(6:15 a.m. EDT) -- It was a tight squeeze, with just 15 feet to spare (7.5 on each side), but Windstar's Star Legend, a 212-passenger motor yacht, successfully earned the title of largest cruise ship to ever transit Seattle's Chittenden Locks in Ballard and sail on to Lake Union.
"It's really all math and angles; we just did what the Ballard Locks [are] designed to do," John Delaney, Windstar's president, told Cruise Critic of the feat, adding it was the line's director of nautical operations' idea to take the ship through the lock.
Hundreds of local Seattleites and tourists lined the lock as Star Legend made its way slowly, but surely through the 825-foot-long channel.
Once anchored in Lake Union, more Windstar employees and journalists came onboard for a reception and short Zodiac rides in the lake.
"It's a special day for Windstar," Delaney told the crowd onboard the ship. "We're a hometown company, but we haven't had a ship in the Pacific Northwest in 27 years." He also said that being able to do something like squeezing through the Ballard Lock is the epitome of small-ship cruising.
Delaney also revealed the names of the ship's six Zodiacs, four of which were named by a Facebook contest winner, who also happens to be a Windstar devotee. Those Zodiacs are Sirocco, Mistral, Bora and Chinook. Another Zodiac was named Renee after local Seattle celebrity chef Renee Erickson, who was onboard and catered a series of small plates for the event. The final Zodiac was named Bonnie after the wife of the man who created Windstar's "180 Degrees from Ordinary" tag line. All of Windstar's ships will eventually receive one or more Zodiacs so that the entire fleet can offer more adventurous travel excursion options.
The ship, which took a few days out of its first-ever Alaska sailing season to come south, is visiting the city as part of a celebration of Pacific Northwest cruising and, at the same time, giving journalists and Windstar's 150 Seattle-based employees the chance to see the ship and try out the Zodiacs.
Onboard were Windstar executives, including Delaney, as well as the ship's godmother, travel industry expert Gloria Bohan; Paul Gauguin Cruises' president Diane Moore (a former president of Windstar Cruises); and Chef Renee Erickson, who previously sailed with Windstar in 2017 as part of the line's James Beard Foundation culinary theme cruise program.
Star Legend departed Pier 66 at noon and arrived at the Ballard Locks around 1 p.m., before sailing underneath the Ballard Bridge, through the Washington Ship Canal and beneath the Fremont Bridge and then anchoring in Lake Union around 3 p.m., where it remained for a couple of hours before returning back through the Ballard Lock and up to Vancouver.
--By Dori Saltzman, Senior Editor