In the fall of 2015, Windstar Cruises launched a brand new itinerary on the Star Breeze in the Caribbean, which was filled with what every cruise line hopes to have. A “new” itinerary that’s actually “new” again. That is, the Star Breeze is a brand new ship, but it’s been in service for over 10 years.
Windstar Cruises has decided to shake things up with the Star Breeze, a cruise ship that it has re-imagined to give guests a more upscale experience. The Star Breeze is a new ship that launched in the second quarter of 2013, and it is described as a premium ship that “offers all the amenities of a first-class cruise, with even more upscale amenities”. The Star Breeze has a new look, with a slimmer silhouette and a much more modern feel. The suites have been redesigned and re-imagined, with higher ceilings, greater storage space, larger balconies and more luxurious features. The ship is also configured with state-of-the-art technology and high-end entertainment options, and is
The Star Breeze is on a multi-year renovation and refurbishment program to keep this new class of ship modern and fresh. Since the shipyard was busy getting the Star Breeze back to its full glory, the company is offering a host of new features, entertainment and services to keep passengers happy.This week, a travel consultant travels aboard Windstar Cruises’ 12,995-ton Star Breeze. The ship, which was refurbished and sharpened in late 2020, left her new home port of St. Maarten on Saturday for her first cruise (the first since the refurbishment) and is currently sailing through the Caribbean.
Although the ship has a capacity of 312 people, only about 80 passengers – cruisers, Windstar executives and media representatives – are on board for the maiden voyage. Here are some highlights of our short stay on board and the tour we received from Milton Ceklić, the general manager of the ship’s hotel.
50 additional suites, including large suites: When the ship was modernized and expanded, 50 more suites were added. There are two new 1,374 square foot Grand Suites at the front of the yacht, numbers 640 and 641, which are much larger than the two existing owner’s cabins at the front, as well as two additional owner’s cabins amidships. The new Grand Suites have a spacious living room, a separate dining room with a table that seats six (although normally there are only four chairs, but two can be added if needed), a separate bedroom and a bathroom with a bathtub and separate shower, as well as a private balcony.
New large apartment // Photo by Susan G. Yang
And a new category of entry-level suites are the 10-star Porthole Suites, which are still very spacious and the same size as the ocean-view balcony suites – 277 square feet. In fact, they only have large windows, no windows or balcony. Everything else remained the same.
New furnishings and new mattresses in the suites: Whether it’s the ship’s older suites or the brand new ones added in the middle, they’ve all been given attractive new decor in blue and beige/cream colors, new carpets, curtains and drapes.
More importantly, each suite is equipped with new mattresses, sheets and pillows; the cruise line has done the same for the crew quarters. Judging by the anecdotal comments at dinner last night, the mattresses are quite comfortable. The guests in our group (including this reporter) loved them and slept very well.
New televisions in all suites: All rooms feature new flat-screen televisions on the wall and a new entertainment system with movies, TV shows, bill lookup, signage assistance and ordering services such as room service. New television sets have also been installed in the crew cabins.
New showers, two sinks in the bathroom: Some bathrooms in the new section have large tiled showers installed, there are no baths. Some guests want that, Čeklić noted. Nevertheless, we visited many rooms, which still have showers and baths, and the room descriptions have been updated on the company’s website. One thing that won’t change is Windstar’s requirement to have two sinks in every bathroom. There’s one in every room.
New framework for balcony suites: The previous suites, called Balcony Suites, essentially had what most consultants would call French balconies. The guest can now open the door and step onto the narrow balcony. There’s not enough room for chairs (given the width of the balcony), but it’s a way for people to get all the way outside and have a slightly better view.
To accommodate this change, Windstar moved the balcony edge in the suite slightly and created a slightly larger floor to make room for these cantilevered balconies.
Reverse layout : Another new feature is that many of the new living spaces created in the Stretch project have an inverted floor plan: The sleeping area is closest to the balcony, window or porthole, the living area is next to the front door. But the existing apartments retain their original floor plan. Guests have a choice depending on who is staying in the room with them and what their preference is. There is still a retractable transparent curtain, as well as an opaque curtain that can be stretched between the two zones.
Pull-out sofas that turn into beds: As for sofas, some can be turned into beds, some cannot. This applies to both old and new buildings.
Illy self-service coffee machines: While guests in all suites can order complimentary coffee via room service, the Deluxe Owner’s and Grand Suites now feature an Illy coffee maker with in-room coffee selection. Illy machines are numbered 431, 500, 501, 531, 600, 601, 627, 640 and 641.
Suite pricing philosophy : During the tour with Cheklick through the different suites it is striking that the existing suites, which are completely renovated, and the newly added rooms during the renovation look very similar. New bedding, carpets and other soft goods are the same for all suites. The old and new rooms look a little different, but in reality the atmosphere is almost the same.
With this in mind, suite rates are based on the type of suite – open, window or balcony – and not whether it’s an old or new suite. There is not much difference between the old and the new, says Čeklić. We agree by examining samples from both types of houses.
Stretching elements : With the extra space bringing more amenities, a new staircase midship was also installed and a new elevator midship, moving between deck 3 and deck 8.
A new specialty restaurant: The ship features a new specialty restaurant, Kuadro 44 by Anthony Sasso, an eclectic Spanish restaurant created in collaboration with the James Beard Foundation award-winning chef, who spent 13 years at the Michelin-starred Casa Mono. Cuadro 44 seats 36, but because of the social distance and staggered meal times, Ceklic estimates that only 22 people can dine at a time.
Cuadro is the Spanish word for frame, and ships are built in frames, so yes, it was frame 44 when this ship was originally built. Guests are invited to enjoy inventive and contemporary Spanish cuisine in an intimate setting with table seating. There is also a small bar with stools overlooking the outdoor kitchen, so guests can watch the chefs at work. Reservations are necessary, but this restaurant is free for guests.
Amphora // Photo by Susan G. Yang
The dining room has been improved and the acoustics have been enhanced: Previously, some guests had commented that Amphora’s large dining room was a bit noisy in places. So the dining room was redesigned, the line acoustic improvements were made and now the place is much quieter, Cheklich said.
New wine walls and chandeliers have also been added. The 224 seats in this restaurant are sufficient to provide seating, which is consistent with standard line policy. However, given current health and safety protocols, only about 110 people can be seated at any one time, which would require two seats.
Several places to eat: Despite the ship’s size, guests have a wide variety of dining options, including the new Cuadro 44, Amphora, Candles (a 62-seat outdoor steakhouse for dinner), Verandah (a 138-seat casual restaurant for breakfast and lunch) and Steven Reichlen’s new Star Grill. While the ship previously had a Star Bar, it has now added the Star Grill, where guests can choose from classic barbecue and grill dishes.
The Candles restaurant is located off the back deck adjacent to the veranda and is covered by a new awning, but if it rains hard, guests can move inside on the veranda. With the staggered dining hours, the maximum number of guests who can eat at Candles at the same time will be between 30 and 40, Ceklic said. While 99 percent of menu items are free at Candles, Windstar charges $25 if a customer orders a sirloin steak.
The Yacht Club Café also offers all-day snacks and complimentary 24-hour room service.
The new Star Breeze pool // Photo by Susan J. Breeze. Yang
New swimming pool and whirlpool: Previously, the Star Breeze did not have a real pool, as many of the guests wished. It is now. The pool is even elevated, so guests sitting there can enjoy not only the deck, but also the surrounding water or nearby sights. In addition, the pool deck has been renovated with new showers and a new hot tub. A second new whirlpool is located in the forward section of deck 5.
A new, bigger star shop, an outsourced library: The new, much larger Star Boutique was created by completely removing the casino and library, as Windstar reported that the casino was not being well used by customers. In addition, the popular Compass Rose Lounge has been upgraded, also gaining space with the removal of the casino.
The library moves to the yacht club building. The line also removed a small lifeboat in the now larger store. This small lifeboat is no longer needed, as the shipping company has installed two new, larger lifeboats and two lifeboats in the new central ship.
The World Spa has been completely redesigned and expanded: The World Spa has been completely renovated and expanded with a new fitness room overlooking the terrace. Windstar has added an exercise studio for yoga and other sports, as well as a new relaxation room and a hair salon (which joins the spa’s beauty salon).
The new experience shower is designed for one person and one couple, with changing lights and multiple jets. In addition, the World Spa now has four treatment rooms, one additional treatment room and a new steam sauna and regular sauna.
Stay tuned this week for more information on Windstar Cruises’ Star Breeze cruise ship.
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