Windstar Cruises will stretch its three Star-class ships as part of a $250 million fleet upgrade that will increase capacity by 24%. 

"This will be a true game changer for Windstar and our small-ship cruise experience," Windstar president John Delaney said in a statement.

The Star Breeze, Star Legend and Star Pride will be lengthened in succession between October 2019 and November 2020, increasing capacity for each ship from 212 to 312 passengers. Italian shipyard Fincantieri will do the work. 

Windstar will add 50 cabins to each ship, bringing the total to 156, at an investment of more than $267,000 per passenger berth. Each ship will combine existing suites to create two three-bedroom, two-balcony Owner's Suites. 

The additional space will also enable the addition of new public spaces, including two dining locations; shop and retail space; an enlarged fitness center; and a spa. Two new dining experiences include an "intimate, alternative dining restaurant" and a casual barbecue space adjacent to the top-deck Star Bar. The ships' Veranda restaurant will be expanded. The swimming pools will be enlarged, reconfigured and elevated to offer better views. 

Each of the three ships will be cut to allow the installation of a new 84-foot section, bringing the ships' total length to just 453 feet. Windstar said the ships will still be small enough to access the smaller ports and harbors that Windstar favors. 

Delaney said the initiative would go beyond adding new suites and public spaces to updating the vessels with more fuel-efficient engines that generate fewer emissions. Seven engines will be removed and four new ones installed that run on cleaner fuel. 

The project makes Windstar the latest cruise line to increase capacity via extensive ship renovations.

"This major investment is an efficient way to build on a winning brand that shows strong momentum and growth potential," said Andrew Todd, CEO of Xanterra Travel Collection, Windstar's parent company.

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