We cut our ship in half!
On October 17, sparking cutting torch in hand, Windstar Cruises President John Delaney made the final cut to the hull of Star Breeze as Windstar’s lengthening project got into full swing at Fincantieri’s Shipyard in Palermo Italy. It was a thrilling day full of amazing accomplishments for everyone involved. Scores of Fincantieri workers and managers, Windstar executives, select top cruise retailers and media watched the operation with all the concentration and awe of people witnessing a space launch.
In fact, what they witnessed was the evolution of Windstar. The Windstar project is considered to be the most complex and comprehensive small ship lengthening, engine replacement, and renovation project to be undertaken in cruising. The cutting of Star Breeze and the insertion of the new 84-foot mid-section (25.6 meters) was the first big milestone in our $250 Million Star Plus Initiative that will transform the Windstar experience. See it for yourself on video.
The Transition Begins
The ship entered the shipyard on October 7, where the delicate process of dismantling all of the pipes, cables and lines started. The actual cutting of steel was a 24-hour-a-day undertaking that started October 14.
The extra 84 feet being added allows for the addition of two specialty restaurants, a larger buffet area, a larger spa and fitness area, a new elevator on board, a new retail store, a new tender boarding area and a new pool that will be five times as large as what the ship currently has. It also increases the guest count of the ship up to 312 from 212 (an overall capacity increase of 24%.).
A Complicated Process In Palermo
John Delaney praised the shipyard for its expertise as well as its speed with crews working in three shifts around the clock to stay on schedule for this massive scope of work. We are not only adding a new section to our ships but also installing completely new engines, with a new cleaner, fuel-efficient propulsion system replacing the current engines. It’s an amazing experience and, as John said, “It was darn impressive to see how much they’d done. I actually walked under the ship today and I have to tell you it was overwhelming.”
Advantages of Renovation
Stretching a ship is the most economical way to add capacity while fixing some of the behind-the-scene details that guests never see. The re-engineering makes our ships more fuel-efficient and gives us extra fuel capacity. That along with the stretching allows the ships to pick up some extra speed making it possible for Windstar to add more distant destinations such as New Zealand and South America to our roster. While the ships themselves will be bigger, they remain small ships, and as such will still be able to sail to the small ports that are a Windstar trademark, such as the Kiel and Corinth canals and places like Sanary-sur-Mer. There’s not a port that we go to today that we can’t go to with these ships when they are done.
Star Breeze’s renovation will continue for the next few months. The ship’s first sailing after the project, cruising from Barcelona to Lisbon, on February 20, 2020, will be followed by a transatlantic cruise.
Star Legend will begin its rennovation process in February 2020, and debut in Barcelona on July 2, 2020. Finally, Star Pride will be the last to undergo the transformation, and resume service in Barcelona on November 20, 2020.
Ship Facts by the Numbers
We have a long list of what we want to accomplish and we are taking it slowly so we can do it the right way and do it well. The things that we’re doing are really resonating with our core guests, our Yacht Club members. They are so grateful for all the new itineraries. Even if it’s a place like the Mediterranean where we go every year, we can still give them new ports and new things to do. And this is just the beginning as we continue to grow the Windstar brand. Our tagline is ‘180 Degrees from Ordinary’ and we really live by that. We use that lens for everything that we do, from itinerary planning to tours to crazy ideas like this — stretching the ships — to the way we pick the chefs that we’re working with for our two new restaurants. We have a lot of fun things that we haven’t even begun to look forward to that will all be Windstar 3.0. — John Delaney.