Five Things to Know About Windstar Cruises' Star Pride Cruise Ship
World's Best 2016 Awards Rank: #7 Small Ocean Ship
Best for: Active, culinary-minded cruisers looking for a small, luxury ship at a lower price point
Sails: Africa, the British Isles, The Caribbean, Central America, the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, the Panama Canal
At a Glance: A Travel + Leisure World’s Best 2016 winner, placing seventh in the Small Ocean Ship category. Windstar is best known for its three sailing yachts, but in 2014 and 2015, the line doubled its fleet, taking over and refurbishing three power yacht-style cruise ships from Seabourn. One of them was the Star Pride, and in 2016, the ship received a $4.5 million makeover that included an overhaul of the top-tier suites, the main dining room, and other public spaces, plus the addition of a new counter-current pool. The vibe, however, remains pure Windstar: friendly, casual, and destination-centric.
You’ll Have Room to Spread Out
Cabins in the Star Pride are much larger than they are in Windstar’s smaller sailing yachts, so passengers can feel free to spread out. The elegant earth-toned oceanview suites, accented with splashes of blue, along with fresh flowers and fruit, start at 277 square feet, while the airy owner’s suites are 575 light-flooded square feet. They and the Classic Suites, which start at 400 square feet, are the only cabins onboard with full balconies. (Balcony Suites actually have French balconies.)
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Culinary Experiences Are a Focus
Windstar is now the official cruise line of the James Beard Foundation, so watch for culinary-themed cruises led by James Beard-winning or -nominated chefs like Hugh Acheson. Whether or not a guest chef is onboard, expect to see cooking demonstrations of recipes created by James Beard award winners, as well as a James Beard Foundation Signature recipe on your dinner menu. Off-ship, you can sign up for culinary excursions like a lunch and a tasting at a family-run Sicilian winery or a traditional Moroccan feast in a seaside tent. Or simply tag along with the ship’s chef as he or she shops local markets for ingredients to use in your meal that night.
Local Ingredients Rule
In keeping with the line’s destination-centric philosophy, Windstar’s restaurants put an emphasis on seasonal, sustainable ingredients and regional dishes. For breakfast and lunch, head to the indoor-outdoor Veranda restaurant for the buffet. At night, the space is transformed into Candles, a romantic reservations-only steak and seafood grill. But most nights, you’ll sit down at AmorphA, the main dining room, where you can order inventive dishes like prosciutto-wrapped quail with bread sauce and arctic char with tahini sauce, pomegranate, and walnuts. But the highlight might be the nightly special, made with ingredients bought at port that day. Tip: go light on lunch the day of the decadent once-per-voyage deck barbecue. Between the spread of salads and shrimp and antipasti and the grilled lobster tails and fish jerk chicken, you’ll fill up quick.
Windstar tends to attract younger, more active cruisers. To cater to that crowd, the ship has a fleet of bikes ready for use at port. There’s also a retractable marina off the stern, giving passengers direct access to the sea so they can swim, waterski, kayak, or sailboard when Star Pride is anchored. (No tender needed.) And when the ship is at sea, there’s always the counter-current pool.
Not Every Excursion Will Cost You
Once per cruise, guests are invited to a complimentary Destination Discovery Event on shore. The goal is to give passengers a sense of place and a feeling of authenticity: Think an after-hours concert at the Celsus Library in Ephesus, Turkey or a belly-dancing performance in Tangier.