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Sail Date: December 2012
Windsurf has changed. This was our 7th Windstar cruise overall and 4th on the Windsurf. In 2012, the ship was given a face-lift; not the overall refurbishment the line's Facebook page implied. Windstar is almost there. Almost, but ... Read More
Windsurf has changed. This was our 7th Windstar cruise overall and 4th on the Windsurf. In 2012, the ship was given a face-lift; not the overall refurbishment the line's Facebook page implied. Windstar is almost there. Almost, but not quite at the true luxury level. Degree Restaurant was replaced by Stella Bistro (yet the guest comment card still lists Degrees). Stella was very good and the design is modern. The French-influenced food and service were quite good. The same holds for Candles, held over in the re-design. The dining venue is outside on deck under the moon and stars. Cannot be beat! The main restaurant is now called AmphorA (yes, two capital A's). This is perhaps the most prominent example of the ship's renovation. It even smells new. New carpeting, table and chairs and a daily changing menu. The food was quite good, and the service, as it is throughout the ship, was excellent. I'm not really a wine expert, but I do think the wine list contained some interesting and reasonably priced options. Rommel, the bar manager, has been with Windstar since 1998 and knows his wine. But unless you and your traveling partner are really big drinkers, the beverage package seems like a huge waste of money. Breakfast and lunch are served in an indoor/outdoor setting called the Veranda. There's always a buffet in addition to a menu of eggs cooked to order, pancakes, burgers, dogs and fries. The staff, who seem to work 24/7, are terrific. A couple of servers, Ziggy and One, even remembered us from a cruise we were on a year and a half ago. Upon check-in on the pier in St. Maarten, there was only one official processing people. Most of us had just gotten off long flights and were standing in the warm sun. In the past, check-in was quicker with more personnel helping out. However, the process moved along quickly and were on board within 20 minutes. Once on the ship, getting your picture taken and getting your room key is a smooth and quick affair. Luggage was delivered about 90 minutes later, during which time we had lunch. The cabins on the ship had undergone some updates. New bedding and curtains, but the same somewhat tired carpeting. The ship is pushing 20 (or more) and the carpeting shows it's age. Bathrooms on Windsurf are spacious and uniquely designed in a roundish pattern. The shower has round walls, as does the space for the toilet. Surprisingly, even someone 6'2" fits easily. Towels and toiletries are quite good and the cabin is serviced well by the hard-working stewards. The ports-of-call on this itinerary sounded good when we booked. Antigua, Tortola, Virgin Gorda, St Barth. But the excursions left much to be desired. Although she seemed to work hard, the excursion director, TJ, didn't seem too well informed about the trips. And the few slides she showed the evening before were not very informative. There are Information sheets available for each port, but a helpful touch would be a map on the reverse side showing where the shop docks in relation to restaurants, bansk, beaches, etc. People complained about long bus rides, not so nice beaches, and not enough time t enjoy the scuba diving and snorkeling, etc. By an informal poll the trip to The Baths on Virgin Gorda was the best excursion. Wiggling through narrow openings between boulders was, for some, a bit strenuous, but worth it when we got to Devil's Bay. As usual, Windstar's picnic on the beach was great, as was the final night's bar-b-que on deck. A great assortment of options, even for vegetarians. Anyone who has ever sailed with Windstar knows the entertainment options. A competent house band, which has been playing for guests for quite some time, and a duo in the upstairs Compass Rose. That's it. For those of us who return to Windstar, this is fine and we don't want or expect more. If you want Las Vegas style pomp, this isn't the place for you. I said earlier that Windstar had changed. One negative is that things seemed much less organized. Events were listed in the daily program without times (wine-tasting, cooking class) or the wrong time. An early morning stretching class listed as starting at 8:00, actually began at 7:30, surprising the guests who arrived at 8:00. There are so few scheduled events on these small ships, you'd think keeping track of them would be easy. Even the ever-pleasant women at Reception were unsure of when things started and where they would take place. Back to the cabin...many guests' room locks didn't work. Batteries and to be replaced. The once modern and useful Bose sound docks also were prone to problems. All matters were addressed quickly, but there seemed to be a lot of such issues. Two other observations. The cabins could use another electric outlet. People today travel with a ton of electronics and all need to be charged. So a nice addition would be one or two more plugs. Also, who designed a toilet with the flushing device behind the seat? Talk about sanitary! One has to do one's business, close the lid and reach behind the toiled and pull up on a knob to flush. One great thing about Windstar is that there is no waiting for anything. On a recent cruise on a large ship (2,000) passengers, there was a 20 minute wait to get into the main dining room. Never happens on Windstar. You can eat whenever and with whomever you please and you are seated with a minute of coming to the door. The same holds for getting on and off the ship. Never a wait of more than a minute or two. The open bridge policy still is in effect and you can wander in and ask questions almost anytime. The captain made himself quite visible throughout the trip even though he wasn't feeling well. I would like those see Windstar do more to recognize return passengers. Because this cruise line caters to a very specific niche, I would think much of their business comes from word of mouth. Airlines and hotels reward frequent travelers (as does Seabourn) with perks. Maybe an upgraded room. Maybe shipboard credit. Maybe a free spa service or bottle of wine. Not on Wndstar. Regarding Windsurf spa, the women who seemed in charge was surly, rude and impatient. A very unusual trait for a cruise employee. When people had questions, or wanted to change or cancel an appointment, she look quite annoyed. One therapist even administered even administered a massage after admitting she had a cold. With so many precautions taken on cruise ships about disease prevention, how could this woman knowingly give a passenger a massage when she knew she had a cold? Overall, Windstar is a great choice for a cruise vacation. When the sails go up, when they play Vengelis' 1492 during sail away, nothing beats it. But the line still has a way to go to be considered a luxury-level fleet Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2012
We just completed a second transatlantic cruise with the Windstar's ship Windsurf it was a wonderful cruise in so many ways. Of couse embarking is easy and quick with 107 fellow passengers, 89 who were repeat and 18 who were new to ... Read More
We just completed a second transatlantic cruise with the Windstar's ship Windsurf it was a wonderful cruise in so many ways. Of couse embarking is easy and quick with 107 fellow passengers, 89 who were repeat and 18 who were new to the cruise line. Many of the passengers have made multiple crossing and often meet each other either every or every other year. So, for many people it is a reunion. For a ship that can carry 312 people, having only 107 it was like having your own private yacht. For a crossing it takes a special passenger. You have to be happy making your own fun and activities and you have enjoy quiet and solitude. While there are few formal activities there is: reading, ocean and star gazing, a group of women did needle point and made jewelry, one lady painted, the ship does organize games such as trivia and ship golf, a group of people enjoyed putting together complicated puzzles, the ship publishes daily word and number games, there is musical entertainment in the evening and the ship had an evening movie and popcorn! This trip there was a popular tap dancing class initiated by a fellow passenger. As you can see much of activities are self driven and low key. The pool at the beginning of the trip was widely used and the hot tubs were always in use. One of my happy anticipations was the daily noon announcement by the Captain of our position, weather report, nautical miles to land, ocean depth and distance to the horizon. The bridge was happily open 24/7 for curious people like myself. While on this transatlantic we saw a whale, a shark, dolphins, 2 other ships and had a beautiful sail by the Azores. Despite the few number of passengers there was an outside eating restaurant In which the meat was extraordinary, the main restaurant and the bistro along with the Veranda restaurant for lunch and dinner. The food was consistently excellent and varied throughout the journey. The outside barbecue was truly under the stars. The Yacht Club, with the best sandwiches one could wish for, was always open. The cabins are spacious and comfortable, great in-cabin entertainment either a selection of 100s of DVDs or the 3 daily movie offerings.Windstar cruises are known for the superb service and this continued only the staff had more time to converse so we were able to spend more time in conversation with these wonderful people. A crossing is truly an amazing way to relax and Windstar has fined tuned it to the perfect vacation. I would rather take14 days sailing across the ocean than 7hours in a plane any day. Docking in Lisbon is a great experience because before you dock you go under a bridge that spans the harbor for that great optical illusion of the sails almost touching the bridge. The ship has to go under at low tide, this time it was 3:30 am and there were at least 40 people on deck watching this event. A fine way to say good by after 14 days of bliss. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2012
This is cruise #30 and cruise line #8 for us. We are in our mid-40s, professionals DINK. We've been sailing for 16 years but this was one of the best experiences ever. Here's why. Service: the word gracious is on the website. ... Read More
This is cruise #30 and cruise line #8 for us. We are in our mid-40s, professionals DINK. We've been sailing for 16 years but this was one of the best experiences ever. Here's why. Service: the word gracious is on the website. It is a true definition of how we were treated. We were called by name almost immediately and felt as though all staff were genuinely concerned that we were cared for and having a good time. Because of only having 270 pax there was ample time for them to get to know us and us to get to know them. It seems silly to say, but I felt like I was on my own yacht. Not once did I hear the words called out to no one in particular "Bar Service?" It was, "Miss Barbara, can I get you something to drink?" Crew: the open bridge policy is unique. Wander up there when you want (not during port times). Ask anything and prepared to be informed and entertained. Capt Clark has missed his calling as a comedian. He kept us entertained more than once during the welcome aboard and the farewell party. Funny, intelligent man. All other staff friendly and unobtrusive. Sails: this was the reason I wanted to go on Windstar. I got goose bumps on sail away from St Maarten when the music started and the first sail got unfurled. It never got old for the other 6 nights either. We were on sail power for 39% of our cruise. So beautiful. Too bad we only saw the sails up while we were on board - but otherwise we would have missed the boat! We did bust a sail on the first night, the forward sail caught too much wind and let go, but it wasn't noticeable. Venues: I was thinking I might be bored, since I'm pretty active, but I wasn't. I was so relaxed that it never occurred to me that I wasn't doing a lot. We went in to some ports, but truly I couldn't care less where we went so that's why there will be no reviews of the ports except maybe a small comment or two. The Compass Rose seemed to be the place to be. It was the only place where finding a spot to sit at times was difficult. Once they revamp the space they may address the seating arrangements. Afternoon tea, before and after drinks were all popular times. The Lounge became like a family room, a place to gather for the port talk before dinner, have a drink and fabulous hot/cold hors d'oeuvres. The band was just right, playing a good mix and not too loud. Plenty of space for all and very cozy. I loved that room. The Yacht Club is the rest of deck 4 (Main) and has reception (Ladies were so helpful and friendly), the sandwich bar and coffee station, library and DVD library (all free and readily available). Lots of comfy leather chairs for lounging. Dining: Well. I like food. The first night we found a great little table for two at The Restaurant which suited us just fine. Great choices on the menu, and very well presented. Staff seemed to know the menu very well and were completely able to adjust without "checking". Good for the fussy eater my DH is. The first night though, our waiter Steven seemed to disappear after the main course was served. My pork was not cooked and I wasn't at all happy, but he nor any other staff were anywhere to be found, and when they came close I couldn't get their attention. Finally, he did come back and I explained my problem. It was too late to fix it although he was genuinely sorry he'd disappointed me. Needless to say at that point I wasn't hopeful for the rest of the cruise if the first dinner was such a poor experience. Well, I needn't have worried. It was an absolute anomaly, and the service and food was outstanding, truly outstanding for the rest of the week. We also tried Degrees for one meal, and found it wonderful as well. We just liked the Restaurant and our table a bit better. Degrees is on Deck 5 and adjacent to the Veranda restaurant and used as overflow seating for lunch and breakfast. We had reservations one night at Candles, unfortunately one of the two nights it decided to rain during the evening. We missed out but heard good things. The last night we ate at Le Marche, on deck 6 right under the sails. It was the seafood restaurant, and they served a starter including shrimp and tuna something, a wonderful greek salad, and about 5 entrees. We had the seafood trio and it was wonderful. Dessert was okay too, but by then I was so full... Breakfast and Lunch were both buffet/A la Carte. Walk in, pick what you want from the buffet and the waiter will come along to see if you want pancakes, waffles, eggs benedict etc etc etc or at lunch a variety of grill items. There was never any lobster at lunch, despite rumours we'd heard. Oh well. BBQ - two of these, one on the beach at lunch, the other on deck in the evening. The beach one was at St Lucia. The amount of work that went into this preparation was amazing. Everything carried over by tender. Okay. China plates and real cutlery. The complete bar from the ship. Ice cream. Ribs, chicken, salads, dessert, tea, coffee. It was like eating on the ship except you were on the beach. The organization was incredible. Fantastic. The BBQ on the ship looked as amazing, although we chose to eat in the dining room just because it was a little too dark and windy for our tastes. Glad we did too, because my filet mignon was perhaps the best I have had IN MY LIFE. I also had creme brulee at some point during the week - not usually a favourite, but hey, I tried. Chef Ronald's creme brulee must be the reason that people eat creme brulee. Wow. Okay, enough about the food. You won't go hungry and you will love it. Did I mention the specialty coffee and the cheese plate and the plentiful choices of yummy things? German choc cake, also not a favourite, OMG So Good. LOL One complaint: regular coffee in the morning was horrible. Pool Area: one pool, despite evidence of a pool on Deck 6 at one point in the design. Salt water. Chilly. But for some reason lovely and warm on the last day. Two hot tubs. Here's something: 3 pm Friday. sitting in the hot tub. Why, who knows since it's hot outside. Along comes a server with a plate of frozen lemon sorbet, fancy lemon sorbet in real glass dishes, on a china plate with a silver spoon. I'm in heaven. I'm on a yacht, in the hot tub, looking over the beautiful Caribbean, and eating lemon sorbet off a china plate. Is that the reason we cruise, or what? LOL There are lots of loungers, especially since we were in port most days, and lots of places to sit with an iPad or kindle to read. Books too :) Shade was at a premium, but could be found with a little effort. Embarkation: we were late. 6 pm in fact. Among the last to board. We took a Windstar transfer (only the two of us with a company rep and driver in a very nice Jeep). Met at the port entrance and escorted to the ship, and eventually met by someone who took our luggage down to the ship for us. We quickly found our way to check in, filling out a few docs and then being escorted to our stateroom by the chief steward, and shown around the stateroom and its amenities. Nice touch. Debarkation. Everyone off within 40 minutes. Nice leisurely breakfast, then maybe 3 announcements saying come get your passports and off you go. All luggage was at the top of the pier near the tour buses and taxis. Couldn't be simpler. We took the island tour through the cruise line since our flight wasn't until 430. It was a good option rather than sitting in the airport, although too much time driving around the island and not enough time downtown shopping. We've been there many times so I knew which stores were where and made a beeline for what I wanted. And time for a .99 cent beer at the Barefoot Terrance on the beach before heading to the airport. Personalities: My favourite bar staff: Bobby. Always smiled, called me by name, knew what I wanted and made sure I kept hydrated in the sun. I called him Roberto he was that good. Gino: Best hair at sea. Great dancer. Smile to launch a thousand ships. Makes a great martini. My favourite wait staff: Steven. Gentle, funny and gracious. We were well looked after breakfast, lunch and dinner. Daddy: the maitre d'hotel. Funny guy. Great for crew morale, not afraid to pitch in and serve or clean up. Always patting the staff on the back and smiling. A true leader. Captain Clark: what a guy. Sail with him anywhere. Great Costa jokes :) Other things to note: Abilio is the port guy. The Port Guy has to be somebody's nephew. He was as one guest pointed out "not useful". Vicki is the guest services manager. Didn't have to deal with her, but her voice would make you want to jump overboard. The Ship. She's a little rough around the edges, but hey she's not a fancy new mega ship. There were lots of crew giving touch ups here and there as you would see on any sea-going vessel. We had a very rough cruise. If you were prone to sea sickness, you would not have been a happy person. I haven't been tossed around that much in a long time, and I never get sick, but there was one point when I wished it would just stop. Most people said that. However, the Doc wasn't too busy, because he was front and centre at the Crew Talent show (a highlight) giving his all in a Whitney Houston Tribute. Ports: Who remembers from ports? St Barts - busy and expensive. Good for yacht watching. The rest I heard people suggest that even though they weren't crawling with other ships, there wasn't much to see or do. Organized tours to snorkle or swim seemed to be the best bet. Like I said, I've been to most islands and they've blended a long time ago. Gym. Small and at times very busy. Although there were at least 10 cardio machines and several weight machines. Ample supply of free weights and stability balls. Two tvs to watch. Some space for stretching. It was nicely air conditioned. There were classes avail to do yoga on the deck, but for a fee. Fellow passengers: They say 40-60. Our cruise more like 60-75. No herd mentality, but there was no reason to rush for anything because there was enough of whatever you wanted for everyone who wanted it. Lots of couples travelling together and plenty of mixing with strangers if that's what you wanted to do too. DH and I are kind of shy, but Bobby, our bar guy, introduced us to another Canadian couple and took credit all week for it :) 4 kids, 3 teen girls and one 8 year old boy. They kept busy reading, swimming from the marina on deck 2 and were very well-behaved. I think the crew enjoyed having them there. Speaking of fees: pop, juice, coffee, tea and bottled water all included and no problem for the bar staff to bring it promptly. Alcohol has the standard %15 gratuity. To bring your own bottle onboard from any of the ports no problem, but a charge of $17.50 for uncorking in the dining room applied. Compared to Carnival or Princess the wine choices were a bit more high end, and about $10 more for the cheapest bottle. Expect to pay minimum $37 US for a bottle and up from there. Thankfully for me, DH won the equivalent of my bar bill in the casino and a bit more :). Overall: a total winner. I would recommend this hand over heart. I will return. If you're even thinking about it - do it. You won't regret the experience. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2012
This was our 2nd sailing on this refurbished ship which was an amazing return after 12 years. The ship is a beautiful as ever. From the captain who was very informative, entertaining and "good looking" to the incredible service ... Read More
This was our 2nd sailing on this refurbished ship which was an amazing return after 12 years. The ship is a beautiful as ever. From the captain who was very informative, entertaining and "good looking" to the incredible service from all the staff, it ranks as one of the best of over 15 sailings I've been on. I published various public videos on you tube which show the ship and some of the destinations. This is not a cruise for youngsters or the weak/infirm. *Cabins - renovated and enough space and enjoyed the free soda and water throughout. The steward, who were rarely saw, kept the place top notch. *Food dining - we ate at the Restaurant most of the time because they had the best variety but we loved dining under the stars in Candles and on the BBQ night. Breakfast was always delicious and the filet mignon was very good but some of the other beef dishes were tough. The pork and chicken were very good as were the fish dishes and the side dishes and app/dessert. The wait staff went overboard to please and make sure everything went well and you were a happy customer. *Nightlife - the family band playing in the lounge was perfect as was the duo who played on the Compass Rose. Unfortunately we were generally so wiped out that we went to be early many times. *Excursions - well run and complemented to ports. The staff were informative but did not seem to have the detailed kowledge with "inside tips" if you wanted to deviate from their excursions. ** Overall, we will definitely sail this ship, or maybe try another, in the near future. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2012
First off, let me say that this was as perfect as I remember WindSurf being since 2007 which was our last cruise on her. Embarkation was easier than pie. DH has trouble walking long distances, so the check in people found a golf cart to ... Read More
First off, let me say that this was as perfect as I remember WindSurf being since 2007 which was our last cruise on her. Embarkation was easier than pie. DH has trouble walking long distances, so the check in people found a golf cart to deliver him to the gangplank. We arrived around 1:30 and were on board within 10 minutes and in our cabin within another 20. The Captain, who is a comedian, met us at the gangplank with a welcome. We were due to sail at 7. Muster was at 5:30 and was different than the last time. You can muster inside the doors of your station in the ac. That was a lovely experience!! Sail Away was as fun and memorable as I still had in my dreams! The music, the sails...Perfect. It was a little different for us to arrive/depart St Maarten as last time we left from Barbados. We spent the night before at the Holland House Beach Resort, which allowed us to see the ship first thing that morning. Amazing the difference of sizes between WS and a Celebrity... We did try out all of the restaurants at dinner (these were all new since we were on in 07). Restaurant was nice and service was good. Degrees, to me, was just a smaller regular restaurant and the service was questionable. Le Marche was ok....we didn't think it was any better seafood than in the dining room. Candles was definitely great; however, the wind was blowing and the food was cold in short order. The ambiance, however, was wonderful! Breakfast and lunch in the Veranda were great and the servers all went out of their way to get you what you wanted, help find seats, etc. First day was at sea. Unfortunately, we had a gentleman who got sick on sea day and we made a medical stop at Guadaloupe which was no being deal for the passengers. Good news is he was ok and the captain reported almost daily on his progress. We did sail by Montserrat which was fascinating! We sailed very slowly past it so you could see the destruction from the volcano and still see the 'phosphorus cloud' around the top of the volcano. Then Martinique. We were scheduled to dock at Le Marin. That didn't happen. It would appear that they let another yacht dock there overnight and there was no room for us. The captain was less than pleased and expressed himself so. But, that was not at all the cruise lines fault. We docked at Fort De France instead. We were scheduled for a ship sponsored 4x4 jeep ride. We were given the opportunity to cancel or go. Having never been to Martinique we decided to continue on. Well, done with Martinique. We were supremely disappointed with the rain forest and really didn't see anything very redeeming. Then to St Lucia and Beach Barbecue. We did not go to this. Everyone said it was really nice, although, a little difficult to manage your plate and sit in a beach chair. There was limited shade which is what kept us from going. But, we love St Lucia so we didn't really feel like we missed anything as we have done this in the past. They had lots of water toys available for the people who did go. the crew really does a top notch job with this! Dominica next. My best opinion of this was 'been there, done that'. That is really an unfair comment for me to make since we didn't do any tours. After getting car sick in Martinique, I really wasn't up to another venture. We had friends who did the aerial tram and suspension bridge. They said the island was beautiful, so I think we were just disappointed with the port and didn't explore further. Antigua. We have been here before and were looking forward to docking at Nelson dockyard, but we docked at Falmouth. There really wasn't anything there, but we did find a Yacht club that had a great lunch while looking over the marina. St Barts. How can you not love this place. We had greasy burgers at Le Select and did some shopping. Most of our days were spent on board, just sitting outside of Compass Rose reading books, taking naps, etc. It was so nice for the servers to not ask you every 30 seconds if you wanted another drink like they do on the large lines. Sometime around 2-3 p.m. in the afternoon, they came around with coolers...orange sherbert in half orange peels, frozen watermelon shooters. etc. Our ship was not full. There were around 260 people on board. I still saw people getting off that I had never seen while we were on board. We were under sail probably more than I can ever remember...about 60-70% of the time. Some of that could have been the closeness of the islands, but whatever works!! There was never a problem finding a chaise wherever you wanted to perch... It was fun to see Rene who was on the Spirit our 1st (and 2nd) sailing, and Raul and Segung from our last trip on the Surf. It was relatively interesting to only see ladies at the front desk and in the gift shop. Otherwise, as far as I could tell, the rest were men. The new sandwich spot was very nice. It was lovely to be able to get a sandwich to to--with water--if you had an excursion or just wanted to get off the ship and go to a beach. The upgrade to the rooms were lovely and certainly gave the ship a fresh look. It does need more refurbish to the decks, but that didn't bother me at all!! The staff show was a riot and the Dr. on board is quite the entertainer. They also had a deck barbecue our last night at sea. Lots of salads, grilled lobster, a whole pig, desserts. I wasn't overly impressed, but that was just me. It was very festive, but the food was barely even warm. After dinner, some of the servers---and the Dr--put on a dance show with lots of line dances. The Dr was definitely cutting a rug!! And, he was a very nice man to boot!! Daddy was wonderful...as was Bambang. We had a short conversation with Daddy one night about service in Degrees and he looked so hurt. We explained we were not fussing...just making him aware. He definitely takes his job seriously!! Captains cocktail party was nice as usual. We cannot comment on the overview of the next day's events from the lounge since we sailed almost every night around that time and I opted to be on deck for sail-away. Tea time was not quite as festive as I remembered...they used to do banana's foster or cheeries jubilee one day. Again, didn't ruin my trip! They used to also, on some nights, sort of make it a real party on deck for sail away with special drinks. But, the flip side is we never felt pressured about anything. Disembarkation was just as easy as embarkation. We did stay over one extra night at the Hotel Beach Plaza in Marigot. I would suggest you find another stay over hotel...even though it was one of the ship's 'sail/stay' program. I wish I could find something negative to say. However, I really don't have anything. It was as near perfect a vacation as one could possibly have!! Everyone from the gentlemen who helped us on/off the tenders (and they really helped my DH) to the maintenance people working were friendly, helpful and made you feel like you were the only one on the ship. Here's hoping I can go again next year and not wait 5 more!! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2012
This is as good as it gets. An amazing ship, amazing staff, fantastic itinerary, wonderful guests. Plus look out for our next, (complete contrast), review as we were on the ship for 2 weeks. It's hard to know where to start. A ... Read More
This is as good as it gets. An amazing ship, amazing staff, fantastic itinerary, wonderful guests. Plus look out for our next, (complete contrast), review as we were on the ship for 2 weeks. It's hard to know where to start. A truly stunning week. We arrived in St Maarten from the UK on Friday and boarded on Saturday. Our cabin was lovely. Boarding was fairly seamless. We started to feel our way around. Checked out the restaurants, gym etc. Had a beer by the pool bar looking forward to setting sail that evening. We ate at the fish restaurant the first night. It was good but not as good as the main restaurant which we loved. We thought the main restaurant was really special. Leaving St Maarten was dramatic. We soon learned that every night we set sail they play the tune used in Hunt For Red October, (Hymn to the red army), as the sails unwind. All about the experience. We loved the fact that as this was a smaller sailing ship we could get into the more quaint smaller ports. I've noted the ports of call below. We did a few trips, we explored some gorgeous places, we had lots of sun, enjoyed the beers and wines on board, enjoyed the food on board, and loved the sailing. As the days went by we gradually met more and more people, got to know the staff, (they get to know you), and had a stunning stunning time. 10 out of 10. As good as it gets. A huge huge huge thank you to Captain John and all the staff and guests on board for creating an amazing week. A fantastic bunch of staff with at least 30 that were worth naming plus all the sailors who work tirelessly in the background to make this all happen. So so many special people like Bobby, Kennedy, Raul, Harry, January, Captain John himself, Sam who drives the boat, and so so many more. The efforts of these people, a good crowd onboard, the gorgeous gorgeous boat and the very carefully planned schedule of beautiful places to stop made this exquisite. We were onboard the following week too. Wind Star booking rules allowed a group of 30 business people to book. I'm sorry but small boats are for small parties. It changed the feel of the week dramatically and I'm sorry to say we are unlikely to go back. Wind Star - you've gone for what looked like a good money booking and ignored the fact that you've lost as much money as many of the people on the boat the second week will never come back. Everyone was complaining about these rude rude ignorant people Schedule as follows:- 2012 March 17 Saturday Philipsburg, St. Maarten 2012 March 18 Sunday Soper'S Hole, Tortola, B.V.I. 2012 March 18 Sunday Jost Van Dyke Great Harbour, B.V.I 2012 March 19 Monday Jost Van Dyke Great Harbour, B.V.I 2012 March 19 Monday Virgin Gorda, Prickly Pear Beach, B.V.I. 2012 March 20 Tuesday Virgin Gorda, Prickly Pear Beach, B.V.I. 2012 March 21 Wednesday Basseterre, St. Kitts 2012 March 22 Thursday Les Saintes, F.W.I. 2012 March 23 Friday Gustavia, St. Barthelemy 2012 March 24 Saturday Philipsburg, St. Maarten Read Less
Sail Date: March 2012
It's hard to find any faults with the cruise. From beginning to end we were treated like royalty. Check in was so easy. The ship is beautiful. Cabins were very nice. Enough room for two without feeling cramped. Food was ... Read More
It's hard to find any faults with the cruise. From beginning to end we were treated like royalty. Check in was so easy. The ship is beautiful. Cabins were very nice. Enough room for two without feeling cramped. Food was plentiful and, for the most part, outstanding, although my wife did not really like the sandwich bar. Most evenings we ate in The Restaurant and enjoyed it. The lunch barbecue on the beach and the dinner barbecue on-board were excellent. We enjoyed the excursions -- canopy adventure on St. Lucia, river tubing in Dominica, and 4x4 island safari an Antigua. The catamaran snorkeling adventure in St. Barths was disappointing. The location where we snorkeled was not good. Very little sea-life to look at. Nights on-board were rather quiet. Older crowd, us included, that is not really looking for a wild nightlife. The band and the duet were very pleasant to listen to. The staff from the captain on down did everything possible to make the cruise enjoyable. Only complaint was the mini-bar was not kept full with coke. Had to write a note to our steward (who was excellent) to get the min-bar filled. BTW, the new policy of free soft drinks and water was very welcome for us. We are already thinking about a 2013 cruise on Windstar on the Mediterranean. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2012
Having sailed on all of the Windstar ships many times since 1987, from places like Malaysia, the South Pacific, Tahiti, Europe, Caribbean, Belize and Costa Rica, I confess to being somewhat biased in my long love affair with these unique ... Read More
Having sailed on all of the Windstar ships many times since 1987, from places like Malaysia, the South Pacific, Tahiti, Europe, Caribbean, Belize and Costa Rica, I confess to being somewhat biased in my long love affair with these unique and special ships and the outstanding, personal service by their dedicated crew. We just returned home from another fantastic 14 day crossing on the Wind Surf from St Maartin to Lisbon. (March 2012) The cabins and suites have all been remodeled since last year and the new furnishings fabrics and colors are stunning. The new hallway carpeting, plus carpet pad and dramatic lighting (pictured) are beautiful. (Both smaller ships are currently undergoing similar refittings). In regard to the remodeled cabins, I particularly appreciated the plush new mattress and the new, soft, all cotton, bed linens. The individual directional reading lights over each bed are a nice addition, making it possible to read without disturbing anyone. Our suite (320). The new furniture (2012) is a big improvement, much nicer as well as more usable and comfortable. The only quirk we experienced with our cabin was that an engineer had to be make adjustments behind the HVAC grill to fit our particular room temperature preference after we were sailing. The new carpeting is luxurious, but with it's textured pile, is a curious choice. While the carpet remains perfectly clean, the textured pile shows all scuff marks from shoes on it's textured surfaces. For those with engineering backgrounds, the ship's vacuum septic system which services all the cabins has been upgraded as well. This Fall (November 2012) the remaining public areas, including the three dining facilities, are scheduled to be refitted. THE Officers and CREW continue to be the OUTSTANDING attribute. It is the high standards they maintain and the level of personal service makes sailing on Windstar so special. In addition to the usual daytime activities, for the first time ever, an introduction to TAP dance was offered for free. The passenger participation was so enthusiastic and everyone worked so diligently learning their steps, a TAP dance FINALE was performed at the end of the cruise in the Windstar Lounge and everyone in the show received a standing ovation. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2012
This was our third Windstar cruise, but we had not been on the Windsurf since 1998. I'm going to tag along with another review here by "c5Marine," because they did such a nice job of describing their cruise. First the ... Read More
This was our third Windstar cruise, but we had not been on the Windsurf since 1998. I'm going to tag along with another review here by "c5Marine," because they did such a nice job of describing their cruise. First the "BAD"... NONE Second the "GOOD"... Everything Even though we had been on the Windsurf in 1998 in the Mediterranean, my expectations were exceeded on this cruise. The ship had a recent refit, and the cabins and public rooms were beautiful. The food was off-the-charts, and even the coffee was great. We had done this same itinerary with Star Clipper a few years ago, and we just love the ports-of-call. The best part of this cruise, for us, was the crew. From Captain John to our cabin steward, Puji -- everyone was so pleasant and friendly. I never once felt like it was a front or a put-on, as I've seen on some of our other cruises. I feel the Windsurf was a very good value. We didn't get nickled-and-dimed for everything. Soft drinks, juice, sparking water, and fancy coffees were all included. Also there are very few ships that offer a galley and engine-room tour. Of course, the bridge is always open while at sea -- which is fantastic. In addition to the two music groups which were very good, the Windsurf also put on a great Superbowl party. After this Windstar cruise, I don't think we'll ever be on a large cruise ship again. Windstar has really upped their game and with the new ownership, I think they have a great future ahead. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
We sailed out of St Maarten on the 10th of December 2011 for 14 nights through the Panama Canal and continued to Costa Rica in Central America. Windstar as a company recently has had new owners and they are refurbishing their ships, not ... Read More
We sailed out of St Maarten on the 10th of December 2011 for 14 nights through the Panama Canal and continued to Costa Rica in Central America. Windstar as a company recently has had new owners and they are refurbishing their ships, not that the Windstar ship really needs it. Able to get into areas the larger even mid-size can not do. Great food, even better service since we had only had 38 passengers instead of the 148 she holds. The cabins are identical on both decks, a little on the small size from the bed to the wall but still very luxurious. The bathrooms are a bit small but due to the round shower there is no elbow bumping with of lots of storage, counter and mirror area. Closets are Very roomy. You can walk around the deck which makes exercise very easy and even has a well equip GYM. Our naturalist Carlos Picardo certainly made the cruise for us with evening talks very lively, interesting and fun. Always most gracious at all times and so informative on every port and great on the Panama Canal even though is is my 7 trip through the canal. We never put the sails up though I asked several times. One of the sails needed replacing, though it was on board, but the rest were fine and the ship looks great in port for pictures and advertizing for the company with the sails up. Last Windstar cruise, 2003, for 4 weeks the sails were up all the time. The Captain, Mark, was stiff and in real life unfriendly. When we disembarked at Porto Caldera, there were about 8 guest waiting for transport to the main gate and he walked buy within 40ft and keep his head averted so as not having to speak to anyone. Your cruise is over. The rest of the officers were just fine. The chief engineer was a delight. In fact he actually off the ship to say good by. Excellent sports couple though there was not enough time to use the swim deck do to short hours they scheduled and if you wanted time on shore before it got too warm you were out of luck. Well this guys, happy sailing. Cindy Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
Just returned from 14 day reposition from St Maarten to San Jose, Costa Rica. Only 35 passengers with 90 crew, so we pretty much "owned" the yacht for 2 weeks. The good: The crew and officers are awesome. Several remembered ... Read More
Just returned from 14 day reposition from St Maarten to San Jose, Costa Rica. Only 35 passengers with 90 crew, so we pretty much "owned" the yacht for 2 weeks. The good: The crew and officers are awesome. Several remembered us from earlier WS cruises and after 3 days they all knew our names, interests, drinks, etc. The food was terrific, lots of variety and very well prepared, with lots of options. Dinner on deck was picture perfect. We visited amazing spots and had 2 wet landings where we are taken ashore in inflatable boats holding 6 passengers. Great lunch on the beach with the option to water ski, kayak, board paddle and snorkel. One couple did several scuba dives. Had 2 nice dinners with ship's officers which was very interesting. Now the bad: Tis is a 26 year old ship and it shows it's age. Rooms are small with portholes, and are being redone this Spring. Bathrooms are quite nice, good shower and lots of hot water. On deck you se lots of rust, broken fittings and things that just don't work anymore. The ship had 5 sails but only 2 worked. They had 3 small sailboats (2 Lasers and a Hobie) that they did not launch because "conditions weren't right". I have sailed my whole life and that was BS. Very disappointing! The important stuff always seemed to work, such as engine, generators, plumbing, AC, etc, but the ship needs a refit. Bottom Line...You like great food, very personal service, intimate ports, access to the bridge, and quiet evenings this is for you. If you want big staterooms with verandahs, shows, no sea motion, and lots of casino action look elsewhere. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
Embarked on the WindStar's Windsurf for their Yachtman' Caribbean from Dec 24, 2011 through Dec 31, 2011 out of St Maarteen. Overall, this was an outstanding cruise. The wife and I have never been on the Windstar line before, ... Read More
Embarked on the WindStar's Windsurf for their Yachtman' Caribbean from Dec 24, 2011 through Dec 31, 2011 out of St Maarteen. Overall, this was an outstanding cruise. The wife and I have never been on the Windstar line before, and after cruising many other large ships decided to try this out. We both agreed that as long as we can help it, we will never do another large cruise ship again. Since this was Christmas week, the demographics of the boat were somewhat different as there were some families, but the boat primarily was primarily filled with "older" couples in their late 40s to early 60s (we are in our early 30s). Even though the boat was "booked" at capacity, I think like 312 or so, the entire week we always felt that we had the boat to ourselves. The largest "gathering" of people typically occurred during the port talks in the evenings and had about 40 or so people in the lounge. We never found it difficult to find a lounger outside or get a table to ourselves at dinner, or find a spot to just sit alone when we wanted to. And on the flip side, if you wanted to be social and sit with others, that was not an issue either. To be honest, there were not that many "recent" reviews of Windsurf out there and I was a little nervous about booking. However, now I am a little nervous about writing this review because I don't want others to find out how great it was! FOOD: The food overall I would classify as one notch about a large cruise line. My wife is vegetarian and never had an issue finding dishes she could eat. They are all typically marked with a V on the menu and after Day 1, the crew knows and remembers your preferences. For such a small boat you have a couple different places to eat. "The Restaurant" -- Basically your main dining room, in which you could eat anytime between 7pm and 9pm. The menu changed each night. There was someplace called "Degrees" that you could eat at, but we never did. You could also eat outside at their 2 "special" restaurants which required a reservation. We ate at "Candles" one night, basically a steak house menu, and ate on the aft portion of the boat outside. It was nice to be outside, but did not think the food was any better then what was inside. They just brought out whatever the vegetarian option was from the inside menu for the wife, not a big issue. For breakfast we would always go to the Terrace which consisted of a good sized/optioned breakfast buffet along with a short menu to order from. For lunch, we would always stop by the "Yachtclub" and grab some sandwiches which we would bring ashore with us. CABIN: For a small boat, the cabin was of ok size. We thought we would miss having a balcony, but did not since you are really rarely in the cabin. So the bottom 3 decks are basically all cruise passenger cabins and seemed to be based on class of pay. Deck 3 was all the suites (basically 2 rooms joined together), Deck 2 was normal sized cabins, and Deck 1 was normal sized cabins. When I originally priced out the cruise, of course 3 were the most expensive, then 2, then 1. We ended up in a cabin on deck 1, don't see any reason why I would want to spend more money to get a cabin on deck 2 as they are all the same. Maybe you upgrade to deck 3 for a suite if you want more room, but since you spend so little time in the cabins and there are no balconies, deck 1 made the most since to us. Overall the cabins were always very clean (along with the rest of the ship). The ship actually had just completed a refit 2 weeks prior to us coming aboard, so there was lots of new carpet, etc. Ship looked great, not aged at all. DAY 1: Arrival to St Maarten / Ship Departure We arrived into St Maarten on Saturday Dec 24 on USAir from CLT. Not a bad flight arriving around 220pm. The boat left at 7pm and they asked you to be onboard by 6pm, so we just took a taxi from the airport to the port. Cost was $20 for the 2 of us. No issues, only took about 30 mins to get to the port. Would say this method was less expensive than the cruise ships prearranged transportation and not difficult. All you had to do was get your luggage and walk outside. Checking in seemed to be very informal compared to other cruise lines. You walked onboard, they checked your name, then at one station they provided you paperwork to fill out. Then you would go into the lounge, fill out the paperwork (they provided free fingerfood and drinks), and then you would go drop off the paperwork at another station, they would take your picture and then you went to another station to get your room key. Sounds complicated, but was pretty easy and stress free compared to waiting in large lines with other cruise lines. That night was pretty uneventful, we did the lifeboat drill, ate some dinner, watched the boat leave, and then went to bed. Day 2: Tortola / Jost Van Dyke Arrived at Tortola's Soper's Hole at 10am. Last tender back to the ship was 530pm, so plenty of time on shore. With it being Xmas day, there was not a lot of activity on the island and cabs were just not around much. We ended up going to "Nani Cay" which was probably not one of the better beaches, but its location near a main road and cab stand gave us a better option of getting back to the boat. Soper's Hole is also home to Pursers Rum (misspelled?) and we drank some painkillers at the bar. The boat left Tortola around 6pm and arrived at Jost Van Dyke at 7pm. Last tender back to the boat was at midnight, so plenty of time to hangout of Foxy's which was great. The boat tendered us in to the side that Foxys was on, so made it very easy to get to. And the good news is that the Captain decided to change up the itinerary (originally supposed to depart Jost Van Dyke at midnight and go to Virgin Gorda) and decided for us to stay overnight at Jost Van Dyke until the following afternoon so we could enjoy the beaches here as well. Day 3: Jost Van Dyke / Virgin Gorda Tenders ran from early morning to 3pm on Jost Van Dyke so plenty of time to experience the island and the beaches. We walked from the little town that Foxys is in over the mountain to the beach that Soggy Dollar Bar is out and spent the day. It was a very hilly walk over there and took about 35 mins, but worth the views (and we took a cab back, only $10). Beach was great, got some chairs and drinks and watched all the boats come and go into the area. That evening we went back to the boat and enjoyed the sail over to Virgin Gorda. We anchored near the Bitter End Yacht club and went ashore to the club that evening. A pretty cool place overall with some neat bars. Lots of private boats anchored in the harbor and their crews and passengers ashore having a good time. Day 4: Virgin Gorda Tenders started at 8am and went through 450pm. The tenders went in a triangle from the boat to Bitter End Yacht Club, then to Prickly Pear Island, then back to the boat. Prickly Pear is a small island that the Windsurf I guess rents and they through a beach BBQ on it that afternoon. The island and beach are pretty nice, the boat brings over all the water toys (kayaks, sailboats, etc) and you can use them on the beach. The one thing they do not do is bring you over to the main island (say if you wanted to go see the baths) but they do have an excursion for $49/person to do this which gets you about 1 to 1.5 hours there). So we decided to try to go ourselves and it ended up being pretty easy. You tender to the Bitter End, then go to the reception for the hotel, have them organize a cab on the main island to meet you where the Bitter End's free tender service drops you off. So you take the Bitter Ends free tender service to the main island and then a $25 cab each way to the baths. So it was really not that difficult, just had to ask some questions on how to do it, but you save half the price and you can spend as much time at the baths as you would like. Day 5: Basseterre, St Kitts Tenders started at 8am and last one was to the boat was 530pm. We had been to St Kitts before and were not that impressed. Granted you are forced to enter through the port at Basseterre which is very touristy and oriented to cruise ship passengers. Locals try very hard to get your business for cabs and to take pictures with Monkeys. We ended up taking a cab to the other side of the island (facing Nevis) and went to the beaches there. Not horrible, and St Kitts is a very beautiful island, but would rather go somewhere else. The entry into the island kind of spoils the experience. Day 6: Les Saintes, Guadelope Tenders started at 8am and last one from ashore was 345PM. This was really the "gem" of the trip. Very small French island and the local population do not care if you are there or not. We got off the tender and walked around the little town then hiked over to one of the beaches. The walk there and back took about 1 hour total, 30 mins each way. On the way back we spent some more time in the town and literally caught the last tender to the boat. While we walked, others rented scooters and saw more of the island. Looked like this would have been a pretty good option as well as there was not much traffic or people around. Day 7: St Barts Tenders started around 10am and last tender back to the boat was midnight. I had high expectations for the island but was a little disappointed. It was neat to anchor were we did among all the high private yachts (including the largest in the world) and just see all the money! But, the island was very crowded, probably in anticipation of New Years on the following day and there were literally no rental cars or scooters available to rent. In addition, the island is VERY expensive. A cab to a beach on the other side was like 25 euros one way. We ended up just walking to "Shell Beach" about a 10 min walk from the port. Nice beach and lots of shells. Certainly not the highlight would think St Barts is best when it is not super busy unless you enjoy that type of thing. Day 8: St Maarten / Departure Boat arrived at some point in the morning and everyone was required to be off by 845am. Since we had until ~300pm to be at the airport, we rented a car in the port that could be returned to the airport and just drove around the island. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2011
Notes on the Cabin: • Plenty of room • Space under bed for all luggage • Lots of hangers, drawers, cubbies • Safe is pretty small. Holds iPad but not laptop. • There is always ice provided morning & night ... Read More
Notes on the Cabin: • Plenty of room • Space under bed for all luggage • Lots of hangers, drawers, cubbies • Safe is pretty small. Holds iPad but not laptop. • There is always ice provided morning & night • Mini bar & sodas in the room (for a fee) • Evian water in the room ($3.25 a bottle. We drank a lot!) • Laundry line in the shower • Regular shower & handheld • Table pulls out of the vanity, if you want to eat in the room I guess • DVDs plus 3 movies play continuously every day (Social Network, Eat Pray Love, The American, Ocean movies) • No towel animals! But good turndown service with mints, new ice, new towels, etc. • We did the laundry package, which was $99 for the week for the cabin. It was such a great thing to have. We sent laundry out every day (by 9am) and it was in our cabin by around 4 that afternoon. We cut down how much clothes we brought and went home with clean clothes! Plus they will iron things for you too. We thought it was well worth it. On-board: • Every evening there was a talk about the next day's port of call, plus excursions. Make sure you attend the Captain's Champagne Party. The Captain of the Wind Spirit (John Clark) is hysterical!! Plus, you get to meet the officers. There are also delicious hot appetizers passed around during this time. (every night) Nice time to relax between the day & the evening. Plus, you are right there by the dining room so that once the talk is over you can go right to dinner if you are hungry. A few nights we did that and a few nights we hung out for a while and went to dinner a bit later. Dinner is from 7:30-9:30, and there are tables for 2, 4 or more. • The casino is small but fun. The dealers explained a bit for those of us who didn't quite know what was going on. Plus everyone around the table explained too! They played Blackjack, Texas Hold'em, and a few other card games. There were about 15 slot machines. • The gift shop opened whenever the ship wasn't docked (the casino too) so the hours change every day. The shop is small but carries some necessities plus logo items & other souvenirs. • The library had tons of DVDs and some books & games. There is also a computer there & printer, but you do have to pay to access the internet. They sell cards for wireless internet, but we didn't buy one after being informed that it was about the speed of dial-up! • We didn't use the spa. • There will be a Flyer left in your cabin each day that tells times of events, meals, disembarkation, when the ship sails, emergency numbers, etc. • By the reception desk, there is information each day on the port of call including maps, beaches, etc. • We never had a problem finding a lounge chair. • There are beach towels that you can take as you get off the boat, and a laundry you can drop them in when you get back on board. Very convenient! • There are wet refreshing wash clothes by the door for when you return from your day on the island. • You scan your key card every time you go on & off the boat, so no one gets left behind. (or if someone does, they know who it is!) • The waiters will quickly get to know you by name, and you'll get to know them too. Everyone is super friendly. • The entertainment was a piano player. "Loungy" but good. • The crowd was probably from late 20's -late 60's with the majority in the 30's-40's I think. • There were lots of people who were first-timers, but lots who had been on a Wind Spirit before. We met one couple that was on their 23rd week! • You'll get a beach bag in your room the first or second day. First timers get a Windstar bag and returnees get Foremast Club bags. • Bring water to the islands! Especially if you are doing the Baths trip, because the little snack bar wasn't open when we got there. • The gym is small but well equipped. But I do think it helps if you aren't too tall! Wish I had brought: • Reusable water bottle • Capri pants (for some reason I only brought long pants and dresses for dinner,) • darker makeup (I couldn't use my regular makeup or blush after a few days because of my tan!) • adapter (we went to St. Martin a day early, and the power there is 220) • a paperback book (for those times I didn't want to risk getting my Kindle wet or lost) Really glad I brought: • Power strip (there were only 2 outlets in the room) • Battery powered tea lights (used for atmosphere in the room, and also as a nightlight in the bathroom) • Ziplocs (great for gathering seashells!) • Snorkeling gear (didn't have to worry about borrowing them or returning them) • Binoculars (they were great to look at the other ships/yachts!) • Sunscreen • Wet sack (kept stuff in it that I didn't want to chance getting wet) • A little purse for carrying around the boat (key card, camera, etc.) • Underwater camera (for snorkeling, and just to not have to worry about it getting wet!) Didn't need to bring: • Detergent (since we did the laundry package) • Jeans (too warm!) • Waterproof Jacket • Shawl (I had a light sweater that I used one evening, and a long sleeve shirt I wore on the deck sometimes)' • Umbrella (it rained, but very briefly when it did. Easy enough to wait it out or duck under something.) Meals: • Great BBQ on deck one night. Off the grill they served ribs, burgers, chicken, fish, beef, and lobster. There was also a roasted suckling pig that was delicious. The cold buffet had delicious giant shrimp, crab legs, cheeses, all kinds of salads, fruits and desserts, including a chocolate fountain. The restaurant is closed so you have to eat there but it is really fun! Plus, afterwards the crew does a bunch of line-dancing, guests join in, and it was a really fun night. • Fun BBQ on beach off Virgin Gorda. If you do Bath's tour (worth it!) then they will take you straight there after. • Always lots of daily specials, with Chef recommending a menu, but they always have grilled steak, chicken, salmon & vegetarian something. • Breakfast in restaurant, but continental breakfast by the pool until 11am. Then lunch (limited menu or you can do the buffet) • Afternoon tea by the pool. Sweets, fruits, little sandwiches. • Also around the pool when there are a lot of people, there are passing around of fruit skewers and/or sherbet. • "Candles" is okay. I guess if it is nice they do it outside, but it was always too windy. The one time we did it, it was in the Veranda and it was fine, and you can dress casually, but it's more fun & elegant in the dining room. Also apparently the menu there is the same each night. (at Candles.) • They did have the beverage packages, but we didn't do any of them. Most cocktails were about $6.50. Tortola: We did the Royal Dolphin Swim. It was FANTASTIC!! Expensive, but worth it. We spent 2 hours with the dolphins, petting them, having 2 of them pull us by the fins, having 2 of them come up behind us & push us into the air from under our feet! We got to kiss them & they kissed us, and more tricks. It was amazing & the dolphins & trainers are all very safe. They take photos and the price is $100 for ALL your photos on disc plus 2 big photos, or $25 each for photos. So it makes sense to do the $100 because you are probably going to want more than 4 photos! Went to Pusser's Bar. Delicious conch fritters, Painkillers, and a big gift shop. There is free wi-fi right when you walk into town. The people on the ship told us to look for a yellow building on the left called "The Bat Cave." It was closed but there was plenty of free wi-fi flying around, so we just sat on a staircase and used it. We docked in Tortola. (Only place we docked.) Only there until 2pm, but we had plenty of time to do our tour, walk around town, etc. Virgin Gorda: Went to Virgin Gorda. (Our itinerary was changed from the original, because people had requested to see the Super Bowl so we had to go somewhere that it was being shown.) Got to VG in time for people to take the tender to The Bitter End Yacht Club to watch the game. We didn't go, and had a nice dinner on board. NOTE: If you are celebrating a birthday on-board, they will bring you a cake. I didn't mention it was my husband's birthday (his request) but apparently they check the passenger roster each week to see if anyone has a birthday! It was actually great. Cake with candles, the waiters sang and someone played the guitar. The next day we took "The Baths" tour. I'm glad we didn't try to do this on our own. We docked on the north end of the island, and the Baths is on the south end. It is about a 45 minute drive up very steep hills & windy roads! Also, it leaves early so that you will be the first one at the Baths. By the time we left at 11am, it was really getting crowded but it was lovely for us. Definitely walk through "The Caves" part of The Baths. It's amazing. Also, bring snorkeling gear. We saw lots of fish & stingrays, and someone else saw a sea turtle. It's a hike up & down, plus you can walk on the boulders if you want so definitely wear appropriate shoes, not flip-flops. On the way back to the ship, we made about 4 stops for incredible photos and the tour guide told us all kinds of interesting things about the islands and also pointed out & named all the other islands around us. We got back to the dock, and the tender took us to Prickly Pear Beach, which is on a separately little island right by where the ship was anchored. The beach BBQ had started earlier that day, but there was plenty of food when we got there. There were loungers, and beach chairs, and tables/chairs in the shade. The sports toys (kayaks, water-skis, noodles, sailboats) were available to use from the beach. Heard some people spent the day at the Bitter End Yacht Club and really enjoyed that too. Apparently they had a nice beach, chairs, and very good margaritas. Jost Van Dyke: Set sail that afternoon, so it was fun to see the sails unfurl & sail in the light. We arrived in Jost Van Dyke around 7pm, so people could go ashore (usually to Foxy's) for the evening. We were planning to do so, but after the Captain's cocktail party (with free drinks, lots of appetizers, and meeting the crew) and a nice dinner, we didn't make it over there! The next morning we took the tender to Jost Van Dyke, which was my favorite port. It's so small (150 people) and absolutely gorgeous! We went down 'Main Street' which is an unpaved road with a police station, few shops and restaurants, a church and school. Then we walked to The Soggy Dollar bar. This is a very strenuous walk up a few big hills but it afforded amazing views. It took about 35 minutes and we felt like we deserved our drinks when we got to The Soggy Dollar! It's on a beautiful beach, and you are free to use the chairs/lounges/hammocks. Make sure you try a "Painkiller." They were invented here. We also really liked the 'nilla killa, which is made with Vanilla Rum. $6 each. The conch fritters were delicious! There is a little gift shop and I bought a few things. About 5-6 other beach bars & cafes. One World apparently belongs to Foxy's son. One place (Gertrude's?) makes your drink and then gives you the bottle of liquor to add as much as you want. Some places you have to pay to rent a chair, but it would be worth it if you wanted some quiet. No large boats dock at Jost Van Dyke, but there are tours from Tortola, which you can see right across the water. We took a taxi back to the dock ($5 a person) and went to Foxy's just to check it out. If we had been hungry or had room for another cocktail, we would have stayed but decided to go back to the boat. It seems like it would be really fun at night if there were lots of people there, and a band, but in the afternoon it was pretty low key. They do have a big gift shop there, but things weren't cheap. However, a big selection. St. Kitts: We didn't do any of the tours, but if I go back I will do the Brimstone Hill Tour. We spoke with some people who did it, and they really enjoyed it. They said it's really good for people who are into architecture, interior design and history. We went into town and caught a cab. Make sure you negotiate a rate before you go. It'll either be per-person or for the trip. And make sure you negotiate a pick-up! We went to White House Bay and snorkeled for about an hour. There is a sunken boat there, very close to shore, which is sort of interesting and attracts fish. Not the best snorkeling, but fun & very private. The beach was full of medium sized conch shells, which was awesome. We had our driver take us next to Reggae Beach (Cockleshell Beach) where we rented beach loungers for $5 each. Ate a delicious (but not cheap) lunch there. My husband's lobster was HUGE and delicious. Did a bit of snorkeling, but also saw an eel, a lobster and a ray right off the dock! We also saw Wilbur, the 900-pound island pig who hangs around. On the drive back to the dock, I asked the driver about the monkeys on the island. He told us there are 75k monkeys and 45k people on St. Kitts. And we saw a few just walking & sitting in trees while we were there, which was a thrill. Got back into town in time to do a little shopping. They had decent prices on sarongs, clothes, etc. A lot of people told me they did quite a bit of shopping there. Apparently there is a craft boutique/store in the main part of town, which would be great for some handmade local art. When we got back to the boat, it was BBQ on the deck party night! The entire pool deck was decorated, with tables all set up and an amazing buffet! They were BBQ'ing right there on the deck. At 9pm they cleaned up, and the sails were unfurled and we sailed away. Then the crew performed some line-dancing, and a hysterical version of "YMCA." Apparently there was a Line- Dancing class earlier in the evening. It was a very fun night! (The other restaurants were closed this evening, so it was all about the BBQ.) St. Barth: Since we were in St. Barth for 2 days, we spent the majority of the day on the boat, enjoying what the boat to offer. A nice leisurely breakfast and then we swam (well, got in) the small salt-water pool and hot tub. Very relaxing. We went into town for an hour or so in the afternoon. There is a cafe very near the dock that has free wi-fi, so we sat there and had a few drinks. The stores mostly close for a few hours at lunch, so if you want to shop (very expensive!) be sure to take that into account. There are supposed to be some fabulous restaurants on the island, so if you are into it you could go for a fancy dinner. The last tender ran at 11:30pm. We did go into St. Barth the next day. We had a lovely lunch at La Route Des Boucaners, sitting outside looking at all the HUGE yachts. Then we walked to Shell Beach, which was fantastic! Aptly named, there are so many beautiful perfect little shells all over the beach and the water was warm & glorious. Did some snorkeling there too. Saw a lot of the same fish as in the past, but more schools of them. Bring your towel and lay on the beach. Apparently there is quite a fee to rent the chairs. We did get a few drinks from the bar/restaurant, and used the restroom. One note, there is really NO shade at this beach so bring sunscreen! Went back to the ship for our last night. We turned in early because we had to have our luggage ready at 6am, in our cabins. Disembarking was easy as pie. Breakfast was open from 6-8am, and the first groups of people started getting off around 8:10. You'll be issued tags to put onto your luggage of a specific color, and that's how you know when it's your turn to get off. Just go pickup your passport, sign out one more time (guess they don't want stowaways) and go down the gangplank. The luggage is under a tent right there, and you just go pick it up. We caught a cab from there, and had it take us to Marigot (the main port area, the Wind Spirit docks at a smaller port) and we caught a ferry to Anguilla for a few days. Read Less
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