Windstar Purchases Half of Seabourn's Cruise Ship Fleet

February 19, 2013

(11:56 a.m. EST) -- In one fell swoop, Windstar Cruises will double its fleet, while Seabourn's fleet will halve after Windstar's parent company reached an agreement with Seabourn to purchase three of its ships.

Xanterra Parks & Resorts, which operates Windstar, will purchase the entire Pride class of ships from Seabourn, including Seabourn Pride, Seabourn Legend and Seabourn Spirit. Nicknamed Global Windstar, the expansion project doubles the size of Windstar's yacht fleet, giving the line a total of 1,230 berths.

According to Hans Birkholz, Windstar Cruises' CEO, the line selected the Seabourn ships because the three older ships fit the bill of what Windstar was looking for: small ships, 150 to 300 passengers and all suites.

The delivery of the three 208-passenger all-suite ships will take place over the next two years, starting in 2014. Seabourn Pride will be the first ship handed over in April 2014 and will set sail in the Mediterranean a month later following a Windstar-branded renovation, which will give the ship a new name. Windstar will take possession of Seabourn Legend and Seabourn Spirit in April and May 2015, respectively, with sailings beginning in May.

"Each ship will go through a 'Windstarization,' " Birkholz said, which will make the look and feel of the interior spaces more consistent via soft goods like décor and furnishings.

Until the changeover, Seabourn said there will be no disruption of service or change in operations on any currently scheduled Seabourn voyages.

"Windstar has experienced four straight years of revenue growth," Andy Todd, CEO of Xanterra Parks & Resorts, said in a prepared statement. "This expansion is the perfect way to build on the momentum following our recent fleetwide renovation."

Birkholz added, "For Windstar, the strategy is keeping passengers in the family… so let's give them more options in terms of destinations."

The fleet expansion also will enable Windstar to begin sailing in new destinations such as Asia and South America in 2015, dramatically improving the line's "geographic footprint," Birkholz added.

But while Windstar is expanding its fleet, Seabourn is left with just three ships. But the line is already in discussions with shipbuilders to build a fourth ship.

"Our three newest vessels, Seabourn Odyssey, Seabourn Sojourn and Seabourn Quest have raised the bar for ultra-luxury cruising, and we intend to add a fourth ship of similar design," Seabourn's president Richard Meadows said in announcing the sale. "Seabourn is already in discussion with shipbuilders, and an order is likely to be announced within the current fiscal year."

The new ship will be large enough to bring Seabourn back to the capacity it loses with the sale of the three smaller ships.

--By Dori Saltzman, News Editor