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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2018
I’ve been on one of windstars Mediterranean sailing cruises and it was wonderful, but the star pride Caribbean cruse has been a horrible waist of money. Not a nice experience at all. Unlike the sailing ships the star pride is run ... Read More
I’ve been on one of windstars Mediterranean sailing cruises and it was wonderful, but the star pride Caribbean cruse has been a horrible waist of money. Not a nice experience at all. Unlike the sailing ships the star pride is run down. They run the engine so hard at night we can’t sleep because our bed shakes so bad. Not rocking of the boat or poor weather but engine rattling that makes your teeth chatter. Our shower has a back flow issue and we come back to find it filled with mearky water even when we haven’t been using it. The worst part is that the cruise is full of drunk rude and rowdy teenagers. They will keep serving the 16 year olds alcohol as long as the parents say it’s ok. But the parents don’t watch them and let them have the run of the ship. I didn’t pay $2000pp for the spring break in Tijuana experience. If I wanted that I’d go on a cheaper large cruse. This makes it a terrible cruse for couples dealing a quite nice experience. Communication with the crew is poor. Many of them don’t speak much English. I also get the feeling many of them are unhappy and probably live in terrible conditions from our interactions. The excursions are really disappointing for the money. We landed in Monserrat and they didn’t tell us until the night before there is no was of getting around the island and nothing to do unless you had booked one of the booked out excursions. We paid $100 per person to book the last remaining activity and it was just a drive to a place where you can see a few posters explaining the volcano and watch a 30 minute video. You couldn’t even see anything else. Then you get driven to a very small garden and told it’s another $10 to go in. The other “snokeling” excursion at St. Thomas was just a booze cruse. The boat is crowded and eating onboard for breakfast and lunch is fine because it’s a buffet but dinner is very slow. We wait on average an hour for our entrees. My husband has a special diet due to a very serious health condition but the crew we interact with don’t have strong enough English to understand what he needs. They run out of things constantly. Imagine being on a cruise where you can’t get any olive oil, only dressings with sugar on your salad. We tried ordering inadvance but it does no good. He still gets the wrong things when it comes time for dinner. Also it’s very hard to eat healthy on board we’ve found a lot of things have corn starch in them. The food it’s self is still pretty good for someone with no dietary needs. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
We had the pleasure of attending a private Indian wedding as set up on this cruise The Indian food menu was “out of this world” and the chef-Nilesh -truly went above and beyond to present us with delicious and different ... Read More
We had the pleasure of attending a private Indian wedding as set up on this cruise The Indian food menu was “out of this world” and the chef-Nilesh -truly went above and beyond to present us with delicious and different menus every single day! The bar and restaurant crew were outstanding and taking care of our every request To our pleasant surprise the crew gave us an entertainment nite to be part of and have real fun! Every whim was taken care of!! I only wish that there had been a larger pool though the ocean was there too! Every island we docked on had such unique offerings that we wished we had more time to explore all Lastly the beach barbecue on the private island topped it all with the activities one could do all day long We will definitely set the sails with this cruiser in the future! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
Crew – 5 stars, Food – 4 to 5 stars, Ship – 4 stars EMBARKATION – in Aruba – a long walk from where the cab drops you off to the yacht, because only the big ships get front docking. They have a shuttle, but ... Read More
Crew – 5 stars, Food – 4 to 5 stars, Ship – 4 stars EMBARKATION – in Aruba – a long walk from where the cab drops you off to the yacht, because only the big ships get front docking. They have a shuttle, but we elected to walk our luggage, so that was a bit hot in the blazing sun. Covered tent at the gangway with someone to check off your name and label your bags that the crew will take to your room. Once up the gangway, you’re taken into the lounge to register, get your photo taken and your room key provided, as well as sign up for a beverage package if you haven’t already. There really wasn’t much of an orientation or anything, then you go to your room and wait for your bags (relatively quick). The process was average, but not difficult. There really didn’t seem to be much of an orientation – you could take tour of the common areas that was scheduled within an hour or so after you boarded – otherwise you were pretty much on your own. DISEMBARKATION at the end of the cruise – in Puerto Caldera Costa Rica – one of the worst things they did on this cruise. The good thing was that your bags didn’t have to be outside your room until 6am on disembarkation day (but you were welcome to put them out the night before). And you received colored tags depending on what time you were scheduled to disembark, and that schedule was provided with the program the evening before. Disembarkation morning, they were way behind schedule, and almost every passenger was in the lounge at 815 am (first group was supposed to be off by 7:30am) and no announcements had been made about what was causing the delay and there were no crew around to ask, and there was standing room only in the lounge (and everyone had their carry on bags). The gangway was down, and luggage was out on the pier, but folks weren’t allowed to get off. Finally, a group decided to leave the lounge anyway, which caused a herd mentality to exit into the lobby area, which only got more confusing and congested. When I asked a receptionist to at least make an announcement (because security had finally started letting people off because it was too crazy in the lobby now), she just said they would make one in a few minutes! Anyway, by the time they finally made an announcement (10 minutes after I’d requested), most of the first two groups had disembarked and were trying to find their luggage. Once it was our turn, we got off, identified our bags and they were swiftly put on the bus – we were about an hour behind, and our group was doing a city tour and then airport transfer. More on that when I mention excursions later. SMALL SHIP VS BIG SHIP – doubt we’ll ever do another big ship again. We don’t need an abundance of evening entertainment. We go onshore at every port, and almost always do an excursion. We love not having ridiculous crowds, the ease of getting on and off the yacht in port and by tender, the crew ratio, the personalized cooked to order meals. Liked that there’s an open bridge policy so you can almost always wander in and look at the equipment, see what’s going on (we never did). We felt more motion on this ship than other others in the past, and even had a slight queasiness the first few days; I’m not sure if it was the ship or the seas (weather was good). If you’re susceptible to motion sickness, you might want to be prepared with the bracelets or Dramamine, and make sure your room is in the center of the ship. All that being said, we’ve heard Star Breeze is about to undergo a major refurb where they cut the ship in half and insert another 50 rooms, more restaurants and deck space, all doing a refurb on the rest of the rooms at the same time. I’m sad about that – really loved that there were only 200 passengers on this yacht. Often when the yacht is anchored, they’ll open the back sports deck and put the pool/ocean toys out (noodles, SUP’s, mats, ocean raft/trampoline), so you can swim in the ocean just off the ship. If you're not used to cruising, read your daily program!! You'll find almost everything there; you're responsible for finding things out yourself! There aren't a ton of announcements. Love the Sail Away song and flag raisin on the deck when sailing away from certain locations. INTERNET – really really slow and spotty. The price you pay for an internet package is ridiculously expensive and then it’s too slow to upload anything, often don’t get or can’t see emails and can’t get to many websites. Forget about posting much to Facebook. There are many spots within the yacht that have no service. ROOMS - the room size is excellent! LOVE the big walk-in closet and the bathroom with two sinks. The rooms with the opening French windows have a step-in tub/shower combo, but you can get a walk in shower in rooms with stationary windows. We were SO HAPPY to have upgraded to a room with the opening doors/windows – there’s a tiny platform you can step out on, but the doors open so you have floor to ceiling opening (glass balcony too) that allows in fresh air day or night – well worth the extra spend! The room finishes and many of the common area finishes are dated, and you can tell the ship is old by the many layers of paint, chipped marble/floor tiles, missing/stained grout, etc. The room furniture was dated, sort of beat up and chipped – but the size of the room made it ok. Wish there were more power plugs – only two US ones in the room – one in the bathroom and one at the little desk in front of the bed. We were constantly alternating charging things. There’s a small fridge with stocked mini-bar and a DVD player for your small tv (big enough to see from the bed and the living area). The walk-in closet had shelves, a couple of drawers and plenty of space for hanging clothes (and they brought us extra hangars immediately upon request). There were a couple of drawers in the little desk opposite the bed. The room’s walls are metal, so you can bring your own magnets and put up your daily programs, excursion tickets, etc, and not clutter your desktop with them. There’s plenty of storage in the bathroom, too: open corner shelves on each side adjacent to the mirror, a long shelf under the sink, and a small cabinet where you can put other toiletries. We had more than enough room, and I bring lots of different lotions and sunscreen. There’s shelving in the shower with enough space for your goodies, and a small ledge along the tub. Their L’occitane products are good if you don’t want to bring your own shampoo, conditioner, body gel and soap. We were glad we brought our own air freshener (car-style, paper) for the restroom, though the vacuum system seemed to take a lot of any odor out. We kept our French windows open most of the time, too, so maybe that helped. When you’re choosing your room, think about what direction your yacht will be traveling, and what side you’ll be on so you can choose to see sunrise or sunset from your room. We prefer sunrise, since I’m always up early and don’t necessarily want to go right upstairs at 5:30am (especially since you can’t get fresh coffee/latte until 6am). And with French windows, you can just open the doors wide and see the most amazing sunrises!! For sunset, we’re happy to be on deck having a cocktail, so didn’t care if we could see from our room or not. CREW – the staff is absolutely outstanding! Our cabin steward (Hasan) knew our names the first day, and always used them, even out of context when we saw him around the ship or on a port tender. He was personable, always greeted you with a smile and asked how your day was, was always upbeat and always asked if there was anything he could do to make our trip special. We’re not high maintenance, so didn’t ask for much, but he was quick with ice when requested, provided a spectacularly clean room, and once, when I came back early from dinner to retrieve something, he gave me personal instruction on how to make a towel animal. The wait and bar staff were phenomenal, too! They got to know our names really quickly, and even what our preferred drinks were. Yogi in the Yacht Club coffee bar, knew my preferred drink style and every day when I was up there at 6am, he’d greet me by name and make my Americano just the way I liked it! I still miss his morning greeting and coffee. I had no idea he worked both the dinner service and the 6am coffee service until I saw him at dinner one day (he was usually at tables toward the back, and we were always at the front) – not sure how he managed to keep his amazing attitude with hours like that, but as the first person I saw every day (my husband was usually still asleep when I went for coffee), he really started every day out for me with sunshine! Some of our other stellar crew: Apple, both bartender/waiter in the deck bar and wine steward in the dining room. She’s also phenomenal, again greets you by name, and knows your preferred drinks within a day, and can recommend others based on what you seem to like. She went out of her way to make other things special, too, whether your food, dining table, just anything. And she’d come over and say hi and see how you were doing, even if you weren’t seated in her area. After our first dinner without her, we asked to be seated at one of her tables every other night. We also made that request, because then our waiter would be the same – Deva! He was fun, funny, helpful, entertaining, and always wanting us to enjoy our time. Again, he provided breakfast service on the Verandah and dinner service, and even if he didn’t have our table at breakfast he would come by to say hi and make sure we were being taken care of. Noel was also another of our favorite bartenders/waiters – we mostly saw him only in the deck bar, but he would also always go out of his way to make sure we had everything we needed, could suggest alternative drinks, etc. I must also mention that every other crew member we came across, from people-facing, to kitchen and laundry, to engineering/maintenance – they always greeted you with a smile and wished you a good day! Really, I don’t know how the crew knows your names so quickly (I do know they post the photos in the galley, but still!) and what you like, OR how they keep their amazing friendly and helpful attitudes when they work the hours/days they do – whatever Windstar does to train their staff really makes the trip the absolute best! The funny thing is, the few times we saw officers (pretty rare), they were the least friendly! FOOD – from good/very good to excellent! For dinner, your entrée is cooked when you order. And if everyone goes into the dining room at the same time, there may be a bit of wait. But well worth it. Most of our dinners were excellent! With good variety from meal to meal, plenty of options of different meat, fish and vegetarian. We often chose to split an entrée as a starter and that was never an issue. If you want to blend two entrees – no problem! Two starters – no problem! Portion sizes are good, too, so you can avoid overeating (unless you over-order ). Plenty of greens available. We wished there’d been a pizza place or pizza on the menu – never appeared once and I bet the kitchen could make a mean pizza! Breakfast doesn’t start til 7am, which seems late to me, is outside or inside at the Verandah – buffet eggs, pastries, fruit bar, cold cuts and cheese, with bacon/sausage and potatoes. Fruit smoothies, too. Made to order specials every day (several kinds of benedicts, fruit pancakes, waffles, etc) and you can also order eggs any way you want every day. Full coffee service (brewed, lattes, etc). Another breakfast option, though, is the Yacht Club, which opens at 6am with coffee any way, pastries, smoothies, fruit and yoghurt. Lunch is also in the Verandah, and is full buffet with a huge salad bar, several hot options, a carving station with one different meat/fish every day, dessert bar. Lunch was usually pretty good, you’ll find something there, or you can order the special hot sandwich of the day (reuben, monte cristo, etc) or a grilled chicken sandwich or hamburger. Any pasta on the buffet was usually overcooked, but that’s hard to do. Our least favorite food was usually desserts – the lunch desserts often seemed tastier than the dinner. The sorbets were good, and they would have different ice cream flavors, but the cakes, puddings, etc, usually fell flat. There is one specialty dining restaurant, where you’re guaranteed at least one seating – it’s actually in the breakfast/lunch spot on the verandah (outside, but covered) and they put out tablecloths and candles. Same menu all the time, but they have steak (no lobster), which you don’t get much of in the regular dining. The steak was very good, but nothing else was better than the regular dining room, other than eating outside. We liked the dining room selections better so didn’t go back. They actually offered on-deck dining twice on our cruise – grilled meats and a salad and dessert bar. Food was good, but offerings not as good as the dining room – and since there’s very little seating, you had to book a reservation as soon as it was announced! We loved being able to sit outside as the temperatures were perfect. One night, dinner was a barbeque on the deck – this was AMAZING! The salad bar, cold cuts /cheese and dessert bar were huge with a ton of variety. There was fresh grilled lobster tails and lamb chops (while you waited), chicken, paella, and probably so much more I’m forgetting. Thank goodness again for a small ship, where lines were short and there’s room for everyone to sit outside on deck, once they added more tables and chairs (removed lounge chairs). And, of course, both the single and duo musicians played while you ate – really lovely. And one day there’s a special beach barbeque where the crew moves everything to a private beach and freshly grills hamburgers & specialty hot dogs, and arroz con pollo in the big paella pan, along with providing a veggie/salad and dessert buffet. You can sit in your beach lounge chair, or at one of the dining tables they set up. They also bring along full bar service (pay according to your drink package, if any). BEVERAGE / LAUNDRY PACKAGE – about a week or two prior to the cruise we received a notice of a discount package that would include our tips (they will charge you $13.50/day each no matter what), laundry service, internet service and a premier beverage package (includes all cocktails, all wines by the glass, and full minibar). We chose to do this for each of us. It seemed to make sense if we had 4 alcoholic drinks per day each. Which didn’t seem so unreasonable if you thought you might have a beer at lunch, a cocktail at sunset and two glasses of wine at dinner. And that’s probably about what we averaged. We loved the convenience of turning our laundry over in the morning and having it back by 5pm every day! They handled it all perfectly, including the cold water wash. It allowed us to pack a bit less, and we liked that, too. I would be we about broke even on this discounted deal. ENTERTAINMENT – the crew does a talent show – do not miss it! It takes guts, folks, to get up in front of a crowd and sing, dance, play music, or put on a skit – kudos to them for making it so fun! They appreciated our encouragement and applause before during and after the show. We missed the line dancing they did on deck one night – we hadn’t realized it was the crew starting it off (for 20-30 minutes) and thought only it was music for passengers. The music duo played mostly older music that at least was good background for the lounge and bar, and there was a solo male who played a bit more current music at the bar. One of the at-sea events was a towel animal “seminar” – it was not a convenient time for us, so we missed it – wished they’d had more than just the one. Also, we’d heard their galley tours are fun, but they never did have one on our trip – wish they had! SPA - we didn’t use – prices seemed a bit high for massages, nails, etc. But they did have stretching and yoga classes almost every day, though I heard it was hard to do some with the ship’s movement! There’s basic gym equipment, but it’s older. DECK CHAIRS – there aren’t enough to go around. And unfortunately, people go up early and put stuff on the chairs to hold them, but don’t show up for hours – some seemed to be vacant all day. Windstar should not allow this and should either provide more chairs or move belongings if a chair has been vacant more than an hour. We could usually find a table and upright chair at the bar. SHORE EXCURSIONS – the good thing about going with Windstar’s is that if you’re late, or your port is canceled, etc, Windstar handles the logistics. For most of the ports, you’re a ways away, and not within walking distance of anything interesting, so you’d have to book a private tour or cab if you don’t go with Windstar. However, it always feels like you’re paying too much for Windstar’s, especially when you consider the number of people going (usually 20-30 on the ones we went on). Know that some ports are docked at a pier and some anchored and you’ll need to take a tender. Windstar sometimes uses a zodiac boat (like a blow-up/pontoon) and sometimes local boats and sometimes it can be challenging to get onto the boat and/or out of the water – you definitely want water shoes or sandals – good strong sandals might be best if you plan on leaving them on and hiking/walking in them. CARTAGENA City Highlights – the fort, the dungeons (now artisan craft shops), the cathedral and the old town. We enjoyed this. The amount of time allowed for shopping was plenty. Liked the goods and prices at the dungeons a bit better than in the old town. Old town was pretty and well maintained, with some cools shops and restaurants – we really didn’t need any more time than the extra 40 minutes provided. Our guide provided good narrative. You could always go out on your own ($20-$30 cab ride each way?) and just go to the old town (Bocagrande?), but going with an excursion PANAMA CITY - Best of Old & Modern Panama – they don’t tell you it’s an hour bus ride to get to the city. The first part of “Old” means some boring ruins and a museum with a quick run through – with how Panama City came into being. More boring. You barely see any of the current modern city as you ride through with the bus, just that it’s dirty and uninteresting. Our driver was unaware of the upcoming Christmas parade and we got detoured and delayed. Then to the colonial “old city” with is barely in a gentrification stage – some quaint façades of old homes and buildings, but no time to shop or browse in the few stores. Then on to a marina area and a restaurant for dry fish or pork and rice and overcooked veggies, before the one hour ride back to the yacht. Wouldn’t do this again, though we did figure out we would not come to Panama City if we ever returned to Panama (expats must be going to the countryside – this did not look enticing at all). Also heard the locks and boat tour was not very good. PANAMA CANAL TRANSIT itself (on the yacht, not an excursion) – phenomenal. We were lucky with sunshine and beautiful weather, and our original start was rescheduled from 4am to 8am. They brought a guide onboard to narrate what was happening all the way through, but the ship’s speaker system wasn’t working and you could only hear them in two locations (that didn’t have the best viewing) – so we went through without hearing the details. PEARL ISLANDS – we anchored, they lowered the back exit and discovered the seas were too rough to go out. So we waited another two hours to see if they would calm and they did not. So we raised anchor and headed off to Isla Parida a day early. Somehow the crew managed to pull off landing at Isla Parida a day early, and a new stop in Puerto Jimenez to replace this one! ISLA PARIDA – this is the private beach where the entire crew gets off to set up and pull off a beach barbeque. They did a phenomenal job! They also bring the yacht’s own beach toys and kayaks. And there are plenty of lounge chairs and dining tables. See the food section above for the food. The hike they offer as an excursion is not worth it. You can walk the loop trail yourself, having a guide didn’t offer much benefit; the trail is a bit strenuous in a few parts. If we had known they had the beach barbeque there when we booked our excursions, we might not have booked the hike. PUERTO JIMENEZ - Tropical Gardens & Beach Scape - we were not told before booking it was an hour local boat ride across the gulf to visit the gardens (and that some of us would get soaking wet), nor that we would not have an opportunity to go into town when we did this; based on the port talk we thought we would end up in town and be able to spend an hour there if we wanted. The boat took us over by a bunch of pelicans in trees over the water – really not that interesting. The gardens were interesting, but really no birds (two toucans you could barely see as they flew by, and two scarlet macaws so high you could only tell what they were by their shape) and we were much more interested in seeing birds than the few orchids we actually saw. They should not have included the beach time - it's not a good beach there, and only one person did while the rest of us sat around for over 30 minutes waiting! QUEPOS – Manuel Antonio National Park Nature Walk – this is a quick bus ride from the pier. There weren’t as many varieties of wildlife as we might have expected, but we probably saw 8 to 10 sloths! Several were moving, and the guides have little scopes so you can look through a telephoto lens and see them up close; otherwise they are quite high in the trees and hard to see, much less get a good photo. The guides are also good at spotting other rodents, lizards and crabs. We finally saw a group of capuchin monkeys as we were about to leave the park – and we felt like it’d been a pretty good trip. There’s a break for a beach/swim spot, but it’s a pain to carry your stuff around on the walk, so that was a bit of a waste of time. We left and walked on our own for that 30 minutes until we met back up with the guide again. It’s important this tour is early morning, as only a certain number of visitors are allowed daily and once they reach their limit, they close, only re-opening later once a certain number have left. It’s also nice to walk through when it’s a bit less crowded. The marina where you tender to is a nice little place with a variety of restaurants and bars and a few cute boutiques. We had sushi at the restaurant Sunrice, with fresh tuna from the local fishermen – a much appreciated change of pace from the cruise meals. Town is only a few blocks from the marina, also walkable, for your standard tourist shopping. SAN JOSE – city tour and aiport transfer. As noted above, disembarkation was poor and we were an hour late to start. There were only supposed to be folks with the airport transfer and one hotel transfer on our bus, but somehow a number of people were booked into other hotels and thought they could find their way from either the airport or the other hotel, not really checking to see how far their hotels were from those drop-offs. We had also picked up folks from the Wind Star sailing ship which had docked right next to us, and they had told passengers to get on our bus and they would be dropped off at a downtown hotel – and they weren’t supposed to be. It was all a cluster. The San Jose city tour was worthless. The city is ugly (1960’s/1970’s almost communist-era looking architecture) and crowded and a bit dirty, though there are pedestrian ways for shopping. We went to a gold/currency museum that was half closed (not that interesting) and the Opera House (where we could only get into the lobby), and mostly dealt with traffic. I would have no interest in seeing this city. Waiting at the airport for 4 extra hours would have been preferable. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
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 ... Read More
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. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
17 nights on Wind Spirit in French Polynesia was the cruise of our lifetime. The ship, food, staff and amenities were perfection, and our clothes were wet with tears having to disembark. The staff literally knock themselves out trying to ... Read More
17 nights on Wind Spirit in French Polynesia was the cruise of our lifetime. The ship, food, staff and amenities were perfection, and our clothes were wet with tears having to disembark. The staff literally knock themselves out trying to please and make the experience something you'll never forget. We chose this because we sailed a 7 day on the original Windsong Tahiti 25 years ago- it was a dream of a cruise then and just as wonderful this time only 10 days longer. We are water people, former divers and long time snorkelers. Figured we'd never tire of being in the water with all but 2 days of 17 in port. We were right. A caveat- this is not a cruise for anyone with a mobility problem. Most of the excursions are for people with a moderate tolerance for physical activity. If you like the water you should be a decent swimmer and moderately good snorkeler, although there are beginner diving excursions. There are a lot of land tours on each island however that work for everyone. Had gorgeous weather. Just two days of rain in 17 days, the rest sunny and spectacular. It is the rainy season though so the humidity was high. We headed to Papeete on Air Tahiti Nui from LAX. The flight was decent even though it was one of their older planes, good food, good service and right on time. I'd pre-reserved a router online with Tahiti Wifi that worked great in port everywhere but Fakarava and Rangiroa. Pick up at the airport in Papeete was easy. We met the B&B proprietor Beni from Fare Suisse right in the pickup point at the airport just as he did last year when we visited. Fare Suisse has simple, but comfy rooms, extremely clean and a nice breakfast. There are 10 rooms and they offer airport pickup and dropoff at the port. Beni and wife Therese could not be nicer more generous people. We visited the market down the street for some toiletries we'd forgotten. There's an ATM there too. Boarding started about 12-1pm. There was a short line to wait while staff did a manual luggage screening. It was quite cursory though, we had some airline type containers of alcohol and they weren't found although I saw they'd confiscated some full bottles. Then we were on board that sleek gorgeous ship with a welcome mai tai and off to a beautiful lunch spread in the Veranda. Always several hot dishes, and salads, incredible cheeses and breads and of course the fabulous desserts. There is also a special cooked to order daily, first day was prime rib. Bar service began that first lunch and waiters knew and addressed us by our names from then on. Our cabin was a BX Deck 1, #129. Wonderfully laid out and remarkably designed storage. The bathroom was very comfortable with a roomy shower and nice fixtures. Our cabin attendant Ady was superb. Explored this gorgeous ship for the rest of the afternoon spending most of our time relaxing on a deck chair on the bow. Husband is fond of working out and his only disappointment was the gym- decent equipment but small space. Get 3 people in there and it really heats up. There is yoga and Pilates every morning starting at 7am on the top deck. Dinner in Amphora, as breakfast and lunch, were just remarkable.The variety and consistency were mindblowing. We had the good luck to be booked on a James Beard Foundation cruise with a pastry chef who gave demonstrations every other day. On alternate days there were wine tasting (complimentary!) events. Most we didn't make due to excursions unfortunately but those who did just raved. Service in Amphora was superb- seemed we never had to wait for a course. The maitre d' gave us the same table for 2 almost every night in the quietest part of the dining room. Although service was so good we'd have been happy with any of the waiters we had. I'd probably choose Adhe as number one though. If I have a complaint it would be that the dining room is very noisy. But the FOOD- unbelievable. Infact Cruise Critic gave Oceania the nod for best luxury line cruise food...our most frequently traveled line is O and we give them a 4.75. We give Windstar a 5. I have to say something about breakfast! First of all as with lunch we could eat out on deck in a covered area looking out at the ocean. There was the usual gorgeous spread, fruits, pastries, to order eggs, bacon, sausage etc but there is a menu to order from too with different selections each day- eggs benedict, raisin brioche french toast, belgian waffles with raspberries and blueberries, flax seed pancakes. Try spoiling us more. Coffee was just ok with a weakness on the cappuccinos and espresso. Good but not delicious. With everything else so drop your socks coffee gets a pass. Was wonderful to wake up at 6am and enjoy the gorgeous mornings with coffee and pastries on a chair overlooking the ocean and the next island we were closing in on. Candles was lovely. We had four nites in Bora Bora and were fortunate to have both our nights in Candles on the overnight in Bora Bora- very calm and peaceful. Could have had more nites in Candles but the food in the dining room was so good it was hard to pass up the nightly selections there. Wine service was excellent, terrific selection with good prices. Cocktails reasonably priced too. Lucked out and had free laundry service for the whole cruise- what a gift. Not only could we pack lighter but everything came back in beautiful shape, even silk shirts and bathing suits. They said pressing was not included but everything looked pressed to me! In before 9am back by 5pm same day. The library had limited inventory as you might expect- bring your kindle. The shop was well stocked for the size of the ship. We aren't night people but passed through the lounge after dinner and sometimes sat to listen to the two person group softly singing popular tunes. The young woman had a spectacular voice- Time To Say Goodbye and Don't Cry for Me Argentina were outstanding. The gentleman sat on deck by the pool some afternoons and played softly. The deck party dinner was superb. Food selections and atmosphere were wonderful. As was the dinner on the motu in Bora Bora. The show including the fire dance was phenomenal. The motu day off Tahaa was a nice surprise too. Decent snorkeling, water toys, good lunch, beautiful location. The parts I love the best are the evenings. The sail away. The sails open and ahhhhh. So lovely. And the nights on the bow of the boat. The stars so bright and the moon on the water. Truly magical. One night we were out and one of the officers pinted out the constellations to us. Shore excursions.....did all but two independently. The ship's tours we took were surprisingly good as they seemed to be with most of the people we spoke with. Just a lot more expensive than independent. Fakarava- one reason I wanted to do this cruise was to do Fakarava. And to tour with the famous Ato. It didn't work out. He needed 8 people, we only had 6 a few days before the trip and he could not confirm us. So in order to have something we were assured of doing, I booked the Blue Lagoon with the ship. The day before the tour Ato emailed saying he'd take us, but at that late date I had no access to email. He showed up at the dock, but not me not ever thinking it was still on. So he ended up taking just 4 other people at only 75% of the price he quoted me. Not nice and I was sorely disappointed. Those folks said they had one of the best tours they'd ever taken just as I knew it would be. Dang. The Blue Lagoon was pretty good- saw a protected bird motu from a distance and visited the Blue Lagoon. Spectacularly colored water but we spent almost 2 hours just hanging around with a guide who carried on a long convo with some French speaking Canadians while the rest of us sat on a coral mound and watched crabs. We stayed so long there we had very little time to snorkel at Pufuna which would have been the highlight for us. Maybe 10 minutes there to get back to the ship just in time before it departed, and it would have been terrific snorkeling had we been able to stay longer. The excursion was OK but could have been better. Rangiroa- independent drift snorkel and the Aquarium. Very exciting. You need to be a good snorkeler. The day we were there the current was moving fast. You jump in and the current takes you past tons of fish while holding onto a small raft behind your guide. There's really not time to stop to adjust your mask so you have to be READY! A good reason to bring your own snorkel equipment so you know everything fits and works for you. We had three runs one of which was a mile long and marvelous. Afterwards we visited the aquarium with tons of fish, big moray and resting big nurse shark. Tahaa- the Coral Garden with the ship. It was terrific. Beautiful 30 min. boat ride with about 6 others to a gorgeous channel between motus. You get out of the boat and walk to the site where you begin your drift snorkel with water shoes carrying your fins(Yes bring water shoes. Neoprene gloves and pants or tights and rash guard too to cover body. Very sharp coral on this tour and we saw lots of injuries. You can find this stuff on Amazon for next to nothing) Then entering the water with your fins (with lots of direction!) you sail down a channel lined with coral seeing some gorgeous sealife. It was some of the best snorkeling I've ever done. This is not to be missed. Your guides will help you along the way. If the water is flowing fast it's a lot harder to stay on course but your guides will nearly pick you up and redirect your body. The water is very shallow- you can stand up. Everyone has to do this! It's one of the most incredible snorkeling sites we've ever done. At the very minimum pack water shoes. Mine were $12 on Amazon. Bora Bora- had 4 days there and did 3 different tours. The very best was Tohora Bora Bora. I was not expecting it to be so wonderful having added it on at the last minute. The guide Simon was fantastic. Exuberant, excited about teaching about his lagoon and island, and this was all about snorkeling with dolphins, manta rays, eagle rays, stngrays, sharks and a coral garden with the clearest water I've ever seen. We were wowed not just by the scenery but also by a guide who was truly mesmerized still by his environment after living in Bora Bora for 20 years. If your go May through October he will take you to see whales! We also did Pure Snorkeling and Lagoon Service and while they were very good they were not quite as good as Tohora Bora Bora. Pure Snorkeling brought us to most of the same sites as Tohora did but the guide was very quiet while a very sweet guy. The guide at Lagoon Service was a little impatient with a few of the slower people on the boat telling them to hurry up while trying to get up on the ladder. It's not easy for new snorkelers to get in and out of a boat. Then they brought us to their gorgeous private motu for lunch. Everything was fine until we the time kept passing and we realized it had been 2 hours since we'd seen our guide. Thought that he was ready to bring us back to the ship about 2:30 until they brought out another guy who wanted to show us how to open a coconut. He loved to TALK and that went on for 45 minutes! The tour is great but just do the morning tour- no lunch. I should add that in the morning they brought us to the open ocean and we snorkeled with lemon sharks. It was worth it just for that. Moorea- jet ski with Moorea Activities Center. A blast! Exceedingly nice family company. We went most of the way around the island. My husband is a fast but terrible driver. Midway he told me "I can't see a thing!". We snorkeled about 3 sites and ended up in a shallow area full of stngrays. They are so sweet and loving. Like amorous cats. Do this. It was only $185 for 2 people. Ship was charging $399. The company picks you up right on time at the dock. Mid-cruise we stopped in Papeete as the 10 day part of the cruise ended and the 7 day began so we picked up more passengers. We took the ferry back to Moorea (easy) for a day stay at the Hilton Moorea. $90pp for all day, use of pool and beach and toys and fabulous lunch. Terrific snorkeling. Used Torea Nui Transport in Moorea- right on time. Another family outfit- nice people and they do island tours too. Reasonable. There are tons of stray dogs in Tahiti as there are all over the world. Tahitians don't believe in spay/neuter either. So lots of skinny, sad dogs but especially so in Moorea. A few are owned but most are free. There were lot of us buying food at grocery stores feeding along the way. It's heartbreaking. Our next day in Moorea we'd planned to rent a car and go to the Lagoonarium, but it rained very heavily all day so we returned the car early and went back to the ship. Raiatea- wow, another amazing day. We did L' Excursion Bleue with Bruno. Fabulous. He has a boat that accommodates 12 people but he'd just booked the two of us. Instead of canceling he took just the two of us around the whole island of Tahaa snorkeling- same tour as he does with the big groups probably at a loss to him. He's a sweet man. First place we stopped was teeming with sharks- there must have been 50 at least. We swam with them all around us and stingrays floating around too. The nicest thing was that he seemed in no hurry- he'd let us stay in the water wherever we stopped as long as we wanted. Another stop to snorkel and then a vanilla and pearl farm. Could have done without those but they were brief and no pressure to buy at all. Another snorkel stop and then back to the Coral Garden drift which we'd done before. We were so happy to be returning as it is so spectacular. He was a much better guide this time too. Huahine- another day with Sailing Huahine Voile. Did this last year. A beautiful sailing boat for 12 moored in Fare right off the dock where tender arrives. There were just 4 of us and it was a lovely day. Two snorkel sites with lots of background history and explanation of sealife. Again lunch a little too long and it's bring your own from the local market. Huahine is probably my favorite island. Very unspoiled. The couple who operate the boat are characters- a lot of fun. If it were possible we would have done Ile Aux Recifs in Rangiroa with Leon. They have a 6 passenger minimum. By the time I got the 6 together I stopped getting emails from them. But give it a try- it's supposed to be wonderful. revaultleon@mail.pf Sorry so long. But just returned last night and still coming off the high of all this. Everyone who has the means and the physical ability needs to do this. It's hard to describe how magnificent this cruise is. Just do it. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
We picked this cruise for the ports, price and small ship experience. With 210 passengers it was a clear change from the 23 previous cruises we have had on nearly all the major brands, sans Carnival. The week after Thanksgiving is a ... Read More
We picked this cruise for the ports, price and small ship experience. With 210 passengers it was a clear change from the 23 previous cruises we have had on nearly all the major brands, sans Carnival. The week after Thanksgiving is a more affordable time to cruise the Caribbean. You WILL pay more to sail on Windstar. The price we paid is what made this particular cruise appealing, plus the fact there were no sea days. Be warned - sea days on the Star Pride would prove quite boring. Our entertainment at night was limited to four musicians performing in two separate groups. Nothing more. Most folks are in bed after dinner. Our cabin was quite spacious and of course clean as a whistle. We did miss having a balcony, but we would not have used it much anyway since we were busy in port during the day and the sun sets early in November.. The food and service were the best we've had a cruise - bar none. It is a major focus for Windstar. Can't say enough about how great it is. Fellow guests were for the most part quite sociable. You see the same folks at different venues and that results in pleasant shared experiences. Bottom line: If you find a cruise you like on a Windstar ship at the price you are willing to pay - go for it. But beware of sea days! Read Less
Sail Date: November 2018
My husband and I had an excellent time on our 14 day southern Caribbean cruise. We spent one night pre-cruise in San Juan. Embarkation and disembarkation were flawless. The ports of call were fun and new places to explore. We especially ... Read More
My husband and I had an excellent time on our 14 day southern Caribbean cruise. We spent one night pre-cruise in San Juan. Embarkation and disembarkation were flawless. The ports of call were fun and new places to explore. We especially enjoyed our time at Maho beach in Saint Martin, Princess Margaret beach in Bequia and Grand Anse Beach in Grenada. The weather was great but the highlight of the ship was the service and the food. The staff are so well-trained to provide very personalized service without being in your space. The food was by far the best food I’ve had in 80 cruises. We loved the sailaway ceremony in each port. Swimming off the back water sport deck is a fun way to end the day’s activities. WindStar has become our new top cruise line after having sailed many mainline larger cruise ships. The decor and the flexibility of being on a smaller ship fit our cruising lifestyle perfectly. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2018
The Star Pride, food service and crew met all of our expectations and are the reason we continually pick Windstar. On board services were first class. Now for the cons: Since space is not available for a large swimming pool, the Swim ... Read More
The Star Pride, food service and crew met all of our expectations and are the reason we continually pick Windstar. On board services were first class. Now for the cons: Since space is not available for a large swimming pool, the Swim Tub is a good idea; however, most passengers use it as a second jacuzzi and just sit there. This means that those of us wanting to swim, have no facility. Windstar needs to figure his out. We would like to see more reasonable priced ship sponsored tours that are comparable to local tours obtained through services like trip advisor. Our biggest grip and disappointment on this cruise was most port stops the first week did not met what I would call Windstar standards. We suggested to Windstar the following:(like they would listen to me.) No visits to St Thomas on Sunday , or better yet, none at all. Town completely closed down and a waste of time to visit. Folks in town that I spoke to said,” there is no way they will open on a Sunday to a 200 passenger ship”. Poor port choice. No stops in Montserrat, Little bay. Nothing, absolutely nothing to do but see the volcano.and exclusion zone. Waste of time. Roads are poorly maintained and dangerous to drive on. Taxis in poor condition. Why not cruise off shore from volcano, explain eruption and exclusion zone on speaker system and continue on to next destination. Very poor port choice Josh Van Dyke. worst port of all. Too devastated, a shanty town. White beach okay but figure out how to get tender there instead of docking on out skirts of town and then forced to take a taxi to beach. Virgin Gorda another do nothing stop. The chosen beach BBQ area was picturesque and fully functional but immediate surroundings were devastated by the hurricane. Due to rough seas we had an fabulous BBQ on the ship. Poor port choice. It feels Like no one from Windstar has really assessed the Montserrat, Jost Van Dyke or the Virgin Gorda environment. Very, very poor port choices Conclusion is Windstar must do a better job in selecting ports of call on the first week of the San Juan and Virgin Islands itinerary,especially for islands affected by Hurricane Irma. We were very displeased and disappointed. Our stops on the second week, Windward Island surf and Sunset cruise were far better than first week.In fact, if I would have known how badly devastated some areas were the first week, We would have only booked the Windward Islands segment.Shame on me, should of done my home work, I hate learning the hard way. I also feel more reasonable beverage prices would be appreciated . $7.99 for a mini bar beer is outrageous and gouging. I stopped drinking the second week. Beverage packages are not designed for those of us that have partners who do not drink or for those who have a couple drinks a day. Dress codes are hard to enforce but at times there are violations that should to be addressed. For instance every night at dinner either at Candles or Amphora, their are guests wearing shorts, or blue jeans, tee shirts and sandals. Windstar is a cut above the rest and dress code violations should not be permitted or Windstar should change the code. Overall we have graded this cruise experience as a 3 out of 5 due to the first week’s choice of ports. We have done four Windstar cruises this is our the first “3”, all the rest graded “5+”. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
Perhaps because it was over the Thanksgiving holiday, the pricing for this cruise was a bargain, 14 days for around what most of the 7 day cruises run. We really did enjoy the 5 days we were on the ship, though not the itinerary change ... Read More
Perhaps because it was over the Thanksgiving holiday, the pricing for this cruise was a bargain, 14 days for around what most of the 7 day cruises run. We really did enjoy the 5 days we were on the ship, though not the itinerary change from Viequez to St Thomas (apparently Viequez is still recovering from Maria). The Sunset sail excursion on St Barth's was only 90 minutes instead of 3 hours, snacks nothing special, thus not worth the price. The buried city tour on Montserrat turned out to be a substitute that we weren't told about until everyone was on the bus and the door closed! Apparently a bridge was unsafe to cross due to flooding. So we got a tour of the current occupied portion of the island, did get to hear the personal stories of our guides, two women who had lived through the volcanic eruption and multiple earthquakes on the island. There were many complaints about not seeing the buried city (not sure why they couldn't have substituted one by boat that at least glimpsed it from the water--such a tour had originally been listed but later was not mentioned as an option) so Windstar ultimately gave everyone a 50% discount on the tour. Also the tour operators served a sparse, mediocre menu for lunch and even ran out of food since those on the first bus (accustomed to generous portions on the ship) consumed most of it and we who arrived later were lucky to get a chicken wing or 2, and some rice--veges were all gone, fruit & desert gone, drinks were only water or rum punch. The beach was a muddy path below us beyond a chain link fence and shrubbery. I do think many of their excursions are a bit overpriced. The America's Cup racing sailboat excursion on St Maarten was fun and worth the $. I still don't know, for sure, if I was charged for the one on which I nearly drowned, but I hope they have switched to a more safety-conscious operator. Only two leaders on the excursion boat (Captain + 1) and only one joined us in the water for about 20 guests. They passed out inflation vests but didn't explain how to use them (and you can't blow into one anyway if you can't catch your breath), didn't ask if anyone wanted a life jacket, or even tell us where to find them. Had to ask for water, none was offered. No instructions of advice of any kind (other than not to touch the coral) for newer snorkelers or those who hadn't done it in a long time nor in choppy conditions like we had. I floated on the surface but got tired continually clearing my mask, blowing out water, other than some schools of yellowtail snapper there wasn't a lot to see; got short of breath and decided to return to the excursion boat (no skiff/dingy had been launched), others had ventured further around the rocks, I made it to another excursion boat that was anchored closer, they let me rest there then took me in their skiff to our boat, our group was returning (leaders clueless about my not being with them), I thought I'd be ok to go with them to another part of Norman's Island (where a beach bar was located, snorkeling excursion guys probably getting a kickback) which they were going to snorkel from. But upon suggestion of the people from the other excursion boat, they decided to call the volunteer speedboat rescue squad, who came quickly (not sure if they checked my vitals, snorkeling guys sure didn't) who took me to Tortola where an agent for Windstar transported me to Peebles Hospital. Turned out my heartrate had soared to 182 and was irregular, though I'd never had any history of heart issues, high blood pressure, etc (only mild asthma). I naively thought I'd get checked out and return to the ship, anchored at Jost Van Dyke, the same day, but I was treated with IV fluids & meds, injections, nebulizer (for water in my lungs), pills, etc over two days till my heart rate dropped to normal rate and rhythm. My husband had stayed on the ship, it took him most of the day to make it to the hospital, couldn't get a tender ride for a few hours then had to take a ferry, check into an overpriced hotel a few miles from the hospital, etc. We hoped we could meet up with the ship at another port but inter-island flights are infrequent, afternoons only, so would arrive after the ship departs (not to mention they're expensive, and trip interruption insurance would not cover expenses to return to the ship). So we unfortunately had to make the decision to return home early and make expensive last-minute alternative flight arrangements from Tortola to San Juan (then stay 2 days in San Juan since flights were full with approaching holiday) then home from there. So we are in process of filing a reimbursement claim with our Allianz travel insurance, for the medical bills from the hospital (including $870 echocardiogram), 9 missed nights of our cruise + alternative flights, lodging, meals, ground and ferry transportation. Hopefully, all will be covered but it's been a hassle gathering all the documentation & receipts. My husband had to pack up our luggage once it was known I'd be at the hospital overnight (or longer), and was assisted very ably and courteously by our cabin steward, Ronnie--any way we could get an extra gratuity to him, somehow (hubby thought we'd be rejoining the ship so didn't think to offer one before he left)? Everyone on the ship was wonderful, had learned our names, treated us like royalty. The food was fabulous in both the main dining room and Candles, where we ate one night. Certainly our stateroom was comfortable and spacious. I would have enjoyed more entertainment aboard, there was only a duet couple performing after dinner, trying to switch between genres of music they didn't really seem to be 'into'. Also one night a Nashville recording Christian music artist, wonderful voice but we could have done without the sermons between each song (or exclusively Christian music that she performed). Apparently there was a group of people from Christian radio circles aboard the ship and she'd been invited/recruited by them. We met some nice folks aboard, many of whom had been on more than a dozen Windstar cruises. However, the general tone of comaraderie and shared adventure that we'd experienced aboard an UnCruise 75-passenger ship in Alaska was missing. The beach bar b que was moved from Prickly Pear to another beach on Virgin Gorda, but was excellent quantity and quality of food and terrific steel band and nice beach. Wish we could have finished out the cruise, we had been enjoying it so-far despite some disappointing excursions. Yes, we would choose Windstar again, subject to getting an equally attractive price again, perhaps Croatia or another itinerary where we could combine it with a land tour and/or bike n' barge river trip before or after. We have no desire to sail on a floating city, are even hesitant to consider one on an 800-900 passenger Crystal, Viking, etc. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
Just got off the wind star legend....wow...good thing they are taking this ship into reparations... It has seen better days... No thermostats work in the suites, 1 ply toilet tissue, main dining room a/c stuck on coldest setting, so low ... Read More
Just got off the wind star legend....wow...good thing they are taking this ship into reparations... It has seen better days... No thermostats work in the suites, 1 ply toilet tissue, main dining room a/c stuck on coldest setting, so low , a large % of passengers got a cold in the first 3 days and passed it around for a week. Outdoor seating on upper deck fine dining area had incredibly uncomfortable chairs, the skinny legs of the cheap seating kept getting stuck in the grates of the floor tipping them sideways. The 'Candles' experience was 'filled" with reservations and when you got one ,you noticed very few people there because they were so understaffed... Fillet mignonette was precut to 6 ounces , served medium to medium well no matter what you requested. Service was spotty, some nights good, some you had to ask for water. Servers would often approach table interrupting guests in middle of a sentence.. Dining hours reflected the understaffing, very limited hours it became necessary to plan around so as not to run out of certain selections. Room service menu was a set menu devoid of nightly specials... Seldom could you make a selection where to eat... Read Less
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