Windstar Cruises History: Through The Ages

Windstar Cruises is a cruise line that has been providing high-quality cruises since it was founded in 1984. The company started out with just a single ship to its name, but has since grown to include a fleet of six luxury vessels.

Despite its growth, Windstar remains committed to providing an intimate and personalized cruising experience for all of its guests. In this article, we'll be taking a trip through the history of Windstar—from its early years right up to the present day.

Humble Beginnings

Windstar's first ship was the Wind Star—a sleek, 4-masked motor sailing yacht that could accommodate just 148 passengers. The ship was originally launched in 1986, immediately drawing praise from passengers for its intimate size and elegant design.

In the years that followed, Windstar added two more sailing yachts to its fleet: Wind Song (1987) - a now scuttled 4-masted motor sailing yacht with a capacity of 159, and Wind Spirit (1988) - an intimate, 4-masted motor sailing yacht with a capacity of 148.

By now you may have noticed a trend - Windstar's first three ships all had 4 masts. This was a major selling point for the company, and to this day, Windstar is the only cruising line to offer 4-masted sailing yachts.

Windstar Cruise Star Legend History Viking Crew
The History of Windstar Cruises; the Star Legend - Viking Crew

Turning Heads

By 1988, Windstar Cruises was making a name for itself as a provider of high-end, luxury cruises. The company's vessels were turning heads, and its reputation for providing an intimate and personalized cruising experience was growing.

This reputation caught the eyes of executives at Holland America Line (HAL), who decided to purchase 50% of Windstar. HAL—a subsidiary of Carnival Corporation —is a major player in the cruising industry, and the acquisition gave Windstar the resources it needed to expand its fleet.

Scaling Up

With backing from HAL and Carnival Corporation, Windstar Cruises decided it was time to scale up their fleet with the purchase of a massive ship—the Wind Surf.

Coming in at 14,745 tons, Wind Surf may be small when compared with most modern cruise ships. But for Windstar, this ship was almost three times larger than their previous largest vessel. The Wind Surf could accommodate up to 342 passengers and a crew of 210.

This purchase marked a major turning point for Windstar, as the company now had the resources to compete with other luxury cruise lines.

Major Setbacks

It hasn't always been smooth sailing for Windstar. 

In 2002, the Wind Song was anchored in French Polynesia near the island of Tahiti. Suddenly, an electrical fault sparked a fire in the engine room and forced all 127 passengers and 92 crew members to evacuate to lifeboats. Luckily, no one was hurt.

The French Navy eventually put out the fire and towed the ship to Papeete. Inspections revealed that the ship would be so costly to fix that it was not worth repairing. The ship was towed out into the open ocean and scuttled. It now rests at the ocean floor about 10,000 feet below.

In 2007 HAL and Carnival Corporation sold Windstar Cruises.

Windstar Cruise Wind Surf History Viking Crew
The History of Windstar Cruises; the Wind Surf - Viking Crew

Modern Renovations

Now under new ownership with the Xanterra Group, in 2014 Windstar announced that it was purchasing three new vessels to join the fleet.

Star Pride (1988) - a 362-foot motor yacht that can accommodate 212 passengers; Star Breeze (1988) - a sister ship to Star Pride; Star Legend (1990) - a sister ship to both Star Pride and Star Breeze

In 2019 Windstar Cruises announced its Star Plus programme, to renovate the Star Pride, Star Breeze, and Star Legend—as they were originally built in the late 1980s they were starting to show their age.

The renovations included the addition of new suites, staterooms, restaurants, and lounges. After the renovations were complete, the three ships emerged as modern luxury vessels that are on par with any other ship in their class.

Where is Windstar Today?

Windstar Cruises is a luxury cruise line that is known for its intimate sailing experience and elegant vessels. The company currently has three motor sailing yachts—Wind Star, Wind Spirit, and Wind Surf—and three motor yachts—Star Pride, Star Breeze, and Star Legend.

Windstar has continued to grow in popularity in recent years. The company is regularly ranked as one of the best cruise lines in the world by publications like Condé Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure.

Viking Crew have had a long association with Windstar Cruises, and are proud to be their Crewing Partner for almost 30 years.

For further details on an exciting career with Windstar Cruises please visit our dedicated webpage: