Since their birth in the mid 1980s Windstar Cruises have been sailing with the tagline ‘180 º from Ordinary’ – one which seems highly appropriate for this company.

Created with the idea of offering passengers an alternative to the typical resort holiday or mass market cruise, Windstar’s passengers are lucky enough to see the world from a beautiful sailing ship that is equipped with luxurious accommodations, a casual yet elegant and refined atmosphere and exquisite service and delicious cuisine.

The ships are a fleet of motor-sail yachts however, they have the ability to unfurl full sails at the touch of a button. Within two minutes billowing white sails unfurl and reach skywards. Despite the beautiful sails all functions are operated from the bridge by computer micro-chips and state of the art maritime navigational devices.

One feature of that passengers love is that they have an ‘open bridge’ policy, meaning that guests are more than welcome to enter the operational bridge and learn about the inner workings of the yachts. Guests are welcomed by the captain, or his officers, who are happy to demonstrate the ships exciting capabilities.

This unique concept of sailing has meant that they have led the cruise industry in the luxury small ship category. They welcome casual attire and offer alternative dining areas.

Watch the Video: Windstar Cruises

What Makes Windstar Cruises Different?

Windstar Cruises is all about offering a luxurious, small-ship cruising experience. You won’t find the mega-liners here; instead, you’ll sail on elegant yachts and small ships that can dock in less crowded ports. Windstar’s fleet provides an intimate atmosphere, personalized service, and unique itineraries that larger ships simply can’t match.

Imagine waking up in a new, less-explored port each day, with the flexibility to get closer to the heart of every destination. The ships are designed for an upscale yet relaxed vibe, where the crew knows your name, and the pace is unhurried. Windstar is perfect for those who value quality over quantity and wish to explore the world in a more exclusive, sophisticated manner.

Why Choose Windstar Cruises?

Choosing Windstar Cruises means opting for a more personal and intimate cruising experience. Here’s why you might find Windstar your ideal choice:

  1. Unique Itineraries: Windstar’s smaller ships can access ports that are off-limits to larger vessels. This opens up a world of unique destinations and less crowded ports.

  2. Luxurious Accommodations: Each ship offers spacious, well-appointed staterooms and suites, many with ocean views or balconies.

  3. Gourmet Dining: The cuisine on board is exceptional, with farm-to-table dining experiences and menus crafted by award-winning chefs.

  4. Water Sports Platform: Many Windstar ships feature a watersports platform, allowing you to enjoy activities like kayaking, paddleboarding, and snorkeling right off the back of the ship.

  5. Intimate Atmosphere: With fewer passengers on board, you’ll enjoy more personalized service and a closer connection with fellow travelers and crew.

Pros and Cons of Windstar Cruises

ProsCons
Personalized service and intimate atmosphereHigher cost compared to larger cruise lines
Access to unique, less crowded portsLimited entertainment options on board
Gourmet dining and luxurious accommodationsSmaller ships may lack some amenities
Watersports platform for direct ocean accessFewer activities for children

Fleet Overview

Ship NameCapacityLength (feet)Year BuiltHighlightsInternet Cost
Wind Surf3426171989Largest ship, water sports$35 per day
Wind Star1484401986Intimate, sailing yacht$35 per day
Wind Spirit1484401988Tahiti itineraries$35 per day
Star Pride3124401988Suites, spa$35 per day
Star Legend3124401992Newly refurbished, all-suite$35 per day
Star Breeze3124401989Casual elegance, spa$35 per day

Adult or Family?

Windstar Cruises primarily caters to adults. Although occasionally a teen or two are welcome to join their parents. There are no supervisors or special activities that cater to children and it’s clear that this is not the choice for families with younger children.

Singles

Singles will find a welcoming environment on Windstar Cruises. The smaller ships and intimate setting make it easy to meet fellow travelers. Additionally, there are often solo traveler events and dining options to ensure you’re never alone unless you want to be.

Medical Facilities

Each Windstar ship is equipped with medical facilities and a professional medical team to handle any health concerns that may arise during your voyage. However, it’s always recommended to bring any necessary medications and inform the staff of any specific health needs before departure.

Dress Code

The dress code on Windstar Cruises is casual yet sophisticated. During the day, resort casual is appropriate, and in the evening, smart casual is the norm. There are no formal nights, so leave your tuxedos and evening gowns at home.

Gratuities

Gratuities on Windstar Cruises are automatically added to your onboard account, making it easy to reward the excellent service you’ll receive. The current rate is $13.50 per person per day, but you can adjust this amount at your discretion.

No Fly from the UK

For those looking to avoid the hassle of flying, Windstar Cruises offers no-fly options from the UK. You can embark on your cruise from various UK ports, allowing for a seamless and stress-free start to your holiday.

luxurious Windstar cruise ship sailing during a serene sunset

Windstar Cruise Facilities:

The water sports platform is open during the course of the day when the ship is anchored. Guests tend to make it habit to come back from an in-port excursion and head off for a swim in the sea right from the back of the ship.

Known as the cruise line that is water extensive, other activities include kayaking, water-skiing and windsurfing. Boogie board, inner tubes and noodles are complimentary as well as snorkel equipment.

Here’s a rundown of what you can expect:

Spa

  • WindSpa: Each ship features a WindSpa, offering a variety of treatments including massages, facials, and body therapies. The spa focuses on relaxation and rejuvenation, using high-quality products and professional techniques.

Gym

  • Fitness Center: The fitness center on Windstar ships is well-equipped with modern exercise machines, free weights, and cardio equipment. You can maintain your workout routine while enjoying ocean views. There are also complimentary yoga classes.

Games and Entertainment

  • Games and Recreation: While Windstar Cruises emphasize relaxation and sophisticated entertainment, they also offer a range of activities:
    • Water Sports Platform: On ships like Wind Spirit, Wind Star, and Wind Surf, guests can enjoy complimentary water sports directly from the ship, including kayaking, paddleboarding, and snorkeling.
    • Deck Games: Traditional games such as shuffleboard and deck chess are available, providing leisurely fun on deck.
    • Board Games and Puzzles: Inside the ship, you’ll find a selection of board games and puzzles for quiet, indoor entertainment.
top facilities on a Windstar cruise ship

There are no nightclubs or Las Vegas style shows. The ship does have a piano bar, library, spa, and poolside Barbeque in the evenings. Here’s an overview of what you can expect:

Entertainment on Windstar Cruises

Theaters and Shows

  • Evening Entertainment: Windstar Cruises feature a variety of evening entertainment options, including live music performances, cabaret shows, and guest entertainers. The focus is on creating a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere without the glitz and glamour of large-scale productions.
  • Lecture Series and Enrichment Programs: Some cruises offer informative lectures and enrichment programs hosted by experts in various fields, such as history, culture, and nature.

Bars and Lounges

  • Multiple Lounges and Bars: Windstar ships have several lounges and bars where you can enjoy a cocktail, listen to live music, or simply relax and socialize with fellow guests. These venues provide a cozy and intimate setting for evening gatherings.
  • Top Deck Bar: Often found on the top deck, this bar offers panoramic views of the ocean and is a perfect spot for sunset drinks.

Dancing

  • Live Music and Dancing: Live music is a staple on Windstar Cruises, with talented musicians playing a range of genres. Some lounges have dance floors where guests can enjoy an evening of dancing.
  • Deck Parties: Occasionally, Windstar hosts deck parties where guests can dance under the stars to live music or a DJ.

Casino

  • No Casinos: Windstar Cruises does not feature casinos on their ships. The focus is on creating a relaxed and refined atmosphere rather than the hustle and bustle associated with casino gaming.

Additional Entertainment Options

  • Water Sports Platform: Unique to some Windstar ships, this platform allows guests to enjoy water activities such as kayaking, paddleboarding, and snorkeling directly from the ship.
  • Library and Game Room: A cozy library stocked with books, board games, and puzzles provides a quiet retreat for those looking to relax indoors.
  • Cooking Demonstrations and Classes: Culinary enthusiasts can participate in cooking demonstrations and classes led by the ship’s chefs, learning new recipes and techniques.
elegant main dining room on a Windstar cruise ship

Windstar Cruises prides itself on its exceptional culinary offerings, with several dining venues available on each ship. Here’s an overview of the dining options you can enjoy, and whether they come at an additional cost:

Restaurants and Dining on Windstar Cruises

Main Dining Room: AmphorA

  • Description: AmphorA is the main dining room on Windstar ships, offering a variety of gourmet dishes inspired by international cuisine. The menu changes daily, ensuring a diverse selection of meals.
  • Cost: Included in the cruise fare.
  • Dress Code: Smart casual in the evenings.

Casual Dining: Veranda

  • Description: Veranda is the ship’s casual dining venue, providing a buffet-style breakfast and lunch with a wide array of options. In the evening, it transforms into Candles, a romantic, reservation-only outdoor dining experience.
  • Cost: Included in the cruise fare. Reservations are required for Candles in the evening.
  • Dress Code: Casual during the day, smart casual for Candles in the evening.

Specialty Dining: Candles

  • Description: As an extension of Veranda, Candles offers an intimate al fresco dining experience with a menu featuring grilled steaks, seafood, and other delectable dishes.
  • Cost: Included in the cruise fare, but reservations are required.
  • Dress Code: Smart casual.

Specialty Restaurant: Cuadro 44 by Anthony Sasso

  • Description: Available on the Star Plus Class ships (Star Breeze, Star Legend, Star Pride), Cuadro 44 by Anthony Sasso offers Spanish-inspired cuisine in a cozy and vibrant setting. The menu features a variety of tapas, seafood, and meat dishes.
  • Cost: Included in the cruise fare.
  • Dress Code: Smart casual.

Star Grill by Steven Raichlen

  • Description: Also found on Star Plus Class ships, Star Grill by Steven Raichlen is a casual outdoor eatery serving up delicious barbecue and grilled dishes. It’s a perfect spot for a relaxed meal with ocean views.
  • Cost: Included in the cruise fare.
  • Dress Code: Casual.

Deck Barbecue

  • Description: One of the highlights of a Windstar cruise is the Deck Barbecue, a lively event held on deck featuring a bountiful buffet of grilled meats, seafood, and other delectable dishes, accompanied by live music and dancing.
  • Cost: Included in the cruise fare.
  • Dress Code: Casual.

Room Service

  • Description: For those who prefer dining in the comfort of their suite, Windstar offers 24-hour room service. The in-room dining menu includes a selection of dishes from the ship’s restaurants.
  • Cost: Included in the cruise fare.
Dover departure port for Windstar Cruises in the UK

Windstar Cruises occasionally includes itineraries that depart from UK ports, offering convenience for travelers who prefer to embark closer to home. Here are some of the UK ports from which Windstar Cruises has been known to depart:

UK Departure Ports for Windstar Cruises

Portsmouth

  • Description: Portsmouth, located on the southern coast of England, is a historic port city with a rich maritime heritage. It’s an excellent starting point for cruises exploring Northern Europe, the British Isles, and beyond.
  • Highlights: Easy access to iconic landmarks like the Spinnaker Tower and the historic dockyard, which is home to the HMS Victory and HMS Warrior.

Dover

  • Description: Dover, famous for its white cliffs, is another key departure port for Windstar Cruises. It serves as a gateway to the English Channel and various Northern European destinations.
  • Highlights: Proximity to Dover Castle and its fascinating wartime tunnels, as well as the scenic beauty of the surrounding coastline.

Edinburgh (Leith)

  • Description: The port of Leith, located near Edinburgh, is a popular embarkation point for cruises heading to Scandinavia, the Baltic, and other Northern European regions.
  • Highlights: Close to the historic and cultural attractions of Edinburgh, including the Royal Mile, Edinburgh Castle, and the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

Additional Information

While Windstar primarily focuses on itineraries in more exotic and remote destinations, these UK ports provide convenient departure points for European and British Isles cruises. It’s always best to check Windstar’s current itineraries, as departure ports can vary depending on the specific cruise and season.

Summary

For those looking to embark on a Windstar cruise from the UK, Portsmouth, Dover, and Edinburgh (Leith) are the primary ports of departure. These locations not only offer convenient embarkation points but also allow you to explore some of the UK’s most historic and picturesque cities before setting sail on your luxurious cruise adventure.