Windstar Cruises offers intimate voyages to exotic destinations in the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Italy, Northern Europe, Greek Isles, Panama Canal, Costa Rica, and Tahiti. The cruise line is currently working on expanding their passenger capacity. This will open them up to new itineraries traveling to Southeast Asia, Arabia, and Iceland. The cruise line is owned by Xanterra Parks and Resorts, Inc. and has been serving satisfied customers since 1988.
- Great amenities
- Many destinations
- Dress code
Windstar Cruises targets travelers of all ages with its laid back atmosphere aboard the six vessels in the company's fleet. As ships set sail, the company's ritual is to play the theme song "Conquest of Paradise" from the film "1942." As the music comes to a crescendo, the sails unfurl in all their glory.
The cruise line has lower passenger occupancy limits in order to provide a more intimate sailing experience and attentive customer service. The smaller ships also can access hidden ports that the larger cruise lines cannot reach. Also, The cabins have been refurbished in recent years and no offer indulgently soft bedding, Bose SoundDocks, flat-screen televisions, and fresh fruit and flowers. Passengers can enjoy plenty of water sports in ports where Windstar Cruises ships anchor. Standard amenities featured on all Windstar Cruises include the following:
- Fitness area
- Internet Service
- Free Room Service
The dining experience has also been upgraded. Gourmet cuisine reflects regions the ships visit. Restaurants cater to special dietary needs. The ship's main restaurant Amphora provides Continental cuisine in an open-seating atmosphere. Candles Grill provides a super steakhouse experience and the Stella Bistro serves French cuisine. Reservations are required for the latter venue. In addition to providing unique dining experiences, Windstar also provides guests with an opportunity to see the world. Destinations guests have to choose from include:
- Greek Isles
- Northern Europe
- Panama Canal
- Costa Rica
The dress code at Windstar Cruise is country club casual sportswear. Feel free to leave formalwear and ties at home. You will not need them. Also, a doctor and limited medical facilities are available on board. However, if you take special medications, please bring an adequate supply with you together with a copy of the prescription from your doctor; it may not be available on board. Medical services and all medicines (except acetaminophen, aspirin, and sea sickness pills) dispensed by the ship's doctor will be charged to your shipboard account. If you become ill during the voyage and the physician is unable to care for your needs on board, you will be transferred to medical facilities on shore. Shoreside medical care and/or evacuation are not charged to your onboard account. You will be responsible for paying all of these charges.
- Decorative sails
- Small accommodations
- Extra costs
The design of the ships is deceptive. The large sails that are displayed upon the launch of the cruise are mainly for decorative purposes. Engines propel the ships through the water. Guests seeking a true sailing experience will not find it through Windstar Cruises.
The size of the staterooms are very small, measuring about 188 square feet. There are no balconies. There are no bathtubs and the bathrooms are compact on the majority of the ships. Staterooms on Star Pride do have more spacious marble bathrooms with bathtubs.
Two twin beds are pushed together in the cabins to create one large queen bed.walking around the bed is difficult to catch the view from the portholes. The bed is approximately a foot away from the wall, giving the area a cramped feel. There is no Internet connection availability in the cabins.
Windstar Cruises does not offer self-service laundry facilities. There is an unlimited laundry package available at $109 per stateroom for guests who cruise longer than a week. The cruise line does wash and fold a bag of dirty laundry daily. There is also another 15 percent tip for any bar or spa bills. Service fees are charged for the following activities/amenities:
- Medical Services
- Signature Shop
- Bicycles for rent
Not Wheelchair Accessible
Windstar Cruise ships are not wheelchair accessible for guests with physical disabilities. There are also no elevators on any of the decks. Guests must take the narrow stairs to access various decks. While this is great for physical exercise purposes, it can create great fatigue for some people.
Activities are centered mainly around socializing. Entertainment options are purposely low-key. Some passengers can become bored quickly, especially if they are used to boisterous, high-activity entertainment. When not socializing, plan to spend a lot of time gazing at scenery.
Windstar Cruises has an a la carte pricing strategy where guests pay for lots of features. The cruise line charges extra for cocktails, fitness classes, and offshore excursions. There are few scheduled activities for guests to participate in. There are no art galleries or photographers aboard Windstar cruise liners. Smoking is prohibited in all areas of the ship.
The Bottom Line
The company could do better in a few areas. The a la carte pricing on activities and restaurants can rack up voyage expenses for passengers quickly and competing cruise lines with all-inclusive pricing will be more attractive to passengers on a limited vacation budget. Passengers with physical disabilities will not be able to move around efficiently without wheelchair accessible areas. Guests must take the stairs to access all areas of the ship creating unnecessary fatigue moving around on the ship. Cabins areas are small and cramped and do not feature many of the luxuries offered on other cruise ships.
Windstar Cruises is a decent cruise line overall. There is a relaxed dress code and plenty of water sports to enjoy. While Windstar cruises tries to attract travelers of all ages, middle-aged and older vacationers with a middle-class or higher income are the best fit for this cruise line.