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Windstar takes guests 180 degrees from Ordinary

Friday, June 8, 2018
Windstar takes guests 180 degrees from Ordinary

Andrea Mendelsohn, Canadian Regional Sales Manager, Windstar

Windstar is making some major moves in the cruise industry, benefitting both travellers and travel agents alike. In addition to exciting itineraries, including its long-awaited return to Alaska, the small-ship cruise line also introduced its new Onboard Cruise Consultant program that ensures future bookings for agents. We sit down with Andrea Mendelsohn, Regional Sales Manager, Canada, to discuss how the program works, where the line is sailing to next, and why small-ship cruising is more popular than ever.

 


 

  1. Tell us where did the idea of the Consultant program come from, and how does it benefit travel agents specifically?  

We noticed our guests were having incredible onboard experiences and were continuously asking our crew where they were sailing to next and whether they could book their stateroom or suite during their current sailing to guarantee their same stateroom on their next cruise. We previously did not offer that service. Now our newly introduced  Onboard Cruise Consultant program helps our guests make well informed decisions as to which destinations/ship they wish to travel on, and prompts them to book sooner rather than later. They benefit by receiving multiple value-added offerings as well as discounts including their alumni discount (for our repeat guests). This ensures they get the sailing they want at a great savings. If these clients were originally booked by a travel agent, we notify the agent, turn it over to them and protect their commission. A win-win situation for everyone.

  1. What regions/areas is Windstar focusing on in 2018/2019 in terms of expansion, and why?

We introduced Asia in 2017 and had a tremendously successful season in Spring 2018 ending with our 10-day Grand Japan on our Star Legend, after which she began her Transpacific journey over to Seward to start our new Alaska Series. Windstar has not been in Alaska for over 15 years and we are excited to be going back. Talk about ‘Authentic Alaska’! Each of our cruises will be led by one of six expert guides who will travel onboard for the entire cruise and provide insight, education and commentary on the Alaskan Wilderness.

Sailing in the Grenville Channel, Misty Fjords, Endicott Arm and Tracy Arm to name a few of the exciting points of interest we will be visiting, we are going to be lowering our watersports platform and doing shore excursions in zodiacs and kayaks right off the back of the ship. We are also small enough that when there is a sighting of a pod of whales, our Captain is able to turn the ship around to follow them. Once our Star Legend finishes her season in Alaska, she will be returning to Asia in the fall with an even bigger selection of exciting itineraries. We will be sailing to Canada-New England for the first time in the fall of 2018 on the Legend’s sister ship, the Star Pride.

Windstar is also offering some incredible back-to-back cruises (our Star Collector Voyages) including a 51-day European itinerary in July 2019 stopping at 48 ports from Lisbon to Barcelona, spanning the length of the Mediterranean. All our Star Collector Voyages include our free daily laundry service.

  1. Any updates on your fleet/ships?  

We constantly are upgrading our ships every 18 months. Our Star Ships (Star Pride, Star Breeze, Star Legend) will be going into dry dock during different times in 2019/2020 for a complete refurbishment.

  1. How would you define the Windstar cruise experience? And what are some common elements found on all itineraries that guests can expect?

180 degrees from Ordinary. We offer understated luxury while allowing our guests to immerse themselves in the unique destinations we sail to, as guests rather than as tourists. It’s all about the small ship ambiance and small port charm. No long lineups, no long tendering [times] to port, very often docking right in port, many overnight stays and late departures allowing guests to get the full authentic destination experience.

So many people are now looking for an unpretentious experience, a more casual experience onboard with no formal nights and no need to make reservations for meals (unless it is for our Specialty restaurants where, by the way, there is no surcharge). Our guests are seeking authentic experiences in destination, meeting and making friends with like-minded people while enjoying the finer things in life like our exceptional onboard service, our James Beard Foundation-inspired foods and wines. We provide an intimate private yacht style experience.

  1. How do you see small-ship cruising evolving in the next few years? And how do you think it’s grown in the past 10 years? 

Small ship cruising is a rapidly expanding market – and is growing at a considerable rate. More and more experienced and sophisticated travellers are looking for more authentic experiences in a relaxed and laidback environment.  This applies to first-time travellers who would otherwise feel overwhelmed on an enormous ship.

At Windstar we doubled our fleet in 2014 from three sailing ships with the addition of our three power yachts – all suite ships – to a  total capacity of 12,42 berths. We have experienced tremendous interest in our unique experiences and more travellers are craving a more intimate and welcoming ambiance. Being able to go to unique, off-the-beaten-path places where other ships cannot venture, experiencing a destination like a local and with the locals is all that more attractive to well-travelled guests and new travellers alike – making small ship cruising reach new heights. With our new and exciting destinations as well as strategically deploying our ships to different locales around the world, Windstar is taking interested travellers to places they never dreamed they could get to on a ship. No one goes so far to get travellers so close – connecting them with the world.

This is an experience like no other – truly 180 degrees from Ordinary.

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