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Although operations are still ceased, Seattle-based Windstar Cruises is celebrating the launch of the first of three ships to undergo a massive renovation - including cutting the ship in half and inserting an addition!
The Star Breeze was lengthened and got 50 new suites, two restaurants, a reimagined spa/fitness center, enlarged pool and deck, new bathrooms in all suites, and new efficient engines. Capacity increased from 212 guests to 312, although the ship won't welcome passengers until 2021.
The Star Breeze was the first to emerge from a $250 million Star Plus Initiative that also will transform sister ships Star Pride and Star Legend. Those two ships will join the fleet later in 2021, following their renovations at the Fincantieri shipyard in Palermo, Italy. "These three Star Plus Class yachts offer more amenities we know our guests want, while still being small enough to travel the narrow waterways and visit the small ports we're known for," said Chris Prelog, president of Windstar Cruises.
Among the work on the renewed vessel were improvements in the "Beyond Ordinary Care" program for cruising in the era of COVID-19 era. Star Breeze is outfitted with new HEPA filters and UV-C light technology, and the others will be as well.
More Al Fresco Dining
One of the most anticipated developments in Star Breeze's renaissance is the addition of two new restaurants: one an outdoor barbecue concept with grilling guru Steven Raichlen and the other a Spanish small plates restaurant from Anthony Sasso, one of the youngest chefs to be recognized by the Michelin Guide.
Raichlen, known for the TV grilling show called "Project Fire" on PBS stations, will operate Star Grill outdoors. The restaurant will serve drinks like Strawberry Pimm's Cups and Raspberry/Melon Slushies. And the smoker will yield Tea Smoke Duck and Coffee-Crusted Prime Brisket with Chipotle Molasses Barbecue Sauce, along with grilled selections such as Shrimp on Sugarcane with Mount Gay Rum Sauce. Vegetarians won't be ignored, including choices like Planked Camembert with Pepper Jelly, Pecans and Grilled Bread, Mexican Grilled Corn, Falafel Burgers, and Grilled Eggplant Salad.
On Deck 6 at Cuadro 44 by Anthony Sasso, guests can expect Spanish staples with a modern twist.
Menu items range from Galicia's Pulpo Gallego to Valencia's Fideos Mar y Montaña, with decadent desserts including Madrid's famous Churros y Chocolate.
A chef's counter overlooking an open kitchen will let diners observe the cooking process, and a Spanish-centric wine and cocktail list completes the experience. The restaurant seats just 38 patrons at maximum capacity.
At Veranda, the breakfast and lunch restaurant, there's a new coffee station and more indoor and outdoor seating. Veranda transforms at night into Candles, a reservation-only steakhouse with outside seating. Candles will debut a new menu on Star Breeze with a 40-ounce beef bone-In ribeye Tomahawk steak, as well as a 30-ounce bone-in Porterhouse steak. Both are Linz Heritage Certified Black Angus, carved tableside, and require a small upcharge. (Otherwise, dining across Windstar's fleet is included in the cruise fare, with no additional upcharges beyond these individual items.)
Also outdoors, the yacht now has a larger pool and hot tub on an elevated top deck along with expanded outdoor deck areas for relaxing and sun-bathing.
A True Spa & Fitness Center
The gym and spa have been enlarged and furnished with Technogym equipment. The spa menu features regional spa treatments and destination-themed therapies as part of the World Spa by Windstar program. Products used are from Elemis, a British body and skincare line.
There are 50 new suites featuring new categories and open floor plan configurations, as well as two new, larger Owner's Suites. These combine to create up to a three-bedroom, two-balcony suite. Every suite on board will feature all-new bathrooms.
Less Flashy but Important
The Star Breeze has new, state-of-the-art, efficient engines and diesel generators, plus a new elevator mid-ship. The tender loading area mid-ship is used to ferry guests to port in two new 90-passenger tenders.
COVID and Cruising
The new "Beyond Ordinary Care" program is a multi-layered strategy with key hospital-grade elements: HEPA filters and UV-C ultraviolet germicidal irradiation to filter and disinfect the air, plus electrostatic sprayers to sanitize all surfaces throughout the yacht.
The company worked with the Anschutz Medical Center department of epidemiology to design a multi-layered approach that takes the best practices in science, technology and behavior together. The company believes this comprehensive program to provide a healthy environment on board will also give travelers confidence to book when paired with a Travel Assurance Booking Policy that gives flexibility to make plans and update them without fees if things change.
Theresa Norton, editor in chief of AGENTatHOME Magazine, covers the cruise industry for TravelPulse.com.
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