(5:30 a.m. EDT) -- Star Breeze, the second of a trio of 212-passenger ships Windstar acquired from Seabourn Cruises, was officially welcomed into the fleet yesterday under sunny skies and cool breezes at Nice's Port Olympia.
Godmother to the ship was Wendy Perrin, a travel journalist who for many years wrote travel advice column "The Perrin Report" at Conde Nast Traveler, and who now dispenses travel wisdom from her own site (WendyPerrin.com) and acts as travel advocate for TripAdvisor.com (Trip Advisor is Cruise Critic's parent company).
Chosen for her service to travelers over the course of the past few decades, Perrin's connection with Windstar also reaches back several years. At the christening ceremony, she noted that "I feel like I'm coming home to Windstar," having traveled with the line several times with her father and even honeymooned on its ship Wind Star with husband Tim Baker.
Her self-proclaimed motto, "saving the world from mediocre trips," is aligned with Windstar's mission for its small ship fleet, she said, emphasizing that cruises can be oriented to travelers who enjoy exploring destinations in depth.
"What's so special about small ships?" she asked the assembled throng, primarily consisting of passengers booked on the maiden voyage that was set to follow the ceremony. "They let you really explore new places and achieve that true sense of discovery that is what travel is all about. Small ships are for real travelers who are seeking hidden gem places around the world."
"With that I name this ship Star Breeze. May God bless the ship, her crew and all who sail with her," Perrin intoned as she welcomed the ship to the fleet.
After three tries, the Jeroboam-sized bottle (three liters) of Veuve Clicquot eventually smashed against the ship's hull, as per maritime tradition.
Following the ceremony, Star Breeze, which just completed a massive $9 million refurbishment, departed Nice for Monte Carlo, the first port of call on its maiden voyage. Cruise Critic is onboard the four night cruise that will also visit Italy's Portofino and Corsica's Portoferraio before winding up at Civitavecchia, the port for Rome. Join us as we provide daily logs from the ship and its ports via Cruise Critic Live!.
--By Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor-in-Chief