Not surprisingly, the bulk of Wind Spirit shore excursions are water-activity based -- snorkel safaris, dolphin and whale watching, kayaking, Jet Skiing, a lagoon tour in a motorized outrigger canoe, scuba diving, a glass-bottom boat ride and the hugely popular shark and stingray encounter. Other tours include visits to pearl farms, vanilla plantations and sacred and cultural sites. For the romantic at heart, there's an overnight stay in an overwater bungalow complete with dinner on the beach and breakfast delivered the next morning by outrigger canoe.
Resources on the islands can be thin when it comes to tourism but Wind Spirit does a very good job of hiring the best guides. Activity levels on the tours range from easy to moderate to strenuous and most don't go longer than two to four hours. The tours do not accommodate people with serious mobility issues. Reservations should be made ahead of time.
Wind Spirit's complimentary "destination discovery" events are top-notch, notable not just for their quality but quantity. Our seven-night cruise featured two outings to tiny private islands -- an all-day beach party under the swaying palms and a Polynesian feast followed by a fire-dancing performance.
Daytime and Evening Entertainment
Wind Star's entertainment offering is quite modest. The only traditional entertainment is pre-dinner cocktail music with house musicians in the lounge on Deck 3, followed by the daily port talk, with live music resuming after dinner around 9 p.m. That's pretty much it: no evening shows, guest performers or trivia games.
Two events you should not miss are the crew show where individual talents are spotlighted and the line dancing that follows the top deck barbecue.
The casino, on Deck 3 next to the lounge, has 12 slot machines and two tables for blackjack and poker. The tables are only open when the ship is sailing, which limits it to evenings. The machines, however, are left on during the day.
There's an open bridge policy, which means passengers may visit the bridge with permission, and there's usually a galley tour during each cruise.
It's not exactly theater, but the sail-away when Wind Spirit leaves a port is high drama as passengers watch the computer-operated white sails unfurl to the sound of Vangelis' "1492: Conquest of Paradise".(Check out the music from the film clip on YouTube and you'll understand why it's the perfect selection.) The best place to watch is from the flying bridge above Deck 4.
Onboard offerings feature a lei-making demonstration, traditional dancing, storytelling by a local elder, and a presentation from his young nephew on the importance of tattoos to the mana of the Polynesian culture. Don't expect lectures by guest speakers.
With a single lounge and the pool bar, there's not much of a nightclub feel to Wind Spirit. Both bars feature daily drink specials like the Tahiti Royale and Shark Bite.
The Lounge (Deck 3): The lounge is drab with dark wooden plantation shutters and brown and olive leather armchairs and sofas. It would benefit from a splash of color. There are six stools at the bar. Appetizers are served in the early evening. The lounge does attract a pre-dinner crowd, in part because the daily port talk about the next day's activities takes place there following cocktail music from house musicians.
The Pool Bar (Deck 4): There's a bar with stools next to the tiny plunge pool plus tables and chairs. Smoking is permitted on the starboard side of the pool bar. You can go to the bar to request your drinks; there's also table service. This is a popular spot during sail-away.
The teak deck on Deck 4 is inviting with its blue sunbeds, hot tub and plunge pool. Plus, there's the view of islands most of us never dreamed of seeing up close. It gets crowded at times, but you'll never have to search for a lounge chair. After a shore excursion, this is a nice place to relax.
The water sports marina on Deck 2, central to Wind Spirit's programming, usually opens at 9 or 10 a.m. and closes in late afternoon. This launch pad for complimentary kayaking, sailing, paddleboarding, wakeboarding and swimming is only open when the ship is anchored. Each passenger is outfitted with snorkel gear the first full day of the cruise.
Pretty much all of the ship's services -- the guest services/shore excursions desk, shop and library -- are on Deck 3. The shop is small but has a nice offering of logowear, beach wraps, hats, sunglasses, suntan lotion and local goods such as vanilla soaps and body oil, sand paintings, black pearl jewelry and locally produced tamanu, a therapeutic oil.
The library has board games, jigsaw puzzles, travel guides, DVDs you can take to your cabin to watch and two computer stations. Wind Spirit has three Wi-Fi packages: 200 megabytes for $60; 500 megabytes for $120; and an unlimited plan for $35 per day. Plans purchased in advance of the cruise will allow the connection of two devices. Those purchased onboard are available for one device only.
The ship doesn't have a self-service laundry but it has a great cleaning and pressing package that is worth a shoutout. The cost: $16 per day for two occupants of a cabin and $8 per day for a single traveler. You can also order a la carte, paying for cleaning on a per-item basis.
The spa on Deck 3 is compact, just a small hair salon and two rooms for body treatments. Treatments include the Asian-inspired bamboo massage with heated rice oil, a customized deep tissue massage and a stone therapy Swedish massage. Facials, teeth whitening, waxing, manicures, pedicures and hair styling are also on the spa menu. Some of the treatments are pricy so it's worth waiting for discounted offers when the ship is anchored. The therapists also give massages under the stars on the flying bridge on select evenings. They stay busy so it's a good idea to make appointments in advance.
The little used fitness center on Deck 2 is small but serviceable with two treadmills, two elliptical trainers and free weights. Complimentary yoga, Pilates and stretching classes are held early mornings on the flying bridge or in the lounge if the weather is inclement. Personal training is available for a fee.
Kids must be 8 years old to sail on Wind Spirit. That's also the minimum age limit for using the water sports marina. There is no children's programming -- and there are very few children onboard except during holidays.