My sister and I boarded Windstar Cruises' Star Legend in the port of Piraeus, Athens on a sunny afternoon in October for our eight-night voyage on the Cultural Gems on the Azure Aegean itinerary, visiting Mykonos, Heraklion (Crete), Rhodes, Limassol (Cyprus) and Santorini before returning to Athens for disembarkation.
We arrived at the port with a warm welcome from Christian, our Hotel General Manager, and after our luggage was whisked away to our stateroom, we enjoyed a welcome cold towel and cool drink before stepping on board. We explored our Balcony Suite and met our steward Ekos who looked after us throughout our stay.
The stateroom itself had a French Balcony style - only the Executive Suites and Owners Suites have full balconies - with slippers and bathrobes in the walk-in wardrobe area along with plenty of storage space and a safe, and the bathroom had a shower, twin basins and L'Occitane bath products provided.
There was a flatscreen TV which had a selection of TV channels and movies, and we were able to view the Daily Programme and our onboard account. The minibar is replenished daily with the all-inclusive package (that includes beverages, Wi-Fi and prepaid gratuities) - this package can also be booked on board - and complimentary flasks of water were provided.
No adapters are available on board, so guests must bring their own - but there is a hairdryer provided. Laundry and pressing is also available for an extra charge.
The ship itself is one of the three Star Plus Class ships that was 'stretched' under the USD$250 million Star Plus Initiative which included giving extra space with new bathrooms, a new spa and fitness area, new public areas and dining venue. They carry only 312 guests at full capacity and with a crew to guest ratio of 1.5:1, the service is outstanding - Windstar guests 'are travellers, not tourists,' they quip.
Food (and drink) throughout the ship is outstanding, and I was particularly impressed as there was an American group of guests who only ate plant-based food, and Windstar has plenty of plant-based options - these are available, as well as vegetarian options, in all the restaurants and Yacht Club coffee shop. We even managed to sample a few of the dishes and they were delicious.
Our favourite restaurant however was Candles - the veranda by day for breakfast and lunch, then steak, fish and seafood in the evenings. This required reservations, as did Cuadro 44 - the new Tapas-style restaurant open only in the evening, but both included in your fare. The outdoor Star Bar and Grill served light lunches and snacks, but the menu stayed almost the same throughout with a good choice of salads and burgers.
The main restaurant, Amphora, was only open for dinner and the menu changed daily. The Compass Rose lounge was ideal for pre- and post-dinner drinks with a small band playing for those who wished to dance, and The Lounge held lectures and cooking demonstrations by day, and the famous Crew Show by night - there are some very talented crew members!
Both my sister and I sampled the World Spa by Windstar with complimentary use of the sauna, steam room and warm stone beds - but any treatment is payable. Between us we had a facial, massage and manicure which were fabulous; there is also a hair salon.
At our ports of call we explored the towns ourselves, although excursions can be booked with Windstar depending on the length of stay at the port, and of course, being a small ship we could sail right in to them. We had to tender twice throughout the cruise, but that is part of the experience of ship to shore!