Windstar Cruises today announced the $250 Million Star Plus Initiative, a major investment and expansion for the innovative cruise company. The multi-million dollar, multi-year undertaking will impact and enhance all aspects of the guest experience for the highly awarded small ship cruise line's three Star Class vessels.
"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 initiative will expand guest accommodations on the boutique line's three all-suite vessels increasing capacity from 212 passengers to 312 guests per ship, following the lengthening. 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.
The project is expected to be partially financed through an export credit facility guaranteed by SACE, Italy's export credit agency.
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 meters bringing the total length to just over 138 meters, still the right size to access the smaller ports and harbors that Windstar favors on the line's immersive itineraries. The project adds 50 new suites, 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 state-of-the-art public spaces including two new dining locations; new shop and retail space; a much enlarged fitness center; and a new world-class spa.
In addition to the impressive scale of work to be done, 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.
"Given our expertise as a leader in major cruise ship renovations and lengthening projects, we are gratified to be chosen by Windstar to undertake this complex and extensive endeavor. We look forward to working with the Windstar team to totally transform these elegant small ships," said Giorgio Rizzo, Executive SVP, Fincantieri Services.
50 new suites, new dining venues, new spa & fitness areas take center stage
Windstar has partnered with acclaimed designer Ray Chung, Director of Design at The Johnson Studio at Cooper Carry in New York, to create modern and inviting design aesthetics for the new public spaces and new suites.
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 brand 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 brand 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 center to invigorate active guests.
– A new elevator mid-ship, making access to all decks easy from anywhere on board.
– A comfortable, 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.
As planning on the $250 Million Star Plus Initiative progresses, additional details about the extensive work to be done, new onboard experiences, and new partnerships will be revealed and highlighted in news announcements and on a dedicated microsite that will launch in 2019.