Windstar aims to grow its fleet, offer more lavish excursions

Windstar aims to grow its fleet, offer more lavish excursions

ABOARD THE STAR PRIDE — Windstar Cruises plans more
elaborate shore excursions, an improved loyalty program and an upgraded lineup
of enrichment speakers.

Speaking to a group aboard the annual President’s Cruise in
Panama, Windstar president John Delaney also said that Windstar continues to hunt
for new additions to its six-ship fleet.

“We truly want to grow this brand,” Delaney said.

With Seatrade, a large annual trade show scheduled in Fort
Lauderdale two weeks from now, Delaney said he would be using the forum to meet
with several parties about new capacity, “either new or existing.” He
indicated that discussions are continuing with Club Med about the acquisition
of the 310-passenger Club Med 2, a sister ship to Windstar’s Wind Surf that has
long been on the line’s wish list.

“I’d love to have that ship,” Delaney said.

On excursions, Delaney said he is personally leading a team
seeking to make them more luxurious. He cited the example of a day’s visit to
Sorrento, Italy, that would include a helicopter ride to a private tour of
Pompeii, lunch at a seaside Amalfi coast restaurant and an afternoon tour of a
lemon grove and limoncello factory.

“We can do it on ships of this size. You can’t do that
when you have 1,000, 2,000, 3,000 passengers,” he said.

Newly named vice president of fleet operations Chris Prelog,
also on the president’s cruise, said Windstar would seek out small restaurants to
bring aboard some of their signature dishes. He said that to ease traffic
bottlenecks in the Veranda restaurant at lunch, another dining venue (possibly
a food truck concept) may be added to an open space on Deck 8, one deck up from
the Veranda.

Delaney said Windstar would like to offer more
destination-related enrichment speakers — naturalists, geologists, park
rangers, wildlife experts — to help narrate and interpret destinations for
guests.

He dangled the possibility of improved benefits for Yacht
Club loyalty members — such as free internet, laundry service and a 15%
discount on shore excursions — but said Windstar must first clean up its
records so that every guest is credited with the proper number of past cruises.
He said Windstar would be reaching out to guests to get the proper information
it needs.

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