8 Experiences That Make a Windstar Cruise Worth the Price
In December, I took my first cruise with Windstar. boarding star legend In St. Maarten, my husband and I embarked on a romantic and adventurous itinerary with a cruise brand known for delivering exceptional vacations and a reputation to back that up. We spent a week sailing the Caribbean, soaking up the sights of Antigua, the British Virgin Islands and St. Barths to create memories that will last a lifetime and really get to know the Windstar brand. As an avid cruiser, the price for this cruise was a bit higher than my previous cruises. But let me tell you how that extra bit more than makes up for it with these eight experiences that make a Windstar cruise worth the price.
Windstar welcomed me as a guest to familiarize myself with this brand. As always, opinions and reviews are 100% mine and unbiased.
1. Small crowds
It might surprise you that Windstar yachts only hold around 200-310 passengers. Not only is this a big difference to the mega cruise ships that often make you feel like a herd of cattle crossing long buffet lines and waiting to disembark the ship at the port, but it allows you to get to know the other cruisers . It also lets the crew know you – your cruise preferences and your name. Although I encountered friendly cruise staff on each of the 50 cruises I’ve taken, it was more like we were just Windstar guests, not crew and cruisers.
Above all, I think that, in the craziest time we’ve had since 2020, this is one of the most attractive cruise deals possible. The Windstar team has taken additional sanitation measures and adheres to the highest safety standards. This was evident in the personalized service from the staff members preparing our buffet plates at the makeshift COVID testing site (at no additional cost) and the ship’s doctor who was a seamless and pleasant transaction for the guests.
2. Elegant yacht and rooms
There are no cruise ships or ships with Windstar, only yachts and sailboats. I took the star legend, an incredibly picturesque little yacht. The legend was small enough to learn to navigate in a short time, without wasting precious vacation time. Still, it was big enough to snuggle up for a nap on warm days, read a good book, have an intimate conversation, or watch as we cruised through the mesmerizing blue waters.
Speaking only for the star legend, this yacht offers fully equipped rooms. We even had a full size closet, perfect for storing our suitcases, hanging our clothes, and keeping our main room straight. Our top rated cabin features were L’Occitane en Provence toiletries, plush bathrobes, a comfy couch, a heavenly bed, premium Egyptian cotton linens and a fully stocked mini fridge.
3. Lesser Known Ports of Call
I’ve been studying cruise itineraries for over 20 years and the stops on major cruise ships rarely change. I was shocked to see the remote destinations that Windstar Cruises travels to. My husband and I took the St. Maarten cruise that went to the British Virgin Islands, and although we’ve been to Virgin Gorda with others, Tortola and Jost Van Dyke were two places I rarely saw on trips. other routes. And we also had the chance to go to Gustavia (Saint-Barth), the island of luxury and exuberance.
If you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind cruise, I’ll let you know that Windstar Cruises visits Tahiti, Kobe, Bordeaux, and Honfleur, not your typical cruise ports.
Pro Tip: Cruise lines may alter the itinerary for passenger safety and the best experiences. This is common practice, so please roll with the hits should it happen. Often, passengers are not aware of the whole situation that is unfolding and that drives these decisions.
4. Outstanding food
When the general public talks about cruises, they tend to think of huge buffets overflowing with mediocre food, but plenty of it. And that makes many cruisers perfectly happy. I tend to value quality over quantity, so the premium food choices – many of which are locally sourced – on Windstar Cruises made me a happy girl. Our meals were excellent!
Breakfast ranged from made-to-order eggs and omelettes to fluffy pancakes and decadent Eggs Benedict. The buffet runs the gamut from Indian delights to smoked meats and comfort food, to soups and breakfast sandwiches. There was 24 hour room service, unlimited ice cream, a cafe with mini sandwiches and sweets, and the list goes on and on.
I was shocked (micro-drop here) that the main dining room – the basic dining room for those of you new to the world of cruises – was the only oceangoing cruise line endorsed by and is the official cruise line of the James Beard Foundation. Yes, you read that right. The foundation was created in part to recognize the efforts of those who put American culinary skills above others, and it shows with the chef-inspired dishes on these ships. Windstar Cruises brings people to plates on the high seas that are “180 degrees from the ordinary”.
5. Specialty Restaurants
As if the food wasn’t remarkable enough, there are specialty restaurants on a Windstar cruise. the star legend had the lovely Spanish restaurant, Cuadro 44, and Candles, a classic steakhouse. Cuadro 44 offers coastal Spanish tapas, wines and exotic seafood in a vibrant and energetic setting, while Candles is a more romantic restaurant with white tablecloths, candlelight and al fresco dining.
Now get this…they’re included in your cruise fare. You pay no extra cost to dine at these restaurants, which serve upscale dishes like Iberian ham, lamb chops, Galician-style octopus, and jumbo prawns.
Fun fact: Cuadro 44 can only accommodate 38 passengers, so this small-scale dining experience is highly desirable.
6. Adventurous cruises
I was told that Windstar caters to a more active group of travelers. The website has a mind-boggling 2,500 unique visits. I found many Windstar cruise excursions to be on the moderate to strenuous side of the scale, but there was still plenty for others to do. From scuba diving to visiting private islands, there was a wide range of activities and experiences.
Windstar also offers many personalized tours, including a carefully curated excursion for your family and friends, or even a solo trip, to see the sites you want to visit with an English-speaking guide in a private car or van. These guides are also fully bonded, insured and licensed.
Also check out culinary shore excursions aboard Windstar Cruises. These opportunities take cruise passengers to wineries, breweries, and even hands-on cooking classes to learn from the locals and eat and drink with produce from the region you’re visiting.
7. Relationship between cruise staff and cruise passengers
My cruise could potentially hold 312 passengers. We were only about 158 which meant half operating for guests. Not only did that mean no lines, no crowded pools or hot tubs, but also nearly 1.25 cruise staff per passenger.
I swear I don’t know how the staff at Windstar do it, but they would remember every name, drink choice (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), favorite things and where we were from. Often we didn’t have time to think we needed something before a smiling face appeared with said item in hand. I kept thinking of the Ritz Carlton slogan, “My Pleasure Mrs. Pittman.”
Fun fact: For even more excellent cruise concierge service, let Windstar help you book your air travel, hotel and tour reservations before and after, and even your itinerary for a fantastic vacation.
8. A unique culinary experience
Something new in my cruising experiences happened on the Windstar star legend. It was supposed to be two things, but one was postponed and then canceled due to bad weather. But the one that happened was amazing, and I think you’ll agree.
At a harbor where we had to tender (take small boats) to shore, Windstar set up a beach BBQ for all of their guests to enjoy for lunch. Virgin Gorda was the perfect setting for the festive tables, the steel-drum musicians, the buffet of paella and barbecued meats and the tropical backdrop. The amount of effort it took to haul everything needed (plates, glassware, utensils, food, drinks, linens, etc.) to shore for us to have a memorable lunch honestly brings me to tears. What a fantastic brand and staff who brave, in our case, waves and extreme weather for a quick dining experience that creates such a heartwarming memory. It was well appreciated.
Windstar, if you made that mac and cheese because I mentioned it, thank you. They canceled the aforementioned deck BBQ due to the weather, but I’ve heard regular passengers say it was one of their favorite Windstar offerings.
Pro Tip: I like to bring a few cards from home and tip my favorite cruise staff along with a personalized message thanking them for making my vacation better.
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