared to our only other experience on a Costa Mediterranea cruise). Fresh fruit, bottled water and chocolates were provided every day (if you had eaten them, otherwise the old ones were left). Cabin service was very good with the stewards calling us by name every day. Announcements were very weak in the cabin until the dial was set on any other position than the one selected by the stewards. The best part of the trip was the "Windstar signature expeditions" departing from the ship's marina. We chose the Zodiac experiences instead of the kayak ones. Misty Fjords, Endicott Arm (Dawes glacier), Kenai Fjords (Aialik glacier). Simon was a great guide on these, pointing out wildlife and natural features. The other excursions were provided by external providers. Highlights were the whale watching at Icy Straight Point and the Mendenhall glacier walk. The cost of the excursions seemed a little pricey, but there was only a little mark-up by Windstar who provided the scheduling and reservations. Dining service started earlier or was extended when excursions required. Dining service was a little hectic due to everybody showing up at once, Service was slow in Amphora because of this, taking up to two hours for a three course meal. We had to go down to the Amphora dining room twice for breakfast due to there being no room at the Veranda because the outside seating was not usable due to the weather. We also had room service for dinner twice which was provided flawlessly (they even returned with the baked alaska dessert on time without our calling again!). Two ports of call had little in the way of things to do on shore, Icy Straight Point and Haines, but top-notch excursions. Juneau and Ketchikan had too many gift shops and jewelry stores but interesting sights could be found away from those. On-board entertainment was slim. There was a musical trio in the bars at night, a crew talent show (hilarious) and a liars club. The port and expedition briefings as well as the expedition re-caps were interesting and useful.Days at sea had more varied talks. We chose to extend our vacation by adding a land tour, through Windstar. This included stops in Talkeetna, and Denali, ending up in Fairbanks. There were no extra cost options as all excursions were included, including many meals. The only disappointment in this vacation was not seeing Orcas at sea or wolves in Denali. All the other wildlife biggies were seen: bears, moose, caribou, whales, seals, otters, bald eagles and various other birds. We saw Denali! One caveat about small ships is that they are not as stable as the megaships. Rough seas on sea days can affect those sensitive to motion sickness. Get your patches before you embark! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
We are previous Windstar passengers and had a fabulous experience on our honeymoon cruising along the Amalfi coast. When we received the email notice Windstar would be introducing a cruise to Alaska, we immediately booked to celebrate our ... Read More
We are previous Windstar passengers and had a fabulous experience on our honeymoon cruising along the Amalfi coast. When we received the email notice Windstar would be introducing a cruise to Alaska, we immediately booked to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. Our very good friends made arrangements with Windstar in advance of the cruise to have a bottle of champagne and a card delivered to our stateroom upon embarkation to wish us a happy anniversary. Windstar charged their credit card the same day. When our friends did not receive a note of thanks from us, they followed up with Windstar and were told the champagne had absolutely been delivered. Now they were offended by our silence but thankfully on our last day of the cruise, they emailed to confirm we had indeed received the champagne. Of course, nothing had been delivered to us. We immediately went to the front desk to inquire and were told that there was nothing noted on our account. The staff member demanded to see proof of the gift before making any inquiries within the Windstar organization. Once provided, the issue was elevated to the Beverage Manager who said there was nothing he could do unless and until he was able to speak with someone from Head Office. We heard nothing more until a bottle of champagne was delivered to us at dinner. No explanation. No apology. We took the time to write an internal review after disembarking and raised several customer service issues with this being a highlight. A month later and we have still heard nothing from Windstar. Clearly they have no real or genuine interest in the post cruise reviews from their passengers. The dining experience was mixed. We had no issue with the pace of service at Amphora but we typically enjoyed a cocktail in the lounge before going down to dinner thereby allowing the initial rush of diners to get a start. The breakfast and lunch buffets were fine but without relying on the outdoor patios there was not enough space to accommodate the number of guests. The Alaska weather did not allow for comfortable al fresco dining. The staterooms were larger than we have experienced on other cruises but the decor was dated and showing its wear. Every time we sat on the sofa, the bed mechanism loudly creaked. Windstar would do well to consider renovating this ship. The Expedition Group were terrific. Each person was knowledgeable and absolutely committed to ensuring the passengers had a great experience. So too were the Excursion staff. There was a wide range of offerings and it was often a challenge to narrow down the choices. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
My wife and I had taken 6 cruises to Alaska on various Celebrity ships. We felt that each cruise was a great value and that the amenities and service were wonderful. We decided to try a small ship experience. The per day cost of the ... Read More
My wife and I had taken 6 cruises to Alaska on various Celebrity ships. We felt that each cruise was a great value and that the amenities and service were wonderful. We decided to try a small ship experience. The per day cost of the 14-night Windstar cruise was almost twice that of our previous cruises including a cruise-tour on Celebrity. However, we were promised a luxury experience. It if difficult to express the level of our disappointment. The Star Legend is an ancient ship in need of a total makeover. The layers of paint on the hull were so thick that it had to slow down the ship. There were constant repairs going on including times when we were prohibited from certain areas because of the sparks that were flying. Our cabin was very nice and spacious. However, we were not aware that the balcony was a "French balcony." In other words, it was about a foot wide. There was no way to actually stand on the balcony much less have a meal there. There were constant problems with water pressure. Some passengers complained that they started a shower and suddenly had no water at all. Others said they had no water for two days. The dining experience was far from luxury. There were only two venues. One was a tiny buffet area that might have seated 30 peopled and filled up quickly. Since the weather was cold, we had a choice of waiting for a table or sitting outside in freezing weather. At night, that tiny area became a specialty restaurant so it was not available as a buffet. The AmphorA dining room was large and they said it could seat all the passengers so dining was open seating. However, the food preparation was extremely slow. The wait staff was over worked with far too many tables to handle. That meant that a typical evening meal took 2 hours. The food was good but certainly not up to the standards of a luxury cruise line. None of the delicacies that one would expect. There was virtually no entertainment. A trio was supposed to be onboard but we never saw them. A final-night staff entertainment show was nice but certainly not something to write home about. There were supposed to be "Sail Away" events for every port but we went to the designated decks and nothing was there. No entertainment, no refreshments. The cabin stewards and the dining room staff were the only highlights of the cruise. They were all excellent. We did enjoy the ability to go to the bridge whenever the ship was at sea. We spent entire days anchored looking at the same glacier or fjord. That was so the "Expedition" staff could promote the kayaks and inflatable Zodiak boat expeditions. Few passengers took advantage so the rest of us had nothing to do all day. Truly NOTHING but sleep, eat, watch a DVD, or read a book. That is not what I pay $2000 a day to do. I can do it at home for almost nothing. There were NO shipboard activities. A few 15-minute cultural talks were scheduled but they were just before evening meal times and most passengers didn't want to have to wait another 30 minutes for their meals. BTW, other passengers complained to us daily about the quality of service and the cruise experience. We were not the only ones who had a bad cruise. We had reserved a Tahitian cruise on Windstar but immediately cancelled it when we returned from Alaska. We would never cruise on Windstar again. If you want a luxury cruise, don't choose Windstar. BTW, I have cruised almost 30 times on numerous cruise lines. There have been a few other bad experiences but this one ranks at the top. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
Chose this cruise because it called at most of the usual Alaskan ports plus a number that are not visited by larger ships. We have sailed with Windstar before and found the small ship size to be desirable. The ship itself is in good ... Read More
Chose this cruise because it called at most of the usual Alaskan ports plus a number that are not visited by larger ships. We have sailed with Windstar before and found the small ship size to be desirable. The ship itself is in good condition and well maintained. Our cabin was a higher cost cabin(classic suite) which was more costly and spacious than most of the cabins on board. It also was located on a higher deck and midship which made it more comfortable in high seas. Bad news was that it had a highly blocked view by an orange boat hanging between our windows and the outside. This made looking at scenery from cabin mostly difficult. Also it made the cabin dark. While there are references to restricted view, we were not prepared for how catastrophic the view would be. Cabin service was good. Announcements on the ship could not be heard in the cabin. High point of the trip were the shore excursions and adventure trips from the ship’s “Yacht Club” platform. Compared with other cruises we have taken, these were both well managed and interesting. Those on shore were run by well qualified interesting guides. Adventure Team on board were top notch as well. Dining service was disappointing due to everyone showing up at once. While we do not expect fast service, in many cases the pacing was tedious. Meals in the main dining room were especially slow. The verandah dining room was faster but generally there were no inside tables/chairs available. Outside was too cold and rainy. Dining hours were too restricted and not coordinated with activities on board. If we had an excursion booked, sometimes there was no food service available. Room service was not reliable. We ordered breakfast on two separate occasions that did not show. Continental breakfast service (when it did show) was not good. While Windstar promotes its crew as friendly and calling you by name, only three crew members called us by name. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary and we had been on 12 other WindStar cruises and had a good experience on all of them. This cruise was different. The food was horrible- repetitive, lacking fresh fruits and vegetables ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary and we had been on 12 other WindStar cruises and had a good experience on all of them. This cruise was different. The food was horrible- repetitive, lacking fresh fruits and vegetables with a high concentration of carbs. For breakfast we had cold scrambled eggs and cold sausages with canned fruit. I even found a hair in my food. Even the desserts were boring - mousse and more mousse and bread pudding every day. The exact same lunch was served two days in a row. The salad bar consisted of the same boring ingredients every day. The service has gone downhill and the ship was very tired looking. After 10 Days only a couple of the wait staff knew our names and they certainly didn’t remember our preferences. The gym was a disgrace with only one properly functioning bicycle and several mornings no towels. The public carpeting was stained with ares of fraying. There were almost no activities on board. We had an extra sea day due to weather and the crew did nothing to fill the very long day. Everything is extra including a mandatory service charge All of this with an exorbitant price tag. On the plus side our cabin was spacious. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
Recently back from this 14 night cruise via Phillipines, Borneo and Brunei. Overall a very good trip. This is our second cruise with Windstar, and they certainly run a quality operation. The whole crew are friendly and helpful, and ... Read More
Recently back from this 14 night cruise via Phillipines, Borneo and Brunei. Overall a very good trip. This is our second cruise with Windstar, and they certainly run a quality operation. The whole crew are friendly and helpful, and you are greeted by name within few days. Lovely cabins, we had a balcony suite, which was spacious, and well appointed, and it was lovely to be able to see the sea from our bed, or our bath! Our cabin was midships, which I would recommend. Some passengers at the lower front of the ship reported bad seasickness, and lots of noise, particularly on the first night which was rough. We found the food excellent, with plenty of choice and variety. The one thing lacking is decent evening atmosphere. Two singing duos were playing each night in two separate venues- one indoor and one on deck. Trouble is the older passengers go to bed early, so the smallish number of people looking for entertainment are spread between the two venues, which means both lack any real atmosphere. Not sure why you would want to be inside when you could be outside in the balmy weather - makes more sense to me to have one venue open at a time dependent on the weather. Compared to other small cruise lines, there was little opportunity to dance apart from at one of the deck bbqs which was very near the end of the cruise. Would have liked this opportunity sooner, as it made for a great atmosphere. The excursions are pretty pricey. We held back from the visit to a beach including lunch for $129 US each! You can usually organise your own excursion, or just take the tender, or shuttle bus into the town and have a mosey round yourself. The Philippines are pretty new to the cruise circuit, we did not see any other cruise ships after the first couple of days. Bear in mind that this country is poor, and Manila in particular is pretty grim, but there are some lovely small islands, lagoons, and beaches too. Overall would recommend. Read Less
Star Legend Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.4
Dining 5.0 4.0
Entertainment 3.0 3.1
Public Rooms 5.0 4.0
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.2
Family 1.0 3.2
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.4
Enrichment 3.0 3.2
Service 4.0 4.3
Value For Money 4.0 3.6

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