Back To Line

Windstar Cruises: Wind Surf

  • Windstar Cruises
  • Windstar Cruises
  • Windstar Cruises
  • Windstar Cruises
  • Windstar Cruises
  • Windstar Cruises

Wind Surf Review

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 art work, 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.

Are they cruise ships with sails or sailing ships designed for cruises? Since 1986, these masted sailing yachts have filled an upscale niche. They often visit ports of call inaccessible to huge, traditional cruise ships and offer a unique perspective of any cruising region. Though Windstar ships seldom depend on wind alone to sail, if you're fortunate and conditions are perfect, as they sometimes are, the complete silence of pure sailing is heavenly. Stabilizers and computer-controlled ballast systems ensure no more than a mere few degrees of lean.

When you can tear yourself away from the sight of thousands of yards of Dacron sail overhead, 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 with a fully loaded iPod, which you can check out on board.

Multimillion-dollar upgrades in 2012 enhanced each ship from stern to stern with chic new decor that mimics the colors of the sky and sandy beaches. The Yacht Club, which replaced the library on Wind Surf, is designed to be the social hub of the ship, with computer stations, a coffee bar, and a more expansive feel than the room it replaced. You will be able to join other passengers in comfortable seating around a large flat-screen TV to cheer on your favorite team during sporting events. In addition, all accommodations and bathrooms have been remodeled with updated materials; new weights and televisions were added to the gym; a couples massage room enhances the Wind Surf spa; the casual Veranda was expanded; the decks now have Balinese sun beds; and cooling mist sprayers are near the pools.

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 the 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.

Read More
  • 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.

Read More

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!

Read More
  • 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.  

Read More
  • New

Nov 30, -0001

Bahamas

We had a definite "180 degrees from the ordinary" kinda cruise on Wind Surf this past week. This was our second cruise on Wind Surf, and she and her crew were just as excellent as before, and the new friends we met on board were the best! Because of high winds and seas every day, our itinerary was somewhat modified, (even from the newly published "subtract Green Turtle Cay and substitute Port Lucaya" itinerary posted on Windstar's

web site). First day out we docked in Nassau instead of being anchored in the bay and being tendered ashore. Sunny, warm, and breezy, and all the excursions went out. Tuesday at Half Moon Cay was overcast/windy/high waves. We tendered ashore, but the excursions were cancelled because of the weather and churned-up surf. So was the evening BBQ. We did enjoy some broken clouds/sunshine in the hammocks on the beach in the afternoon. Last tender back to the ship was at 6:00PM instead of previously planned 11:00PM. Wednesday we awoke to sunshine and winds, and we saw HAL's Westerdam tied up in the lagoon near us, with her passengers' tenders bobbing ashore. (We chose to stay aboard Wind Surf and enjoy the sheltered sun). Mid-morning, the Westie started blowing her ship's horn and her sirens went off. Seems it was so windy she couldn't keep her anchors secured, so she gathered everyone from ashore and took off 6 hours early. (We were told 3rd-hand that the Westie's passengers already ashore and snorkeling thought the horn and sirens were shark-sighting warnings, which caused them to race out of the water just in case). Thursday, we were in Freeport instead of Port Lucaya, because of the winds/seas. Sunny skies and pleasant temps. Freeport is not the most attractive port, for sure, with the cement plant, the oil refineries, container ships, and all the mothballed Big Red Boats and the Rembrandt. Most excursions went, but from Freeport. Friday in Bimini it was sunny, but, again, high seas and winds. Excursions cancelled because of the seas and the resultant stirring-up of the bottom, (bad for us snorkelers). Saturday in Key West it started out somewhat cool and breezy and drizzling, but by early afternoon we had sustained 40+ mph winds with higher gusts. A 35' sailing yacht tied up in the adjoining bay broke its moorings, and the winds pushed it into the seawall just aft of Wind Surf. A tug pulled it off the seawall and towed it away, just like it was an everyday event. We were 2 hrs late leaving Key West because of high winds. Captain Bridge did his usual excellent job skillfully easing us into the harbor while the local pilot stood beside him and looked-on anxiously, and off we went around 7PM. We had 30+ foot high seas (according to the Captain) all the way home to Ft. Lauderdale overnight and Sunday morning. We got into port several hours late, but that was to be expected with the late departure from Key West and the sea conditions. Sunny and beautiful in the sheltered harbor of Ft. Lauderdale. (Of course). We were able to disembark at 11:00, and had no troubles getting on our 2:30 flight out of FLL. In spite of the winds this week, we had sails set every day! Quite a sight! The passenger mix (full ship with 318) seemed heavily weighted (well, I guess that's from all the good food) with folks our age (early 50s) and an obvious percentage of folks in their later years. We saw a sprinkling of young couples, and very very few kids or teenagers (since Windstar does a pretty good job in their literature notifying potential passengers there are no children/teens programs aboard). Evenings, post-supper, were quiet around the ship after 10:00 PM, although the more lively folks were in the main lounge with the live music and the bar, back in the Compass Rose lounge, or in the small casino off the main lounge. Wind Surf has a well-stocked videotape and book library, so many of us must've retired to our cabins after a stroll on deck after supper. There's a well-equipped Internet room off the conference room, with eight terminals. Access is $1 a minute or $129 for all-you-can-use access for the week, and the satellite response times are very fast. The food was excellent, as it was a year ago when we first sailed Wind Surf. We tried the Bistro this year, and although the menus still seemed like subsets of the main dining room's menus, the service was slightly more attentive. Of course, when we ate in the Bistro it was the first time, (from our eight cruises), that we have ever sat at a table for two, so the service difference might have just been because we weren't at a large table. Would we sail Wind Surf again? In a heartbeat! Would we cruise in the Bahamas again in February? Probably not. Weather/winds were too unpredictable, and we didn't get but one chance to snorkel during our week. We can't sing enough praises for Wind Surf and her beautiful condition and for the many truly wonderful crew and staff. The Captain is extremely competent, personable, approachable, and highly visible during the week, although some of our fellow passengers were affectionately referring to him at the end of the week as, "Your Captain Speaking", since he always began his once-daily ship-wide announcements as, "This is your Captain speaking...". Except in U.S. waters, the bridge is open to passengers 24x7. Geert, the main dining room manager, is cordial, accommodating, a super-quick wit, and one of the hardest working staff we saw all week. And the new friends we met were priceless. Of course, our experience with the weather last week may be unusual, so your mileage may vary! Enjoy!! ...Karl Emerald Seas, Nordic Prince, Song of America, Westerdam, Splendour, Statendam, Wind Surf (twice)

Read More

Cruise Forums

Have a cruising question? Ask our Fodorite community.

Cruise News

Read our latest news about cruises.

Store

Shop our travel guides on European, Caribbean, and Alaskan cruises.

Back To Top