Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2017 (Berlitz Cruise Guide) (2016)
Ship: 375 out of 500
Accommodation: 160 out of 200
Food: 280 out of 400
Service: 282 out of 400
Entertainment: 73 out of 100
Cruise: 293 out of 400
Overall Score: 1463 out of 2000
Wind Surf Statistics
Size: Small Ship
Cruise Line: Windstar Cruises
Former Names: Club Med I
IMO Number: 8700785
Builder: Ateliers et Chantiers du Havre
Original Cost: $140 million
Entered Service: Feb 1990/May 1998
Length (ft/m): 613.5/187.0
Beam (ft/m): 65.6/20.0
Draft (ft/m): 16.4/5.0
Propulsion/Propellers: (a) diesel-electric (1,400kW)/1; (b) sails
Passenger Decks: 8
Total Crew: 163
Passengers (lower beds): 312
Passenger Space Ratio (lower beds): 47.2
Passenger/Crew Ratio (lower beds): 1.9
Cabins (total): 156
Size Range (sq ft/m): 188.0-500.5/17.5-46.5
Cabins (for one person): 0
Cabins (with private balcony): 0
Cabins (wheelchair accessible): 0
Wheelchair accessibility: None
Cabin Current: 110 and 220 volts
Casino (gaming tables): Yes
Slot Machines: Yes
Swimming Pools: 2
Hot Tubs (on deck): 2
Self-Service Launderette: No
Dedicated Cinema/Seats: No
Onboard currency: US$
Elegant decor for smart casual, sail- cruising in comfort
Overview. This sail-cruise is a good choice for couples seeking informality (no jackets or ties), but who don’t want the inconvenience of the workings of a real tall ship. It cruises in Barbados (November-March) and in the Mediterranean (May-October). The European itineraries are really port-intensive, which means you sail each night and are in port each day.
The Ship. Wind Surf, one of a pair of the world’s largest sail-cruisers, is part-cruise ship, part-yacht - its sister ship operates as Club Med II. This is a larger, grander sister to the original three Windstar Cruises vessels. Five huge masts of 164ft/50m (rising 221ft/68m above sea level) carry seven triangular, self-furling Dacron sails, with a total surface area of 26,881 sq ft (2,497 sq m).
No human hands touch the sails, as everything is handled electronically by computer control from the bridge - which makes it a little boring. Also, because European sailings take place at night, with days spent in port, there seems little point to having the sails, as passengers don’t get to experience them.
A computer keeps the ship on an even keel via the movement of a water hydraulic ballast system of 266,800 gallons (1 million liters), so there is no heeling over 6°. When the ship isn’t using the sails, four diesel-electric motors propel it at up to approximately 12 knots. The ship is very quiet when moving.
Swimming from the water sports platform at the stern isn’t allowed. But extensive water sports facilities include windsurfers, sailboats, water-ski boats, single scuba tanks, snorkels, fins and masks, and inflatable Zodiac motorized boats for water-skiing - all at no extra charge, except for the scuba tanks.
There are two saltwater swimming pools - little more than ‘dip’ pools. One is amidships on the uppermost deck of the ship, while the other is aft, together with two hot tubs, and an adjacent bar. There are no showers at either of the pools, so passengers get into the pools or hot tubs while covered in oil or lotion, an unhygienic arrangement.
A meeting room can accommodate 30-60 people. The casino/main lounge has four blackjack and one roulette table, and 21 slot machines. It has an unusually high ceiling for the size of the ship.
A Yacht Club includes books and DVDs for in-cabin use and provides comfortable seating for relaxation or listening to music loaded for you on iPods available from reception. An espresso bar offers extra-cost Lavazza coffee drinks and deli sandwiches. Eight computers have Internet access, and there’s Wi-Fi access.
Parts of the ship was refurbished in 2011, and so in late 2012 were public spaces including the Lounge, The Restaurant, Degrees, Veranda, Compass Rose, WindSpa, Yacht Club, and Pool Bar.
Hotel service is provided mostly by Filipino and Indonesian staff. Gratuities are charged to your onboard account, and 15 percent is added to bar and wine accounts, and to all spa treatments and services. The quality of food and its presentation is a definite plus, as is the policy of no music in passenger hallways or elevators.
Accommodation. There are just three price categories. Unusually, the cabin numbers (port side even numbers, odd number starboard side) are sequenced with lower numbers aft, while higher numbers are forward. All cabins are very nicely equipped, with crisp, inviting decor. They have a minibar/refrigerator (stocked when you embark, but all drinks are at extra cost), 24-hour room service, personal safe, a flat-screen TV set viewable from the bed (or sofa, depending on cabin configuration), DVD/CD player, plenty of storage space, and two portholes. DVDs and CDs are available from the library. There are six four-person cabins; 35 doubles are fitted with an extra Pullman berth, and several cabins have an interconnecting door - good for families. Spa Suite packages are available at extra cost. All cabins have Wi-Fi access, at extra cost.
The bathrooms are compact, designed in a figure of eight, with a teakwood floor in the central section. There is a good amount of storage space for toiletries in two cabinets, as well as under-basin storage space, and a wall-mounted hairdryer. The shower enclosure is circular, and has both a hand-held and a fixed shower, enabling you to wash your hair without getting the rest of your body wet. The lighting is not strong enough for women to apply make-up - this is better applied at the cabin’s vanity desk.
All but one of the 31 suites have two bathrooms, a separate living/dining area, sleeping area that can be curtained off, two vanity/writing desks, and four portholes instead of two. There are two TV sets (one in the lounge, one in the sleeping area), video player and CD player, and Bose SoundDock for iPods. Popcorn for movie viewing is available from room service. Bathrooms have granite countertops, open shelving, new cabinets, and magnifying mirror.
A further two Bridge Deck suites (around 495 sq ft/46 sq m) would be delightful for a honeymoon; each has a bedroom, separate living/dining room, and marble bathroom with Jacuzzi tub, two washbasins, and separate toilet, plus a walk-in closet.
New Spa Suite packages, introduced in 2010, take an existing cabin and provide extras such as a queen-size bed with microfiber bed linen, bathrobes, an orchid flower arrangement, two bathrooms, a flat-screen TV with DVD player, and Bose SoundDock speakers for iPods. Also, a pillow menu provides several choices, including a ‘snore-no-more’ hypoallergenic pillow.
Tea collections include wellbeing, herbal, or exotic teas. Brewing service includes contemporary, porcelain tea-ware and is available from room service 24 hours a day. Berlitz tip: ask for it to be made with mineral water, not the standard chlorinated ship’s water.
Dining. The AmphorA Restaurant (an ancient word meaning ‘vessel’ or ‘container’) seats 272 and has tables for two, four, or six. It has open seating with no pre-assigned tables, and is open only for dinner, typically 7.30-9.30pm. California-style nouvelle cuisine is served, with dishes attractively presented.
Other dining options. A 124-seat Degrees Bistro, a specialty dining venue, features Mediterranean cuisine. Located atop the ship, on Star Deck, it has picture windows on port and starboard sides, an open kitchen, and tables for two, four, or six. Reservations are required for dinner, although there’s no extra charge.
The Veranda, amidships on Star Deck, has its own open terrace for informal, self-serve breakfast and lunch buffets. It really is very pleasant to be outside, eating an informal breakfast or lunch. Do try the bread pudding, available daily at lunch - the ship is famous for it and each day has a variation on the theme.
The Compass Rose, an indoor/outdoor casual eatery, provides deli-style snack items plus some pastries and coffee for breakfast, lunch, and afternoon tea. At night, it turns into Candles for alfresco dining around the aft pool. A permanent outdoor barbecue offers fresh grilled items for breakfast and lunch.
Windstar Cruises food is generally very good, although highly geared toward American tastes. Europeans and other nationals should note that items such as bacon may be fried to death, and the choice of cheeses and teas is limited. Service in the dining room is also quite fast, geared towards those who haven’t yet learned to unwind.
A nice feature is a ‘Cuisine de l’Amour’ romantic candlelight dinner for two served to you in your cabin at no extra charge. The menu, with seductive-sounding selections, offers a choice of appetizer, a set soup, choice of salad, two entrée options, and a set dessert to finish.
Finally, there’s quite an extensive room service menu.
Entertainment. There is no showlounge as such (this is a yachting-style experience, after all), although the main lounge, which incorporates a small casino, serves as an occasional cabaret room. It has a small wooden dance floor, with music provided by a house band. The high-ceilinged room is also used for cocktail parties and other social functions.
Spa/Fitness. The Health Spa has a unisex sauna (bathing suits required), beauty salon, and several treatment rooms for massage, facials, and body wraps. There is a decent gymnasium - on a separate deck, with ocean views - and an aerobics workout room. Unfortunately, the spa facilities are split on three separate decks, making them rather disjointed. Special spa packages can be pre-booked through your travel agent. The spa is operated by the UK’s Onboard Spa Company.