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Agents call for Windstar to increase ex-UK departures

Agents have called on Windstar Cruises to offer more departures out of the UK and increase the number of showcase events where the trade can experience its ships.

The line had been scheduled to bring a ship to Tower Bridge, London, last month but had to cancel the call due to Covid-19 travel restrictions in place at the time.

Many of the UK agents sailing on the revamped and lengthened Star Legend vessel from Barcelona to Piraeus this week have been experiencing a Windstar ship for the first time.

Star Legend resumed operations last month with a 10-day Mediterranean sailing after a spell in dry dock in a Fincantieri shipyard following the stretch and transformation project. The ship is the second of three yachts to restart sailings after Star Breeze returned in June.

The line is currently scheduled to operate four departures from Leith, Scotland, in 2022 and 2023.

Speaking on board the 312-passenger vessel, Hays Personal Travel Consultant Julie Chapman, who is based in Woolston, Southampton, said: “The ship is stunning. I’ve not sold any Windstar but now I definitely know how to. The onboard experience is incredible.

“After I went on other ships, they were easier to sell. Having experienced this, I would say the product offers value for money. The price reflects the product.”

She agreed with the line’s marketing tagline “180 degrees from ordinary”, adding that there is “a corner of the market” for departures out of Southampton as she urged the line to add departures from the south coast port. “Ships are huge in scale but [Star Legend] is much smaller, bespoke and luxury,” she said.

“Windstar will really interest agents because they’ve not heard about it. There is money in Southampton. It is all about the onboard spend because they do not have to worry about coach travel. That is why cruise is so popular in the area. I would like to see Windstar in Southampton.

“You do not need the flights and that makes the packages so much more affordable.

Travel Counsellor Vanessa de Vere said Windstar’s produce is “tailored to my client base”. “I’ve got some ardent explorers, but they’ve never cruised before,” the solo travel specialist said of her 800-customer database.

Kirkham Travel boss Carol Kirkham said it was “easier” to sell a particular cruise line once an agent had been on board and praised Windstar’s decision to remove the casino and expand the gift shop during its lengthening.

Scott Anderson, cruise product and marketing director at Luxury Cruise And More, said the ship is aimed at adults and “is great for older couples that want relaxed cruises”. He suggested Windstar operate a showcase sailing round the UK for the trade. “That would be brilliant because it’s quite niche,” he said.

He suggested Windstar include gratuities and drinks in the fare, adding: “Post-Covid, people like added-value”.

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