Windstar Cruises Review: Cruise Ship Guide, Itineraries, Bookings & Deals

Windstar Cruise Ships, operated by Windstar Cruises, offer travelers a unique and luxurious sailing experience that sets them apart from traditional cruise lines. With a fleet of elegant sailing yachts and luxury motor yachts, Windstar Cruises has carved a niche in the industry for those seeking intimate and immersive voyages that combine the charm of traditional sailing with modern amenities and exceptional service. Windstar Cruise Ships feature a fleet of small, elegant vessels that offer a distinctive sailing experience. From the graceful sailing ships with billowing sails to the luxurious motor yachts, each vessel is designed to provide guests with a personalized and intimate cruising experience. The small size of the ships allows for access to ports that larger cruise ships cannot reach, offering travelers a unique perspective and the opportunity to explore off-the-beaten-path destinations.

In a Nutshell…

  1. Fleet Diversity: Windstar Cruises operates a fleet of six small ships, including three sailing cruise ships and three power yachts.
  2. Intimate Experience: These small ships carry fewer than 350 passengers, ensuring an intimate and personalized cruise experience.
  3. Iconic Wind Class: Windstar’s Wind Class includes two sailing ships:
    • Wind Surf: The flagship sailing ship with 342 guests and 171 staterooms.
    • Wind Star: Sails with just 148 pampered guests in 74 staterooms.
    • Wind Spirit: Also sails with 148 pampered guests in 74 staterooms.
  4. All-Suite Star Plus Class: Windstar’s Star Plus Class features all-suite ships:
    • Star Pride: Welcomes 312 guests in 156 suites, including Owners’ Suites, Classic Suites, Deluxe Suites, Ocean View Suites, Balcony suites, and Star Porthole Suites.
    • Star Breeze: Similar suite configuration, accommodating 312 guests.
    • Star Legend: Another all-suite ship with the same capacity.
  5. Immersive Itineraries: Windstar visits approximately 260 ports across 60 countries, offering unique and off-the-beaten-path experiences.
  6. James Beard Foundation Partnership: Known for its innovative culinary program as the Official Cruise Line of the James Beard Foundation.
  7. World’s Best Midsize-Ship Ocean Cruise Line: Voted by readers of Travel + Leisure in 2022.
  8. Custom-Crafted Journeys: Windstar’s personalized approach brings travelers closer to each destination.
  9. Tahiti and Norwegian Fjords: Whether island-hopping in Tahiti or cruising the Norwegian fjords, Windstar offers diverse itineraries.
  10. Legendary Hospitality: Windstar Cruises is part of Xanterra Parks & Resorts, known for “Legendary Hospitality with a Softer Footprint”.

History of The Windstar Cruises

  1. Founding and Early Years:
    • Windstar Cruises was founded in 1984 by ship entrepreneur Karl G. Andrén. His vision was to create a unique sailing experience for travelers.
    • The inaugural ship, Wind Star, embarked on its maiden voyage in 1986. It was followed by two more sailing ships: Wind Song (launched in 1987) and Wind Spirit (launched in 1988).
  2. The Wind Class Fleet:
    • Windstar’s initial fleet consisted of these three sailing ships, each designed to offer an intimate and personalized cruising experience.
    • In addition to the original trio, Windstar ordered two more ships from the French shipyard: Wind Surf and Wind Saga.
    • These larger vessels were over 660 feet (200 meters) in length, significantly larger than the initial 440-foot (130-meter) ships.
  3. Holland America Line Acquisition:
    • In 1987Holland America Line (HAL) purchased 50% of Windstar Sail Cruises, followed by acquiring the remaining shares in 1988.
    • HAL, a subsidiary of Carnival Corporation, became the parent company of Windstar Cruises.
    • Interestingly, HAL had the option to continue building the Wind Surf and Wind Saga but chose not to. Instead, these larger ships were eventually built for Club Med.
  4. Club Med Ships and Windstar’s Acquisition:
    • The two larger ships, originally intended for Windstar, were repurposed for Club Med as Club Med I and Club Med II.
    • HAL/Carnival retained rights of first refusal for purchase.
    • In 1998, Windstar acquired the sail cruiser Club Med I from Club Med Cruises and renamed it back to its original name: Wind Surf.
  5. Ownership Changes:
    • In March 2007, Carnival sold Windstar to Ambassadors International for $100 million.
    • However, Ambassadors International filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in 2011.
    • The Anschutz Corporation won Windstar Cruises in a bankruptcy court auction with a bid of $39 million.
    • Today, Windstar is a subsidiary of the Xanterra Travel Collection.
  6. Recent Expansions and Acquisitions:
    • In 2013, Windstar completed the purchase of Seabourn Cruise Line’s three ships: Star PrideStar Legend, and Star Breeze.
    • These acquisitions expanded Windstar’s fleet and allowed for new itineraries, including voyages to Iceland, the Panama Canal, and Costa Rica.
    • Windstar Cruises now operates a fleet of six luxury vessels, including both sailing yachts and power yachts.
  7. Timeless Luxury and Renowned Reputation:
    • Despite their age (built between 1986 and 1990), Windstar’s ships remain luxurious due to meticulous renovation and consistent maintenance.
    • Their smaller size contributes to the intimate experience, making them some of the most sought-after ships in the world.

Destinations of Windstar Cruises

Windstar Cruise Ships are renowned for their itineraries that cover a wide range of destinations across the world’s oceans and seas. From the sun-soaked shores of the Caribbean to the enchanting landscapes of the Mediterranean, Windstar Cruise Ships offer an array of captivating destinations to satisfy every traveler’s wanderlust.

In the Caribbean, the Windward and Leeward Islands are a popular choice, with their pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and vibrant local cultures. Passengers can explore the picturesque islands of St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, and Antigua, discovering hidden coves, lush rainforests, and historical landmarks along the way.

For those seeking a taste of European charm, Windstar Cruise Ships sail to the Mediterranean, where ancient history and breathtaking beauty converge. Passengers can wander through the winding streets of Santorini, marvel at the iconic architecture of Barcelona, or soak up the rich cultural heritage of Venice. The Mediterranean offers a tapestry of experiences, from sampling delicious regional cuisine to exploring ancient ruins and picturesque coastal villages.

Windstar Cruise Ships also venture to Northern Europe, where passengers can witness the awe-inspiring beauty of the Norwegian fjords or experience the vibrant cities of Scandinavia. From the stunning landscapes of Iceland to the captivating history of St. Petersburg, these itineraries offer a unique blend of natural wonders and cultural treasures.

For those with a sense of adventure, Windstar Cruise Ships navigate the waters of Southeast Asia, taking passengers to exotic destinations such as Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia. From the bustling streets of Bangkok to the tranquil beauty of Halong Bay, these itineraries allow travelers to immerse themselves in the rich cultures and diverse landscapes of this enchanting region.

In addition to these popular destinations, Windstar Cruise Ships also sail to other remarkable corners of the world, including Central and South America, the South Pacific, and even the Arctic. These itineraries offer an opportunity to explore the wonders of the Galapagos Islands, witness the grandeur of Antarctica, or discover the cultural heritage of Panama and Costa Rica.

Windstar Cruise Ships are renowned for their intimate size, allowing them to access smaller ports and hidden gems that larger ships cannot reach. This enables passengers to experience a more personalized and immersive journey, often venturing off the beaten path to uncover the true essence of each destination.

Windstar Cruise Ships offer an extensive range of captivating destinations, allowing passengers to explore the world’s most breathtaking and culturally rich regions. Whether you seek the sun-soaked beaches of the Caribbean, the ancient wonders of Europe, or the exotic allure of Southeast Asia, Windstar Cruise Ships provide an unforgettable travel experience. Step aboard and set sail on a remarkable journey that will leave you with lasting memories and a deep appreciation for the beauty and diversity of our world.


Guests aboard Windstar Cruise Ships can expect a relaxed and sophisticated onboard experience. The ships are beautifully appointed, with well-adorned public rooms that exude classic elegance while still offering modern amenities. From cozy lounges to inviting coffee bars and lounges, guests can unwind and socialize in stylish surroundings. The onboard entertainment, including live music and guest performers, adds to the vibrant atmosphere onboard, providing guests with memorable evenings at sea.

Dining on Windstar Cruise Ships is a culinary delight, with a focus on creative cuisine and exceptional service. The open-seating AmphorA dining rooms offer a casually elegant dining experience, with a variety of dishes that incorporate regional ingredients and flavors. Guests can choose from a range of dining venues, including buffet restaurants with floor-to-ceiling windows and formal dining rooms that serve traditional entrées alongside innovative dishes. The emphasis on healthy dining options and a variety of menu choices ensures that guests can savor delicious meals throughout their voyage.

Windstar Cruise Ships offer a laid-back and social atmosphere, with a focus on relaxation and socializing. Daily activities are limited, allowing guests the freedom to choose how they spend their time onboard. Whether relaxing in the library, enjoying a cocktail in the Lounge, or dancing the night away in the Compass Rose disco, there is something for everyone to enjoy. The onboard entertainment, including live music and performances, adds to the festive atmosphere onboard, providing guests with evenings filled with music, laughter, and dancing.

Windstar Cruise Ships offer itineraries that showcase some of the world’s most captivating destinations. From the Mediterranean to the Caribbean, guests have the opportunity to explore iconic ports of call and hidden gems while sailing on these elegant vessels. The small size of the ships allows for unique and immersive experiences, with the chance to visit ports that larger cruise ships cannot access. Whether exploring historic cities, relaxing on pristine beaches, or immersing oneself in local culture, Windstar Cruise Ships offer a diverse range of itineraries that cater to different interests and preferences5.In conclusion, Windstar Cruise Ships provide travelers with a sophisticated and intimate sailing experience that combines the elegance of traditional sailing with modern luxury. From the beautifully appointed ships to the exceptional service and culinary offerings, Windstar Cruises excels at providing guests with a memorable and immersive cruise experience. Whether seeking relaxation, exploration, or socializing, guests aboard Windstar Cruise Ships can expect a voyage filled with charm, elegance, and unforgettable moments at sea.

– Reviewed by Contributing Author Silvester Thomson

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N.B. – The information on this review has been compiled by contributing author and Cruise Expert Silvester Thomson for and is provided “as is” for the convenience of online readers. The Sources come from personal opinions, online research on official and unofficial websites, and in some cases with the help of AI generated content. It should not be taken as fact, as it can be mistaken or altered by future ship modifications from the cruise line done after review. does not and cannot verify all information and should not be taken as granted fact. All readers must take measures to find reliable facts by their travel agent or from the official page of the cruise line to verify any doubts.

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