We wanted a small ship that could get us to ports where the large ships couldn't go and Windstar delivered on that. We also wanted an upscale experience with a focus on the ports and not on shipboard activities that we wouldn't be using. Again, Windstar delivered. We found the Windstar cruise to be just what we were looking for and were very satisfied.
4 out of 5
We boarded in Venice and it went well. We stayed near the Roma bus terminal and took the People Mover from there to the port. There was only one other ship in port at the time and it didn't appear to be boarding when we were. It's a bit of a walk from the People Mover stop to the the ships but it could be difficult for those with disabilities. Windstar made it very easy to Embark. We had to be onboard by 4 p.m. and we arrived around 3 p.m. and were probably about the last ones to board so there were no lines. Security for Windstar was tight as with the port itself.
Food and Dining
4 out of 5
We only used the main dinning room for dinner. They accommodated your preference as to dining for two or joining a larger group. The service was very good. The food arrived timely and hot. There were about 5 or 6 choices for entres each night and there was always the option for some favorites that appeared on the menu each night. The room was large and probably could accommodate the entire ship if necessary. We didn't go to the specialty restaurant, Candles, during our cruise.
Because there was only one seating for dinner, there was no need to rush. We usually arrived a half hour or so after the dining room opened and frequently stayed until we were almost the last guest. There was no pressure to finish and we found the conversation with other guests from around the world to be wonderful.
Breakfast and lunch were served on the Veranda. This included both indoor and outside tables. Breakfast offered something different each day in the was of menu items. You could also use the buffet which had a limited number of items on the hot buffet line. Starting the morning dining on the veranda looking at the port you just arrived at was a treat. The weather for our cruise in early October was great and the veranda is covered so rain wouldn't be a deal breaker.
Lunch was also on the veranda if you finished your exploration in town early and returned to the ship in time. We did this a few times and found there to be different choices available each day as well as the classics like hamburgers.
3 out of 5
My wife used the spa for a facial but that was about all that we did on ship except eat, drink and sleep. We did check out some dvd's to watch while we consumed some of the local wines we purchased in the ports. It was a little too chilly to use the small pool but there were two hot tubs for those who like them. There was a small casino, fitness facility and a lounge but we didn't use them. The tours left the ship early so staying up late the night before wasn't an option for us.
2 out of 5
The one thing that we did plan on attending was the bar-be-que on deck with the entertainment by the crew. However, we did have high wind that night so it was moved indoors. They made the best of it by placing the serving line throughout the kitchen for the main dining room. It was interesting to see the facility where all the food was prepared. There was a duo playing in the dining room that night but it is a noisy room and we really couldn't hear them very well.
No big shows on this small ship. The demographics for this cruise were mostly 50's and over. There were a few younger adults mostly accompaning a parent. There were also a few newlyweds on board. Dining and drinking were the most popular activities.
There were no children on this cruise.
Service and Staff
5 out of 5
Everyone was very friendly and greated you, even the engineering staff. Our cabin attendant always greeted us by our names.
4 out of 5
The common areas were always clean and well maintained. This is an older ship and they are always performing maintenance on something or other to keep it looking good. We loved the small ship design because you were always just a short distance from everything. Getting on and off the ship was always quick in the ports where we used the tenders. It is a beautiful ship and I would like to sail with them again.
Cabin / Stateroom
4 out of 5
Very impressive cabin that is richly decorated. The bath is all marble and has dual sinks. The only negative is that the hot water system has some rust in the pipes. It is obvious if you are filling the tub or the basin with hot water. I understand that they are replacing the pipes with plastic ones but they haven't finished the project yet.
The room is very spacious and has a drape that can separate the sitting area from the sleeping area. The window is large but doesn't open on this level (4th). In-room dining is easy as there is a table, two chairs and a sofa in the sitting area. There is a large TV that can be viewed from the sitting or sleeping area. There is a bar area that includes glassware and bar ware as well as a mini fridge that is stocked with items for purchase.
There is plenty of storage space in the large closet which includes drawers, shelves, and a safe. There are also lots of drawers in the desk area and night stands.
Bed preferences are individual but we found the matress a little too firm for our tastes. Like most hotels, Windstar has an abundance of pillows that mostly get in the way. This cabin doesn't need all the pillows to dress it up as it is very plush already.
I- probably wouldn't pay extra for a higher-level cabin as the one we had was ideal. However, we were about the 4th cabin from the front of the ship and we could hear the anchor being raised and lowered quite clearly. I don't know if was our location in the ship or the ship as a whole but in heavy seas, the rocking of the ship from side to side was pretty noticeable while in bed. That wasn't very often howeve
We liked to hang out in the Yacht Club on the front of the highest level of the ship. It was usually quiet and had a great view. They have snacks and drinks available from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and you can always take your drinks from the bar there to get out of the wind or to just sit in a comfortable chair of sofa.
A much larger town, it is famous for Diocletian's Palace. I guess I didn't research this enough and was somewhat disapointed with the Palace. It was really a walled town in which 3000 people live. There are hundreds of building in the palace and some of them are more recent looking. All of these ports we visited were crowded, even in October but there weren't many families with children at that time. I can't imagine how these ports would be in summer.
This was my favorite port. It is reached by sailing up a submerged river valley (Ria) that looks like a Fiord. Get up early to be on deck to witness the ship passage through this beautiful setting. You can go high up on the surrounding hills to get a great view of the town and the ships in the harbor.
The ship docks in Naxos. Not much there except the beach. You will need to get to Taormina either by bus or by private livery. It is about a 20 minute ride up the mountain to Taormina. The big attraction here is the large Roman outdoor theater that has great views of the harbor.
We only docked and rented a car here. It didn't look like there would be much to do or see in this active port city of Rome. It is a good distance from Rome and the airport so make transportation arrangement ahead of time.
3 out of 5
We needed to put our luggage outside our cabin by 6 a.m. and depart the ship by 8:30 a.m. We were docked close in and claimed our luggage in a large tent outside the ship. We then boarded a bus specifically for Windstar passengers, that took us to the cruise ship "terminal". This was just a large parking lot for busses. I wasn't impressed by this port.
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