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RobertPierre1

Windstar cruise - a great disappointment

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Hi All

Been reading these exchanges. We have cruised 27x before but never on Windstar. We are not concerned with the wine or alcohol selection and at this point are "casual" cruisers. We are considering the Lisbon to BCL cruise. So, I have some questions, that I would appreciate some input on

1. Is there any difference between Cat Bx or Ax. i.e, being on deck 1 or 2 midships? Re ship stability and comfort?

2. What is the bedding like? Hard mattresses or softer?

3. Are Gratuities included?

4. How did you find the Windstar tours price and value wise(is it a coach cattle car? or small group?) or are you better off doing your own thing

5. I know food is subjective, but can you describe it? is it a mix of local and western or primarily western

6. On Windstar tours do they herd you to their preferred vendors for shopping(like some river cruise and ocean lines) or allow you the freedom to roam?

7. Are the on board tour guides helpful in assisting you do your own "thing" or are they wilfully ignorant if you do not use their services?

8. What was your best and worst experience on Windstar

9. Are you better off booking thru them or a TA in your experience?

 

thanks in advance for any input you can give me

:)

 

1. The only real difference is that you'll be a level lower, and right at the water line. This can be fun - or distressing - when you're in choppy water and waves crash over your portholes. The last time we booked the lowest level I checked upon boarding and we were upgraded a floor at no charge.

 

2. Not soft, very comfortable for us.

 

3. You'll have gratuities added to your final bill. We tend to slip a little something extra to staff who've been especially helpful.

 

4. Tours are always too expensive, so we tend to pick and choose. We did this same cruise in reverse, and sprung for the Alhambra since that was long on our bucket list, and the tour was actually good. In many of the ports on this tour you dock right in the center of town so it was easy to just walk around on our own. In Valencia we docked a long way out in the middle of nowhere, most other stops were easy. Cartagena was very walkable as was Malaga where the Picasso Museum was an easy walk and worth a visit. Cadiz also, and we had a great tour of the market there with the ship's chef.

 

5. Very western. At least one day the Chef will go shopping locally and lay out a special table of things and at least one entrée that night will be local. The crew may make a couple special dishes at lunch time - I remember Paella on day, but pretty standard stuff by in large.

 

6. Unless your tour included a shopping experience I've never been directed to specific shops by WS.

 

7. The tour director will give an overview of your next stop each night and you'll also receive a flyer for each port. On this cruise it was a joke, as he said EVERY NIGHT "the currency at our next stop is the EURO" even though we never left Spain/Portugal. Clearly reading off a script prepared in Seattle. No one seemed to mind if you don't to the ship's cruises.

 

8. Best - sail away just a sunset from a town in Greece. It was BBQ on deck night, they raised the sails, turned on all the lights on the rigging and we sailed off watching what looked like the entire population of the town lined up on the waterfront waving us away. You won't get THAT on a big ship. Oh, two WS ships in port at Rhodes the same day. The captains showed off and we circled each other a couple times as we each departed port that evening. Worst? We did have one tour that was a total bomb and actually got a refund.

 

9. We've always used the same TA who just knows what we want.

Edited by milepig

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Q. 1

We experienced vibration on the bottom deck of the Wind Spirit all night while sailing under engine on the open sea. When under sail it was quite pleasant.

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Hi All

thanks so much for your input. I would welcome more. This is helping us in our decision process.

 

Thanks again

SFL:)

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We have sailed with Windstar 4 times, but not your itinerary.

 

1. We have been on deck 1 and Deck 3 (suites on Windsurf). I found the deck 1 actually a little more stable. The water will splash your porthole if it is rough out, it did not bother us. I have had the cabin 101 on Windspirit and 104 on Windstar and did not like either of these because the beds are pushed against the wall due to the tapering of the hull. 101 was very noisy as well since it was near the engine. They were able to move us out of 101 after one night, but oftentimes they are full so that cannot always be accomodated. In our case, someone was leaving the ship because they were upset about the no smoking in your room policy!

2. Beds and bedding are always comfortable, I concur, it is medium firmness.

3. No but they are automatically added to your bill. I give extra cash tips to a few staff who have given us extra care. Generally, the staff is fantastic.

4. We have done both group tours and independent tours and no tours. The ship tours can be pricey but I always found them of good quality. Generally if I am doing an independent tour it is because I want to tour an area privately (like Ephesus) or there is a specific itinerary that an independent tour offers that is not offered by Windstar - like an island tour in Domenica that combined snorkling in the Champagne reef, waterfalls and later a trip to the natural hot springs.

5. The food is very good with a lot of variety and good accomodation of diets. It is not super gourmet. Generally it is not local although they will have a 'local flavors' option on the menu. The vast majority of the food offered is not locally sourced. I will say that if you have food restrictions, they are very accomodating. My step-daughter has some serious food restrictions and they were very careful to accomodate her with daily deliveries of the evening menus and follow up phone calls to discuss her evening choices so they could accomodate her. They are great with gluten free options without even having to do anything special.

6. No shopping excursions or pushing towards a specific vendor.

7. They are very helpful if you want to explore independently, including suggesting local restaurants in the area and in Turkey, suggesting a local bathhouse for a very traditional Turkish bath, and steering me away from another that they felt wasn't very clean.

8. Best experience - there are so many ... love the sailaways with a glass of wine in hand, particularly if it is around sunset. Love the beach bbqs on the Carribbean tours and the deck bbqs on all the cruises. Love the staff and the way they get to know you and your preferences.

Worst experience: Our room situation as referenced above, particularly when I specifically asked the home office about the room size/bed being pushed up against the wall for room 104. and they told me it is the same as all other cabins except 101/102. It is not! Also a bad storm one day in Turkey left me a little seasick, but hey, it's a small ship in the ocean, it happens!

9. Don't think it matters. I have used a travel agent and also Jetsetter which I guess is an online travel agent, but I dealt directly with the Seattle Windstar office. Personally, I prefer my own travel agent.

9.

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SFL - I pretty much agree with what others have written.

 

1. Not much difference in the two categories. However, the time we cruised on the higher deck, we actually missed our closer to the water porthole. Love looking out and seeing the water right there.

2. Have always loved the bedding and found it very comfortable.

3. As others mentioned, gratuities are automatically added to your bill. Have also tipped extra to those who provided service to us making our trip special.

4. Have done a mix of Windstar and private tours. Windstar tours have usually been on the smaller group size, certainly not like the "cattle cars" encountered on the large ships. Value can vary depending on the area being visited. Using the Caribbean as an example, at the larger ports there are lots of independent tours and you can sometimes do better arranging your own thing. However, when your port is Tobago Cays (mostly uninhabited islands), there may be no other independent alternatives.

5. Have always been pleased with the food offerings on Windstar. Again, depending on where you are cruising and the chef on board, there may or may not be many local offerings. On one of our cruises, the fish offering at night was a dish the chef had prepared using what he had purchased on shore during the market expedition. One other night, there was a table set up during the evening outside the lounge all with local meats and cheeses to try.

6. Never once received a Diamonds International coupon or any other steerage towards "preferred vendors."

7. They will certainly help you to do your own thing, if possible. This can vary slightly depending on how often they repeat the itinerary. If the itinerary is one that they only offer a couple of times a year, they might not be as familiar with the stops, but they will freely offer what knowledge they do have.

8. There are lots of "best" experiences, but the one that always touches me is when crew members recognize you from previous cruises. They may not remember your name immediately, but you can tell they recognize your face and break out with an extra huge smile and welcome you back. The worst experience was when I stepped off Wind Spirit in Athens in 2013 and said goodbye to her - she would be heading to Tahiti and since that is not in our travel plans, I knew it would be a long time before I would sail on her again.

9. I love to make travel plans, whether on land or by sea - so, I always book directly through Windstar.

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I will finally get my review done. We can't wait for our next Windstar.

 

I would be very interested in reading your review. We have never cruised on Windstar and I think my wife and I would enjoy a Caribbean cruise very much.

 

I hope your review will include a few pictures.

Edited by JimAOk1945

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Here's a few slideshows of our Windstar cruises in the Carribeans.

 

Jewels of the Windward Island (2014-Wind Star)

http://s303.photobucket.com/user/danield007/Windstar%202014/story

 

Yachtsman's Carribean (2013-Wind Surf)

http://s303.photobucket.com/user/danield007/Windstar%202013%20Public%20Album/story

 

Flavors of the Carribean (2012-Wind Surf)

http://s303.photobucket.com/user/danield007/Windsurf%20Flavors%20of%20the%20Carribean%202012/story

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Here's a few slideshows of our Windstar cruises in the Carribeans.

 

Thanks so much for taking the time to post links to your slideshows. The pictures are wonderful and give me a very good idea of what to expect. They all look like fantastic itineraries.

 

I'm sure being on such a ship is an great experience. It looks like something we will definitely plan on doing in the future.

Edited by JimAOk1945

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We've been considering Windstar for quite some time and may try one of their Tahiti itineraries next year.

 

The informality mentioned by the OP has a lot of appeal for us, as well as overall casual ambiance.

 

I am delighted to read that we can bring aboard a case of our favorite European wines and pay a reasonable corkage to enjoy them onboard.

 

That negative review was full of good news for us. :)

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Thanks, Dandee2 for sharing the terrific photos of your recent cruises. I've done 41 Windstar cruises and have loved every single one!

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You're welcome.:) Probably another review on the Star Legend in the Caribean.

 

dandee2

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We recently completed our fourth Windstar cruise, an eight day cruise from Lisbon to Barcelona. Our previous Windstar cruises over the past four years included the French Riviera, northern Europe, and the Caribbean. The Windsurf, while aging, is in excellent condition. We were impressed by how well maintained this almost thirty year old ship is. As in the past, service was excellent. Crew members knew our names even before we were introduced. Beverage prices were not unreasonable and seemed to not have changed over the past years. We did have a major issue with cigarette smoke on deck one. The crew smokes on the deck below, and it was a significant problem. Two couples in cabins near us had to be moved due to these smoke issues.

 

Our major issue was with the food. Breakfasts, as previously, were very good. I liked them, although my wife was less enthused. All the items on the buffet were bland, although the cooked to order eggs were excellent. We have always felt that the lunches were poor to mediocre. We ate most of our lunches ashore this time, and the few lunches we did have on the ship were no better than in the past. Hamburgers were dry and overcooked. Sandwiches on the a la carte menu were tasteless, with lots of bread and little meat or other fillings. Items on the buffet were bland, at best. Our major issue, however, was with the dinners. The menu always sounded great, but the food was consistently underwhelming. A "filet mignon" appeared to be a sirloin steak. Oysters Rockefeller were served cold. Items usually made with veal (veal Oscar, e.g.) were made with pork. Soups were served lukewarm even when we specifically asked for them to be hot. "Tuna tartar" was a dab of unrecognizable liquid. On several occasions, including the final evening, we could not find any appealing entree to order. On previous cruises, we were permitted to order from either restaurant menu (AmphorA or Stella Bistro) regardless of where we were eating. This time, we were told that that was "against policy." Service was very slow on several occasions. The deck party was excellent, however. We had the impression that Windstar was just doing too much cost cutting. Nothing was terrible, but it seemed like things were not up to previous Windstar standards. We will not sail with Windstar again in the future.

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Lobes1, It appears that you have a number of Crystal cruises booked. From your prior posts, it appears that you had decided, prior to this cruise that Windstar was not for you and you enjoyed Crystal much more. Windstar and Crystal do not compete with each other - the each appeal to different crowds.

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A "filet mignon" appeared to be a sirloin steak. Oysters Rockefeller were served cold. Items usually made with veal (veal Oscar, e.g.) were made with pork. Soups were served lukewarm even when we specifically asked for them to be hot.

 

This is quite possible. Pork has been offered as veal in many high end restaurant and is quite difficult to detect beforehand. Either the suppliers have shortchanged WS or WS shortchanges customers. I suspect the suppliers are to blamed. Too much at stakes for WS to play that game.

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Lobes1, It appears that you have a number of Crystal cruises booked. From your prior posts, it appears that you had decided, prior to this cruise that Windstar was not for you and you enjoyed Crystal much more. Windstar and Crystal do not compete with each other - the each appeal to different crowds.

 

Actually, we had sailed with Windstar on three previous occasions, enjoyed the casual atmosphere, and had planned to continue to cruise with them, as well as Crystal and other lines. After our latest experience with Windstar, we have crossed them off of our list.

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