Vacations are something I look forward to all year round. Truly, one week of holiday ends, I get back to reality, and then I’m already dreaming about where we are headed next. Whether you are celebrating an anniversary, honeymoon (yay!), or just want to get away together, I definitely would suggest looking at small ship cruises.
Although this post is sponsored in partnership with Windstar Cruises, all opinions and views are my own (and my husband’s). We took our first cruise on the Mediterranean Sea with Windstar 8 years ago, and we had an equally fabulous time on our second journey and truly love this cruise line.
Earlier this year, my husband and I toured the Gems of the Leeward Islands on our second journey with Windstar Cruises on the Star Pride. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, and here are some of the reasons why I love small ship cruises.
The Star Pride, which holds 212 passengers and left from San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Whether it’s the crew or the passengers, the atmosphere created by the folks aboard exudes joy. The staff seems happy, and they make a genuine effort to remember your name. Sometimes I ask a person’s name, and it exits my mind as quickly as it entered, so the crew’s capacity to recall is truly impressive.
I live in a small city, and admittedly, I get frustrated when our minor rush hour impedes my drive by 5 minutes. Then I remember that in big cities a commute can be expanded by an hour! That’s a good comparison for any line that appears during small ship cruises. Whether it’s a queue for the tender boat or having to wait to be seated for dinner, the lines really are miniscule. Plus, it gives you a chance to meet other passengers.
Speaking of passengers, another part I enjoy is being surrounded by like-minded travelers. Everyone on board desires the experience of a more intimate cruise, and having people’s purpose coincide with ours was a delight!
Another perk of traveling with Windstar Cruises is their open bridge policy. Guests are welcomed at almost any time (I say almost because there are times – such as docking the boat – when it is closed). My husband was especially excited about talking to the officers about the instruments and they were very kind about answering all of our questions.
My husband, throughly enjoying himself driving the ship. No worries, it was on autopilot!
On our Gems of the Leeward Islands trip, the ports we visited impressed me. Because of the small vessel, we were able to get into areas that aren’t frequented by larger ships. This was especially nice once we got on land and didn’t have to contend with crowds from other ships.
I mentioned tender boats, and if you aren’t familiar with what those are, I’ll share. It’s actually a small boat that takes you from the ship to the dock. There were times when our vessel dropped anchor, and we took a 30ish passenger boat in and out of the port. It was fun to ride the tender and see the views it offered.
Our tender boat docking in Guadeloupe, waiting to take us back to the Star Pride.
When we did drop anchor, the days were filled with fun (weather permitting). Our Star Pride ship offered a Water Sports Platform complete with activities, such as waterskiing, kayaking, and a huge trampoline. They have an expert team of people that implement and oversee the sports, which is such a fun perk of Windstar’s small ship cruises.
A view from the Star Pride out to the Water Sports Platform.
Windstar’s sister sailing ship (right) with the Water Sports Platform open. The Star Pride is in the background on the left.
Bouncing (pun intended!) off of the swim platform idea is the Signature Beach Party. Ours occurred in St. Lucia, where they literally brought everything to shore – the food, the fun and the people (if you chose to do so!). Water sports were offered at the beach, and they had bubble cabanas and chairs for everyone to enjoy the seaside.
Whether you love history, boating or adventure, there are also a variety of excursions offered. Zip lining? Sure! My husband and I went with a small group to test it out. We had a great time whizzing through the rainforest while creating wonderful memories.
My husband and I in the rainforest ready and excited to zip line in St. Lucia!
Bonus: everyone gets their own snorkeling kit complete with flippers to sign out and use. It made for some extraordinary explorations on our own!
Me getting ready to enjoy my snorkeling kit in Martinique.
I can’t say I’m a culinary expert, but one thing I enjoy is eating local and experiencing unique flavors. This really shone through in the dining options. We were able to have semi-personal time with the chef as he did a demonstration (showing us how to make popcorn soup!) and later led us on a tour of the galley. It was so interesting to see how things worked behind the scenes. The bartending staff even got in on the fun and did a mixology demonstration (and tasting!) on the deck.
We enjoyed time with the chef during our tour of the Star Pride’s galley.
A fun blue drink the bartenders showed us how to make.
One thing I especially enjoyed was learning how adamant the chef was about the culinary arts while serving on a small cruise ship. Due to the size of the passenger list, he was able to curate his own menu and also craft dishes created with foods he had purchased on the island that same day if he so desired. I loved that our menu slowly took on its own life day after day. And it was delicious!
Now that I am back to real life, I can honestly say that I enjoy the pace of being on small ship cruises. We felt in no rush to get anywhere. We slept in. We ordered room service. We lounged on the decks with a book. We even learned about nature as we saw flying fish spring up out of the water.
Our lovely room – #305 – on the Star Pride, our home for 11 days on the Caribbean Sea.
It was so refreshing to have the intimate atmosphere of a small ship cruise as my husband and I celebrated our 23rd anniversary. Where to next? I have my sights set on the Barcelona to Rome route, but no matter what route we take, I know that a lovely time is ahead.
Also, my phone was literally dying, but I was able to snag a quick video after our trip of the size comparison between a 2850 passenger ship and our 212 passenger one. Small ship cruises make a big difference!
Curious about my other travels? Just click here to read more. Also, be on the lookout for upcoming posts about the 8 Caribbean Sea islands we visited during our cruise. I can’t wait to share this amazing trip that would be perfect for a honeymoon or celebratory travel!
If you would like more information about Windstar Cruises, be sure to head to their website here or call one of their travel experts at 1-855-614-5687.