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18 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
I came upon the itinerary Land of the Midnight Sun purely by chance when looking for another family trip, but it was an itinerary we had been looking for, on a small ship, and so we signed up. The offices, which are out of Seattle, did ... Read More
I came upon the itinerary Land of the Midnight Sun purely by chance when looking for another family trip, but it was an itinerary we had been looking for, on a small ship, and so we signed up. The offices, which are out of Seattle, did not inspire confidence. This was an expensive cruise, and yet we got no beautiful color brochure upon signing up and paying our deposit. It was very difficult to connect with the salesman on the phone; there were many excuses; not enough staff on at the time; I was advised to just speak with whoever answered the phone. I have to say, this is a luxury cruise line; I felt treated like my agent, who is overworked and understaffed and sells dirt cheap all inclusives to the Caribbean which turn out pretty well, and I can usually connect on the phone with him when I need to. So we had no further information on the trip except what was online on the web, and that was the ports of call. We did not find out until we paid the balance for the trip that all the shore excursions were EXTRA, that the internet was EXTRA, that they had actually changed the itinerary, but failed to tell us; they claimed they had the wrong email address, and yet, we had receipts for payments sent correctly. Then the excursion descriptions could not be printed out so we could look at them, and that took two days for them to send us a PDF which could be printed out. The web interface is pretty awful. It would only print in caps, so I felt like I was in 1987. Did I say the offices are in Seattle? (Hello, Microsoft, Amazon, ETCETERA!) And I had dietary needs, which were sort of brushed off, so I could imagine starving for 11 days, which HAS happened in the past. So, like I said, not inspiring confidence. Anyway, we got to Reykjavik, and walked to the Old Harbor and got on the ship and that is when our experience changed. That IS the good news. Everyone was amazing to us; the staff was fabulous; the crew is Indonesian, mostly, and they chatted up my husband who is fluent in Indonesian, having lived there many years ago. Other friends had warned us, they will address you by name, and almost instantly we were called by name. The rooms are huge by cruise ship standards, and this turned out to be very lucky as our trip could have been called Storm Chasing in the North Atlantic, but because we had such comfortable surroundings, being stuck at sea for 4 days did not result in cabin fever, just a lot of books devoured on iPad. And lots of MSNBC. I know it is an older ship, having been purchased from Seabourne, and renovated, but it is a really nice ship, and extremely well maintained. The guys were out window washing in port, painting the railings, re painting the hull. The way a ship should be maintained, all the time. But the rooms are huge, and there is a bathtub and lovely smelling very high end shampoos, lots of lights for up, down, dim, bright, a comfortable sofa, and a couple of side chairs. Curtain between the sitting area and the bed, assuming someone in your party has insomnia and wants to stay up all night watching the waves. Staff turning down the bed, leaving chocolate, etc. I am sure we did not use as much of the amenities as we could or should have, but it was comfortable to be left alone! The gym is pretty nice, small, but only 200 folk on board. There is a screening room, and one of our new "friends" set up a movie and popcorn, which turned out to be a lot of fun. There is a lovely lounge on 8 where there was food and coffee all day, and an outdoor bar, and even one day that wasn't too cold and people were sunbathing under blankets. There were lectures; the ones I attended were well worth my time. TV: I think with so much time at sea, there should have been more channels available or a bigger selection of dvds in the library. There WERE a lot of good books to choose from, so that was a nice surprise and fun to supplement with what I had brought with me. I had a dietary issue with gluten, which had been dismissed by the Seattle office, but onboard, I feel like a princess, as every morning I was presented with a menu and asked to choose, and then at dinner, they had managed to create a gluten free version of whatever I had chosen. It was amazing. I think this was the best food we have ever had on a cruise, and it was 12 days, and after a few days, no matter how great the food is, a sameness sets in, but that did not happen. We were also able to order ahead and have an Indonesian meal, because there was an Indonesian chef onboard for the crew. A fellow passenger did this several times! And there was a barbecue one night on deck, where tables were set up and a grill emerged and there was a true feast. Lobster, shrimp, steak...I have heard complaints that it's not like it used to be, but after this meal, I just can't fathom what could have been more decadent (and I come from New York). There is also a stand alone grill restaurant that you had to make a reservation for (once) during your trip, which we ultimately did, and it was lovely, but really, the food overall was outstanding. Of course, you could order anytime you wanted from Room Service and you could eat in your room, no extra charge. So the ship experience was superb. The complaints would have to be for the very overpriced shore excursions, which really should have been minimally included in the cruise price. I have done a lot of traveling, and this is the first time, even a basic walk around was charged an almost ridiculous price. I debated setting out on my own, but not knowing exact times for arrival, etc. made me rethink and so we did sign up. Most were okay, but not really anything special. I have to assume a crowd on a luxury cruise in the North Atlantic going to the Faroe Islands is pretty sophisticated, and the excursions were mostly like Disneyland/grade school. One, in zodiacs to look at some waterfalls in the fjords, which I was really looking forward to, involved getting into massive snowsuits and then the trip was under an hour, and really, not going very far or anywhere special. I felt cheated. We were on the Amazon and would spend 4 hours in a boat, looking for a bird, and going further and further into the wilderness. The Windstar excursion was LITE. And we of course got caught behind a huge storm, so we were sequestered in a cove off of Scotland for a while, so the itinerary changed again. So it was a different trip than we anticipated, but all in all. Seattle Office: C-, Ship A+++, Crew A+++, Food A+++ Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
This was our seventh cruisewith Windstar. We departed from Reykjavik, Iceland. Our first stop was at the Faroe Islands. We then sailed to Norway, cruising the fjords and stopping at Molde. The fjords were beautiful - worth the trip by ... Read More
This was our seventh cruisewith Windstar. We departed from Reykjavik, Iceland. Our first stop was at the Faroe Islands. We then sailed to Norway, cruising the fjords and stopping at Molde. The fjords were beautiful - worth the trip by themselves. We later stopped at Geiranger and took a three hour bus trip up the mountain which afforded us superb views of the fjord and mountainside. My wife has wanted to see the fjords since she was in grade school and she was not disappointed. A later stop was at Alesund, a very colorful town. The next day we stopped in Bergen where my wife attended a piano concert of Edvard Grieg's music, which she said was outstanding. As is the case with all Windstar cruises, the food was outstanding, as was the service. There was a wide choice of menu items and they were all superb. Breakfast was a buffet with a very wide assortment of items, including omelets made to order. There was also a small dining room called Candles which offered some items not on the regular dining room menu, including an enormous and delicious veal chop. On our last evening, the crew held a talent show which displayed some true talent and was very enjoyable. Our final stop was Dublin where we disembarked. One of the crew members who made the trip truly memorable was Cath, the lady who ran the gift shop. She had a wonderful sense of humor. We bought a couple of items, but really visited the shop to talk to Cath. Our cabin was very nice- a sitting area which included a sofa and two comfortable chairs with an enormous picture window, and a separate sleeping area with a king-size bed. We are looking forward to our next Windstar cruise with great anticipation. Read Less
21 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
This is the first cruise that we have taken in the last ten years that did not include shore excursions, wine, and Wi-Fi in the cruise price. This was a very poor value! We booked our own shore excursions at less than half of the ... Read More
This is the first cruise that we have taken in the last ten years that did not include shore excursions, wine, and Wi-Fi in the cruise price. This was a very poor value! We booked our own shore excursions at less than half of the Windstar rate for the same tours. The "private event" was very poor - the "magnificent" caves were hardly that. Embarkation and disembarkation were poorly organized. The first notice that we received about the transfer to the ship for embarkation included instructions on transfer to the airport instead. We had to wait one hour after disembarkation in order to finally get a taxi after the cruise director had assured us that taxis would be available. The food was generally mediocre. Ordering ala carte items at breakfast generally resulted in extremely long waits for the food and/or not receiving what was ordered. The "seafood extravaganza" barbecue was very poor. The seafood was not fresh - crab claws were still partially frozen and the chef indicated that the lobster was from Maine. Really? These were the small 3 oz lobsters that can be purchased in the grocery store. Public announcements from the captain were audible in both the cabins and public areas but cruise director announcements were only audible in public areas. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2015
This review is written by a couple that has done 9 Windstar cruises since 2003. Obviously one continues to return for a great experience but this review will outline why we will search the market again before we decide which cruise line ... Read More
This review is written by a couple that has done 9 Windstar cruises since 2003. Obviously one continues to return for a great experience but this review will outline why we will search the market again before we decide which cruise line to choose for our next experience. Over 100 people on this cruise have sailed with Windstar multiple times but day after day we spoke to people who felt similar to us. Windstar of today is not of the quality of years prior. Clearly, the signs of a large company owning this once new concept in a cruise line are evident and I will outline them in detail below. Please understand, we had a nice time and the itinerary from Iceland to Norway and Denmark is fabulous. Many of us felt there were far too many days at sea which can be rather boring, or one can use them to catch up on reading or relaxing. Here are the issues for the consumer to consider in deciding on what cruise to take. By the way, remember this cruise cost over $5K/ person The Ship We were on the Star Legend, previously a Seaborne ship. Despite the $18M investment at drydock the ship is old. It is by no means falling apart but the signs of age are everywhere as you walk around the ship. The Crew First of all, our Captain was the most delightful, professional we have experienced in our years of cruising. The open bridge policy continues and is always informative and exciting. It you sailed Windstar before, you knew that each crew member would know your name by the end of the first day. On this voyage only 25 % of the crew were veterans and the other 75% were Windstar crew for a few months. The Dining Room Manager has been with the line 5 months. This is all important as the food and service have definitely taken a hit. We waited 20 minutes for someone to take a wine order at the beginning of dinner, we saw breakfast orders in the dining room never delivered and my wife's pancakes were raw. The food "looks fancy" but is not memorable. Remember, $5k/ person for this! If you talk to the crew you learn they are very understaffed which is apparent to many of us. They work so hard and they are delightful but they are human. If your getting the feeling that this is a large company really watching its bottom line, it's exactly what many of us felt during this 11 day cruise. Even they will tell you the food , choices and selection and service is not the same. Few vegetarian options, no gluten free options (except one bread) and the same vegetable sides every night. One day in sailing into a port the Captain suggested we get up early to watch the beautiful scenery and he would narrate and offer some history on the area. We got up at 630 am and found one dining room attendant in the Yacht Club serving coffee to a long line of guests. We all felt sorry for him but no one staffed that room properly. In addition, we could not hear the Captains narrative as promised. The Rooms The rooms are quite nice and sizeable ( I think 277 sq ft) but the beds, linens, towels and pillows leave something to be desired. The TV is tiny with few options. The mini bar is stocked with soft drinks and beers ( or whatever you choose to pay for) . While they offer a Bose speaker, the Internet service is horrible and streaming music is not possible with Sirius XM or Spotify. The PA system in the rooms does not broadcast the captains messages and we had to open our cabin door to hear them. So let's talk about the Internet. They charge $250 for unlimited access by one device at a time. Dare I say that it could take 5 minutes to download one e mail to an I pad but more significantly at many times Internet was not available including in port at Gairanger. Now, we know the cruise line is aware of this but no one was ever told. No, a prorated credit was never offered for the inconvenience. We found this feature to be no less than a rip off but Windstar has a captive audience for this and frankly we felt it is abused. The Food Good- not great. The buffet choices for breakfast and lunch are not as grand as in the past. One day someone made a bad decision to have us dine outdoors for lunch in Norway when it was 50 degrees. The grill makes burgers and some sandwiches but quality has slipped. Candles restaurant has the ambiance of a mid level chain restaurant and the portions were quite small. Yes, you can always ask for more food but of course this all takes time etc. we would not call this a fine dining experience. The classic Windstar Barbeque was held on deck one evening and was outstanding. We had to wait 20 minutes on two occasions to order an initial glass or bottle of wine, had to send the food back to the kitchen a few ties during this cruise. Excursions Very,very expensive and in this day of on line bookings it is not necessary to book through the ship. We were able to do the same excursions as the ship offered but at half price or less and with the same vendors. The activity director, Travis was excellent and very informative as is his staff. Windstar failed to notify many of the passengers that it had included a complementary excursion in Flamm, Norway which required some of us to cancel our independent plans and get refunds from the vendors. Entertainment- One doesn't go on a Windstar cruise for the entertainment. There were two duos playing at all times in the evening and they are fine. Very few people wind up listening and the quality is just OK. Definitely need more enrichment activity for those who like to learn as they cruise as so many of the guests do. In summary, we believe that at this price point several other lines deserve a shot...perhaps Silversea or Seaborne. We hope that Windstar will again try to deliver the personal, high quality product of years gone by as the experience of intimate groups on a cruise ship is unique. Unfortunately, the lack of value delivered on this cruise makes competitors products more attractive. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2015
We decided to take in a cruise that also allowed for a few days in Iceland and with this in mind we traveled to Reykjavik a few days beforehand. Given the weather however this was with hindsight not the best decision! It was raining ... Read More
We decided to take in a cruise that also allowed for a few days in Iceland and with this in mind we traveled to Reykjavik a few days beforehand. Given the weather however this was with hindsight not the best decision! It was raining and windy and not an auspicious start when we embarked the Star Legend which was berthed essentially right near the heart of Reykjavik and we were able to walk to the ship from our hotel quite easily. The welcome from the staff and the cabin steward was warm and friendly and the cabin on inspection was just superb. A bath in the bathroom - which even on the large cruise ships is a luxury reserved for only the highest end cabins - and good quality bath products. There was a wonderful sitting area with sofa and two chairs for those lazy days at sea gazing out at the ocean and a large and comfortable bed. The weather cleared in time for the sail-away and on deck the wonderful Vangelis composition 'Conquest of Paradise' played as we slipped out of the harbor. It was a very special moment. This was my first time sailing with Windstar and I have to say I was suitably impressed. The staff appeared to know names within a day or so and the service was faultless. The only minor blip was one day in the Fjords when the Captain had suggested an early rise to take in the superb views and there was only one poor steward trying to serve coffee to what seemed like the entire passenger complement. Possibly no-one had anticipated there would be such a turnout! The cruise turned out to be a good mix of a few sea days which are always enjoyable and on one day when we were scheduled to be 'at sea' the Captain and the Norwegian pilot (apparently on board whenever the ship is in the fjords) put together a wonderful day of scenic cruising along the coast. I was surprised to hear some passenger's complaining about the 'sea days' - they must have known this when they booked and this was just an unexpected bonus. We were immensely satisfied on the day we were in Geirangerfjord that we were on such a lovely small ship when we came back to the jetty for the tender service return to the Star Legend. A very large ship was also in the Fjord and the queue for the tenders must have run into the hundreds of people. I had to say we felt rather smug as we walked straight on to the jetty and stepped aboard out tender for the return, with no queuing whatsoever There was a good mixture of ports with a wide range of tours on offer. We did make our own arrangements on a couple of occasions but the tours we purchased proved to be excellent and informative. The Captain gave a very good lecture on the history of Navigation which was very enjoyable and we even had a towel folding demonstration of the wonderful towel animals that appeared every night on the bed on our return to the cabin after dinner. The food was superb and on one day there was a deck barbecue which made a nice change and was great fun, with the crew doing their interpretation of YMCA which caused much hilarity. I used the Spa on two occasions and found the service there to be faultless. I was very impressed with Windstar and I will certainly travel with them again, however this is not a cruise for people who need to be entertained from morning till night but rather an understated quality product with the emphasis on informal good service. I would also highly recommend eating on at least one evening in the alternative dining venue which has more of a Bistro type feel to it. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2015
We decided to take our first trip with Windstar and build in a couple of days in Reykjavik beforehand which, given the weather, was probably not the best idea. It was an easy walk from the hotel to the ship which was berthed very close to ... Read More
We decided to take our first trip with Windstar and build in a couple of days in Reykjavik beforehand which, given the weather, was probably not the best idea. It was an easy walk from the hotel to the ship which was berthed very close to the center of the City It was raining heavily and quite windy which was not a very auspicious start when we boarded Star Legend, but we were made to feel very welcome immediately by the crew and our cabin steward who was delightful. After a quick inspection of the ship it was time for the lifeboat drill and then on to the deck (as the weather had cleared on cue) for the sail-away, to the sound of the marvelous Vangelis composition 'Conquest of Paradise' , it was really very atmospheric. The food was first rate with a buffet arrangement at breakfast and lunch - although it is also possible to order off a menu. At dinner it is full service but without the necessity of having to dress formally. I would also recommend the alternative dining venue which has more of a Bistro feel to it. On one evening there was a deck barbecue with an excellent range of food and the crew performed their version of YMCA which was hilarious and added to the general atmosphere of enjoyment. We used the Spa on a couple of occasions and felt the treatments were competitively priced and in line with the other larger ships. The spa staff we found to be very helpful. The Captain gave a very interesting talk on the history of navigation which we found quite fascinating and there was also a demonstration from the cabin stewards on making the towel animals which we found on the bed each evening on our return to the cabin after dinner. There were a few sea days which are always wonderful and on one day which had been scheduled as a sea day the Captain and the Norwegian pilots (who apparently stay on board while the ship is in the fjords), arranged for a day of scenic cruising. This was an unexpected bonus and the scenery we sailed past was outstanding. I was surprised to hear some people complain about the sea days when they must have been aware of them when they booked. I really could not fault it. The only slight hiccough seemed to occur when it had been suggested that we rose early the following morning to take in the scenic views and there was only one steward trying to serve coffee to what seemed to be the entire passenger complement. Perhaps they had not anticipated such a turnout! The tours we took were very good and informative and on a couple of occasions we made our own arrangements which we found easy to do. The day we were in Geirangerfjord we took a marvelous tour and felt very smug when we returned to the jetty for the tender back to the ship. A large cruise ship was also there and the queues for their tenders must have run into the hundreds of people. It was very satisfying to walk straight on to the tender for the Star Legend with no wait at all. The open bridge policy was quite a revelation and we enjoyed watching the navigation of the ship through the fjords and being able to walk up there at almost any time (keeping out of the way of course). The officers seemed happy to answer any question. We will definitely sail with Windstar again - perhaps trying one of their sail vessels. However, this is not a cruise for people who need to be entertained from morning to night. There is some entertainment in the form of two singing duos and a small casino. In the day, especially at sea there are a few things such as fruit carving demonstrations or the Spa may have a fitness class, there was also a senior officers question and answer session on one occasion. There is a reasonable DVD collection on board and a small library and a lovely forward facing lounge with coffee and light snacks, which is open most of the day from early in the morning. A word about the staff. They were without exception delightful and in no time seemed to know our names and preferences. There was touching service conducted by the Indonesian crew and the Captain to mark their Independence Day and they seemed genuinely happy that so many of the passengers had turned out to celebrate with them. Disembarkation in Copenhagen went off without a hitch for us and the hotel arrangements were as expected. Overall a very enjoyable vacation. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2015
Having planned this trip 9 months ago, and having been on Windstar before, we had been looking forward to the Star Legend. We were not disappointed. The itinerary is interesting, From Reykjavik to the Faroe Islands, the Shetlands, ... Read More
Having planned this trip 9 months ago, and having been on Windstar before, we had been looking forward to the Star Legend. We were not disappointed. The itinerary is interesting, From Reykjavik to the Faroe Islands, the Shetlands, Norwegian fjords and Copenhagen. We planned our excursions carefully and chose to take the Windstar Cruises offerings, although the tours are on the expensive side (par for the course in cruise companies and not unexpected). For the most part we found these informative and good with excellend guides, with one exception. When we (and several other passengers) complained about the quality, the line gave us a 50% discount, which was fair and unsolicited. Boarding and leaving the ship at each port was handled efficiently and relatively fast. We arrived in Iceland 3 days early and spent them touring around the Southern part of the country. The weather was good to us and we were lucky to have mild, clear days. The weather throughout the cruise was fairly good. Having sailed the North Sea before, I expected some rough weather, but it was calm throughout the cruise. There was very little rain even in the Faroes, and very mild. We boarded the Star Legend and were immediately impressed and pleased with the ship. We did not find the ship to be tired, despite the fact that it has been in service for some years. Our cabin, a BS1 category, was unexpectedly large and very comfortable with a soothing beige and blue decor, plenty of storage including a walk-in closet, large bed, good size bathroom with shower (my only caveat - the shower head is ridiculously located in a corner, necessitating one to cram into the corner to get under the jet), and best of all, a sofa and two armchairs. The Bose speakers were a great addition and my husband immediately connected his phone with music. The TV was smallish, but we are not great addicts, so didn't mind. The crew were, without exception, extremely helpful and pleasant. Our cabin steward was delightful and the restaurant staff were well trained and everyone knew our names by the end of the first day - impressive! Captain James and his officers were charming and welcomed us on the bridge whenever we visited it, the open bridge is a nice touch from Windstar. The Amphora Restaurant served breakfast and sometimes lunch, buffets, all of which were good but not exceptional. We managed to eat at Candles a couple of times, worth the effort, the lamb chops were tender and juicy and I had them both times. Other members of our party were also pleased with their dishes. As is usual, the bar drinks were expensive, but the choices of wines offered were reasonably good. Looking back, we both agree that it was one of the nicest ships we have been on (we will only travel on smaller ships), and we would definitely choose the Star Legend and Windstar Cruises again. Read Less
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