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Windstar Cruises, one of Select Waterway’s premier small ship cruise providers, is starting a major investment and expansion of the Star Breeze, Star Legend and Star Pride. Each will be lengthened and completely refurbished, with many new features added.

The initiative will expand guest accommodations on the boutique line’s three all-suite vessels increasing capacity from 212 passengers to 312 guests per ship, following the lengthening. The work will be done to Star Breeze, Star Legend, and Star Pride in succession between October 2019 and November 2020, and take place at the Fincantieri Shipyard in Palermo, Sicily, Italy.

Each ship will be cut in half to allow the installation of a new section that will lengthen each vessel approximately 25.6 meters bringing the total length to just over 159 meters, still the right size to access the smaller ports and harbors that Windstar favors on the line’s immersive itineraries. The project adds 50 new suites, bringing the total number of suites per ship to 156.

The project also involves is the creation of state-of-the-art public spaces including two new dining locations; new shop and retail space; a much enlarged fitness center; and a new world-class spa.

In addition to the impressive scale of work to be done, the renovation includes a comprehensive re-engine project for each ship. This complex undertaking is an uncommon occurrence in the cruise industry and involves the removal of seven current engines and installation of four new, more environmentally friendly engines that will run on cleaner fuel and reduce emissions impact to sailing regions.

Windstar has partnered with acclaimed designer Ray Chung, Director of Design at The Johnson Studio at Cooper Carry in New York, to create modern and inviting design aesthetics for the new public spaces and new suites.

Among new guest amenities and accommodations in the planning phase are:

  • 50 new suites featuring new suite categories and open floor plan configurations.
  • Creation of two brand new, larger Owner’s Suites, that combines existing suites to create up to a three-bedroom, two-balcony suite – the first of its kind in the cruise industry.
  • Two brand new dining experiences including: an intimate, alternative dining restaurant, and a casual barbecue space adjacent to the top deck Star Bar, perfect for outdoor grilling during Windstar’s Signature Onboard Barbecue celebration or enjoying while spending time on deck.
  • Expanded Veranda Restaurant to offer significantly more ocean-view seating and upgraded dining area.
  • For existing suites, all-new bathrooms and installation of new sliding doors for the Balcony Suites.
  • Larger pool and hot tub that will be reconfigured and elevated offering outstanding views, along with more and enhanced outdoor deck area for relaxing and sun-bathing.
  • A completely re-imagined and enlarged spa and fitness center to invigorate active guests.
  • A new elevator mid-ship, making access to all decks easy from anywhere on board.
  • A comfortable, new tender loading area located mid-ship and two new 90-passenger tenders that will ferry guests to port when ships are at anchor.
  • In addition, ship staff and crew areas and accommodations will be expanded and upgraded. Additional crew will be hired and the increase will maintain the line’s impressive 1.5:1 guest to hotel staff ratio.

Additional details about the extensive work to be done, new onboard experiences, and new partnerships will be revealed and highlighted in 2019. Keep in touch with Select Waterways to learn the details!



It turns out that mergers and acquisitions in the cruise industry aren’t just for big cruise conglomerates. American Queen Steamboat Company has just announced a definitive agreement to acquire the Victory I and sister ship Victory II from Sunstone Ships, Inc., owners of the Victory Cruise Lines brand, which is currently marketing the two ships on Great Lakes cruises, Canada/New England cruises, Cuba cruises and voyages to Mexico’s Yucatan. The deal isn’t anticipated to close until January 2019 so don’t expect any changes until then. After all, it’s a big step for fast-growing American Queen Steamboat Company. The 5,000-ton, 300-foot-long, 202-guest Victory I and Victory II are both identical and details of upcoming operations on both of vessels will be announced in the coming months.

“We are pleased to purchase the Victory I and Victory II which will fuel the continued success and growth of American Queen Steamboat Company,” said American Queen Steamboat Company Chairman and CEO John Waggoner. “We look forward to working closely with Victory Cruise Lines’ new and existing travel partners. These vessels enable us to provide guests with more diverse cruising options particularly in the Great Lakes, a region that our customers have been requesting for years.”

The Victory I and Victory II will join the American Queen Steamboat Company fleet under the Victory Cruise Lines name, alongside the flagship 436-guest American Queen and 166-guest boutique paddlewheeler American Duchess sailing the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers and the 224-guest American Empress in the Pacific Northwest. The new 245-guest American Countess, currently under construction in Louisiana, will debut in 2020.

Victory Cruise Lines has established itself as the leading cruise line on the Great Lakes, and demand for our cruises for 2019 is already 35% grater than this year. American Queen Steamboat Company’s established and strong product and brand is well-suited to take the Victory vessels and Victory Cruise Lines brand forward creating one of the largest North American Great Lakes and U.S. River cruising companies in the country,” said Victory Cruise Lines President and CEO Hans Lagerweij. Also, Victory has a new ship on order, the 180-guest Ocean Victory for delivery in 2021, which is designed for worldwide expedition cruises, further expanding the reach of small ship cruising.

So, what does all this mean for you? It means that you can choose from cruises in America on the Great Lakes, Pacific Northwest, America’s Heartland, Canada/New England as well as journeys to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula and Cuba all from the same company, with the promise of expedition cruising yet to come. Coastal cruises, small ship cruises, American river cruises and expedition cruises will all be under the same umbrella. And if the rave reviews of American Queen Steamboat Company and Victory Cruise Lines are any indication, you’ll be able to do so in incomparable style as well!

Give Select Waterways a call and let us help you navigate the abundant new world of small ship and river cruising.