Can affordable luxury cruising get any better? That’s the bottom line of our Windstar Cruises review.
But we know you want the nitty gritty, so read on…
Windstar Cruises review: Say “hello” to new Windstar ships
We’re relishing our spacious suite – all 106 staterooms are outside suites that come with huge picture windows or balconies plus living areas (where we can get room service of multi-course dinners, if we wish). There’s even a walk-in closet.
Look, we have deluxe L’Occitane bath products, his-and-hers sinks and a full-size bathtub too in the marble bathroom.
And, oh, the food. How are we going to zip up our pants with the food being this scrumptious?
Windstar Cruises’ Star Pride
Welcome to the Star Pride – the first in a trio of the new “star class” yachts in the Windstar Cruises’ fleet.
Windstar Cruise line prides itself on their ports-of-call being the chief attraction. We fondly recall our Tahiti and Amalfi Coast cruises on Windstar’s tall sailing-style ships – intimate enough to nose into hidden bays and secluded villages that the big ship contenders can only dream about. You can also enjoy small ship cruising with Windstar on their tall vessels in other destinations, like in the Baltic.
But if Windstar Cruises’ Star Pride is any indication, the “star class” yachts boast star power too.
Until recently, Windstar has been known for its three motorized, tall-ship, sailing-style yachts (Wind Surf, Wind Spirit and Wind Star).
The line then acquired the 440-foot Pride from the luxury Seabourn fleet, which set sail as the Star Pride under the Windstar flag in 2014.
Two sister ships were also plucked from Seabourn, and after a multi-million dollar transformation (double the upgrades of the Star Pride), the Star Legend and Star Breeze were launched by Windstar in May, 2015.
These three “star class” yachts offer a new level of luxury for port-hopping Windstar guests.
Why can’t all cabins be like these Windstar cruise line suites?
You may know we’re cruise fans (we’ve sailed on more than 50 different cruises now). A couple of recent cruises include scuba diving and spotting Komodo Dragons on the lovely Alila Purnama in Indonesia and cruising the Baltic on the lovely Viking Star.
On Windstar’s Star Pride, we especially loved the extra-roomy suites that all passengers get to enjoy. At 277 square feet in size, they have lots of elbow room.
And they’re all about serenity.
Star Pride’s suites feature new dove grey carpeting and blonde wood cabinetry topped with creamy-colored marble. Color accents come in blue satin borders on the bed linens and a navy blue leather desk chair. Curtains, tied back with tassels, separate the bedroom from the living area, which has a loveseat and two armchairs around a marble coffee table.
We enjoyed sipping afternoon tea in the privacy of our living room while gazing out our open balcony window.
Other standard in-suite amenities include a minibar stocked with complimentary water and soft drinks, LCD flatscreen TV and DVD player (lots of movies we could check out from the library), Euro-top bed mattress, Egyptian cotton towels in the bathroom, waffle-weave robes, slippers, fresh fruit bowl and vase of flowers.
A third of the suites on these new Windstar ships also have Juliet balconies with glass railings. We couldn’t sit outside, but throwing open the sliding glass doors to let the sunshine and breeze in from our balcony gave us that same outdoor feeling.
The walk-in closet was a lovely surprise too.
We had oodles of hangers and hanging space – more than enough to hang every item of clothing we packed. Add to that all the shelves, cupboard drawers and hooks. No living out of suitcases here!
We really felt like we had settled in – and that’s a nice feeling, especially on longer cruises.
Mmmm… The food is really good on this Windstar cruise!
As for dining onboard, the welcome Windstar philosophy of “casual elegance” is the same on all Windstar cruise ships.
Eat with whom you want (or just the two of you). Eat when you want. And, gents, don’t worry – there’s no need to wear a jacket or tie.
AmphorA, the main restaurant, attractively decorated with Murano glass panels, serves international and ethnic specialties. On our cruise, the Indian lamb biryani and chicken curry were so delicately spiced they were as popular as the beef tenderloin.
Veranda, the breakfast and lunch buffet venue, has indoor and outdoor seating at the stern (white tablecloth setting). At night, it becomes the reservations-only Candles Grill, offering expertly prepared steak, lamb chops and seafood.
We liked eating alfresco, watching dusk work its magic on the scenery ashore, as the Star Pride pulled out of port.
One evening on each cruise, Windstar pulls out all the stops with its gala deck barbecue under the stars – suckling pig, grilled lobster and paella, cooked a la carte.
There’s no extra cost for specialty dining or cappuccino and sparkling water (but you pay for wine and alcohol).
How many calories does wakeboarding burn?
Good thing there’s a unique swim-and-sports platform at the back of each yacht, open when conditions are right. You can burn off some of those calories with complimentary water toys like wakeboards, kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, sailboats and waterskis.
Way to make you feel like this is your own private yacht!
There’s also a delicious sense of freedom about swimming right from the yacht to floating rubber mats tied to the platform.
Prefer your activity on land? Windstar carries state-of-the-art folding bicycles for rent – perfect for exploring some of Europe’s coastal villages.
What Windstar Cruises itinerary do you want? Iceland? Costa Rica?
Europe, in fact, is where the “star class” yachts will spend their time from spring to fall.
A Windstar Cruises itinerary between Venice and Athens entices with scenic cruising along the coasts of Croatia and Montenegro and through the Corinth Canal (which the height of the masts of Windstar’s sailing-style yachts prevents).
Or do you fancy exploring Iceland? Star Legend circumnavigates Iceland on several summer voyages.
Soak in the famous Blue Lagoon, ride an Icelandic horse, fly over raging waterfalls, see huge puffin colonies and kayak through the West Fjords.
For winter, new Costa Rica voyages on Star Breeze immerse you in all that’s special about the country – volcano tours, spider monkey spotting in national parks, swimming at white sand beaches and rainforest exploration. Sign us up!
On each cruise, you’re treated to a complimentary private signature event, like an outdoor concert and cocktails among beautiful Roman ruins in Butrint, Albania (Athens-Venice itinerary), or an afternoon performance by the acclaimed Odessa National Opera and Ballet Theatre (Black Sea cruises).
Go ahead – you can relax on the Windstar cruise line
The cruising experience is quite relaxed on all Windstar ships, including the new ships. No annoying public announcements. Just a light schedule of cooking classes and other shipboard activities.
But informative and entertaining guest lectures by an anthropologist with three master’s degrees kept our brains in gear.
No Windstar Cruises review would be complete without mentioning the truly excellent, friendly service onboard – a standout feature. Perhaps it has to do with the 1-to-2 crew/guest ratio. But how the dining room staff knew so quickly our personal preferences – sparkling vs. still water, skim- not whole-milk lattes – is a marvel.
The sports-and-swim team, doubling as dining stewards at dinner were fun and ever-helpful.
Every time we reboarded the ship after going ashore, there were cold facecloths waiting for us. And the crew entertainment one evening had us all in stitches.
These Windstar Cruises ships are affordable. Really!
Surprisingly, you don’t have to pay a fortune for all that these new “star class” yachts offer.
This is affordable luxury at its best – something competitors will find hard to beat.
Windstar Cruises new ships at a glance
Windstar yachts (“star class”):
Windstar Cruises’ new Star Pride, Star Breeze and Star Legend are luxurious, all-suite power yachts.
Expect the same trademark offerings as on the Windstar sailing ships – like the open bridge and relaxed but elegant dining – but on more spacious vessels.
From spring to fall, the new “star class” ships sail in Europe (including Iceland), the Mediterranean and Morocco; in winter, they cruise the Caribbean, Panama and Costa Rica.
Windstar Cruises may offer special deals, so check their website.
Update November 15, 2016
Good news! All three Windstar Cruises ships (“star class” yachts) are sailing – and getting rave reviews.
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We’re Janice and George Mucalov, professional award-winning travel writers, sharing tales of luxury travel with a twist of adventure.