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.
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.
Even as we speak, Windstar is implementing a new initiative for upgrades to dining, accommodations, service, destinations and activities. Staterooms have upgraded soft goods, Shea Butter bathroom amenities from L'Occitane, flat screen TVs and DVD/CD players, and Bose SoundDocks for use with iPods. Wireless connectivity in public areas is available for all three ships.
With lots of dark wood paneling and blue fabrics, what the decor says, over and over again, is, "Nautical."
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.
Even though the line is now owned by Ambassadors International, crewmembers will still come from the same Indonesian and Phillipine 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.
The lounge is pretty well deserted most nights; the best show in town is watching the ship leave port from the large aft deck. Heading to your cabin with a DVD from the library is the best bet.
One of the two smaller ships (which are otherwise identical) - a sail ship with nautical features and friendly service
Should Be Avoided By People Who Prefer
Extensive nightlife, dressing up at night; children's programs; two seating dining; a formal atmosphere; balcony cabins, ships with elevators.
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.
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.
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 room wine purchases.
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.
The fitness center is tiny. Of far greater importance is the water sports platform, aft, that lies flat in port while passengers jet-ski and snorkel.
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.