cruises

Windstar Cruises Wind Surf Review

The romance and allure of the Seven Seas are alive and well aboard this five-masted sailing yacht.

January 21, 2014
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Wind Spa & Fitness Center

The ship’s spa facilities on Deck 2 aft are operated by Steiner Leisure, the dominant player in spa services for the cruise industry. There were just three treatment rooms (each appeared to be converted from a former cabin), but appointments didn’t seem particularly hard to come by on short notice. Prices were in line with Steiner services on other ships, which are somewhat higher than at most quality resorts. But there were specials each day, announced in the ship’s daily newsletter.

With a somewhat reduced staff the list of services was a bit shorter than we find on most ships, but they included a variety of massages, starting at $79 for the 25-minute deep tissue massage ($129 for a 50-minute treatment). Facials started at $119 for a 50-minute treatment. Also available were acupuncture and salon services for men and women.

The Fitness Center was beautifully located up on the Star Deck, offering sea views port and starboard. There were 8 cardio machines by Technogym, along with various machines for weightlifting and resistance. The gym was never crowded when we visited, though with just three treadmills and two bikes, it wasn’t hard for the specific equipment we wanted to be in use at peak hours. Complimentary morning stretch, abs training, Pilates and Yoga sessions were available (one in the morning, one in the late afternoon), but the ship’s one trainer was more than 10 minutes late for the stretch session we attended. Personal training was offered at $85 for a one-hour session. The Fitness Center was open 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Pool

Located on Deck 2 aft, Wind Surf has just one, square swimming facility, and it's not much more than a plunge pool, but it is appealingly positioned, and adequately sized for a small ship. The pool was flanked by two Jacuzzi tubs. The relatively few loungers surrounding the pool were often at a premium. Swimming hours were 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily (Candles Grill opened at 7 p.m. nightly, preventing evening access for bathers).

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Other Recreation

Wind Surf offered a few unusual recreational opportunities outside the Fitness Center. Accessed from Deck 2, a small Watersports Marina unfolded from the back of the ship. From the watersports platform, kayaks, small sailboats, windsurfers and snorkel gear were available for guest use, along with an inflatable water trampoline island. The platform is opened when the ship is at anchor (presumably never at docks), but it did not emerge at two of our tender ports (due either to sea conditions or local regulations). The equipment didn’t get much use by guests that we saw (the water wasn’t exactly warm), but by afternoon a few crewmembers were enjoying it.

Jogging was possible on the Star Deck (five-and-half laps equaled a mile), but one did need to content with diners at the Veranda Restaurant as well as sun loungers. Just above the marina was also a collection of bikes that could be rented for exploring ports. The rate was $15 for four hours, $25 for 8 hours.

Decks

One of our favorite things about Wind Surf was all of the teak exterior decks. For a small ship there seemed to be lots to explore. The lowest exterior deck was the Main Deck, or Deck 4. This was where the lifeboats were located (preventing much of a view) and, to the aft, the pool. The forward section of this deck culminated in stairs that lead up to the Bridge.

The Bridge Deck, Deck 5, was more open, a great place for strolling and taking in the nautical experience. The actual bridge was open to visitors, there was various nautical equipment to peruse, and a few loungers were available at midship. Just above, the Star Deck was a wonderful space. This is where the barbecue dinner was conducted, it’s where The Veranda restaurant is located, along with the Fitness Center and a couple dozen loungers with a towel station. A small sign said five-and-a-half laps equaled a mile, but during breakfast and lunch hours this wasn’t necessarily the best place for a jog. One additional level, Deck 7, is a flying bridge that has its own steering station—it was great for photos.

Shows & Entertainment

Located midship on the Main Deck, The Lounge served as the ship’s primary entertainment venue. The stage—such as it was—was a platform raised a couple inches above the rest of the space. But it was big enough for a quartet, and the group Top Society played here most nights of our cruise. There was also a guest vocalist who performed on a couple evenings. The entertainment was okay, but so was gazing out at the stars. There was also a talented guitar-vocal due that performed in the Compass Rose bar nightly.

The ship’s DVD library was located next on the Main Deck next to the (book) Library. We found about 1300 titles available—a pretty eclectic collection that ranged from “Smokey and the Bandit” to “Dave Chappelle’s Block Party.” Something for everyone, you might say.

A galley tour was offered on one afternoon, and it was fairly interesting to see how our satisfying meals were prepared under Wind Surf’s constrained conditions (much smaller than what most cruise ships work with). The chef also organized a visit to a local market at one port, where he stocked up on fresh fruit, produce and other goods for the evening meal. There was no charge to join the short tour.

Casino

Of course, Wind Surf’s casino was smaller than we usually see on cruise ships, but it was bigger than we expected it to be, with 27 slot machines, 3 card tables and a Roulette table. There were different themes each night—the first night was Straight Night, then Blackjack Attack, etc. While the slots were open soon after leaving each port, the tables opened as late as 8:30 p.m. on a couple nights. Overall, the casino didn’t see a lot of traffic on our cruise.

Other Venues

The size and layout of Wind Surf created a number of unique spaces. The Reception Desk was found on the Main Deck (aka Deck 4), and was staffed 24 hours a day. Around the corner was the Library, which was shared by the Yacht Club (the ship’s café). Although there were a couple hundred books here—many of them reference-oriented—there were a lot of empty shelves soon after embarkation (we’re not sure they were quite full before casting off). This area had comfy couches and handsome Scandinavian chairs, some mismatched, along with a large TV monitor that was usually tuned to news or sports. We also found Backgammon and Chess sets, and there were two pairs of headphones to listen to music, though our fellow guests weren’t good about hanging them up properly on the charging stations.

Deck 5 was the Bridge Deck and the Bridge was open to visitors pretty much any time, except during sailaway. There were always at least two officers present, happy to answer questions about the ship. One venue on this deck that got little use during our cruise was the Nautilus Room, a conference room with chairs to seat about 50. The facility was perfunctory, but included a rear-projection TV screen for presentations.

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Sections

  1. Introduction
  2. Cabins
  3. Dining
  4. Drinks
  5. Recreation & Entertainment
  6. Kids, Services & Other Details
Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

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