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Windstar Cruises review

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Explore unique destinations on an intimate ship with a relaxed vibe.

Get up-close-and-personal with boutique ports and small seaside towns that larger cruise lines miss. These ships can feels more like an adventure on your own private yacht than a resort at sea, without flashy evening shows or daytime water parks.

6 ships

Number of ships

Price

No

Price matches

Details

Target demographic Families, Seniors, Teenagers, Honeymooners, Singles
Number of ships 6 ships
Contact options Phone, Email
Payment options Visa, American Express, Discover Card
Deposit required Deposit at checkout
Deposit required No price matching
Food Food included
Drink No free alcohol
Room service No free room service

Expert review

Amy Stoltenberg

Review by


Amy Stoltenberg writes about lifestyle and money for Finder, researching the best options for shopping, banking, insurance and authentic travel experiences. After studying writing and fashion at Savannah College of Art and Design, she worked designing apparel at a corporate behemoth before opting for a career with unlimited travel time. When her laptop’s closed, she can be found wandering the streets looking for happy hour and hole-in-the-wall eateries.

Expert review

Windstar Cruises are excellent for world travelers that would like to get up-close-and-personal with seaside towns that larger cruise ships can’t access. But if you’re looking for an all-included luxury experience, or just want a little more to do during days at sea, find the cruise that’s right for you.

Read a Windstar Cruise review

Case study: Karen's experience

Karen Green profile photo
Karen Green
Editor

For my first cruise, I went with Windstar for a seven-night Athens, Greece round-trip cruise on the Wind Star ship. Absolutely delicious food — but the entertainment was severely lacking. As a first time cruise passenger, I was starting to get a little bored a few days in and yearning to get off. For the adventurous type, I would advise going for a normal holiday in Europe over being on a cruise — it’s much cheaper and you will have a much better sense of adventure.

About Karen’s cruise

  • Ship sailed: Wind Star

Where do Windstar Cruises’ ships depart from?

Miami and San Diego are Windstar’s main US departure ports, but it also embarks from dozens of cities scattered around the globe.

  • Windstar currently sails from:Baltimore, Barbados, Barcelona, Bermuda, Charleston, Copenhagen, Dover, Fort Lauderdale, Galveston, Honolulu, Jacksonville, London, Los Angeles, Miami, Mobile, New Orleans, New York City, Norfolk, Port Canaveral, San Diego, San Francisco, San Juan, Tampa, Tampa/St.Petersburg, Vancouver, Venice

Windstar Cruises destinations

From ocean crossings to adventures through the Panama Canal, Windstar offers some of the most interesting routes in the biz. Even world-weary travelers who feel like they’ve seen it all might find a spark of wanderlust browsing Windstar’s itineraries. It also offers themed cruises for foodies and Gran Prix super-fans.

  • Here’s where it sails to:Alaska, Bahamas, Baja Mexico, Canada and New England, Eastern Caribbean, Europe, Hawaii, Mexican Riviera, Panama Canal, Southern Caribbean, Transatlantic, Western Caribbean

Who owns Windstar Cruises?

Windstar Cruises is independently owned and operated by The Anschutz Corporation. In fact, this is a feature that sets it apart from the pack. While industry giants like Carnival Corporation and Royal Caribbean — who owned 68% of the market, combined, in 2017 — tend to focus on continuously building bigger and flashier ships, Windstar funnels its resources into curating small group shore excursions that leverage the guidance of local residents, and itineraries that offer authentic insight into each location.

Why you should (or shouldn’t) cruise with Windstar Cruises

Windstar Cruises is best suited for active travelers in search of unique itineraries and immersive port adventures. The experience onboard is fairly casual. Staff calls you by your first name, and forgoes formal nights that require cocktail dresses and suit coats.

Windstar Cruise focuses on the destination, rather than onboard extravagance. Look elsewhere if you’re hoping for nonstop entertainment on deck, late-night parties and lots of organized activities during days at sea.

Pros

  • Small ships dock at niche ports
  • Every suite has an ocean view
  • Water sports that include kayaking, boating and swimming while docked
  • Excursion groups are small
  • High-quality food is often locally sourced
  • Partnerships with James Beard Foundation provides special chef demos, beverage pairings and market tours
  • Fewer crowds on the ship and at port

Cons

  • Cruisers pay for gratuities, alcoholic drinks, Wi-Fi and shore excursions
  • More expensive than larger cruise lines
  • Ships can feel old and outdated
  • Fewer amenities and facilities than on bigger, resort-style ships

In 2018, Windstar Cruises was voted Best Small Ship Cruise Line in the Conde Nast Reader’s Choice Awards. In 2019, Crystal Ocean Cruises beat it by just 0.11 points.

Frequently asked questions

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