Review: Sailing Windstar Cruises Wind Surf
Our Personal Experience Sailing Aboard the Windstar Cruises Motor Sailing Yacht: Wind Surf
Note: click all photographs for larger views.
One of the missions of our website is to expose our readers and clients to off-the-beaten-path experiences. As we see it, why travel with the hordes if you can have a fabulous travel experience far from the madding crowd.
When it comes to ocean cruises, if the idea of sailing with an army of 6,000 people makes you feel icky, then thankfully, today’s evolving cruise industry is providing wonderful alternative options.
Carol and I recently sailed with Windstar Cruises on a 9-night sailing in the Caribbean and really enjoyed the experience.
Windstar Cruises offers a fabulous blend of luxury, value, and intimate small-ship cruising that deserves your rapt attention!
If you’re not familiar with Windstar Cruises, they offer ocean cruisers a casually elegant experience that is “180 degrees from ordinary” with 6 yachts (3 sailing yachts and 3 motor yachts). The sailing yachts carry a maximum of just over 300 people: Wind Surf (310 guests), and the Wind Star and Wind Spirit both carry a maximum of 148 guests. The motor yachts (Star Pride, Star Breeze, and Star Legend) all carry a maximum of 212 guests.
Carol and I, along with a group of 7 other “roaming boomers” that came with us, sailed aboard the Wind Surf which Windstar Cruises bills as the world’s largest motor sailing yacht.
I’ve been sitting here staring at my computer screen for about 20 minutes trying to figure out how to best describe our 9-day experience in an article that is informative, valuable to our readers, but yet not so large that you lose interest part-way through. Therefore, I’ve decided to keep our review article limited to the major categories that folks would first want to know about, and create shorter deep-dive pieces in the future about our various experiences.
So that we don’t bury the lead, would we sail with Windstar Cruises again? Yes. Absolutely!
Now, let’s get into the good stuff…
The Ship: Windstar Cruises Wind Surf
I snagged these photographs of the Windstar Cruises Wind Surf in two separate Caribbean locations as we were tendering back to our ship. She is 613.5 ft. long (nearly two football fields), and because of her shallow draft (only 16.4 ft.) she can maneuver into ports that much larger ships can only dream about.
This ship has 6 passenger decks, and holds a maximum of 310 guests with 122 deluxe ocean-view staterooms, 31 deluxe ocean-view suites, and 2 deluxe ocean-view bridge suites.
As you can see, the ship (part cruise ship, part yacht) features five massive computerized sails that reach 221 ft. above sea level. And important to me, the Wind Surf has a passenger space ratio of 47.5, which is nearly double the passenger spaces that many of the large cruise ships feature. That means you won’t be fighting over a place to park yourself with a good book on deck.
As most of our sailing was done at night, we didn’t really get to experience the sails much. However, each night the ship featured a “sail-away” event which resembled a Disney-like atmosphere with dramatic music playing throughout the ship as each of the sails was unfurled to the setting of the sun.
In this photograph, you can see that one of the unique features of a yacht-cruise is a marina on the back of the ship. As the ship was generally moored at most of our locations, those who wanted to play in the warm Caribbean waters had great fun using the ship’s complimentary water sports equipment.
I snagged this photograph (below) showing one of our sunset sail-aways. Looks fun. Right?
Windstar Cruises Wind Surf Staterooms
As I mentioned above, the Wind Surf has 6 passenger decks, and holds a maximum of 310 guests with 122 deluxe ocean-view staterooms, 31 deluxe ocean-view suites, and 2 deluxe ocean-view bridge suites.
Carol and I enjoyed one of the deluxe ocean-view suites (pictured above). Our suite was 376 sq. ft. and was essentially two of the ship’s standard staterooms combined to make one suite. As a result, we had two bathrooms, two desk areas, loads of storage space, and being able to draw the curtains when I rose in the morning before Carol was a plus she enjoyed.
Some of the folks traveling with us opted for the 188 sq. ft. deluxe ocean-view stateroom. Inquiring about these staterooms, their comments were that they were small, but they didn’t feel squished, had ample storage, a nice desk area, and as they weren’t spending much time in their rooms anyway, they felt completely satisfied.
If you take a peek at our ocean-view suite above, you’ll notice that there is no balcony. With rare exceptions, this is standard on a yacht cruise. Behind each of the curtains in our stateroom were two portholes giving the illusion of two large picture windows. There was ample natural light, and like our guests commented above, we didn’t spend much time in our stateroom anyway as there were ample common spaces above to sneak away and relax.
I know that some of you reading this will simply put yacht cruising out of your minds because there are no verandas. But to me, the other benefits of our sailing yacht experience far outweighed the fact that we had no balcony. Keep in mind, there were only 300 of us on board. I would happily give up a veranda to not be around 5,000 other people.
Dining Aboard the Windstar Cruises Wind Surf
I grabbed this photograph one morning and I think this pretty much says it all. Granted, these were the first people to be seated on this delightful morning, but dining on the Wind Surf is akin to dining on your own private yacht. We enjoyed breakfast and lunch in this setting every single day, and loved it.
At night, this area is transformed into what they call Candles Restaurant where guests can enjoy steaks and fine seafood under the stars. AmphorA, the ship’s main dining room served wonderful dining experiences each night with standard American cuisine available along with regional specials each night. One night we enjoyed a massive BBQ under the stars on the top deck, and when we were in St. Lucia, Windstar gave us a fabulous beach BBQ.
With Windstar Cruises, all meals are complimentary in all venues at all times, including the room service menu available 24 hours. We ordered breakfast in our room a few mornings, and several times enjoyed a simple sandwich, cookie, and cappuccino in the Yacht Club Sandwich & Espresso Bar.
Overall, our group gave the cuisine aboard ship 4.3 stars out of 5, with 5 being a Michelin-star rated restaurant. You should also know that our group gave the staff aboard ship a 5 out of 5 rating. They really were remarkable. In just a few days, most of the staff that we interacted with knew our names, knew our wine preferences, and really made us feel at home.
Here’s two guys enjoying the pool one lazy afternoon in port. And I snagged the photograph below while on a fun-filled shore excursion at the world-famous frigatebird sanctuary in Barbuda.
I grabbed this photograph during one of our sunset sail-aways. Can you picture yourself here?
Yacht Cruise or Mega-Ship
When we were moored in St. Martin, I was enjoying a good book on the back of our yacht when I spied this behemoth to the right coming into port. I was flabbergasted by its size. I quickly grabbed my flip-flops and ran off the Wind Surf determined to get a photograph that might compare these two completely different cruising options.
The ship on the right carries 5,400 people and once they competed the docking process, people started streaming out of the belly of this thing like ants out of an ant hill. I went to the very front of the monstrosity to capture my photograph, but from that vantage point, you could hardly see the Wind Surf. So, I opted for a photograph that compared roughly half of said monster-ship against the elegant Wind Surf.
I don’t know. You tell me. Which would you rather sail the ocean blue upon? It’s a no brainer for us. We prefer smaller ships and no crowds. Monster-ship is very limited in where she can go. Where our nimble sailing yacht could moor nearly anywhere in the world. Nuff said?
It’s all about the ship. Really?
Carol and I were meeting with the sales rep for the company that represents the ship to the right, and she made a comment that “ocean cruising is all about the ship”. And I’ll admit, if I were 30 years old and single, or perhaps doing a multi-generational trip with my family, I would be drawn to something more like the ship on the right. But when we’re traveling, the ship is certainly important, but for us, it’s all about the destination. And the ship on the left is going to allow me to experience destinations far away from the crowds.
So, ask yourself, when you contemplate an ocean cruise, do you want to come home and boast about the ship you were on, or would you rather boast about the off-the-beaten-path destinations you visited?
Summing it all up
Carol and I really enjoyed our sailing experience aboard the Windstar Cruises Wind Surf. When we asked our group of “roaming boomers” to rate the total experience, 0 being get me off this tub, and 5 being the most luxurious and best of the best ever, they gave the Wind Surf a 4.3.
Windstar Cruises isn’t trying to compete against the ultra-luxe yacht cruises that are now becoming available in the marketplace. They have a unique niche in the 4+star market, we really enjoyed it, and would happily do it again. Plus, when I share with folks that our 10-day sailing started at only $1,795/person, they are generally shocked as they expected a much higher price tag.
So. Bottom line? Carol and I highly recommend that you consider getting far away from the madding crowd on your next ocean cruise and try a peaceful, elegant cruise aboard the Windstar Cruises Wind Surf.
We promise, you’re going to enjoy it greatly.
And Lastly, a Shameless Commercial Plug
Now that you’re ready to book your own sailing on the Wind Surf, you can call Windstar Cruises or you can call our travel agency. Either will get your cruise booked for the exact same price, but we have a lot of hand’s on experience that the very nice 30-something sitting in a cubicle can’t really bring you. Plus, as we’re also affiliated with the $15 billion/year Virtuoso Travel Network, we are likely to also have some nice complimentary VIP perks for your booking as well.
Either way, we highly recommend that you experience a sailing with Windstar Cruises. After this sailing, Carol and I have put one of their even smaller motor yachts on our bucket list. I’m thinking that a cruise of the Greek Isles aboard one of their 200 passenger luxury motor yachts would really be the cat’s meow. Don’t you agree?
Again, to book your Windstar Cruise, call our travel agency at (480) 550-1235, or use our convenient online information request (click here) and we’ll reach out to you.
Disclosure: our sailing was provided by the nice folks at Windstar Cruises. Thanks!
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