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We know the chances of you boarding a cruise right now are pretty slim, but it’s never too soon to debunk a few myths, so that you have all the information you need when you are ready for some fun in the sun again. Let’s start with a few commonly held opinions that, even if you’ve never taken a Caribbean cruise, you’ve probably harbored. For example, if you’re firmly on the side of “no thanks” when it comes to Caribbean cruises, it means you’ve likely conjured up images of mediocre buffet-style fare, giant ships teeming with tens of thousands of people and bland ports of call. But thanks to boutique ships and innovative new routes, there’s no reason to settle for anything less than the trip of your dreams. Here’s how one cruise line—Windstar Cruise—is bucking Caribbean cruise stereotypes. (Learn more about this Roaming Gnome Top Pick!)

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Myth: Ships are big and impersonal

Big ships hog all the attention, but they’re hardly the only option. Windstar Cruises boasts six small ships carrying only between 148 and 350 guests each. Their trademark service includes a 1.5 to 1 guest to service staff ratio ensuring each guest is well pampered. Staff learn the names of guests and often vice versa. They also personalize the cruise experience by offering local lectures and performances on board, optional amenity packages (so you’re not forced into paying for things you don’t want), an Open Bridge, and a complimentary watersports platform.

Myth: Ports are crowded—and all the same

It’s true that if you’re wandering the streets of Old San Juan on the wrong day, you’ll be sharing them with a cattle call of cruise passengers. Many of the big boats hit the same tried and true ports, but there are still plenty of off-the-beaten path adventures to be had. Windstar visits 330 ports around the world in 80 countries, but beyond the major cities they also explore the undeveloped beauty of places like Little Bay on Montserrat, Isla Parida in Panama, the captivating Pitons in St. Lucia, a diver’s paradise at Fakarava and the medieval alleyways of Monemvasia.

Myth: Staterooms are cramped and all alike

On Windstar, there are no interior cabins; all guests have sea views. Their fleet includes three sailing ships featuring tall, billowing sails that have been known to elicit “oohs” and “ahhs” from guests when they first step aboard. One deluxe abode is the Officer’s Suite which is tucked away in a part of the ship labeled “crew only” and offers guests a chance to stay in the heart of the officer quarters tucked right behind the bridge. It boasts a bedroom, full bath with Jacuzzi-tub, plus a living room. Additionally, Windstar’s Star-class ships offer lavish cabin sizes and design elements, like full-size marble tubs and walk-in closets. So much for cramped!

Myth: Food and drink are mediocre

Bye bye bland, hello local ingredients. When it comes to dining, Windstar does dining differently—much differently. Meals include local ingredients, often selected by the ship’s chef on a trip to a local market. Every dining choice offers open seating, no surcharges and no fancy dress codes. Windstar is also the official cruise line of the James Beard Foundation, which means there are culinary superstars on various James Beard Foundation Culinary Themed Cruises, as well as dishes created by James Beard-affiliated chefs on all cruises. Chefs may on occasion even lead tours to local markets, depending upon the itinerary.

Myth: You won’t get to know the local culture

Walking up and down one street for a couple hours hardly makes you a local expert. Windstar aims to offers its guests a more authentic and culturally immersive experience by designing cruises with more time in port and more overnights. It offers three tiers of tours: Essentials, Concierge, and Beyond Ordinary. The tiers make it easier for guests to navigate options to discern what outings best fit their interests, activity levels, and budgets—including highly personalized offerings like private dinners in local homes or small group foraging workshops.

Erica Lamberg

Erica Lamberg

Erica Lamberg

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