Star Breeze: A New Lease On Life For A Classic Ship
On Saturday, we’ll begin our first Live Voyage Report of 2016, as we sail Windstar Cruises’ Star Breeze through Costa Rica and the Panama Canal. It’s an incredible itinerary; one that will take us from Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica to Quepos and Manuel Antonio National Park; Bahia Drake’s Corcovado National Park; Golfo Duce; the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Isla de Coiba – all before a spectacular (and very rare) evening transit of the engineering marvel that is the Panama Canal.
But an equally great marvel of engineering and human spirit is the Star Breeze, one of three motor-yachts recently acquired by the formerly all-sail Windstar Cruises. So how does a cruise line move from being primarily rooted in the world of wind power to one with ships that can explore nearly every corner of the planet? Very carefully.
Before our voyage begins, I want to tell you about the Star Breeze – where she’s been, what changes have been made, and why she’s the perfect vessel to embody Windstar’s personalized style of cruising.
A Past Life: Seabourn Spirit
Star Breeze began her life in 1989 as Seabourn Spirit, the second launch vessel for the then-newly-formed Seabourn Cruise Line; an upstart cruise line founded by industry vet Atle Byrnestad that intended to use the fledgling line to enter the luxury cruise market. Originally, Seabourn was to have been called Signet, but that name was scrapped early on after Signet Oil registered a complaint.
The sister to Seabourn Pride and, later, Seabourn Legend, Seabourn Spirit served Seabourn for well over twenty years. During that time, however, she was continually refitted. French balconies were added, as the ship’s original oceanview-only accommodations were falling out of style in the late 1990’s. Certain features were removed, while others were added.
As built, the Seabourn trio featured an underwater observation room known as the Nautilus Room, where sixteen people at a time could look “under the sea” through reinforced glass windows. Another early feature was a special stargazing platform that featured high-powered telescopes. Both features were removed during their careers with Seabourn.
One feature that wasn’t removed were the ship’s retractable marina platforms mounted at the stern, which have been heavily copied ever since. This fits in perfectly with the Windstar mantra; each of the line’s existing three sail-motor ships includes a retractable marina.
Seabourn Spirit, Seabourn Pride and Seabourn Legend were sold in bulk to Windstar Cruises, which acquired the three ships in 2014 and 2015, respectively. The latter two became Star Pride and Star Legend when they entered service for Windstar. Recently refitted by Seabourn before their transfers, Windstar didn’t really have much work to do to the public spaces and staterooms onboard – but the line chose to embark on a multi-million dollar refitting campaign that would make each of these three vessels unmistakably theirs.
The Windstar Difference
During her transformation from Seabourn Spirit to Star Breeze, Windstar drydocked their newest acquisition in Genoa, Italy for a three week, $8.5-million refurbishment on April 15, 2015.
Our Live Voyage Report from onboard Windstar Cruises’ Star Breeze will begin this Saturday as we embark our ship in Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica! Be sure to follow along with our adventures on Twitter @deckchairblog.
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