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Windstar's Simple Pleasures

I don’t think life could get better than sitting on the deck of a masted sailing vessel, rum punch in hand, watching the Mexican Riviera Maya slide by at sunset. Magically, the sails from the ship's four masts unfurl and become full in the tropical winds. The ocean wind is therapeutic, and the experience is nothing like that of a large cruise ship, which towers above the ocean more than it sails on it.

s/v Wind Star

Over seven days in December, I sailed on Windstar's flagship Wind Star along the world's second longest barrier reef while visiting intriguing destinations in Honduras, Belize, and Cozumel.

This 440-foot long schooner offers guests an extraordinary way to explore some of the most seductive destinations in the world. I found the crew's personal attention to detail and service outstanding. If you want to get away from the crowds and structure of bigger ships and have a totally relaxing experience, Wind Star won't disappoint.

Staterooms

Below deck, 148 passengers are comfortably accommodated in 74 outside cabins with two large portholes. With the exception of one "Owner's Suite," all cabins are alike with a queen size bed that can convert into two twin beds. Cabin amenities are some of the best I've seen and include comfy extras such as fresh fruit, flowers, VCR, CD player, refrigerator, lighted vanity, and terry cloth robes.

Casual Elegance

Wind Star was designed with the clear vision of making a ship as comfortable as possible. When onboard, you feel more like you are on a private yacht rather than a cruise ship. The use of wood decor makes it cozy, and you have free rein over the restaurants, piano bar, library, casino, sports deck, pool, Jacuzzi, fitness room, and sauna—even the bridge is open twenty-four hours for visits. Also, the onboard culture and dress code is deemed "casual elegance," where men never need a tie or a jacket (however, no jeans, shorts, T-shirts, or athletic shoes are allowed in the dining room).

Those who relish the nightlife might get a little bored though. There is no glitz or glamour aboard Wind Star as bingo games, art auctions, and midnight buffets are absent. The ship is better suited to those who prefer the simple pleasures of gazing at the stars to dancing the night away. There are no big shows, and the live entertainment is understated with just a vocalist and pianist. My husband and I, like most passengers, retired before midnight and checked out videos from the huge library selection to sit back and indulge in Windstar's traditional room service popcorn.

The ship is great for couples, but is not recommended for families as there are no onboard facilities for children. Disabled persons might find it challenging as there are no elevators, and zodiacs, small inflatable boats, are often used to transport passengers between ship and shore.

Service and Cuisine

West Coast restaurateur Joachim Splichal designs Windstar's outstanding cuisine. Breakfast and lunch are served in the Veranda on the vessel's top deck, with both a buffet and menu choices. The exception was while anchored off Roatan, when the crew set out a terrific beach barbeque while guests enjoyed the amenities at a beach resort.

Back onboard, traditional English tea is served daily at the pool bar from 4:00 to 5:00. Cocktail hour is from 6:30 to 7:30 and offers different hors d'oeuvre each evening served personally by executive chef Zomie. Dinner is served with open seating in the restaurant from 7:30 to 9:15. On the fifth evening, the pool deck is transformed for "Tropical Night" into a festive barbeque with unlimited lobster, shrimp, snow crab, roasted pig, and more. Guests are encouraged to wear their most tropical outfit while dining and limbo dancing under the stars. In addition to standard dining, there's 24-hour room service that includes the full dining room menu during meal times.

Activities

This cruise is an adventurers' delight. Tours include the Mayan ruins of Tulum in Mexico, Copan in Honduras, dolphin encounters in Roatan, cave tubing and snorkeling in Belize, and jeep tours in Cozumel. Those who prefer more sedate beach bumming have ample opportunities with access to two remote islands, in Belize.

The aft water sports platform enables guests to swim and easily partake in complimentary activities such as windsurfing, sailing, snorkeling, banana boat riding, and water-skiing. Windstar is unique in that there are always two certified dive masters onboard offering extensive scuba excursions for beginners and experts.

If You Go

Wind Star is one of three sailing vessels (Wind Surf and Wind Sprit) in Windstar's fleet that has taken passengers on upscale sea adventures for the past 15 years. Wind Star's Belize itinerary is offered only from December through March. Prices range from a low of $1,200 per person in the off-season to over $3,000 per person during the high season. Visit Windstar's website for more details.


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