Freestyle merging – Norwegian acquires Oceania and Regent Seven Seas

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On September - 2 - 2014

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. announced this morning that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Prestige Cruises International, Inc., the market leader in the upscale cruise segment and parent company of Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, in cash and stock for a total transaction consideration of $3.025 billion, including the assumption of debt.

“The acquisition of Prestige represents an extraordinary opportunity for Norwegian Cruise Line to expand our market presence by adding two established, award-winning brands in the upscale cruise segment with loyal followings,” said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line’s chief executive officer. “Not only does this acquisition immediately enhance our financial performance, but it also deepens the bench of talent that we have been developing over the years.  Our complementary strengths and skillsets will pave the way for new cross-selling opportunities, cross-brand collaboration, cross-business support, as well as joint partnerships which, coupled with meaningful synergies that can be quickly implemented, will provide solid accretion to earnings per share and drive long-term shareholder value,” added Sheehan.

“We are excited to become part of the Norwegian family and start a new chapter for our company,” said Frank Del Rio, chairman and CEO of Prestige. “With Oceania and Regent, we have built iconic brands with distinctive product offerings and strong customer loyalty. The combination is very compelling and will allow us to further enhance our renowned guest experience.  We are looking forward to joining the Norwegian team and building upon the success that our three brands have already achieved.”

Prestige operates eight ships and approximately 6,500 berths under two segment-leading brands.  Oceania Cruises is the market leader in the upper-premium cruise segment with five ships offering destination-oriented cruise vacations to more than 330 ports around the globe, gourmet culinary experiences, elegant accommodations and personalized service.  Regent Seven Seas Cruises is the market leader in the luxury cruise segment and operates three award-winning, all-suite ships, with an additional ship on order for delivery in summer 2016. Regent offers the industry’s most inclusive luxury vacation experience visiting over 250 destinations worldwide.  Frank Del Rio will remain chief executive officer of Prestige.

“The combination of three distinct brands, each serving a different market segment, under one umbrella immediately creates an industry-leading cruise operator with an unmatched growth trajectory and a portfolio of products that allows us to appeal to guests at every stage of their life cycle,” added Sheehan.  “We are fully committed to retaining the brand propositions, guest experiences and cultures of the Norwegian, Oceania and Regent brands that have allowed each to realize such success.”

Transaction Rationale

The compelling rationale to acquire Prestige includes:

  •  The diversification of cruise market segments by adding upper premium and luxury brands;
  • The further enhancement of industry-leading financial metrics;
  • Opportunities for synergies and the sharing of best practices among brands;
  • An increase in economies of scale providing greater operational leverage;
  • The expansion of growth trajectory and global footprint; and
  • The opportunity to complement Norwegian’s new build program with the existing Regent order that provides measured, orderly capacity growth through 2019.

Transaction Details

The total transaction consideration of $3.025 billion includes the assumption of debt.  Additionally, a contingent cash consideration of up to $50 million to Prestige shareholders would be payable upon achievement of certain 2015 performance metrics.

In early July, Norwegian’s Board of Directors formed a Transaction Committee and delegated it full authority to negotiate and approve a transaction.  The Committee consisted entirely of disinterested directors.  Genting Hong Kong Limited and certain funds affiliated with TPG Capital, each of whose consent was required pursuant to Norwegian’s existing shareholders’ agreement have consented to the transaction.  The Transaction Committee, who retained its own financial and legal advisors, has unanimously approved the transaction.  The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions and is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2014.

Norwegian will finance the acquisition with existing cash, new and existing debt facilities and the issuance of approximately 20.3 million shares of its common stock.  Pursuant to the requirements of NASDAQ Rule 5635, holders of a majority of Norwegian’s common stock have consented to the issuance of such shares.

Barclays is acting as lead financial advisor to Norwegian, Deloitte Consulting, LLP is acting as diligence advisor and Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP is providing legal counsel.  UBS Investment Bank is acting as financial advisor to Prestige and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP is providing legal counsel.  Perella Weinberg Partners is acting as financial advisor to the Transaction Committee of the Norwegian Board of Directors and Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP is providing legal counsel.  J.P. Morgan Securities LLC and Deutsche Bank are also serving as financial advisors to Norwegian.  Barclays, J.P. Morgan Securities LLC and Deutsche Bank have provided committed financing to Norwegian to support the acquisition.

Reported by © www.expertcruiser.com – Your online consumer guide for cruise travel and information.

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Regent to offer unlimited internet access

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On August - 12 - 2014

Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ brand of all-inclusive luxury is expanding to include unlimited internet access.  For all Regent Seven Seas Cruises voyages setting sail after January 1, 2015, guests booked in Master, Grand, Seven Seas, Horizon, Mariner, Navigator and Voyager suites will receive unlimited complimentary internet access.  The free internet access is available for the duration of the cruise and is accessible in all public spaces and suites via the ship-wide Wi-Fi system.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises for use by ExpertCruiser.com“By introducing the industry’s only unlimited complimentary internet program onboard our ships, we continue to fulfill our guest promise to deliver the most inclusive experience available, at sea or on land,” shared Kunal S. Kamlani, president of Regent Seven Seas Cruises. “The expansion of our free internet program, coupled with widespread enhancements made to the ships during recent dry docks, strengthens the luxury proposition found on Regent Seven Seas Cruises and better prepares us for the arrival of Seven Seas Explorer, which will be the most luxurious ship ever built.”

The addition of free unlimited internet access for upper suites coincides with the completion of a multimillion-dollar upgrade to internet systems on all Regent Seven Seas Cruises ships.  The upgrades entail a doubling of available bandwidth to increase internet speed and reliability, and an expansion of the Wi-Fi system to provide connectivity throughout the entire ship, including all public spaces, outdoor decks and suites.

While top tier suites will enjoy unlimited internet access, guests booked in Penthouse and Concierge suites will continue to receive complimentary internet time based on cruise length.  For example, guests sailing on a seven-night voyage receive 200-minutes free and the amount of gratis internet time extends to 500-minutes for voyages over 16-nights.  Members of the Regent Seven Seas Cruises loyalty program, Seven Seas Society, who achieved gold status or higher will continue to receive unlimited complimentary internet access onboard, regardless of suite selection.

The expansion of the unlimited internet program adds to the most comprehensive list of included amenities in the vacation industry, including round-trip air, a pre-cruise hotel night stay, fine wine and spirits, unlimited shore excursions in every port, specialty dining, ground transfers and gratuities.

Reported by © www.expertcruiser.com – Your online consumer guide for cruise travel and information.

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Construction begins on Regent’s Seven Seas Explorer

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On July - 15 - 2014

Construction began this morning on Seven Seas Explorer at the Fincantieri shipyard in Genoa, Italy. The crisp pop of a cork being freed from a Krug Grande Cuvée magnum initiated a laser, which cut the ceremonial first piece of steel for the new ship. Incorporating a bottle of the world’s finest champagne to start the building process is symbolic of the high level of sophistication and design being developed for Seven Seas Explorer, which is scheduled to debut in summer 2016.

The ceremonial first piece of steel cut this morning will serve as the foundation for an opulent, one-of-a-kind owner’s suite unlike any other at sea. The suite, resplendent with exquisite stonework and luscious fabrics, will serve as a hallmark for the superior level of elegance found throughout the ship. When it debuts, Seven Seas Explorer will establish a new benchmark for style and service and perfectly complement the all-inclusive luxury experience currently enjoyed by guests sailing with Regent Seven Seas Cruises.  During the ceremony, Kunal S. Kamlani, president of Regent Seven Seas Cruises, and Gabriele Cocco, senior executive vice president of merchant ships for Fincantieri, began a countdown that culminated with Maison Krug Italy’s master sommelier, Michela Cimatoribus, releasing the cork from a magnum of Krug Grande Cuvée. As the cork soared and the champagne flowed, confetti cascaded down and the laser cut the first piece of steel for the 750-passenger ship.

“We’re one step closer to fulfilling our dream of building the most luxurious ship in the world and giving our guests another exciting option to explore inspired global destinations with our special brand of all-inclusive luxury,” noted Kamlani. “Seven Seas Explorer will surpass the current standard in luxury cruising, offering a new level of grandeur throughout the ship from its lavish suites to its elegant public spaces and gourmet restaurants.”
“We are extremely excited to welcome a new partner in Regent Seven Seas Cruises and to start construction of this brilliant new ship,” commented Giuseppe Bono, CEO of Fincantieri. “As a global leader in cruise ship construction, we’ve built some of the finest ships at sea. Building the most luxurious ship ever built is quite a challenge, but with our craftsmanship and experience building luxury ships we feel that Seven Seas Explorer will become the definition of excellence.”

At 54,000 gross-registered tons and carrying only 750 guests, Seven Seas Explorer will boast the highest space ratios and staff-to-guest ratios in the cruise industry and further strengthen Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ widely recognized position as the most inclusive luxury cruise line. Seven Seas Explorer will join the rest of the award-winning Regent Seven Seas Cruises fleet in the summer of 2016.  Regent Seven Seas Cruises will begin taking reservations for the maiden voyage and inaugural season for Seven Seas Explorer in early 2015. For more information about Regent Seven Seas Cruises or to receive a brochure, guests can visit www.RSSC.com, call 1-844-4REGENT (1-844-473-4368) or contact a professional travel agent.

Reported by © www.expertcruiser.com – Your online consumer guide for cruise travel and information.

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Ooh La La Seabourn offers Best of Riviera Food & Wine Cruise

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On July - 9 - 2014

Seabourn is pulling out all the stops to create a rare epicurean themed cruise aboard Seabourn Sojourn. Guests aboard the 11-day “Best of the Riviera Food & Wine Cruise” will visit some of Europe’s most appealing food and wine regions, enjoying daily special culinary events, “Shopping with the Chef” excursions in local markets, cooking demonstrations by celebrity guest chefs, tastings of local specialties and more. The culinary voyage will depart October 30, 2014 from Monte Carlo and sail the French and Italian Rivieras to Rome.

“Seabourn is synonymous with fine dining and superb cuisine that delights guests on every voyage,” said John Delaney, Seabourn’s senior vice president of marketing and sales. “It only made sense to create this special epicurean cruise to showcase our culinary strengths in one of the most popular and revered food and wine regions in the world.”

Two celebrity guest chefs from the region will accompany the cruise, providing cooking demonstrations and menus for guests on board:

  • Raised in Provence and schooled in Marseille, French Chef Patrice Olivon brought the skills he learned in Southern France to Washington D. C., where he cooked at the French Embassy, the White House and at Camp David for special occasions. He is program director of Culinary Arts at the prestigious L’Academie de Cuisine and a popular instructor and presenter.
  • After training and staging in some of Italy’s best kitchens, Italian Chef Alfio Longo has traveled the world learning and practicing his craft at fine dining restaurants and in private service in New York, as well as the Dominican Republic, China and Turkey. He is currently the Executive Chef at Osteria del Circo in New York operated by Sirio Maccioni’s Le Cirque International group.

SeabournsmThe “Best of the Riviera Food & Wine Cruise” will be packed with culinary events such as expanded “Shopping with the Chef” trips in local markets in Marseille, France; Livorno and Messina, Italy; festive epicurean deck events and gala luncheons; and local specialties and regional flavors featured on menus throughout the voyage. Seabourn Sojourn’s onboard culinary staff will also be augmented by the company’s award-winning team of corporate executive chefs and wine experts. Seabourn has also created optional custom food and wine excursions at each of the Mediterranean ports of call: Marseille, St. Tropez and Ajaccio on Corsica in France; Santa Margherita Ligure, Messina (Taormina) and Sorrento in Italy and Valletta, Malta, plus an overnight stay at Livorno and two full days to explore Florence, Pisa, Lucca and the culinary delights of Tuscany.

To see additional details about the “Best of the Riviera Food & Wine Cruise,” please click here.

For more information or reservations on Seabourn’s “Best of the Riviera Food & Wine Cruise,” contact a professional travel advisor, call Seabourn at 1-800-929-9391 or visit www.seabourn.com.

Reported by © www.expertcruiser.com – Your online consumer guide for cruise travel and information.

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Starting in 2015, all Windstar Cruises’ itineraries will feature a spectacular onshore Private Event, created exclusively for Windstar guests. These complimentary events are crafted to give guests an in depth and authentic local experience that compliments their voyage. Private Events include activities such as an after-hours tour and dinner under the stars in the magnificent Celsus Library of Ephesus or a private ballet performance in the famed Odessa National Opera and Ballet Theatre.

“We curated these Private Events with the local experience in mind. Our product managers toured the regions sampling cuisines, talking to locals, visiting the UNESCO sites to create the best experience possible,” said Hans Birkholz, Windstar Cruises’ chief executive officer. “Our guests gain an even deeper involvement into the local culture.”

imageWindstar débuted its first exclusive Private Event on its Dreams of Tahiti voyage in May. The event, included on all 2014 sailings through the South Pacific, features an evening of entertainment with music and a dazzling performance by local fire dancers on a secluded island or “motu.” The evening also includes a dinner of local Tahitian cuisine with tender suckling pig slowly steamed in a traditional ”ahima’a” earth oven.

New Private Events featured on 2015 voyages:

Asia

  • Phuket: A Feast for the Senses: Featured on the Singapore & the Malay Peninsula voyage, guests will start the evening with a performance by local dancers and a Long Drum Parade, followed by dinner at the award-winning restaurant, Sala Bua (Pavilion of Lotus), overlooking the Andaman Sea, and a private performance of graceful Thai dance.
  • Hoi An: Dreams of Floating Lanterns: Featured on the Treasures of Southeast Asia, Southeast Asia Unveiled, and Southeast Asia Unveiled & Angkor Wat Cruisetour voyages, guests will start the evening with a private performance of lion dancers, before dining in the beautiful Nam Long restaurant surrounded by lush gardens on the Thu Bon River. Floating lanterns gliding down the river accompanied by traditional music and dancers will add to the enchantment of the evening. Guests will also have the opportunity to take part in interactive workshops of Vietnamese letter drawing, lantern-making, and wood-engraving.

Arabia

  • Luxor: Temples and Tombs on the Nile: Featured on the Wonders of Arabia and Wonders of Civilization Cruisetour voyages, guests will travel to Luxor for a two-day tour of the Luxor Temple that includes an evening showing of the Sound and Light display at Karnak Temple, and a one-night hotel stay in the Hilton Luxor. On the second day of the tour, guests will explore the Valley of the Kings – the most important archaeological site in the world that features the tombs of King Tutankhamun and Ramses IV – followed by lunch aboard a felucca, a traditional sailboat, as they float down the Nile.

Greek Isles, Turkey & Black Sea

  • Rhodes: The Tantalizing Tastes of Greece: Featured on the Greek Isles & Turkish Delights (Athens to Istanbul) voyage, guests will be wined and dined at the award winning Hatzikelis Fish Taverna in Rhodes that will include a sampling of traditional and modern Greek fare and wines from the local Cair Winery, followed by an exhilarating performance by local musicians and dancers.
  • Kusadasi: Evening in Ephesus: Featured on the Greek Isles & Turkish Delights (Istanbul to Athens) and Pride of the Aegean voyages, guests will enjoy an after-hours tour of the magnificent Celsus Library of Ephesus. The evening includes a five-course, white-glove-service dinner in the courtyard of the Library serenaded by a trio from the Aegean Chamber Orchestra.
  • Odessa: Artistry in Architecture and Dance: Featured on the Black Sea Tapestry voyage, guests will enjoy an exclusive ballet performance in the Odessa National Opera and Ballet Theatre – one of the most important landmarks of Eastern Europe designed by Viennese architects F. Felner and H. Helmer. The evening also includes champagne and canapés served during intermission, and a chance sighting of the famed ghost of Pavlova.

Caribbean & Panama Canal

  • Prickly Pear Beach: Island Beach Party: Featured on the Yachtsman’s Caribbean Voyage the event includes a day of relaxation and fun on Prickly Pear Beach, a secluded and uninhabited nature refuge in the British Virgin Islands. Activities include water skiing, kayaking, snorkeling, friendly games of beach volleyball, horseshoes, and bocce ball, and a lunch of freshly grilled local seafood.
  • Mayreau: Private Beach Getaway: Featured on the Jewels of the Windward Islands voyage, this Private Event includes a day in paradise on the small island of Mayreau. Guests will enjoy music and a Mixology Class to learn how to make favorite local drinks, in addition to an amazing lunch of fresh local food.
  • St. Lucia: Getaway in Paradise: Featured on the Classic Caribbean voyage, guests will spend a day of fun and adventure on a secluded beach on Pigeon Island, where the bar is open and the steel drums are playing. Guests can take part in an escorted snorkeling excursion or a number of water sports. After working up an appetite, Windstar chefs will serve a dinner of local fresh fish, lobster, and the uniquely Caribbean specialty, conch.
  • Isla de Coiba: Tropical Beach Delights: Featured on the Passage Through Panama voyage, guests will have opportunity to explore the Isla de Coiba, an UNESCO World Heritage Site, accessed only by special permit. Snorkel or take a guided hiking tour through the island’s untouched natural beauty. The day will be accompanied by live music, cocktails, and a beachside lunch.

Italy

  • Messina: Taste of Sicily: Featured on the Classic Italy & Dalmatian Coast voyage, the event begins with a wine tasting and tour of Vinicola Benanti, a family-run winery, followed by lunch featuring traditional Sicilian food paired with a selection of the family’s wines.
  • Monte Carlo: Glitter & Games: Featured on the Yachting the Riviera, Rivera Enchantment, and Glitter & Glam of the Riveras voyages, guests will enjoy red carpet treatment during an on deck cocktail party set against the glittering backdrop of Monte Carlo. After dinner and cocktails on board, guests will enjoy a champagne and dessert reception in the legendary Grand Casino, followed by an evening of gaming in the city.
  • Agrigento: Beauty Among the Ruins: Featured on the Sicilian Splendors voyage, guests will enjoy an exclusive tour through the Valley of Temples – one of the most important archaeological sites in the world that features ancient temples and edifices built between 510 and 430 B.C. The day will include lunch at the five-star Hotel Villa Athena.

Mediterranean

  • Giardini Naxos: Taste of Sicily: Featured on the Enchanting Greece & the Amalfi Coast voyage, the event begins with a wine tasting and tour of Vinicola Benanti, a family-run winery, followed by lunch featuring traditional Sicilian food paired with a selection of the family’s wines.
  • Mallorca: Bolero, Fandango, and Other Works of Art: Featured on the Islands of the West Med and Spanish Serenade voyages, this event features a private guided tour through the March Palace, which features a renowned works of art collection. At the end of the tour, guests will enjoy tapas on the terrace and a performance by 30 local artists featuring Mallorcan folk dances such as the bolero, the jack, the fandango, and the copeo.
  • Cádiz: Best of Breed – Andalusian Horses and Sherry: Featured on the Splendors of Southern Spain voyage, this event starts with a tour and sherry tasting at the internationally recognized González Byass Bodega. The day also includes a spectacular equestrian ballet performed at the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art Foundation, followed by tapas and a sherry tasting.
  • Marrakech: Textures and Treasures: Featured on the Casablanca & the Canary Islands voyage, this event starts with a tour of the famed Majorelle Gardens, followed by a private lunch served in the heart of the exclusive Palm Groves neighborhood of Marrakech. Guests will go on to visit the holy site of Ben Youssef Madrasa – a stunning example of 16th century Moorish architecture – followed by treasure hunting in Souk Smarine. Guests will end the day in Djemaa el Fna square, where fireeaters, mime artists, snake charmers, and street musicians perform.
  • Butrint: Bronze Age to Venetians: Featured on the Venetian Passageways voyage guests will enjoy a day of exploration in Butrint, which features some of the world’s most significant and beautiful Roman ruins. The day will also include a presentation by the former director and founder of Butrint National Park, Auron Tare, followed by a cocktail reception.

Northern Europe

  • St. Petersburg: Private Reception at the Catherine Palace: Featured on the Baltic Delights voyage, this event includes an exclusive tour through the Palace led by guides and followed by a champagne reception in the Throne Room, accompanied by “Catherine the Great” herself who will take part in a Farewell Dance in the Courtyard before departing in her royal carriage.
  • Bordeaux: A Perfect Blend: Featured on the Culinary & Wine Delights of Spain & France voyage guests will enjoy a wine tasting and estate tour of the Chateau Giscours. The tour includes a French cooking class at the Halle Suzanne followed by dinner accompanied by a quartet of classical musicians.
  • Porto: Songs and Spirits of Portugal: Featured on the Gems of France & Iberia and Best of Europe’s West Coast voyages this event includes a guided tour through the historic center of Porto, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the Ferreira Cellars, where guests will enjoy a glass of port accompanied by a fado performance by the national known singer, Joana Costa.
  • Nærøyfjord: Dramatic Passage: Featured in the Lands of the Midnight Sun voyage, this event includes a sailing tour of the cascading waterfalls and stunning beauty of Nærøyfjord – a UNESCO World Heritage Site rated by the National Geographic Society as the world’s number one natural heritage site in 2006. The tour will include a picnic of regional delicacies as guests enjoy the vivid scenery.
  • Ijmuiden: Swords and Dungeons: Featured on the Northern Europe Wonderlands voyage, this event includes a guided tour through Forteiland, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one-of-a-kind fortress built half underground near Amsterdam. Following the day of exploration, guests will also enjoy a candlelit tapas dinner in the Koepelzaal (Dome Hall).
  • Copenhagen: An Evening with Princes and the Gods: Featured on the Spectacular Scandinavia and Scandinavian Tapestry voyages, this event includes a canal cruise through Copenhagen and a tour through The National Museum, closed to the public for Windstar’s exclusive use. The tour will also feature a classic Danish smorgasbord paired with local beverages.
  • SAIL Amsterdam: Parade Of Tall Ships: Featured on the Windmills & Tall Sails voyage, guests will have deck-side seats to one of the world’s largest sailing parades on board Wind Surf. Enjoy a lunch and cocktails as the yacht sails with hundreds of sailing heritage craft, modern and naval ships, and historical replicas during SAIL Amsterdam.
  • Culloden: Fields of the Bonnie Prince: Featured on the Gaelic Explorers voyage, guests will enjoy canapés and champagne at Fort George, during an exclusive after-hours tour with expert guides who will take guests through the history of Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Highlanders loss to the Duke of Cumberland during the Battle On The Moor. The event will include the traditional military and musical performance, Beating Retreat, complete with pipes, drums, and marches.

For more information visit Windstar’s website.

Reported by © www.expertcruiser.com – Your online consumer guide for cruise travel and information.

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Windstar Cruises offers 4th of July sale – savings up to 76% off!

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On June - 30 - 2014

Windstar Cruises, a leader in small ship cruising, is celebrating the Fourth of July with exceptional savings on select sailings. Guests can book the yachting vacation of their dreams for as low as $1,776 per person, a savings of up to 76% off, on select voyages until July 11, 2014.

Take advantage of these savings and cruise in Windstar Style, the perfect pairing of comfort and luxury. Experience the glamorous ports of the French Riviera on Glitter & Glam of the Riviera. Relax on the beautiful beaches of the French Polynesia islands on Dreams of Tahiti.

Windstar Cruises Wind Surf sails in the Caribbean used by ExpertCruiser courtesy of Windstar CruisesAdditionally, select Asia voyages include a $1,000 airfare credit per person.  From Singapore and the Malay Peninsula to Hong Kong and Vietnam, Windstar explores the best of Asia. All Asia voyages include Windstar’s new Private Events, a complimentary on shore experience that is crafted to give guests an in depth and authentic taste of the local culture.

Every Windstar voyage promises an intimate, yacht style experience, including pampering without pretense, smaller ports of call, and unique private events on shore.

To learn more about the featured voyages and take advantage of Windstar’s Fourth of July Sale, contact a travel professional, visit the website or call Windstar Cruises at 800-258-7245.

Reported by © www.expertcruiser.com – Your online consumer guide for cruise travel and information.

Filled Under Blog, cruise sales, gallery