This long awaited announcement about the future of Windstar's three 'Star Class' ships has at last been confirmed, and from November onwards each will undergo the Star Plus treatment, taking them into the yard for four months apiece, under the auspices of the renowned Fincantieri yard.
The plan is to cut and stretch the ships, increasing their capacity to 312 guests accommodated in 156 suites. In addition, there will be a total re-engineering, completely replacing the engines and making the ships greener and more fuel efficient, not to mention a little faster. The ships will still be small, but even mightier, with more public space and open deck, 50 new suites, and enhanced dining as a result of the addition of a 70-metre mid-section.
The casual verandah dining to the aft of the ships will be opened out to give extra space indoors and out, all the current suites will have all new bathrooms installed, and Star Porthole Suites will be introduced at entry level on deck 3, at a spacious 277 square feet, with the same design and size as the existing suites.
With the extended midships deck space, there is the opportunity to introduce a larger infinity pool alongside the Jacuzzi. On the deck above, the much loved Star Bar will be extended and protected by a double height glass balustrade, with the introduction of a barbecue for a lunchtime 'grab and go' dining area.
A major reworking of this sort is of course hugely expensive, and sometimes it is hard to understand why the owners feel it is worthwhile (the stretching of Silver Spirit, at great expense, for just a few additional suites, being a case in point). In this instance though, it is not just a question of increasing the capacity of the ship and reworking the public areas. The work on the engines was essential for the future of these ships, in order to allow them to continue in operation. The previous four engines will be reduced to two, which will use less fuel even though the ships are larger, and will also be able to function using new cleaner fuel.
A new tender embarkation area will remove the need to leave the ship via metal stairways from the lounge, making it more accessible for those with limited mobility, and more comfortable for everyone, with protection to embark and disembark in the lee of the ship, resulting in fewer port cancellations when seas are heavy.
The casino will be removed altogether to give increased space in the lovely Compass Rose lounge, and adjacent to this will be the new restaurant, to serve Spanish style tapas family style to just 38 guests at a time. Guests will be entitled to one visit to this restaurant at no extra charge, giving three evening dining options including AmphorA and Candles.
The post-stretch itineraries on board Star Breeze and Star Legend are now open for sale. Timetables for the work have Star Breeze entering the yard first, from November 2019 to February 2020, Legend from February to July 2020, and Pride from July to November 2020.