I am recently back from a 12-night Alaskan cruise onboard Windstar Cruises‘ Star Legend, and it’s been a very disappointing few days at home. Nobody is bringing me a vanilla latte in the morning. I had to make my own bed. And when I arrive home at the end of the day, there is not a fresh batch of clean and pressed laundry hanging in my closet.
Being pampered is a common experience across all cruise lines, but Windstar takes it to another level. I have a special place in my heart for small ship cruising. Currently, Windstar’s motor yachts have the capacity for roughly 200 guests each. The motor yachts are scheduled to be stretched through 2020 to accommodate an additional 100 guests, but the small ship feel will remain the same. If you like a more personalized level of service, then Windstar is a fantastic option for your vacation.
Windstar’s crew is one of the best in the industry. They have found the right balance of great service and authentic kindness that is so hard to achieve. Service is far from stuffy, cabins are always cleaned promptly and preferences are remembered by restaurant and bar staff.
Another benefit of small ship cruising is the ability to access areas that the big boys cannot. One of the best days of our journey was spent anchored in the Misty Fjords. The area has a beautifully eerie quality, and we were able to explore by boarding a 6-person zodiac off the water sports platform at the aft of the ship. We got up close and personal with waterfalls, vegetation, seals and a large group of bald eagles (called a parliament of eagles for you trivia buffs.) We also took a zodiac to see South Sawyer Glacier while sailing Tracy Arm, and were lucky enough to witness the most amazing shooter, which is a piece of the glacier that breaks off from under the water and bolts upwards. My recommendation is to always take the chance to do a zodiac or kayak tour with Windstar when offered.
Foodies will enjoy all the meals that Windstar has to offer. Currently on the Legend before it goes to the shipyard to be stretched (with more dining options being added) there are a delightful buffet available for breakfast and lunch, the restaurant AmphorA for breakfast and dinner, the specialty Candles by reservation only for dinner (get the filet!) and room service 24 hours a day. You can also have any dish off the AmphorA dinner menu delivered to your room during dinner hours.
The dishes from AmphorA that stood out to me on this cruise were the lasagna al forno bolognese, roasted poblano pepper corn soup, Viennese style pork schnitzel and baked Brie and asparagus tart. Seafood lovers will enjoy cedar plank maple Alaskan salmon, seared sesame-crusted tuna and Alaskan king crab legs. Don’t forget to order a side of truffle fries!
Every day we looked forward to the special lunch offering, which is served on the top deck on a nice day, and inside AmphorA on rainy days. Among the offerings on our cruise were a soup bar, Asian style, burger bar, curry bar and the not-to-be-missed deck BBQ. (Shrimp! Pork! Ribs! Steak! Chicken! Paella!) Windstar knocks it out of the park when it comes to a themed meal.
Now that I’ve done both Tahiti and Alaska with Windstar, if I had to choose between the two, I’d give a slight edge to Tahiti. Not only is it a treat to sail on the sailing ship versus the motor yacht, but Windstar really shines in Tahiti for a few reasons. In the warmer climate they are able to utilize the outdoor deck space more for parties, sail away celebrations, themed meals and Candles. It’s also a treat to be able to swim, kayak and do other warm-weather water sports right off the ship. On the Tahiti itinerary, there are also a couple of private island events that are truly spectacular.
I plan to keep Windstar in my regular rotation of vacation choices, because they have earned a spot as one of my very favorite cruise lines.