Windstar To Lengthen 3 Ships In US$250 Million Project
Bruce Parkinson, Open Jaw
A rendering of a stretched Windstar Star Class ship.
Windstar Cruises has announced a US$250 million project that will see its three Star Class vessels extended, increasing capacity from 212 pax per ship to 312.
“We are thrilled to announce the $250 Million Star Plus Initiative, a significant investment in the future of Windstar Cruises. This exciting initiative is our 180 degree from ordinary solution to add new capacity and major enhancements to the guest experience in a very time efficient manner,” said Windstar President John Delaney.
“The initiative not only creates beautiful new suites and public spaces, but we will also take the opportunity to re-engine the ships with a more fuel efficient and environmentally responsible propulsion system. This will be a true game changer for Windstar and our small ship cruise experience.”
The work will be done to Star Breeze, Star Legend, and Star Pride in succession between October 2019 and November 2020, and take place at the Fincantieri Shipyard in Palermo, Sicily, Italy. The project represents an overall capacity increase of 24% for the small ship line.
Each Star Class ship will be cut to allow the installation of a new section of ship that will lengthen each vessel approximately 25.6 metres, bringing the total length to just over 159 meters, a size Windstar says will still enable it to access the smaller ports and harbours that it favours. The project adds 50 new suites per ship, bringing the total number of suites per ship to 156, and represents an investment of more than $267,000 per passenger berth.
“This major investment is an efficient way to build on a winning brand that shows strong momentum and growth potential. Support for this exciting new initiative demonstrates our commitment to Windstar as an important part of the Xanterra portfolio,” said Andrew N. Todd, President and CEO of Xanterra Travel Collection.
Also involved in the $250 Million Star Plus Initiative is the creation of new public spaces including two new dining locations; new shop and retail space; a much enlarged fitness centre; and a new spa.
The renovation includes a comprehensive re-engine project for each ship. This complex undertaking is an uncommon occurrence in the cruise industry and involves the removal of seven current engines and installation of four new, more environmentally friendly engines that will run on cleaner fuel and reduce emissions impact to sailing regions.
Among new guest amenities and accommodations in the planning phase are:
50 new suites featuring new suite categories and open floor plan configurations.
Creation of two new, larger Owner’s Suites, that combines existing suites to create up to a three-bedroom, two-balcony suite – the first of its kind in the cruise industry.
Two new dining experiences including an intimate, alternative dining restaurant, and a casual barbecue space adjacent to the top deck Star Bar, perfect for outdoor grilling during Windstar’s Signature Onboard Barbecue celebration or enjoying while spending time on deck.
Expanded Veranda Restaurant to offer significantly more ocean-view seating and upgraded dining area.
For existing suites, all-new bathrooms and installation of new sliding doors for the Balcony Suites.
Larger pool and hot tub that will be reconfigured and elevated offering outstanding views, along with more and enhanced outdoor deck area for relaxing and sun-bathing.
A completely re-imagined and enlarged spa and fitness centre to invigorate active guests.
A new elevator mid-ship, making access to all decks easy from anywhere on board.
A new tender loading area located mid-ship and two new 90-passenger tenders that will ferry guests to port when ships are at anchor.
In addition, ship staff and crew areas and accommodations will be expanded and upgraded. Additional crew will be hired and the increase will maintain the line’s impressive 1.5:1 guest to hotel staff ratio.
Bruce Parkinson Editor-in-Chief
An observer and analyst of the Canadian and international travel industries for over 25 years, Bruce uses the pre-dawn hours to prepare a daily news and information package to keep industry members up to date.