Windstar Cruises is to join the growing number of small ship luxury lines sailing in Australia in 2020/21, using the newly renovated Star Breeze.
The all-suite 312 guest ship will sail a series of “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,” said Windstar president John Delaney.
“Australia and New Zealand cruises will allow us to present these destinations in the most authentic way possible. 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.”
Windstar will sail its “Signature Expeditions” – what it calls “intimate, expedition-style adventures and active enrichment, with kayaks and Zodiacs launched right from the ship in remote bays and hidden harbours”.
A team of onboard expedition leaders provide in-depth insight 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.
Star Breeze will sail from Cairns to Melbourne, 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.
“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.”
In New Zealand, the ship will sail North and South Islands, all the major cities and quaint port towns.
There will be overnights in Wellington and Christchurch, plus scenic fjord cruising and visits to smaller places like 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 Hāngi 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.
Star Breeze will offer two cruises visiting a mix of both countries with “sightings of kiwis, koalas, and kangaroos” between Auckland and Sydney.
Star Breeze will undergo a comprehensive renovation, including a new pool and surrounding deck area, two new dining venues, a redesigned world-class spa and fitness centre, and 50 new suites and a 3-bedroom/3.5-bathroom Grand Owner’s Suite.
Bookings are now open for Windstar’s Australia and New Zealand sailings in 2020 and 2021 with a total of nine departure dates available. The new cruises run from November 2020 through February 2021 beginning at US$4,599 per guest, double occupancy.
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 in winter/spring 2020 and will also visit Australia.
Reservations are open for Wind Spirit’s two seven-day ocean crossings with 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.
Cruises are available as soon as February 2020 on Wind Spirit starting at US$1,299 per guest for the Coral Sea Crossing.
The six itineraries on offer are:
Hidden Indonesia & Great Barrier Reef Exploration beckons beach lovers to beautiful Bali and allows guests to experience the best of expedition cruising on a 12 or 13-day journey that meanders from Benoa, (Bali), Indonesia to Cairns, Australia, and includes small ports that few ships can reach, like Thursday Island and Lizard Island.
Deep Dive Down Under: The Great Barrier Reef & Beyond, offered in both 2020 and 2021 this diver’s choice sailing features a rare, 11-day sailing from Cairns to Melbourne (or reverse) that gives guests the opportunity to snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef, snuggle koalas in Mooloolaba, taste award-winning wines in the Yarra Valley and watch the sunset over the Opera House in Sydney.
Penguin Parades to Pinot Noir: the Wild Side of Australia & Tasmania includes 13 days sailing from Melbourne to Sydney, Australia, seeing remarkable rock formations, historic convict camps, and beautiful white-sand beaches, as well as touring the Barossa Valley wine region. Guests get to interact with Tasmania’s incredible wildlife, from penguins to wombats, with three port calls to the infamous island, including Port Arthur, a 19th century penal settlement; Wineglass Bay for swimming and snorkelling; and an overnight in eclectic and picturesque Hobart, gateway to Mount Wellington, the UNESCO Tasmanian wilderness, and Antarctica.
Walkabout With Tassies, Aussies & Kiwis presents the best of Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand on a 15-day journey from Sydney to Auckland. This classic cruise includes memorable moments such as Phillip Island, where hundreds of penguins come ashore at sunset after a day’s fishing and waddle to their sand dune burrows (seen from a viewing platform), as well as an immersive stop at the filming location for TheLord of the Rings.
Comprehensive New Zealand is a 15-day round trip from Auckland that goes to both the North and South Island, including an overnight in Wellington. There are opportunities to sample wines from the Marlborough region, visit the Cardboard Cathedral in Christchurch, and go diving on Stewart Island.
Kiwis, Koalas & Kangaroos spends 14 days sailing from Auckland to Sydney showcasing a combination of native and contemporary cultures, rugged natural beauty, pristine beaches, local wildlife encounters, and some of the Southern Hemisphere’s top wine and seafood. Highlights include overnights in Sydney and Melbourne, and cruising Fiordland National Park.