At Fincantieri’s “Arsenale Triestino San Marco” shipyard in Trieste, John Gunner, Vice President of Expansion Projects for Windstar Cruises, pushed the button to activate the torch and make the first cut in the new steel which will become the first of 3 new ships sections as part of the line’s US$250 Million Star Plus Initiative.
The initiative is the most comprehensive and complex small ship lengthening, renovation, and engine replacement project undertaken in cruising as Windstar is going to take half of its fleet: Star Legend, Star Pride, and Star Breeze, and renovate each vessel in succession.
The work on the first of the 3 ships will begin on Star Breeze in October this year and shall end with the departure of Star Pride from the shipyard in November 2020. The steel cut marked the beginning of true project construction. Windstar's ships will be cut in half in order to allow the installation of a brand new stepped mid-body section which will lengthen each ship by about 25 meters.
The total capacity of the expanded ships will be 312 passengers, and additional staff will be hired to maintain the line’s 1.5 to 1 guest to service staff ratio.
The ships' new sections will be built in Trieste and transported south by barge to Fincantieri yard in Palermo Sicily, to be inserted into the Windstar ships along with new engines. The timeline requires the sections to be fabricated through September, shipped in October, and inserted into Star Breeze so that the vessel can be completed in time for re-inaugural activities at PortMiami on March 19, 2020.
The modernization and extension project is being performed by Ship Repair & Conversion part of Services Division of Fincantieri. Johnson Studio at Cooper Carry in NY, led by Ray Chung, Director of Design, was tasked with creating modern design aesthetics for fifty new suites and new public spaces. There will be a new pool area, spa & wellness center, restaurants, and enhanced “living room deck space.”