The Star Plus Initiative: How Windstar Cruises is thinking bigger

Christopher Prelog explains how the line is transforming spaces onboard its Suite Class vessels

The Star Plus Initiative: How Windstar Cruises is thinking bigger
The design for Cuadro 44 by Anthony Sasso was inspired by the various regions of Spain

By Alex Smith |

Windstar Cruises is undertaking an ambitious reimagining of its fleet with the Star Plus initiative. The $250 million transformation of its three Suite Class vessels – Star Breeze, Star Legend and Star Pride – touches all areas of the ships, from their efficiency to the overall guest experience. 

“The initiative not only creates beautiful new suites and public spaces, but also gives us the opportunity to re-engine the ships with a more fuel-efficient and environmentally responsible propulsion system,” says Christopher Prelog, president of Windstar Cruises. “Each of the three all-suite yachts will increase in capacity from 212 guests to 312 in the project.”  

The ships are undergoing a complex lengthening process at Fincantieri’s shipyard in Palermo, Italy, which involves cutting them in half and inserting a new midsection. This extends the ships by 25.6 metres each, bringing them to a total length of just over 159 metres and allowing for the addition of 50 new suites. Meanwhile, existing suites will be rebuilt and refitted with L’Occitane en Provence bath amenities and a new interactive TV system. Star Breeze’s transformation has already been completed, with Windstar taking delivery of the vessel in November 2020. Star Legend and Star Pride are scheduled for completion later this year. 

The cruise line partnered with Ray Chung, director of design at The Johnson Studio at Cooper Carry in New York, USA, for the project with the aim of creating a modern aesthetic for the new onboard spaces. 

“Chung’s goal was to keep the best elements and designs from these iconic vessels and re-envision them for the modern guest,” says Prelog. “The design flows effortlessly through the ship and leverages drama and scale for a larger visual impact.” 

New highlights onboard each ship will include a reimagined and enlarged spa and fitness centre with workout equipment made by Italian company Technogym. The spa menu will offer regional spa treatments and destination-themed therapies as part of the World Spa by Windstar programme, with massage therapists and beauticians using products from Elemis, a British body and skincare line. 

The extension will also make space for two new dining venues: a barbecue concept named Star Grill by Steven Raichlen, and a Spanish small plates restaurant named Cuadro 44 by Anthony Sasso. The existing Veranda restaurant will also be updated with a new coffee station and more seating. Prelog is particularly impressed by Chung’s design for Cuadro 44. 

“The restaurant’s design will be just as exciting as the cuisine,” he says. “Chung drew inspiration from the various regions of Spain, employing a warm and approachable design that recalls the feeling of a rustic home. I can’t wait to sit at the chef’s counter and watch the culinary team in action. After the year we’ve all had, the act of dining in a beautiful indoor restaurant with family and friends sounds divine.” 

The project faced an unexpected challenge with the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. The health crisis has delayed completion, with Star Breeze yet to debut after her lengthening. However, Windstar has chosen to invest in further improvements to ensure the safety of guests and crew onboard the ships going forward.  

“We’ve had to adjust to keep up with current best practices and trends to create a safer environment onboard,” says Prelog. “That’s why we have invested in a new Beyond Ordinary Care programme, which is a multi-layered strategy with key hospital-grade elements including: high-efficiency particulate air filters and UV-C ultraviolet germicidal irradiation to filter and disinfect the air, plus electrostatic sprayers to sanitise all surfaces throughout the vessel. This is an additional multimillion-dollar investment that we didn’t plan to undertake at the outset of this project but have chosen to layer in to cater for our new environment.” 

When guests do get the chance to come onboard, Prelog believes that they will embrace the changes to the ships. 

“I’m confident our guests will find the vessels have all the magic and grace from the past, but with more of the comforts and amenities they want,” he says. 

This article was first published in the 2021 issue of Cruise & Ferry Interiors. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed. 

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