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Star Breeze

Background

In 1986, the company Signet Cruise Line was formed by a Norwegian investment group led my Atle Brynestad and Warren Titus. The company wanted to offer an alternative to the ever growing mass-market cruiselines and concentrate on the higher end of the market. A few years earlier, the also Norwegian company Sea Goddess Cruises was formed for the same purpose, but Signet wanted to sail with slightly larger ships. Before they entered service, a dispute arose with the American company Signet Oil, who were not to happy with the choice of name. That is why the cruiseline changed its name to Seabourn Cruise Line and for their start they ordered three similar cruiseyaughts from around 10.000 tons at the Schichau Seebeckwerft in Bremerhaven, West-Germany. The first ship, Seabourn Pride, started her sailings in 1988, followed by the second ship Seabourn Spirit. But then, the company realized that three ships would be too much of a gamble and they sold the order for the thirth sister to the also Norwegian-owned Kloster Cruise for the extension and modernisation of the established Royal Viking Line. For them, the thirth ship entered service under the name of Royal Viking Queen.

It was a very misty evening, that 2nd of june in 2018 when Star Breeze just left the locks at IJmuiden...

Construction and general statistics

The later Star Breeze was officially ordered at the 8th of may in 1988 and build as yardnumber 1070 at the Schichau Seebeckwerft in Bremerhaven, that time in West-Germany under the name of Seabourn Spirit. Her tonnage-measurement was 9975 and she measured 134 meters long, 19,2 meters wide and her draft reached 5 meters. From her eight decks in total, six are designated as passengerdecks for 208 passengers and 164 crewmembers. In these numbers, you can clearly see the amount of luxury that the company wanted to offer, as these ships had one of the highest ratio's. The ship was propelled by two screws that were powered by four Normo-Bergen designed diesel engines, two 12-cylinders and two 8-cylinders. With those, a normal cruisingspeed of around 16 knots could be achieved, although the top-speed is listed at 19 knots. Not too high, but the soon-to-be passengers would not be speed-queens and speed-kings, they were more interested in the luxury offered aboard, caviar-parties in the topdeck pool and the ports visited. 

The keel was laid at the 23rd of september in 1988 and at the 17th of march 1989, the ship was launched as the second sister for Seabourn Cruise Line and she was finally delivered to the company at the 7th of november 1989. She was brought under the Norwegian flag and sailed with Oslo as her homeport.

Design

Designed for true luxury travels, Seabourn Spirit and her sisters do have 106 quite large suites aboard, all between 26 and 53 square meters. Some do have balconies, though not all as several are also having 'just' a panoramic window. The ship of course has three restaurants, a café and a well-equipped spa and wellness area. One highlight is the retractable platform at the back of the ship, that can be used as a safe haven for watersport activities. 

Early carreer

At the 28th of november 1989, the ship departed for her first Caribbean cruise from the port of Fort Lauderdale in Florida. Her first years were quite un-eventfull which, in a cruiseliners life, is not that bad. In 1992, this proved to be right as she was gently cruising down in the Mediterranean and a fire broke out aboard. This happened at the 14th of august in 1992 and the passengers were evacuated to the Italian cruiseship Daphne, at that time sailing for Costa Cruises. The crew of the Seabourn Spirit was capable enough to get the engines going again and without critical damage, the ship was able to sail for Genoa using her own engine-power. Here, the ship was repaired and resumed her cruising scedule afterwards.

Her quiet life carried on and so did the life of Seabourn Cruise Line. When Kloster Cruise got into financial difficulties, they themselves were growing so when the former Royal Viking Queen, then sailing under the name of Queen Odyssey, became available, Seabourn bought also the thirth sistership in 1996 and re-named her Seabourn Legend. With now all three sisters re-united, the end of the century neared. In 1998, Seabourn Cruise Line was bought by Carnival Corporation and merged with Cunard Line under the banner of Cunard Line Ltd. Both lines kept sailing under their own name, though.  In 2002, the ships registry changed from Norwegian to Bahamian, with her homeport changed to Nassau. But there were some problems at the horizon, as Seabourn had not been able to invest in new tonnage for more then a decade. They had recieved some ships from the Cunard-deal, the Seabourn Sun and the former Sea-Goddess yaughts, but these ships were also all built in the 1980's. To keep up with more modern lines, they simply had to invest and now owned by the monstrous Carnival Corporation, this also was possible.

Pirate attack

Around the end of the 1990's, it was obvious that pirate attacks were getting very common in the Red Sea and near the coast of Somalia in particular. But, as it is the way to and from the Suez Canal, it also is a very important strech of water for western merchant ships and cruiseships alike. At the 5th of november in 2005, Seabourn Spirit was sailing 160 kilometers off the coast of Somalia with some 300 passengers and crew aboard when the ship was attacked by two pirate speedboats as the first cruiseship ever in such a situation. Using machineguns and rocket propelled granades, the pirates attempted to board the ship and during the battle, ons of the granades motors wedged itself in a wall of one of the suites aboard Seabourn Spirit. Another granade bounched just off the stern of the ship.During the event, the passengers were told to stay in the ships Restaurant untill the pirates were defeated.

As shipping companies were well aware of the dangers in the area, it was standard to have several Navy-personell aboard and aboard Seabourn Spirit one of them was Som Bahudur Gurung, who used to be a Ghurka for the UN Peace Keeping Force. He operated the so-called Long-Range Acoustic Device to fight off the pirates, which is a weapon that uses powerfull soundwaves for defence. During the fight-off, Gurung was hit by a sharpnel, but he was the only person injured in the fight. He was taken care of by security officer Michael Groves, an ex-policeman, who also was using high-preasure waterhoses to fight off the pirates. It was enough though as the pirates were not able to board the ship and all other passengers and crew were unharmed during the attack. Of course, the ship changed course and headed for Port Victoria at the Seychelles Islands instead of the planned stop-over in Mombasa, Kenya. Here the remains of the granades were removed and the ship was repaired, before she went over to Singapore to resume her normal scedule.

In may of 2007, Som Bahudur Gurung and the ships' security officer Michael Groves were honoured at Buckingham Palace recieving the Queens Gallantry Medal and the Queens Commendation for Bravery from Queen Elizabeth II. Not all was well in the end, though, as Michael Groves launched a damage claim for hearing loss because of the LRAD-device to Carnival Corporation, because he accused them of negligence for sailing into known pirate-territory with a ship that was not build for battle.

Windstar Cruises

In 2013, to gain more capital, the Seabourn Spirit was sold to the Nassau-based investor Star Voyager Ltd. and leased back to Seabourn and the company immidiately ordered a new class of ships, the later Odyssey-class. It was also announced that the first trio of ships was going to be sold to Windstar Cruises, a once Carnival-owned company, as the new ships took over the fleet of Seabourn Cruise Line. Seabourn Pride was the first ship to come over to Windstar and for this, she was renamed Star Pride. At the 6th of may 2015, also Seabourn Spirit was renamed Star Breeze for the new owner. Her Godmother was travel journalist Wendy Perrin. The ship was not renamed as 'Star Spirit', as confusion could be there with the already in service Wind Spirit. Finally, Seabourn Legend became Star Legend in late 2015. For Windstar Cruises, the ships sail worldwide cruises, just like they had done in the Seabourn fleet. Of course the ships were updated and modernized for service with Windstar, recieving the line's signature Amphora Restaurant and a nautical style Yaught Club at the top deck. Also, the new style was to be more casual then luxury.   

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