Small-ship line Windstar Cruises will expand its winter presence in the Mediterranean through at least the 2024/2025 season, offering five unique itineraries aboard one ship, Star Legend. The ship began offering winter sailings in Europe in late 2023, and high demand has prompted the boutique line to commit to the region on a longer-term basis.
Guest Feedback Prompts Deployment Change
For the first time in its history, Windstar Cruises deployed one of its six ships to the Mediterranean for a winter season. The decision came in late October 2023, after the Israel-Hamas war prompted the cancelation of Star Legend’s planned Middle East cruises in winter 2023/2024. Instead, Windstar Cruises deployed the 312-guest, all-suite ship to the Mediterranean, where she is sailing a series of voyages between Barcelona and Rome.
Windstar Cruises’ launch of its first-ever Middle East itineraries had been set for November 2023 and was to continue into the spring of 2025. More than a dozen itineraries were planned, along with a set of cruise tours offered in Dubai, UAE, and Muscat, Oman.
After the redeployment, positive feedback from guests and travel advisors spurred the line’s decision to extend its winter program in the Mediterranean.
“On our inaugural sailing in December, every single travel advisor and guest on board told me ‘this is genius’ as we enjoyed the sunny weather of Europe’s most walkable cities when few cruise lines sail Europe’s oceans,” said Janet Bava, chief commercial officer of Windstar Cruises.
“Our biggest learning from this winter’s season was we were limited by the possibilities and experiences we could offer with just the one itinerary — from Rome to Barcelona and the reverse and we have responded to that with a variety of new itineraries for our guests to enjoy the Mediterranean’s most storied destinations in the winter,” added Bava.
Star Legend will offer five itineraries in the Mediterranean for the 2024/2025 season, and two holiday cruises — for Christmas and New Year’s — plus one special event sailing to the south of France, where the ship will be showcased at the International Luxury Travel Market Cannes expo.
New Itineraries Include Two Holiday Cruises
The new slate of itineraries will enable guests to book back-to-back sailings and enjoy longer vacations at sea without repeating ports.
One itinerary, “Winter in Italy and the Adriatic,” is an 8-day cruise departing on November 6, 2024 from Athens and transiting the Corinth Canal to Delphi, Greece, before an overnight stay in Corfu, Greece. The ship will then sail to Crotone, Italy, and Taormina, Sicily, where she will overnight prior to arriving in Naples. The cruise concludes in Rome.
Another exciting cruise will tempt holiday season guests. The ship’s Christmas cruise will sail from Rome to Barcelona, December 23 to 30, 2024, and feature an overnight in Livorno, where guests can attend the Christmas Eve mass at the Duomo, the famous cathedral in Florence. The sailing continues to Genoa, Italy, and Nice, France, before ending in Barcelona with an overnight in the port.
Deployment Allows Year-Round Presence in the Med
The addition of Star Legend’s winter sailings through spring 2025 means that Windstar Cruises will, for the first time, have a year-round presence in the Mediterranean, since three ships, Wind Surf, Wind Star, and Wind Spirit will operate summer voyages in the region.
Star Legend will not remain in the Mediterranean for summer; rather, she will be deployed for Scandinavian voyages. The 342-guest Wind Surf, Wind Star, and Wind Spirit, each with a capacity for 148 guests, launched in 1989, 1986, and 1988, respectively.
Windstar Cruises in December 2023 announced a multi-million-dollar investment to upgrade all three vessels, with extensive renovations and modernizations. Wind Star’s upgrades were completed in late 2023, while Wind Surf and Wind Spirit will undergo their refits in 2024 and 2025, respectively.
The final two ships operated by Windstar Cruises are Star Breeze and Star Pride, both accommodating 312 guests.