Windstar Announces New Enhancement Program

October 5, 2005
Windstar Cruises -- Holland America's sibling that operates the sailing-cum-cruise vessels Wind Star, Wind Spirit and Wind Surf -- is launching "Degrees of Difference," a program that aims to provide upgrades in facilities and amenities.

This is a key effort for Windstar, which of late has frankly fallen behind other lines pitching themselves as luxury. Indeed, writes Cruise Critic contributor Fran Golden, who just returned from sailing on Wind Surf in the Mediterranean, “it's still a wonderful cruise experience, but less a luxury experience than an alternative experience.”

The enhancements will target dining, staterooms, service, itineraries and onboard activities. Among the specifics? The addition of high tech toys, such as Apple iPod nanos and Bose SoundDocks. Wireless connectivity will also be available in public areas.

Joachim Splichal, Windstar's celebrity chef and the creator of the line's Signature Cuisine offerings, has already begun expanding those menus. As well, Wind Surf's Bistro will be recreated to resemble a steakhouse -- and will rotate other nights to offer Italian, French and Indonesian cuisine. The restaurant will receive a redecoration with new dishes, glassware, and soft furnishings.

In a much-welcomed move, Windstar's plans for stateroom upgrades include cotton duvets, spa bathrobes, pillow-top mattresses and bathroom toiletries from L'Occitane. Service improvements include in-stateroom course-by-course dining (previously, off-the-menu in-cabin orders were just plunked on the bed). Lemon-scented frosty towels will be offered on steamy days.

Other enhancements include new hammocks on the flying bridges and a more diverse selection of itineraries (Windstar has already created a niche for itself in terms of offering more exotic ports-of-call).

According to the announcement, the unrolling of Degrees of Difference will occur in stages and will be complete in 2007.