Windstar Cruises: It's All About You (Part One)
In all our years of cruising, one thing is clear: For us and many others, a six-night sailing is never enough. We have met scores of sophisticated travelers who have told us that, with all the stressful pre-planning and advance work required to go away on vacation, six nights and seven days is never long enough to justify all that energy. Typically, cruise passengers spend two days getting acclimated to the ship, then spend two more days enjoying the trip, and before they know it, it’s time to disembark. This can be a frustrating and even anti-climactic experience. The more we sail, the more we discover passengers who take back-to-back sailings in order to make the most of their cruise experience. Having an enjoyable cruise—and making it last as long as possible so that you can relax as much as possible—is what it’s all about.
Related: Four Tips for Stress-Free Travel
The Long and Short of It
We had the rare privilege of taking two back-to-back sailings on the debut voyage of the new Windstar Star Pride, on an extended inaugural itinerary from Barcelona to Rome.
Why an extended itinerary? Windstar passengers Norman and Carol Schindler of Calabasas, Calif., told us that they not only have traveled on 18 Windstar cruises, but that they always book back-to-back itineraries.
“It’s just too far to come for just a week,” said Norman. “It just makes sense for us. All our cruises are back-to-backs. We normally take 12-14 nights, and we make a long trip out of it.”
But before we tell you more about the advantages of extended sailings, here’s some background on Windstar Cruises.
Windstar is a leader in luxury small ship cruising, and for many years it has been famous for its masted sailing vessels. But with the recent addition of the new motor yachts Star Pride—purchased from The Yachts of Seabourn—Windstar now can offer “a private, yacht-like experience” and even more “luxury as you like it,” according to CEO Hans Birkholz. According to Mr. Birkholz, the cruise line asked itself the question, “How can we bring the destination to life? That is always our goal.”
Shoot For the Star Class Yachts
In May 2015, Windstar will also introduce two similar power yachts, the Star Breeze and Star Legend to its fleet. The yachts will spend their inaugural summer seasons in Europe, cruising new regions in Northern Europe such as Iceland, as well as the Mediterranean. With the Star Pride, Windstar now has a collection of three Star Class all-suite yachts.
“With only a maximum of 212 guests on board, these new Star Class yachts are the perfect fit for Windstar’s style of small ship cruising,” added Mr. Birkholz. “All three of the new yachts will receive significant style changes and stem-to-stern upgrades to align with Windstar’s yacht style cruising.”
Windstar’s Unique Advantages
More details on Windstar Cruises include:
- The staterooms are all spacious 240-sq.-ft. suites
- Dress is “casual elegant,” with no formal nights and no jacket-and-tie requirements
- Smaller ships allow for greater access to “hidden harbors” and are usually anchored in harbor, vs. at a cruise terminal
- An “open-bridge experience” offers guests the opportunity to tour the bridge during regularly posted hours, to get to know the Captain and officers.
- All the ships have a watersports platform at the rear of the yacht
- Special private events are included in your fare, such as a Tahitian luau, sherry-tasting in Spain, or French food and entertainment in Monte Carlo
- As to pricing, fares typically start at $2,499 for a Mediterranean cruise. An onboard booking initiative of 5 percent off future cruises is offered, with a $200 credit per cabin if you refer a friend.
Mr. Birkholz added: “We believe that we offer an incredible value and an exceptional product at a great price.”
Stay tuned for Part Two!
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.