Peter Knego spends a day in Nice before attending the christening of Windstar Cruises new STAR BREEZE, the former SEABOURN SPIRIT.
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All photos by and copyright Peter Knego 2015 unless otherwise noted.
Tuesday, May 5, 2015
Cote d’Azur, then and now.
Despite the grim skies and that ever-pervasive commuters’ fatigue, the waters of Nice’s Cote d’Azur and its lovely Promenade des Anglais beckoned from outside the airport coach window. After checking into our hotel, we would soon follow its crescent-shaped course, past some of the French Riviera’s finest hotels, to Castle Hill.
Cote d’Azur from above.
From the ramparts of Castle Hill, those alluring azure hues of the Mediterranean were nicely complemented by Nice’s tile rooftops.
Gardens and fountain.
After the destruction of a medieval citadel atop Castle Hill in 1760, city leaders had it transformed into a park and one of the world’s first nature preserves.
Nice harbor from above.
In Nice Harbor, behind the SEA CLOUD 2, we spied our home for the next four nights, Windstar Cruises’ STAR BREEZE. Fresh from a two week refit in Genoa, the former SEABOURN SPIRIT was still being transformed into a Windstar entity.
Nice harbor and Castle Hill.
Nice Harbor is a haven for yachts and a select few of today’s cruise ships that are small enough to berth there.
Nice Harbor, then and now.
We sought out a cafe at the base of Castle Hill with a view of the harbor.
Salades Nicoises en Nice.
A pair of salades nicoises and a duet of cappuccini would get us through the next few hours before we finally succumbed to a powerful sleep on the eve of the STAR BREEZE’s christening.
Wednesday, May 6, 2015
STAR BREEZE awaits.
We opted out of a morning excursion to the local marketplace with Windstar’s Executive Chef in order to get on board STAR BREEZE early for photos of her accommodation and public spaces. The 440-by-63-foot, 9,975-gt , 212-guest ship looked particularly handsome in her new Windstar colors at the quaint Nice passenger terminal.
STAR BREEZE Deck 6 passage, facing forward.
All of the carpeting and soft fittings in the handsome STAR BREEZE’s accommodation and public spaces is brand new.
STAR BREEZE Suite 215, facing starboard.
We went directly to 277-square-foot Balcony Suite on starboard Deck 6 to drop off our luggage.
STAR BREEZE Suite 215 French balcony.
This would be my first encounter with one of the often-lauded (but sometimes derided) French balconies on these former Seabourn ships. I actually loved being able to open up the doors in our living room to the fresh ocean breeze and enjoy up-close views of the sea. It was also nice to not sacrifice precious interior square footage to a veranda that would not be of much use on this particular cruise.
STAR BREEZE Suite picture window.
Other than its French Balcony, our suite was identical to the Ocean View Suites with large brass-framed picture windows.
STAR BREEZE Suite 215, facing port.
All suites feature luxurious Egyptian cotton linens, waffle-weave robes and slippers, fresh fruit, fresh flowers, individually controlled air conditioning, flat screen televisions and telephones. A handy curtain divides the sleeping space from the living room for those with divergent schedules.
STAR BREEZE Suite 215 glass cabinet.
There was even a cabinet for drinking and wine glasses with special recesses to stay them in moderate seas.
STAR BREEZE Suite 215 walk-in closet.
In the walk-in closet, there was ample space for our wardrobe, empty suitcases and a safe.
STAR BREEZE Suite 215 WC.
The bathroom featured Carrara marble surfacing, a tub and twin sinks.
STAR BREEZE L’Occitane amenities.
Windstar provides L’Occitane amenities (soap, shampoo, conditioner, bath gel and moisturizer).
STAR BREEZE Classic Midships Suite (“Bequia”), facing aft.
STAR BREEZE Classic Midships Suite(“Bequia”), facing forward.
In our small window of time, there was a chance to visit the other suites, including the 400-square-foot Classic Midships Suites, which have separate living and bedroom areas as well as a private verandah.
STAR BREEZE, Classic Forward Suite (“Sorrento”), facing aft.
530-square-foot Classic Forward Suites have forward-facing windows and a private verandah on the side.
STAR BREEZE Owner’s Suite (“Casablanca”), facing aft.
575-square-foot Owner’s Suites have two flat-screen televisions with DVD players,s two walk-in closets and a powder room in addition to a full WC with tub.
STAR BREEZE Midships Deck area facing aft from the Star Bar.
We would be among the first to see the restyled midships Deck 7, where a small swim-against-the-current pool has replaced one of the two original Jacuzzis. In the recent refit, the teak-lined terraces on Deck 8 were also widened in the latest refit, providing more al fresco dining and sunning space.
STAR BREEZE main staircase at Deck 5 Reception level.
The original Seabourn trio of ships were distinguished by a wonderful double helix staircase that spirals its way up from Deck 3 to Deck 8.
STAR BREEZE Yacht Club, facing forward.
STAR BREEZE Yacht Club, facing aft.
STAR BREEZE snacks in the Yacht Club.
Completely restyled with dark wood tones and a deep blue color scheme, the former observation lounge on Deck 8 is now the Yacht Club, a favorite venue for enjoying included-in-the-fare espresso drinks, pastries, sandwiches and smoothies with a view.
STAR BREEZE Compass Rose, facing forward/starboard.
STAR BREEZE Compass Rose, facing port.
On aft Deck 6, the restyled Compass Rose is the largest in a suite of public rooms that includes a small Library and Casino.
STAR BREEZE Lounge, facing starboard.
On aft Deck 5, the Lounge is a gently terraced space with a stage and dancefloor that make it the ship’s prime entertainment venue. A video theater/meeting room and the reception area flank its entrance.
STAR BREEZE greeters.
After regular embarkation, lunch and a quick shower, we headed out to the quayside where the christening festivities had just begun.
Godmother Wendy Perrin on christening day.
The STAR BREEZE’s godmother Wendy Perrin is a well-known travel journalist.
The ceremony, itself, was brief. After a few words from the godmother, Windstar CEO Hans Birkholz and a local priest, the bottle was released into the STAR BREEZE’s bow.
Finishing off the bottle.
Broken, at last!
The bottle didn’t break on first try but all was saved when a fast-thinking crew member grabbed the line and swung the bottle ferociously into the hull, dispatching it with a crisp shatter.
We filed back on board to enjoy a party on Deck 8 as the STAR BREEZE began her maiden voyage, leaving Nice in her wake on a picture postcard perfect afternoon.
STAR BREEZE AmphorA, facing aft.
That evening, we enjoyed dinner in the beautifully restyled AmphorA Restaurant on Deck 3.
STAR BREEZE AmphorA table setting.
Table settings include fresh flowers, Windstar’s smoky brown glass chargers, linens, fine stemware and ergonomic cutlery.
STAR BREEZE Blue Crab Gratin first course.
A four course dinner began with a parmesan, cheddar and asiago cone with tomato and avocado amuse bouche, followed with a choice of first courses (beets with berries salad or smoked bison salad), a second course (blue crab gratin, cured salmon with oyster panna cotta or broccoli soup) and an intermezzo of citrus sorbet with a dash of champagne. Main courses included an apple ginger lobster tail, beef pesto, prosciutto-wrapped quail and lemon pasta.
STAR BREEZE AmphorA toffee apple cheesecake dessert.
And so ended our first dinner and a balmy evening aboard Windstar’s Power Yacht STAR BREEZE, just as the ship sailed into brilliantly lit Monte Carlo.
Monaco in the mist.
STAR BREEZE would spend her first “in service” night in the company of super yachts. A day at leisure in Monaco would follow.
Much more to come…
Special thanks: Amanda Graham, Tom Stieghorst
Having documented over 400 passenger ships and taken more than 200 cruises, MaritimeMatters’ co-editor Peter Knego is a leading freelance cruise writer, a respected ocean liner historian and frequent maritime lecturer both on land and at sea. With his work regularly featured in cruise industry trades and consumer publications. Knego also runs the www.midshipcentury.com website which offers MidCentury cruise ship furniture, artwork and fittings rescued from the shipbreaking yards of Alang, India. He has produced several videos on the subject, including his latest, The Sands Of Alang and the best-selling On The Road To Alang."
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