Windstar Sail Cruises Reviews

Year Started: 1984
Ships in Fleet: 3
Category: Upscale

Summary: Three small (200, 200 and 350-passenger) sail-rigged motorized sail ships. Great open-air sailing with port-intensive itineraries. Med and Tahiti cruises.

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Windstar Cruise Ships

3 Reviews

Regions:Caribbean, Central America, Mediterranean

Good for: Group. Singles. First-time Cruisers.

3 Reviews

Regions:Caribbean, Central America, Mediterranean

Good for: Group. Singles. First-time Cruisers.

5 Reviews

Regions:Caribbean, Mediterranean, Scandinavia

Good for: Group. Singles. First-time Cruisers.

User Ratings

Overall Rating
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from 11 reviews

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User Reviews

11 User Reviews of Windstar Ships
Western Caribbean
Publication Date: April 16, 2000

This cruise, departing from Cancun's port, and featuring stops in Roatan, Belize and Cozumel, was our second voyage on the Wind Star (We had sailed on her one year earlier, on the ship's eastern Caribbean route out of Barbados). Clearly, we enjoyed the first cruise enough to sail with Windstar again, although our first experience was not trouble-free (for example, "The Veranda," the indoor/outdoor breakfast and lunch restaurant was closed for refurbishing, meaning that all meals had to be taken indoors in "The Restaurant"). After our second voyage aboard the Wind Star we decided we'd never sail on a Windstar cruise again.

We were met by a Windstar minivan at Cancun Airport, and then treated to a three-hour ride to Cancun's port -- a trip that should have taken no more than 15-20 minutes. For reasons that no one would (or could?) explain, we were driven first to a resort outside of Cancun, where our minivan dropped off two couples. The remaining couple and ourselves were bewildered, but were offered no explanation for this absurd trip. Then we were taken to another resort in Cancun, where we were dropped off. There we

encountered the rest of our shipmates, who had no more idea than we did as to why all of us were there. We were told only that a bus would be coming for us, which it did, after a wait of a half hour or so. After we boarded the bus, we stood, with no air conditioning, for 20 minutes, for no apparent reason, before the driver decided to depart. Although we were hot and tired by the time we boarded the ship, we had to spend a half hour in the ship's lounge filling out forms, including the same customs cards we had already submitted when we arrived in Cancun. Nothing about this experience impressed us as luxurious.

The identical cabins are not spacious, but they are brilliantly configured to make the most of the limited space. Closets (and hangers) are sufficient, the queen-sized beds are comfortable, and the bathrooms are well thought-out, with ample space for toiletries.

When we got back to our cabin following dinner the first night, we found a large bottle of water on the dresser, and a notice on the bed explaining that due to a technical problem that could not be repaired en route, our water would be off-color (it was a murky beige-gray), although "safe for washing," throughout the voyage. Again, not exactly luxurious.

We had been informed by Windstar's literature that as "valued" repeat voyagers (members of the "Foremast Club") we would be invited to special events on board. Indeed, we had seen preparations for a special cocktail party the year before for repeat voyagers. No such events were held on our second cruise, however.

Food aboard the Wind Star is very good, but not extraordinary. Windstar chefs frankly acknowledge that the cruise line's cost accountants are exacting, and that menus in all parts of the world are the same, with no regional specialties. As we thoroughly enjoy the spice and flavor of Caribbean cuisine, we found this extremely disappointing. In fact, while well prepared, the food is bland. For me, lobster is the ultimate luxury, and I did not ever see it during the course of our two cruises. No alcohol is included, and drinks are very expensive.

Our itinerary featured a stop at Goff's Cay in Belize. This is a tiny islet with no facilities and no shade. Everyone wanted to snorkel, but this place was a snorkeler's hell, with very shallow water (two to three feet deep) all around the islet, lots of coral rubble, and a swift current! We boarded the next tender back to the ship, along with everyone who had been on our tender to Goff's Cay. The watersports platform was not in use (they only use it when the ship is at anchor), and so we had a totally wasted day.

The quality of the service is very good, overall, but the Windstar line is extremely coy about tipping, saying it's not expected, but encouraging it all the same. We found this annoying on both voyages.

When the time came for disembarkation, we were informed (by written notice the night before) that we were to arrive at 7:30 a.m. (but not earlier) in the lounge. We were careful to do just that, only to discover that it was too late for breakfast -- a fact that had not been explained in our disembarkation notice. When we protested, we encountered real attitude. Finally, and only because I raised my voice -- not something I enjoy -- the manager of the dining room interceded and arranged to have us fed.

On both our cruises aboard the Wind Star, our captains were handsome, genial Brits right out of central casting. The crews were professional and pleasant. However, on both cruises the couples who served as social directors were generally clueless, and the couples who served as watersports directors were not especially helpful or friendly.

Speaking of friendly, on both cruises our fellow passengers -- almost exclusively American -- were not. We traveled with Canadian friends on our first Windstar cruise, and they, as we, remarked that many shipmates were apparently incapable of responding to a smile or a pleasant "good morning." This, of course, was not Windstar's fault, but it was disappointing.

"180 degrees from ordinary" is Windstar's motto. How I wish it were true!

In the final analysis, our disappointments were with Windstar Cruises (and its parent, Carnival) rather than with Wind Star, the ship. To see her sails unfurl in the early evening as she leaves port is a thrilling experience, and, when the winds are fair, the captain turns off her motors, so that she becomes a true sailing vessel indeed. On our first cruise she operated under sail power alone slightly more than 50 percent of the time! My husband and I share wonderful memories of standing by ourselves at the bow before sunset and suddenly seeing a school of dolphin break the gold-tipped waves as they saluted us with an incredible acrobatic display. And we will never forget being out on deck at night, sailing under the full moon. If Windstar Cruises had proved a more gracious company, our voyages would have lived up to their promotional claims.

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