“Intimate” best describes Windstar Sailing Cruise from Barbados. In a perfect cruising world, staterooms have nooks and crannies to comfortably stow everything you bring.
Heads flush with barely a murmur. Showers run strong and hot. The beds are large and comfy. At least a thousand movie DVDs are available free for your in-room flat-screen enjoyment.
Food and service are unexcelled, always with a smile. And your 300 fellow passengers are friendly, great looking, smart, and well-traveled.
Children, bless their little hearts, are seldom seen and never heard.
And, while we’re dreaming, let’s eliminate stupid rules and schedules. No set dinner seating; you eat pretty much when and with whom you like. No intercom calls for “Bingo at 4:00.” In fact, no Bingo.
Our Windstar Sailing Cruise Dream
All the above describes our Wind Surf New Year’s Windstar sailing cruise out of Barbados. Okay, we admit some of our fellow travelers were only good-looking.
Throw in five masts of staysails for rag heads like Frank, plus stabilizers and a unique ballast system that controls heeling for landlubbers like Carolyn, and you have the best of all worlds.
Confirming that about half the passengers aboard our cruise had previously sailed with Windstar Cruises. Talk about a vote of confidence! Never will you meet a group fiercer in its praise and affection for a cruise line.
One couple we met had taken over 30 Winstar sailing cruises. Others were on board for “the duration” – two, three, four, or more consecutive cruises. They come aboard, unpack, lay back, and get spoiled; a month or so later they pack and disembark.
Now that’s a dream!
Owned by Holland America Line, Windstar has three sailing ships, Wind Star and Wind Spirit with capacities of 148 passengers, and the twice-as-large Wind Surf upon which we sailed. They ply not only the Caribbean but the Mediterranean and the Greek Isles as well, calling on 100 ports.
And they actually sail. Of course, there are big engines for when the breeze isn’t willing, but in the Grenadines where prevailing winds are easterly, we clipped along by sail on a beam reach most of the cruise.
Windstar Sailing Cruise: No Waiting, No Crowds, No Ties
Wind Surf is everything you’d expect of a large, luxury cruise ship – full workout facilities, 24/7 food, 10-crew spa, wide open teak decks, all-ocean-view staterooms, plush robes, free use of iPods. Everything that is except big-show Vegas entertainment and lots and lots of people.
You’ll find no long lines waiting for launches, no crowded purser’s area. Life’s more understated, more relaxed aboard Wind Surf.
Leave your jackets, ties, cocktail dresses, and schedules at home. Dinner wear is “casual elegant” – anything on the dressy side of jeans and shorts. And sure, there’s entertainment, including “Nice & Easy,” by far the most talented six-man band we’ve heard at sea. Entertainment here is more intimate.
In fact, if there’s one word that our fellow passengers used most to describe the cruise, it’s “intimate.”
With a capacity of only 308 guests, there’s no doubt that by the end of our cruise aboard Wind Surf we’d met most everyone. Try doing that on a Carnival cruise. But then, you wouldn’t want to on Carnival.
Windstar Sailing Cruise Ships
While other cruise lines are chosen for famous ports of call, Windstar sailing cruises are selected for their unique ships, their crews, and yes, even their guests. The ship itself is the destination. Many never leave, preferring to stay on board and relax, watch a movie or read from the ship’s excellent library.
Our ports of call out of Barbados – Tobago, Saint Lucia, Bequia, Dominica, Saint Vincent, and Mayreau – are far from hot tourist spots. More befitting of the cruise line, they’re laid back, casual.
Dominica, our favorite, reminded us of Jamaica or St. Martin in the ‘50s. Friendly, safe, cheap, and beautifully unsophisticated, we bought a lovely mask for our collection at the outdoor market where vendors were helpful and honest.
That’s rare in the Caribbean anymore.
Generally, we’d go ashore and, after exploring the port on foot, hire a taxi to show us around the island. This allowed us to stop for photos, go only to those attractions that really attracted us, and learn about the island from the driver.
Careful, though. On both Tobago and St. Lucia, at the journey’s end, our drivers demanded more money than we’d agreed on. Don’t give in. If necessary, ask to be taken to the local police station. When we‘ve done that, thievish cabbies shut up.
Back on board, a water sports platform often is lowered from the aft Marina Deck, turning the anchorage into a private marina where passengers swim, sail, kayak, windsurf, even scuba. All but scuba are free. Frank broke his kayaking cherry on this cruise.
Winstar Sailing Cruise Complaints
In all, we heard but two complaints about our cruise.
One of the two elevators was out of order the entire cruise, the second intermittently impaired, climbing the stairs of the ship’s six decks creating a bit of a hassle for some. Captain Tim Roberts blamed the elevator problems on a recent retrofit, saying that they would be back in running order by the next cruise.