The Windstar Cruises fleet is unique among cruise lines – it has a distinctive split between two classes of ship, but offers a very similar experience across them all.
If you know a little about Windstar then you’ll know about one of the key defining features of half the fleet, but in this guide I’m going to take you through all of the ships, explaining what makes them unique, and we’ll find out if there’s a single ship that’s the best.
How many ships does Windstar Cruises have?
There are currently six ships in the Windstar Cruises fleet – three ships in the Wind Class that use sails, and three Star Class ships that used to sail for Seabourn, and joined the fleet since 2014. A former Wind-class ship sank in 2003.
Windstar Cruises was known for over 20 years as the cruise line with ships that had authentic working sails. And those ships do still sail for the cruise line.
However, the more recent addition of three sail-less cruise ships doubled the size of the fleet and helped reshape the cruise line to one that is now best known for the luxury experiences onboard.
Windstar Ships By Age
Here’s a look at all of the Windstar ships by age, from oldest to newest.
|Ship||Class||Year Built||Year Joined Windstar|
|Wind Star||Wind Class||1986||1986|
|Wind Spirit||Wind Class||1988||1988|
|Wind Surf||Wind Class||1989||1998|
|Star Pride||Star Class||1988||2014|
|Star Breeze||Star Class||1988||2015|
|Star Legend||Star Class||1990||2015|
Of the six ships currently sailing for Windstar, only two were built originally for the cruise line – Wind Star, and Wind Spirit.
The third Wind-class ship, Wind Surf, was actually originally built for Club Med and sailed as the Club Med 1, after being originally built under the name La Fayette. Nine years later, she was sold to Windstar and adopted the name Wind Surf.
How old are the Windstar ships?
The Windstar ships are all more than 30 years old, having been built between 1986 and 1990. However, thanks to careful renovation and consistent maintenance, they don’t show their age – they are still some of the most luxurious ships sailing the world.
That’s helped by their smaller size – it’s easier to maintain the ships of this. So while the ships certainly have a classic feel to them, especially the sailing ships, they don’t feel worn or tired.
What is the newest Windstar ship?
The newest ship sailing for Windstar Cruises is the Star Legend. She’s both the youngest ship, having been built in 1990, and the most recent to join the fleet alongside Star Breeze, when both were transferred from the Seabourn fleet.
Windstar Ships By Size
Let’s take a look at the Windstar ships ranked by size, from biggest to smallest.
|Ship||Gross Tonnage (GT)||Length||Width||Passenger Capacity|
|Wind Surf||14,745 GT||187 m / 617 ft||20 m / 66 ft||342|
|Star Pride||12,995 GT||159 m / 522 ft||19 m / 63 ft||312|
|Star Breeze||12,995 GT||159 m / 522 ft||19 m / 63 ft||312|
|Star Legend||12,995 GT||159 m / 522 ft||19 m / 63 ft||312|
|Wind Star||5,307 GT||134 m / 360 ft||15.8 m / 52 ft||148|
|Wind Spirit||5,307 GT||134 m / 360 ft||15.8 m / 52 ft||148|
The Wind Surf is the largest ship in the fleet, although the identical Star-class ships aren’t too much smaller.
What is the smallest Windstar ship?
The Wind Star and the Wind Spirit share the title of smallest ship in the Windstar fleet. Both are exactly the same size with a volume of just 5,307 GT – that’s around 2% the size of the largest cruise ship in the world. The two ships have a maximum capacity of just 148 guests.
How many people are on a Windstar ship?
Windstar ships don’t accommodate many guests at all – four of the ships carry between 300 and 350 passengers at maximum occupancy, while the two smallest ships in the fleet have space for only 148 passengers.
The experience across the Windstar ships is broadly the same, but there are some differences beyond just the size and age. Let’s look at accommodation options first.
Do Windstar ships have balconies?
The older Wind-class ships in the Windstar fleet don’t have balconies, even for the top-level suites on the ship. On the newer Star-class ships, many of the suites offer balconies, although some are only French balconies with no space to actually sit outside.
This is one of the biggest differences between the ships and is likely to influence your decision most when booking a Windstar cruise. Most modern cruise ships have at least some balcony stateroom or suite options – so for the Wind-class ships to offer none could be a dealbreaker for you.
It’s worth noting that there are no Inside categories across any ship in the Windstar fleet – you will always have some form of ocean view.
Wind Spirit and Wind Star
These identical ships have the fewest choices for accommodation. They each have:
- 73 x Deluxe Ocean View Staterooms with a picture window
- 1 x Owner’s Suite, which again has picture windows
Suggested read: What Is A Picture Window On A Cruise?
The Wind Surf has four different categories of accommodation:
- 150 x Deluxe Ocean View Staterooms (with a picture window)
- 10 x Deluxe Ocean View Suites (with picture windows)
- 2 x Deluxe Ocean View Bridge Suites (with picture windows)
- 1 x Officer’s Suite (with picture windows)
The Deluxe Ocean View Bridge Suites are, as the name implies, close to the bridge on the ship, while the Officer’s Suite is situated amongst the officer’s quarters. So if you want to stay amongst the action of the ship, these are definitely interesting choices.
Star Pride, Star Breeze & Star Legend
These ships are all-suite – there are no regular staterooms onboard. The options are:
- 10 x Star Porthole Suites (with a porthole window)
- 58 x Ocean View Suites ( with picture windows)
- 21 x Star Ocean View Suites (with picture windows)
- 36 x Balcony Suites (with French balconies)
- 22 x Star Balcony Suites (with French balconies)
- 3 x Deluxe Suites (with French balconies)
- 2 x Classic Suites (with veranda)
- 4 x Owner’s Suites (with veranda)
When I cruised on Star Legend, I stayed in a Star Ocean View Suite. The room eas incredibly spacious with a bedroom, living room, walk-in closet and bathroom with two sinks.
Despite their smaller size, all of the Windstar ships offer a choice of dining options. There are at least three restaurants on every ship, along with the option of in-room dining.
But some of the ships have additional, speciality restaurants. Here’s a quick breakdown of the dining options across the fleet:
|Restaurant||Cuisine/Style||Open For||Wind Surf||Wind Star & Wind Spirit||Star-class ships|
|Amphora||Main Dining Room – varied||Dinner||YES||YES||YES|
|Candles||Speciality – varied||Dinner||YES||YES||YES|
|Yacht Club||Sandwich Bar||Breakfast, Lunch||YES||no||YES|
|Star Grill||BBQ||Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner (occasional)||no||no||YES|
|Deck BBQ||BBQ||One Dinner Per Cruise||YES||YES||YES|
|In-Room Dining||Room Service||24/7||YES||YES||YES|
Amphora is the main dining room across the Windstar fleet. It only serves dinner, unlike the main dining rooms on many other cruise lines. It offers a wide-ranging menu, though you can also order from the room service menu while dining here.
Candles is a speciality restaurant serving a good range of dishes, primarily meat- and seafood-based. There’s no cover charge to dine here, but you do need a reservation.
Veranda is the main casual dining restaurant on the ships, serving breakfast and lunch. A buffet is provided but there’s also a small a la carte selection you can order from.
The Yacht Club features a coffee counter that offers a small selection of continental breakfast items, before then offering sandwiches, cookies and cupcakes through the rest of the day.
Available only on Wind Surf, Stella Bistro is a speciality restaurant serving French cuisine. Again, there’s no extra charge to eat here but you do need to book a table.
The Star Grill is an outdoor (covered) venue on the Star-class ships offering breakfast, lunch and sometimes dinner. Breakfast is continental and includes English muffin options, while lunch is all about hot dogs, burgers and a buffet of grilled items.
This is a Spanish-themed restaurant for dinner, available on the Star-class ships. Dishes are primarily focussed on seafood and pork, with some vegetarian choices too. Tapas are available.
Once per cruise (itinerary dependent) there will be a BBQ served on deck with a party atmosphere. Steaks, chicken and more will be grilled to order for you.
Each of the ships offers 24/7 in-room dining, with a wide range of choices including salads, snacks and meals.
Entertainment is one area where the ships aren’t really that different. Windstar Cruises keep the evening entertainment fairly relaxed, with live music and dancing in the lounges, and the crew showing off their range with their own talent show too.
Daytime entertainment across the ships tends to include lectures from guest speakers across varied topics, many of which will be tied into the itinerary or the local culture.
There are also cooking demonstrations on cruises too, where guests can learn tips on preparing the gourmet quality food that they’d be served at dinner.
Each of the ships also has a watersports platform, offering lots of fun opportunities to try kayaking, snorkelling and more. The platform is only used on certain itineraries but guests can still borrow the snorkelling equipment when they go ashore as well.
There are also lots of board games, chess and jigsaws that guests can use throughout the day.
The only real difference between the ships is in the size of the venues – the Wind Surf and the Star-class ships have bigger lounges and more spacious bar areas. But the entertainment program is essentially the same.
Here’s a breakdown of the destinations visited by every ship. Bearing in mind that these could change for future cruise seasons.
The Wind Surf is scheduled to sail in the Mediterranean for the next couple of summers. Some itineraries are focussed across the Med while others primarily sail around Italy. In the winter months, the ship crosses the Atlantic to offer exciting Caribbean sailings.
The Wind Star is another ship that cruises around Europe during the summer, but she instead sails mostly around the Greek Isles, with some port visits to Turkey. During the winter she crosses the Atlantic but her sailings are focused more on Central America including the Panama Canal.
The Wind Spirit is another ship to offer a variety of sailings around the Greek Isles, but some of her cruises also head to the Adriatic Sea and explore Italy, Croatia and Montenegro. During winter months she sails the Caribbean from Barbados.
Star Pride has a great selection of cruises to choose from. Some are purely focussed on Iceland, sailing around the country to explore smaller ports. She also heads across the Atlantic for Canada & New England sailings, before travelling down to the Caribbean and Central America.
Most of the Star Breeze’s sailings are based around Tahiti and other islands in the South Pacific. But before she bases herself there long-term, she has cruises available in Alaska, East Asia (primarily Japan) and then Australasia.
The Star Legend is another ship with lots of varied cruise itineraries to choose from. She has cruises across Europe (including the Greek Isles, the Med, Northern Europe and the UK), along with cruises around the Middle East.
Do Windstar Ships Actually Sail?
The Wind-class ships in the Windstar fleet – Wind Surf, Wind Star and Wind Spirit – do have working sails and they do use them in favourable conditions. But sometimes the ship relies on typical engine power.
Guests have described the experience under full sails as magical, and explained how the ship is super-quiet, making for a really peaceful experience.
What Is The Best Windstar Ship?
The best Windstar ship depends on what you’re looking for. If you want the classic sailing ship experience, choose a Wind-class ship – Wind Surf is the biggest but carries twice as many guests. If you want the most modern ships, choose the Star-class ships.
Some passengers will prefer the very small ships of the Wind Star and Wind Spirit, but others may prefer the wider range of dining choices on the other ships. And if you want a balcony for your room, you’ll need to choose a Star-class ship – and make sure you get a top suite if you want a full veranda.
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While the newer Star-class ships don’t have the classic sails of the Wind-class, they have been renovated to offer the same onboard experience as the other ships in the Windstar fleet. As such, the typical experience you’ll have with Windstar doesn’t vary greatly regardless of the ship you’re on.
If you really want to try the sailing experience then go for a Wind-class ship, but otherwise all six offer fantastic food and service, so the destination, date and price might be the biggest factors in your decision.
I recently cruised on Star Legend and had a wonderful time. Read my Windstar Cruises review to see what it was like.
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