We had the opportunity to cruise on the newly stretched and total refurbishment Star Breeze, from August 14 to 21. The cruise was from Barbados to Aruba and scheduled to visit numerous islands. Covid cut our itinerary to only 2 islands but no one seemed to care as the ship was the destination for about 140 very experienced cruisers, ourselves included.
Just a quick comment about traveling in general right now – you need to be fluid and prepared for forced changes. Airport to the port in Barbados took about 3 hours, and the wait time from the outside of the airport line to the gate in Aruba can run 4 hours. These wait times are all due to covid paper work and test verifications.
After going through all of the necessary lines in Barbados airport our Windstar representative greeted us outside of the baggage area for our transfer to the ship.
Barbados requires a very recent PCR test to enter the country. On the ride to our ship we learned several people had presented their CVS test results only to have them reject and they had to get re-tested in the airport terminal. Please save yourself and everyone around you time by having all of your paper work filled out.
On arrival at the port we were quickly transferred to what seemed like a new ship from the outside. As soon as we entered the ship I realized this was not just a new carpet refresh job, but a major change. But what hasn’t changed are the smiling faces of the fantastic crew that Windstar is well known for and a glass of champagne. After quickly going through the formalities and a painless Antigen test we were then taken to our suite.
This being our second cruise since the restart we are now used to changes and being fluid, so hearing that we will need to wear masks as we move around the ship came as no shock. By the way we and everyone else took this and the itinerary changes in our stride.
Our suite was one of the new ones and done exceptionally well. It was 277 sq ft with a “French Balcony”. We have forgotten these cabins seem wider than today’s luxury suites and seem more spacious. With a full size sofa versus a love set you can really feel the difference. Your Smart TV has everything you need on it – menus, reservations, tours, daily programs, TV and movies. A fully stocked bar and fresh fruit are standard in all suites. There is nice walk in closet with more than ample space and the bathrooms are great with two sinks and fantastic water pressure in the shower. You will love these suites – on par with any top luxury ship!
As you walk in the hallway you realize this was a total redo of a ship that is actually better than new. Today there a total of 50 new suites and 106 refreshed existing suites. The standard suites, such as ours, 277 sq ft, with French Balconies total 62, 64 window suite are also 277 sq ft, 10 Porthole suites also 277 sq ft perfect for staff, and 9 suites ranging in size from 400 to 820 sq ft. The old suites have totally been redone as well with totally new bathroom units, new furniture, totally redone wood work and wall coverings, they are in fact new as well. An added feature are numerous standard suites can be combined to create additional suites of 554 sq ft.
The ship has totally been redone and equally important so has the engine room and greatly enhanced crew quarters. You will find a full set of pictures with this review and judge for yourself how they have done.
Our fellow passengers where mainly past passengers, Seabourn, Regent, Silversea and Oceania past passengers. The common comment we heard was how great and happy the crew were. I must admit these ladies and gentlemen were as good as any ship in the world. They remembered our names, what we like to drink at breakfast and at the bar or coffee shop. Rooms were cleaned when we were out, always, never an interruption. We also had the pleasure of joining the crew in celebrating Indonesian Independence Day which was unique and fun.
One of the major changes was to the now extended pool deck area. This was an excellent job of adding a glass faced pool and Jacuzzi. This is a very large area that can handle the entire ship for buffet dining, cocktail receptions or dessert under the stars. The have full equipment for dining or high tops for parties.
Public Rooms all have been totally redone and include two lounges used for evening entertainment – the Compass and the Lounge. On most nights there is live music nightly and presentations during the day. The Yacht Club is the coffee shop and all day snack bar – it is a great room at the top of the ship.
The Star Bar and Grill on the upper deck looking over the pool deck is an all day pool bar and outdoor lunch and dining venue. The menu here features BBQ, smoked meals and Rotisserie items by BBQ Guru Steven Raichlen and is fantastic with a rotating selection of great smoked or grilled items during lunch and dinner. The very special equipment required makes this a MUST try dining venue.
Veranda on the stern of the ship is totally redone and expanded breakfast and lunch buffet outlet with plenty of outdoor dining. The meals here are great and have plenty of options, there is also ala carte service available for lunch and dinner as well. So with the Star Grill and the Veranda you have two venues for outdoor dining for lunch and dinner which we really enjoyed.
Candles is the Veranda at night with china and table clothes. This is a Windstar signature Dining venue that is very much like a steakhouse. The food is excellent as is the service. A most enjoyable experience dining under the stars however with bad weather it can move indoors.
Now for something entirely different! Cuadro 44. This entirely new restaurant to Windstar and to the Cruise Industry in general is the brain child of Anthony Sasso a Michelin Star Chef from Spain. This brand new outlet is already up for a major industry award for its interior which brings back vivid memories of Spain. 44 is an excellent foodie tour of Spain from north to south. The menu is extremely creative and brings the best of Spain to your table on the Breeze. We loved it!
Before I mention the main dining room, Amphora, here is some great news! All dining rooms are included in the price of your cruise and as many times as you want. One exception is a huge Flintstone ribeye that carries and extra charge. There also two Signature dining events as well included in the cruise fare – a fantastic beach bbq that is more than just a “bbq”. And Dining under the Stars is a buffet style dinner on the pool deck with live music and dancing – a very fun evening. Two more opportunities for outdoor dining.
Amphora is the main dining on the Breeze and in my opinion the most elegant one in the entire fleet. Primarily only open for dinner this is typical main dining room type of menu you’ll find on most up market cruise line. With a nightly specials, and a list of every night selections. There is a twist here. Each night a different James Beard wining chef has a selection for starters, main course and desserts which made for a very interesting dining experience each night.
Dining on the Breeze is a real diverse pleasure with Cuadro 44 being a very original surprise. Don’t worry about attire this is a very relaxed cruise with no formal wear or sport jackets required.
The Star Breeze is not an all inclusive ship however you can make that way for what I think is a nominal charge. It’s really up to you. The pricing very competitive for a real luxury ship. We highly recommend you consider the Breeze.
In a very short time two sister ships of the Star Breeze will be in service. These ships will be available all over the most popular incentive destinations very soon.
Steve Bloss Aug 31, 2021