Windstar Christens Star Breeze in France
PHOTO: At the christening of the Star Breeze were, from left, Capt. Krasimir Ivanov, Wendy Perrin, a local priest who prayed for the ship’s safety, and Windstar CEO Hans Birkholz. (Photo by Theresa Norton Masek)
Windstar Cruises christened its fifth ship, Star Breeze, in an appropriately breezy and sunny pierside ceremony in the harbor in Nice, France, on May 6.
The 212-passenger ship, the second of three “power yachts” acquired from Seabourn, just completed a major $8.7 million renovation in 18 days in a dry dock in Genoa, Italy.
“We believe that Windstar style creates a truly unique experience — access to enchanting, hidden harbors throughout the world, freedom from crowds and regimentation of larger ships, personal service from a crew that really cares, and authentic shoreside experiences,” CEO Hans Birkholz said during the ceremony.
The festivities began with champagne and music on the pier next to the 9,975-ton ship. Serving as godmother, TripAdvisor’s Wendy Perrin gave the traditional blessing before cutting the ribbon that released a bottle of Veuve Clicquot Champagne. The bottle bounced off the hull, unbroken. Then the crew overseeing the christening from the top deck swung the bottle by the rope, hitting it on the hull again unsuccessfully before it finally smashed open on the third try.
Windstar, which operates three motor-sail yachts, last year acquired the first of the Seabourn ships, which was named Star Pride. The third ship, Star Legend, currently is undergoing a similar renovation and will join the Windstar fleet on May 25.
Joe Duckett, vice president of marketing and sales for Windstar, told TravelPulse that the company more than tripled the refurbishment costs of the Star Breeze compared to the Star Pride.
“There was no question we dramatically improved that yacht, but some people thought there were some areas we could address,” Duckett said. “We listen to our guests.”
This time, virtually no part of the ship was left untouched.
“During the last year we’ve learned a lot about what our guests like and what they don’t like,” Birkholz said in his speech. “And we’ve taken these learnings, and we’ve completed a stem-to-stern transformation of this beautiful yacht. We’ve renovated every public space and every suite in Windstar style. There are a number of new features on this yacht that I think you will appreciate. And they will enhance what you’ve come to expect from Windstar Cruises. And that is a luxury experience that brings you closer to the world.”
All public areas were completely renovated, as were the staterooms and suites.
Among the notable improvements was moving the swimming pool from Deck 7 aft to midship, near where the whirlpools were. That allowed more covered, outdoor seating in La Veranda, the casual buffet. Also, an outdoor staircase near La Veranda was removed to open up the space and allow more seating for Candles, the alternate outdoor dining experience.
The new pool is larger than the old one and also has a current that can be turned on for those who want to feel like they’re swimming laps.
Another major improvement was expanding the deck space by 9 feet — 4.5 feet on each side of the Star Deck near the outdoor Star Bar, eliminating congestion and opening up space for sun loungers and dining tables during the deck barbeque held once during each cruise.
The Star Legend is getting the same $8.7 million renovation. Meanwhile, the Star Pride will return to dry dock in April 2016 to undergo a more complete, $3 million refurbishment.
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