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
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 “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 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, 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 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.
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.
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, 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.
You might like to read: Sailing the Caribbean on the Star Flyer (Star Clippers)
What Windstar Cruises itinerary do you want?
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).
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, 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 “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!
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.
Between October, 2019 and November, 2020, each of the three “star class” ships will be fully renovated.
We can’t wait!
Photo credits: 1, 4, 10, 14 © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase | Remaining images Windstar Cruises