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Windstar Adds Overnights and Late-Night Port Calls to Itineraries

Windstar Cruises is enhancing its itineraries with more overnights and late-night calls. More than 45 percent of Windstar’s cruises now offer overnight/ multi-night stays or late-night stays of 10 p.m. or later. The line now visits a total of 299 ports in 79 countries. Windstar ships are known for their intimate size, accommodating from 148-310…



Windstar Cruises is enhancing its itineraries with more overnights and late-night calls. More than 45 percent of Windstar’s cruises now offer overnight/ multi-night stays or late-night stays of 10 p.m. or later.

The line now visits a total of 299 ports in 79 countries.

Windstar ships are known for their intimate size, accommodating from 148-310 guests. They can navigate waterways and dock at ports that larger cruise ships cannot access. And, that offers guests the chance to experience more of the heart of historic cities.

“Windstar guests want to find places off the tourist track that give them true insight into our destinations. They want stories to tell, and sometimes, the most interesting and memorable travel experiences take place after sunset,” said Windstar President John Delaney. “We stay longer in port and often remain overnight so that we can provide this extra time and value to our guests; it is one way that we are truly different than an ordinary cruise.”

Highlights of the line’s overnight itineraries include two days in Bora Bora on every Tahiti cruise. Overnights and multi-night stays also take place in St. Petersburg, Quebec, Seville and Hong Kong. Prized docking locations are also in store for guests visiting Venice, Bordeaux and Ho Chi Minh City. Guests can explore historic sites or take part in active shore excursions by day. In the evening, they have the chance to enjoy shoreside nightlife.

In total, nearly 20 ports feature overnights or multi-nights. An additional three are “turn ports” with overnight stays, meaning guests embark or disembark there.

Additionally, some port calls, such as Portofino, Monte Carlo, Mykonos and Cadiz, feature departures at 10:00 p.m. or later. Many offer special evening tours or events.

Guests also enjoy Destination Discovery Events on more than 125 itineraries in 2018-19. The complimentary events are scheduled in the evening, after shore excursions have returned. Highlights include an Evening in Ephesus on the Treasures of the Greek Isles itinerary, roundtrip from Athens. Guests will dine in the iconic Celsus Library in ancient Ephesus, Turkey. The library housed more than 12,000 scrolls nearly two millennia ago. In the modern era, Windstar guests enjoy dinner with white-gloved service in the illuminated courtyard. The Aegean Chamber Orchestra performs in the background.

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When and How Will Cruising Return?



While the entire travel industry has ground to a halt from the coronavirus pandemic, the cruise industry was hit especially hard as multiple ships were turned away from ports while passengers and crew fell ill and even died.

“COVID-19 has been a PR disaster for the cruise industry,” said Ben Cordwell, a travel and tourism analyst at GlobalData, a data and analytics company.

How does the cruise industry recover and regain its momentum?

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“Since the cruise industry pivoted from passenger shipping to leisure cruising in the 1970s, cruise lines have not faced a full-scale halt of operations like they face today due to the Coronavirus pandemic,” said Robert J. Kwortnik, an associate professor at Cornell University’s Hotel School, who studies tourism with a focus on the leisure cruise industry. “This situation truly is unprecedented, which means the response to it will have to be unprecedented as well.”

First, the cruise companies need to secure the finances needed to keep the core operations running – which they’re already doing. Kwortnik said they also need to prepare logistically for re-crewing ships when they are ready to resume sailing, especially with travel restrictions and severely reduced numbers of flights.

They’ll also have to figure out how to weed out sick passengers and disembark ill and healthy guests if the need ever arises again, he said. It likely will mean more detailed health forms before boarding and thermal scans to check temperatures.

“Stronger or different health screenings may become the new normal for the cruise industry, much like the more involved TSA screenings implemented after the 9/11 tragedy in the United States,” Kwortnik said.

Flexible cancellation policies also may be required so people don’t lose all they paid if they cancel at the last minute due to illness. “Reducing, and ideally eliminating, the possibility of sick passengers getting on a cruise ship will require both more vigilance at the port and the removal of disincentives for ill travelers to show up at the port in the first place,” he said.

But the biggest challenge likely will be convincing people to take a cruise. Steeply discounted fares will help, at least with avid cruisers eager to return to the seas. But many travelers will need to be convinced that ships are disinfected and clean.

“Veteran cruisers know how seriously cruise lines take onboard cleaning and hand-washing to minimize the threat of norovirus. But coronavirus is very different,” Kwortnik said. “Moreover, the important new-to-cruise segment doesn’t have experience with the extraordinary sanitation measures used by cruise lines to minimize the threat of illness spreading onboard. While it’s reasonable for the cruise lines to be reluctant to discuss a common objection to cruising — the fear of getting sick — it may now be necessary to move the question of health/sanitation more front and center as part of a public awareness campaign, especially for travel agents and the new-to-cruise market.”

In fact, Crystal Cruises released a video by President and CEO Tom Wolber, in which he said the luxury line enhanced cleaning and sanitizing protocols for ships, terminals and vehicles transporting guests. Carnival Cruise Line also detailed its more rigorous cleaning standards on its website.

When cruising does resume, travel advisors will be essential in helping the cruise industry recover, just as they were in building the industry since the 1970s.

“Travel agents may never have been more important to the cruise industry than now. Agents will be key sources of information for cruise education as the cruise lines make operational changes to protect passenger safety, and of course for information about cruises sailing again, itinerary changes, reservation and cancelation changes, etc.,” Kwortnik said. “Communicating and incentivizing the travel trade will be vital to the industry’s reemergence. Travel agents are trusted by their clients, and this trust will be critical as travelers decide if and when it’s safe to cruise for the first time or to cruise again.

“Cruising is an outstanding vacation value, and the industry will come out of this pandemic stronger and all the more focused on guest safety and security,” Kwortnik said. “There’s no reason travel agents shouldn’t be confident to continue selling cruises to their clients and to recommend cruises for customers who have never sailed before.”

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