A renovation of Windstar’s already fabulous Wind Surf sail ship took place recently and she is now sailing 2020 and 2021 Caribbean, European and transatlantic cruises for advisors to book.
Hailed as the largest sail ship in the world, Wind Surf still maintains the small ship feel it’s known for with only 342 guests (previously 310) and a crew that pays attention to the details and customers’ needs.
“We adjust the experiences based on feedback from our customers and fit the ship experience and operations to serve them,” says the ship’s hotel general manager Iulian Petrasuc.
One of the feedbacks from guests was the desire for more onboard entertainment, and this has come to fruition as the main lounge area has been refreshed and is now more spacious with a more living room feel featuring couches on either side and a center stage with a dance floor that stretches out to the middle of the lounge.
“Fourteen nationalities, mostly Indonesian and Filipino, make up the 205 onboard crew members that stay close to our guests to make sure their needs are being met,” adds Petrasuc. On our recent sailing, we witnessed this many times over. For example, I was wearing all black and did not even have to ask the server to bring me a black napkin. He just appeared with one.
Refreshed & Expanded
The ship’s redesign has added 16 cabins and suites for you to sell, with the new cabins evoking the relaxed and soothing feel that you’ve come to expect from Windstar accommodations. They offer a neutral palette complemented by subtle and soothing creme- and taupe-colored fabrics as well as wood cabinetry, with new tan, cream and blue nautical-patterned carpeting. The 242-sq.-ft. Captain’s Suite with bedroom, living room, full bath and dining area got a total makeover with a nautical-inspired decor with charts, sextants and museum-quality replicas of some of the ships from the Windstar fleet.
Travel advisors are our most important partners. In recent years, Windstar has made a concerted effort to reconnect and provide new training options, as well as enhanced support tools and incentives as part of our Star Promise initiative. Our new multi-tier travel agency recognition program is also going really well. But perhaps most importantly, we’ve loved rolling out updated and new experiences to advisors—in particular, our ongoing $250 Million Star Plus Initiative and this major upgrade to Wind Surf.
— John Delaney, President, Windstar
The state-of-the-art spa and wellness center, meanwhile, was refreshed and relocated—it is now on the Star Deck (5), allowing for more light to filter in. It offers a wide variety of services, from massage and facial treatments, to traditional Chinese medicine therapies. There’s also a hair salon/barber shop and the fitness center offers complimentary daily classes such as free yoga or Pilates.
On its sustainable front, Windstar ships use cleaner burning fuel with low sulfur content. Every night, the Wind Surf unfurls her sails to reduce engine power, which ultimately saves fuel emissions from the atmosphere. And, says Petrasuc, “Our chefs are buying locally and not wasting as much food…we buy what we need to use…so less waste.”
The menu in the main dining room, AmphorA, which received a refresh, changes nightly, and each menu features a James Beard Foundation chef’s special recipe for an appetizer and main course. For example, chef Jennifer Jasnski, a James Beard Foundation award winner for Best Chef Southwest, prepares palm hearts & Romesco leaves followed by pan-seared scallop in a Thai green curry sauce and Asian mango slaw.
Not only are the James Beard-featured chef dishes scrumptious, but every night we had a choice of fish, meat or vegetarian dishes beautifully prepared, from pan-seared dorado and thyme-roasted filet mignon, to slow-braised lamb shank and vegan grilled eggplant rollatini with ricotta filling and tomato sauce.
Petrasuc explains that their chef is empowered to bring local flavors to the dishes that are created from the countries the ship visits. “Our guests can also be part of the local experience by joining our chef when he buys the food in the local port markets one or two times of week.”
In addition to the main dining room, the Wind Surf offers guests two alternative dining venues at no up-charge. Each one can be enjoyed at least once during the cruise: Stella Bistro, offering French-influenced cuisine, and Candles, an alfresco steakhouse. Meals for breakfast and lunch are served at the Veranda, with indoor/outdoor seating. Another area to grab a light breakfast or lunch is the coffee bar in the Yacht Club, which is one of my favorite areas to hang. Another favorite area is Compass Rose at the aft of the ship; this cocktail lounge has music every night starting at 6 p.m. and is always a festive place for “sail away” gatherings where “sail away” cocktails honoring the ports visited are served. It features a full bar with indoor and outdoor seating.
For true culinary aficionados, every cruise has a cooking demo with a chef, putting a spotlight on the ingredients from the area visited, and Wind Surf will have a James Beard Foundation guest chef cruise to book for 2020—the 8-day James Beard Foundation Cruise: Quintessential Croatia: Venice to Venice sails Oct. 16.
You Should Know…
Windstar offers Beyond Ordinary shore excursions that take passengers behind the scenes, such as a private Sistine Chapel tour in Rome. And just as on shore, travel advisors should let clients know they can experience other cultures on board, too. Seventy percent of passengers are from the U.S., and the balance is mostly from Europe, although they also hail from New Zealand and Australia.
And new for Windstar in 2020 is the Star Collector: Grand Caribbean Adventure. The nearly 2-month, wide-ranging itinerary features a first-time-ever visit to the Panama Canal for Wind Surf where the ship will bring guests on a remarkable journey through the 3-tiered Gatun Locks, the historic Atlantic connector locks, followed by scenic cruising on Gatun Lake, then back to the Caribbean through the Gatun Locks that afternoon. It calls on 38 ports and 27 countries in just 56 days.
What’s In it For Travel Advisors
• Renewal of marriage vows on board are popular, as are first-time marriages performed on the open deck with the romance of the raised sails and sea—ideal for group bookings.
• “All-in” beverage and Wi-Fi packages are commissionable at 10 percent if booked in advance.
• There’s a groups incentive that offers $100 SBC in addition to the already lucrative groups program for all group bookings made by March 31, 2020.