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Windstar Cruises recently unveiled its plans to stretch its trio of motor yachts. To the tune of $250 million, the Star Plus Initiative will enhance Star Breeze, Star Legend and Star Pride with added amenities and accommodations from October 2019 to November 2020.
John Delaney, president of Windstar, chatted with us about the news and shared how the line’s new travel agency recognition program, Club 180, is being received by the professional community. Club 180’s three tiers award top producers with varying perks and support, which can also be extended to clients. Rewards include amenities that advisors can pass onto clients; additional marketing and sales support from Windstar; priority service; and more.
What initially prompted the Star Plus Initiative?We knew we were ready to grow, which is consistent with our owner’s intentions. We looked at various options, including newbuilds, and this was one that had been on the table many years ago for these three little ships. So, we decided to revisit it, and the return on investment was just so much more compelling than ordering a newbuild.
It gives us a great chance to put new fuel-efficient, low-sulfur-burning and more environmentally friendly propulsion systems into the ships, as well as enhance the public spaces.
The update includes an increase in capacity. Will this dramatically change the passenger space ratio, or will it grow uniformly?It maintains the ratio. It’s quite a large addition, and a lot of that is just public space. Decks three, seven and eight are all public space, and even where the majority of suites are, there’s also new public space. Only about 60 percent of that space is dedicated to the suites; 40 percent will be additional public space.
How are the new Owner’s Suites unique for the cruise industry?We don’t know anybody who has a three-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bath Owner’s Suite configuration. The adjoining design facilitates a beautiful living room, dining room and bar area, and a central point joins the bedrooms together.
How will the other new accommodations differ from the existing ones?They’re going to feel different. You can’t recreate all that beautiful white oak that’s in the current suites, for example. We’re just borrowing what has been popular in other aspects of the industry, such as in river cruising, for folks who want to sit up in bed and just enjoy that scenery — especially on a sea day or sailing into port.
What can you tell us about the new public spaces?The stretching allows us to put in a world-class pool with an infinity feature and a large Jacuzzi at the top. It will step down between decks eight and seven, so the two top decks create a nice focal point.
We’ll also be able to add two new dining options: an intimate restaurant with beautiful views of the water, and a casual eatery. The latter will allow passengers who are enjoying the pool to have a grab-and-go option right at the pool area. We can also enlarge Veranda; it will have a complete wraparound buffet with a new cold section and a separate hot section; dessert offerings; and a lot more interior seating.
There will be a world-class spa with locker rooms, steam and sauna options, four different treatment rooms, a larger beauty salon, a separate barber and a big fitness center with a separate aerobics studio.
Would you ever consider lengthening the sailing ships similarly?Those could not be stretched, because the entire sailing and mast and rigging system was designed for the vessels’ current length, and trying to update or renew it wouldn’t really make sense. Plus, those ships work almost perfectly the way they are.
How has the new Club 180 travel advisor program been received?It has been received really well. We have fiercely loyal guests who have fiercely loyal travel agents with a long history of selling Windstar and supporting the brand. So, it was a natural give-back to do something for advisors to recognize their loyalty and the business they give us.
The DetailsWindstar Cruiseswww.windstarcruises.com