PHOTO: Windstar's Wind Star anchored at Coiba Island, Panama. (photo via Flickr/size4riggerboots)
Windstar Cruises President John Delaney, hosting his first-ever President’s Cruise on the Star Pride in Central America, said enhanced itineraries, expansion and Cuba are all on his agenda.
Delaney, who joined Windstar about seven months ago, fielded questions from passengers Monday on a wide range of topics. During the Q&A session, Delaney was flanked by ship’s officers and some of his newest executives, including Peter Tobler and Chris Prelog, who both joined the small-ship specialist about a month ago. Tobler has experience with a slew of top cruise companies and Prelog comes from a post at Seabourn.
Now that the executive structure is in place, Delaney said Windstar will continue to build on the upscale, casual ambiance of the six-ship line, while enhancing itineraries by adding more overnights, more enrichment speakers and unusual shore excursions. He cited an example of a possible new tour from Sorrento, Italy, that would use a helicopter so passengers could visit both Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast during the same port call, perhaps even fitting in a visit to a limoncello factory. In Alaska, they are exploring offering Zodiac cruising and kayaking from the ship’s own retractable marina.
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One passenger asked if Windstar is planning to expand. “The answer is ‘yes,’” Delaney said. “We truly want to grow the brand. I will tell you candidly, there are a number of ships out there that we would love to own. Stay tuned, folks.”
He said he has scheduled meetings for the Seatrade cruise convention in March to discuss new or existing ships of up to 300 passengers.
Delaney also said cruises that visit Cuba is a definite possibility: “We have people working on Cuba right now.”
Another passenger, who said his travel agent didn’t offer him transfers or a pre-cruise hotel night, asked Delaney his opinion on travel agents.
“My personal point of view is that I like travel agents,” he said. “Frankly, I don’t want the hassle of planning it all, but some people love doing their own research.”
Delaney also pointed out that the line has spent $55 million upgrading its fleet since it was purchased by Xanterra and “will put another $20 million into these ships this year.”