Boutique cruise line Windstar Cruises are pointing their compass towards Australia and New Zealand with small ship cruising expeditions onboard revamped ship Star Breeze, an ‘all-suite with balconies’ ship carrying just 312 guests.
Windstar’s Signature Expeditons program delivers intimate expedition-style adventures, visiting ports only accessible to small ships such as Middle Percy Island, Queensland and Wineglass Bay, Tasmania.
Windstar’s team of travel experts scouted and hand-picked the perfect ports for first-ever immersive itineraries to Australia and New Zealand.
“In our concerted and ongoing effort to be the small ship leader in destination delivery, I’m thrilled to introduce a completely different sailing region that further expands Windstar’s global footprint. Australia and New Zealand cruises will allow us to present these destinations in the most authentic way possible,” says Windstar President John Delaney.
“We’ve had a tremendous focus on adding new destinations in recent years, with an 85 percent increase in new ports of call. Announcing cruises to an entirely new continent on small ship voyages, as only Windstar does them, is a major move for the company and exciting news for our guests who are seeking out new places to explore.”
The Australia and New Zealand cruises will be the second region where Windstar launches their award-winning Signature Expeditions. The program delivers intimate, expedition-style adventures and active enrichment, with kayaks and Zodiacs launched right from the ship in remote bays and hidden harbors. The rugged coastlines of the region will provide the perfect back-drop for the adventurous Signature Expeditions, which are currently available on Windstar’s Alaska itineraries. A team of onboard expedition leaders sail on the cruise from beginning to end, providing in-depth insight and sharing an academic understanding of the destination while guiding optional shore excursions. For example, in Tasmania, expedition leaders will show guests the beauty of Freycinet National Park, one of the island’s most spectacular locations, on a guided hike to scenic Wineglass Bay.
With this debut, vast and diverse Australia will be more accessible than ever thanks to sailings like a Cairns to Melbourne itinerary, with stops in some of the country’s most iconic destinations including the Great Barrier Reef. “Our cruises in Australia will deliver both the wild and sophisticated sides, exploring remote reaches like Middle Percy Island, as well as offering an overnight in cosmopolitan Sydney with time to see the famous sites there including the UNESCO Opera House, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and Bondi Beach,” says Melissa Witsoe, Product Manager. Witsoe and team scouted many of the new ports personally to hand-craft customized excursions and curated experiences. “Cairns to Melbourne is really rare as an itinerary — it’s a unique offering in the cruise world, and one of the ways Windstar will approach sailing in this region differently.”
Windstar’s long-waited return to New Zealand cruising will be met with much fanfare, thanks to itineraries like a round trip Auckland sailing. “It’s incredibly comprehensive taking in both North and South Islands, all the major cities and quaint port towns,” says Witsoe. Guests will enjoy overnights in Wellington and Christchurch, plus scenic fjord cruising and visits to smaller places like Art Deco-inspired Napier, a jumping-off spot for the much-lauded wine-producing region of Hawke’s Bay. Other shore excursion highlights include the chance to experience an authentic H?ngi meal and Maori show of traditional song and dance in Rotorua in the Hells Gate region, while in Dunedin, a wildlife cruise includes a farm visit with local Kiwi characters who are at the forefront of local conservation efforts.
For guests seeking the best of both worlds, Star Breeze will offer two cruises visiting a mix of both countries with sightings of kiwis, koalas, and kangaroos in store when sailing between Auckland and Sydney. This cruise takes in classic locations like Melbourne with an overnight, and small ports like Phillip Island with its hidden harbor, where Windstar guests can witness the region’s rare penguins in their natural habitat. A postcard-worthy excursion includes a high-speed Catamaran cruise to Whitehaven Beach in Whitsunday Islands National Park for lazy hours on a beach considered by many to be one of the world’s most beautiful.
Another major draw for these six new itineraries sailing throughout Australia and New Zealand is getting the chance to sail on the transformed 312-passenger Star Breeze. This all-suite ship will soon undergo a comprehensive renovation as part of Windstar’s $250 Million Dollar Star Plus Initiative, a transformation of all three Star Class ships. In addition to a gorgeous new pool and surrounding deck area, Star Breeze will debut two new dining venues for a total of five, offer a redesigned world-class spa and fitness center, and 50 new suites featuring attractive new floor plans, and a 3-bedroom/3.5-bathroom Grand Owner’s Suite, ideal for family travel.
Additionally, the 148-passenger Wind Spirit is offering the rare opportunity to experience the South Pacific trade winds on one of the world’s most iconic sailing ships. Currently based year-round in Tahiti, Wind Spirit is expanding its South Pacific reach and will visit Australia from February 2020.
Wind Spirit’s two seven-day ocean crossings allow plenty of time to enjoy the open seas from New Caledonia to Australia and a 16-day voyage from Australia to Indonesia, featuring visits to Cairns, Port Douglas, Thursday Island, Yirrkala, and Darwin along Australia’s northern coast.