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A Mark Spitz Experience For Windstar

Mark SpitzBefore Michael Phelps, there was Mark Spitz.

Seven swimming gold medals at an Olympics the world almost wished had never happened…Munich, 1972. At the Games where 11 men of his faith perished at the hands of terrorists, Spitz set world records in all his events, an achievement which surely would have dominated Munich.

Spitz parlayed his fame into becoming a motivational speaker. An actor on TV and in the movies. An ongoing spokesman for any number of products. A real-estate tycoon of sorts.

And now, an exclusive host with an exclusive cruise line.

Spitz is the first celebrity host Windstar Cruises has signed up for its “Private Event” program. In two weeks, shortly before his 65th birthday, he’ll be in the Caribbean on a Windstar ship, entertaining and educating the Wind Surf’s 310 guests. It’s the launch of an itinerary called Yachtsman’s Caribbean.

The 7-day cruise begins, and ends, at Philipsburg, St. Maarten. It takes in ports none of the world’s big ships can get close to, such as Prickly Pear Beach in the British Virgin Islands and the site of his signature event. He’ll conduct swimming classes for guests who want to improve their (you name it) stroke. He’ll do a lecture on the Wind Surf. He’llWind Surfdine with some guests. And he’ll just be there, being Mark Spitz, for passengers who want to rub shoulders with a great Olympian.

Michael Phelps, not long retired and still dabbling with the idea of a comeback, might take note.

Forty years down the road…

Today at portsandbows.com: Greatest of all luxury ships?

Celebrity Summit
7 nights
February 28, 2015
San Juan (return): St. Croix, St. Kitts, Roseau, Grenada, St. Thomas
Inside: $449
Cost per day: $64

Grand Prix a Windstar Winner

Last year, we wrote a blog about going on a Windstar cruise to the Grand Prix of Monaco, and what a cool experience that would be if you had even the slightest interest in Formula One cars.

We had no intention of re-visiting the subject this year.

Then a nice woman at Windstar sent us some information about this year's "cool experience." In 2012 (for the GP of May 2-13), Windstar's largest ship (they're called "yachts") — the Wind Surf — took 312 passengers on its Yachting The Riviera cruise. It started in Nice, included a weekend at the Grand Prix with preferred seating, and ended in Rome.

Fast forward a year…

For the GP of May 2014, the Wind Surf will offer the identical package…plus Windstar's newest yacht, the Star Pride, will carry another 212 passengers to the race on the Grand Prix of Monaco itinerary, one that includes all that the Wind Surf does but with grandstand seats for the weekend events, a post-race reception at the luxurious Hotel de Paris and a cruise host who is a former Formula One pit reporter (aka, he has stories to tell).

This will be Star Pride's coming-out party. The first of three vessels purchased by Windstar last year, it is due for delivery next May. No, it will be delivered next May. The other two ships, as yet unnamed, will arrive in 2015.

So having two ships and their passengers going to the next (and 72nd annual) GPOM represents a 60 per cent increase in capacity. Would you say Windstar's venture into the world of Grand Prix is successful?

Naturally, it's costly. Windstar is the industry leader in small-ship cruising and its cruises are priced accordingly. We couldn't locate prices for the Wind Surf on the website but we did find what it costs to go on the new Star Pride for the seven-day cruise from Rome (return) — $6,199. That's per-person.

Hey, there's nothing wrong with dreaming…and, even though it's 300 days before the finish line, you know that Windstar has a winner.

Norwegian Dawn
7 nights
October 25, 2013
Boston (return): King's Wharf
Inside: $449
Cost per day: $64

And The Ships' Names Will Be…

Windstar announced this week the name of its fourth ship, the first of three the luxury line purchased from Seabourn and scheduled to begin its new life one year from now. It currently sails as Seabourn Pride (right) and next year will become Star Pride (below).

Now this is just a wild guess…but when the Seabourn Legend and Seabourn Spirit join the Windstar fleet, in April and May of 2015, they will surely be known as the Star Legend and Star Spirit. The names will become official in the coming weeks, but the opportunity to be one of the Pride's 212 passengers comes first.

As in, two weeks from now.

Bookings start on May 14th and it's likely the "yacht's" cruises will fill up quickly. Philip Anschutz didn't quietly become one of the 50 richest men in North America by making risky moves, and the three-ship purchase from Seabourn will double the size of his Windstar fleet (When you drill down through the companies Anschutz owns, you'll find Windstar Cruises.). 

Can you say recession over?

“Star Pride and the additional two yachts will fit perfectly into Windstar’s intimate, yacht-style cruising by offering a small-ship luxury cruise with 300 passengers or less in a casually elegant style going to places bigger ships cannot go,” said Windstar's CEO, Hans Birkholz. “We are thrilled to be able to offer even more intriguing choices in Europe for the 2014 season.”

The three yachts currently sailing under Windstar's flag until next year are called Wind Star, Wind Surf and Wind Spirit. The Anschutz conglomerate purchased them for a reported $39 million at a bankruptcy sale two years ago and, since then, all three ships have been refurbished. Now they have three siblings and if anybody thought recessionary times were going to deplete the luxury cruise market, guess again.

Let's see now…is that tougher or easier than guessing the names of the new ships?

Carnival Glory
2 nights
November 1, 2013
Miami (return): Nassau
Inside:  $159
Cost per day: $79

Norwegian Captains a Special Group

We've never met Hakan Svedung. Nor Evans Hoyt. But we hope to meet them. A lot of people who cruise clearly have, since together these two captains have spent 65 years at sea.

Their next assignment(s) is the Norwegian Breakaway. They'll be co-captains of Norwegian's newest ship when it leaves New York Harbor next month on a series of inaugural cruises. At the helm will be Capt. Svedung (left), who will be relieved by Capt. Hoyt (right) when it's time for a vacation.

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you probably know that we have a soft spot for Norwegian captains. It has been our good fortune to meet several of them…good fortune because we've enjoyed talking to all of them of their experiences at sea and their lives on land, both of which they've been willing to have us share with you.

Among them was one of the original captains of Norwegian's last new ship (the Epic), the late Trygve Vorren, from Norway, and Roger Gustavsen, a Norwegian who's climbing the captains' ladder — might the Getaway be next for him? A couple of months ago, we spent time with one of the Epic's current captains, Frank Juliussen, who's also from Norway and who will be featured in this space later this month.

He was not a candidate for the Breakaway, by choice.

"I don't want more new ships," he said. "I just want to be here on the Epic. The young boys can take it now."

Captain Svedung is from Sweden. He has been with Norwegian for almost seven years and before that with a company shareholder, Star Cruises. Captain Hoyt is from America, a Moroccan-born son of a U.S. diplomat and a graduate of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.

Says their boss, CEO Kevin Sheehan:

“We carefully chose these seasoned veterans [because they] have a proven track record as successful leaders in our operations team and possess the dedication and passion that will make the Breakaway our most successful new ship launch.”

Sounds like your typical Norwegian captain to us.

Windstar Wind Surf
7 nights
May 28, 2013
Nice, Monte Carlo, Calvi, Cannes, Portofino, Portovenere, Portoferraio, Rome
Oceanview: $2,799
Cost per day: $399

Fly Free to Your Cruise…for Life???

Our son was telling us the other day that when people use capital letters on the Internet, it means they're shouting.


This comes to mind because of an ebook we heard about which "teaches you how to save money on any  cruise."

Hmmm…stay out of the casino?

It's a discounts book written by somebody who worked in the cruise industry for 15 years, as a cruise director. In it he reveals "insider secrets that will save you thousands of dollars every time you cruise."

Hmmm…some cruises don't cost thousands of dollars.

The book has the "cruise industry trembling at the knees" and the author claims he was forced to quit because he "no longer wanted to trick passengers into spend (sic) obscene amounts of money."

Hmmm…fired, perhaps?

He promises readers will be SHOCKED AND SPEECHLESS at how much they've been "misled, overcharged and…deceived" by cruise lines.

Hmmm…it's that capital letters thing.

He also promises he can show people how to get free upgrades, free bonus gifts, free cruises and even free airfare for life.

Hmmm…aren't "gifts" always free?

It was an intriguing (and public relations) dispatch, and maybe it has some merit. To us, it sounded a bit too much like HOW YOU CAN EARN $100,000 SITTING ON YOUR COUCH so, as you may have guessed by now, we took a pass on spending $37 on an ebook.

If you feel otherwise, post a comment and we'll send you a link so you can read through the 17 computer screens of information.

But don't say we didn't warn you about the caps.

Windstar Wind Surf
7 nights
May 28, 2013
Nice, Monte Carlo, Calvi, Cannes, Portofino, Portevenere, Portoferraio, Rome
Oceanview: $2,799
Cost per day: $399

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