Skip to content

Romance alert: A new upscale cruise ship soon will be operating in French Polynesia

April 27, 2022
6 min read
Romance alert: A new upscale cruise ship soon will be operating in French Polynesia
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.

There's some big news today for travelers looking for a romantic getaway in French Polynesia: Small-ship specialist Windstar Cruises soon will deploy one of its premier vessels to the region on a permanent basis.

Windstar President Chris Prelog late Tuesday told TPG that the company would base its recently revamped 312-passenger Star Breeze in Papeete, Tahiti, year-round starting in February 2024. It will be used for romantic sailings to iconic French Polynesian islands such as Bora Bora, Moorea and Huahine.

The deployment will more than double Windstar's capacity in the region as compared to recent years when it based its much smaller 148-passenger Wind Spirit in Tahiti.

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

"There's definitely demand increasing for French Polynesia," Prelog told TPG during a one-on-one interview at Seatrade Cruise Global, the cruise industry's annual meetup in Miami. "It's a hot bucket-list item."

Windstar deployed Star Breeze to French Polynesia on a temporary basis this past winter in a test of sorts that Prelog said proved it would be a hit in the region.

Prelog said new upscale touches added to the ship in a top-to-bottom overhaul in 2020 were popular with customers. The unusual overhaul, which involved cutting the ship in half and adding a new section that lengthened the vessel, brought 50 new suites as well as new restaurants, pool decks, retail spaces and an expansive spa and fitness area.

The Windstar ship Star Breeze was cut in half and expanded in 2020 as part of a major overhaul. (Photo courtesy of Windstar Cruises)

Additionally, 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.

The overhaul of Star Breeze also made the vessel faster, which will allow the line to offer new itineraries in French Polynesia that include islands that traditionally haven't been part of the line's routings in the region.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

"It allows us to do a little bit more there," Prelog said, while adding that the line wasn't yet ready to announce the new itineraries.

Related: The complete guide to cruising in French Polynesia

Windstar has been a longtime leader in French Polynesia cruises, operating in the region for 35 years. It's one of two traditional cruise lines that dominate the market for French Polynesia cruises — the other being one-ship line Paul Gauguin Cruises.

Tourists also can cruise around French Polynesia on Aranui 5, an unusual hybrid vessel that is part cargo ship, part passenger vessel.

The recent overhaul of Star Breeze brought a new owner's suite with a living room, a dining area, a master bedroom and two bathrooms. (Photo courtesy of Windstar Cruises)

With the arrival of Star Breeze in French Polynesia, Windstar will remove Wind Spirit, a sailing ship, from the market. The latter vessel will reposition for at least part of the year to the Mediterranean, where it will operate side by side with a sister sailing ship, the 148-passenger Wind Star.

The move will leave Windstar with two sailing ships operating in the Greek islands, which is a premier destination for sailing ship operations, Prelog noted.

Related: Bora Bora for the day — what to do during a cruise visit

"We know that our sailing ships are very good in Greece and the Mediterranean," he said.

Prelog said Windstar is able to increase capacity in French Polynesia in part because the number of flights to the destination is growing. As TPG has reported, French Polynesia air carrier Air Tahiti Nui is increasing flights from the U.S. to Tahiti later this year with new twice-a-week departures from Seattle. The airline also is flying to Tahiti more frequently from Los Angeles.

Prelog noted that United now has five flights per week to Tahiti from San Francisco, too.

"There's a lot of air capacity coming into Tahiti, so that's a great opportunity for us to increase our capacity," Prelog said.

Prelog praised the tourism board of French Polynesia and the country's leadership for "doing a great job promoting French Polynesia" of late, which is creating a "huge interest" in the destination.

Traveling to the islands of French Polynesia by cruise ship is the best way to see them, Prelog said, as it allows for visiting multiple islands on a single trip and is more affordable than a visit that involves a land resort.

Related: The ultimate guide to Windstar's Yacht Club loyalty program

Seven-night Windstar sailings around French Polynesia currently start at $2,299 per person, based on double occupancy. Some overwater bungalows in French Polynesia cost that much per night, though on a per-room basis, and don't include all the extras like meals that are included on Windstar sailings.

"There is no other way you can see [French Polynesia] as well as on a Windstar ship," Prelog said. "If you stay in a resort, it doesn't move. When you go on our ship, every day you open that curtain on your suite and you look out [at a new island] and say 'Oh my God, this is even more beautiful than the last.'"

In addition to adding a new ship in French Polynesia, Windstar is developing plans to offer pre- and post-cruise resort stays to its cruising customers. The trip extensions would allow cruisers to spend a night or two in an overwater bungalow — one of French Polynesia's iconic experiences — in addition to visiting multiple islands by ship.

"It's the perfect combination," Prelog noted. "You get the overwater bungalow experience that's the bucket-list item everyone wants ... and then go on a [ship] to see the islands [around] Tahiti."

Windstar also is developing plans to offer onboard vow renewals during French Polynesia sailings.

The new French Polynesia sailings on Star Breeze have yet to be officially announced but should be soon. The trips likely will be available for booking in three or four weeks, Prelog said.

Planning a cruise? Start with these stories:

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

Top offers from our partners

How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
See all best card offers

TPG featured card

Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site

Rewards

3 - 4X points
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.

Intro offer

60,000 bonus points
Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

Annual Fee

$250

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees