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Windstar Cruises had originally expected to introduce its newly lengthened and improved Star Breeze to guests by now, but the COVID-19 pandemic has put a damper on those plans. However, for now, the line invited travel media to celebrate the ship’s reintroduction over Zoom.
"It is certainly 180 degrees from the ordinary that we are inaugurating a ship virtually,” said Christopher Prelog, president of Windstar, playing off the brand’s tagline.
Even if the slide presentation was relatively anticlimactic, the finished product — just one of three ships to be enhanced as part of the $250-million Star Plus Initiative — is anything but. Not every venue has been photographed yet, but after initially seeing the cutting of the vessel firsthand at the Fincantieri shipyard in Palermo, Italy, just over a year ago, I can already tell that the transformation will be dramatic.
The virtual meeting focused on the redoing of all the cabin bathrooms, the expansion of the retail shop, the rebuilding of Amphora Restaurant and the latest news regarding the Star Balcony Suites.
Regarding the expansive new Grand Owner’s Suite, Betsy O’Rourke, chief marketing officer for Windstar’s parent company, Xanterra, believes the suite’s trio of bedrooms will be particularly well-suited to multigenerational travelers with older children.
According to Prelog, the lengthening has improved the ship and made it appear sleeker and more modern.
When asked about Breeze’s new motion profile and stability, Prelog indicated that the new dimensions have improved the hull performance, and that the ship is now quieter with fewer vibrations than before.
Prelog also highlighted enhancements made to World Spa by Windstar, which was taken down to the steel and then considerably renovated. The facility encompasses a fresh relaxation and wet area with inviting tiled recliners.
Given coronavirus concerns, an emphasis was placed on available outdoor experiences that extend to the redesigned sundecks. The enlarged terraced pool is positioned at a mezzanine level accessible from the lengthened shaded deck below and walking deck above.
Meanwhile, the Veranda/Candles dining venue offers more beef, poultry and vegetarian options than ever before, according to Peter Tobler, director of hotel operations for Windstar. The combination buffet and full-service venue continues to offer alfresco seating, as does the added Star Grill by Steven Raichlen. Located opposite of the existing Star Bar, the new 85-seat grill features international barbecue favorites.
"People grill all over the world, but they do it differently,” said Raichlen, who brought to the menu not only traditional American barbecue but also items such as Moroccan shoulder of lamb, Thai chicken satay and Mexican grilled corn. Available dishes aim to reflect the ship’s itinerary.
The new Cuadro 44 by Anthony Sasso features floor-to-ceiling windows, an eclectic Spanish theme and “whimsical and playful elements,” according to Sasso himself. Though the restaurant is indoors, it adheres to Windstar’s Beyond Ordinary Care health and safety program.
The dining experience begins with six to eight small plates for everyone, followed by a selection of five or six entrees including classic lamb chops, pork belly with romesco, cod cheeks and churros.
Lastly, Breeze will feature a new rendition of Vangelis’ “Conquest of Paradise,” performed by the Seattle Symphony, to be played at sail away.
As is currently scheduled, after several additional cancellations were recently made, the upgraded Star Breeze is set to cruise from the Caribbean on March 27, followed by equally enhanced sister ships Star Legend in the Mediterranean on April 7, and Star Pride in Northern Europe on July 6.
The DetailsWindstar Cruiseswww.windstarcruises.com