Seabourn triplets sold to Windstar Cruises
Seabourn Cruises’ recently announced that three of their vessels – Spirit, Pride, and Legend – have been sold to Windstar Cruises. Anthony Nicholas gives us his thoughts on what this means for both cruise lines.
It wasn’t that much of a surprise when Seabourn decided to part company with it’s original, pioneering trio of small cruise ships. But what did come as a surprise was the identity of the new owners.
Windstar Cruises has traditionally operated intimate sized, sail assisted vessels until now. The company has always put the emphasis on it’s brand of casual, yacht style adventure rather than traditional cruising, even of the deluxe kind.
Yet there are clear advantages to both lines in brokering this surprising deal.
For Seabourn, it leaves them with an identically sized, beautifully styled trio of superb new, ultra deluxe ships that offer a uniform standard of excellence across the board. In the past, guests experiencing these ships had expressed some reservations after making a subsequent cruise on one of the smaller Seabourn siblings; these largely lack balconies and, despite constant and expensive modernisation, they left this ultra deluxe brand looking like a two tier company.
In the luxury market, passengers will not pay for – or tolerate – any inconsistency, be that imagined or real. A real luxury line has to look like a seamless, harmonious whole. Seabourn has just achieved that in one deft move.
For Windstar, this is a tremendous coup.
The fit is almost perfect. Purists who complain that the Seabourn trio lack ‘sails’ forget that Windstar’s current trio rely on motor power for some of the time. Any perceived differences are more cosmetic than operational.
As regards size, the 10,000 ton Seabourn acquisitions are actually smaller than the current Windstar flagship, the 14,000 ton Wind Surf.
What they bring into the mix are larger cabins- some with French balconies- and more dining and recreational options. But the real advantages go way beyond even that.
With the Windstar fleet now doubled at a stroke, the line can reach out and expand itineraries in a way that was unthinkable before. The return of Windstar to Tahiti sailings had already been announced in advance of the Seabourn deal.
It also gives the company a homogenous trio of popular, well established ships that complement the Windstar ethic of casual luxury afloat almost seamlessly. Very little fine tuning will be needed to incorporate them under the Windstar banner.
This move also makes Windstar by far the biggest operator of small, luxury ships anywhere. It makes expansion in the potentially lucrative Far East market possible, without affecting core summer itineraries in the Mediterranean and summertime Baltic.
Spirit, Pride, and Legend will remain in service with Seabourn Cruises until spring 2014. If you’re interested in sailing on one of these vessels whilst they are still part of the Seabourn stable, then you can take a look at their upcoming itineraries below:
Are you excited about Windstar’s fleet being joined by the Seabourn’s 3 sister ships? If so, leave a comment below with your thoughts.
Words by Anthony Nicholas for The Cruise Line. Copyright 2013.