Cruise Guide: New-look Windstar unveils overhaul

By Mike Coleman

Fleet-wide enhancements are nothing new in the cruise industry, it happens all the time to keep pace with passenger trends, but it’s the product overhaul at Windstar Cruises that caught my eye this week. ¨¨The line is adding a host of amenities and enhancements through 2007 to its three motor sailing yachts – the 308-guest Wind Surf and 148-guest Wind Star and Wind Spirit.

“This initiative will enhance the key areas important to our guests – cuisine, accommodations, service, destinations and activities,” said Diane Moore, Windstar’s vice president, marketing and sales. “We will be adding cutting edge amenities all the while retaining a casual elegance relevant to today’s traveler.”

Look for the high seas to become high-tech at Windstar with the addition of the new Apple iPod Nanos, Bose SoundDocks and personal laptop computers plus wireless connectivity in public areas on all three ships. The Wind Surf also features an onboard Internet center complete with desktop computers.

The line will be introducing 100 new menu items in collaboration with acclaimed celebrity chef Joachim Splichal. New menu items include spicy tomato soup and fried crab beignets, lamb rack with short-rib-mushroom-risotto stuffed onion, minted zucchini and roasted carrots; and seared snapper with oven dried tomatoes, caperberries, nicoise olives, roasted fennel and rice.

Other dining enhancements include the addition of an “Amuse Bouche” (little bite) at dinner, compliments of the chef; Riedel stemware to grace the tabletops aboard each ship; Rosenthal china; a new wine list featuring more boutique labels; a selection of exotic fine cheeses served tableside from a specially designed cheese cart, and Petit-fours, trays of delicate sweet treats, to be served with coffee at the end of dinner.

Complimentary 24-hour room service, said Moore, will also rise to a new level. Guests may elect to dine, course-by-course, in the privacy of their own stateroom.

The overhaul doesn’t stop there.

The menu in the Wind Surf’s Bistro will change. Splichal has created a steak house with entrees such as grilled marinated hanger steak, crispy half chicken rubbed with French mustard and grilled herb marinated Atlantic salmon. In addition, the Bistro will offer Italian, French and Indonesian menus on rotating nights. The Bistro will be redecorated with a new burgundy color scheme including new carpet, curtains, and re-upholstered chairs. Dishes and glassware will also be new featuring Rosenthal china and Schott Zwiesel stemware.

The line features outside staterooms, custom Sealy Posturepedic premium plush Euro-top mattresses, luxurious cotton bed linens and duvets, Egyptian-cotton towels and waffle terry spa bathrobes. Guests will be treated to Shea Butter bathroom amenities from L’Occitane.

Staterooms feature flat screen TVs and DVD/CD players. Other new elements include sheer curtains, throw pillows, luggage mats and new deck hammocks.

Active cruisers often take advantage of Windstar’s complimentary water sports activities – kayaking, sailing, wind surfing, water skiing and snorkeling – as the line features itineraries that typically sail off the beaten path in the Mediterranean, Amalfi Coast and Greek Isles to the Aegean Sea, the Caribbean and Costa Rica.

In keeping with the overhaul, look for Windstar to also adjust itineraries for later departures and more overnight port stays.

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