Windstar Cruises announced today that advance bookings on 2013 sailings are 60% ahead of the prior year. Based on current pace, 2013 will mark the fourth straight year of increasing revenue for the small-ship cruise line.
“Our team is thrilled with the results after all the hard work and changes.” says Hans Birkholz, CEO of Windstar. Brought on in 2010 to turn around the endearing, yet struggling cruise line, Birkholz began focusing on branding, product development, sales support and cost control.
“We have an outstanding product today. We truly deliver a unique luxury cruise experience that feels like your own private yacht while immersing you in the destination. With most of the cruise industry focusing on bigger ships, Windstar is investing in small-ship features and intimate yacht-style cruising,” said Birkholz.
As part of its private yacht vision Windstar invested $18 million in a fleet-wide renovation project, scheduled to be complete by the end of this year. Funded by Xanterra Parks and Resorts, who purchased Windstar Cruises in May of 2011, the 12-month project will enhance the guest experience from stem to stern on all three sailing yachts with updated décor, furniture, carpeting, upholstery and artwork in all public areas, staterooms and suites. In addition, 72,000 square feet of brand new, hand-crafted sails were replaced fleet-wide. Renovations on the Wind Star yacht were completed in April, while Wind Surf and Wind Spirit will complete renovation in December.
New and unique itineraries are also part of Windstar’s success. The Company has revised its entire deployment over the last three years to create new or improved itineraries with a focus on the much desired smaller ports. “Windstar is known for visiting the hidden harbors and secluded coves of the world. While we take our guests to famous cities and legendary places, it’s a top priority to create voyages to engaging destinations you can’t experience on a bigger ship,” said Birkholz.
Smaller ports of call are only one attribute of Windstar’s revamped itineraries. In 2013, guests can experience exclusive, once-in-lifetime land tours offered on select voyages. On the popular Yachting the Riviera voyage, sailing from Rome to Nice, guests can experience the Monaco Grand Prix highlighted by exclusive access to Formula One’s famous race. Windstar’s Gaelic Explorers voyage, sailing from Edinburgh to Dublin, offers guests the opportunity to golf at five of the world’s greatest courses with the Legendary Links package.
“The steady and accelerating increase in bookings is validation of our direction” says Birkholz, noting that he is especially pleased with the dramatic increase in FIT bookings over the last two years. “Our travel agency partners have been very supportive of our strategy with several larger agencies generating two to three times more bookings over the previous year. Travel agents know Windstar for our small-ship sailing experience. After their customer sails with us, the agent feedback is typically about our exceptional service and private yacht style,” he said.
“Windstar Cruises could not have come this far without the dedication from our onboard crew members and the team in Seattle. They’ve done an incredible job in driving demand, developing the product, servicing the guests and managing the business.” said Birkholz. “I want to personally thank everyone for sticking through the challenging times and for the dedication to our vision.”