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With winter wearing us down we felt it was time to book another cruise to soak up some sun and heat. We ended up choosing Windstar because 1) It wasn't departing out of the cruise ports we'd done many times before (Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, etc.) and 2) the ports were not, with the exception of Castries, places we had been to before. Yeah, basically we wanted to try something different in the Caribbean! We ended up flying in the day before to Bridgetown, Barbados. I'm not a fan of flying in the same day as the cruise especially during winter storm months as the likelihood of delays is high and who wants to miss at least one day of cruising because of flight delays! It's also a great way to get in a day of exploring at the homeport. And were we ever glad to go in the day before! It seems like all the major airlines arrive at the airport at about the same time, resulting in very long immigration lines. In fact, a number of people arrived on the ship on departure day during the lifeboat drill due to the length of time it took to clear customs. We stayed at the Marriott Courtyard in the Garrison area of Bridgetown - chosen entirely because I could get the room on Marriott Rewards points. The hotel was clean, staff were friendly, and, although not on the beach, beach access was directly across the street from the hotel. There are a number of dining options near the Marriott. We ended up walking along the beach boardwalk and had dinner at Tapas - a wonderful restaurant on the beach about a ten minute walk from the hotel. The following day, prior to packing up and heading to the port, we spent a couple of hours on the beach. All beaches in Barbados are public. We expected to have beach vendors offer to sell us trinkets but in all the time we had only one vendor approach us. Around 1 pm (we had a late checkout) we packed up and grabbed a taxi to the port. Hint: ALWAYS confirm the price with the driver before getting in. In fact, ask the hotel what the rate is. They have the official rate cards and can tell you what you should be paying. The port was a bit of a nightmare. There were a number of ships berthed that day, including the P&O Azura (a really big ship!). We got about 300 yards from the security checkpoint and then stopped...and waited...and waited. And finally got out and walked through the checkpoint and on to the Windstar check in area. This was the initial check in only, where they collect your bags and have you fill out the standard health questionnaire. After you drop your bags off, you wander around trying to figure out how to get to the ship! There was no signage and little guidance until we found someone in a Windstar shirt who was able to point us to a shuttle bus to take us to the ship. Getting on the ship we experienced what was the first hint of the outstanding crew that the Windstar has. Climbing up the gangway we were greeted Jeffery, the Hotel Manager, and Belinda, the captain. One of the benefits of the small ship experience is that you get to know the crew and they get to know you. Checking in left a lot to be desired. After the greeting, cold towels, and drink, we were directed to the lounge for registration -- where it was a general mass of people standing around waiting to get to the registration desk. It might be a minor quibble but having a some sort of line would have made things a lot smoother! From there you are escorted to your cabin. While this was easily the smallest cabin we've had in some time it was also the best laid out cabin we have ever had. More storage than we could ever need...and a surprisingly large bathroom! Speaking of the bathroom, it was stocked with L'Occitane brand of shampoo, conditioner, lotion, soap, etc. On to the ship... It's small. 70 cabins in total, all but one the same size. No balconies. There is a lounge and the Amphora restaurant on Deck 3. The casino (about 8 slot machines and two gaming tables) is attached to the lounge. There is a small but well equipped spa located on Deck 3 as well. Deck 4 has a bar, tiny pool and hot tub, and a restaurant serving breakfast and lunch. There are plenty of deckchairs fore and aft to enjoy the weather. The interior of the ship is very well maintained. For a ship built in 1986 the interior looks fantastic. The exterior was in good shape as well but you could see where it could use a coat of paint (some rust) and there were some nasty dents in the side of the ship. Eating... You could have room service delivered 24 hours a day with no fee (unlike some of the big ships). Selection was quite good. Although we didn't try it, you could have dinner items delivered from the restaurant during the dinner items. We did order in the fresh popcorn a few times while watching a movie (the ship has a large selection of DVDs that you can check out to watch). Breakfast was served upstairs on Deck 4, and consisted of a hot and cold buffet, an omelette station, and a la carte items that you could order. This was probably the weakest in terms of service. We found that ordering from the omelette station was hit and miss - hot dishes made quickly about half the time; other times dishes took 20 minutes to get and were cold or incorrect. Lunch was also served in the same restaurant with a similar format: hot and cold buffet, a hot dish station, and a limited (burgers, hot dogs, sausages, and one entree) a la carte menu. Dinner was typically offered after the daily port talk session and consisted of appetizers, soups, mains, and desserts. All were prepared to order; unfortunately, this caused problems when everyone stampeded to dinner after the port talk! The kitchen clearly got overloaded and significant delays in getting food occurred a couple of nights. However, the food quality was quite good - think as good if not better than the Blu restaurant on Celebrity. One night of the cruise Windstar has a deck barbecue. This was very good with excellent food (paella, steak, shrimp, ribs, chicken, fish, lobster) and local music. One of the highlights of the cruise! Entertainment There really isn't any. They have a duo playing pop song covers every evening in the lounge. On the one sea day trivia games, kitchen tours, and the like are offered. And there's the DVD library and in room TV movies to watch. Ports and Shore Excursions The ports are where Windstar either excelled or failed...badly. Being a small ship Windstar can get into ports that most other ships can't. But when going into the larger ports Windstar seems to end up with some horrible berths. We were supposed to go to Pigeon Island but, for 'operational' reasons we ended up at Castries on a Sunday. The city is essentially closed down on Sundays and we were berthed in an industrial area. Having not booked an excursion there was very little for us to do. Our next port was St. George, Grenada. Again, Windstar was relegated to a commercial area of the port far away from the city and the spice market. It's the small ports where Windstar shines. We went to Tobago Cays, Moreau, and Bequia. Wonderful ports with beautiful beaches and very few people around! The excursions offered by Windstar were geared primarily towards snorkeling and scuba diving. Since we aren't into that we did not have a lot of choice for excursions and ended up doing only one - a Barbados tour and airport transfer on departure day. The Service... Windstar really shines here. The crew are friendly, approachable, and really want you to have a good time. The one issue we had was acted upon promptly. In fact, many of the crew members addressed us by name within two days of the cruise. It was the crew service that took this cruise from an 'Average' rating to a 'Very Good' rating. In Summary... There are a few things that really stand out with Windstar: 1. Special events - the deck BBQ and the Moreau beach BBQ were outstanding. 2. The sailing experience - we were able to go to areas of the ship (open bridge, bowsprit) that are typically off limits. We were shuttled to the smaller ports on Zodiacs (you aren't getting that on a larger ship!). 3. The small ports - going places we wouldn't get to otherwise 4. The Crew. Outstanding. There were a few things we didn't like: 1. The big ports - Windstar seems to get shunted to the less desirable areas due to its size. 2. Entertainment - there really is none. 3. Shore Excursions - mostly geared to the scuba and snorkel enthusiasts. Would We Go On Windstar Again? The jury is out on this one. We both wanted to try the small ship experience and found that the lack of entertainment really detracted from our enjoyment. Additionally, we found the limited selection of excursions (a small ship really can't support a wide variety) detrimental for us. There really were none that we wanted to do. If you like snorkeling or scuba diving, Windstar's Caribbean itineraries are a great option. If you like to sit back and be entertained, Windstar probably isn't the cruise for you.

Small Ship Cruising in the Caribbean - Not for Everyone

Wind Star Cruise Review by argyllsock

22 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: March 2017
  • Destination: Caribbean
With winter wearing us down we felt it was time to book another cruise to soak up some sun and heat. We ended up choosing Windstar because 1) It wasn't departing out of the cruise ports we'd done many times before (Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, etc.) and 2) the ports were not, with the exception of Castries, places we had been to before. Yeah, basically we wanted to try something different in the Caribbean!

We ended up flying in the day before to Bridgetown, Barbados. I'm not a fan of flying in the same day as the cruise especially during winter storm months as the likelihood of delays is high and who wants to miss at least one day of cruising because of flight delays! It's also a great way to get in a day of exploring at the homeport.

And were we ever glad to go in the day before! It seems like all the major airlines arrive at the airport at about the same time, resulting in very long immigration lines. In fact, a number of people arrived on the ship on departure day during the lifeboat drill due to the length of time it took to clear customs.

We stayed at the Marriott Courtyard in the Garrison area of Bridgetown - chosen entirely because I could get the room on Marriott Rewards points. The hotel was clean, staff were friendly, and, although not on the beach, beach access was directly across the street from the hotel.

There are a number of dining options near the Marriott. We ended up walking along the beach boardwalk and had dinner at Tapas - a wonderful restaurant on the beach about a ten minute walk from the hotel.

The following day, prior to packing up and heading to the port, we spent a couple of hours on the beach. All beaches in Barbados are public. We expected to have beach vendors offer to sell us trinkets but in all the time we had only one vendor approach us.

Around 1 pm (we had a late checkout) we packed up and grabbed a taxi to the port. Hint: ALWAYS confirm the price with the driver before getting in. In fact, ask the hotel what the rate is. They have the official rate cards and can tell you what you should be paying.

The port was a bit of a nightmare. There were a number of ships berthed that day, including the P&O Azura (a really big ship!). We got about 300 yards from the security checkpoint and then stopped...and waited...and waited. And finally got out and walked through the checkpoint and on to the Windstar check in area. This was the initial check in only, where they collect your bags and have you fill out the standard health questionnaire. After you drop your bags off, you wander around trying to figure out how to get to the ship! There was no signage and little guidance until we found someone in a Windstar shirt who was able to point us to a shuttle bus to take us to the ship.

Getting on the ship we experienced what was the first hint of the outstanding crew that the Windstar has. Climbing up the gangway we were greeted Jeffery, the Hotel Manager, and Belinda, the captain. One of the benefits of the small ship experience is that you get to know the crew and they get to know you.

Checking in left a lot to be desired. After the greeting, cold towels, and drink, we were directed to the lounge for registration -- where it was a general mass of people standing around waiting to get to the registration desk. It might be a minor quibble but having a some sort of line would have made things a lot smoother!

From there you are escorted to your cabin. While this was easily the smallest cabin we've had in some time it was also the best laid out cabin we have ever had. More storage than we could ever need...and a surprisingly large bathroom! Speaking of the bathroom, it was stocked with L'Occitane brand of shampoo, conditioner, lotion, soap, etc.

On to the ship...

It's small. 70 cabins in total, all but one the same size. No balconies. There is a lounge and the Amphora restaurant on Deck 3. The casino (about 8 slot machines and two gaming tables) is attached to the lounge. There is a small but well equipped spa located on Deck 3 as well.

Deck 4 has a bar, tiny pool and hot tub, and a restaurant serving breakfast and lunch. There are plenty of deckchairs fore and aft to enjoy the weather.

The interior of the ship is very well maintained. For a ship built in 1986 the interior looks fantastic. The exterior was in good shape as well but you could see where it could use a coat of paint (some rust) and there were some nasty dents in the side of the ship.

Eating...

You could have room service delivered 24 hours a day with no fee (unlike some of the big ships). Selection was quite good. Although we didn't try it, you could have dinner items delivered from the restaurant during the dinner items. We did order in the fresh popcorn a few times while watching a movie (the ship has a large selection of DVDs that you can check out to watch).

Breakfast was served upstairs on Deck 4, and consisted of a hot and cold buffet, an omelette station, and a la carte items that you could order. This was probably the weakest in terms of service. We found that ordering from the omelette station was hit and miss - hot dishes made quickly about half the time; other times dishes took 20 minutes to get and were cold or incorrect.

Lunch was also served in the same restaurant with a similar format: hot and cold buffet, a hot dish station, and a limited (burgers, hot dogs, sausages, and one entree) a la carte menu.

Dinner was typically offered after the daily port talk session and consisted of appetizers, soups, mains, and desserts. All were prepared to order; unfortunately, this caused problems when everyone stampeded to dinner after the port talk! The kitchen clearly got overloaded and significant delays in getting food occurred a couple of nights. However, the food quality was quite good - think as good if not better than the Blu restaurant on Celebrity.

One night of the cruise Windstar has a deck barbecue. This was very good with excellent food (paella, steak, shrimp, ribs, chicken, fish, lobster) and local music. One of the highlights of the cruise!

Entertainment

There really isn't any. They have a duo playing pop song covers every evening in the lounge. On the one sea day trivia games, kitchen tours, and the like are offered. And there's the DVD library and in room TV movies to watch.

Ports and Shore Excursions

The ports are where Windstar either excelled or failed...badly.

Being a small ship Windstar can get into ports that most other ships can't. But when going into the larger ports Windstar seems to end up with some horrible berths. We were supposed to go to Pigeon Island but, for 'operational' reasons we ended up at Castries on a Sunday. The city is essentially closed down on Sundays and we were berthed in an industrial area. Having not booked an excursion there was very little for us to do.

Our next port was St. George, Grenada. Again, Windstar was relegated to a commercial area of the port far away from the city and the spice market.

It's the small ports where Windstar shines. We went to Tobago Cays, Moreau, and Bequia. Wonderful ports with beautiful beaches and very few people around!

The excursions offered by Windstar were geared primarily towards snorkeling and scuba diving. Since we aren't into that we did not have a lot of choice for excursions and ended up doing only one - a Barbados tour and airport transfer on departure day.

The Service...

Windstar really shines here. The crew are friendly, approachable, and really want you to have a good time. The one issue we had was acted upon promptly. In fact, many of the crew members addressed us by name within two days of the cruise. It was the crew service that took this cruise from an 'Average' rating to a 'Very Good' rating.

In Summary...

There are a few things that really stand out with Windstar:

1. Special events - the deck BBQ and the Moreau beach BBQ were outstanding.

2. The sailing experience - we were able to go to areas of the ship (open bridge, bowsprit) that are typically off limits. We were shuttled to the smaller ports on Zodiacs (you aren't getting that on a larger ship!).

3. The small ports - going places we wouldn't get to otherwise

4. The Crew. Outstanding.

There were a few things we didn't like:

1. The big ports - Windstar seems to get shunted to the less desirable areas due to its size.

2. Entertainment - there really is none.

3. Shore Excursions - mostly geared to the scuba and snorkel enthusiasts.

Would We Go On Windstar Again?

The jury is out on this one. We both wanted to try the small ship experience and found that the lack of entertainment really detracted from our enjoyment. Additionally, we found the limited selection of excursions (a small ship really can't support a wide variety) detrimental for us. There really were none that we wanted to do.

If you like snorkeling or scuba diving, Windstar's Caribbean itineraries are a great option. If you like to sit back and be entertained, Windstar probably isn't the cruise for you.
argyllsock’s Full Rating Summary
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