Jill L. Newmark
Number of Cruises: N/A
Cruise Line: Wind Star
Ship: Wind Star
Sailing Date: N/A
Itinerary: Eastern Mediterranean
Just returned from a cruise on the Wind Star traveling from Istanbul to Athens and stopping at Kusadasi, Rhodes, Bodrum, Santorini and Mykonos. What a wonderful experience. If you’re looking for great food and service, interesting ports and personal attention, this cruise is for you. If you want lots of entertainment and on-board activities, don’t bother with Windstar.
The Wind Star is a small ship compared to the giant cruise liners, but it’s intimate atmosphere and personal service can’t be compared to the larger and impersonal cruise ships. Our cabin was on the lower deck since we needed to accommodate three, but the size and amenities were no different than the deck above. The cabin was a nice size and offered a CD player and VCR as well as a good size bathroom. The ship had a small casino, lounge, dining room and veranda where breakfast and lunch were served each day. The Veranda offered both indoor and outdoor seating. We enjoyed most of our meals here outdoors. Lunches were varied and delicious and each day offered a specialty such as Italian, BBQ, Greek and Turkish. Sometimes we enjoyed our lunches better than our dinners. There also was a library with a large selection of videos as well as CDs, books and board games.
Since there was limited on-board entertainment, checking out videos from the extensive video library and spending the evening in your cabin was a favorite pastime for most passengers. Passengers also spent time in the evenings on the pool deck and bar, but most passengers were in their cabins by the late evening.
Each evening dinner was served in the dining room between 7:30 –9:15 PM. There was no set seating time or location. Since our family numbered seven, we were assigned a table where we sat each evening. The rule of “casual elegance” was true and there was no pressure for fancy or formal dress. This set up was perfect for us and made the dining experience more enjoyable. One evening a BBQ dinner was served on the pool deck where a table had been reserved for us. This was by far our favorite dining experience. We had the choice of lobster, ribs, chicken and pork with a wide variety of vegetables and desserts. Dining outdoors with the beautiful Santorini above us was magical and delightful. After dinner we enjoyed the evening sail from Santorini.
Our ship stayed in each port for most of the day allowing us to participate in shore excursions and still have plenty of time to explore the towns, visit museums and shop. We took part in two shore excursions which we enjoyed. Our local tour guides were informative and the sites we visited wonderful including Ephesus and the island of Delos. At each port we were offered only one choice in shore excursions and never more than two, but this was fine.
The cruise offered a sports deck for water activities directly off the back of the ship. These were available at two ports—Bodrum and Santorini—where the ship dropped anchor and we tendered into port. We did kayaking, swimming and the banana boat which was great fun. The sports deck was a great alternative to spending time in town or locating a local beach for swimming.
The service on board was great. After the first day, the crew referred to us by name and often engaged us in conversation. Our waiter and wine steward knew our preferred drinks and offered excellent service. The host and hostess were the only lackluster crew and did not provide the attentive service that the rest of the crew provided. Even the captain was friendly and engaged passengers on a regular basis. Our only disappointment was at embarkation where we were surprised that a Windstar representative was not available in the waiting area to answer questions and provide information on procedures. Since most passengers were there early they ended up waiting at least an hour before being allowed to board and most were a bit unsure of what to do, where to go and when we could board. Once on board, processing was quick and easy.
Overall, the Wind Star was a great and memorable experience. We thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere, intimate setting, and personal service. It was a unique and worthwhile experience.