Cruise Ships 2012, The Year In Review: Windstar Cruises / Travel Dynamics / American Cruise Lines

Continuing Shawn J. Dake’s
Cruise Ships 2012, The Year In Review

WIND STAR at Sorrento. Photo © Peter Knego 2012
WIND STAR at Sorrento. Photo © Peter Knego 2012

Windstar Cruises spent US$18 million on refurbishments to their three-ship fleet consisting of the WIND STAR, WIND SPIRIT and WIND SURF (ex CLUB MED 1). The original pair of sail-assisted cruisers completed theirs in November. The WIND SURF had finished her refit last December. Each successive owner has added their own improvements to help keep this casually elegant cruise line among the top tier companies. The line is currently run by TAC Cruise, itself a division of Xanterra Parks & Resorts which operates hotels and restaurants in several National Parks, and is a unit of Anschutz Corp. They also own the idle riverboats DELTA QUEEN and COLUMBIA QUEEN.

Docked at Sitka, Alaska, the YORKTOWN CLIPPER went from competitor to become SPIRIT OF YORKTOWN, one of the larger members of the Cruise West fleet. Postcard from the collection of Shawn J. Dake
The former YORKTOWN CLIPPER, pictured here at Sitka, Alaska, is now sailing under the U.S. Flag as the YORKTOWN for Travel Dynamics. Postcard from the collection of Shawn J. Dake.

Travel Dynamics has restored regular cruise service on the Great Lakes and Eastern Seaboard with the 138-passenger YORKTOWN (ex YORKTOWN CLIPPER, SPIRIT OF YORKTOWN) The 2,354 gross ton ship was built in 1988 and is one of only a few coastal and inland waterways vessels remaining under the U.S. flag. The small ship was acquired from the defunct Cruise West last year. After chartering the CORINTHIAN II (ex RENAISSANCE SEVEN, REGINA RENAISSANCE, RENAI I, SUN, ISLAND SUN) for the past eight years, the 2012/2013 Antarctic cruising season will be the last with the company. In March 2013, the ship will go to a new line called Polar Latitudes who plan to rename the ship SEA EXPLORER. Travel Dynamics will take back the sister ship which had gone to Orion Expeditions renaming it CORINTHIAN (ex RENAISSANCE FOUR, CLELIA II, ORION II). Both ships were built in 1991 as part of the original Renaissance Cruises octet.

American Cruise Lines added the first brand new Mississippi River paddlewheeler to be built in 17 years with the addition of the 150-passenger QUEEN OF THE MISSISSIPPI. Although a classic riverboat in outward appearance, the interior boasts six lounges and some of the largest staterooms in the industry, 85% of which feature private balconies. The boat was completed by Chesapeake Shipbuilding nine weeks ahead of schedule. It entered service on August 4th. A christening ceremony was held in Nashville, Tennessee on August 25th with travel agent Phyllis Dale serving as godmother.

The company is so confident in the success of this new venture into river cruising that on March 13th they announced that construction had begun on a slightly larger, but similar riverboat, which will be the third authentic paddlewheel riverboat in the fleet. They also operate the 120-passenger QUEEN OF THE WEST on the Columbia River. For the first time ever, American Cruise Lines offered a series of Alaska Cruises on their 2005-built, 93-passenger AMERICAN SPIRIT departing from Juneau on 7-day itineraries.

 


Shawn Dake is a freelance photo-journalist and regular contributor to MaritimeMatters.com. For more than a decade he has written his annual “Cruise Ships, The Year In Review” which has now grown to a nearly 15,000 word essay recalling all of the events that have taken place within the cruise industry the previous year.

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