As part of Windstar Cruises’ Star Plus initiative Star Breeze was cut in half at Fincantieri in Italy, with a new 84-foot mid-section added. When the ship re-debuted in June 2021 it had an increased passenger count of 312 (previously 212) and 50 new suites. Also added were new dining options and an infinity pool on the expanded pool deck. The spa and gym were both enlarged and upgraded.
Star Breeze, which joined Windstar's fleet in May 2015, is a yacht-style small cruise ship -- not one of the sailing vessels for which the line is known. Acquired from Seabourn, the ship offers Windstar's breezy, relaxing and casual ambiance, while offering more spacious cabins and additional lounges, as compared with the line's original vessels. Longtime Windstar sailors appreciate the extra space, but some miss the romance of sail-away; new and former cruisers will enjoy the suite accommodations and breadth of itineraries available, with calls at places both on and off the tourist track, and the camaraderie onboard.
Even before the most recent upgrade, which stretched the ship, there had been upgrades to public spaces that included adding a top-of-ship Yacht Club, a sprawling lounge with a coffee bar, snacks and sandwiches, and plenty of cozy armchairs. The space quickly became a passenger favorite. Cabins on the all-suite ship were modernized, with new bedding, upholstery and electronics. Most significantly was the complete overhaul of the ship's sun deck, which was never a strong suit for this particular ship design (even when part of Seabourn). It became much more open and pleasant as a social hub.
The most recent redo makes a good thing even better. The stretched ship glows with features that now include an even better expanded sundeck, now with a raised infinity pool, large enough for eight people to lounge while sipping cocktails, even if it's too small for actual swimming.
The big difference between Star Breeze and its sailing brethren is that it feels a little bit more like a traditional cruise ship. Accommodations are significantly larger than those on Windstar's sailing vessels, and have either French balconies, large picture windows or portholes. The large marble bathroom with double sinks is a plus, as is the walk-in closet that's standard in all categories. The overall ambience is more nautical than the hotel-like environs on new ships.
Planned entertainment is minimal, with passengers expected to explore ashore or entertain themselves onboard with sunbathing, good conversation or cards/books/movies. For the nautical folk who flock to Windstar, these factors can be a plus; though those who want a constant stream of entertainment and activities might not fit in.
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When it comes to levels of luxury, Star Breeze -- and its stretched sister ships Star Legend and Star Pride -- are in a class of their own, somewhere between the ultra-luxe lines and expedition vessels. Cuisine has greatly improved thanks to Windstar's partnership with the James Beard Foundation. Dishes by James Beard chefs are featured on menus at AmphorA, the main dining room. Even if you won't find the ultra-gourmet tastes, as on the most high-end lines, you will find excellent preparations including of regionally focused cuisine. The newly added Spanish tapas restaurant, created with Michelin-guide recognized Chef Anthony Sasso, featuring dishes by barbeque guru Steven Raichlen, make a good thing even better. All dining is included in the cruise fare.
As part of the major overall, the ship was also outfitted with more energy efficient diesel engines.
Nonalcoholic beverages (soda, coffee, juice) and meals in all onboard restaurants are included, but you'll pay extra for gratuities, alcohol, shore tours, WiFi and laundry. Many guests purchase the guests All-In Package, which includes all of the above (for $89 per person, per day). The size of the ship is a highlight; it enables it to visit more off-the-beaten-path destinations (it carries Zodiacs for beach landings), passengers to make friends, officers to open the bridge to curious travelers and staff to learn your names and put on memorable deck and beach parties that are a real perk. Yet it contains enough creature comforts to make you feel you're on a yacht and not a bare-bones research vessel or a crowded, amusement park-like mega-ship.
Windstar primarily markets to English-speaking passengers from the United States, Canada, the U.K. and Australia. Passengers typically are well traveled and active, and range in age from 40 to 75, with a smattering of those older and younger. The line attracts a high number of repeat cruisers; for example, on our sailing 82 out of 201 passengers had previously sailed with Windstar.
Aim for no-fuss upscale casual clothes. During the day, most men sport Polo shirts or T-shirts, and shorts or khaki pants, depending on the port stop. Expect lots of Ralph Lauren, Brooks Brothers and Lands' End for the guys. For daytime, women wear shorts, capris, pants, silk and cotton tops, and sundresses. On Costa Rica cruises, zip-off pants, SPF clothing and moisture-wicking tops from the likes of REI are prevalent.
In the evening, women add simple jewelry and perhaps a fancier blouse or light sweater to slacks or a skirt. Some wear floor-length casual dresses. Men wear slacks and two-button or button-down shirts. AmphorA, the main dining room, discourages shorts, jeans, tank tops and sneakers. Don't bother to pack suits, ties, tuxedos or evening gowns.
Our First Windstar Experience on the Lovely Star Breeze