Windstar Returning to Tahiti

| Tuesday, 29 Jan. 2013

Windsong anchored in Moorea

The beautiful sailships of Windstar return to the place that made them famous, French Polynesia

I predict a win here. I many not know much, but I do know that Tahiti cruises once defined Windstar raison d'etre as a cruise line, and for many years starting in the 1980s a Tahitian cruise on a Windstar yacht was the ultimate cruise getaway - the one cruise everyone in the industry agreed was a mandatory cruise experience.

Windstar Cruises has three vessels, two nearly identical smaller ships and one larger one. All three ships look virtually identical to each other, but like nothing else in the world. They are all motorized sail ships with very tall masts that can be filled with billowing white sails. They are breathtaking when their sails are out, and capable of adding several knots of sailing power to the engines, making them more beautiful and fuel efficient. The ship can also cruise without the sails, leaving the masts undressed, but the lines says it is using the sails more and more, as often as possible these days, because of the rising cost of fuel.

In fact, the sails were recently replaced on all three vessels.

On the inside the ships are equally charming. They are very nautical with light wood railings and brass riveted portholes throughout, especially in the staterooms, where you really feel as if you are at sea, not just on vacation.

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And nothing could be more fitting for this nautical experience than to have it in the midst of the most beautiful tropical islands in the world, the Society Islands of French Polynesia; Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora, and others.

Back in the days when Windstar was brand new, in the late 1980s, at least one of these beautiful sailing ships was in French Polynesia most of the year even after the line was acquired by Holland America in 1988 (soon to join the family of Carnival Corp. in 1989) many people who worked in the cruise industry, even on competing cruise lines, chose Windstar in Tahiti for honeymoons. It was considered the pinnacle in romantic experiences.

Those days are back. Windstar Cruises announced today (January 29, 2013) that it will return to the South Pacific in the summer of 2014. Beginning May 2, 2014, Wind Spirit, the line's recently renovated 148-passenger sailing yacht, will sail seven-day voyages from Papeete, Tahiti. Wind Spirit will sail 28 voyages in Tahiti, with the last voyage on November 7, 2014, before returning to Panama and Costa Rica for the winter season. The line's return to the French Polynesia Islands marks the first time Windstar has had a ship sailing in Tahiti since 2002.

"Windstar's return to Tahiti has always been the number one request from our guests and travel partners, even more than a decade later," said Hans Birkholz, Windstar Cruises' chief executive officer. "We've listened and made the decision that now is the perfect time to come back to the beautiful islands of French Polynesia."

The week-long voyage will begin in Papeete, Tahiti - the world's definition of paradise. Wind Spirit will sail to the following islands:

  • Moorea - the beauty of this unforgettable island of love lies in drama and adventure.
  • Taha'a - this fragrant island is known for its abundance of vanilla and offers a glimpse of the traditional tranquil life of the Tahitians.
  • Raiatea - recognized throughout Tahiti as the 'Sacred Island,' it also serves as the cultural heart of French Polynesia.
  • Huahine - known as the Garden of Eden, with lush forests, untamed landscape and quaint villages.
  • Bora Bora - an island paradise in the South Pacific and known worldwide for its natural beauty.

This will be the first time the recently renovated Wind Spirit will sail the South Pacific. With six sails that cover 21,500 square feet, the French-built sailing yacht is ideal for cruising in the French Polynesia Islands under the power of warm breezes and tall billowing sails. Guests can enjoy the aqua blue water of the South Pacific Ocean at the back of the yacht with Wind Spirit's watersports platform, which offers paddle boards, kayaks, water skiing, wind surfing, snorkeling equipment and more.

Guests will delight in the immersion of the South Pacific culture, brought to life in Windstar style. Local entertainment, such as traditional Tahitian dancers, will come on board for a magical evening to remember. Regional dishes will be incorporated into Windstar's signature deck barbecue, held under the sails and stars one night per cruise. Shore excursions will be tailored to give guests experiential and romantic options delivered in true French Polynesian style.

"We've looked at what was popular with our guests in the past and we blended it with our luxury small-ship experience today to deliver the best product possible," said Birkholz. "We couldn't be more thrilled to return to Tahiti."

Windstar's voyages from Tahiti go on sale to the public in mid-March 2013. To book a cruise, contact a travel professional, call Windstar at 800-258-7245 or visit WindstarCruises.com.

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