A new era begins for Windstar

By Tom Stieghorst
Star Pride christeningBARCELONA — A crowd of several hundred witnessed the christening here of the Star Pride, the first ship in the Windstar Cruises fleet not to be equipped with masts and sails.

The 212-passenger Star Pride was the former Seabourn Pride. It and two sister ships were acquired from Seabourn Cruises and are being transferred over the next 12 months.

Windstar CEO Hans Birkholz said the company took delivery of Star Pride 18 days ago, and has completed a refit on some of the public spaces and the staterooms.

In about a year-and-a-half, the Star Pride will receive a redesigned Amphora main dining room, a new library, a refinished show lounge and a refurbished owner’s suite.

Next year, Windstar will make all those changes at once to the two other Seabourn ships it is acquiring, Birkholz said. Input from guests sailing on Star Pride will be used to improve the refit designs of the other ships, he said.

The ship’s maiden cruise from Barcelona to Rome is largely filled with repeat guests, some of whom have cruised more than 20 times on Windstar, Birkholz said.

Star Pride was christened by Nancy Anschutz, wife of Philip Anschutz, the billionaire who owns Windstar through his leisure company Xanterra Parks & Resorts.

Anschutz rescued the financially imperiled Windstar brand in 2011, and approved the plan to double its fleet by acquiring the three Seabourn vessels.

Going forward, Windstar plans to emphasize its intimate, yacht-like ships, casual cruise style and worldwide itineraries, rather than its legacy as a sail-powered cruise line.

Windstar’s three original ships all have sails that provide auxiliary power to their diesel electric engines.

Follow Tom Stieghorst on Twitter @tstravelweekly. 
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