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8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
We were excited about this cruise, having been on a cruise on the Royal Clipper several years ago and expecting it to be a similar experience. We were disappointed that it wasn't. Prior to the cruise the admin left a lot to be ... Read More
We were excited about this cruise, having been on a cruise on the Royal Clipper several years ago and expecting it to be a similar experience. We were disappointed that it wasn't. Prior to the cruise the admin left a lot to be desired as we didn't get any final documentation until a few days before we left despite having paid in full when we booked. Although loyal Windstar cruisers on CC assured us that we didn't need any paperwork, we did actually really NEED to know which port to go to and at what time!! Fortunately this info did arrive in time and we were otherwise happy with the embarkation process which was very straightforward. Although our cabin was one of the cheapest we were pleased with it and it compared well with our cabin on Royal Clipper which WASN'T the cheapest. The shower was one of the best we've experienced on a ship! We didn't have a balcony but we were hoping for an active cruise so didn't think we'd miss it. We did! Our fellow passengers were quite a bit older than we'd expected. We are active 60+ year olds but certainly didn't feel older than the majority.....the reason for this became clear as the cruise progressed. We were expecting this to be quite an active cruise......a sailing ship with a watersports platform going into bays where larger cruise ships can't dock. This was exactly what we experienced on Royal Clipper where, if the platform couldn't be put out due to rough seas or for any other reason, the staff took all the water 'toys' onto the beach and guests were able to use them there. There were sailing dinghys, windsurfers, kayaks, snorkelling gear and even an opportunity to try water skiing. The engines were turned off at some point during every sail so we could experience the feeling of truly sailing. Unfortunately, with Windstar the sails and watersports platform are just ornamental. We didn't ever sail without engines and the watersports platform was only in use for one short afternoon. And on that occasion the activities consisted of swimming and there were a couple of kayaks available, but the ship was so far away from the shore that there was nowhere interesting to go with them. We tried one for about 10 minutes then got bored, and one other woman went in one, paddled about 10 metres and then returned!! But even the opportunity to swim would have been welcomed but this wasn't offered more than on that one occasion.. Perhaps one of the reasons for this may have been that, if too many activities were offered for free, people may not have bought the very expensive shore excursions? And the company are making a killing from these!! Virtually everyone on the ship went on one every day.....and the reports back from them generally weren't very good. Though there were occasional exceptions. The other very expensive extra being pushed by staff were the beverage packages. On arrival on the ship we were told that we only need to drink 4 drinks a day in order to make a package worth it. Not true.........in fact we would have needed to drink about 7 each! The barman tried again when we ordered our first drink. He told us we would be in profit at over 3!! And he was VERY pushy!! On the plus side, apart from that barman we found all of the rest of the staff to be excellent....extremely friendly, efficient and helpful. Another big plus was the food which I really couldn't fault. The whole dining experience was excellent. But our biggest disappointment of this cruise were the changes made to the original itinerary. As I said before, we were expecting a similar experience to the Royal Clipper and we were drawn to the itinerary which offered several islands and bays off the coast of Panama and Costa Rica. Even before the cruise started (and only 2 days after we booked!) we were sent an e-mail to say that one of the islands had been swapped for another day in Panama City. We were unimpressed as were a good number of other passengers. Many people had spent a few days there before the cruise so were really not happy to have yet another day added to the one we already had there. If they DID need to take out the original island then I think more effort could have been made to swap it for something offering an equivalent experience. To make matters worse, during the cruise the captain advised that high winds made it impossible to visit another island on our itinerary. This was then replaced by another port which again didn't offer anything like the experience (the Beach BBQ) we were expecting. It was a small port with virtually nothing to do unless you went on an excursion and with nowhere to swim. And to make matters worse the expected high winds did not materialise!! Windstar has a lot of repeat guests and loyal customers but I'm afraid we won't be joining them. We were expecting more of a small ship expedition experience but what Windstar seems to offer is a more traditional cruise ship experience (with expensive excursions, drinks packages etc) on a smaller scale so without some of the amenities you would expect on a larger ship (no balcony cabins, no swimming pool, no casino and only very limited entertainment consisting of one pianist and a not very good vocalist) This isn't what we want though it certainly seems to keep quite a few people happy so I accept that it's 'horses for courses.' Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
Whichever direction your cruise is traveling through the canal, you will be flying into or out of the Pacific Ocean end of the canal, Panama City. Since we were going towards the Pacific, our Embarcation was in Colon, about 1 ½ hours from ... Read More
Whichever direction your cruise is traveling through the canal, you will be flying into or out of the Pacific Ocean end of the canal, Panama City. Since we were going towards the Pacific, our Embarcation was in Colon, about 1 ½ hours from Panama City. Windstar notified us a couple of weeks in advance that they needed to do some maintenance just before our boarding, so the Embarkation would be delayed from 1PM to 5PM. They arranged for free coffee and free lunch in a ballroom at the company hotel, the Bristol Panama in Panama City. We were told to have our baggage in the lobby by 3:30PM for placement in a truck, and to watch it being loaded onto the truck. We had already independently booked a single night for ourselves there before the cruise. I normally book directly with a hotel, but their website would only permit three-night minimum bookings! So I booked with Expedia-AARP for a single night, which was $248 plus taxes. I used their concierge to book a $40 per car private transfer from the airport. Because the Pope was in town (which Windstar didn't bother to tell us!) this worked out very well, and was charged to our room. Our room, #510, was massive, luxurious, and well air-conditioned. We had a separate huge shower beside our tub. The newish, high-rise hotel has a luxury feel to it, and the desk service was very good. Even though we arrived around 8PM, they gave us paper Windstar baggage tags and the information sheet Windstar had been handing out during the day, before the local Windstar hosts went off-duty. The hotel is in an uninteresting, but very safe-looking corporate area with little to do. The breakfast (included in our price) was fine, but only a step above a good Hilton Garden Inn breakfast. It wasn't at the level of the room, is what I mean. The lunch Windstar had catered for us was very good, a big buffet with hot soup but cold sandwich, salad, and snack platters. We had the whole ballroom to ourselves. You didn't really have to show ID to get in and out of the ballroom. We booked this hotel for the convenience of the Winstar transfer to the port of Colon. The bus transfer was a bargain at $49 p/p. But EVERYONE's transfer was complimentary because of the pre-scheduled delay. (Credit given on our shipboard bill.) Because there were several busses, you had to figure out that there was a second Windstar table in a different part of the lobby from the main Windstar desk. That second table had sign-up sheets for seats on busses, leaving every Fifteen Minutes, I think starting at 4:30PM. This is subjective, but I wasn't impressed with the lobby people in Windstar polo shirts. I had the sensation that they are local contractors who wear a different polo shirt every day. A few people didn't figure out the two tables, and were displeased to be put on the last bus. It didn't really make that much difference, since it turned out that the ship didn't leave the pier until well after we were asleep in bed. (The ship had to be “in line” for the Panama Canal at 4:30AM or something like that.) We were told that the ship had been taken out for routine stability tests, but they ran long and it only tied up at 3 PM. A later version was that the renovation dry-dock company had ordered “location” of the center of gravity, which required an empty ship with no hotel workers! The transfer included a tour guide who talked a little too much. The modern highway wasn't very interesting. We filled out “old” water sports waivers on bus, which were discarded as we signed the new one on checking in aboard ship! Due to lateness there was no hard sell of beverage package, although there was the later drawing for spa discounts. The square mile around the Colon port looked like a dystopian, post-apocalyptic movie set. The gate at the port that led to the paved driveway wasn't open, so we had to drive ¼ mile on a pot-holed gravel parking lot to get to the terminal. I will say that the terminal was clean, comfortable, and air-conditioned. Baggage screening was here, not on the ship. It's difficult to understand the formal itinerary for the Panama Canal days. Windstar pays about $31,000 for the canal, of which some 20% is a guarantee that it will be in daylight. We started into the first lock just before dawn, and finished the transit about 13 hours later. In fact, we missed the final exit, to go to the daily Port Talk in the Lounge. In San Miguel lock, one of the lockside electric locomotives seemed to fail, but (we heard) the Captain told the Canal Pilot that he could hold the center of the lock without that tug and we proceeded. There was a huge Pope-pilgrim-tourist crowd at Miraflores Visitor Center watching us. Because of the Canal passage, the officer's introductions and the Captain's Table (to which we were invited, probably because of 9 Windstar cruises) were put off one night. There were Officer Tables on later nights, but the Captain's Table was empty for the rest of the cruise. Officer Introduction was one of a few nights when there were extensive passed hors d'oeuvres in the Lounge. It's important to pay attention to the daily schedule sheets and verbal announcements. We were pleased to learn that, even though every port (except the start and finish) were Anchorages, two of the landings were NOT “WET [feet]”. We did use Zodiacs for the dry landings, as for the wet ones. There are variations in the hour that the breakfast room (and less-often, the continental breakfast in the Yacht Club) open. These are intended to assist guests with early excursion departures. Honestly, I prefer to travel with a small box of cereal so I can have a substantial breakfast even in the Yacht Club. Food was good, normal for Windstar. I thought the seasoning in Amphora was tastier than my memory of some past cruises. Although it was not technically difficult to create, my favorite dessert was Pineapple Carpaccio, which was light and refreshing. We never bothered to book Candles. I was surprised that there were only two dry cereals at breakfast, but when I asked for a bran cereal, they went and got me a huge bowl of Raisin Bran. In view of the age profile, this was a big change! We thought the table service was not as good as other Windstar Cruises. But the one time we were seated in the far rear of Amphora, we happened to get very attentive, prompt service. I don't mean to sound whiny, but we found that when we offered to share a dinner table (which we are pleased to do), we often ended up at a six or even an eight-top table, with some of the same people again and again. A table for four is the best way to meet new people. I don't know if this was due to carelessness or to save labor. The real issue is that this means you cannot finish eating until after 9PM, even if you come at 7:00. I mention this also because I was diagnosed with Gastric Reflux after our 21-day cruise. I've never had the problem before. We do go to bed early! (Age 67) I'm not judging, but there are a certain number of couples (and quads) on every cruise who will never share a table. Because we're 9-cruise repeaters, we're used to a 5:30PM reception for that. This time, it began at 6PM, which meant we had to rush off to the Port Talk scheduled at 6:30. By the time we left, at 6:32, there had been no welcome speech with a Reality-Television-like show of hands to determine which couple had the most repeats, and award of a bottle of sparking wine to them. Honestly, we didn't miss the sparkling wine, but we did miss the fuss over loyal customers! Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
My husband and I are in our 60s and have traveled around the world creating our own itineraries and arranging our own transportation. We never thought cruising was for us but in the last few years we have sampled several medium to large ... Read More
My husband and I are in our 60s and have traveled around the world creating our own itineraries and arranging our own transportation. We never thought cruising was for us but in the last few years we have sampled several medium to large ships with friends (Royal Caribbean, Princess, Carnival). The Panama Canal transit with WindStar seemed a pleasant way to experience a small ship environment. Pre-cruise and embarking/disembarking was painless. We arrived at 2 AM a day early in Panama City from Fort Lauderdale. We stayed at a hotel near the airport because of the time and found it easy and inexpensive ($25-$30) to Uber into Panama City to do a little sightseeing. Panama is the only country in Latin America where Uber is legal and it is ubiquitous. Transportation from Panama City directly to the cruise port in Colon was by pre-arranged driver (Amber Moon Panama-$90 cash on arrival). Colon is sketchy. Our driver was a local and he said he does not walk around parts of Colon, even in the daytime. The cruise terminal in Colon is very small. There is a tiny shop with a small selection of wines if you want to buy a bottle to take on board. Notably missing at embarkation was the assault to start buying extras from the cruise line. We were handed a lovely cold cocktail or glass of champagne, were greeted warmly, and got our room key within minutes. No one asked us to take a picture, spend money in the spa, book an excursion, register for an art auction, schedule a special dinner, or tried to sell us jewelry. We left the cruise at Puerto Caldera by pre-paid driver. The trip to the airport in San Jose was $130 by credit card - Transportation in Costa Rica. Windstar is a beautiful lady aging gracefully. We didn't see a tear, a stain, or a break in any of the furnishings. If you like warm wood panelling, shiny brass fixtures, and comfortable seating this is the ship for you. Everything is understated luxury. Think Hyannis Port rather than Vegas. The atmosphere is egalitarian and there are no special perks for big spenders. Passengers are well-traveled and tend to be 40+ and active. The dress code is dressy/casual. All the cabins, except one, are identical. There are no balconies. Plenty of storage room. Comfortable beds. A small table with built-in seating. Plush towels, good sheets, robes, slippers, great toiletries. The shower is the biggest we've had on a ship. On the negative side - Windstar makes it very clear in their literature that there is no elevator on this ship. There are several decks. Cabins are on deck 1, the lower deck, or deck 2, one floor up and one set of stairs below the lobby. If you have ANY mobility issues involving stairs you should book on deck 2. Not only are there a few less steps but while docking and during the transit through the locks a watertight bulkhead closes off access from part of deck 1 to the regular stairs. Passengers are then required to walk a circuitous path up, down, and around to get to and from their cabins on deck 1. Air conditioning in the cabins is inconsistent. At sea the room temperature was fine but anchored or at dock the rooms heated very quickly. We closed our curtains during daylight and we packed a small battery operated fan anticipating the hot, humid climate. The two strategies worked well in making our room comfortable all day. The food was FABULOUS! Dining service was impeccable. By the second day our waiter Alun knew that my husband always orders extra maple syrup for his waffles and pancakes and it would appear magically on the table. We were saddened to discover that Windstar has eliminated the casino from this ship. It has been replaced by a coffee bar that provides a civilized afternoon tea after 3 PM with scones fresh from the oven and clotted cream. The barista Gede soon learned that I like a touch of strawberry jam on those decadent scones and he made sure there was a little chilled jam jar on my plate every day. Michael and Kevin smoothly handled bar service in the lounge each evening and the pool bar is open during the day. We enjoy our evening cocktails, wine, and an occasional beer but did not think the drinks package was good value. There is a happy hour (literally one hour) each night with a limited selection of $5.50 pours and a specialty cocktail for around $9.00 every day. You can take one bottle of wine aboard for each passenger. An important consideration in selecting this Windstar cruise is entertainment and activity. Local groups performed on two afternoons. Windstar partners with the small school in Playa Jimenez and contributes to their education fund in exchange for an excellent show by the kids, several with special needs. The staff performed at the at-sea dinner on deck and during a great talent show. There was a pianist and vocalist in the evenings (Ben and Jacqui) who also coordinated all the audio-visual equipment and DJ'd briefings and events. A professional-quality yoga class was offered each morning by the Spa Director Sue who also led line dance classes two afternoons. The gym was small, poorly ventilated and offered more form than function. There is no easy or safe way to jog around the deck. There were two hosted trivia games. On the one at-sea day the staff put some boxed games out on tables in the lounge. There was a large jigsaw puzzle in the lobby that passengers added pieces to occasionally. Basically, entertainment is low-key and you are on your own for on-board activities. As previously stated, definitely NOT Vegas! If you are not content with peace and quiet and can't entertain yourself you will not appreciate Windstar's offerings. Service was unbelievable. Cabins were cleaned by elves (Anang). Eerily, staff and crew were cheerful around the clock. All of our questions and requests were responded to rapidly. There was no waiting or lines for anything, ever. Excursions: The day on the beach in Isla Parida was fabulous. Warm water, great lunch, fun water toys. We took snorkeling equipment from the boat but didn't use it because visibility was poor. Playa Jimenez - We went to the Blue Osa Yoga Retreat. One of us had a fabulous yoga hour, the other swam in the beautiful pool, strolled the resort, and walked the sandy beach. The lunch was gourmet quality and locally sourced. Lots of flowers and plants. Quepos - Mangrove tour. Slow relaxing boat ride through mangroves. Lots of birds. Nice discussion of area history enroute. No mammals sighted. Finally, the whole point of this cruise is the Panama Canal and the natural beauty of the area. The itinerary and vessel are designed to bring passengers as close to natural habitats as possible. There are no travel guides or taxis descending on the ship when it docks. It doesn't dock! Wet landings are wet. Getting on and off the ship requires dexterity. The ports are teeny tiny. It is hot and humid and buggy. It is mostly rainforest. There is no guarantee you will see any or all of the animals/plants you imagine. It is not a zoo and if anyone can summon or predict animal sightings in the wild they are either planted or illegally lured. Alternatives to excursions arranged by Windstar are limited. The Shore Director Mariana and Naturalist Diego were a perfect team. Mariana handled all the logistics of getting on/off the ship, scheduling excursions, coordinating the movement of passengers and staff while Diego, the ship's Naturalist and resident Latin American, made sure we understood the culture and surroundings. They were efficient and informative. Unlike any other cruise staff we've encountered they not only explained in their briefings what to expect on the purchased excursions but how to experience each port WITHOUT the excursions! Astounding! They both demonstrated tremendous patience under pressure from passengers who were either unwilling or unable to educate themselves about the ports and excursions. Wet landings means YOU WILL GET WET! No matter how many times Mariana said to wear/bring beach shoes and shorts people still showed up in socks and loafers and long pants. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
I love Windstar’s small-boat (148 passengers) approach to cruising, but I found this particular boat, their flagship, to be lacking and I was also dismayed by several avoidable missteps by the ship’s management. The destinations ... Read More
I love Windstar’s small-boat (148 passengers) approach to cruising, but I found this particular boat, their flagship, to be lacking and I was also dismayed by several avoidable missteps by the ship’s management. The destinations are a wonderful experience. The Panama Canal, Panama City and Costa Rica in January are absolutely must-do experiences. The destinations are 5+. Windstar (really Xanterra, the same folks who service many of the U.S National Parks), on the other hand, was disappointingly lacking in some ways that compromised an otherwise fabulous cruising experience. The ship Wind Star (the initial ship in their fleet) was commissioned in 1987 and is showing a lot of age. I find most complainers to be boorish, and, all-in-all I want to like Wind Star for the many positives they bring to a cruise; however, it seemed like this particular ship brought with it a number of issues due to age and lack of attention at the management level. Throughout much of the cruise, the deck spa was broken and leaky, requiring days of repair work. It appeared to be working toward the end, but it continued to make a loud ghastly belching noise every minute or so. The cabins are small and manageable, but even the premium cabins have only two dirty portholes for an outside view. Each cabin has its own thermostat, but they don’t work. Our first night on board, our cabin (221) was very stuffy. We prefer about 20 Celsius, but when I adjusted the thermostat there was no response, just the same weak movement of slightly cool air through an overhead vent. I then moved the thermostat down as far as it would go and no response. I reported the problem to the onboard reception desk where I was promised that someone would come by and check out the problem. No one ever arrived. Finally, once the ship began to move, the room cooled slowly to a reasonably tolerable temperature, but, the thermostat was never inspect and we had no in-room temperature control for the entire cruise. We witnessed at least three water leakages within the first week of our voyage, one of which flooded a cabin and out into the hall. Another occurred in our own cabin (221). The toilet wouldn’t stop running at 11:00 p.m. and began flooding the bathroom. No one answered when we tried to phone for help, so, my wife kept flushing the stool while I went out and found help. Once found, both crew members were very attentive and repaired the problem via a hallway access panel, allowing us to go back to bed and sleep. Finally, Cabin 221 is midship upper deck and I selected it months in advance. It is directly beneath the entrance to the main dining room, which was no problem except one night at 10:00 p.m. when the management directed staff to strip the wooden floor of the dining room entrance and wax it. I was in bed trying to sleep, and I assumed the movement of furniture and associated noises directly overhead were temporary and would subside, but after an hour, I decided to go upstairs to investigate and found out what was going on. I apologized, I knew the workers had a job to do but I told them that the noise from their work was keeping us awake. They apologized and said they would tell their boss. Apparently, they did, and the noise stopped, only to wake me up when it restarted at 7:00 a.m. the next morning. Most disappointing was the fact that the original itinerary called for a day of snorkeling on an island just off the Panama coast. This was cancelled a couple of months before our sailing date. When I phoned about this, I was assured that Windstar would find a suitable and equal substitute. However, the day that we boarded, we were told the alternate landing site had not worked out, and we would be staying in the Panama City port of Balboa a second day. Just about every passenger had arrived in Panama City for the trip and many had already seen Panama City prior to the cruise, so adding a second cruise day in Panama City WITHOUT any excursion was a true breach of contract on behalf of Windstar. The weather was beautiful and the sailing conditions excellent, but Windstar had not done its due diligence over the months prior, leaving their guests to fend for themselves during Day 2 in Panama City. What was the compensation offered by Windstar? An open bar one evening. My wife and I don’t drink. Thanks very much. To further compound Windstar’s negligence, they offered no suggestions of how their passengers might spend the extra day, despite the fact that a wonderful Smithsonian wildlife refuge and a fantastic Frank Gehry-designed Bio Museum were both within walking distance of the port. We did both and ended up having a day well-spent, but no thanks to Windstar! Some excursion descriptions appeared to be intentionally misleading. For example, the descriptions for both Corcovado and Carara National Parks led guests to anticipate hikes through trails plentiful with some of the most diverse fauna (birds, mammal, reptiles, etc.) in the world, when, in fact, Windstar personnel know full well that the chances of such sightings are very low. I understand the disclaimers not guaranteeing sightings, but the descriptions are written to infer that no sightings are the exception, not the rule. The diverse wildlife does exist within these two parks, but primarily in the interior, not as commonly along the perimeter trails that are open to the public, and certainly not at mid-day! Prime time for wildlife sightings in these parks is within 1-2 hours of sunrise or sunset (5:45 am. and 5:10 pm. in January. When were we present in the park? 9:45 am – noon. The absolute worst times to see wildlife, and we indeed SAW NOTHING except for a couple of lizards at Carara. We did see a Macaw at both Corcovado and Carara, and in both cases the bird was too far away to see well even with a sighting scope. During the dry season, the hours of operation for Costa Rican national parks are 7 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., so, even though these hours prevent Windstar from having guests at the parks during prime sighting times, to fulfill the expectations Windstar creates with its customers, their excursions should be at the parks at 7:00 a.m. ready to go. Windstar’s current approach is intentionally deceptive and misleading and certainly not worthy of a company that wants to be regarded as a step above their competition. Old ship needing work, a last-minute downgrade to the itinerary and a failure to provide useful information to their customers are all marks of a cruise company with some serious management flaws. On the good side: Windstar offers small boat sailing catered to older customers. Their waitstaff and room attendants are first class. Of course, staff members are standard cruise personnel comprised of young people from economically-deprived countries who are worked to the bone, but they each work as hard as they can to provide the highest quality personalized service possible. I have now sailed Windstar twice. Will I cruise with them again? Quite possible, but I would not want to return the ship Wind Star, and, if I return, it will be with a jaundiced eye and less loyalty than I felt when we agreed to cruise the second time following a very pleasant initial cruise in the Caribbean. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2018
Chose this because we wanted a 7-day canal transit on a small ship. First time on Windstar. Overall very good -- excellent service, food was quite satisfactory, ship was in good but not outstanding condition. The cabin space was ... Read More
Chose this because we wanted a 7-day canal transit on a small ship. First time on Windstar. Overall very good -- excellent service, food was quite satisfactory, ship was in good but not outstanding condition. The cabin space was excellent -- was skeptical of the french balcony, but liked it a great deal. Since you have a whole suite, no need for a separate balcony, and opening the sliders brought the outdoors inside. The canal transit was excellent, super informative, just what we wanted. The excursions at the Panama and Costa Rica stops were good. Time on board was generally very relaxing and pampered (see smoking exception below!). We are not foodies, but we found the food very good in selection and quality -- and again the service overall was really excellent, from top to bottom. As noted above, the ship's smoking policy was ridiculous. We enjoyed hanging out at the outdoor bar, called the Star Bar, and there is a designated smoking area right next to the bar (like maybe 10 feet away). Come on, this is the year 2018! We had perhaps 6 or 7 smokers (out of about 170 passengers), why should they smog up the place for the all the others? Of course the breeze was always blowing straight from them towards the rest of us. Worse, two people were cigar smokers, and they also puffed away. Windstar should move the smoking area away from the bar! There is plenty of space on the top deck (where the Star Bar is), and the smoking area should be moved AWAY. Before booking another Windstar I would need to investigate the details of the individual ship's policy -- I would be very cautious about booking another cruise on this ship if the policy is not changed. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
We chose this cruise because we wanted to see the Panama Canal and we wanted to go somewhere for Christmas. The dates and itinerary on Windstar fit that desire. Getting to Colon Panama is easy from Panama City. But Colon itself is ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we wanted to see the Panama Canal and we wanted to go somewhere for Christmas. The dates and itinerary on Windstar fit that desire. Getting to Colon Panama is easy from Panama City. But Colon itself is digusting so dont look to do anything but go to the pier. Embarkation is fine. The rooms are large. We were in 315 which is BS-1 category. There is a Juliet Balcony and big sliding doors which made the room seem larger. Lots of storage. However, the bed was certainly not proper. Its ok that they put two twins together but we could feel the gap. When i saw that only the sheet was over the two twins, i was told that the mattress toppers were on backorder and they had none. Our cabin steward, Christian, was great. He really tried to fix it. The AC works well. The TV volume didnt work very well. The movie DVD selection in the library is a joke...they need to fix that. There isnt much to do onboard but even when there is, it is only announced in the daily paper. No reminder over the intercom. The ship is in need of upgrade. It looks tired but spotless. Food is ok. Nothing amazing. Although Candles, the small upscale dinner restaurant was great. One gets only one reservation therewithout having to pay. Speaking of paying...beware...you will be nicle and dimes to death. Internet, drinks or drink packages, shore excursions (quite hit or miss by the way and expensive for what we got). Until the last morning we never had a dock. All going ashore was done by zodiac and often it was a wet landing (which often they neglected to tell you in advance). Getting on and off the zodiac, especially when the water was rough, is an accident waiting to happen. Instead, they should use the tenders. This is a very small ship. We had 176 passengers but it can hold about 212. Many people had no filters and were loud. Clientele is not of the calibre one might find on Oceania or Crystal etc. There were numbers of loud foul mouthed drunks at the outside bar and not one crew member addressed the problem. The pool is the size of a very large bathtub. Not enough chaise lounge seating. Yacht Club room was wonderful and a big thanks to Christina there. She knew all our names! I really cannot recommend this cruise to any. Itisnt terrible but just doesnt stack up against the other even when considering cost. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2017
Love small ship sailing and this was no exception!! The cabins are beyond amazing!! Every room is a suite!! Fabulous!! Great staff, fantastic food and amazing wildlife!! Chocolate Farm was fun and educational!! Terrabo Sierpe ... Read More
Love small ship sailing and this was no exception!! The cabins are beyond amazing!! Every room is a suite!! Fabulous!! Great staff, fantastic food and amazing wildlife!! Chocolate Farm was fun and educational!! Terrabo Sierpe Mangroves River Tour was beyond our expectations!! Manuel San Antonio was very crowded and the tour company needs to work on organizing it better but it was a nice tour, too... The wildlife we saw on this trip was wonderful.. Four different kinds of monkeys, 2 different kinds of Sloths.. Macaws, Toucans, many many more.. Iguanas, snakes, caimens, coatimundi... Wow!! Staff was really, great especially the Naturalist, Eddie!! Food was wonderful!! Don't miss a night in Candles for the best Filet Mignon you'll ever eat!! Beautifully done.. excellent sides, too.. Nice breakfast choices , too.. Can't go wrong with the Eggs Benedict .. The fresh fruit was truly delicious !! Don't forget the truffle fries.. Wow!! Internet is expensive and tours are a little high priced but well done!! Fun watersports, beach picnic and deck bbq.. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
We choice this cruise to go through the Panama Canal and see Costa Rica. Going through the canal was great. The so called "ports" we visited consisted of tendering a zodiac from the ship to a public beach areas. One stop for a ... Read More
We choice this cruise to go through the Panama Canal and see Costa Rica. Going through the canal was great. The so called "ports" we visited consisted of tendering a zodiac from the ship to a public beach areas. One stop for a ship cookout, 2 ports with absolutely nothing in the so called "town" and one at a public marina. If you wanted to do anything at these stops it required an excursion which bused you somewhere else. The ship was fine and the staff was excellent...the itinerary made it disappointing. There was little to do on the ship while sailing. Entertainment at night consisted of 2 different duets performing in empty lounges or on deck, so if you didn't want to sit and drink while listening to music there was nothing to do after dinner. Some dinners were better than others. I would say 2 of the 7 dinners were very good the others average. The cabin was a nice size, it included a small walk-in closet and bathtub which you don't see to often. Read Less
16 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
This is my second review of the "Star Pride" --- my first was the maiden voyage in 2014, immediately after the ship was acquired from Seabourn. I noticed several changes, almost all of which were positive. This 7-night cruise ... Read More
This is my second review of the "Star Pride" --- my first was the maiden voyage in 2014, immediately after the ship was acquired from Seabourn. I noticed several changes, almost all of which were positive. This 7-night cruise sailed on February 25, 2017 from Colon, with stops in several small ports in Costa Rica. Some recent passengers have complained that the ports are relatively unknown, but I really liked seeing the smaller venues that feature local culture and wildlife. Like us (13 previous cruises), over half of the passengers were Windstar alumni cruisers. Also in attendance were the new Windstar President John Delaney, and several members of his executive team. I had the opportunity to spend some “quality time” with John, and found him to be attentive, engaging, and passionate about small ship cruising, with many ideas for improving the Windstar brand. Prior to our embarkation, we flew into Panama City and stayed at the Bristol Hotel, located in the middle of the banking/financial district. Panama City is located on the Pacific coast, so we took an hour-long bus ride over to Colon’ on the Atlantic coast before boarding the ship. This might seem a bit odd, until you see that Panama City is a modern metropolis dominated by skyscraper hotels and high-rise office buildings, while Colon’ is mostly industrial, with little to offer tourists. SHIP INFORMATION: The Star Pride one of three (3) motor yachts purchased in late 2013 from Seabourn Cruise Lines. Most of my previous cruises have been on board the Wind Surf, which has smaller cabins, but much larger public spaces. I confess that I am very partial to the Wind Surf, but I am warming up to the Star class vessels --- they each have their charms. The ship has many features familiar to Windstar regulars: intimate "private yacht" ambiance, country club casual dress policy, attentive wait staff who learn guests' names seemingly overnight, and the open bridge policy. Cabins are all suites, with a minimum 50% larger footprint, larger marble bath, and a walk-in closet. The ship also features an aft sports platform for water activities, a small casino, and spa. Originally, the ship had two whirlpools (hot tubs) side by side on deck 7, plus an adjacent small pool, all covered by an awning. Recently Windstar removed the pool, and replaced one of the whirlpools with a slightly larger “jet” pool. When the jet is on you can actually swim against the current, and when it’s off, 6-8 people can fit in comfort. The Veranda restaurant has both indoor and open-air seating, and transforms into the Candles alternative dinner restaurant at night. The AmphorA restaurant is on the lower deck, and is handsomely decorated, spacious and comfortable, but also can be quite noisy at dinner time. Best to ask for a window table, rather than one in the middle of the room. The Lounge features a stage for entertainers and speakers, with theater type seating. Oddly enough, there is no bar in the Lounge, and so it is mostly used as a theater. The Compass Rose is located one deck higher, adjacent to the Casino, and has a very nice bar area and large dance floor. Unfortunately, it is completely indoors --- I really missed the aft ocean view from the Compass Rose on the Wind Surf. The Yacht Club is located on the top deck in front of the Star Bar. It is a handsome room with great views and comfortable seating, and a large TV for viewing photos from the ship’s photographer. Coffee, tea and pastries are offered in the morning, with light sandwiches and snacks available later in the day. EMBARKATION: With such a small number of passengers, getting on board is a brief and painless process. Passengers must fill out a few forms, surrender their passports, receive a photo ID card, and are then shown to their cabins. ACTIVITIES: All the Windstar yachts have a minimal approach to onboard activities, and the Star Pride was no exception. There are no Zumba classes, glass blowing exhibitions, or bridge tournaments such as might be found on larger vessels. Bravo! One traditional Wind Surf activity that was not offered was the afternoon tea time in the Compass Rose --- just doesn't have the same appeal indoors. The two biggest events of the week are the Beach Party (on a private island) and the Deck Barbecue, featuring line dancing afterwards. Most dancing I saw all week! The Crew Show is also a favorite, as well as the Yacht Club reception for past Windstar guests. INTERNET ACCESS: Always a sore point, especially at sea. Windstar charges $60 for 200MB of bandwidth, as opposed to a fixed number of minutes. This is a wise pricing model, in my view. Otherwise, everyone would be clogging up the works sending selfies home to their friends. Having said that, I used up my 200 MB in just two days. In hindsight, I should have scanned my email Inbox and only viewed important messages (no attachments), sent as few emails as possible, spent no time deleting messages. SERVICE: As always, the personalized service was terrific. Wait staff addressed passengers by name, and were genuinely enthusiastic about posing for pictures. Bartenders quickly learned everyone’s favorite wines or drinks. I have learned that it is almost always best to buy wine by the bottle instead of by the glass, as the wait staff are happy to store it for later use. PORT & SHORE EXCURSIONS: We took a great Dolphin Watch excursion, which was truly spectacular. After a 30 minute ride in a medium sized boat with an upper viewing deck, we saw dozens of dolphins up close and personal for over an hour. When the boat was moving slowly, the dolphins were right alongside us, and when we speeded up, they would ride the wake and leap completely out of the water time and time again. Afterwards we stopped to view a bird sanctuary, and saw frigate birds stealing fish from each other, as well as egrets, herons, green turtles and other wildlife. It was like being in a National Geographic nature show! All of the ports were quite small, which I liked. No jewelry stores, trinket shops, or tourist traps! OUR CABIN #133: Great location almost amidships, directly adjacent to the Atrium, so just one deck and a few steps from Reception. Our cabin was on the lowest of the three passenger decks, and the least expensive. We had a nice large window, but no balcony. The cabin was spacious, and seemed even larger because of the very low bed. However, the low bed also made it impossible to use for luggage storage (other than a carry-on). Although the cabins are at least 100 sq. feet larger than on the Wind Surf, the bed still sits very closely to the desk, making it a squeeze to get by. A nice feature is a curtain that can be drawn between the bed and the sitting area --- very convenient if I wanted to read after my wife went to bed. DINING: All the food was great, with very few misses. I had Eggs Benedict every morning, along with a fruit smoothy, fresh-squeezed OJ, and some smoked salmon. For lunch, it took much will power to not over indulge myself on the bread pudding with vanilla sauce. One item that we missed from previous Windstar cruises was the daily chilled soup --- much appreciated in tropical climes. Dinners were consistently delicious. One secret I have learned over the years is that if you don’t like the daily dessert offerings, you can always get Crème Brulee from Candles. Indoor seating at the Veranda restaurant was a little limited, so we always ate outdoors. Since our first cruise on the Star Pride, Windstar has added a second covered seating area (where the pool used to be) to handle a larger crowd. ENTERTAINMENT: On previous Windstar cruises, the entertainment always included a 4-5 piece combo such as “Top Society”, plus a second duo, usually a vocalist and guitarist or keyboard player. Thankfully, on this cruise there was no large combo. Instead, there were two duos – D’Harmony and Mardi Gras. D’Harmony (guitarist Eric and vocalist Monique) were our favorites, by far. DISEMBARKATION: Very straightforward. We arranged a transfer from the ship to the Marriott Hotel in San Jose, from which a driver took us to a post-cruise hotel destination. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
This was our first time on a cruise. We had never really considered taking one before but in looking for our "winter" break we thought that a trip through the Canal and up along the Costa Rican coast sounded like a fun ... Read More
This was our first time on a cruise. We had never really considered taking one before but in looking for our "winter" break we thought that a trip through the Canal and up along the Costa Rican coast sounded like a fun adventure. We didn't have particularly high expectations (nor particularly low) but were somewhat ambivalent but figured - you have to try everything once. Well we were really incredibly surprised at how wonderful the experience was. Just about everything was beyond our expectations. The cruise is amazing - a special shout out to Noel, Kennedy and Apple who really made our trip wonderful and easy. The women who worked in the spa were also amazing. The food and service really were the highlights. We enjoyed the excursions and highly recommend the Sierpe river outing. Probably the biggest let down was that the water sports wasn't available the last two afternoons of the cruise. At a minimum a bit more communication on this front for planning purposes would have been helpful The only other "complaint" we have is that it is difficult to dry out swimming suits and the like - it would be good if the ship could provide some of the "spin" ringers for clothing/suits that you sometimes find at gyms. One comment of note, while we are in our mid 50s/early 60s we were on the young side for this cruise. I think the bulk of the passengers were mid 60s to 80s - this wasn't an issue for us but something to keep in mind. Finally, it may be worth splurging for the balcony - we didn't but I think being able to open the windows would have been nice. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2017
I chose this cruise because I wanted to go to the areas along the Costa Rica Pacific coast that can be difficult to get to otherwise. Our opinions are probably colored with the horrible treatment from the Windstar headquarters, originally ... Read More
I chose this cruise because I wanted to go to the areas along the Costa Rica Pacific coast that can be difficult to get to otherwise. Our opinions are probably colored with the horrible treatment from the Windstar headquarters, originally scheduled the cruise for last year but boat ran aground, they waited 2 1/2 weeks to inform us that our cruise was cancelled so it was just 2 days before our flight out - no time to reschedule things, didn't give us enough for cancellation to even make a dent in our expenses, then they cancelled our rebooking but didn't inform us! Only found out when they called later to ask for our credit card # to refund it. This was just the start. Anyways, the actual cruise was nice, awesome port calls, going through the canal was also awesome. They cancelled the shore excursion (Corcovado Nature hike) that we were most looking forward to, the alternate was not even close. Cabin very nice, but we were told there would be fresh flowers and fruit daily. Flower left to wilt all week and fruit not replaced despite repeated requests. There's not a lot of activities to do onboard. Staff onboard are great and work hard to make things go smoothly. Smaller ship was very comfortable, very stable and no rocking. They need to give better directions to find the ship - even the port authorities were confused. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
I selected this cruise because I wanted to go through the Panama Canal. I also liked the idea of a small ship. Fortunately my friend and I were upgraded to a suite, which was very nice. All in all I found it very relaxing. This is ... Read More
I selected this cruise because I wanted to go through the Panama Canal. I also liked the idea of a small ship. Fortunately my friend and I were upgraded to a suite, which was very nice. All in all I found it very relaxing. This is not one of the large ships with all kinds of activities, so be prepared to entertain yourself. The Wi-Fi was very expensive and for those who purchased the package they said it was not great. I was very disappointed with the excursions. They were very expensive and I was totally underwhelmed. The problem is, that when you stop at the ports if you don't take the excursions there is nothing else to do. I paid $199 for a boat ride and a mediocre lunch and a guy pointing out animals in the forest - most of which I didn't see. When you exit the ship for the excursions, you always have to use the zodiacs which could be challenging for some people and there were several wet landings where you got off into the water. There was some entertaining and lectures but they were mediocre at best. The food was excellent and the barbeque and buffet at the beach was great. There is a small gift shop that has high end jewelry and lots of Windstar "stuff" but nothing else. There is a small casino and nice library The key thing is DO NOT CHANGE MONEY. I got Costa Rican currency when I landed and there is no place to spend it. If you want to do any shopping this is not the cruise for you. All I wanted was a couple of tee shirts and maybe a hat - nothing - nada! My major criticism other than the expensive and underwhelming excursions is the final so called excursion. You get off the ship in Colon and have to get back to Panama City to fly out. And they once friendly crew rushes you off the ship. We bought the package that was supposed to be a transfer to the air port and tour of the city. The guide was a very snarky guy who was really a jerk who spent way too much time telling us to go to the bathroom at every stop. We go this short tour of the old and new city - 30 minutes at market which he had promised would have local crafts and they got taken to the airport. Well, my flight didn't leave until 11:50 PM and they took us to the airport at 2:30! And I paid $199 a person for this. Another passenger fortunately suggested that we stop at one of the airport hotels, which the guide dropped us off at. We ate lunch and killed some time, but it was really a waste of a day. It was a nice trip over all and I got to see what I wanted in terms of the canal. But I really think that I paid way too much for the excursions. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
Transportation from/to hotels and to/from ship timely and well organized. The Executive Inn is across the street from and $125 less per night than the official cruise hotel in Panama City. Lavish breakfast buffet can be supplemented ... Read More
Transportation from/to hotels and to/from ship timely and well organized. The Executive Inn is across the street from and $125 less per night than the official cruise hotel in Panama City. Lavish breakfast buffet can be supplemented from daily menu (try the French toast stuffed with Ricotta and pour on the maple syrup). Dinners will satisfy gourmet and gourmand alike. And one can eat at a different table every time (or not). One day featured a private beach, deck chairs (which had to be kept moving because of the tide), snorkel equipment, kayaks, and a lavish buffet. Note that the roads south of Manual Antonio in are almost impassable and a ship is the only way to see the South of Costa Rica. We took only two excursions--horse back riding on the beach and a boat tour of the mangroves, both of which we recommend. The ship's personnel seemed to lack knowledge of the timing of the excursions--so that a couple of our acquaintance did without breakfast to sit and wait for an hour in the lounge before going ashore in a Zodiac with limited seating. Then did without lunch because they were bumped from a returning Zodiac and had an afternoon excursion. Great crowd--older, friendly, well-travelled, not a drunk among them. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
For my wife and I, our first Windstar cruise and I would definitely consider Windstar again in the right circumstances. The great-staff in all areas of the ship,attentive,friendly and very helpful- the cabins very spacious and ... Read More
For my wife and I, our first Windstar cruise and I would definitely consider Windstar again in the right circumstances. The great-staff in all areas of the ship,attentive,friendly and very helpful- the cabins very spacious and comfortable-easy check in and departure- other guests friendly ,easy to make friends,- we found the food excellent at all meal occasions with good menu options[to many for my willpower] not so great[for us] some of the excursions-expensive - tram tour, didn't see wildlife,couldn't understand guide at the park, great view of the canal just disappointing,- mangrove tour again didn't really see enough expected wildlife, dangerous exit from tour boat,tour staff seemed unprepared, late getting back and 6 of us stranded on dock waiting for 45 minutes for zodiac to return- then there are the zodiacs,fun for some but at times, on the two days with high sea swells, a real challenge transferring to ship,particularly anyone with mobility issues. We did enjoy the chocolate farm tour. It was hot 35 to 40C every day{ it is the tropics] ,to hot to stay in sun and not much to do on the ship if you don't excursion. other observations-limited ship entertainment but what there was we enjoyed-2 sets of 2 musicians on board and we thought they were great and lots of fun but no one on our cruise seemed to stay up after 9:30 at night,a pity. The panama canal was a night trip and we saw one lock as the daylight ended. First day of cruise we went to Portabella , was not on the itinerary and there are no maps on board or tv info to show in detail the ship's position or route. our advice -research the excursions to see what suits you. We heard mixed reviews on excursions from others,some had great experiences and the area is beautiful. There may be some learning going on for Windstar with this being the first year for this cruise. Read Less
30 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2016
First I must say that the ship is very nice. The staff were incredible. Loved them all. The rooms were also very nice, comfortable and clean. We went on this cruise to see and explore new things. We really looked forward to sailing the ... Read More
First I must say that the ship is very nice. The staff were incredible. Loved them all. The rooms were also very nice, comfortable and clean. We went on this cruise to see and explore new things. We really looked forward to sailing the Panama Canal. My husband actually called Windstar and talked to Jesse several times. He wanted to make sure everything was good. We booked this trip for ourselves and three other couples. As we did some research, we felt like the excursions bought from Windstar are a little expensive and we found some independent tours for half the price and amazing. We were treated very rudely because we were "independent" and had to wait until last to get off of the ship, etc. The excursions we did go on from the ship were a disaster. Snorkeling at Jiminez was a total joke. No fish, a crappy boat, and rough water. The guide on the tour said he wasn't a snorkler but a hiker. One lady slipped in the boat and injured herself. We took the Windstar tour to see the Miraflora locks. It would have been ok if so much wouldn't have been crammed in to just a few hours. Why not split it up and offer half of it the night before?? We went to the observation deck, watched one ship and were hurried back on to the bus. No time for the short movie presentation, and no time for the museum. Very disappointing as we will never be back there. The swim deck advertised also a joke. Windstar advertises waterskiing and fun. There was always an excuse to not do these things. And, don't book Panama Canal at night. I feel like we missed out on the whole experience because we were in the dark most of the way. Overall, disappointed and wont use Windstar again. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2016
Assigned replacement cruise after January Star Pride scheduled trip was cancelled because it ran aground. Management pledged to cover all airline rebooking fees and cost up to $500 per passenger, however after nearly 2 1/2 months of ... Read More
Assigned replacement cruise after January Star Pride scheduled trip was cancelled because it ran aground. Management pledged to cover all airline rebooking fees and cost up to $500 per passenger, however after nearly 2 1/2 months of waiting and complaining they finally sent a check covering only the cancellation fee ($200) and disregarded costs incurred to obtain new airline tickets, which was totally the fault of the company.... apparently they have a serious cash problem. As for the cruise, we found crew, accommodation, service and food to be acceptable; however going through the canal at night was not what we thought we paid for. Similarly Windstar's marketing as a luxury yacht was lacking credibility, deceiving at best. We did experience on this voyage exceptional service staff in the Amphora restaurant; their menu and food presentation was as good as we have experience on other cruise lines. Overall service was good. Windstar's primary use of zodiacs for transport to shore excursions was alarming at times when moderate seas caused considerable consternation among elderly passengers. Wet landing and usually wet trip. Read Less
16 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2016
Our cruise was originally booked on the Star Pride Jan 2nd sailing but the ship hit coral at Isla de Coiba on the 23rd Dec and tore a gash in the hull. A bunch of cruises cancelled. We get notification on the 30th. I begin to re-book and ... Read More
Our cruise was originally booked on the Star Pride Jan 2nd sailing but the ship hit coral at Isla de Coiba on the 23rd Dec and tore a gash in the hull. A bunch of cruises cancelled. We get notification on the 30th. I begin to re-book and got the Jan 15th sailing. Star Breeze. My wife takes a look into the shower and mildew on shower head wall put her right off. We call the cabin steward and he has some excuse that he was new to this cabin, previous steward was moved. We reported it . He did take care of the problem. The lady in charge of housekeeping came to apologize as she never bothers to look inside the shower when inspecting. She is also beverage manager and semi cruise director. I shower and put on the nice white robe that was on a hanger looking very neat. I put my hand in the right pocket to find a dirty tissue. That tells me the robe was never washed. We book massages. I go early to use the sauna and steam room. Neither are functioning, what ??? W found the food very mediocre. Candles dining was real laugh. We were blown inside by the wind, everybody. Not a good idea. From Colon (not good) we go Portobelo (not good at all) we walked a few hundred yards and went right back to the ship. Isla de Coiba was picnic day, nice beach and the food was better. Puerto Jimenez I could have missed but did see Macaws. We had booked a zip line tour and never got to do it. The swells were a little high and makes it dangerous for the dinghy's to get on the beach. All on board for the next couple of days. Never got to do any tours. Dinghy's are not a good idea considering the average age of the passengers. They buy an old ship and do not even know how to maintain it. Overall this outfit does not even deserve 3 stars. Read Less
51 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2015
By now, it is no longer news that the beautiful Star Pride hit a reef off the Isla de Coiba, Panama, on Tuesday, December 22 at about 6:15 a.m. I was aboard with my husband and two adult daughters when the ship hit the reef. There was a ... Read More
By now, it is no longer news that the beautiful Star Pride hit a reef off the Isla de Coiba, Panama, on Tuesday, December 22 at about 6:15 a.m. I was aboard with my husband and two adult daughters when the ship hit the reef. There was a jolt and a tremor that ran through the ship, accompanied by the screech of metal. There was no communication from the bridge to the passengers. Given the emphasis on safety for which Windstar is known, we passengers were lulled into a false sense of security. Our itinerary was to spend the day on the island, enjoying swimming, beach sports, and a barbecue. We left the ship at 9:00 a.m., wearing just our swimsuits and cover-ups, and leaving wallets, valuables and medications behind. Again, there had been no communication from the bridge to give us any sense of the seriousness of our situation. At 11:00, our tour leader Gonzalo informed us that the ship was damaged and that divers were being flown in by helicopter to assess the extent of the damage. We were told we could not return to the ship and that all electricity and water had been turned off as a precaution. Meanwhile, the ship developed a visible list to one side. Anxiety began to build among the passengers, which turned to frustration and concern as the afternoon progressed. Despite the growing unease, most passengers remained remarkably patient and understanding. Meanwhile, we were treated well. Our chef and his crew provided a delicious barbecue (grilled fish, chicken, burgers, seafood mac’ and cheese, salad and delicious tropical fruits), working over very hot grills with outdoor temperatures in the mid-90’s. The housekeeping staff delivered medications from our cabins. However, the limited restroom facilities were overwhelmed by this time, filthy, and without water. It was several more hours before we heard from the bridge, while the ship developed a more pronounced list, and tension continued to build. Finally, in the late afternoon, Gonzalo read a communique from the captain, advising us that the cruise was cancelled because the ship was no longer seaworthy. There were several holes in the hull, one described as “big as a watermelon,” which could not be repaired. We were told that our sister ship, Star Breeze, had diverted course to pick us up later that evening. We were informed that Windstar would refund the cost of the cruise and give a credit towards a future cruise. At this point, questions erupted from the passengers, who quite naturally were concerned about the loss of their possessions, valuables, and travel documents. Gonzalo and his colleague Fanny advised that the housekeeping staff would be going from room to room collecting clothing and valuables, to be returned to us. I want to commend Rich, the bar manager, for stepping in at this point with a calm and good-natured approach to this tense situation, culminating in his opening the bar with the humorous admonition, “But don’t drink me premium stuff!” Staff members Gonzalo, Fanny, Rich and Kristi all deserve commendation for the excellent way in which they handled the situation and diffused a potentially volatile situation. The first ship to reach us was the French yacht, Tere Moana, which arrived at about 11:00 and took the first fifty passengers. The Star Breeze arrived about an hour later and took the remaining passengers. We were transferred by Zodiac pontoon and welcomed aboard at about 12:30 a.m. with a hot buffet dinner. Our hastily packed luggage arrived at about 3:00 a.m., though many people (including us) reported items missing. To our immense surprise and gratitude, we were assigned to suites, four persons each. (I had expected to sleep in one of the lounges.) The Star Breeze then diverted course to take us to Golfito, Costa Rica. We arrived at approximately 2:00 p.m. the next day. We were taken by 6-hour bus ride to the lavish Intercontinental Hotel in San Jose. A buffet dinner was waiting for us at the hotel upon our arrival, and we enjoyed a buffet breakfast in the morning. Windstar offered three free nights at the hotel, but my family left the next morning, psychologically ready to put this experience behind us. My husband and I have used Windstar for enjoyable cruises to Greece, Turkey, and the Iberian Peninsula, and we have never had reason to complain about the safety and service aboard these beautiful yachts with their friendly and competent crews. However, I do believe the company failed us, in not providing immediate communication from the bridge about our situation. It was clear we hit something at 6:15 a.m. I believe the captain or first officer should have gone on the loudspeaker to suggest that, as a simple precaution, passengers pack a small bag with their valuables, travel documents, medications and a change of clothing, until the situation could be fully assessed. Most passengers were experienced world travelers, unlikely to panic at what would have been regarded as a reasonable precautionary measure. Would we consider another Windstar cruise? Perhaps. This will depend on how company management handles its response to the situation. At this point, it appears the company is making good faith efforts to compensate us and to restore our confidence. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2015
I had always wanted to visit the Panama Canal since I was born there while my father served in the US Navy. The Windstar cruise fit our needs very nicely. Our pickup from the Panama City airport was exactly on time - and our short stay at ... Read More
I had always wanted to visit the Panama Canal since I was born there while my father served in the US Navy. The Windstar cruise fit our needs very nicely. Our pickup from the Panama City airport was exactly on time - and our short stay at the Bristol was excellent. I wish we could have had more time to explore this fascinating city. The bus ride to the port was informative as a young man described what we were seeing along the way with a short description of Panama's colorful history. This vessel is very nice and well-maintained and operated by some of the best staff available. The food is excellent and plentiful while the service is tops. All the staff are very motivated and carefully concerned with your comfort and safety. The range of activities selected at the various stops is very good and carefully selected with quality guides and equipment as needed. If I had one complaint, it is the WiFi service offered. I paid an add'l $50 for 3 hours service and it was slow and intermittent with an awkward log-on/log-off procedure. This is becoming more important now since people want to check and send e-mails regularly. My other minor gripe is the AmphorA dining room - low-ceilinged and noisy, covered by a dress code mandating long pants in a tropical climate. The outdoor dining (Candles) was lots more fun with the same great food. Overall a great cruise with an excellent company in a beautiful region. Thanks Windstar! Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2014
We‘re just back from the Windstar Panama Canal to Costa Roca cruise on the Wind Spirit. This was our third and probably last cruise with Windstar. First the good news. The on board staff is wonderful; friendly, hardworking and ... Read More
We‘re just back from the Windstar Panama Canal to Costa Roca cruise on the Wind Spirit. This was our third and probably last cruise with Windstar. First the good news. The on board staff is wonderful; friendly, hardworking and professional. They do a great job given the deep cuts put in place by the new owners. The kitchen staff works wonders with the poor quality supplies they are provided. But even they can’t make up for the lack of quality food or the minimal quantity of pricier ingredients. Compared to our previous Windstar cruises, the lunch buffet was bare bones. No seafood salads or other interesting items. Instead we had lots of pasta’s and stewed/braised meats, the better to tenderize lower quality cuts. The afternoon teas were simply embarrassing. Dinners were usually better but the seafood was dreadful. One does not expect frozen fish as an entrée when visiting ports filled with local fisherman delivering wonderful fish daily. It is clear that Xanterra is cutting corners which has impacting bookings. Our cruise was only 78% occupied (125 passengers). At the Yacht Club (frequent cruiser) reception I discretely chatted with several other Windstar regulars who noticed the decline and wanted to share notes on other lines for future cruises. The staff at the corporate booking office worked to minimums and couldn’t care less about our past loyalty. Xanterra specializes in extracting maximum revenue from a captive audience. As operators of facilities within US National Parks, they serve visitors who rarely come back for repeat visits. So their modus operandi is maximum prices with minimal value. We sailed on the Seabourn Odyssey last year and the difference between the Odyssey and Wind Spirit is dramatic even though the Windstar line costs about the same. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2014
First Windstar cruise. We boarded the ship in Colon and were greeted by the Captain and First Officer on the gangway. The easiest embarkation ever! The ship is great, very easy to get around. A small library with a ok amount of books, a ... Read More
First Windstar cruise. We boarded the ship in Colon and were greeted by the Captain and First Officer on the gangway. The easiest embarkation ever! The ship is great, very easy to get around. A small library with a ok amount of books, a pretty good collection of dvd's to borrow and 2 PC's. The wifi where we traveled to was not very good, so it was nice to not check wifi for a few days at a time but this might not be possible for some people. The ship does offer a wifi package but I understood it was really slow. Most ports we went to you could get wifi on your phone (slow). There was a very nice lounge where every evening they would have appetizers and Steve, the destination manager , would talk about the next day's port. There is a small shop with not many necessities but t-shirts, no men's large of the most popular Windstar T. We did not visit the Salon/Spa. The restaurant was very nice, a lot of tables for 2 or 4. We sat at the same table every night and had the same waiter, Jati , who was wonderful.The main deck had a very small pool and a nice deck area with a lot of lounge chairs, some with umbrellas. Coffee was available there from 6 am on. In the left hand corner of the pool deck they had a smoking area, Only one time did the smoke from there drift over to where I was sitting on a chaise lounge. Breakfast and lunch were served in the Veranda on the main deck. There were outside and inside seating. The outside tables had umbrellas.These meals are buffets but there are ala carte menus also everyday. I am a vegetarian and everyday someone would show me the menu and offer to make something else if I did not like the V choice. The food was good to very good.. We did eat at Candles , out on the pool deck, one evening which was lovely. We do not drink so I can not comment on the alcohol or prices. The soft drinks were all included. My luggage was lost by United prior to boarding so I was given the laundry service for gratis. There were 133 passengers and a crew of 98. We had several wet landings , which involved using the ships Zodiac's. The crew was very professional and I always felt safe. We did not use the Marina. Our cabin was small, but the storage space was great. I loved the bathroom, again the storage space was great and the shower worked very well. My DH did use the gym, He did not care for it very much said the space felt very tight, had only portholes and was very hot when he was there. There is a very small casino which we did not visit. A very nice husband and wife duo, One Night Stand, preformed in the lounge every evening.The ship had an open bridge policy, except when entering a port etc and we did a galley tour. Every crew member we met was a professional who truly seemed to enjoy their work. We will sail on Windstar again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2014
The line doesn't boast much on its sailing prowess but this one set some records; twenty hours continuous sail only power and over 90% sails deployed time! Sailed the northwesterly route from Colon through the Panama Canal up the west ... Read More
The line doesn't boast much on its sailing prowess but this one set some records; twenty hours continuous sail only power and over 90% sails deployed time! Sailed the northwesterly route from Colon through the Panama Canal up the west coast of Costa Rica to Puerto Caldera. Great itinerary. If you want to see wildlife this one is it. Crocodiles, herons, monkeys, snakes, macaws, tucans, sloth, coati, birds and butterflies. Staff is superb! They know your name after a day or so, and my wife wanted to take some of them home with her. The evening sail offs were not to be missed. And the ability to go up on the bridge for a chat is a feature unique to Windstar. The concept of a small boat may be a turnoff for some but it's the best way to meet new friends and see places off the beaten track of the larger lines. Will be back again   Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2014
Our Windstar Panama Canal to Costa Rica cruise on the Wind Spirit was our third and probably last cruise with Windstar. First the good news. The on board staff is wonderful; friendly, hardworking and professional. They do a great job given ... Read More
Our Windstar Panama Canal to Costa Rica cruise on the Wind Spirit was our third and probably last cruise with Windstar. First the good news. The on board staff is wonderful; friendly, hardworking and professional. They do a great job given the deep cuts put in place by the new owners. The kitchen staff works wonders with the poor quality supplies they are provided. But even they can’t make up for the lack of quality food or the minimal quantity of pricier ingredients. Compared to our previous Windstar cruises, the lunch buffet was bare bones. No seafood salads or other interesting items. Instead we had lots of pasta’s and stewed/braised meats, the better to tenderize lower quality cuts. The afternoon teas were simply embarrassing. Dinners were usually better but the seafood was dreadful. One does not expect frozen fish as an entrée when visiting ports filled with local fisherman delivering wonderful freshly caught fish daily. It is clear that Xanterra is cutting corners which has impacting bookings. Our cruise was only 78% occupied (125 passengers). At the Yacht Club (frequent cruiser) reception I discretely chatted with several other Windstar regulars who noticed the decline and wanted to share notes on other lines for future cruises. The staff at the corporate booking office worked to minimums and couldn’t care less about our past loyalty. Xanterra specializes in extracting maximum revenue from a captive audience. As operators of facilities within US National Parks, they serve visitors who rarely come back for repeat visits. So their modus operandi is maximum prices with minimal value. We sailed on the Seabourn Odyssey last year and the difference between the Odyssey and Wind Spirit is dramatic even though the Windstar line costs about the same. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2013
Only 1 day off the ship and I have already booked my next trip on Windstar vacation. I am typically not fond of cruises--which often feel more like cattle calls. That is SO not true with Windstar! It definitely feels like you are on a ... Read More
Only 1 day off the ship and I have already booked my next trip on Windstar vacation. I am typically not fond of cruises--which often feel more like cattle calls. That is SO not true with Windstar! It definitely feels like you are on a private yacht with nearly a 1:1 passenger to staff ratio. We never had to wait to eat, sit on a lounge chair by the pool, or to get on or off the ship. They were very accommodating in every way. We did a Christmas cruise of the Panama Canal and Costa Rica and it exceeded our highest expectations. We went with our three children (20, 18, 15) and were thrilled that there were many other families on board. They had more fun than we did--which we did not expect because we prepared them for few families on board. We all made lifelong friends and have already made plans for future visits with them. The food is unbelievable and so is the staff. Our day on the private island and all time spent off the back with the water sports were amazing. Zip lining is Costa Rica was fun. We were a little disappointed that we didn't see as much wildlife as we thought we might, but that could have been time of year/day. We booked an excursion outside of the ship and with Quepos Canyoning and that was the highlight of our excursions. The cabins are spacious and completely stocked. We got the drink plan, which really made the cruise all-inclusive. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2013
We spent the night in the Marriott Panama City but booked ourselves instead of through Windstar and saved over $100 each doing it independently. Very nice hotel in a great location with pool and helpful staff. First impressions of the ... Read More
We spent the night in the Marriott Panama City but booked ourselves instead of through Windstar and saved over $100 each doing it independently. Very nice hotel in a great location with pool and helpful staff. First impressions of the Windspirit was ‘great’ which was unfortunately rather muted after the 1.5 hour coach ride to Colon from Panama City having to listen to the tour guide drone on for most of the journey. Disembarking the coach and finding our way to the Windspirit was also very shambolic with no direction, signage nor Windstar representative but we all found our way in the end to the refreshing air conditioning of the ships main reception. Registration in the lounge was a little amateur but we got through it and were then directed to our cabin. Warmth and hospitality of the ship staff are one of the biggest plus points of the voyage with staff soon learning your name. Our cabin on deck one amidships was very comfortable but showing a little wear despite the recent refurbishment that took place. Our cabin steward was very helpful, friendly and made our stay very enjoyable. Depending on what muster point you are allocated for your lifeboat there is a clear difference in the quality of staff and the amount of information you receive from them. One hopes there will never be an incident. Without going into too much detail the other passengers on the ship were very friendly and nice people and we made friends with several. The entertainment was everything you would expect, and we wanted, from a small ship i.e. just a piano player which was very good. We didn’t take up the drink package as not value for money! We do like two or three cocktails/wine in the evening but it just did not work out financially as a good deal. We did, however, take up the laundry package which was great and well worth it. The food was lovely! We really enjoyed Candles on the pool deck although you do need to pre-book. The main restaurant AmphorA was very nice too with great service. My partner and I both need to go on a diet after all the great food which was always available. Windstar promote their ships as ‘private yachts’ and that is how it really felt. You wouldn’t have noticed 148 passengers on board. We went through the Panama Canal which was scenic but once you’ve done one lock that’s about it, but it depends on your individual interests. Christmas day was spent on Isla de Coiba in the Pacific. What a paradise and fantastic day on the beach, bbq and first real day on a beach in the sun. I would recommend you do detailed research on the ports prior to the trip and plan your own outings. Most companies will pick you up at the dock as part of the package if you wanted to do some zip line for example and they most definitely will be cheaper than booking through the ship. There may have been faults with either the ship, trips out, staff etc but we would most heartily recommend Windstar and are already looking at sailing with them again. This is the next best thing to having your own yacht so enjoy!   Read Less
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