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My Windstar Experience: Cruising into Monsoons in the Pacific

I travelled from Hong Kong to Shanghai as a guest of Windstar on the Star Legend in March 2019. The journey didn’t go as planned, as we met with the tail end of a nasty, large monsoon in that part of the world for a very long time. However, I enjoyed my trip nonetheless!

 

The Boat

The Star Legend is a luxury yacht owned and operated by Windstar Cruises. With a capacity of only 212 guests, all 106 suites on board have ocean views. The yacht is well-equipped to cater for your every need, with everything from a library, to a fitness centre and spa, to a lounge on board. There are two dining areas – the Amphora Restaurant and the more casual bistro.

Speaking of food – it was phenomenal.  All meals, including those delivered via room service, were included. Breakfast was a buffet; however, they were more than willing to accommodate any special requests. Lunch in the bistro was buffet-style and a la carte, and the main restaurant offered an a la carte menu. In the evenings, the bistro restaurant transformed into a specialty steakhouse. Dinner in the main restaurant featured a rotating roster of qualified, expert chefs from the James Beard Foundation, which is supported by Windstar. No request was too difficult – if you preferred an entrée as a main or vice versa, they were more than happy to accommodate, and any dietary requirements were always catered for.   Windstar occasionally have specialty dining nights on Deck 8 under the stars, weather dependent – alas I wasn’t lucky enough to experience one.

My 70m² room was incredibly spacious, especially as a starting cabin! It had a walk-in robe, a comfortable Queen bed, living area and bath room. Soft drinks, juice and water in the minibar were included, but alcohol was extra. The large window in the suite made for excellent views, and even had a little ledge for sitting, if you just felt like watching the world go by.   The crew and staff were great, even though many of them were exhausted and sea sick from being pummelled by the storms their positive attitudes, smiles and willingness to meet the guests concerns or issues was remarkable.  

 

The Journey

As I arrived in Hong Kong, the weather was a little bit overcast. We were docked overnight in Hong Kong, giving me the chance to explore a little bit of the exciting and vibrant city. We docked at the Ocean Terminal, Kowloon, making the journey into the city quick and easy.  Hong Kong amazed me with the number of high-rise buildings stacked upon each other, with almost no green of any sort.  The buildings just go on and on and on.

Upon setting sail at 4:00pm guests enjoyed cocktails on the upper deck as we departed Hong Kong with cloudy skies and no rain – obviously unaware of what we were heading into! The weather took a sharp turn that night, as we experienced 45 knot winds and 3-5m swells.

Because of the large swells, we arrived into Keelung, Taiwan at 1pm – 6 hours later than we were expected to arrive. This gave us the afternoon to explore Taipei, the quirky but interesting capital of Taiwan. Due to our late arrival, we had initially planned to spend extra time in Taipei in the morning and then head back towards mainland China. Unfortunately, we had to cross into Japanese waters before we could venture into China, meaning more time at sea and less excursions. Our Japan stop at Ishigaki Island had been cancelled as Ishigaki Port had been closed due to high winds.

The following two days at sea were rough, though a great improvement on the first night and they were great for relaxation. Thankfully, the seas had eased enough for some activities to go ahead, I went to a cocktail making class, which was delicious and a Sake appreciation class – nope, I still don’t appreciate Sake.

As we approached Shanghai, the fog was so thick it had closed Shanghai port, we were lucky enough to pick up our pilot and tug and arrive into Shanghai port during the narrow window the fog had lifted and the port re-opened.  It then quickly closed again behind us.  Finally, we had arrived in Shanghai.  I had a day and a half in Shanghai, I spent the first day at Shanghai Disneyland (I’m now half way through the Disney Parks!). It was certainly an experience listening to Captain Jack Sparrow singing in Mandarin. The next morning, I explored as much of Shanghai as I could in 5 hours before my flight home.  

 

Final thoughts

Sailing through the worst storm most of the crew had ever seen certainly wasn’t what I expected.  It was a baptism of fire into cruising!  The luxury and comfort of my room along with the excellent food and amenities provided on board turned this trip around!