windstar-ship-under-sails-at-dusk-bQ – We have been following your Q and A since you started and we thank you for such honest feedback. Our employment situation has changed and I’ve resigned from three Boards, so my wife and I can now start doing several cruises a year. Our plan is to start with one of the small middle-=range lines that offer personal services. In a few years we will work our way up to the more deluxe ships. Our reading is leading us to Windstar. Realizing they do not have new ships, their pricing seems to be extremely reasonable for what they offer in terms of  intimate ships, good itineraries, and a reputation for good food. So what is the down side? And should we be looking at the “sail” boats or the ships they acquired from Seabourn?

A –  Windstar does represent good value and you can do a one week cruise for under $8,000 per couple despite their ships small, yacht-like size. The down side would be that the line is not inclusive so there is no stocked mini-bar, wine is not included, and transfers, gratuities, and cocktails are all at additional cost.Shore excursions as well as drinks are expensive and airfare is normally not included. The price you pay for your cruise is not the price you will pay for your vacation with the potential that the initial cruise fare could double based on your on-board lifestyle.

Our Certified Ship Inspectors have enjoyed Windstar and they have pointed out that itinerary alone can often justify the choice of this line. Their ships can get to ports many of the larger ships have to skip. Drinkers, however, may be disappointed at the constant signing of chits. The food is good but it is not in the same class as the top-rated lines. Personally, we prefer the sailing yachts but do be aware that these ships are rarely under sail. A real plus is Windstar’s staffing with British officers and Indonesian and Filipino crew the norm. Many guests feel that the crew is a significant  part of the Windstar experience. We think your general plan makes sense as long as you are not expecting both five-star service and the type of fellow-passenger it attracts.