Windstar Cruises Wind Surf Review
The romance and allure of the Seven Seas are alive and well aboard this five-masted sailing yacht.
There are no children’s facilities aboard Wind Surf. More specifically, the Windstar website states: “Children, especially infants and toddlers, are not encouraged aboard Windstar cruises. The intimate ship size and unregimented atmosphere are adult in orientation and do not provide for the care, supervision or entertainment of children.”
While we think a sailing-oriented teen might find a Wind Surf cruise pretty cool, pre-teens would largely be left to their own devices and might be miserable for the lack of playmates.
The Signature Shop was Wind Surf’s one and only boutique, but it was packed with merchandize, more eclectic than what we typically see on cruise ships. We found Wallaroo and Tilley hats, Gretchen Scott cover-ups, ladies Gittex swimwear, Patagonia clothing, watches by Fossil, Citizen and Michael Kors, blown glass ornaments, neoprene laptop sleeves, flip-flops, jewelry from Roman Glass and Antica Murrina. Captain’s uniforms for toddlers were charmers.
In addition to Windsurf logo items such as T-shirts, sweatshirts, sunglasses, visors and key chains, there was a small selection of sundries—sun block, pain relievers, batteries, memory cards, etc. CDs of the Wind Surf’s sail-away theme song by Vangelis (aka the “1492: Conquest of Paradise” soundtrack) were also available.
Wind Surf had a photographer with a Photo Gallery. Prints were priced $15 for 6x8 or $20 for 8x10, with discounts for orders or five or more (or all photos on CD for $200). On one afternoon, the Bowsprit—that pointy thing at the front of the ship—was opened for photos, a pretty unique cruise photo op, we’d say.
Most of the service we received aboard Wind Surf was excellent, friendly. Many of the crewmembers had been with Windstar for a number of years and they were proud of the ship. However, we found one crewmember to be overly familiar and forward—to the point that we deliberately avoided his stations during meals. We also noted, in contrast to most cruise lines, that we almost never saw our cabin steward, who breezed in and out of our quarters quickly each day. While we can’t say there was anything unattended to, we were surprised to not meet him until the third day of our cruise.
Wind Surf’s normal compliment of crew is 191 and the number of guests at full occupancy is 310. This equates to a ratio of 1.6 guests for each crewmember, a relatively high level of staffing for the industry.
The ship’s daily one-page newsletter arrived in our room each evening, revealing the schedule of activities and hours of operation for the following day. Passports were collected from guests during embarkation and returned at the end of our cruise.
Located on the Main Deck next to the Yacht Club, there were just two PCs available for guests to check email or websites. The basic rate for internet access—using the ship’s computers or our own laptop anywhere on the ship—was $50 for 75 megabytes of data, or $100 for 160 megabytes. There was a usage meter (in a second browser) that indicated how many megs had been consumed. The internet station was not staffed.
The attire on Wind Surf was comfortably relaxed. Windstar recommends that guests dress as they would at an elegant resort, but we’d say the dress was a little less refined than that. On sea days, the ship’s breezy outdoor atmosphere is conducive for light fabrics such as cotton, linen and silk.
The strictest dress was for dinner, when a casual-elegant dress code takes effect; the requirements were no shorts, jeans, T-shirts, hats and tennis shoes. There are no formal nights. The Windstar website also specifically states: “No suits or ties.”
There was no laundry room for guests to do their laundry, but basic laundry and pressing service was available (no dry cleaning). Items received before 9 a.m. were to be returned within 24 hours. Prices ranged from $1.80 for underwear to $3.30 for a blouse or sports shirt, and $3.80 for a sweater or sweatshirt to $6.45 for a suit or dress skirt. Most pressing was priced under $1; a suit or dress was $1.70.
An unlimited laundry package was available for $109 per cabin for the week ($54.50 for single-occupant cabins). Guests were asked to sign up for the package by the afternoon following embarkation.
General Health & Safety
The mandatory safety drill was conducted prior to embarkation and guests were required to bring life jackets from their room for the demonstration. Hand sanitizers were present in the dining areas, though we observed no special emphasis on using them.
Although the smaller Wind Star and Wind Spirit ships operated by Windstar Cruises do not have elevators, Wind Surf has two—one forward, one aft. However, no cabins or bathrooms are considered wheelchair-accessible, and the ship does not have elevator access for boarding. Guests with limited mobility should be aware that a number of doorways have raised thresholds to step over.
There was an infirmary on Deck 1, staffed by a doctor. The facility was open 8 to 10 a.m. and 4 to 6 p.m. daily. A charge was applied to the cabin account for any services rendered or medications provided. Meclizine tablets for seasickness were available from the infirmary at no charge.
Designated smoking areas were the port side of the Compass Rose and Pool bars, and indoors at the Terrace Bar (the latter was also the location for cigar and pipe smoking). Smoking was otherwise not permitted inside the ship, including cabins and the casino. However, we observed guests smoking in other, non-smoking exterior areas of the ship in front of the crew, including the outdoor dining area of the Veranda restaurant. We were disappointed that the policy was not enforced while we were dining outdoors.
Tipping and Service Charges
A $12 per day, per guest gratuity was added to our checkout bill, to cover wait staff, our cabin steward as well as behind-the-scenes crewmembers. Additionally, a 15-percent service charge was added to all bar charges and wine purchases.
Guests were allowed to bring aboard wine and Champagne; bottles consumed in the restaurants or bars were subject to a $15 corkage fee. Other spirits were not allowed in cabins; Windstar offered to stow them until the last day of the voyage.
The minimum drinking age was 21.
Windstar Yacht Club is the frequent-cruiser program for guests. Formerly called the Foremast Club, the program was revamped in November 2013 with improved benefits that start following the first sailing.
Among them: A 5-percent discount on standard cruise fares for most voyages; upgrades to the next highest cabin category (or an upgrade from a standard cabin to a premium suite starting at $500 per person based on availability during onboard check-in); private member cocktail party; dining with the Captain or other ship officers; a Welcome Aboard gift; and savings of 10 percent on gift shop purchases. Additionally, a $100 shipboard credit is provided for each confirmed booking members refer to Windstar Cruises.
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