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Windstar Cruises Review: Windstar Star Pride

Can affordable luxury cruising get any better?

We’ve cruised on the Wind Spirit in French Polynesia twice now – one of the best cruises in Tahiti!

Now we’re sailing on Windstar Cruises’ Star Pride.

One takeaway from our Windstar Cruises review?

Windstar is hard to beat for romantic small-ship cruises in the “won’t-break-the-bank” luxury category.

But we know you want all of the nitty gritty, so read on!

Windstar Cruises Review
Windstar has six ships: three classic sailing-style yachts and three all-suite ships

Windstar Cruises review: Ships

At one time, Windstar was known for their three motorized, tall-ship, sailing-style yachts – Wind SurfWind Spirit and Wind Star.

The line then acquired the Seabourn Pride from the luxury Seabourn fleet. It set sail as the Star Pride under the Windstar flag in 2014.

Windstar Cruises Star Pride in Asia
The Windstar Pride in Asia

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.

All six ships have since been extensively renovated.

But the three “Star Class” yachts – Star Pride, Star Legend and Star Breeze – offer an enhanced level of luxury for port-hopping Windstar guests.

Inside a newly refurbished Star Class yacht

Windstar Star Pride review in brief

We’re relishing our spacious suite on the Star Pride.

All 156 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 and his-and-hers sinks in the marble bathroom.

And, oh, the food.

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

Welcome to Windstar’s Star Pride!

While we focus on the Star Class ships in this Windstar cruise review (Star Pride), our review also covers all the Windstar ships.

Windstar Pride cabins

Windstar Star Pride suite with picture window
Star Pride suite with picture window

The three Star Class ships were stretched – they were cut in half and a new block was added in the middle.

This increased each ship’s capacity to 312 guests. The staterooms were refurbished and received new bathrooms

On the Star Pride (an all-suite ship), 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.

Décor:

Star Pride’s suite accommodations are all about serenity.

They 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 (there were lots of movies we could check out from the library)
  • Queen-size bed with a Euro-top bed mattress
  • Egyptian cotton towels in the bathroom
  • Waffle-weave robes and slippers
  • A welcome fresh fruit bowl (replenished during the cruise) and vase of flowers

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.

Stateroom choices:

Of the 156 suites, 79 have large picture windows.

The choicest suites, though, are those with a balcony.

About a third of the suites have French-style Juliet balconies with glass railings.

We couldn’t sit outside on our balcony.

But throwing open the sliding glass doors to let the sunshine and breeze in from our balcony gave us that same outdoor feeling.

With the recent renovation, larger Owner Suites were also added. They have private verandas.

Windstar dining

Dinner on Windstar Cruises
Who’s hungry for dinner?

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.

As for dress code, gents, don’t worry – there’s no need to wear a jacket or tie.

AmphorA:

AmphorA, the main dining room, is attractively decorated with Murano glass panels. Usually open only for dinner, it serves international and ethnic specialties.

AmporA, the main dinner restaurant on the Star Pride
AmphorA, the main dinner restaurant on the Star Pride

On our cruise, the Indian lamb biryani and chicken curry were so delicately spiced they were as popular as the beef tenderloin main course.

The Veranda:

The Veranda is the casual breakfast and lunch buffet venue. It has indoor and outdoor seating at the stern (white tablecloth setting).

At night, the outdoor space 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.

Cuadro 44:

This is a new restaurant – only on the Star Pride, Star Legend and Star Breeze.

The 38-seat dinner restaurant serves up modern Spanish cuisine. It includes a chef’s counter and communal dining table.

You’ll want to share various small and large plates, tapas-style.

Additional dining venues:

One evening on each cruise on every ship, Windstar pulls out all the stops with its gala deck barbecue under the stars – suckling pig, grilled lobster and paella, cooked a la carte.

Windstar Cruises barbecue on deck
Barbeque on deck

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?

Watersports platform at the back of the Star Pride ship
A watersports marina at the stern means you can enjoy all sorts of fun watersports when the ship is anchored

Good thing there’s a unique watersports 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 water skis.

What a way to make you feel like this is your own private yacht!

Wakeboarding on Windstar Cruises
Wakeboarding on our Windstar cruise

There’s also a delicious sense of freedom about swimming right from the yacht to floating rubber mats tied to the platform.

As well, the ships each have a small pool and hot tubs.

The Star Pride's pool deck
The Star Pride’s pool deck

Prefer your activities on land?

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

Windstar Cruises itineraries

The Windstar cruise line prides itself on their ports-of-call being one of their chief attractions.

We fondly recall our Tahiti and Amalfi Coast cruises on Windstar’s tall sailing-style ships – intimate enough to nose into hidden bays, small ports 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.

As for the Star Class yachts, they go many places.

Alaska, the Caribbean, Greenland, Europe, Central America and the Panama Canal, southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand are just some of the destinations visited.

Windstar Cruises in Thailand
The Windstar Pride anchored offshore in Thailand

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).

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!

One thing to note: Shore excursions aren’t included in the cruise rates.

But on each cruise, you’re treated to a complimentary signature destination event.

For example, in the South Pacific, the event is an extravagant beach barbecue with Polynesian fire dancing.

Onboard activities and entertainment

Windstar’s fleet of small luxury cruise ships is quite relaxed when it comes to onboard activities and entertainment.

There are 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 on our Star Pride cruise.

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.

They’re affordable. Really!

Surprisingly, you don’t have to pay a fortune for all that Windstar Cruises offers.

Blue-and-white cushioned loungers on the deck of the Star Pride
Is this your happy place at sea?

Windstar Cruises at a glance

Windstar yachts:

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

Of the three classic sailing yachts, the Wind Surf is bigger (342 guests).

The smallest vessels in Windstar Cruises’ fleet are the Wind Star and Wind Spirit. They accommodate 148 lucky guests each.

Private yacht experience:

Expect the same trademark offerings on all Windstar vessels – like the open bridge and relaxed but elegant dining.

The Star Class vessels are more spacious though, and feel more spacious.

Health and safety:

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

To book:

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

That’s a wrap for our review of Windstar Cruises!

You may know we’re cruise fans (we’ve sailed on more than 60 different cruises now).

The Windstar cruise line is a favorite. We love the intimacy and small ship cruising experience.

And the Star Class yachts, in particular, boast lots of star power!

Craving more cruise inspiration?

Seabourn | What’s luxury cruising like on Seabourn? Think unlimited champagne and caviar! See our Seabourn review.

Scenic Cruises | Hop on over to our review of Scenic, and discover the historic riches of Normandy on a deluxe Seine River cruise.

Viking Ocean Cruises | In our Viking Star review, we dish on why Viking Star was named the “world’s best ship” – and why Viking’s cruise experience is such a pleasure.

Planning your next trip?

See the following helpful services:

Our Travel Resources Guide | Get airline booking tips. Discover great travel, tour and car rental companies. And find crazy useful trip planning info!

Booking.com | Score a “wow” hotel – or at least a decent one.

GetYourGuide | Check out the best local guided tours and book skip-the-line tickets to attractions.

World Nomads | Never travel without insurance! World Nomads offers coverage for adventurous travelers under 70 (including for surfing, scuba diving and bungee jumping).

Our Travel Shop | Find the best travel gear. We suggest these comfy travel sandals for city walking, the beach and kicking about.

CDC | We follow CDC travel guidelines to see what medications and vaccines are needed for trips. You can get vaccines at your pharmacy, travel medical clinic or doctor’s office.

Pssst! If you make a booking or purchase through our site, we may earn a small commission (at no cost to you). Thanks!


Photo credits: 2, 10, 11, 13 © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase | Remaining images Windstar Cruises


About the authors:

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

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

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...