Luxury can come in all sizes. On the Windstar Star Pride yacht, you can sail away to almost anywhere but go where few can reach. With capacity of no more than 212 guests, you’ll feel like it’s your own small private ship.
We sailed away into the Caribbean for the Holidays in mid December’18 on our first yacht cruise. Although we’ve cruised many times before, this was an unforgettable vacation. Mainly because it changed our perspective on what a cruise experience could be.
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The top 5 reasons you will remember your yacht cruise:
- Luxury Accommodations
- Exclusive Destinations
- Fine Dining
- Exciting Excursions
- Attentive Service and Amenities
On board the Windstar Star Pride, every room is considered a Suite. I’ve never seen a ship where it’s smallest room is 277 sqft., that’s much larger than most ships that start at 170 sqft. Most guests on board mentioned it felt more like a hotel room than a ship cabin.
The largest suites are the Owner’s Suites and are 575 sqft. There are only 2 on this ship and are located on the top forward deck. We enjoy plenty of space when we travel so we snagged one of these. It comes with a large private balcony that looks more like a wrap around deck. We loved watching the sunsets from here, just the 2 of us.
When you reserve one of their larger suites, either the Owner’s Suites or Classic Suites, you may receive an invitation to private cocktail parties and dinner with the Captain. Of course, I embarrassed myself asking him to pronounce Captain in Russian. He looked at me and said, “I don’t know, I’m Bulgarian.” Introduction fail. Haha!
You will also receive daily treats and canapés delivered to the higher suite categories around 4-5pm each day. We had chocolate covered strawberries, canapés, and champagne awaiting us when we first arrived.
What’s wonderful about cruising in a yacht is that it can fit in exclusive ports where only small ships, yachts, and boats of a certain size can dock. This can help avoid the stampede of large ports where many big ships dock at the same time. Not all islands can accommodate huge ships, like the tiny islands of Guadeloupe and Bequia. We enjoyed less to no crowds at these destinations and they have such a local vibe. Larger ships may have access to these islands but they have to dock at a larger nearby island if available and tender to these less accessible areas.
Yacht cruises are all about the destinations and less days at sea. This could mean you would need to fly to the departure port to cut the distance rather than begin at a domestic location. This could save you plenty of sea days. On this cruise, we departed from and returned to San Juan and only had 1 sea day on the itinerary.
The food and dining experiences were excellent on this cruise. During the week we went, it was a culinary themed cruise with the prestigious James Beard Foundation. Throughout the week, part of the menu would feature various award winning Chefs from around the world. Dinner usually begins around 6:30pm and it’s open seating with no set dinner time for passengers.
Small ships and yachts have the ability to source locally from the ports of call. Since it serves less passengers, the local islands can meet lower quantity demands. The result is incredibly fresh tasting foods. The spices from these Caribbean islands were super fragrant and none of the dishes lacked flavor.
The dining experience was an absolute delight.
Lets not forget the desserts! They even had tasty No Sugar Added and Vegan dessert options.
There were also cooking demonstrations with award winning Chefs. Here, James Beard award-winning Chef José Mendin showed the passengers how to cook mussels.
For breakfast and lunch, they have a buffet style set up on the top deck called Varanda. For the mornings we didn’t have room service, it was nice to sit out on an open deck with a full service staff to serve you. You can order from the à la carte menu or serve yourself at the fresh buffet counter. I loved how they even made their own sauces and condiments such as ketchup, mustard, horse radish, etc.
For snacks, espresso bar, quick grab & go bites, the lounge area was a frequent visit for us. Everyday we went here to get a snack and enjoy the views. They have the best house made granola bars ever. The drinks were all crafted by hand and tasted great. My hubby had to have their chocolate chip cookies everyday.
In some of the destinations, it was difficult to decide what we wanted to do because there were several great options for each place. Mike and I are active people, so we like sporty activities. Windstar excursions did not disappoint and we had an exciting action packed week.
Scuba Diving in Bequia and Granada
A huge reason we went to the Caribbean was for the scuba diving adventures. For 2 days, we dived in Bequia and Grenada. It was fascinating, the colorful coral reefs and fish we saw.
Snorkeling and Boating in Guadeloupe
In Guadeloupe we did a boat tour and snorkeled in the clear waters of Sugar Loaf. During late Spring and early Summer, turtles would nest in the protected beach areas of Guadeloupe. We went in December hoping to see them. Our tour guide spotted one, but we missed it.
During a boat tour around the island of Guadeloupe, we saw sea blowholes that were captivating.
We saw local fisherman that caught all sorts of things to eat, like conch shells.
Wild Sail Boat Racing in St. Maarten
Sail Boat Racing was much more exhilarating than we anticipated. We raced against another team of passengers and everyone that didn’t get sick had a blast, ha! I was team captain so Mike and I were working it for sure. If you’re adventurous, this excursion is a must. Read more about it here.
Paradise Island BBQ and Exploration in St. Lucia
Our favorite island throughout the whole itinerary was St. Lucia. We docked at Pigeon Island on the quieter side of the island where the preservations parks are located. It’s such a gorgeous clean area and picture perfect.
Windstar hosted a fabulous BBQ where we could enjoy a private beach and/or explore the trails, parks, and preserved areas. Island music played by locals and the freshly grilled chicken and foods were delicious. Guests could even get a beach massage.
After lunch we went exploring. Pigeon Island is a National Park and National Landmark by the government of St. Lucia. It is heralded as one of the most important monuments in it’s history.
It was super difficult leaving this dream island. Warning, one day in St. Lucia is not enough! We will return for a proper visit with enough time to explore this incredibly romantic destination.
Service and Amenities
The service on a smaller ship is quite attentive. The staff to guest ratio is about 1 to 4. We never had an issue making requests or lacked in quality of any service. Staff knows you by name and always willing to serve. No where on the ship ever felt crowded. It almost felt like our own private yacht.
You never know how good a ship’s amenities and services are until days at sea. We only had 1 day at sea and really enjoyed it. We lounged on our private deck, had room service all day, worked out at the gym, watched a movie, read a book, and attended some entertainment that evening.
The room service was always on point and the food was consistently good. One of my favorite breakfast items was the avocado smoothie. Since flavors changed everyday, if they have the ingredients available for something you’d like they can make it especially for you anytime. I had this delicious avocado smoothie everyday when I discovered it. They had no problems delivering it to the room each morning too.
We paid a flat fee of $112 for a week of unlimited laundry service. It was fantastic to not have stinky clothes build up and take home. They washed and pressed items everyday for us. The receipts added up to over $200 in laundry services, but because we prepaid the flat fee within the first 24 hours of the cruise, we were only charged the discounted price. I highly recommend this convenient service. It was worth every penny.
I loved having the comfortable space to dine in our suite.
Each evening before dinner, we like to workout. The gym was standard but had enough equipment to get a good basic workout in. There were classes and trainers available for personal sessions. The gym was in the spa that we did not experience and was already booked for the sea day.
Library of books and DVD rentals
The library was available for computer use and to rent books and DVD’s. We liked to browse the books and read during snack time in the lounge.
The entertainment on this ship was like amateur hour. There were no professional actors, singers, or dancers on the ship. Rather, the service staff volunteered their own acts to entertain the audience. Most were from the dining and sports rental staff. We saw amateur Elvis, Tina Turner, Michael Jackson, hiphop and traditional style dancers. It was a lot of fun to watch and something endearing about it.
The Watersport Platform is located in the bottom rear deck to rent sports equipment at no cost. Guests can use snorkeling gear, canoes, boogie boards, fins, paddle boards, floaties, tubes, life jackets, etc.
The platform was available at each destination and unfolds into an open water deck to enjoy all the toys. For guests who did not wish to disembark or have an excursion on any day, they were welcome to access the open water this way. We always had an excursion and missed this part, but other passengers really enjoyed it.
Sail Away, Sail Away, Sail Away….
The Enya song, “Orinoco Flow (Sail Away)” is what I think of when I reminisce about our days in the Caribbean sun. The destinations, service, amenities, food, accommodations, and excursions made our experience unforgettable. If you love cruising and have never tried a yacht cruise, Windstar is wonderful for a first timer.
We enjoyed the intimate setting a small ship cruise provides. It never felt crowded and all staff knew who we were. The focus was on quality rather than quantity, but you could have as much of anything as you’d like. They will take care of you.
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Wow… yacht cruising looks amazing. There was so much to do! Thanks for sharing.
I have always wanted to do a Windstar cruise but my husband refuses. Yes he is nuts. It looks amazing!
I hope he changes his mind 😁
This looks interesting! I haven’t really ever been to into cruises but I think I should look in to it!
I hope you do and go asap!
I love cruising, but have never experienced a yacht before. It sounds like a fabulous experience!
I’ve never been on a cruise, but this looks like an intimate way to take one. Did you have a chance to see the rooms that were not suites?
Yes! Their smallest rooms on this ship is 277 sqft, way above average of other major cruise lines.
I appreciate you sharing the videos. It really lets us get a true feel of the experience!
I have never been on a small cruise (not really a cruise person) but I have heard good things about small cruises.
It turns out, I’m not too thrilled about the large cruises anymore as the smaller ones have spoiled me, ha!
That looks like a cruise id enjoy!
This looks absolutely amazing and definitely memorable! I hope to go on my first cruise in 2019.
I hope you’ll love it!
It looks like an amazing and luxurious time!
What an amazing adventure…and a great alternative to a cruise ship. Thank you for sharing!
We have been wanting to go on a Windstar cruise. It looks amazing and not so crowded as a normal cruise. Thanks for posting. I’ll keep it on my bucket list for sure!
We’ve been wanting to do a Windstar cruise. It looks amazing. I’ll keep it on my bucket list. Thanks for posting.
We just finished the Windstar cruise on WindSurf. AMAZING Cruises. I love seeing your photos. Brings back memories of our trip.
Yes! Windstar is a great line, only 6 yachts.
Wow! What an amazing trip! I’ve been on a large cruise line before, but this yacht cruise looks even more fantastic. Never knew this existed.
It’s a different experience for sure if you like smaller crowds.
What a cool experience!
I enjoyed learning about Windstar Star. We wonder about the ship gym and that one looked like it had the basics needed for a full body workout. Thanks.
We were exhausted from our excursions and didn’t need to much time at the gym which was never crowded
This looks amazing! We have done many cruises on the larger ships, but never something so small. We are doing a river cruise down the Rhine this fall, so looking forward to this type of experience.
That sounds wonderful! Have a fab trip