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Windstar Cruises review: “Star class” ships

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Can affordable luxury cruising get any better?

That’s the bottom line of our Windstar Cruises review of the “star class” ships.

But we know you want the nitty gritty, so read on…

Windstar Cruises Review

Windstar Cruises review

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.

Bathroom on Windstar Cruises "Star Pride" ship

And, oh, the food.

How are we going to zip up our pants with the food being this scrumptious?

Windstar Cruises’ Star Pride

Windstar Cruises new ships

Welcome to the Star Pride – the first in a trio of “star class” yachts for 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.

Windstar Cruises’ ships

Windstar Cruises review

Windstar had previously been known for their 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.

After a multi-million dollar transformation (double the upgrades of the Star Pride), they were launched by Windstar as the Star Legend and Star Breeze in May, 2015.

Star Pride at sea

These three “star class” yachts offer an enhanced level of luxury for port-hopping Windstar guests.

Pssst! We’ve cruised on Seabourn too: See what luxury is like on Seabourn Cruises (think unlimited complimentary champagne!)

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 60 different cruises now).

A couple of recent memorable cruises include scuba diving and spotting Komodo dragons on the Alila Purnama sailing yacht 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.

Windstar Cruises Star Pride suite

Star Pride’s suites feature 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 love seat 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 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.

Windstar cruises new ships - Star Pride suite

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.

Dining on our 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:

Star Pride AmphorA dining room

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.

Dining on Windstar Cruises

Veranda:

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.

Other dining:

Barbecue on the Star Pride

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?

Wakeboarding on Windstar Cruises

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.

Watersports on Windstar Cruises ships

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.

Floating on mats on the Wind Surf

Prefer your activity on land?

Windstar carries state-of-the-art folding bicycles for rent – perfect for exploring some of Europe’s coastal villages.

You might like to read: Sailing the Caribbean on the Star Flyer (Star Clippers)

What Windstar Cruises itinerary do you want?

Windstar Cruises in Thailand

Europe is where the “star class” yachts spend their time from spring to fall.

One 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).

Windstar Cruises in Europe

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, 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.

Examples include an outdoor concert and cocktails among beautiful Roman ruins in Butrint, Albania (Athens-Venice itinerary) and an afternoon performance by the acclaimed Odessa National Opera and Ballet Theatre (Black Sea cruises).

Windstar Cruises in Alaska

Go ahead – you can relax on the Windstar cruise line

The cruising experience is quite relaxed on all Windstar ships, including the “star class” 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.

Interested in a river cruise? See the world’s best river cruises!

Sparkling service

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 “star class” yachts offer.

Renovation news

All three “star class” ships are being fully renovated. The renos will be completed by July, 2021.

To kill viruses, the ships are being refitted with new high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters.

And the ships are being stretched – cut in half, with a new block added in the middle. The addition includes two new restaurants and more suites, increasing each ship’s capacity to 312 guests. All bathrooms in each ship are also being totally redone.

Expect affordable luxury cruising to be even better than before!

Windstar ships at a glance

Windstar yachts (“star class”):

Windstar Cruises’ Star Pride, Star Breeze and Star Legend are luxurious, all-suite power yachts.

Experience:

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.

Itineraries:

From spring to fall, the “star class” ships sail in Europe (including Iceland), the Mediterranean and Morocco; in winter, they cruise the Caribbean, Panama and Costa Rica.

To book:

Windstar Cruises may offer special deals, so check their website.


Photo credits: 1, 4, 11, 14 © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase | Remaining images Windstar Cruises


About the authors:

Janice and George Mucalov

Luxury travel journalists and SATW, NATJA and TMAC “Best Travel Blog” award winners, Janice and George are the publishers of Sand In My Suitcase. Between them, they’ve traveled to all 7 continents.

Find destination guides, global food-and-wine stories, luxury hotel reviews, articles on cultural explorations and soft adventure trips, cruise reviews and information, insanely useful travel tips and more!

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Vivian Christie

Thursday 4th of April 2019

We sailed on the Windsurf late January 2019. It was the best. Service and food were outstanding. Customer service reps were very friendly and very helpful. Hope to cruise with them again soon.

Janice and George

Friday 5th of April 2019

So glad to hear! We particularly like their tall ships -- and the Wind Surf, being the biggest of the tall ships, can offer more amenities than the two smaller tall ships.

Calizona Jones

Sunday 20th of March 2016

I was booked on the January 2nd cruise that was cancelled. Windstar reimbursed me for the cost of the cruise, but travelers are out of luck on the cost of any other arrangements, such as airfare and hotels. I purchased Allianz travel insurance for my airfare and was informed that the grounding was not a covered peril. I have contacted Windstar repeatedly about reimbursement only to be informed that they will respond the next day and then I get no response.

BUYER BEWARE when dealing with Windstar. Their customer service is extremely poor. I will never travel with them again.

Janice and George

Sunday 20th of March 2016

We're sorry for your troubles. And how disappointing to be told that your travel insurance doesn't protect you. Have you written a letter to Windstar's top management? (not just an email or phone call) Or try contacting the Ombudsman at Conde Nast Traveler magazine? These are some things we might try in your situation. Best wishes, and we hope you get a satisfactory resolution.

Gail Douglas

Thursday 7th of January 2016

Again our thanks about Windstar and the Star Pride accident. I saw your post from NomadicTexan's tweet. We met Mike and Kim on our recent Viking cruise down the Danube. I thanked him too. Saved us a lot of headaches!

Janice and George

Thursday 7th of January 2016

Glad we could help and you are secure on another voyage :-).

Gail Douglas

Thursday 7th of January 2016

Thanks so much for giving us a heads up about the Star Pride and the accident. It afforded us the opportunity to book another cruise this am to the Caribbean. We got notice later in the day that our Feb 28 voyage is cancelled and now we are secure on another voyage. Thanks again.

Irene S. Levine

Wednesday 6th of January 2016

We've sailed the Seabourn Spirit (the sister ship) and absolutely loved the ship, especially dining outside on the back deck. The concept of affordable luxury sounds unbeatable! Would love to check with Windstar for a future sailing.

Janice and George

Friday 8th of January 2016

It's a great cruise line :-). We've sailed with them several times over the years...