Last updated: 01:06 PM ET, Tue February 19 2013

Windstar Doubles Fleet with Purchase of Three Seabourn Ships

Features & Advice | Seabourn Cruise Line | Theresa Norton Masek | February 19, 2013

Windstar Doubles Fleet with Purchase of Three Seabourn Ships

Windstar Cruises is doubling the size of its fleet with the three 208-passenger Seabourn ships as part of a major expansion by parent company Xanterra Parks & Resorts. The Seabourn Pride will begin sailing for Windstar in May 2014 in the Mediterranean after a renovation. Seabourn Legend and Seabourn Spirit will begin operating for Windstar in the Mediterranean in May 2015 after dry-dock renovations. These voyages are expected to go on sale in May. The expanded fleet will operate under the brand Global Windstar. In coming months, Windstar will reveal the new ship names, itineraries, onboard experiences and renovation details.

“Global Windstar will also allow us to service new regions of the world such as Asia and South America, in addition to the 50 countries we already sail to,” Windstar CEO Hans Birkholz wrote in a message to past passengers. “We will continue to focus on the unique destinations that larger ships cannot call on. The opportunities of Global Windstar are already evident with the recent announcement of Windstar’s return to Tahiti in May of 2014. Tahiti has been one of the top destinations requested by our guests and travel partners.”

Birkholz said the expansion will give Windstar six vessels with fewer than 300 passengers each for a total of 1,230 berths. “Windstar is proud of its heritage in sailing and will continue to offer voyages on all three sailing yachts. What our guests continue to be enthusiastic about is our intimate, yacht style of cruising,” he said. “This style is the core of our brand experience and the new ships are a perfect fit to build on that foundation.”

Carnival Corp.-owned Seabourn said it will continue to operate its three 450-passenger vessels that entered service over the past few years, as well as build a fourth. "Our three newest vessels, Seabourn Odyssey, Seabourn Sojourn, and Seabourn Quest have raised the bar for ultra-luxury cruising and we intend to add a fourth ship of similar design," Seabourn president Richard Meadows said. "Seabourn is already in discussion with shipbuilders and an order is likely to be announced within the current fiscal year. The new ship will allow Seabourn to maintain much of its current guest capacity."

The Windstar acquisition was announced by Xanterra as it also purchased VBT (Vermont) Bicycling and Walking Vacations and The Grand Hotel in Tusayan, Ariz., adjoining the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park where Xanterra operates more than 900 rooms.

“These businesses build on our existing portfolio as well as expand our operations into adventure vacations throughout the world, further diversifying our leisure travel holdings,” said Andrew N. Todd, president and CEO of Xanterra. “Xanterra Parks & Resorts has grown into a diversified hospitality company with offerings on the sea, rails and land. Xanterra has expanded its revenue base by more than 50 percent through targeted acquisitions in the last three years alone and will continue to look for new opportunities to build on our diverse leisure travel portfolio.”

Birkholz has said that Windstar was looking to expand now that it is on solid financial footing after its former owner went bankrupt and it was sold to Xanterra. “Windstar Cruises has experienced four straight years of revenue growth," Todd said. "This expansion is the perfect way to build on the momentum following our recent fleet-wide renovation, providing us with the much needed capacity to match the accelerating demand for our intimate style of yacht cruising.”

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