This cruise line is cutting ships in half and putting them back together — here’s why

Nov 19, 2020

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

The much-beloved Windstar Cruises ship Star Breeze is back and, as promised, bigger than before.

Seattle-based Windstar on Wednesday welcomed the 31-year-old vessel back into its fleet after a massive, 13-month-long makeover that included the addition of an entirely new segment to its middle — something that only happens rarely in the cruise world.

The addition, which made the ship about 20% longer, brought the ship 50 new suites and new restaurants, pool decks, retail spaces and an expansive spa and fitness area.

For more cruise news, reviews and tips, sign up for TPG’s new cruise newsletter.

In addition, as part of the project, many of the existing areas of the ship were gutted down to the studs and rebuilt, resulting in a vessel that, in many respects, is almost new.

Indeed, in a virtual tour of the changes for cruise writers on Wednesday, Windstar president Chris Prelog made that point by starting with a picture of the tip of the vessel’s bow.

Related: The best credit cards for booking cruises

The famously pointy bow of Star Breeze didn’t change during the ship’s overhaul. But just about everything else about the vessel did. (Photo courtesy of Windstar Cruises)

“I wanted to start with a picture of (this) section of the ship … because I think it’s the only section of the ship that we haven’t worked on,” Prelog said. “Everything else on the ship is completely transformed.”

Prelog talked about things big and small that had changed on the ship, from the complete overhaul of every bathroom on the vessel to the installation of new owner’s suites that are bigger than anything the ship ever has seen.

“That suite has grown substantially in size,” he said, noting that adjoining suites can be tied into owner’s suites to create massive, three-bedroom complexes.

The new owner’s suites on Star Breeze have a living room, dining room, master bedroom and two bathrooms. (Photo courtesy of Windstar Cruises)

The addition to Star Breeze was accomplished by cutting the vessel in half at a shipyard in Italy and spreading the two halves apart before sliding in a new, pre-built section.

While it wasn’t the first time a cruise ship had been lengthened using such a process, it was billed as the most complex cruise ship lengthening ever.

In part, that’s because the ship received new engines as part of the lengthening — a significant undertaking. The new engines will allow the ship to travel faster than it did before, opening up new itineraries to the line.

Related: Why the new Windstar loyalty program is so good

The Windstar Cruises ship Star Breeze was cut in half in a dry dock as part of a lengthening project. (Photo courtesy of Windstar Cruises)

Indeed, recent sea trials for the revamped vessel showed that it can go even faster than the line anticipated, Prelog said. The lengthening of the ship also has made it operate more smoothly in the water, he said.

“The ship is faster and more quiet and (has) less vibration than anticipated,” Prelog said. “We are very, very pleased with the outcome of that.”

One of the big changes for Star Breeze was the addition of a true pool and expanded sunning areas. The vessel previously only had a relatively small sun deck with just a hot tub and a tiny counter-current pool.

Related: Windstar now will let you book a cabin in a crew area

The new eateries include an outdoor barbecue venue called Star Grill created by barbecue icon Steven Raichlen, and a Spanish restaurant called Cuadro 44 created by Michelin-starred chef Anthony Sasso.

Speaking during Wednesday’s virtual tour, which was held by Zoom, Raichlen called his new barbecue eatery on Star Breeze a “dream come true.” It’ll serve everything from Kansas City-style ribs to Thai chicken satay with peanut sauce, he said.

Michelin-starred chef Anthony Sasso is behind Caudro 44, a new restaurant opening on Windstar Cruises’ Star Breeze. (Photo courtesy of Windstar Cruises)

Sasso, who also was at Wednesday’s virtual tour, said his eatery would offer small plates with such menu items as mussels seasoned with scallion ash, and churros dusted with hibiscus.

In the wake of the overhaul, Star Breeze is 525 feet long — 85 feet longer than before. It now can hold 312 passengers, up from 212 previously.

Two more Windstar ships that are similar to Star Breeze — Star Legend and Star Pride — are undergoing similar transformations. Prelog on Wednesday said Star Legend already had been cut in half and received its new midsection. Finishing work on the vessel remains.

Star Pride is scheduled to enter a dry dock for its transformation in January, Prelog said.

The three vessels undergoing transformations are much-loved by small-ship fans because of their intimacy and ability to dock in small ports that bigger ships can’t access. They originally sailed for luxury line Seabourn, where they also had a large following.

Star Breeze currently is scheduled to resume service on March 27. It had been scheduled to restart cruising sooner but early sailings were canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Planning a cruise? Start with these stories:

Featured image courtesy of Windstar Cruises

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
  • Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.