How Windstar Cruises’ small ships are delivering big adventures

Kristin Badgett explains why the brand’s vessels make it possible to deliver unique cruise experiences

How Windstar Cruises’ small ships are delivering big adventures
Nafplion in Greece is one of six destinations on the ‘Treasures of the Greek Isles’ itinerary

By Rebecca Gibson |

Luxury small-ship cruise brand Windstar Cruises aims to “imagine and deliver personalised and immersive experiences 180 degrees from ordinary” and “enrich people’s perspectives through inspired travel”. To do this, the brand “scours the world for amazing places just this side of unreachable” and seeks out the most authentic ways for guests to experience them.  

“Windstar offers travellers unique itineraries filled with legendary places and access to smaller ports,” says Kristin Badgett, the brand’s vice president of revenue and itinerary planning. “Our itineraries allow guests to explore destinations with old-world villages, hidden coves and harbours that are off  
the beaten path.”  

Finding the ideal destinations and curating compelling itineraries is difficult, says Badgett.  

“It can be challenging if you are looking at regions or ports that you have not personally visited, so we consult all departments and ship management when planning itineraries,” she explains. “The process is made even more difficult by the ever-evolving global landscape. It’s more important than ever for us to remain flexible, open to change and willing to assess our options or adjust our itineraries if necessary.  

“At Windstar, we have an experienced team that is committed to providing engaging and scenic cruises while ensuring the safety of all aboard. Guest satisfaction is always our highest priority. Of course, we also want to maintain company profitability while providing cruises consistent with Windstar’s guests’ interests too.” 

The small size of Windstar’s six boutique all-suite vessels, which carry between 148 and 342 guests, make it easier for the brand to deliver on its promise of taking guests to destinations that are “just this side of unreachable”.  

“Our smaller ships can use prime berthing locations in iconic cities, such as Venice in Italy or Dubrovnik in Croatia, and call at ports that are inaccessible to larger vessels,” says Badgett. “This allows travellers to explore lesser-known, under-the-radar destinations and smaller cities. These destinations often have fewer tourists, so they are less crowded and offer the opportunity for travellers to enjoy more intimate and authentic cultural experiences with the people who live there. In addition, we can source expert local guides for our tours which are a key part of the immersive experiences our guests desire.”  

Windstar’s vessels operate a range of different length itineraries to destinations worldwide, including in Europe, the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, Costa Rica and the Panama Canal, Asia, New England and Eastern Canada, the Middle East, Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific. It also has a ship based year-round in Tahiti.  

According to Badgett, Windstar’s two highest performing itineraries are the ‘Dreams of Tahiti’ and ‘Treasures of the Greek Isles’ sailings. The weeklong ‘Dreams of Tahiti’ roundtrip itinerary departs from Papeete in Tahiti and calls at five other French Polynesian islands – Huahine, Motu Mahaea, Moorea, Bora Bora and Raiatea. Some of the shore excursion highlights include a visit to a private motu (tiny islet), kayaking, hiking, snorkelling, diving, swimming in lagoons, tasting Polynesian cuisine, watching traditional fire dancing, and exploring the ancient Māori temple at Taputapuatea, a renowned Unesco World Heritage Site. 

Meanwhile, the seven-day ‘Treasures of the Greek Isles’ cruises sail roundtrip from Athens and call at Mykonos, Patmos, Santorini, Monemvasia and Nafplion, as well as Kusadasi in Turkey. During this cruise, guests can relax on numerous beaches, visit nine Unesco World Heritage sites and participate in a complimentary Windstar Destination Discovery Event. The latter is an exclusive five-course, white-glove-service dinner under the stars in the Roman city of Ephesus accompanied by a trio from the Aegean Chamber Orchestra. 

“These are longstanding repeat itineraries as the destinations are very popular with our guests,” says Badgett. “We know these regions very well and have developed strong relationships with our partners there. Our deep ties and decades of experience enable us to deliver exceptional cruise experiences.”  

This article was first published in the 2024 issue of Cruise & Ferry Itinerary Planning. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed. Subscribe to Cruise & Ferry Itinerary Planning for FREE to get the next issue delivered directly to your inbox. 

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