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Friday,  April 12, 2024 7:54 PM 

On Location: Stretched, but still upscale – a look at Windstar’s renovated Star Pride

  • Cruises
  •   03-16-2023  10:35 am
  •   Diane Tierney

On Location: Stretched, but still upscale – a look at Windstar’s renovated Star Pride
PAX's Diane Tierney explores the newly-renovated Star Pride in the Caribbean. (Diane Tierney)
Diane Tierney

Small ship cruising continues to get “wave” reviews due to the more personal experience that’s more akin to sailing on a private yacht with a few hundred newfound friends.

Windstar Cruises, a multi-award winner for best small ships, recently stretched and renovated its Star Pride ship by about 26 metres (85 feet) in a $250 million initiative that also included sisters Star Legend and Star Breeze.

The newly-stretched ship is a mind-boggling feat and engineering marvel, as PAX learned during a Caribbean voyage aboard Star Pride from Feb 25 to March 4 out of Puerto Rico.

Star Pride's pool deck. (Diane Tierney)

There are 50 more beautifully-appointed cabins; two new elegant restaurants; a new infinity-style pool; two hot tubs; more deck space; expanded spa and many other major enhancements under the hood.

Capacity has now increased from 212 to 312 passengers and 190 crew – an impressive customer service ratio.

Star Pride's atrium. (Diane Tierney)

Extra space at sea

The most unique feature is the drop-down watersports platform at the stern. The giant hatch can be opened when anchored so your clients can swim off the back of the ship.

Fun water toys are available such as kayaks, paddleboards, windsurfers, floating trampoline, snorkel equipment and more. Or they can sit on a lounger and enjoy the sea view at their feet.

Star Pride's sports platform. (Diane Tierney)

Cabanas for lounging. (Diane Tierney)

On deck seven, the infinity-style pool is the heart of the ship along with the adjacent hot tub. It’s here that the stretching is most noticeable with extra space for sunbathing, parties, outdoor dining, live entertainment, dancing and more.

At the bow there’s another hot tub that’s more private and has panoramic views.

Star Pride's hot tub. (Diane Tierney)

Where to eat

Windstar is the official cruise line of the James Beard Foundation and the line has hosted dozens of top chefs over the years.

The new Cuadro 44 restaurant by Michelin-star Anthony Sasso features Spanish cuisine and an open-view kitchen so your clients can watch the chefs work.

The new Cuadro 44 restaurant by Michelin-star Anthony Sasso. (Diane Tierney)

Remind your clients that reservations are required as the venue seats 38 guests and some tables are communal to inspire socializing.

Amphora is the elegant main dining room. (Diane Tierney)

Star Grill, by renowned grilling expert Steven Raichlen, is an outdoor venue next to the Star Bar. It’s open for lunch and dinner and reservations are not required. One side features tables while the other has couches.

The Veranda is an expanded buffet venue at the aft that’s open for breakfast and lunch and has indoor and outdoor seating with panoramic views. In the evening, the outdoor area is transformed into a steak and seafood restaurant, called Candles, that requires reservations for its 30 seats.

The Veranda is an expanded buffet venue. (Diane Tierney)

Amphora is the elegant main dining room, for dinners only, that has open seating from 7 to 9 p.m. and seats 250 guests. Advise clients to arrive a bit early if they want a table for two as they most popular or try later at 8 p.m. 

Cuisine is international and the wine list is extensive.

Dessert at Cuadro 44. (Diane Tierney)

The Yacht Club Cafe is a cozy lounge space with couches and chairs that also serves beverages, sandwiches and pastries.

Windstar often hosts an outdoor barbecue and party by the pool, and for some destinations a beach barbecue. There’s also complimentary room service 24/7.

Star Grill, by Steven Raichlen, is an outdoor venue next to the Star Bar. (Diane Tierney)

Coffee/tea, sodas, water and juices are complimentary. Individuals can buy a drinks package – not everyone over 21 in the cabin has to purchase like most ships.

Suggest clients buy drinks, Wi-Fi and prepaid gratuities as an all-inclusive bundle pre-cruise.

Drink, lounge & dance

Compass Rose is a casual venue with a bar, entertainment and space for dancing.

The Lounge also features entertainment and although there’s no bar, waiters serve drinks. A nearby screening room for movies doubles as a games room. There’s no casino.

inside the lounge on board Star Pride. (Diane Tierney)

The cruise director organizes activities from trivia games to port talks, listed on the app or cabin TV. Only children over the age of eight years are permitted on board so there’s no focus on activities for youngsters.

All 156 cabins are suites

All of Pride’s 156 cabins are suites from about 26 to 128 m2 (275 to 1,375 sqft.) in several categories.

Some are also configured with the bed near the window, or conversely, the couch – a rarely offered option on ships.

Star Pride Ocean View suite. (Diane Tierney)

Balcony cabins have slim Juliet balconies for standing only. These suites are highly recommended over Ocean View cabins (which have windows that cannot be opened) as guests can open the doors and enjoy fresh sea air. Owners Suites, meanwhile, have traditional balconies.

Bathrooms (some with bathtubs) feature granite countertops, double sinks and premium amenities, bathrobes and slippers. Walk-in closets are ample and include shelves.

Suite with Juliet balcony. (Diane Tierney)

Spa, fitness & boutique

That additional space expanded the spa with complimentary access to the thermal suite of sauna, steam room, experience shower and heated loungers.

There are also treatment rooms, gym, space for yoga classes and salon.

Star Pride top deck loungers. (Diane Tierney)

While Pride has physically expanded, the ship retains its upscale, casual atmosphere and can still access smaller, less common destinations that the big ships can’t reach.

Guests can also visit the Captain’s bridge to chat with the officers.

Star Pride's atrium window. (Diane Tierney)

What also remains is the exceptional and genuine service.

Your clients will notice that the crew remember their name, their favourite drink, will offer a cool wet facecloth on a hot day, or ask if they’d simply like their sunglasses cleaned – an attention to detail that’s impressive.

Diane Tierney has been on 85 cruises to 48 countries and has 119,000 followers on her Instagram @Cruiseguru.  

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