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Cruise Ship Information
The largest ships in the Windstar fleet, the Wind Surf carries 312 passengers in luxurious appointments and caters primarily to American couples with an average age of 48. After a general refurbishment in 2006 that updated public spaces, cabins and baths, the Wind Surf will be overhauled again in December 2012.
 
One would think that a "motor sailing yacht," complete with five masts and seven sails, and with a passenger capacity of only 312, would be a small and cozy little ship. But Windstar Cruises' Wind Surf is surprisingly expansive, feeling much bigger inside than one would expect.
 
Club Med 1 was launched in 1989 in Société Nouvelle des Ateliers et Chantiers du Havre, France. Her sister ship Club Med 2 was launched in 1992 in Le Havre, France. Club Med 1 made her maiden voyage in 1990, and sailed for Club Med for 8 years. Then in 1998, Club Med 1 was sold to Windstar Cruises and renamed Wind Surf. The ship was based on Windstar Cruises' smaller 5,350-ton, 148-passenger Wind Star, Wind Spirit and Wind Song motor sailing yachts. All were also built by Société Nouvelle des Ateliers et Chantiers du Havre, France.
 
Windstar Cruises has been owned by various entities, including at one time Holland America Line/Carnival Corp. In 2011, Windstar’s three-ship fleet was acquired by Xanterra Parks and Resorts, a company that manages several storied National Park Service properties. Privately held by Denver-based billionaire Philip Anschutz, Xanterra may have been an ideal match for Windstar. The company set about refurbishing the fleet—$18 million for the three vessels—and in 2013 Xanterra announced it was expanding Windstar by acquiring the three 208-passenger luxury power yachts of Seabourn Cruises, to be phased into the fleet in 2014-15. Suddenly, Windstar Cruises has become a major player in the boutique ship category.
 
In fact, with its twin, Club Med 2 (owned by the Club Méditerranée all-inclusive resort chain), Wind Surf is the largest sailing cruiser at sea.
The 14,745-ton vessel's distinct profile is a familiar sight in the smaller ports around the Mediterranean and Caribbean, ports which larger ships cannot enter. This fact, and the unique onboard ambience fueled largely by the presence of its sails, makes the ship an intriguing alternative to larger, more frenetic vessels.
 
The itineraries are another draw, as they blend calls at major ports with those more off the beaten track. The ship offers Caribbean voyages out of St. Maarten in the winter and spends the balance of the year in the Mediterranean  cruise from Barcelona to Monte Carlo, also stops at Italy's Corsica and Spain's Palamos,the Scilly Isles and Capri.
 
For cruisers who depend on a varied, comprehensive selection of shore excursions, Wind Surf may not be a good fit. Windstar’s appeal was snuggling into offbeat locales. How many other cruise ships park for three hours at the base of an active volcano, serving a delicious al fresco barbecue for dinner on the top deck while smoldering lava tumbles into the sea a few hundred yards away? Most of the islands Wind Surf calls on—the British Virgin Islands’ Jost Van Dyke, Guadeloupe’s Iles des Saintes,  Barbados includes the French West Indies' Iles des Saintes as well as St. Martin.
 
The biggest difference between Wind Surf and the other sailing ships is that its extra space allows for some familiar large-ship amenities while sacrificing little of the twins' reputation for personalized service. So you can chat with the captain and other officers, view the ship's operation from the bridge, and experience "we know your name" service while also participating in casino gambling and spa indulgences.
 
Atmosphere on board 
As a hybrid -- a big ship with a small ship vibe -- Wind Surf is hard to pigeonhole. It's not quite a luxury experience; aside from two suites, no cabins have balconies, bathrooms don't have tubs and room service is limited. Yet it's not mass market, either (you will rarely feel part of a crowd, onboard or off). From port to starboard and is furnished with comfy, casual furniture so you can really relax. Low pillow-strewn banquettes line the walls under the windows, tables are scattered about, and a stage is set up for the combo that plays most evenings and the crew show, which takes place one night during the cruise.
The centrally located Yacht Club replaces the previous library and provides comfortable seating for socializing, reading, doing puzzles and playing games. This is also where you'll find the aforementioned Yacht Club Sandwich Bar. Eight computers with Internet access are available (these take the place of those formerly in the business center); Wi-Fi is also available in most spots onboard. A large flat-screen television anchors a seating area for group gatherings to watch special events such as the Oscars or the Super Bowl. A library of books, CDs and DVDs are available for checkout at no charge.
 
Family with Kids/Teens
indstar's cruises are typically considered voyages for adults. As such, there are no children's programs or facilities onboard their vessels. In fact, on Windstar's website is says "children, especially infants and toddlers, are not encouraged aboard Windstar cruises. The intimate ship size and unregimented atmosphere are adult in orientation and do not provide for the care, supervision, or entertainment of children...Windstar will not accept reservations for infants who will be 24 months or younger at the time their travel with Windstar commences."
 
Past Passenger Programs
Windstar. Multi-tiered programs provide all repeat guests with newsletters and a "welcome onboard" cocktail reception or free drink but then set milestones for additional awards. Most of the major lines among others -- Windstar offer this type of past passenger setup.The Foremast Club is Windstar Cruises' past passenger loyalty program. Please see below for Foremast Club member benefits.
Foremast Club Benefits (you become a member after your first cruise):
5% member-only discount on all voyages
Private cocktail reception with ship officers and Foremast members
Invitations to dine with the Captain and officers
Exclusive member-only private sales throughout the year
Members-only onboard events and private receptions
 
Fitness And Spa
Wind Surf has the most elaborate fitness and spa facilities in the Windstar fleet, outclassing most facilities on other similar-size ships. At the spa, therapists dole out a variety of massages and other treatments in rooms that may look suspiciously familiar: They were created out of regular cabins when Windstar expanded the spa. Various spa packages geared to both men and women can be purchased in advance through your travel agent, with appointment times made once you're on board. Poolside spa services are also available.
 
The ship's glass-walled gym is located on the Top Deck and is surprisingly well stocked for a vessel this size, with four treadmills, four bikes, several step machines and elliptical trainers, a full Cybex weight circuit, dumbbells, a ballet bar, and a rowing machine that uses water resistance. Up on deck, you'll find a schedule of yoga, Pilates, Body Blitz, and self-defense classes for $11 a pop, plus free aerobics, stretching, and abdominals classes.
 
Wind Surf revolve around the water and the ship’s water sports platform (located aft on Deck 2). When the ship is anchored, unfolding stern marinas can be lowered to provide a platform from which a variety of water sport activities can be enjoyed. The ship offers scuba, water skiing, kayaking, sailing and wind surfing. Of course, these activities are subject to weather and sea conditions and swimming is not allowed off of the platform
 
There are two pools on board: one on the Top Deck, beneath the sails, and another in the stern, alongside two hot tubs. Adjacent to the pools are recently installed Balinese sun beds. For joggers, a full-circuit teak promenade wraps around the Bridge Deck. The flying bridge is strung with two-person hammocks, providing a prime relaxation opportunity under the ship's billowing sails. Wind Surf has a full-featured spa offering massage, aroma therapy, facials, hydrotherapy, stress management, hairstyling, manicures, aerobics and fitness programs and sauna (co-ed).
 
The Wind Surf is the only Windstar ship large enough to offer the luxury of a full-service Wind Spa, and highly-trained and competent staff of eight, stand ready to pamper Wind Surf guests from head to toe. Salon services such as haircuts, styling, hair coloring and highlights are all available. Of course, a full range of body treatments, facials and massages are offered, as well as manicures and acrylic nail application. Even though Naomi and her staff will recommend products  to “remedy what ails you”, there is no high-pressure sales pitch commonly found at many cruise ship spas. Each day the Wind Spa offers a “Spa Special” featuring different services at discounted prices.
 
Food & Dining
Ship has two sleek new restaurants, AmphorA and the French-inspired Stella Bistro, wouldn't feel out of place at a European hotel.
 
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. Breakfast and lunch are served in the buffet-style Veranda Cafe.
 
Wind Surf, along with the other pair of ships, is also offering slightly more value, including fancy coffees, bottled water and sodas in cruise fares. Liquor packages are available for those who want an even more inclusive experience.
 
Entertainment
Windstar’s ships relaxed pace and it is not for everyone. They do not provide bingo and horse-racing, hairy chest contest on pool deck, love and marriage games -- you will not find any cabaret singers or flashy dashy Broadway productions. WIndstar attract mosty couples whom prefer to be Casual in their vacations and  Romantic atmosphere, adult couples celebrating anniversaries and honeymooners as well.
There's also is no cruise director on Wind Surf; instead, there are a pair of hosts, a relic from the Club Med days, where "gentils organisateurs" ("gracious hosts" in English) performed that function. Each evening, one of the hosts gives a port information talk in the Lounge around 7 p.m. to learn about the next day's port, the shore excursions, the region and its history (unfortunately, since shore excursions close at 10 a.m. the day before, it's too late to book the tour if you're particularly intrigued by one of the host's descriptions). On the other hand, you do at least get a fairly good overview of the region you're visiting, and the talks are a fun and collegial event before dinner.
 
The Lounge also hosts music, where passengers occasionally will also dance. The once-a-cruise crew show is also held here.
The adjacent casino has approximately 30 slots in denominations from 10 cents to $1, three blackjack tables, one poker table and a roulette wheel. Blackjack was fairly popular on our cruise; most of the slot machines got little use.
In-room Entertainment – The new flat screen LCD televisions and DVD players are wonderful.
 
Staterooms
Wind Surf recently underwent a major refurbishment of cabins and public spaces and the ship's got a distinctly more upscale look to it. Staterooms feature bright colors, premium bedding and sleek furnishings.As part of Wind Surf’s fall 2011 refurbishment, cabins and suites were all given an updated decor, with leather headboards, linen wall coverings, wool carpeting, and new armchairs, art work, lighting features, window coverings, bed cushions, and throws. The second phase of her renovation, in fall 2012, will restyle many of the ship’s public rooms, including the main restaurant, Degrees, the Compass Rose Bar, the Veranda buffet restaurant, the Pool Bar, the main lounge, and the corridors.Wind Surf carries just 312  pampered guests in 154 total staterooms: 31 spacious ocean-view suites, two elegant Bridge Suites, and 122 deluxe staterooms.
 
What that means in real terms is wide-open deck spaces; new services and lots of little extras that make a Windstar cruise remarkable. Suites: 31 deluxe, ocean-view suites, with queen beds (converts to 2 twins). All suites offer 2 bathrooms, a separate dining/sitting area and a 3rd berth.
Staterooms: 123 deluxe, ocean-view staterooms, with queen beds (converts to 2 twins), and a sitting area. Some offer a 3rd berth.
 
Tipping
Windstar automatically adds a hotel service charge of $12 per passenger to each guest's shipboard account on a daily basis. If service exceeds or fails to meet expectations, you may adjust this amount at the end of the cruise. In addition, a 15 percent service charge is automatically added to bar charges and dining room wine purchases. It isn't necessary to tip beyond the $12 per diem, of course, but almost everyone does.
 
Fellow Passengers
Passengers tend to be well traveled and active in mind and spirit, with age ranges from 30 to 80. The ship tends to appeal to folks who like a traditional cruise ship, but want to try a more exotic experience. It also appeals to honeymooners.
 
Our recommendation
Windstar Cruises is overpromising a bit when they position their line as “the leader in small ship luxury cruising.” Both Seabourn Cruises and Silversea Cruises for starters offer a more refined (albeit much more expensive) product. The standard cabins aboard Wind Surf were fine relative to oceanview cabins on mainstream cruise lines, but the accommodations didn’t compare to the entry-level cabins on true luxury ships. It will be interesting to watch how Seabourn’s three smaller ships fare as they are integrated into the Windstar fleet in 2014-15.  Wind Surf, along with the other pair of ships, is also offering slightly more value, including fancy coffees, bottled water and sodas in cruise fares. Liquor packages are available for those who want an even more inclusive experience.
 
The Wind Surf combines the amenities of a cruise ship with the romance and intimacy of a sailing vessel. The ship does not really lend itself to family cruising as there are no organized activities for kids. However, if romance and relaxation are more important than nightlife, organized activities and entertainment options, then Wind Surf should be on your list of cruise choices.