In the summer of 2022, we spent a week cruising with Windstar in Iceland aboard the Star Pride. The 7 night cruise is called Around Iceland. Read on for our review of this small ship that offers a trip around Iceland in luxury with Windstar Iceland cruises.
Overview of the Windstar Iceland Cruise Itinerary
This is a 7 night itinerary, and Iceland is small enough that you can cruise entirely around the island country in a week. And you get to port towns that are sometimes difficult to drive to, or that would take hours and hours to drive to. The itinerary starts and ends in Reykjavik, and makes 5 port stops along the way
These towns are some of my favorites in Iceland. There’s Heimaey Island, which I just call the Westman Islands. A massive volcanic eruption on the island just under 50 years ago made the island 20% bigger!
There’s Seyðisfjörður, a town over a mountain pass that looks like it was plucked from an animated Disney movie:
And there’s Ísafjörður, the largest town in the very remote Westfjords of Iceland:
The current itinerary also makes stops in Akureyri in North Iceland and Grundarfjörður in West Iceland. Read on to hear about the ship, the food, the excursions, and more aboard our Windstar Iceland cruise.
Windstar Iceland Cruises: The Star Pride cruise ship
Windstar has 6 ships: 3 have sails and 3 do not. The Star Pride, which spends its summers in Iceland, does not have sails. But no matter; this is a stunning ship which was recently lengthened. It’s mind boggling to me that a shipyard in Italy quote literally cut the ship in half and added a new section in the middle:
The lengthening added restaurant options, new guest suites, and just makes this ship look seriously impressive:
The lengthening, which was just completed in June 2022, adds capacity to the ship. Still, this is no massive cruise liner. Maximum passenger capacity is 312 people, and in reality you’ll probably won’t see it past 300. (The 312 assumes all rooms that can hold 3 people actually have 3 people in them.) My cruise in the summer of 2022 had 212 people and 198 crew. That’s a remarkable passenger to crew ratio. This ship is all about service.
Service aboard a Windstar Iceland Cruise
Service is what sets Windstar cruises apart, in Iceland and around the world. It’s tough to describe, since it’s not like other Iceland cruise lines don’t offer excellent service. Ships that go around Iceland are generally small, and you’ll be well taken care of. But Windstar goes beyond well taken care of. Crew members will know your name after a day. They honestly seem happy to help you. It’s not service for a tip; it’s service to make sure you have a good experience.
As one example, consider room service. There’s unlimited and free 24-hour room service. Order a full meal, or just evening popcorn. Room service was delivered very quickly, often in less than 10 minutes. Staff wanted to make sure we knew what each dish was, and they took time to make sure we had everything we need.
When I called to have our empty room service tray taken away, I did so just before leaving the room to head to a lounge. On the way I passed a crew member, who of course said hi to me. I turned around after we passed, and I realized he was on his way to my room to collect the tray. Our hallway interaction must have been less than 30 seconds from when I called.
Here are a very few of those crewmembers entertaining us one evening:
Food aboard a Windstar Iceland Cruise
The food on your Windstar Iceland Cruise is excellent, and sometimes exceptional. I’ve had very good food on other luxury cruise lines, but the best food here was better than the best food on the other ships.
Most striking to me were the options. You simply wouldn’t expect to have this many restaurant choices on a ship that holds 300 passengers. Part of the Windstar ship lengthening process, completed in 2022, added restaurants and restaurant seating. Here’s a sample day for my Windstar Iceland cruise:
This is a particularly choice-rich day for dining: 3 breakfast options, 2 lunch, and 3 dinner. Now, yacht club’s breakfast isn’t anything fancy, but it is a good grab and go option:
And Yacht Club is a great option for food any time of day: They change the display to lunch food at 11 AM, and so you can go there to grab a meal or a snack anytime from 6 AM to 6 PM. That’s not even listed as a lunch option, so really there were 3 restaurant options for every meal on this day! (Note that Yacht Club hours are listed under “Bars and Lounges.”)
Two of the restaurants listed share the same space. One location is called “Verandah / Candles;” it’s Verandah restaurant for breakfast and lunch, which serves a buffet. And it becomes Candles restaurant for dinner, where you order off of the menu.
You need to make a reservation for both Candles and Cuadro 44, which are both open for dinner only. When we boarded the ship, we were permitted to make 1 reservation for each restaurant for 2 different nights. (Premium cabins may offer the ability to make additional reservations at the start of the cruise.) After the first day, you can book more nights on a space available basis; we had no trouble reserving a second reservations for Candles toward the end of the cruise.
Back to the level of service onboard the Windstar cruise for a moment: MY son and I decided to order all 4 desserts at Candles one night. (Remember, every single dining option is included at no additional fee! There are some fancy upgrades at some restaurants that you can pay for, but that never seemed necessary to us.)
I asked the waiter a bit sheepishly if we could have one of each dessert. But rather than being annoyed, he seemed positively giddy that he would be able to give us what we asked for.
Cuadro 44 is one of the new options, and it’s really good. Everyone except for vegetarians will love this place; vegetarian options were limited, and while some of the menu options claimed they could be made vegetarian, we were told those were typos. You can tell I’m a terrible food photographer, because I forget to take a picture before I start eating!
In summary, the food is really good, and the options rival those on a much larger ship.
Excursions on a Windstar Iceland Cruise
Excursions in Iceland are, with very few exceptions, excellent. Locals love showing off their country, speak impeccable English, and the scenery is always stunning.
Windstar offers several excursion choices at each port stop, which is typical for Iceland cruises. Prices are higher than if you booked direct, which is also pretty typical. (Ask us if you want to know the one cruise line where prices aren’t marked up!)
But the higher prices on WIndstar Iceland excursions include perks you don’t get on your own. First, if something goes wrong and you’re late, the ship will wait for you. And, you may need transportation to get to the start of your excursion. For example, we did both a hike in Seyðisfjörður and a boat ride in Ísafjörður; both required a bus ride. It sure is nice to have a bus waiting for you very close to the ship.
We also did some excursions on our own; we can help you with these if you use us as your Iceland cruise travel agent! We know which excursions are “cruise passenger friendly” both in location and timing.
We did great boat tours on our own in both the Westman Islands and Seyðisfjörður:
Should you go on a Windstar Iceland Cruise?
There are several companies offering cruises around Iceland each summer. And the summer of 2023 offers more choices than ever!
Windstar offers the amenities of a large ship with the luxury and service of a small ship. That’s the bottom line. If you want both of those, you can’t beat Windstar.
If you’re willing to sacrifice some of the amenities, like restaurant options, you could consider Iceland ProCruises. Or if you’re willing to move up to a (modestly) larger ship, you could consider Viking.
But if you want to cruise around Iceland with small ship luxury, you can’t beat Windstar.
Let Iceland Step by Step plan your Windstar Iceland cruise! (Or any cruise or trip to Iceland.)
If you use us as your travel agent, we offer a planning package that you simply won’t get anywhere else. We only plan Iceland vacations and cruises, and so working with us means you’re working with an Iceland expert! We don’t charge any additional fees for our planning service; we only receive a commission from your cruise booking. (And you pay the same price for the cruise as you’d pay anywhere else– even booking directly!)
Here are just some of the things we offer to our clients:
- A free copy of our book, 100 Tips for Visiting Iceland
- Free power adapters to use on your trip (though you don’t need them on Windstar!)
- A small amount of Iceland currency to have before your trip
- Excursion recommendations, and direct booking options for third-party excursions. That means you don’t pay a commission!
- Detailed itinerary plans any for pre- and post- cruise tours
- Help getting your cell phone working in Iceland, and getting to and from the airport
Just fill out the form below and we’ll help you pick the best cruise for you.
Or just e-mail us!