Sparking torch in hand, Windstar Cruises President John Delaney made the final cut to the hull of the Star Breeze at Fincantieri shipyard in Palermo today as Windstar’s lengthening project gets into full swing.
The months-long drydock will add room for 100 more guests, but also a host of further upgrades: two new restaurants, a new pool, a new spa, and countless technical advancements, including complete engine replacements when the ship debuts early next year.
After the cut, Fincantieri crews were balancing the 4,000 ton fore section on 12 skid plates.
Once the load is perfectly balanced the section will be moved about 50 centimetres and then rechecked. Overnight it will be moved forward to make room for the new 25.6-meter-long mid-section, Delaney said.
Delaney praised the shipyard for its expertise as well as its speed. Crews were working in three shifts around the clock to meet the massive scope of work.
“It was really darn impressive to see how much they’d done,” he said. “I actually walked under the ship today and I have to tell you it was a little creepy.”
Windstar’s $250 million Star Plus Initiative will see the Seattle-based company lengthen its three Star-class ships, placing a new midsection in each of them.
The Port of Amsterdam has a long list of inaugural cruise ship visitors in 2018 including the Viking Sea, Mein Schiff 1, Star Breeze, Aegean Odyssey, Viking Sun, Berlin, Le Laperouse and Le Champlain.
“And of course, we are excited that some of our existing clients increased the number of calls in Amsterdam. As well, we are happy that Disney Cruise Line is calling in Amsterdam this year,” said Dick de Graaff, commercial director.
The year should total 186 cruise calls for 400,000 passengers as the industry grows and Amsterdam becomes an increasingly popular cruise call. If the current growth rate continues, the city could see around 250 calls annually by 2023.
The port accommodates as many vessels as it can at its passenger terminal, and is transparent about other berth solutions for conflicts, advised de Graaf.
“We want to keep an open dialogue with our clients; we want to be transparent in our policies and find suitable solutions for all parties,” he said. “That means discussing challenges such as over tourism and sustainability; working together is key to profitable business for both ports and cruise companies.”
A potential bridge project in Amsterdam could make things complicated for the turning basin that big ships use. If the bridge were to be built (at the northern part of the city), the port authority is investigating options for building a new terminal for big ships and using its existing terminal and quay for smaller vessels. A decision is expected by the end of the year.
Among other challenges is a potential head tax on both transit passengers, with the port working closely with legal advisors and the Cruise Lines International Association, a non-profit group headquartered in Washington D.C., to combat the issue.
“And there is a challenge about the increasing pressure on over tourism,” continued de Graff. “Cruise ships are very visible, but they only count for less than 1 per cent of the total number of visitors in Amsterdam.”
NICE, France — Windstar Cruises’ latest acquisition — the 9,975-gross ton, 212-guest Star Breeze — was christened on a brilliantly sunny day in a pier-side ceremony here on Wednesday.
After a blessing by a local priest, godmother Wendy Perrin, a well-known travel journalist, christened the ship by releasing a magnum of Veuve Clicquot champagne into the ship’s bow. It took three attempts to finally break the bottle, which oozed its bubbly contents over the word “Breeze.”
The 1989-built ship, which originally sailed for Seabourn Cruises as the Seabourn Spirit, just emerged from an $8.5 million, three-week refit at Genoa’s San Giorgio del Porto shipyard. The ship was delivered to its new owners on April 15.
The second of three former Seabourn ships to join the Windstar fleet, the Star Breeze follows last year’s addition of the Star Pride (the former Seabourn Pride) and will be followed in May by the Star Legend (the former Seabourn Legend). The expansion doubles the size of Windstar’s fleet from three deluxe, sail-augmented cruise ships to six vessels, bringing its total berths to 1,242.
The Star Breeze christening ceremony in Nice. Photo Credit: Peter Knego
Windstar has given the ship all new soft fittings in its suites and new soft fittings and furnishing in most public areas.
The Star Breeze also has gained expanded outdoor seating in its Veranda restaurant, expanded outdoor decking on Star Deck, and added the Star Screening Room, an intimate theater and games room, in lieu of a card room.
Immediately after the christening, Star Breeze commenced its first voyage, a four night cruise to Rome via Monaco, Portofino and Portoferrraio.