February 2016 - Star Breeze to Panama Canal, Central America
By way of background, my wife and I have taken two previous Windstar cruises. The first we enjoyed immensely on the Wind Surf, and we took other family members along with us. The second was one of the early voyages of the Star Breeze which was not nearly as well executed due to Windstar having recently taken over the ship and crew, as well as subsequently learning that the ship was being taken out of service to complete the advertised full refurbishment. Nevertheless, it was an acceptable cruise.
This year, we booked the Panama-Costa Rica trip, and again were bringing two additional family members with us on the trip. As the date drew near, we became increasingly concerned about the reports about the spread of the Zika virus. My wife's brother had suffered from the auto-immune disease, Gillian Barre which has been linked to Zika, and we have a daughter-in-law who is pregnant, and did not want to risk any type of exposure by her.
We contacted our travel agent o see if they would issue a credit for future travel. He inquired and the request was denied. Each of the three airline carriers we were using for this trip quickly issued credits to us for future travel.
I wrote an email to Windstar's "Customer Service" department directly and did not receive a response. After waiting a couple of weeks, I wrote a similar email to Windstar's VP of Sales detailing the situation, our prior cruise history, etc. Once again... no response. Finally, I wrote to their CEO, and received a call from "Customer Service" about a week later. I was told that they could not issue a travel credit to me because I had not taken out their insurance with a "cancel for any reason" provision, and that it would "not be fair to other travelers" if they allowed me to receive a credit. Instead, they offered a $100 on-board credit for a future cruise!!
We had third party insurance to cover illness or death, but the issues around Zika don't fall within the areas of coverage. We lost our cruise fares, and Windstar lost formerly happy customers. Their short-sighted attitude and non-enlightened view of "customer service" is really an embarrassment to their brand. We will never travel with their cruise line again.