Monthly Update: What’s New in the Development of Windstar’s Star Seeker and Star Explorer?

For sure, Windstar’s announcement that it is acquiring two vessels – the 224-guest Star Seeker and Star Explorer, which debut respectively in December 2025 and 2026 – has generated a ton of excitement. We plan to keep you updated with new developments on a monthly basis, so keep checking in. And don’t be shy. Please post your questions in the comments below and we’ll dig up answers to appear in a future blog post.

Here’s what we already know: The pair of ships (Star Seeker is just now being built, Star Explorer debuted for an expedition line a few years ago) share a design that will be significantly changed to adapt to Windstar’s own style. Each ship will feature 112 suites, most of which have full balconies, and a handful with infinity windows. There will be two owner’s suites with wrap-around balconies.  Both Star Seeker and Star Explorer will have a signature Windstar watersports platform, the cozy Yacht Club café and lounge and a gorgeous, expanded  spa and fitness facility. 

And Windstar has already announced that Star Seeker’s itineraries, in 2026, will include Alaska (May – August) and Japan (September – November).

Windstar’s John Gunner oversaw the transformation of Windstar’s yachts and is pictured here on Star Breeze. Next up: The new Star Seeker and Star Explorer. Photo by Philippa Mary Gunner

As always, though, don’t we all want to know more? Last week, I had a chance to chat with John Gunner, Windstar’s vice president of expansion projects, who is leading the effort. Because these ships were either built or designed for an expedition cruise line, he tells me, “We’re making a lot of changes.”

And he offered up some interesting details for those who want to follow along as the ships develop.

“We are transforming Star Seeker and, later on, Star Explorer, in quite a considerable way by making a lot of structural and design transformations. The ship will look quite different, even from a profile perspective, and of course onboard. We’re also adapting its interiors; originally designed to sail expeditions, we want to soften her ambiance so it resonates with Windstar’s existing Star Class ships. “

More specifically: From an exterior perspective, “the explorer-style ships don’t really look like cruise ships. We’re adding a ducktail and what that means is we’ll have a super-yacht style stern with a watersports platform, accessed by steps.”

What is a ducktail? It’s an appendage, Gunner tells us. It’s a steel structure attached to the stern. “It provides the swimming platform which we definitely wanted to replicate from our Star Class vessels. And it also helps with stability and fuel efficiency. The appendage is being fabricated from steel at the shipyard, located in Portugal, right now.

“We’ll also extend and change the bow to make it narrower and longer, so it looks more yacht-like. Right now it’s a bit stubby because it was built originally for tough weather in regions like Antarctica.”

What else is occurring just now?

Star Seeker and Star Explorer, rendering courtesy of Windstar Cruises
  • Windstar’s outfitting team is creating renderings that will capture the essence of what the interiors will look like (we’ll feature those renderings in an upcoming post).
  • A two deck auditorium that’s part of the original design is going to be reduced to one deck, Gunner says, noting that the spa is the beneficiary of the extra deck.
  • On these ships, the mud room (an integral facility on an expedition ship but not at all important for a classic ocean-going vessel) will be converted to crew accommodations for extra crew. Another alteration: On what has been a helicopter deck (with storage below for Zodiacs), top-class suites with large balconies or infinity windows will be added.
  • The pool area will be completely reconstructed; faithful to the design on the Star Class pools. And there’s more good news: the whirlpool area on the bow, deck five forward that a lot of us love on Windstar’s Star Breeze, Star Legend and Star Pride, will be replicated on the new ships.

Windstar plans to have Star Seeker’s new deployment details, including Alaska and Japan, online and bookable in August 2024.

Stay tuned as we continue to follow the development of Star Seeker and Star Explorer (and don’t forget to post your questions in the comments below – we’ll provide answers in future posts).

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12 days ago

Will the new ships have any interior rooms, or will all rooms be exterior like on current ships?

12 days ago

Friends of ours recently completed an expedition cruise on what will become the Star Explorer. They noted that the ceilings in the dining room seemed lower and as a result it was very noisy at the tables, making it hard to hear conversation. Do the renovation plans include anything to reduce or control the noise?

Paul Deis
12 days ago

Can’t wait to see the interior and to book Alaska

11 days ago

These sound like amazing additions to Windstar’s line up. I love to hear that the iconic features will be bright in to these two new stars. Sounds like very thoughtful planning. More spa! Some interesting new suites and extra space for staff, as well.

Reply to  Mathy
10 days ago

Thanks, Mathy! Appreciate the feedback. –Carolyn

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