Windstar Cruises operates 3 sailing ships and, as of 2014, 3 small, almost yacht like ships which previously sailed under the Seaborn name. They are an upscale line noted for casual luxury. Traditionally they have focused on Europe and the Caribbean. Just this year they have expanded to the South Pacific and they are planning more coverage as they add the Seaborn ships to their fleet.
Life on Board - Windstar Cruises has an interesting tag line:
Far from the crowds, 180 degrees from ordinary
Tall billowing sails – brilliant blue seas – sun-drenched teak decks. And you, aboard a graceful sailing ship that’s large enough to pamper and entertain you, yet small enough to tuck into tiny harbors and hidden coves where no one else can go. This feels like life on your own private yacht.
With only 148 to 310 passengers, a Windstar sailing cruise offers one of the most unique small-ship voyages in the world – a voyage 180 Degrees From Ordinary.
The beautiful lightness of sailing
Experience a take-your-breath-away moment as your ship unfurls her sails to a swell of music, great expectations, and gentle winds. The breeze gently fills the sails, carrying you across shimmering blue sea, and your spirit soars.
This feels like your own private yacht
Large enough to provide all the creature comforts and entertainment you expect on your cruise, yet small enough to take you into hidden harbors that others simply can’t get to, your Windstar yacht is the best of all worlds.
Completely renovated, sumptuously stylish
All new, utterly chic, and lavishly comfortable, debuting for spring 2012 – enjoy new furnishings and finishings throughout the fleet. From incredibly plush bedding to sleek new contemporary designs, what you love about Windstar is now better than ever.
Casual elegance surrounds you
Leave your formal clothes at home – but bring your highest expectations. With a perfect blend of ease and delight, enjoy the relaxed luxury of yachting and the untethered freedom of sailing. Stylish comfort and perfect panache.
Personal service pampers you without pretense
A cool towel greeting you after a day in the sun. A perfect cappuccino, made to order, without an order. Fresh flowers in your stateroom. A genuine smile on every face. Making your voyage perfect is the one and only order of the day.
World-class dining indulges you
From your made-to-order omelet on deck to your candle lit dinner under a star-filled sky, the cuisine is as spectacular as the setting. Add the elegant informality of open seating to world-class menus, superior wine list, and impeccable attention to your personal palate. Every meal is a memory.
Engaging destinations share their secrets
Windstar’s small sailing yachts will take you where others can’t. Often, it’s because others can’t reach these charming ports and secret coves. And sometimes it’s because these are places known only to yachtsmen – and now, to you.
Ships - Windstar has three ships at this time - Windspirit, Windstar, and Windsurf. Spirit and Star are sister ships that accommodate 148 guests. Surf is larger with room for 310 guests. All three are a combination of motor and sail. The sails are very high tech and can be deployed at the touch of a button. While they are occasionally used to propel the ships they are more often a help rather than the sole way to get around.
Cabins on all three are all ocean view and large (188 sq ft for standard cabins). Decor is modern luxury.
Starting in 2014 the company will be adding three small (100 passenger) ships now sailing with Seabourn.
Itineraries - most of their itineraries are in Europe (Mediterranean and Northern Europe) in the summer and the Caribbean in the winter. Starting in 2013 they are offering a series of itineraries in the South Pacific.
Prices - like many companies with a luxury orientation, Windstar has lowered their prices over the last several years. There is very little variation in cabins (all standard cabins are ocean view and 188 sq ft) or their prices - the price changes a little depending on the deck and the location (fore or aft). You can expect fares around $400 per person per night for most of their discounted voyages (which is to say most every voyage planned at this time).
Evaluation - Windstar Cruises is first and foremost a small ship experience which combines luxury with a casual atmosphere. Second, it is a different experience in that they are sailing ships. They are not the kind of sailing experience that gives you the opportunity to climb the mast and help furl (or unfurl) the sails. You just relax with a cocktail as the sails set by a motor. The itineraries, like many small ships, will feature smaller ports not frequented by the big ships. With the prices as they are today (often 50 to 60% off list) Windstar is a worthwhile experience.
Sample Itineraries - here are some examples of current itineraries.