Available only starting in late 2023, these eight- to 18-day cruises provide trips to some of the world’s most popular ancient sites, including Petra and the Valley of the Kings, as well as to small ports you might not otherwise get to see. Two even including transiting the Suez Canal, a rare crossing via cruise ship.
Windstar Cruises in the Red Sea and Persian Gulf
Windstar Cruises’ all-suite Star Legend, which was last renovated in March 2021, is the ship providing its Red Sea and Persian Gulf cruises. The Star Legend has a maximum of 312 guests and, like all of Windstar’s cruises, a staff-to-guest ratio of one to one-and-a-half.
Windstar’s longest cruise in the region is called Wonders of Arabia and transits the Suez Canal on an 18-day expedition from Athens to Dubai. It features several ports in Egypt including an overnight to see Luxor, visiting Petra in Jordan, plus Oman (including the fjords in Khasab), before arriving in Dubai. In addition to the Suez transit, this cruises features eight days at sea, providing the opportunity to truly relax.
Windstar Cruises is favored by guests who don’t want a lot of programmed activities and instead want the luxury of unfilled days, whether on board or in port (especially in the small ports that many other ships can’t visit). For days at sea, that might mean choosing a lounge chair in the shade with the thick novel you’ve been too busy to tackle, finally having enough time for a regular workout plus a nap, visits to the open bridge to learn about navigating local waters, in-depth research to determine whether the spa’s Lomi Lomi massage is truly the best, plus lots of time gazing at the spectacular views.
You’ll still have time to relax on Windstar’s shorter cruises too. Only one of these, though, transits the Suez Canal—the 12-day cruise from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to Athens, with stops in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Greece.
Other options are the 10-day cruise from Muscat, Oman to Dubai with stops in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Khasab in Oman, as well as the UAE’s Ras Al Khama, Abu Dhabi, and Sir Bani Yas before disembarking in Dubai.
Also on offer in the region are Windstar Cruises’ nine-day trip between Jeddah and Aqaba (Petra) in Jordan as well as an eight-day cruise between Muscat and Jeddah. And don’t forget that with Windstar you can book back-to-back cruises to expand your stay on board and visit additional ports.
Initially known for its three motor sailing yachts with their massive white sails, Windstar Cruises then added three more ships to its fleet and began a massive renovation project.
Windstar’s largest ship is its flagship, the five-masted motor sailing yacht Windsurf. It’s the largest sailing ship in the world and has a maximum of 342 guests in 171 staterooms. Windstar’s other two sailing yachts are twins Wind Star and Wind Spirit, each with four masts and a maximum of 148 guests.
Windstar Cruises’ three all-suite ships are Star Breeze, Star Legend, and Star Pride. After being “stretched” during recent renovations (the last ship just restarted sailing in early 2022), they each host a maximum of 312 guests.
Windstar Cruises’ $250 million renovation project involved cutting each of the three motor yachts in the middle and adding a new 84-foot section with 50 suites.
The renovations also included upgrading to more environmentally-friendly engines, adding hospital-grade HVAC and ultraviolet germicidal irradiation air cleaning systems, as well as adding more outdoor deck areas, additional dining spaces, a new pool and whirlpool, an expanded spa and fitness center, as well as a redesign of all the bathrooms.
Life aboard Windstar’s small ships is described as “180 degrees from ordinary” with the ideal blend of relaxed luxury. Ships are spacious and never crowded and you can choose from several bars and restaurants—Windstar partners with the James Beard Foundation plus they have occasional culinary cruises. With Windstar, you have the option of booking à la carte or on an all-inclusive basis, with the latter including unlimited wifi, wine, beer, and cocktails, as well as gratuities.