Who Owns Windstar Cruises?

Windstar Cruises is one of the more unique cruise lines in the world, since it features (some) ships with actual sails. It’s also one of the smaller cruise lines, with just six ships in the fleet, offering a luxurious experience for those passengers onboard.

One of Wind star cruise's deck

But who owns the company – are they part of a large cruise corporation? And what’s the cruise line’s history? Let’s take a look.

Where is Windstar Cruises based?

Windstar Cruises is based in the US – specifically in Miami, Florida. The headquarters is situated at 8400 NW 36th Street, Suite 520, Doral, FL 33166. Despite being based a short distance from the Miami cruise port, the ships don’t tend to offer cruises from Florida.


Windstar used to have a head office in Seattle, Washington. That has since closed, by many of the team still continue to work remotely from Washington.

The History of Windstar Cruises

Windstar was first formed as Windstar Sail Cruises in 1984 by Karl G. Andren, an entrepreneur in the shipping industry who sadly passed away in February 2023. 

Karl G. Andren
Karl G. Andren

The first ship was the Wind Star, which joined the fleet in 1986. The following two years saw identical sister ships launch – firstly the Wind Song, followed by the Wind Spirit.

Two of wind star cruise ships
  • 1984: Windstar Cruises was founded by Karl G. Andren, a pioneering entrepreneur who wanted to create a unique sailing experience for travellers
  • 1986: The first ship, Wind Star, began its maiden voyage.
  • 1988: Holland America Line, a subsidiary of Carnival Corporation, acquired Windstar Cruises.
  • 2007: Windstar Cruises was sold to Ambassadors International for about $100 million.
  • 2011: Following the bankruptcy of Ambassadors International, Windstar was bought by Anschutz Corporation, owned by Philip Anschutz, and operated through one of its subsidiaries, Xanterra Parks & Resorts.

Is Windstar owned by Holland America?

In 1987, Holland America Line purchased 50% of Windstar Cruises, and then bought the remainder of the company the following year in 1988. However, Holland America no longer owns Windstar Cruises.

Cruise mummy with Holland America Line

Holland America Line took over before the Wind Surf and Wind Saga were completed, and the company decided to pass on the ships, no longer adding them to the fleet. Instead, Club Med bought the ships and christened them Club Med I and Club Med II.

Does Carnival own Windstar Cruises?

Carnival Corporation & PLC did own Windstar Cruises from 1989, when the company bought Holland America Line and its subsidiaries.

One of the ships of carnival cruises

Carnival owned Windstar until 2007, when it sold the cruise line to Ambassadors International. It was later sold again to Xanterra Travel Collection in 2011.

In 1998, Carnival planned to purchase the Club Med I and Club Med II ships to add to the Windstar fleet – the company had first refusal on the ships as part of the original deal to pass on them.

However, Windstar couldn’t afford both ships, and so decided to only buy one. So the Club Med I was bought and given her original name of Wind Surf.

In 2002, the cruise line lost a ship – Wind Song developed an engine room fire on 1st December, and she was scuttled and sank the following month. It had been decided that Carnival and Holland America didn’t want to pay the costs to the French Navy for towing the ship, and scrapping it would’ve been too expensive as well.

In 2007, Carnival sold Windstar Cruises to Ambassadors International, a company with a diverse portfolio of businesses. The price of the sale was $100 million. However, just four years later, the company would file for bankruptcy. Windstar Cruises was put up for auction and the Anschutz Corporation won the bidding with a price of $39 million.

Anschutz Corporation gave the cruise company to its subsidiary, Xanterra Travel Collection.

Who is the parent company of Windstar?

The current parent company of Windstar Cruises is Xanterra Travel Collection. The company owns a number of travel companies across the US, but Windstar Cruises is the only cruise line that the company owns.

The Xanterra Travel Collection is primarily involved in National Park resorts across the US, with resorts situated in Crater Lake, Death Valley, and the Grand Canyon. The company also owns and operates the Grand Canyon Railway.

Windstar Cruises Now

Since Xanterra took over Windstar Cruises, the fleet has grown to its largest-ever size

In 2013, the cruise line purchased three ships from Seabourn Cruise Line – the Star Pride, Star Legend, and Star Breeze. After extensive renovation, the ships joined the active fleet across 2014 and 2015.

Wind star cruise ship sailing the seas
The Star Legend cruise ship

And since then, the cruise line has expanded its range of destinations, and now cruises to most regions around the world. Alaska was the latest addition to the portfolio of itineraries, in 2021.

So there you have it – a brief summary of the history of Windstar Cruises’ ownership and key milestones in the company’s history. For over 30 years, the cruise line has been offering a classical luxury yacht experience at sea, and it only continues to go from strength to strength.

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Cruise Mummy

Jenni Fielding is the founder of Cruise Mummy. She has worked in the cruise industry since 2015 and has taken over 30 cruises. Now, she helps over 1 million people per month to plan their perfect cruise holidays.

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