Decided to try Windstar after liking the smaller ship experience on Viking and Azamara and Viking River. Overall, the food was very good, the crew friendly and eager to please however we started off by delaying our sail away by a day due to "two small holes" in the hull that required underwater welding. This resulted in a sea day instead of our scheduled port of call in Cartagena which was the main reason for some passengers picking this trip. There really is not much to do on such a small ship on sea days - they could easily schedule more activities such as Trivia or quiz shows, but don't. During the first sea day, we hit some swells that resulted in furniture sliding across the floor, broken glass during a group screening of a movie on the Panama canal. They aired the film later on the in room TV but the sound never worked. They had open bar for one day to make up for the missed port, but that doesn't really do it, especially for those who didn't drink.
The food overall we very good quality, but with there could have been more variety and I would have appreciated some menu selections reflecting the local cuisine. The staff seemed to bend over backwards for those passengers with multiple food allergies.
The ship's excursions where easily double the price of Viatour or shorexcursions.com for the exact same activity. A few of the ports were "in the middle of nowhere" so unless you like hot, humid, sunny beach activity, there was not much to do. The weather in December in Central America is very humid - we had little rain and temps in the 83-90 degree range and we were all sweating like pigs.
The gym is TINY and very hot - if there are 3-4 people in there it is too crowded. Someone took the 5 lb weights early in the cruise and the staff never did find or replace them.
Lots of complaints about the sports platform not being operational at all during this cruise and the week before coming form Barbados to Aruba - we had not tried it before but were looking forward to using it so this was a disappointment too. The room itself was small but had adequate storage, no USB ports and one US and on European outlet by the bed. The bathroom was small with one of those plasticy shower curtains that some don't like (doesn't bother me). Our cabin steward kept it spotless. We met many friendly passengers, mostly in their upper 50 to lower 70's, mostly retired and very well traveled, mosty repeat Windstar customers. A common theme was the man wanted to see the Canal (the engineering, etc) and the woman wanted to go on a cruise. Some remarked that this Windstar cruise was not up to par in comparison to their previous sailings.
Quiet and we don't mind being on first floor. One caveat - during approaches/leaving ports they lower these steel doors to compartmentalize the ship on the first floor in case of a leak so that it only floods one compartment. This means you can't get to your room unless you go up to the 2nd floor and then down the crew stairs.
flew in the day before stayed at Dorado Eagle Beach hotel - inexpensive and near the beach
Did miraflores locks and Panama city tour with My Friend Mario - it was interesting to see the contrast between Colon which looked like a 3rd world country and Panama City which looked like Miami. The locks and museum were interesting for husband who wanted to see all about the Canal (not so much for me)View All 24 City Tour Reviews
Beachside barbeque - beautiful beach, nothing else there
We did Odyssey tours to Manuel Antonio park - our guides were excellent pointing out two and three toed sloths, monkeys, different kinds of lizards, frogs, birds, plants etc. Without a guide i would not have been able to discern anything.