As featured in International Business Times

As featured in Modern Dallas Luxury Magazine

Passenger in front of Windstar Cruises Star Legend

Windstar Cruises: Why a Small Ship Should Be Your Next Vacation

May 04, 20245 min read

Cruising is the perfect blend of relaxation and exploration on the high seas. In recent years, the "large vessels" just keep getting bigger! Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas launched in January 2024 to much fanfare, with 20 decks and capacity for more than 7k passengers! This ship is fully tricked out, even boasting a Cirque Du Soleil type AquaDome for next level entertainment. Meanwhile, as some brands double down on more elaborate experiences, the smaller ships (large yachts, river cruises, etc.) quietly focus on customer service, room size, cuisine and onboard amenities. So, the question remains: small versus a large ship experience? Which is better?

photo collage

I hopped aboard the Windstar Cruises Star Legend in January 2024 for my first voyage in the Mediterranean AND my first experience with a small ship. I had barely heard of the Windstar brand before sailing it, and now I can't seem to shut up about it. I was absolutely delighted with my time aboard Star Legend (where Speed 2 was filmed!). Any experiences you have had with a larger cruise line are irrelevant here...this is a whole new world.

Let's dive into my personal experiences and weigh the pros and cons, shedding light on why I am now obsessed with small ship life.

In January, I arrived in Rome to embark on a 7-day journey to Barcelona for bucket list glimpses of The French Riviera, The Leaning Tower of Pisa, Monte Carlo Casino, La Sagrada Familia Basilica and more. Although Star Legend accommodates 312 passengers, I adjusted quickly to an intimate setting of just 68 passengers. It turns out a trip to Europe during a slower season pays off in two ways! First, the ships are less crowded (did I mention 68 people??). Second, the biggie attractions in France, Italy and Spain boasted leaner crowds. I never felt like a sardine!

After being on so many large cruise ships over the years, with 3k people or more, I've become accustomed to long elevator waits, microscopic showers and diminutive closets. Since these are hallmarks of larger ships, you can imagine my delight to explore an all-suite ship (circa a $250 million renovation) that felt more like a lux hotel room: double vanities, walk-in showers, thoughtful cuisine and showers that are larger than home! Forget those compact interior cabins, this was boojie y'all.

Cruising is my jam, so here are some of my best tips for safe and efficient travel.

With fewer passengers, there were no lines at embarkation or disembarkation....the most harried times of every cruise experience. And don't get me started on the breezier excursion check ins AND more plentiful seating for restaurants and lounges.

I recall walking into a restaurant for the first time and someone saying "Oh, you must be Lisa." At first it felt uncomfortable to be that tended to, but over time I realized what a gift it was. Instead of just being a face in the crowd, Windstar and other small ships allow crew members an ability to cater to individual preferences, creating a sense of familiarity and warmth that is hard to find on larger vessels.

And if you have ever stood in line at guest services on a cruise ship, you will appreciate a simpler experience for troubleshooting. I was grateful for how quickly the staff rallied to help me the first morning when I woke up with jet lag and asked to cancel an excursion. Their 2-person team sprang into action (while I slept) and found someone else that wanted to I wasn't out any money. Contrast that to a larger cruise ship where you can wave bye-bye to your excursion money if you are absent. It felt like someone was always had my back.

Hungry? While small ships have fewer options, the food quality is superior. From grab and go casual dining to fine dining experiences, every meal felt like a culinary delight. So instead of multiple ho-hum breakfast options on a large ship, we had 1-2 amazing options. Advisable trade-off! There were also fantastic room service options, and I typically did in-room coffee and breakfast every day.

Without question, large cruise ships offer their own advantages, especially for those seeking a myriad of onboard activities like waterslides, laser tag and go carts. Small ships offer less options that are more curated. For instance, when we overnighted in Nice, they featured a lovely French music trio in the lounge. So instead of the usual pop hits, we experienced something more authentic!

Let's talk about excursions. Large ship excursions usually come with a wait, and I once stood in a line for almost two hours to get on a whale watching boat. No bathroom. No coffee. No bench. Needless to say, we didn't get off to a good start. Exact opposite experience with Windstar. We showed up for excursions long enough to grab a complimentary water bottle and go. Everything just seemed so easy.

In conclusion, while I continue to believe that cruising is the best way to see the world, small or large vessel, and they both have their strengths and weaknesses, my Windstar experience left me wishing for more of the tailored, immersive experiences that didn't include the crowds and complexities or a large vessel. Moreover, the personalized attention extended beyond dining to every aspect of the cruise. Whether it was resolving issues swiftly or anticipating guest needs, astounding service is a hallmark of the smaller vessel experience

Ultimately, the showdown between small and a large cruise ship boils down to personal preferences, priorities, and the type of experience one seeks from their seafaring adventures. Whichever you choose, may your voyage be filled with unforgettable moments and smooth sailing ahead!

Planning a cruise? Don't miss our blog, 'Top 10 Must Haves for Your Dream Cruise' and ensure you’re fully prepared for an unforgettable voyage!

free travel insurance lead magnet
river cruisescruisingHigh seasWindstar Cruise Star LegendThe French RivieraThe Leaning Tower of PisaMonte Carlo CasinoLa Sagrada Familia BasilicaLarge Cruise shipSmall cruise shipWindstar CruisesStar LegendSmall shipstravel agent waxahachietravel agenttourist agencytraveltravel agenciestravel agencytravel agency near metravel agent waxahachie tx

Lisa Farrimond

Travel Agent

Back to Blog

Best pricing for concerts, sporting events and more!

When you are ready for an adventure of your own, work with me and my full-service travel agency.

Sign up to our newsletter to receive updates, travel tips, and more!

Hillary Mayrhofer


Lisa is an amazing travel agent! She booked my Cruise and found some amazing deals and excursions for me! She was very knowledgeable and helpful with answering all of my questions, since this was my first time taking a Cruise. I had no idea what to expect. I will definitely be using her services for my next trip!

Jerad Carpenter


I had the pleasure of booking a cruise through Lisa. She has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to the ins-and-outs of a cruise ship. The tips she gave me from arriving to the ship and leaving was spot on. It made my life and planning so much easier. I will definitely be using her services in the future.

What clients are saying

Will working with Crossing Point Travels change your life? We sure think so. But don’t take it from us, take it from our reviews and happy clients!