The sold-out second edition of the Windstar President’s Cruise sailed from Singapore to Hong Kong on a 14-night itinerary. Heavily loaded with ports of call in The Philippines, it made sense to involve the Windstar crew somehow.
About half of the crew on any given Windstar ship is from The Philippines. Debuting on the President’s cruise: Filipino crew going along on shore tours, sharing their personal stories and knowledge of the area along with engaging tour guides. Windstar has been thinking outside the box, leveraging built-in talent on every ship to take us closer to destinations in the Windstar way – 180 degrees from ordinary.
First to know, nothing we expect from a boutique cruise line has been left out. Luxury Windstar yachts carry as few as 140 travelers to interesting destinations not accessible by larger ships. The cruise unexpected action started at embarkation as Captain Neil Broomhall greeted each and every Windstar guest as they boarded Star Legend for the 2018 President’s Cruise.
Windstar’s signature sail away from Singapore was the first of many we would see upon departing each port of call. As the Windstar flag is raised, triumphant music plays to set the mood and passengers gather on deck for the occasion. While unique, the Signature Sailaway would become part of the daily shipboard routine rather quickly.
Our first port of call in Malaysia, Kuching would bring an opportunity for Windstar passengers to engage crew while touring. During the 14-day sailing, a variety of crew came along with us on tour. But that engagement did not stop at the gangway. Onboard coffee talks held several days brought an informal conversation with the ship’s doctor, photographer and more.
Held in Star Legend’s top deck Yacht Club observation lounge, also the place where Windstar executives exchanged gifts with local port officials. You see, this was also Star Legend’s first time in the Philippines which brought a number opportunities to cruise unexpected. At every port of call, local musicians and dancers dressed in colorful costumes greeted us on the dock. At the end of the day, they came back too, performing in Star Legend’s intimate lounge. This too became part of the daily routine.
After Kuching, we sailed to the Kingdom of Brunei the on to multiple stops in The Philippines including Kota Kinabalu, Palawan and more with an overnight stay in Manila. It was there that the brilliance of Windstar was brightest. Day one had crew bringing families on board Star Legend to see just exactly where their Windstar crew relative worked. Wives, husbands, children, parents, and grandparents showed up for the occasion then came back on day two in Manila for a dockside event in their honor.
Held on the grounds of the historic Manila Hotel, Windstar Family day had Windstar President John Delaney going table to table, meeting everyone in attendance. Star Legend Godmother Gloria Bohan returned to ‘her’ ship for the sailing and was present at onboard events. Here we saw undeniable proof of Windstar’s commitment to the crew. That’s significant because this was a standalone unique moment that Windstar alone owned. No other cruise line had ever done this with the crew and their families.
All of the above said the takeaway from this experience added up to far more than the sum of individual events held on and around the ship. Consistent in every situation: Windstar people passionate about what they do. This is not just a job. This is family.
The enthusiastic crew of Windstar brought an understanding of other cultures in a way not possible elsewhere. From onboard events, the crew on tours, a diverse itinerary and flexible shore excursion options, Windstar introduced us to the art of appreciating the places we visit. The “talk is cheap, actions speak louder than words” value of this event was undeniable. This was really well done and really appreciated by all in attendance.
Windstar Cruises: Good Job. This was a solid, stand-alone unique moment that you alone owned. We hope others follow. It’s the right thing to do.
We want you to see the world… and understand it.
∼ Windstar President John Delaney
Those last three words “…and understand it” is what drives Windstar and should propel them to continued success in the future. On our sailing, with just 212 passengers along, we got a good taste of just exactly what Windstar means by that understanding. Those who travel internationally with some frequency know there are good people all over the planet. Get a warm feeling from visiting some foreign land and we want to do it again. Imagine if you were in the hands of a travel company solely focused on the enduring experience we would carry forward with us. That’s Windstar. 180 degrees from ordinary tag-line fits like a glove and is positioning Windstar for a bright future.
About The Author
Chris Owen is a writer from Florida charged with sharing frank, inside information about cruise vacations by aligning with brands that promote travel to affect positive change in our world.