Windstar Cruises is a niche, upscale cruise line recently acquired by Anschutz Company of Denver Colorado.
Anschutz, the acquiring company owns many entertainment business (including backing the final tour of Michael Jackson, which never happened). Windstar was put into the Xanterra Parks and Resorts division of the parent company. Most of the management of Windstar has remained the same throughout the years, however. Previously it belonged to Ambassador's International, which went bankrupt in 2011.
Windstar is a favorite of many people who know cruising well, and has a loyal following of repeat cruisers, and is one of the cruise lines that people who work in the cruise industry choose to take for their own vacations. The three ships, two sisters and a larger cousin, with their majestic sails rising up over four tall masts, make for an inspiring impression, especially for people seeing the ship from a distance. Just look at all the people on a Carnival or Royal Caribbean ship staring over the rails at you as you sail out of the harbor in full dress!
These are beautiful ships, with the grace and beauty of their sails carried throughout the nautically themed decor. With relatively few public rooms except for the main restaurant, the action is usually on deck where live music plays and lunch is often an outdoor barbecue hosted by the chef rather than an indoor buffet. Though the cabins are a little tight and dark inside, due to thorough wood paneling graced with but two standard-sized portholes, everything about the cabin has a delightful nautical feel, from the shelves with ledges to keep items from rolling off, to the the latches on the drawers to keep them from sliding open.
Windstar can more or less be credited with inventing the concept of casual cruising, opting not to have any dress code other than "no jeans or t-shirts in the dining room" as far back as their inception. This was one of the first "hooks" for the line that made it popular with people who wouldn't be caught dead on a regular cruise ship. However, the truth is the sails are pulled in for probably 90% of the time for every cruise, and the motors make the speed needed to get you to the next port in time. The itineraries are exotic and full, with a port almost every day. The ships are small enough to call at the smallest islands in the Caribbean or the Aegean. The company is known for sailing to places to which other visitors have to arrange for private transportation, and mainstream cruise ships are simply not allowed.
The two older, and beloved 148-passenger sister ships are the Wind Spirit and the Wind Star (another sister was unfortunately taken out of service after a fire in the control room). In 1998, The line acquired a 312-passenger motorized sail vessel from Club Med and renamed it Wind Surf. Built in the same French shipyard as the rest of its fleet, it has identical cabins and similar features. Windstar has since expanded the spa facility, and added 31 suites measuring 376 square feet. While under the management of Holland America, part of the Carnival Corp. for many years and with the same wonderful combination of Filipino and Indonesian crew, this small company staunchly maintained a distinct identity. This same mix of crew and management was maintained by Ambassadors International who acquired the line in 2006, and by Xanterra who took control in 2011.
Happily, now under the tutelage of Anschutz (Xanterra), by all appearances the cruise line will remain virtually the same as before. There were no major changes made to the land-based, or the ship-based personnel. You still have almost the same exact crew people as these ships had before the take-over, and a definitive agreement has been made with the schools and agents in Indonesia snd the Phillipines to keep supplying the line with the same crewmembers for the future.
At the end of 2012 the Wind Star completed an extensive enhancement and renovation program that made significant improvements in the onboard atmosphere and mostly in the in-cabin finishings such as bedding, linens, flat-screen televisions, iPod players and DVD platers in every room. Wireless Internet access is also available in some public rooms, and it is possible to get good connectivity from some of the cabins if they are close enough to the Internet center. The ship even received new sails.
For many years, this was as good as cruising gets. Windstar innovated in ideas like not worrying about formal attire, single open seating, terrific cuisine and personalized service. That is still the Windstar experience, it just is not as unique to Windstar as it used to be.
If the sight of anything with sails make you tremble, take comfort in the fact that Windstar's fleet aren't true sailboats, but small cruise ships with motorized sails used to increase speed only when the wind is right, or when it is time to impress the locals with a dazzling display of canvass. These small ships are ideal for honeymooners and those who love water sports, especially on the new Belize itinerary. Do note, though, that some of the older regulars believe Wind Surf to be too big for the fleet. And there are no verandas on any of the ships, though the nautical feel of the extensive wood paneling and portholes makes up for that fact.
The emphasis is on water sports from the onboard sports deck, a drop-down large platform in the stern of the ships that gives direct access to the water. The itineraries focus on visiting tiny, relatively untouristed isles for which conventional cruise ships are too big. In some ports, there's more than enough time to rent a car and explore at leisure. From the water platform one can take out sea kayaks, small (one or two person) sailboats, water-ski or ride a banana-boat type of floating device. Even SCUBA diving and snorkeling is offered from the deck.
Best of all - there is no additional charge for any of it as long as the platform is down (which is usually only when the ship is anchored out in a bay rather than docked). The onboard PADI-certified scuba instructors will give free onboard "resort-dive" lessons to passengers at no cost on itineraries that include SCUBA diving stops. Such stops are more common in the Caribbean (on coral reefs) than in the Mediterranean where the only good reason for diving is when a sunken wreck is spotted. People who are already PADI certified divers must bring their proof of certification. Then they can access the abundance of SCUBA gear on board. Definitely, these ships are a diver's dream.
Indoors: creature comforts are wonderful - fairly spacious cabins with enormous storage space, all with TV/VCR and CD player (there's a free rental library for videos and discs). The staff and officers, who freely intermingle with passengers (who outnumber them by a ratio of only 3 to 2), are gracious and charming.
Note: these ships are NOT well accommodated for the physically challenged at all. Only Wind Surf has any elevators at all (and one was out of service on our cruise). In addition, many of the doorways have high thresholds like authentic sailboats, and so wheelchairs are almost completely out of the question.
One open seating main srestairants serves dinner nightly - the food is simple but tasty - portions are not huge and service is not always prompt, but it serves it's purpose.
The buffet experience is one of the best at sea - however. Taken in the open air or in a very small room on the topn deck surrounded by glass - the specialites are yogurts, oatmeal and mueslix with an abundance of good things to toss in the mx; pumpkin seeds, cranberries, raisons, sesame seeds, pistachio nuts, ... you get the idea. Add in freshly made omelettes and you in heaven.
Lunch is served on the same deck and often feature grilled lobster and other delectable treats.Cabins
The cabins are small but sexy and nautical. All are insides with just a singular porthole, hence dark and sexy. Best are the "suites" which are merely two staterooms with the dibiding wall removed. Tons os desk and closet space and two bathrooms - what more couls you want in a cruise ship cabin.?
These aren't ships for children, although occasionally a teen will sneak aboard. What you will find are a great many affluent baby boomers and as well as affluent retired folks. Windstar would prefer that no one use the word "yuppie," so we haven't. You will find well-moneyed baby boomers who like to keep a low profile by dressing in Teva shoes and safari hats - whatever you call those people.Shore Excursions
In the Caribbean and Central America, shore excursions are active, a bit on the expensive side, but so well executed as to make you forget having spent a few extra bucks. In the Mediterranean they may be subject to cancellation due to a lack of interest, and the selection of options is surprisingly small. Fortunately, the company is tops in offering "do-it-yourself" information pre-port, with a local tourist office representative onboard to assist you with questions at every stop. If it is required, they will usally offer a free shuttle to the nearest point of interest if it beyond walking distance.Kid's Excursions
Windstar is not for children; there are no supervisors or special activities. That said, water-sport-loving teens will have major fun in the Caribbean or Central America.Special Programs
Cruising with Windstar automatically enrolls you in this complimentary club. Benefits include special discounts and invitations to onboard events such as special receptions with the Captain.Theme Cruises
Wind Surf calls at the French Riviera each year for the Cannes Film Festival and Monte Carlo Formula 1 Grand Prix, commonly calling first at Portovenere (port for Cinque Terre. We used to report Florence as a port for this stop, but no excursions to there were offered on a recent stop there).Attire
One of the original 24-hour "country-club casual" cruise lines. Not even top notch, casual elegance with a focus on comfort.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 room wine purchases.
My wife and I spent a week on the Windstar Sprit cruising from Athens (7/14/2012) to Istanbul (7/21/2012). We had a very good time (A-), but the heat was terrible with the temperature over 100 degrees most days. There are not many online reviews of the Windstar line or this itinerary, so I hope this review helps. We are not "cruise people" and the only other ship we have been on is the Disney Dream with our children.
The Sprit is a motorized sailboat which carries about 140 passengers and 96 crew. It is much smaller than a large ship such as the Disney Dream. On average, the sails provide 20-30% of the propulsion.
The atmosphere is very casual with no formal dinners or theme nights. For dinner, they request men wear slacks and a collared shirt. You can visit the bridge anytime the boat is sailing. The crew members are almost always willing to talk to you and answer questions. The average passenger is about 50 years old and most are married couples ranging in age from 25 to 70. There were a few teenagers and a few friends traveling together.I did not meet any passengers who were traveling alone. During our trip it was 100+ degrees most days and you needed to be somewhat physically fit to tolerate the heat and climb the ruins. The few passengers over 72 y/o struggled at times on some of the tours.
It is easy to meet other passengers. At dinner you are asked if you want to sit with another couple. Tours typically have 5-20 people and you quickly get to know your tour mates. Almost all the passengers were very friendly and would stop and to say hello if they saw you while exploring a museum or local street. We had prolonged conversations with about half the other passengers by the time we left the boat.
This is an American boat serving English speaking passengers. All transactions are in US dollars, no language other than English is spoken, and the food served is typical for an American restaurant. More than half of the passengers came from the USA with a few Australians, English, and Canadians. Maybe 10-15% of passengers did not speak English as their first language. Despite sailing from Greece to Turkey, there was not a single passenger from either country.
A typical day begins with an early breakfast in port. Tours provided by the boat leave between 8:15 to 8:30 am. On any given day, about half the passengers go on the tours provided by the boat and the others explore the ports or set up outside tours on their own. Most tours return in time for lunch which is served from 12 to 2 pm. About half the passengers returned to the boat to eat lunch and the others ate at local restaurants. A few tours extend into the afternoon and included lunch. Most passengers explore the ports or visit local beaches during the afternoon. The boat leaves port between 4 and 11 pm so it can arrive at the next port around 7 am. Dinner is served between 7 and 9 pm. Many dinners extend past 10 pm and most passengers seemed to go to bed shortly after dinner. This is not a party boat. Although there is some entertainment, few passengers spend the evening dancing or stayed up late.
Room - (B+) almost every cabin is identical. The cabins on deck 1 (one up from the engine deck) are a bit less expensive than those on deck 2. I saw no reason to pay the extra money to be on deck 2. The rooms are about 10 by 20 feet with a queen size bed (or 2 small singles), a built in dresser, 2 closets, other storage and a small but very functional bathroom. A small refrigerator containing water and soft drinks (included) and beer and alcoholic beverages (not included) is provided. Although not luxurious, the rooms are very nice and we found ours to be very comfortable. The only thing missing was a couch (only a small chair was provided.
Food - (A-) breakfast is served in the veranda (on deck 4) and includes many cold items, fresh squeezed juices, fresh baked croissants and other items, and a hot food station. Eggs, pancakes, etc can be ordered from the staff. The breakfasts were very good with a few exceptions such as the dry bacon. Lunch was served buffet style in the veranda and the quality of the food was variable. Dinner was served in the dining room (on deck 3) and was usually very good to excellent. The dinner cuisine was modern American with 4 courses. One night there was an excellent buffet (with some local foods) and barbeque around the tiny pool (deck 4). Breads were good to excellent, deserts were at times a bit weak and the appetizers served before dinners were only fair. The meat was almost all frozen and imported from the USA except for some fresh fish the chef obtained at the ports. The beef was top choice (Angus) and excellent. Most of the produce was obtained in Athens and Istanbul. Overall, we enjoyed to food.
Service - (A) was almost always excellent and the crew tried so hard to please you. Our cabin steward always had our room clean when we returned from a meal or excursion. He was always concerned that we had what we needed in our refrigerator and room. The on-board tour guides were always helpful and informative. The only significant flaw in the service was the difficulty I encountered obtaining soft drinks (and refills) at dinner. The service staff were all men from Indonesia and the Philippines. The officers were mostly British except the captain who was American. The engine crew were all men from eastern Europe. There were only a few female crew members: a first officer, the spa staff, a few reception desk and boutique ladies, and Elsa the spunky Greek tour guide.
Tours - (A) 1 to 4 tours were offered at each port. We found Windstar phone support in the USA was not good and they did not know much about the tour packages. There is no need to book the tours in advance. They almost never sell out and on-board destination manager is very helpful in explaining what each tour involves. Most tours are $49 to $99 and cost about twice as much as what it would cost for you to set up the same tour on your own. For example, the Delos (a ferry ride from Mykonos) tour was $89 each. A couple we meet took the ferry to Delos ($20), paid the Delos park admission ($6) and found a good guide who spoke English ($12) for $38 each. The tour guides provided by the boat are usually excellent and you have to decide if it's worth the hassle and risk (knowing where to go, finding a good guide) of setting up a tour on your own.
Here is a list of the attractions we explored (A=highlight not to miss, B=very nice, C=average):
Athens (before cruise) - City A. Stayed at the AVA Hotel and Suites (15 rooms, Plaka, A-) which was 3 blocks from the Acropolis. This was the top rated Athens hotel on TripAdvisor with a great location, big room (not really a suite), and a very good breakfast (included). We enjoyed our stay, but the bathroom was too small for me to call this a 5 star hotel - 4.5 stars would be more accurate. 1.5 days gave us just the right amount of time to see the major sites in the Plaka area (B+): Acropolis and the Parthenon (A) - get there early to beat the crowds and heat, New Acropolis Museum (A), Ancient Agora (B), Hadrian's Library (C+), Roman Agora (C-), Temple of Zeus (C-). It was hot.
Mykonos - town (B). Ferry to the small island of Delos (A) which was a port city of 30,000 people 2000 years ago. Nice ruins and a small museum. It was hot.
Santorini - is a spectacular sight with steep cliffs rising from the sea. The boat ancores at the capital of Fira (B+). Skip the donkey ride at Fira and use the cable car. Island overview and Oia village tour ($99, B+) was nice and drops you off at Fira. A cab trip to Oia village (picturesque whitewashed houses) would have been cheaper and almost as good. It was hot.
Rhodes - Although the Colossus was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, there is not enough is left to justify a visit to the site. The walled medieval city of Rhodes (A-) is easily accessible from the dock including the 14th-century Palace of the Grand Masters (B). The Scenic Drive to Lindos Tour ($69) takes you to the summit of the Acropolis (A-). This is the perfect place to take a donkey ride up to the Acropolis, especially when it's hot (5 euro, ignore Elsa's bath mouthing of the Donkey rides). It was hot. Bodrum - a Turkish port town (C). We skipped the Windstar tours here since the sites are easily accessible and the tours do not take you around the city. For half the cost of a tour, we took a cab ride (30 euro) to the ancient theater (C), Myndos Gate (C-), and what's left of The Mausoleum of Mausolus (B) - one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Bodrum Castle closes for lunch, so we returned to the ship to eat. In the afternoon, we toured Bodrum Castle, which is primarily a Museum of Underwater Archeology (A-). We rented an audio guide that was reasonably good. It was hot.
Kusadasi - the town is nice if you like buying carpets, but otherwise not a very exciting a place to visit (C). The highlight of the trip was our tour of Ephesus and it's Ancient Houses ($79). Ancient Ephesus (A) was a town of 250,000 about 2,000 year ago which declined due to Malaria and was eventually buried under mud from earthquakes. About 1/7th of the town has been excavated and you feel like you are walking through history. The Terrace Houses (A+) were owned by the wealthy and are remarkably preserved with their fine decorative mosaics and frescoes give a fascinating insight into ancient lifestyles. Don't waste your time on the tour that goes to Ephesus and the "Virgin Mary's home" since it does not include the Terrace Houses. If you must see a home selected through the vision of a 19th century nun, get the all day Concierge Tour that includes everything. It is hard to believe, but only half of the passengers went to Ephesus. After the tour, the guide brings you to a carpet-making demonstration (nice) which then turns into a hard sell to buy carpets (the boat gets a kickback). It would take hours to bargain them down to a good price, you can't return the carpet, and you feel trapped since you ordered free a free drink and food. If you escape without buying a carpet, they try to sell you jewelry as you try to find your way out the maze of similar looking doors. Our guide saw us and helped us find the disguised exit.
Istanbul (after cruise) - City (A). Stayed at the Millennium Suites (7 rooms, Sultanahmet, B) which was 3 blocks from the Acropolis. This was the top rated Istanbul hotel on TripAdvisor with a great location, big room (not really a suite), and an OK breakfast (included). Although they try very hard, our bathroom was not very nice and was undergoing some repairs. TripAdvisor called this a 5 star hotel - 3.5 stars would be more accurate and I might look elsewhere. 2.5 days gave us just the right amount of time to see the major sites in the area, most of which are covered by the Museum Pass: Topkapi Palace (15th century palace, A) and Harem Tour (not on pass, A+), 15 minute tram ride to the Dolmabahce Palace (not on pass, 19th century palace, A-) - get there early for the limited number of entries with only guided tours provided, Hagia Sophia Museum/Church (B+), 25 minute tram ride to the Chora Church and its beautiful mosaics (B+), Blue Mosque (free, C), Mosaic Museum (C), Grand Bazaar (lots of junk, D). A little less hot.
To Whomever it may concern,
I was not going to send this email but after calling to try to get my rehearsal dinner dress back that I left in the ship and I was put on hold for 15 min and then transferred to a voicemail of who NEVER Called back. I am extremely upset that it has been 2 weeks and no one has even attempted to return my call. Not to mention we never got a call after the trip asking us why we chose to get off the ship- the only reason I can think this courtesy call never happened is because windstar must get unhappy people getting off the ship all the time.
My husband arranged our honeymoon with a travel agent and by looking at the windstar website, They told us it is a "high-end" special way of traveling with beautiful wind sails, special treatment of guests, and wonderful food, not to mention stopping at wonderful ports in Italy and Croatia. From the moment we stepped on this boat, we were dissatisfied (this is an understatement) They were working on the ship fixing it when wegot on the boat- we could not even see out our window for the first day, the wind sails were NEVER put up as described in the website, and it was an old rusty ship. as We walked in, we signed up for a free treatment head-massage and continued on to our room, of which the TV was broken and the guy just told us that he couldn't fix it.
We then went to have a bite to eat. I have never been so disgusted by food in my life, it was like pre-heated convolecent home food. I ate bread and butter for the first two days. A complete disappointment because we came to Italy to eat food! Then we come to find out that we can only eat in the "nice" restaurants only once or twice the entire trip.
That night we went to a raffle in the spa and I won a free head massage. I made an appointment for the next night. Our friends had also purchased a massage for us which I scheduled at the same time. The next day I was excited to get off the boat and see Italy and eat REAL food, we ordered breakfast- completely un edible once again. We went upstairs to meet our tour guide and the cheesy announcer says that because there is a union problem we would be circling the island of Capri all day long.
I was soo depressed I went back and slept all day and eat the most disgusting cheeseburger of my life- I don't understand how someone could even mess up something that simple.
We got our "free" 2 limit DVD's and watched scratched old movies. I was excited for a free scalp treatment- so I went. The guy was soo creepy and he put you in front of a mirror and told you to close your eyes. I was soo creeped out after this 15 minute treatment that I gave my free massage that I won at the raffle back and told them to give it to someone else at this point I cancelled my massage that our friends had purchased for us.
That night we ate one more disappointing meal at the supposed "nice" restaurant. Totally depressed, we went back to bed- in which our ship mate walked in on us 3 times the final walk in was at almost 10p.m. I can't believe that it would even be acceptable to any hotel to just barge in at that time.
The next day we watched pure Kaos waiting to get off the boat in Taoromina, the tour guides were yelling into their phones trying to find more tour guides, they were loading people onto the wrong places, and it was a complete mess. We met another couple who had had a similar experience and we decided to get off the boat, Our final experience was arguing to get our passport back without signing some poor form to not get your refund back, which makes us think this is a thing that is not out of the ordinary.
This experience is honestly nothing of what it portrays on the website and I am completely and utterly dissatisfied, with the whole experience even afterwards when I called to get a special dress back. We could have been on a much nicer ship for less with the best food and entertainment for less than half the price. working in an industry with membership and treating people with the best customer service- I am shocked that your company would not have a policy that gives people who get off the ship early a courtesy call to see how you can improve or ratify the situation- especially since it was so bad that people would let that much money be at risk.
With this email I am requesting it to be sent to the managers of your company and for someone to send my BCBG white Rehearsal dinner dress back to us- as well as to indemnify our ruined honeymoon.At this point in time, I would not reccomend WindStar to anyone who asked me- in fact I am so un-happy I would go out of my way to make sure someone I know did not get on any of their ships.
Just returned from Windstar's Costa Rica cruise and wanted to share our experience. We went right after New Year's, which is normally one of the slowest weeks for cruising. We only had 56 passengers on board – no crowds here! Mostly couples on board - a few newlyweds and the majority were in their 50s & 60s. We were somewhere in between and enjoyed the variety of ages and backgrounds. Never felt the cruise was dominated by any one age group.
This was only our second cruise, first was on a larger ship to Alaska. I think the small ship experience has spoiled us! Truly, bigger ships still may be a better idea for families with children and multi-generation groups. You might also be bored if you are looking for exiting nightlife and shows. There were many times we were the only ones in the lounge or casino but that seemed to pick up a little towards the end of the week. I enjoyed the feeling of being on my own personal yacht and the quietness provided a much-needed break from the real world. Plus, quieter evenings ensured we ready for earlydays at port!
A concern I had before the trip was whether the service would be too "over the top". I enjoy good food and pampering, of course, but didn't want it to be overdone. I was relieved to find that the staff was very attentive but weren't tripping over themselves and treating you like royalty. Very nice people that seemed to enjoy what they do.
The ship itself was nice. Not new but everything seemed well maintained. Our stateroom was plenty big. Two closet areas, cabinet space and room under the bed for suitcases. The bathroom was laid out well with lots of storage and room to get ready. We especially enjoyed the flatscreen TV and DVD player to catch up on movies we don't seem to have time to see at home.
The food was fantastic. A full breakfast was served each day in the Veranda where you could choose from indoor or outdoor dining. Pancakes, waffles, eggs, omelets were available every day and made-to-order. They also had a full buffet of fruits, pasties, yogurt, cereals and oatmeal to choose from. I found everything to be very tasty and fresh. They also serve a Continental breakfast by the pool for several hours during the morning to take care of the early/late risers. I didn't find these items to be quite as good (milk wasn't too cold) but was convenient.
Full lunches were served every day in the Veranda. Salad bar, meats & cheeses, fruits, desserts were available in the buffet. Could also order specialty sandwiches. A hot buffet was prepared each day and was different ethnic foods (Mexican one day, Indonesian another day). The last day of the cruise, there was a nicely done beach barbeque with a variety of grilled foods & salads).
Dinners were wonderful and served in the dining room. There you could choose between a table for 2, 4, 6, etc. There were 5 courses (starter, soup, salad, main & dessert) and could choose one or more items from each category. Menu changed every day but there were a few "standards" like grilled chicken & salmon that were available every day. As a vegetarian, I was happy to see a good selection of things I could eat. The meals were filling, but I never felt that they overloaded people to the point that lots of food was wasted. On most nights, they also had dining at Candles available (unless too windy). A few tables are set up on deck with white tablecloths and yes, candles, and they serve the same menu all week (seafood, fish & steak). My husband said he enjoyed one of the best fillet mignon's he ever had. Atmosphere was romantic and something different to try – no additional charge.
We also tried room service a couple times during the week and found the meals to be hot and tasty. It was nice to have this option available 24 hours a day. They will also serve popcorn to go with your movies!
Did want to comment on the dress code since that was a topic I was interested in before we went! Very casual during the day. Most people were off to see a port and dressed appropriately for whatever activity they were doing. We saw a lot of sport sandals and walking shoes. It does get hot during the second half of the trip so lots of tank tops and shorts worn as well. At night, people were well-dressed but not dressy. For men, mostly Dockers or linen pants. No shorts were allowed (or noticed). Most wore polo type golf shirts or button up shirts (like Tommy Bahama, Hawaiian print, or long sleeve dress shirts). I did see sandals on men at night, and they looked fine. Many also wore loafer-type shoes. For ladies, lots of sundresses were worn. Also saw pants and capris with nicer tops (no jeans). The dress seemed to get a little more casual by the end of the week when we wanted to wear the dresses and jewelry found at port! I wore sandals with a heel (which many also wore), but also wished I had brought a dressy, flat sandal. One evening was more casual when they did a poolside party for dinner. To summarize this LONG review, I would definitely take Windstar again. Only con would be lack of choices at some of the ports. We like to do our own research & planning so I was able to book other tours I was interested in. I enjoyed everything onboard (food, service, staff, atmosphere) and would have a hard time cruising with anyone else!