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Windstar Star Pride Review: A Small Ship Big on Style

She’s the same elegant ship. Yet, she’s different.

Fresher… Spruced up…

We’re talking about Windstar Cruises’ Star Pride ship since she’s been “stretched” and refurbished.

We’ve sailed on several Windstar cruises over the years – including a couple of Tahiti cruises on their small sailing ships, as well as on the Star Pride in Asia.

This time, we’re on the Star Pride cruise ship post-refurbishment (on a 9-night Turkey and Greece voyage). Which explains why she looks different than before…

We’ve written a whole Windstar cruise review covering all the Windstar ships.

Now we’re writing a dedicated Windstar Star Pride review. Since she’s been lengthened and gussied up, she deserves her own Windstar review, don’t you think?

Windstar Star Pride review
The Star Pride anchored in Santorini

Windstar Star Pride review in brief

Windstar Star Class ship lounge
Meet the new Star Pride!

Just as we did on our previous Star Pride cruise, we’re relishing our spacious suite.

All 156 staterooms on the ship are outside suites that come with living areas (where we can enjoy 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 tiled bathroom.

And, oh, the food.

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

The smaller ports we get to explore (like Bodrum on our Greece-and-Turkey cruise), which larger cruise ships don’t typically access, also appeal.

Speaking of small, we love how it takes just a few steps from our cabin to get to the spa, the outside pool and the restaurants (yes, there are several!).

And have we mentioned there’s a watersports platform at the stern that let’s you jump right into the ocean?

Watersports platform on Star Pride
Cool! You can swim right off the back of the ship from the watersports platform

Welcome to small ship cruising on Windstar’s Star Pride!

She’s one of three Star Plus ships (formerly dubbed “Star Class”) in Windstar’s collection of six vessels. Her sister ships are Star Legend and Star Breeze.

(The other three Windstar ships – Wind Star, Wind Spirit and Wind Surf – are sailing-style yachts with masts and computer-operated sails.)

While we focus on the Star Pride in this review, our Star Pride ship review is also applicable to the other two Star Plus ships.

Windstar Star Pride facts

  • Year built: 1988
  • Last refurbished: 2022
  • Length: 522 feet
  • Passenger decks: 6
  • Cruising speed: 15 knots
  • Number of suites: 156
  • Suites with French-style balconies: 60
  • Suites with private verandas: 6
  • Passenger capacity: 312
  • Crew: 204

Windstar Star Pride refurbishment

The Star Pride was launched in 1988 as the Seabourn Pride for the luxury Seabourn cruise line. (See our Seabourn review.)

She was later taken over by Windstar Cruises (along with the Star Legend and Star Breeze). They were renovated and then put in service.

Fast forward to 2022. The innards of all three Star Class ships (the engines, air conditioning, electrical cables, etc.) needed to be upgraded to meet modern standards. So the ships were cut in half and work was started.

But you know how renovation projects go – one thing often leads to another. Ultimately, a whole new mid-section was added to each ship, and all of them were given a major facelift throughout.

Key elements of the stretching and refurbishment of the Star Pride, Star Legend and Star Breeze included:

  • Adding 50 new cabins and suites (boosting the total passenger capacity of each ship to 312)
  • Installing new bathrooms in all cabins
  • Increasing the size of the teeny mid-ship pool and making it a larger pool
  • Increasing the outside deck space and pool area
  • Adding a new Spanish specialty restaurant, Cuadro 44

Windstar Star Pride cabins

On both cruises on the Star Pride, we especially loved the extra-roomy suites that all passengers get to enjoy.

Windstar Star Pride suite
A Star Pride suite with a picture window

Stateroom choices

Most suites are 277 square feet in size.

These “standard” Windstar Pride cabins all have ocean views and feature either portholes, large picture windows or Juliet balconies.

Then there are several larger suites: Classic Suites, Deluxe Suites and Owner’s Suites. They range in size from 400 to 820 square feet.

A handful of these premium suites also have balconies large enough for lounge furniture, so you can relax on your outside balcony.

Standard 277 sq. ft. suites

Of the 156 suites, 79 are standard suites with picture windows.

The choicest of the standard suites, though, are those featuring a French-style Juliet balcony with a glass railing.

On our first Star Pride cruise several years ago, we had a Balcony Suite.

The balcony wasn’t large enough to sit on outside. But throwing open the sliding glass doors to let the sunshine and fresh air in from our balcony gave us that same outdoor feeling.

New Star Balcony suite on the refurbished Star Pride
A new Star Balcony suite on the refurbished Star Pride

There are two configurations for the standard suites

The original suites have the living area by the window or balcony, and the bed is near the door.

The new Star Suites that were added during the refurbishment have the reverse layout – the bed is close to the outside wall, and the living area is by the door.

Is one layout better than the other?

Interestingly, not all Windstar Star Pride reviews agree on this.

As for us, Janice thinks that the new Star Balcony Suites are the best accommodations (unless you upgrade to a Classic, Deluxe or Owner’s Suite). They’re mid-ship (better for stability), new with new furnishings and have the Juliet balcony.

On the other hand, George likes the original layout with the living area by the window or balcony – room service with a view, anyone?

And when we talked to other Star Pride guests, they were pretty much split down the middle on their preferred layout.

Suite décor and amenities

Star Pride’s suite accommodations are all about serenity. (And all Star Pride Windstar reviews agree on this!)

Windstar Star Pride cabin doors are recessed from the hallway.
The cabin doors are recessed from the hallway

The original suites feature blue-and-gray carpeting and blonde wood cabinetry topped with creamy-colored marble.

The queen size beds have ivory leather headboards.

Color accents come in blue-and-gold satin borders on the bed linens and a navy blue leather desk chair.

In the standard suites, curtains (tied back with tassels) separate the bedroom from the living area, which has a love seat and two armchairs around a brass-rimmed coffee table. (The curtains are handy if one of you is an early riser.)

The décor of the new Star Suites emphasizes different hues of ivory and pale beige. Their furnishings are all new, and these suites are more modern-looking than the original suites.

New Star Pride bathrooms

Windstar Star Pride Bathroom
New Star Pride bathrooms with double sinks

The bathrooms for all suites are new and spacious.

Think two white rectangular sinks with plenty of shelf space underneath for storing your toiletry bags, granite countertops, a make-up mirror, glass shelves at the side and a large rectangular rain shower with double glass doors. (Some suite bathrooms have a tub/shower combination.)

You lather up with big pump bottles of L’Occitane shampoo, conditioner and body wash.

Closet space

Each suite also has a walk-in closet.

You’ll find oodles of hangers and hanging space – more than enough to hang every item of clothing you pack.

Walk-In Closet on Star Pride
Our walk-in closet

Add to that all the shelves, cupboard drawers and hooks. There’s no living out of suitcases here!

We really felt like we had settled in on both Star Pride cruises – and that’s a nice feeling, especially on longer sailings.

Other in-suite amenities

  • Euro-top mattress for the queen-size bed
  • Complimentary water (in two large flasks – refilled daily)
  • Mini-bar
  • Large flatscreen TV with satellite channels and on-demand movies
  • Egyptian cotton towels in the bathroom
  • Waffle-weave robes and slippers
  • Welcome fresh fruit bowl (replenished during the cruise)

Windstar dining on the Star Pride

The Star Pride offers several dining options, including at two specialty restaurants: Candles and Cuadro 44.

There’s no additional cover charge for the specialty restaurants, but you need to make reservations for them. They’re so good, we ate at each of them twice on our 9-night cruise.

Tip: Reserving specialty restaurants

If you can’t get a reservation, show up anyway and see if they have space. If you show up after 7:45 pm, chances are you can get a table, at least for two people.

Windstar Cruises has partnered with the James Beard Foundation, a non-profit culinary organization supporting America’s food culture.

Many of the dishes featured throughout the various dining venues have been created by celebrated chefs.

As for the dress code, it’s “country club casual.” There are no formal nights, and men don’t need to wear a jacket.

Knowing this, we were even able to fly with carry-on luggage only (which makes the whole business of travel easier).

AmphorA

AmphorA Dining Room
The AmphorA is the Star Pride’s elegant main restaurant

This is Star Pride’s main dining room.

Elegant and contemporary in décor, with Murano glass panels, white tablecloths and faux candles, AmphorA is usually open for dinner only. (Dinner hours are typically from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm.)

Reservations aren’t needed, and there are plenty of tables for dining à deux.

The AmphorA menu, which changes each night, features at least nine entrées. These include:

  • One or two James Beard Foundation dishes (like braised lamb shank with date relish and semolina dumplings)
  • International specialties (like lamb keftas with saffron chickpea orzo for a Greek-themed evening)
  • A vegetarian option (like roasted Shitake mushroom-cheese fritters with red peppers and tomatoes)
  • A vegan option (like baked cauliflower croquettes with salsa verde and sautéed spinach)

Three classic dishes are also always featured: North Atlantic salmon fillet, grilled chicken breast and grilled sirloin steak.

See a sample of the entrées on one night’s Greek-themed menu below.

Sample AmphorA menu on the Star Pride ship
Sample AmphorA menu

The wine menu is extensive.

In addition to wines by the bottle, you’ll find at least 12 choices of white wine by the glass, two rosés and 15 red wines by the glass.

Wine and alcoholic drinks aren’t included in Windstar’s rates.

But you can buy a drinks package or Windstar’s all-inclusive package.

The all-inclusive package covers unlimited drinks, as well as WiFi and your cruise gratuities – it’s the better deal, in our opinion.

The Veranda

The Veranda is an indoor/outdoor buffet restaurant at the stern of the ship, open for breakfast and lunch. You can also order certain dishes à la carte (for example, Eggs Benedict or pancakes with berries and cream for breakfast).

The Veranda alfresco restaurant on Windstar's Star Pride
Outside seating at The Veranda

Sliding glass doors between the outside space and the interior open automatically.

The outside seating is covered by a scalloped sail canopy, protecting against both the sun and rain. A high curved glass railing offers some protection from the wind.

Candles

What a way to kick off our most recent Star Pride cruise!

Our first night, we reserved a table at Candles, Windstar’s steakhouse restaurant which takes over The Veranda space for dinner at night.

You can sit outside, depending on the weather (where table lamps add to the romantic atmosphere) or inside (a setting of white tablecloths and faux candles).

Even though it was cool as we departed Istanbul, we chose to sit outside. Blankets kept the chill at bay. The sail-away was absolutely magical – the setting sun, the pink sky, the minarets of the mosques piercing the Istanbul skyline…

Our steaks – seasoned with home-made rub – were perfectly grilled (filet mignon for George; New York Cut strip loin for Janice), and we had a choice of various sauces (Bearnaise, Cabernet, chimichurri etc.).

Steak dinner at Candles restaurant on the Windstar Star Pride ship
Mmmm… Janice’s steak, done just right!

Our waiter presented a wooden box, from which we chose our preferred steak knives. A trio of gourmet salts (Hawaiian black salt, Himalayan Mountain pink salt and smoked applewood salt) also begged to be tried.

To finish off, both the crème brulee and lemon tart were delicious.

Cuadro 44

One of the new dining venues added during the recent refurbishment of the Star Plus vessels is Cuadro 44.

It’s found on the Star Pride, Star Legend and Star Breeze.

Sign for the Cuadro specialty restaurant on the Star Pride cruise ship
Cuadro is a popular new specialty restaurant on the Star Pride

Cuadro 44 was designed in partnership with Anthony Sasso, a James Beard Foundation-recognized chef and 13-year veteran of Casa Mono, a Michelin-starred restaurant in New York City.

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

Palate-teasing dishes pair sweet and salty ingredients in pleasing and interesting combinations.

The grilled chorizo appetizer, for example, is a small grilled ball of mashed Spanish sausage and quince jam on a bed of gigante beans and honey.

Cuadro 44 appetizer menu on Star Pride
The tapas part of the menu at Cuadro

Go ahead and share a selection of small plate appetizers – that’s the best way to sample the different flavors.

For an entrée, we loved the grilled lamb chops with mint salsa verde and sliced green apples. The pork belly with grilled leeks, pearl onions, bacon bits and citrus pork jus is also excellent.

Cuadro 44 entree menu on the Star Pride cruise ship
There are lots of mains to choose from at Cuadro

And one of you has to order the churros for dessert!

Two hot churros, sprinkled with chili-pepper, salt and sugar are served with a bowl of warm chocolate sauce, also pepper-spiced. Delicious!

Star Grill

Star Grill on the Star Pride cruise ship
The Star Grill

Gourmet food is all well and good. But sometimes you just want a thick, juicy, perfectly grilled burger. Then head on up to the Star Grill on Deck 8!

Launched in partnership with Steven Raichlen, an authority on all things grilled, this casual eatery also serves up fancier barbecued items like lemongrass pork skewers.

Lunch is served here later than in the Veranda, so when we returned late from a shore excursion at 2:30 pm, we could still get salad, quiche and barbecued meats for lunch (with drinks service too).

Don’t miss the self-serve soft ice cream machine tucked around the side of the grill’s dessert bar. Absolutely delicious, the ice cream is light and more like water-based sorbet (and no doubt low in calories – at least that’s what we told ourselves).

The Yacht Club

Yacht Club on the Star Pride
The Yacht Club on the Star Pride

The Yacht Club at the front of the ship is an inviting library-cum-lounge with floor-to-ceiling windows and panoramic 270-degree views.

It has a small café too. If you miss breakfast, like we did one day, you can order a cappuccino and grab a croissant here.

The Yacht Club is also a very comfortable place to work on a puzzle or to put your feet up on a footstool and read a book.

Barbecue dinner outside on deck

Windstar Cruises outdoor BBQ on deck
The crew had fun carving this vegetable sculpture for the deck BBQ

One evening each cruise, the Star Pride puts on Windstar’s popular barbecue on deck.

Even though it was cool and breezy, the ship persevered with its BBQ dinner on our cruise.

Great decision! With live music and the staff in an upbeat mood, everyone was in good spirits. (Some guests were wrapped in deck blankets, which added to the fun and let’s-get-cozy mood.)

Some of the offerings: Grilled lamb chops, a fish station (where fresh tuna filets were sautéed), grilled corn on the cob, fresh shrimp and salads.

Deck BBQ on Star Pride cruise ship
What’s a BBQ without seafood?

For dessert, we couldn’t resist the fruit skewers and chocolate fondue fountain. And the hotel manager wooed us with not one, but two, servings of crepes suzette that he was whipping up on the go.

24-Hour room service

If you don’t feel like leaving your stateroom or want a snack, around-the-clock room service is complimentary. For dinner, you can order everything that’s on the menu in AmphorA.

Onboard entertainment

You won’t find the same level of entertainment on the Star Pride as you do on larger ships (like Holland America’s Rotterdam, known for its innovative Music Walk deck).

But there’s live music each evening after dinner.

One evening on our recent cruise, the ship’s entertainers put on campy tribute to Queen, the British rock band.

Another evening, they put on a concert outside on deck for a “Chocolate under the Stars” event, where they sang various opera arias.

Windstar's concert under the stars
Passengers enjoy an outside evening concert on the Star Pride

On some itineraries, Windstar has guest lecturers too. On our previous Star Pride cruise in Asia, informative and entertaining guest lectures by an anthropologist with three Master’s degrees kept our brains in gear.

There’s no casino though – and who wants one, anyway?

Windstar watersports platform

Like all of Windstar’s yachts, the Star pride cruise ship has a special watersports platform at the stern that can be opened up and lowered into the water.

Watersports platform at the back of the Star Pride
You can do all sorts of watersports from the back of the Star Pride

You can go swimming, snorkeling, windsurfing, sea kayaking, sailing and stand-up paddleboarding from here. Or if that all sounds like too much work, you can just relax on various floating mats tied to the stern.

We got to enjoy this unusual perk on our first Star Pride cruise. But conditions weren’t right for using it on our recent Star Pride trip.

New pool and hot tubs

One of the welcome new improvements on the Star Pride and her sister ships is the new pool that was added mid-ship.

Star Pride pool
The new pool on the Star Pride

They call it an infinity pool. That’s a bit of a stretch. But it does have a glass side at one end so you can look over toward the deck and the ocean beyond.

You can’t swim in the pool, though. (Janice tried and ended up scraping her knees slightly.) The water is only waist-deep.

She was consoled by sitting in the hot tub, soaking up the warmth under a light drizzle. Even though she was the only one out on deck, a server still came out to offer her a glass of bubbly.

For lounging, there are lots of comfy cushioned lounge chairs around the pool and on the breezy upper deck.

Service

The crew-to-passenger ratio on the Star Pride is very friendly.

(Just think of Janice, sitting in the hot tub, soaking up the warmth as it rained lightly, and a server asking if she’d like a glass of bubbly.)

Windstar Cruises itineraries: Star Pride

The Star Pride ship in Europe
The Star Pride in Europe

Star Pride Itineraries

Where does Star Pride sail? Many places.

In late spring and the summer months, she explores the Med and northern Europe, cruises from Ireland to Scotland, and voyages around Iceland.

In the fall, she tends to cruise along the U.S. Eastern seaboard.

In the winter months, the Star Pride typically plies the waters of the Caribbean.

Long days in port

What we especially loved about cruising on the Star Pride recently were the nice long days in port (at least on our sailing in the Mediterranean).

On most big ship cruises we’ve experienced, the days in port are typically short, with the ship leaving at 4:30 pm or so. When we explored independently, we always fretted that we had to return by mid-afternoon – which made the days seem short.

On our Turkey and Greece cruise, the Star Pride didn’t typically depart a destination until 8:00 or 9:00 pm each day (sometimes 11:00 pm). And we overnighted in Rhodes, spending two full days on that island.

This allowed us to book some of our own independent tours (like a fabulous “Pirates Route” sea kayaking tour in Rhodes), without worrying about returning too late and “missing the boat.”

Sea kayaks for Pirates Sea Cave route in Rhodes
We’re on a fun sea kayaking adventure in Rhodes!

On Santorini, we had the whole day available.

We were able to hike from Fira to Oia on our own, relax in the white-washed village of Oia, take a taxi back to Fira, then walk down the zig-zagging cobblestone donkey path to the Old Port – returning to the ship after 6:00 pm.

Shore excursions

A range of shore excursions are offered on the Star Pride. And the ones we did were excellent.

For example, on our tour of Bodrum Castle, we were driven from the port to the castle in a black Mercedes SUV. The tour group size was perhaps 10 guests in total, and our guide was interesting and very engaging.

Bodrum Castle, Turkey
Bodrum Castle, Turkey

Several private tours are usually also offered, including a private car and driver to explore according to your own wishes.

Complimentary bottled water was available to take out on each tour. And when we took a tender to the port, a Windstar tent was set up at the tender location, with water, iced tea and facecloths.

Windstar Destination Discovery Event

On most itineraries, the Star Pride features a complimentary onshore Destination Discovery Event – an authentic local experience that enhances your cruise.

On our recent cruise, that event was a moonlight dinner in front of the Celsus Library at the ancient ruins of Ephesus.

After the 30-minute bus ride to Ephesus from the port of Kusadasi, we were greeted by servers offering wine to sip as we took photos of the illuminated ruins.

Windstar Destination Discovery moonlight dinner at Ephesus
Dinner by moonlight in front of the Ephesus ruins in Turkey

Dinner was a sit-down affair at tables with white tablecloths. A quartet of musicians from Izmir played classical music as we enjoyed a four-course Turkish dinner. Again, pure magic!

To top it off, when we returned to the ship, we received a royal “welcome back” from a conga line of crew members, who sang, clapped their hands and waved torches, as we were handed cups of Baileys and hot chocolate before re-boarding.

WiFi on Star Pride

WiFi is available to buy on the Star Pride (and other Windstar ships). And rather than buying minutes or time, the new satellite packages are based on the number of megabytes used.

We got the unlimited WiFi package. For 10 days, the cost was $350 for one device.

The internet was pretty good most of the time.

But because the system logs you out automatically, we ended up spending quite a bit of time logging back in again. Also, for some unknown reason, while the WiFi worked on our phones, we couldn’t get it to work on our Dell (PC) laptops, despite staff at the reception desk trying to help.

What’s included in the price of a Windstar cruise?

Your cruise fare on the Star Pride includes:

  • All meals, including at specialty restaurants
  • 24-hour room service
  • Amenities such as bathrobes, slippers and an umbrella in your suite
  • Fresh fruit basket in your suite
  • Welcome cocktail
  • Cocktail parties hosted by the captain
  • Non-alcoholic beverages, including specialty coffees, soft drinks and fruit juices
  • Use of the sauna, steam room, experience showers and heated tile loungers in the spa
  • Use of the fitness center and some classes like yoga and Pilates
  • Use of the watersports platform and water toys (when conditions allow)
  • Access to the open bridge

That concludes our review of Star Pride!

The revamped Star Pride offers an elevated small-ship experience. We loved the ship before. We love it even more now.

With new gourmet restaurants, enhanced amenities and new suites, it’s easily one of the best cruises in the small-ship category. Bonus: Its size allows access to hidden-gem ports.

Indeed, the Star Pride hits the sweet spot for the discerning cruise traveler looking for unique voyages, a warm atmosphere and affordable and relaxed luxury.

Our top travel tips and resources

Hotels: Booking.com is great for scoring a “wow” hotel – or at least a decent one. (We especially like their flexible cancellation policy!)

Vacation homes, condos and rentals: We prefer and use Vrbo (Vacation Rentals by Owner).

Tours: For the best local food, walking and other guided tours, plus skip-the-line tickets to attractions, check out Viator (a TripAdvisor company) and GetYourGuide.

Car rental: Renting a car is often one of the best ways to explore off the beaten path. Discover Cars searches car rental companies so you get the best rates.

Travel insurance: SafetyWing is designed for frequent travelers, long-term adventurers and digital nomads. It covers medical expenses, lost checked luggage, trip interruption and more.

Travel gear: See our travel shop to find the best luggage, accessories and other travel gear. (We suggest these comfy travel sandals for city walking, the beach and kicking about.)

Need more help planning your trip? Check out our travel tips and resources guide for airline booking tips, ways to save money, how to find great hotels and other crazy useful trip planning info.

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: 1, 2, 8, 10, 12 to 15, 17 to 19, 22, 24, 25, 28 to 30, 31 to 33, 34 to 36 Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase | Remaining photos Windstar Cruises


We cruised on Windstar’s Star Pride as media guests. But the views expressed here are entirely our own. See our Editorial and Disclosure Policy.


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.

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