Two of the most romantic, cozy-yet-roomy small ships out there, these vessels look chic and have just the right combination of creature comforts and first-class cuisine, along with a casual, laid-back, unstructured atmosphere.
Typical Per Diems: $230-$320+
Wind Spirit sails the Caribbean from St, Martin (winter).
Wind Star sails the Panama Canal from St. Martin (fall)
These are great ships, combining high-tech design with the lines of a gracious private yacht, from their soaring masts to their needle-sharp bowsprits. They're the kind of lived-in, well-sailed vessels that a certain type of passenger latches on to forever and keeps coming back to year after year. In 2010, both ships received a refurbishment that spruced up their interiors and amenities.
All cabins are nearly identical at 188 square feet, with a burgundy and navy color scheme, a flatscreen TV, a DVD/CD player, Bose SoundDocks (usable with Apple iPod Nanos that you can check out from the reception desk), a minibar, a pair of large round portholes with brass fittings, a compact closet, bathrobes, L'Occitane toiletries, and fresh fruit. Like the ships' main public rooms, cabins have wood accents and trim, and are attractive and well constructed. Their square footage exceeds that of most small ships and matches the size of the largest standard cabins on the mainstream ships. Teak-decked bathrooms, rather large for ships this size, are better laid out than those aboard many luxury vessels, and contain a hair dryer and compact but adequate storage space. Another hair dryer (one with enough power to actually dry hair) is stowed out in the main cabin. Both ships have one Owner's Cabin that has a little more breathing room, at 220 square feet.
Although all the cabins are comfortable, cabins amidships are more stable in rough seas -- a rule of thumb aboard all ships. Note that the ships' engines, when running at full speed, can be a bit noisy.
This line is not recommended for passengers with serious disabilities or those who are wheelchair bound. There are no elevators on board, no wheelchair-accessible cabins, and many raised doorsills.
The elegant, dimly lit main restaurant is styled with teak trim and paneling, rope-wrapped pillars, navy blue carpeting and fabrics, and other nautical touches. It's the main dinner venue, though a new second spot is Candles, an intimate poolside grill serving steaks and skewers for about 30 guests a night. The Veranda breakfast and lunch restaurant is a sunny, window-lined room with tables extending outdoors onto a covered deck. You have to go outside on deck to enter the restaurant, so if it's raining, you'll get wet.
There aren't a lot of public areas on these small ships, but they're more than adequate, as passengers spend most of their time in port. The four main rooms include two restaurants, a library, and a vaguely nautical-looking bar/lounge with cozy, partitioned-off nooks and clusters of comfy, caramel-colored leather chairs surrounding a wooden dance floor. This is where passengers congregate for port talks, pre- and post-dinner drinks, dancing, and performances by local musicians and dancers. A second bar is out on the Pool Deck and also attracts passengers before and after dinner for drinks and sometimes cigar smoking under the stars.
The small wood-paneled library manages to be both nautical and collegiate at the same time. Guests can read, play cards, or check out one of the hundreds of DVDs and CDs for use in their cabins. You can surf the Internet and send e-mail in the library; there's also Wi-Fi for laptop users.
Pool, Fitness & Spa Facilities
Each ship has a tiny swimming pool and an adjacent hot tub in the stern. Deck chairs around the pool can get filled during sunny days, but there's always space available on the crescent-shaped slice of deck above, outside the Veranda restaurant, and in a nice patch of deck forward of the bridge. The flying bridge is strung with two-person hammocks, providing a prime relaxation opportunity under the ship's billowing sails.
The ships' small gyms provide elliptical trainers, recumbent bikes, a ballet bar, free weights, and a flatscreen TV -- not bad for ships this size. Deck 4 has an unobstructed wraparound deck for walkers. Massages, facials, and a few other treatments are available out of a single massage room next to the hair salon on Deck 1 (or poolside). Don't fault it just on size, though: One of the best massages we've ever had at sea was aboard Wind Spirit.