Windstar Cruises’ President Chris Prelog: The place Will the Future Lead Us in Journey?

Chris Prelog, Windstar Cruises president

As Chris Prelog and his staff at Windstar Cruises ponder not simply what can be fashionable in journey for 2024, they’re additionally pondering far more long run. How will journey proceed to evolve into the following decade? We had an opportunity to sit down with Chris, president of Windstar Cruises, and speak about a wide-ranging collection of ideas, points, and contemplations.

The place will vacationers most need to go in 2024, and what’s spurring their curiosity?

Florence is a spotlight of winter cruises within the Mediterranean

We’re seeing lots of enterprise in and round of Europe and the large information for Windstar is that we’ve expanded to year-round cruising within the Mediterranean. Star Legend is providing winter-in-the-Mediterranean voyages and we’re discovering that our vacationers, most of whom have already traveled extensively in Europe, love the thought of visiting locations like Good, Marseilles, Barcelona and Rome at a really totally different time of yr. In December, the Christmas Markets had been an enormous draw (and that’s enjoying out in strong 2024 winter bookings for the approaching December) and we’re seeing lots of curiosity in exploring cities which might be open for enterprise, with out crowds.

Iceland is one other vacation spot in demand, and we’re blissful to see that the volcano eruption that occurred over the previous two months is now not affecting life on the island. The Blue Lagoon, which had been closed for a month (and is a favourite place to go to for our vacationers in additional temperate seasons) has reopened.

Lanzarote, within the Canary Islands

For our vacationers, notably North American friends who’re on the lookout for new discoveries in Europe, we’re additionally seeing enormous curiosity in Canary Islands cruises. This archipelago of Spanish islands, off the west coast of North Africa, is primarily a draw for nature lovers and there’s additionally loads of tradition, principally influenced by Spain, and even very unique types of wine making. It’s humorous that for Europeans, the Canaries are a part of a longtime journey map (I first began touring there from my hometown in Austria as a younger boy) and there’s a lot to love, together with volcanoes, seashores, camels, foliage, a wealthy tradition that has a sure slower high quality of life than one can find in Spain.

And I can’t totally reply your query about 2024 – and past — with out speaking about French Polynesia, which is a important vacation spot for Windstar. We’ve a ship change developing in February with Star Breeze changing Wind Spirit. This doubles capability in a area the place we’ve been crusing for over 35 years and a ship actually is one of the best ways to expertise Tahiti. It’s additionally very aggressive from a worth proposition.

What has Windstar – and the cruise business – realized from the worldwide conflicts of the current previous and the way will these learnings pertain to 2024?

Iceland’s Seydisfjordur

If the varied international occasions have taught us something, it’s to stay versatile, agile and be fast to undertake to any modifications coming at us. You don’t know what occurs tomorrow/subsequent week and naturally the most recent trigger to vary course has been the battle between Israel and Gaza, which has affected our Center East itineraries.

Our staff has turn out to be an professional at, with lighting pace, with the ability to regulate our program and cruises. They make it look straightforward and belief me, it’s not, however on this case we shifted Star Legend to year-round Mediterranean, and the season is progressing effectively.  

In Iceland, current eruptions have captured international tourism – all quiet, now – however there’s positively extra curiosity in Iceland due to the volcanoes. We use the time we’re there to indicate the fantastic thing about Iceland to friends – its waterfalls, underground volcanos, lagoons, the pure range.

For me, life’s largest luxurious is peace, and luxury, clearly, but additionally time. There’s nothing extra luxurious than peace and time.

Chris Prelog

And we’re at all times seeking to present our friends locations they maybe haven’t seen. The Canaries lend itself so effectively to our Wind Class of ships as a result of, effectively, it’s at all times windy. You get the Sahara winds that blow from Africa over the Atlantic (the seaside in Fuerteventura is crimson due to the sand). Comparable in reality to the Greek Islands expertise on a crusing vessel. It’s all about offering intriguing vacation spot with the best ship designed for his or her areas.

How has the onboard expertise, not simply at Windstar but additionally on different luxurious and small ship cruise strains, developed in 2023 and the place do you see it persevering with to vary transferring ahead?

Windstar’s Sea Island suite takes its inspiration from Georgia’s magnificent Sea Island Resort.

For us, an experiment to create new ambiences onboard developed from a partnership with two sister resorts: Colorado’s Broadmoor and Georgia’s Sea Island. Each properties have compelling ambiences – very totally different – and we’ve designed present suites on Star Breeze and Star Legend to evoke their sensibilities and create a hyperlink between land and sea. They’ve been massively in demand and we’re increasing the redesign to different ships within the fleet. In truth the hassle was awarded one of the best suites design on small ships from Cruise Ship Interiors (CSI).

Past that, we’re at all times evolving our onboard product. After we determined to renovate the suites, we didn’t need to do like for like, we needed a theme. It comes from a spot of being 180 levels from atypical.

One other onboard spot we’re focusing is the marinas which might be on all six ships within the fleet. One visitor was standing on the marina, and commented “now I’m heading into my pool” and  that pool was the ocean – the largest pool there’s.

In different methods, an enormous evolution within the cruise business is that this: There may be now a cruise for nearly each type of journey. There are cruises for conventional vacationers who like to go to sea the best way they’ve at all times been going, and there are voyages that enchantment to new-to-cruise vacationers who’re drawn by smaller ships and expeditions. Many vacationers at the moment crave port-intensive schedules, and by that I imply not hustling from one place to a different each day however to have extra high quality time to spend in ports themselves.  

Windsurf Watersports platform
Windstar’s aft-facing marinas are one in every of its hottest options.

Theme cruises have taken on a complete new which means too. From the early days, the place they had been primarily targeted round meals and wine (and these are nonetheless extremely in style), we’ve seen nice enchantment of themes equivalent to Method One. Sports activities is a theme that we’re persevering with to discover, starting from collaborating in occasions to creating extra energetic experiences that enable vacationers to be extra engaged in locations. We’re additionally creating alternatives which have particular affect – and in addition create highly effective recollections. It’s not nearly donating funds – although we consider that’s vital, too – but additionally about exposing friends to distinctive initiatives that provide new views for them Our partnership with Coral Gardens in Moorea is one such instance.

For me, the largest luxurious is peace and luxury, clearly, but additionally time. There’s nothing extra luxurious than peace and time.

The place will you trip in 2024 and why did you select the journey?

One thing concerning the sails on Windstar’s Wind Class ships simply invite you to breathe…and reboot.

Subsequent yr I promised a faculty pal of mine to come back and go to her at a particular trip place in Austria. As a local Austrian, it’s thrilling to make discoveries there and my spouse, Silke, and I are spending per week at Montestyria in Mariazell, Austria. It is a improbable property constructed out of a number of particular person chalets the place you possibly can hire a chalet, have pool and full lake entry, you possibly can hike, get wonderful meals and be in complete peace and tranquility.

And I believe that our want for a “slower journey” trip mirrors what we’re listening to from lots of our friends, who’re craving a little bit of peace and quiet together with discovering new locations and experiences. In truth, that’s fueling a renewed curiosity in longer itineraries – and impressed us to create our 55-day 2026 Grand Caribbean Journey.

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