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Chipshot from Michigan

Wind Surf Yachtsman's Caribbean Excursions

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Posted (edited)

We will be sailing with Windstar this winter for the first time in over twenty years.  The itinerary is Yachtsman's Caribbean on the Wind Surf, and I have questions about the excursions I hope previous passengers can answer.  I have emailed Windstar and find their answers unhelpful (I have higher expectations for service onboard the ship).

  • Is the Anguilla Shoal Bay transfer purely transportation, with guests dropped off to fend for themselves?
  • Beach Day at DaVila's appears to be a more complete alternative, albeit very pricey.  Is it worth the $200?
  • How crowded were The Baths?  Did Windstar pick a good time of day to have guests there?
  • The excursions visit many memorable places worthy of pictures.  How was security for guests' cameras, phones and such? 
  • At which ports was the swim platform deployed, and was a schedule of it posted at or shortly after sailing?
  • How is guests' luggage handled if they opt for the America's Cup sailboats before transferring to the airport?  Are changing facilities available?

About the Wind Surf, I understand she is undergoing an overhaul in November and hope she will be in tip-top shape with all bugs worked out by the time we board her in St. Maarten.  Apparently Windstar concluded there were too many suites and converted back to a configuration reminiscent of her original Club Med days.  It will be interesting to see if the greater number of passengers is noticeable.  We are accustomed to even smaller vessels and recognize we may have some adjusting to do.

 

Thanks very much for your help.

Edited by Chipshot from Michigan
Competed title.

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Chipshot from Michigan,

 

I guess you are on the March 7th cruise as this is the only Yachtsman’s Caribbean itinerary that has the Anguilla variant. We are also looking at this cruise as we love all of these islands. As for your questions here are my answers.

 

Shoal Bay transfer is exactly what it is. At $55, it’s expensive. Taking a cab from Road Bay will cost $30-$35 each way for 4 people. Great beach, (voted one of the nicest beaches in Caribbean, a worthy title), not crowded (like all beaches on Anguilla), a few restaurants (we always go to Madeariman. Beach chairs available for $10. You can also take cab to Meads Bay where you can get a chair and eat at the famous Blanchard’s Beach Shack or at Jacala. Again great uncrowded beach.

 

The DaVida excursion is overpriced. While the food is good, this is the beach shack, not the restaurant next door only open in the evening. Beach is great and cab will cost $20-$25 each way. Lunch with beer & wine will not cost more than $50-$75 depending on how many drinks you have. Half price from Windstar.

 

The Baths excursions are usually done early in the morning when ship is in Virgin Gorda prior to the rush of cruise ship passengers coming in from larger cruise ships docked in Roadtown Tortola. The excursion ends around 11 and they will take you back in plenty of time to take advantage of  the beach BBQ that happens on same day.

 

No security issues.  These are all great islands where you can wander around on your own with no issues. We have been to all of them several times with never any issues.  This is why we love these islands.

 

You can see the days when the platform is out on the itinerary section on their website.  It looks like it will be open every day except when in Roadtown Tortola and when in Falmouth Harbour Antigua.  Although itinerary says platform is out in Virgin Gorda, it typically is not open during beach BBQ but they bring all the same toys to shore for guests enjoyment (including waterskiing if that’s your thing).

 

We have never been on the America’s Cup sailboat ride but I assume if it’s like other Windstar transfers, they keep the bags on the bus while you are out on boat. Wouldn’t know about changing facilities.

 

Finally, with regards to the overhaul, I understand they are taking out the casino and expanding the lounge, moving the spa and converting some suites to standard staterooms which will increase capacity by 32 to 344.  She is not new but she is still in very good shape.

 

if you need any more info on this itinerary, let me know, it would be a pleasure to help

 

 

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We spend a lot of time in the BVIs on land trips and sailing on WS. Security has never been an issue but as in any part of the world, use good judgement and common sense with your personal belongings. 

 

To add to the comment above about the Baths, you can go online and check out the Road Town Port schedule to see how many other ships are in port to get a sense of potential crowds at the Baths and the time of day. I say Road Town because that is typically where the excursions from the large ships originate. 

 

 

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On ‎10‎/‎9‎/‎2019 at 10:19 AM, minidonuts85 said:

We spend a lot of time in the BVIs on land trips and sailing on WS. Security has never been an issue but as in any part of the world, use good judgement and common sense with your personal belongings. 

 

To add to the comment above about the Baths, you can go online and check out the Road Town Port schedule to see how many other ships are in port to get a sense of potential crowds at the Baths and the time of day. I say Road Town because that is typically where the excursions from the large ships originate. 

 

 

Thanks, I'll be sure to check that schedule.  It doesn't have the month we'll be there yet, but looking back it appears they get 5-7 ships just about every day during winter months.  Must be a nightmare when two biggies are in port.  We'll have a day in Road Town and may just relax aboard the ship, watching the comings and goings.

 

I'm hoping we'll be the only ship anchored off VG that morning.  We visited the island some years back and stayed at one of its resorts.  Renting a car got us to The Baths fairly early (long enough ago that I don't remember the hour) and still had a decent amount of company.  Frankly, I wouldn't want to be there alone.

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Chipshot,

 

Only one ship in Roadtown on March 10th (Disney Fantasy) which is when Wind Surf will be in Virgin Gorda for the Baths excursion.  No other ship in VG on that day either.  No other ship in Roadtown on March 8th (when Surf is there) and 9th (when in Jost Van Dyke) and only 2 ships in St-Thomas each on March 9th and 10th (none on the 8th).  Should not be too busy on shore

 

Here is link to BVI cruise port schedule

http://crew-center.com/british-virgin-islands-cruise-ports-schedules-2020

 

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1 hour ago, Misty Morning said:

Chipshot,

 

Only one ship in Roadtown on March 10th (Disney Fantasy) which is when Wind Surf will be in Virgin Gorda for the Baths excursion.  No other ship in VG on that day either.  No other ship in Roadtown on March 8th (when Surf is there) and 9th (when in Jost Van Dyke) and only 2 ships in St-Thomas each on March 9th and 10th (none on the 8th).  Should not be too busy on shore

 

Here is link to BVI cruise port schedule

http://crew-center.com/british-virgin-islands-cruise-ports-schedules-2020

 

Thanks for the link.  It extends farther than the one I found and included above.  Our itinerary has us at Virgin Gorda from 6:00 PM on Christmas Day until 5:00 PM on December 26th, when there will be three ships (at least one of them large).  It also appears that the Wind Surf will be sharing Virgin Gorda with the Sea Dream I.

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On ‎10‎/‎8‎/‎2019 at 8:30 PM, Misty Morning said:

Chipshot from Michigan,

 

I guess you are on the March 7th cruise as this is the only Yachtsman’s Caribbean itinerary that has the Anguilla variant. We are also looking at this cruise as we love all of these islands. As for your questions here are my answers.

 

Shoal Bay transfer is exactly what it is. At $55, it’s expensive. Taking a cab from Road Bay will cost $30-$35 each way for 4 people. Great beach, (voted one of the nicest beaches in Caribbean, a worthy title), not crowded (like all beaches on Anguilla), a few restaurants (we always go to Madeariman. Beach chairs available for $10. You can also take cab to Meads Bay where you can get a chair and eat at the famous Blanchard’s Beach Shack or at Jacala. Again great uncrowded beach.

 

The DaVida excursion is overpriced. While the food is good, this is the beach shack, not the restaurant next door only open in the evening. Beach is great and cab will cost $20-$25 each way. Lunch with beer & wine will not cost more than $50-$75 depending on how many drinks you have. Half price from Windstar.

 

The Baths excursions are usually done early in the morning when ship is in Virgin Gorda prior to the rush of cruise ship passengers coming in from larger cruise ships docked in Roadtown Tortola. The excursion ends around 11 and they will take you back in plenty of time to take advantage of  the beach BBQ that happens on same day.

 

No security issues.  These are all great islands where you can wander around on your own with no issues. We have been to all of them several times with never any issues.  This is why we love these islands.

 

You can see the days when the platform is out on the itinerary section on their website.  It looks like it will be open every day except when in Roadtown Tortola and when in Falmouth Harbour Antigua.  Although itinerary says platform is out in Virgin Gorda, it typically is not open during beach BBQ but they bring all the same toys to shore for guests enjoyment (including waterskiing if that’s your thing).

 

We have never been on the America’s Cup sailboat ride but I assume if it’s like other Windstar transfers, they keep the bags on the bus while you are out on boat. Wouldn’t know about changing facilities.

 

Finally, with regards to the overhaul, I understand they are taking out the casino and expanding the lounge, moving the spa and converting some suites to standard staterooms which will increase capacity by 32 to 344.  She is not new but she is still in very good shape.

 

if you need any more info on this itinerary, let me know, it would be a pleasure to help

 

 

Thank you for your very helpful response.  We are actually on the Wind Surf's December 21st cruise.  Windstar altered the itinerary, substituting a stop at Road Town for the stop at Soper's Hole due to hurricane damage and adding the stop at Road Bay (I would have preferred the originally-planned day at sea).

 

Thanks for confirming the Shoal Bay transfer and DaVida excursion are poor values.  We will choose a restaurant with beach chairs (Madeariman looks like a worthy candidate) and grab a cab.  I peeked at TripAdvisor, and appears to be many places to consider.  Sun Shine Shack on Rendezvous Bay Beach caught my attention.  We need a place with umbrellas, because one of our party is very sun-sensitive.  Do you make a reservation in advance?  Do the restaurants provide towels, or do you take some from the ship?

 

I'm flashing back to the last beach BBQ I enjoyed on Virgin Gorda.  We were staying at Little Dix Bay, and it was pouring.  We stood in water up to our ankles and had a great time.  Only on a tropical island!  I'm embarrassed to admit I missed the check marks indicating watersports platform days.  Everywhere except Philipsburg, Road Town, and Falmouth Harbor.  I don't recall the platform ever being lowered in the Mediterranean, and we took excursions everywhere in French Polynesia so might not have noticed its being deployed.

 

As I said, over twenty years have passed since we last sailed on the Wind Surf (our other Windstar ship was the Wind Song in 1995), and I don't remember the casino.  I see a corner of the lounge marked off on the current deck plan that is not shown on the post-overhaul updated version.  Other renovation changes listed (copied below) include the spa and pool.  I'm curious to learn about the new restaurants.  I'm not a fan of making reservations ahead of time (spontaneity is part of the fun of being on vacation) and hope to enjoy them all during the week.

 

"After the ship undergoes the $250 Million Star Plus transformation in November 2019, this ship will have 171 staterooms/suites total, with four new categories and additional public spaces, including two new restaurants, new spa, and elevated pool with a guest capacity of 342."

 

This will be our fourth Christmas at sea (previous include the Galapagos Islands, Antarctica, the Peruvian Amazon, and Costa RIca/Panama), and we look forward to seeing Windstar's twist on it.  Our college-age kids will be with us and are excited about being introduced to the line.

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Chipshot,

 

we we have been to Sunshine Shack a number of times. Great laid back vibe.  Food is OK and not expensive.  They have umbrellas.  Location is amazing with few buildings on the beach so very uncrowded and great view of St Martin. You can walk a few 100 yards and you will come to the Cuisinart. I believe they offer day packages. A little further you will come to Dune’s Preserve which has been totally rebuilt since the hurricane.  The ship will provide towels when you exit (the beach shacks only have chairs and umbrellas which typically go for $25 (2 chairs one umbrella)).

 

We had a similar downpour experience when on the Star Pride in St Lucia a few years back.  We spent the afternoon in the warm rain on the trampoline attached to the water sports platform. It was a memorable afternoon.

 

The Beach BBQ is on Fischer’s Cove in VG, not as nice and exclusive as Prickley Pear in the North Sound but closer to the Baths which you can do on your own from there (not the case in the North Sound as you were captive to the cruise line excursion as there was no other way to get there)

 

Casino is being taken out with the refurbishment and given the added capacity, they are adding the casino space to the lounge. I am sure your kids will love Foxy’s on JVD the action in St Barth and the amazing yachts and sailboat in English Harbour Antigua.  One of the new restaurants will be an alfresco BBQ place at the back of the ship which they were trying out when we went last winter.

 

Enjoy your cruise

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2 hours ago, Misty Morning said:

Chipshot,

 

we we have been to Sunshine Shack a number of times. Great laid back vibe.  Food is OK and not expensive.  They have umbrellas.  Location is amazing with few buildings on the beach so very uncrowded and great view of St Martin. You can walk a few 100 yards and you will come to the Cuisinart. I believe they offer day packages. A little further you will come to Dune’s Preserve which has been totally rebuilt since the hurricane.  The ship will provide towels when you exit (the beach shacks only have chairs and umbrellas which typically go for $25 (2 chairs one umbrella)).

 

We had a similar downpour experience when on the Star Pride in St Lucia a few years back.  We spent the afternoon in the warm rain on the trampoline attached to the water sports platform. It was a memorable afternoon.

 

The Beach BBQ is on Fischer’s Cove in VG, not as nice and exclusive as Prickley Pear in the North Sound but closer to the Baths which you can do on your own from there (not the case in the North Sound as you were captive to the cruise line excursion as there was no other way to get there)

 

Casino is being taken out with the refurbishment and given the added capacity, they are adding the casino space to the lounge. I am sure your kids will love Foxy’s on JVD the action in St Barth and the amazing yachts and sailboat in English Harbour Antigua.  One of the new restaurants will be an alfresco BBQ place at the back of the ship which they were trying out when we went last winter.

 

Enjoy your cruise

Hmmm, Cuisinart.  I hadn't considered a day at one of the resorts, because I didn't think they offered day packages (sorry to sound snobby, but if I were a guest at one I wouldn't be enthusiastic about the practice).  I imagine those do require reservations.

 

Our kids aren't big partiers (their father doesn't even know how to spell the word).  They enjoy music and like to dance (especially our daughter) but have little interest in booze and other substances.

 

Time on the ship when most of the other passengers are on excursions can be terrific.  Then it's really like your own private yacht.

 

How was the snorkeling gear provided by Windstar and/or the excursion providers?  We have our own but wouldn't mind not carrying it.

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Not sure if Cuisinart still offers this and if they do, do they offer it at peak Christmas time?  We asked for it last year(in November) and said that as they were reopening that week 14 months after post Irma renovations (place looks great) and that this service would only be offered later when operations were back to normal.  I would write to them and ask.  The package included a day room which was great when we used the service a few years back.

 

Snorkeling gear is ok.  Would bring my own mask and tuba as this doesn’t take too much room in luggage, they’ll provide the fins

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A day room would be nice but probably not necessary for a 4-5 hour beach stay.

 

I also posted on the TripAdvisor Anguilla forum and received recommendations for Straw Hat on Meads Bay and Trattoria Tramonto on Shoal Bay.  Plenty of choices.

 

Time to find our masks and snorkels.  I haven't owned fins in years (though I do have booties for the backless ones).  We're trying to travel light.

 

Caribbean modesty appears to be alive and well; many of Windstar's excursion descriptions include "wear your swimsuit under your clothes".

 

May I ask where in Canada you are?

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Straw Hat (Meads Bay near Jacala and Blanchards) and Trattoria Tramonto (Shoal Bay West) are also both excellent choices.  As you will see, there is no lack of great restaurants in Anguilla.  We have sailed with Windstar 7 times, all in the Caribbean, and are heading out for our 8th in November on a 2 week Caribbean cruise aboard Star Legend with some friends.  We love the ships, the stops, the food and the general laid back atmosphere onboard, not stuffy at all like some of the more expensive luxury lines.  I am sure your family will enjoy

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This will only be our fourth Caribbean cruise (and our kids' third).  We've sailed every continent except Africa, and most of our ships have carried 70-150 passengers.

 

I'm going to book our excursions today or this weekend.  They'll cost about  of our fare!  I'm not excited about paying in advance but don't want to be frozen out.  Frankly I'm surprised more of them aren't already full.

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All booked.  Thanks for everyone's help.  Mama is skipping the sting rays.  We decided to wait to see how we feel before booking the Tortola Snorkel excursion (Norman Island Caves and Indians).  There is no day at sea on our itinerary and a relaxing day on board may win out over sustained activity.  Let spontaneity rule!

 

An aside, our son looked at the Wind Surf's deck plan and declared "that ship is huge".  He appears to have forgotten sailing on the Disney Wonder.  But he does have a point; our last two cruises were on ships that carried 28 and 100 passengers.

Edited by Chipshot from Michigan

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