Leading small ship cruise line, Windstar Cruises has unveiled a US$250 million revolutionary initiative which will stretch and re-engine its three existing vessels.

Under the major refurbishment, each Windstar ship – the Star Breeze, Star Legend and Star Pride – will be cut in half and a new section inserted which will lengthen each vessel by 25.6 metres, making its total length to over 159 metres.

This will add 50 new suites to each ship, bringing the total number of suites to 156 on each ship – an investment of more than $267,000 per passenger berth.

The renovation of the three ships will be carried out in phases, with work scheduled to start in October this year and completed by November next year.

The new section will be built in Fincantieri’s yard in Trieste, and then transported south by barge to the Fincantieri shipyard in Palermo, Sicily to be inserted into the three Windstar ships.

The renovation will also add two new dining venues, a new shop and retail space, a much bigger fitness centre and a new spa. The main restaurant Veranda will have more seating and new décor and there will be a bigger deck space where guests can congregate.

“This is the biggest investment and expansion in the Windstar Cruises’ history,” said the line’s president, John Delaney.

“The investment of a quarter of a billion dollars ensures to our loyal and future guests, and industry partners, that these ships will continue to sail for generations and deliver on their promise of visiting the smaller ports and waters of the world that our brand is known for.”

The ships will have new engines which will meet and exceed new global international Maritime Organisation (IMO) limits. This means that the engines can produce no more than .5 per cent sulphur content and they have also been designed to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions, making the ships more environmentally friendly.

“The new initiative is not about getting bigger, it’s about offering our guests more of what they love about Windstar. Each ship will carry 312 guests total which nearly matches the capacity for Wind Surf. The additional capacity keeps us squarely in the under 350 category.

“We will continue to offer the world’s best small ship experience but with more amenities that our guests have been asking us for like additional dining and a world-class spa and fitness centre. We are making these improvements to ensure these beloved ships may continue to operate well into the future,” Mr Delaney added.