Is Windstar Cruises in trouble? That's the general takeaway among Cruise Critic members who have read a couple of different blog postings this month on USA Today's Cruise Log.
Indeed, in a blog entry posted yesterday, the USA Today blogger said that "Windstar Cruises might need a lifeline," noting that Windstar's revenue decreased by $4 million during the first quarter of this year -- and parent company Ambassadors International is on the verge of bankruptcy and in need of a major cash infusion in order to continue operating.
While Windstar has not shied away from discussing financial challenges that Ambassadors International has been facing with other companies that it owns (including Majestic America, the river cruise line that's gone non-operational as it seeks a buyer), Windstar has maintained that it is healthy and strong. But the series of postings on USAToday.com -- which appeared with facts from earnings reports but no comment by any Windstar executives -- raised concerns on Cruise Critic's message boards. As a result, Windstar's Vanessa Bloy, the line's spokeswoman, reached out to Cruise Critic today with a request to post a statement that would clarify the issue.
The statement, now posted on the Windstar forum, says that "Windstar Cruises continues to provide our loyal guests with the award-winning, luxurious, yet casually elegant experience Windstar is known for." It emphasizes that the cruise line is looking forward to the future with new programs and itineraries; in April it launched its 2010 and winter 2011 schedules.
Bloy told Cruise Critic today that not only is Windstar excited about new itineraries and port calls in the next year, but also that in April cruise bookings were up a whopping 87 percent over the same month last year in what then was a pre-recessionary time. Demand is so high, Bloy noted, that Windstar's call center is now open seven days a week.
Moreover, well-regarded cruise veteran Art Rodney, who has been in the industry for over 30 years with posts at both Crystal and Disney, recently replaced Joe Ueberroth as the Chairman of the Board of Ambassadors International.
For more information, check out the specific thread for the entire content of the statement issued this week by Windstar Cruises.
--by Melissa Baldwin Paloti, Managing Editor
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Windstar Cruises: On an Upswing or Losing Steam?
May 21, 2009