It is exciting times at Windstar Cruises as the Star Breeze (formerly Seabourn Spirit) has just been cut in half and a new 50 suite/added public space section is being inserted as part of her four-month stem to stern renovation and revitalization.
It has been almost a year since this was announced, as described in my November 2018 article. And as the Star Breeze is going to be hosting the 2020 Goldring Travel Culinary & Cultural Cruise, I thought it appropriate to both review and look at some pretty cool photos and video.
From the perspective of a ship geek (I am a member of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers -SNAME and a – pretty much former – superyacht lawyer) I want to first share this short video. Very cool!
This is part of Windstar’s $250 Million Star Initiative which will take the former Seabourn triplets from quaint and nostalgic circa 1988 “yachts” to 2020 modern intimate cruise ships. Alas, this extension of the ships is not all that is being done.
|Windstar Cruises’ new midship Pool and Hottub
Briefly…and, believe it or not:
- New more environmentally appropriate engines (main and generator) that will increase top speed by 4 knots
- Replace numerous pipes and cables
- Sandblast and repaint many areas of the ship
- Increase ship size by 30%, but guest capacity by only 24%
- Maintaining the 1.5:1 Guest to Crew Ratio
- 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 (detailed below)
- 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.
Now some details!
|Windstar Cruises’ new Star Balcony Suites
All of the suites will be renovated…not just refurbished…including all new bathrooms. There will actually be two different suite layouts now: The new suites (referred to as Star Suites) will have the beds near the balcony doors, picture windows, or (in a limited number of new suites) portholes. The idea is to open up the suite’s space and allow those that like to lay in bed and watch the sea the opportunity. It also allows for those who find it difficult to maneuver with the bed nearer to the entry door a viable alternative.
All of the bathrooms will be replaced with most receiving a modern large shower (though some bathtub suites will exist) and, of course, the plumbing systems will be upgraded and modernized.
|Windstar Cruises’ new Suite Bathrooms
The Owner’s Suite will be totally renovated and will be expandable into multi-bedroom affairs. There will also be Deluxe Suites located midship that are essentially 1.75 standard suites in size with a bedroom and living room area along with double French balconies or windows.
|Windstar Cruises’ new Mid-Ship Owner’s Suite
Two New Restaurants:
|Windstar Cruises’ new Cuadro 44
Cuadro 44 is a Spanish tapas-style restaurant in partnership with Steven Sasso, a young well-recognized chef (by both Michelin and James Beard House) who has spent his lifetime studying Spanish food and culture, with a particular focus on Catalan cuisine. Cuadro 44 will feature such culinary treats as jamon iberico (Spanish ham from black pigs raised on acorns that has been aged for 24 months; a favorite of mine), Catalon lamb chops, Galician-style octopus, churros and more.The restaurant is to have a more rustic and comfortable feel for its intimate 38 guests with warm Spanish-inspired colors, tiled floors, a Chef’s Counter and a communal table for tapas and family-style dining along with private seating. (A bit of trivia: The name in English is “Frame 44” which refers to the restaurant’s location: The 44th frame of the ship!)
|Windstar Cruises’ new Star Grill
Star Grill by Steven Raichlen is an al fresco dining experience on the top deck near the Star Bar which will be open for lunch and dinners, as well as having a limited menu for late-morning treats on sea days. Chef Raichlen is considered by some to have reinvented modern barbeque and has authored 31 books and been on numerous television shows, winning both James Beard and IACP Julia Child awards. The menu will, obviously, include seafood, lamb, beef from the grill, smoker, and rotisserie coupled with innovative sauces such as Danish smoked shrimp, lemongrass port skewers and Hill Country brisket.
Technically not new, The Veranda is being totally revamped to the point you may not recognize it, with a modern flair, more oceanview seating and outdoor furniture and a coffee bar. And, of course, a revamped menu. Amphora, the main restaurant, already a wonderful dining space and I do not believe it will be the subject of any major modifications.
While the Star Breeze is now undergoing its four-month Star Plus renovation, the Star Legend will be the second of the triplets to undergo same, with the Star Pride being the last. The entire project is expected to be completed by November 2020.
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