Windstar Cruises announced the US$250 Million Star Plus Initiative, which is a major investment and expansion for the cruise company. The multi-million, multi-year undertaking is expected to impact and enhance all aspects of the passenger experience for the highly awarded small ship line's 3 Star Class vessels.
The Star Plus Initiative will expand guest accommodations increasing capacity from 212 to 312 passengers per ship, following the lengthening. Star Breeze, Star Legend, and Star Pride will be lengthened between October 2019-November 2020 at Fincantieri Shipyard in Palermo. The project represents 24% overall capacity increase for the small ship line. It is expected to be partially financed via export credit facility guaranteed by Italy's export credit agency SACE.
Each Star Class cruise ship will be cut to allow installation of a new section that will lengthen each approx 25.6 metres bringing the total length to just over 138 metres, still the right size to access smaller ports and harbors on Windstar's immersive itineraries. The project is due to add 50 new suites, bringing their total number per ship to 156. The investment is more than US$267,000 per passenger berth.
The US$250 Million Star Plus Initiative also involves the creation of state-of-the-art public spaces, such as 2 new dining venues; brand new shop and retail space; enlarged fitness center; and new world-class SPA.
The renovation includes a re-engine project for each cruise ship, which is an uncommon occurrence in cruise industry and involves removal of 7 current engines and installation of 4 new, more environmentally friendly engines which will run on cleaner fuel and are expected to reduce emissions impact to sailing areas.
Windstar Cruises partnered with Ray Chung, Director of Design at The Johnson Studio at Cooper Carry in New York, in order to create contemporary design aesthetics for the new suites and new public spaces.
New accommodations and amenities in the planning phase include:
- 50 new suites featuring brand new open floor plan configurations and suite categories.
- 2 new, bigger Owner's Suites, combining existing suites to create up to a 3-bedroom, 2-balcony suite, first of its kind in cruise industry.
- 2 new dining experiences including: an alternative dining restaurant and casual barbecue space adjacent to ship's top-deck Star Bar.
- Expanded Veranda Restaurant for more ocean-view seating.
- All-new bathrooms for the existing suites, and new sliding doors for all Balcony Suites.
- Larger pool and hot tub, reconfigured and elevated to offer outstanding views.
- More and enhanced outdoor deck area for sun-bathing and relaxing.
- Enlarged and re-imagined spa and fitness center.
- New elevator mid-ship, providing access to all decks from anywhere onboard.
- New tender loading area situated mid-ship and 2 new 90-guest tenders that will ferry passengers to port.
In addition, staff and crew accommodations and areas will be expanded and upgraded, as additional crew will be hired. The increase will maintain line's 1.5:1 guest to hotel staff ratio.
A dedicated microsite will launch in 2019 to reveal additional details about the extensive work, new onboard experiences and partnerships.