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Windstar Cruises: Wind Surf

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  • Windstar Cruises
  • Windstar Cruises
  • Windstar Cruises
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Wind Surf Review

Insider Take

Overview

The larger of the three ships (which are otherwise identical) - a sail ship with nautical features and friendly service.

Wind Surf, though it was acquired from Club Med, belongs in the Windstar fleet as much as her little siblings. She was designed by the same French architect, and for the most part appears to be a nearly identical copy of them, albeit simply of larger proportions. She is the only ship in the fleet to have actual suites which were created by reducing the number of staterooms employed by Windjammer from 386 to 312. Wind Surf is the only Windstar ship with elevators.

Best For People Who Want

Lot of fraternization between passengers and staff; casual attire; great food and service in a single open seating; water sports; long stays in ports.

Onboard Experience

Those who enjoy informal attire at night, single open seating, and exemplary food and service will almost certainly revel in their experiences on these ships, which spend lots of time in ports inaccessible to bigger ships. Intimidated by the sails? Don't be; they're mostly just for show, though they may add three or four knots to the motorized speed if the wind is right. Given that the casino's approximately the size of a large beach towel, and that there's no glitzy entertainment in a main show lounge, many passengers happily head back to their comfortable cabins after dinner to phone room service for some popcorn with which to enjoy a movie.

Windstar has already completed the new initiative called Degrees of Difference on Wind Surf. Upgrades to dining, accommodations, service, destinations and activities were introduced in stages. Staterooms received upgraded soft goods, Shea Butter bathroom amenities from L'Occitane, flat screen TVs and DVD/CD players, and Bose SoundDocks for use with iPods, which can be borrowed at no charge from reception. Wireless connectivity in public areas is promised for all three ships.

Decor

With lots of dark wood paneling and blue fabrics, what the decor says, over and over again, is, "Nautical."

Public Rooms

Aside from the restaurant and a tiny lounge big enough for a combo and a small dance floor, there really isn't much to do. Nighttime is great for sitting outside at the tiny bar and making new friends. These are some of the most congenial ships afloat and people do make friends quite easily.

Cuisine

The kitchen is small enough that everything arrives warm. The main courses and desserts are delectable - the salads and appetizers are a bit lacking in imagination. But the service is what it makes the most pleasing, as the staff is aware enough to quickly learn who on board has made acquaintances and seat them at the same tables. The outside barbecues are events, with big steel drums rolled out to barbecue shrimp, steaks and even lobster tails. Both the breakfast and lunch buffets are events. One can sit at a table and order eggs Benedict from the waiter, or the signature peanut butter French toast, and have it delivered warm to your table the second it is ready.

Restaurants

The cozy, wood-paneled main restaurant has plenty of tables for two and views of the sea. Single, open seating allows you to dine when and with whom you please, except that the maitre 'd will select a table for you, and if you do not like the company it may be too late to say so. Invite your tablemates to join you before you arrive at his station, or tell him in advance if you prefer to dine alone. Breakfast and luncheon are also served in the Bistro, but the Veranda buffet is a cozy, glass-enclosed room serving table-service dinners and buffet at lunch is where you will want to be. There is an awning covered food station poolside with burgers, hot dogs.

Degrees is an alternative dining venue with no additional service charge. Make your reservations early as it does fill up quickly, By most accounts, there was not much actual advantage to the regular restaurant, except that the accent was more on steaks and chops. For most nights the main restaurant was just fine.

Service

Even though the line is now owned by Ambassadors International, crew members will still come from the same Indonesian and Philippine sources as they did before. The mostly Dutch officers have sailed with Windstar for years; they're especially delighted by the sight of repeat customers. There's an unusual amount of fraternization between crew and passengers. At one time, passengers were allowed to walk into the bridge whenever you pleased, and the officer on board typically would give you a long lesson on charts and compasses. That privilege has been modified to the point where it is now best to seek permission to enter the bridge before you go there.

Tipping

A hotel service charge of $11 per passenger per day is automatically added to your shipboard account. You are free to adjust this amount at the end of the cruise. A 15% bar service charge is added to all bar orders and dining room wine purchases.

Cabins

Staterooms are large - a standard 180 sq. feet - and handsomely decorated. Standard amenities include two large portholes, TV/DVD and CD player, large closets, and a desk/vanity. Bathrooms have showers, hair dryers, and ample space for toiletries. There is 24-hour room service. But the suites are the best deal of all. Little more than two mirrored staterooms with half of the middle wall taken out, the result is surprisingly commodious. You have two of everything important; dressing areas, desks, even two bathrooms. These suites are some of the most comfortable staterooms ever made.

Fitness/Spa

The fitness center is much more elaborate than on the smaller ships, with an extensive array of spa services like massage and aromatherapy, plus a sauna and steam room. There is also a spa with massage, facial, pedicure and other services offered. One can actually get "resort" scuba certification aboard the ship during the course of a one-week cruise in the onboard swimming pool. There are two hot tubs on main deck.

Attire

Windstar's brochure calls for "casual elegance" in the evening, which means pants and skirts for women and polo shirts for men at night. Daytime clothing is strictly casual.

Should Be Avoided By People Who Prefer

Extensive nightlife, dressing up at night; children's programs; two seating dining; a formal atmosphere; balcony cabins.

Entertainment

The best show in town is watching the ship leave port from the large aft deck. Almost the entire contingent gathers to watch and be watched by envious onlookers agape at the ship strutting her full sails. The Wind Surf lounge, featuring a small combo and dancing, may be pretty well deserted most nights. The Compass Rose piano bar is for sing-alongs. Heading to your cabin with a DVD from the library is the best bet.




Ship Overview

Launched in 1990, Wind Surf completed a renovation in 2012 that updated its public area décor with new furnishings, upholstery, art, lighting, wall coverings, carpeting, ceiling finishes, window treatments, and floor coverings. Also newly enhanced, staterooms have chic leather headboards, arm chairs, linen wall coverings, new lighting features, window coverings, carpeting, new artwork, and stylish bed cushions and bed throws. The specialty restaurant has been transformed into an elegant French Bistro.

Wind Surf's public areas are designed for comfort and feature wood finishes with sand and marine colors for a casual elegant look and feel. Fresh flower arrangements and sailing-related artwork are lovely touches shipwide. To make finding your way around simple, remember that all dining and entertainment areas are on the top three decks, with restaurants located forward and indoor-outdoor bars facing aft. The main lounge and casino are midship on Main Deck, as is the Yacht Club, which functions as library/Internet café/coffee bar. The fitness center is one deck higher. Most public areas have expansive sea views, although an exception is the spa, which is tucked away aft on Deck 2. Stairways are rather steep, but forward and aft elevators assure that moving about is relatively easy.

For years, Windstar Cruises' fleet traditionally consisted of three majestic motor-sail yachts with billowing sails, but in 2015 the line doubled in size with a trio of 212-passenger luxury yachts. All of the upscale yachts often visit ports of call inaccessible to huge, traditional cruise ships and offer a unique perspective of any cruising region. Windstar's sailing ships seldom depend on wind alone to sail, but if conditions are perfect, as they sometimes are, the complete silence of pure sailing is heavenly.

Whether on the sailing ships or megayachts, it doesn't take long to read the daily schedule of activities on a typical Windstar cruise. Simply put, there are few scheduled activities. Diversions are for the most part social, laid-back, and impromptu. You can choose to take part in the short list of daily activities; borrow a book, game, or DVD from the library; or do nothing at all. There's never pressure to join in or participate if you simply prefer relaxing.

Multimillion-dollar upgrades last took place in 2012, when each sailing ship was enhanced from bow to stern with chic decor that mimics the colors of the sky and sandy beaches. The Yacht Club is designed to be the social hub of the ship, with computer stations, a coffee bar, and an expansive feel. The yachts Windstar acquired in 2015 from Seabourn were substantially renovated before they entered the fleet. The all-suite accommodations, restaurants, pool deck, and public spaces were upgraded in the move.

What You Should Know

Pros

  • Service is delivered with a smile by staff members who greet you by name virtually from the moment you board
  • All cabins are outside, and none have obstructed views
  • Teatime, when sweets are served in addition to finger foods, is an afternoon highlight

Cons

  • When the caviar spread is served one day during the cruise, you might have to fight fellow passengers to get near it
  • There are no private balconies on these ships
  • There are no tables in the standard staterooms, which makes dining from room service trays inelegant at best
Ship Stats
  • Crew Members 190
  • Entered Service 1990
  • Gross Tons 14,745
  • Length 617 feet
  • Number of Cabins 156
  • Passenger Capacity 312
  • Width 66 feet
  • New

Jul 12, 2017

Venice to Rome Adriatic Cruise

Up until this cruise, I would have said that the best cruise I ever took was in French Polynesia on the Paul Gauguin, back when that ship was part of the Regents Seven Seas line. This cruise, however (from Venice to Rome, with stops in Croatia, Montenegro, Sicily and the Amalfi coast), may well have topped that one. This cruise was not inexpensive, but you definitely get what you pay for. EMBARKATION was smooth and painless. Since we were not using

Windstar’s transfer offer, we did have a little bit of difficulty getting information about where and how to board. You do so at the San Basilio port, easily reached by the vaporetto, or water bus (riding this from the Rialto stop, as we did, is itself a pleasant and scenic experience). Once on board we had to spend about 45 minutes filling out forms, but then we were free to explore; an excellent lunch (carved prime rib) was already being served. THE SHIP is relatively small (a bit more than 300 passengers) and very nicely laid out. Cabins do not have balconies, but all have portholes, are spacious (by cruise ship standards) and are beautifully arranged for maximum flexibility. Every cabin has a TV with DVD player; DVDs are available for free checkout in the ship’s library. The TV has a variety of satellite news channels, both for liberals (MSNBC) and conservatives (Fox News); several movies also play repeatedly throughout the day. We never actually saw our cabin steward, but he was very accommodating when we left him notes. On our first day, he replaced, at our request, all the beer and other alcoholic beverages in our refrigerator and replaced them with complimentary cans of coke and diet coke. Our cabin was always kept spotlessly clean and of course there were the inevitable towel animals waiting us for when we came back from dinner. The ship has sails (a huge plus for my wife, who loves sailing) and although they are mostly for show, they are occasionally used. When they are unfurled, stirring music plays. Another huge plus: There is a marina at the rear of the ship from which you can check out kayaks and even a small Hobie sailboat (all for free). The marina is open (weather permitting) whenever you are in a port that requires tendering to shore, but my wife absolutely loved sailing on the Adriatic. There is also a huge float that makes for fun swimming. This is a high-end cruise and therefore attracts an older crowd; I’d say the vast majority of passengers were at least 50 and there were plenty of people over 70, though we did see a few honeymooners and other folks in their 30s and 40s. There are no youth or childcare facilities; the ship makes very clear that young children and teenagers are not preferred passengers. This was fine with us. DINING is superb. The principal breakfast and lunch venue is the Veranda, where you can eat either indoors or outdoors. The arrangement is “buffet plus”: a good buffet (in the indoors part), with a smallish menu from which you can order extra items if necessary. (One thing I appreciated at every breakfast was freshly squeezed orange juice, which was excellent.) Dinner is served primarily in the main dining room, the AmphorA, though one evening during the cruise there is an on-deck barbeque, including not only things like paella, ribs and steak but also lobster (and of course a ton of salads, appetizers, breads and desserts). All non-alcoholic beverages are always free at every venue (including the bars); a charge is made for alcoholic beverages. Food at dinner was usually first-rate, with a choice of five or six entrees. My favorites were the prime rib and beef Wellington. Dinner is open seating (just come when you feel like it; there may be a line), but on the second night we sat at a table with a great view and excellent waiters, so my wife and I made a point of requesting that table (#7) every night from then on, and always got it. In addition to AmphorA, there are a couple of specialty restaurants, for which a reservation is required (but there is no extra charge). We ate at only one, Candles. During the check-in, we were asked if we wanted to make reservations there that night, and after looking at the AmphorA menu and seeing nothing that we had to have, we said yes. This was a great decision, since Candles is outdoor seating and the views as we sailed away from Venice were wonderful. There is also complimentary room service, but as we never took advantage of this option, I can’t comment on its quality. THE PORTS ranged from satisfactory to memorable. Our three top ports were Dubrovnik, Kotor (in Montenegro) and Amalfi, all of which had great scenery. Gettting to Kotor requires sailing down a beautiful passage ringed by mountains; unfortunately we were a little late departing so we didn’t get the spectacular mountain views a second time, as the sun had already set. The captain did a good job of pointing out points of interest as we sailed, and one evening (I think it was after departing Sicily) he mentioned we would be passing Stromboli, which I had never heard of, but found out was an active volcano. We were lucky enough at one point to see lava not just glowing from the top of the volcano but actually shooting out in a spectacular eruption; sadly, neither my wife nor I got a photo of this. We were a little annoyed that the ship’s photographer did not have the foresight to set up her camera for the possibility of something like this happening; we would have been more than willing to pay for a photo of this event. If we were to do it all over again, we would book, in Messina, Sicily, the shore excursion to Mt. Etna. It’s expensive and time-consuming but Messina didn’t offer a lot of stuff to do; we spent about three hours walking around and then found a gelato place where we could get free wifi as well as gelato. (For some reason, gelato was not served on board, but regular ice cream was. I think it should be a law that a ship in or even near Italy must serve gelato.) ENTERTAINMENT on board is pretty minimal. That suited us fine; we are early-to-bed, early-to-rise types and wouldn’t have been able to partake of it in any event. Don’t count, though, on the typical comedian/impressionist/audience participation games that you find on the larger ships. DISEMBARKATION was mildly problematic, but that’s not the ship’s fault. Getting from the port where we docked to Rome takes some doing; we decided to kill two birds with one stone and booked a shore excursion to Rome, which left us off a short taxi-ride away from the Spanish steps, where our hotel (booked by us independently of the cruise) was. There was also a miscommunication between us and the shore excursion lady about what stops were made; both my wife and I were sure that at least one additional stop was promised, but the tour leader said no. As it is we stopped only at St. Paul’s Basilica Outside the Walls, and getting there on the tour bus took forever (traffic jams here are murder); there was no bathroom on the tour bus and I was in considerable distress when we finally arrived. I don’t know of any other reasonable and inexpensive way to get from the port to Rome, though. SUMMARY One or two minor glitches to the contrary, this was a great cruise. Both my wife and I will look forward to traveling with Windstar Cruises in the future.

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  • New

Oct 2, 2009

Rome-Ischia-Capri-Amalfi-Cosica-Liverno-Rome

Outdoor dining experience with gorgeous sunset was amazing. Great food all the way with only one overcooked boarder lined quality steak! Our stateroom was spacious with tons of storage. The bed was as good as Westin Heavenly Bed. Ladies, the L'Occitane amenities made your skin and hair silky! They were much needed after a day of hot sun and dip in the sea water. Same day laundry and ironing service with very affordable price was a big plus! Room

steward was helpful, friendly, hardworking and ensured our room was at its best condition at all time. We rented some movies from reception and enjoyed it in our flat screen TV. Great Bose sound system and vast song selection from its iPod! Due to its size, there is no big Vegas show or anything like that. However, we enjoyed kayaking and swimming in the open sea when we anchored in Ischia and Capri. In fact, their staff actually saved my partner when he accidentally tipped off from the kayak. At night, we enjoyed playing blackjack at the casino. Although we made some "deposit" there, we still had good time with the manager and her staff from Eastern Europe. There were two music bands and both were adequate. One was in the Lounge and played some great relaxing music. The other one was at the semi outdoor lounge. We played Monopoly on one night. Because the cruise has only 300 passengers, we ended up making four really close couple-friends and spent lots of time together. Never take its excursions. They were way over-priced. We only did one in Capri. The Blue Grotto was the one that we booked through the ship. It cost about US80 per person. You can get 1/4 the price on shore if you go by yourself.

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By hmg_CR

  • New

Mar 30, 2009

Eastern Caribbean

Perfect! Best cruise we have been on. Best food we have tasted on a cruise ship. Fresh, healthy , huge choice and great ambiance in all the restaurants. Clean, well designed, amazing storage. Fabulously comfortable bed. Good extras ( TV/ CD/ iPod dock with iPod, etc). Watersports were great, BBQ great, entertainment.. well you do not go on this cruise for that but it was better than anticipated. A good band and singers. A piano bar might

have been better. Going on an excursion on Guadalope might have been a good idea as the town was a little dull but the island was so unspoilt but the other islands were super. Les Saintes is wonderful. Fabulous!

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  • New

Jul 1, 2007

Mediterranean

This is cruise is completely different, in a great way, from the large ships.  There are only about 300 people on the ship and the difference is amazing.  From boarding to disembarkation there are no lines.  For example, when we got to the port we just walked onto the ship, were escorted to the lounge, signed our credit slip and were given a room key.  Total time about 5 minutes.  No hassle at all.   This was the

most relaxing vacation I've ever had.  We went sightseeing during the day and then got back to the ship around 4pm and were able to sit on deck, get a glass of wine and watch the port as we sailed away.  An amazing site at these gorgeous ports. This cruise is not for you if you want the typical cruising experience i.e. bingo, lots of games and activities, large shows, night clubs, massive amounts of food. And it is not for kids.  It is for you, if you are a couple ,or going with a few friends.  If you want a relaxing week anddon't need shows at night this cruise is for you.  

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  • New

Nov 30, -0001

Western Mediterranean

Wind Surf is a beautiful ship, but not for the physically challenged. It is 39 steps straight up from the pier to the main deck - doesn't sound like much, but trust me, it's tough even if you're in shape! Service was excellent, staff very personable. While you may choose to eat when and with whom you like, it seemed (at least on this trip) that most passengers were early diners - lined up as soon as the doors opened. Food was good - breads

were outstanding! The itinerary was very port intensive, lots of sightseeing - tendering was the rule in almost every port. The dress code was hard to fathom - no formal nights at all, but relatively dressy for the women. The only night men wore ties was in Monte Carlo, because the Casino requires them.

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