Sailing ship cruises offer an intimate experience that connects you with wind and wave while providing a closer view of marine life and ship operations. It can be an exhilarating experience, feeling the power of the wind as it fuels your voyage. However, it is reassuring to know that these ships also have engines that are quite capable of keeping you on course should the wind not cooperate.
Passengers often participate in some of work that goes into sailing, and many people return from their cruises with new enthusiasm for sailing. There is much less formality aboard sailing ships than on the typical cruise liner as passengers come to know and make friends with the crews, as well as fellow shipmates. For the most part, the ships have all the accommodations for dining, lounging and, yes, even partying, but it’s all more relaxed and smaller.
There is a quite a variety of sailing ships offering cruise vacations, and travelers can find as much or as little luxury as they want to afford, particularly as it relates to their private cabins or communal berths. Sailing ship vacations also offer opportunities to visit smaller ports that may not be tourist traps because the larger cruise ships do not call there.
Itineraries are available to the Caribbean and Mediterranean, and on ocean crossings. Sailing to these destinations offers opportunities to enjoy destinations in an up-close and intimate way that is not as easily achieved on on traditional cruises.
The largest vessel in the Windstar Cruises fleet, the 14,700-ton, 312-guest Wind Surf is one part sailing yacht and one part upscale cruise ship — small enough to be intimate, large enough to offer a variety of onboard experiences. Launched in 1990 and renovated several times through the years, Wind Surf wears her years well, kept in beautiful condition by crews and officers who seem especially dedicated to her.
Long done up in traditional yachting decor, she’s currently in the midst of a major refurbishment that will completely update her interiors, starting with her staterooms and suites in fall 2011 and concluding with her public areas in fall 2012. Expect a more high-end boutique feel, emphasizing earth tones and elegantly clean lines.
Onboard Wind Surf
Onboard life centers around the Main Lounge, the Compass Rose Bar, and the other outside decks. The spacious Main Lounge is the spot for dancing, cocktails, port talks, and occasional gala buffet dinners, plus gambling in the casino, which is located in a small adjoining room. The indoor/outdoor Compass Rose is the space in the sail-away / sunset / pre-dinner hour, when many guests wander back to have a drink, catch the breezes, chat amongst themselves, and wave good-bye to the day’s port.The tiny, wood-paneled Terrace Bar is located just next door, with big windows to take in the views. It functions as the ship’s cigar bar in the evenings.
Up top, the open-air Pool Bar faces one of the ship’s two small pools. Inside, on Main Deck, the Yacht Club is a combination Internet cafe, coffee bar, and sandwich shop, with snacks and picnic fixins available throughout the day. It also offers a library of books, CDs, and DVDs for checkout.
Other public spaces include a small spa and a surprisingly large, glass-walled gym. Joggers get a full-circuit track on the Bridge Deck; there are various exercise classes (aerobics, yoga, Pilates, stretching, abs, etc.) offered on the open decks; and sun-worshipers have a variety of attractive nooks, including several Balinese sun beds near the pool and hot tubs.
Wind Surf Dining
For dining, Wind Surf offers more variety than any other ship in the Windstar fleet. Dinners are served in the ship’s comfortable Restaurant, which operates on a casual, open-seating basis — just show up when you’re ready during mealtimes and the maitre d’ will seat you. As an alternative, guests can dine in the cozy Degrees, a reservations-only spot serving a Mediterranean menu. For alfresco dining, there’s Candles for steaks and skewers and Le Marché for seafood. Breakfast and lunch are served in the buffet-style Veranda Cafe.
Wind Surf Cabins
Wind Surf offers two basic accommodation choices: standard outside staterooms and suites. Each standard, 188-square-foot stateroom offers a queen-size bed, TV, DVD/CD player, Bose SoundDock (for use with iPods, your own or one you check out onboard), wi-fi, a small refrigerator, L’Occitane toiletries, adequate storage, and nicely designed bathrooms with granite countertops and teak floors.
Suites are exactly twice the size of the standard staterooms, and add a comfortable sitting area, his-and-hers bathrooms, and an extra TV/DVD. At the top of the food chain are two 500-square-foot “Bridge Suites” on Bridge Deck, each offering a separate bedroom and living/dining area, a walk-in closet, and a marble bathroom with separate tub and shower.
Note that no accommodations on Wind Surf offer balconies: Instead, all staterooms and suites have traditional porthole windows.
Wind Surf is a mid-size luxury sailing ship, with a feeling of being on ones own private sailing yacht. The ship offers the ultimate in luxury yacht cruising. The elegant ship calls on smaller, intimate yachting ports, hidden harbors, and secluded coves away from the crowds. Five Star cuisine is served in The Restaurant, Le Marché outdoor seafood restaurant, or Degrees Bistro, or one can dine al fresco in the poolside Candles grill.
The ships cabins all include iPod docks and Bose speakers, flatscreen televisions, WiFi internet and L'Occitane products. The ship's popular watersports marina features complimentary waterskiing, windsurfing, sailing and kayaking, available in most ports, when the ship is at anchor.
Year Built 1990 ♦
Year Refurbished 2006 ♦
Ship's Class: Wind Surf Class ♦
Country of Registry Bahamas ♦
Tonnage 14,700 metric tons (a volume measurement, not weight) ♦
Length 617 ft - 188 m ♦
Cruising Speed 12 knots ♦
Passenger Capacity (double occupancy) 312 ♦
Passenger Capacity (maximum occupancy) 362 ♦
Passenger Decks 6 ♦
Officers and Crew 191 ♦
Officer's Nationality European ♦
Crew and Hotel Staff Nationality International ♦
Passengers to Staff Ratio 1.63 to 1
Total 156 ♦
Suites with Balcony 2 ♦
Suites without Balcony 31 ♦
Oceanview with Balcony 0 (none) ♦
Oceanview without Balcony 123 ♦
Inside 0 (none) ♦
Accessible Cabins (all categories) 2 ♦
Windstar Cruises' cabins are elegant, comfortable sailing ship cabins, with traditional porthole windows. Amenties in all cabins include luxury bedding, a personal refreshment bar, luxury bath products, bathrobe and slippers, satellite TV programming, and complimentary room service.
TV with music channels ♦
CD Player ♦
iPod Dock ♦
In-Cabin Movies ♦
In-Cabin Internet Access ♦
Private Safe ♦
Open-seating dining in The Restaurant, with gourmet cuisine ♦
Specialty Restaurant: Le Marché, Degrees Bistro, Candles - outdoor dining ♦
There is no traditional 1st and 2nd sitting on Windstar Cruises cruise ships ♦
Dress code on Windstar Cruises is elegant casual, no jacket required, and there are no formal nights ♦
24 Hour Food Service Available
Bars and Lounges ♦
Sports and Activities
Outdoor Pool ♦
Fitness Center ♦
Outdoor Fitness Track ♦
Watersports Marina - for sailing, kayaking, swimming or waterskiing right from the ship when in port
Spa and Wellness
Full Service Spa ♦
Sauna or Steam Room ♦
Beauty Salon ♦
Children and Teens
There are no organized activities for children and teens
Other Facilities and Services
Duty Free Shop and Boutique ♦
Dry Cleaning and Laundry Service ♦