By Lynn & Cele Seldon
Just what is it about Windstar Cruises that lures executives from competing cruise lines onto Windstar’s ships time and time again.
“Several years ago, I started noticing how many executives from other lines that we had sailing with us,” says Joe Duckett, Windstar’s vice president of sales and marketing. “Without naming names, I think it really says something about the uniqueness of the Windstar experience that our competitors enjoy vacationing with us.”
Start with size. At no more than 310 lucky passengers, Windstar’s luxury sail and power yachts are smaller than the ships of most other cruise lines. Even though the beloved line doubled in capacity in 2015 with the addition of three all-suite ships, Windstar currently offers fewer than 1,250 passenger berths total — less than that of most single cruise ships afloat!
In addition, Windstar’s sleeker luxury yachts, which have all undergone multi-million dollar transformations, can sail into smaller ports and anchor in hidden harbors that larger ships can only sail by with loads of wistful passengers. With Windstar visiting more than 150 unique ports in 50-plus countries, as well as adding new ports and itineraries year after year, cruise line execs get to visit maritime destinations their own ships simply can’t reach.
But there’s also simply something about the overall Windstar experience that continues to attract industry executives who consistently come aboard on their own dime. It’s akin to top chefs and restaurateurs often gravitating to the same competing — and often small — restaurant on their off hours, because it harkens back to their own days of dining perfection for a select few diners. Maybe the same is true of cruise travel when it comes to Windstar, which has been recognized as the World’s Best Small Ship Cruise Line by Conde Nast Traveler.
The cultural enrichment offerings during a Windstar sailing are yet another feature that just can’t be replicated onboard and ashore with larger ships. “Traveling with Windstar is all about getting intimate with the port of call that your private yacht is visiting on any given day,” says Andrew Todd, president and CEO of Xanterra Parks & Resorts, owner of Windstar Cruises. “The small size of our ships allows us to offer incredible local experiences bringing the culture of the destination straight to our guests, allowing for a more immersive and valued travel experience.” This means popular onshore “Windstar Destination Discovery Events,” which complement the voyage, destination, and local culture, as well as local entertainment options, enrichment speakers, and more.
The lauded culinary scene on — and off — a Windstar ship is certainly a tasty draw to vacationing cruise line executives. Recognized by SAVEUR magazine as an outstanding culinary cruise line, Windstar offers unique gastronomic experiences. Its Executive Chef Michael Sabourin and his team of chefs focus on seasonal items in each region and port, creating nightly specials with local flavors and even inviting guests to shop with them at local markets to help them create dishes to enjoy back on board.
“The intimate and locally focused dining experience on board Windstar must be very appealing to executives from other lines,” says Chef Sabourin. He says they and many other veteran Windstar guests are also attracted by the line’s casual dining style, popular cuisine- and wine-focused shore excursions, each itinerary’s Windstar Private Event, which often includes a local restaurant experience, and tasty Food & Wine theme cruises that have recently added a James Beard award-winning chef to every sailing.
All of these seemingly “small” things add up to make the Windstar experience big among those in the know — and unlike anything else afloat. Just ask a competing cruise line exec.
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