By Jane Wooldridge
February 19, 2013

Fans of Windstar Cruises will soon be able to expand their horizons in Asia, Europe, and Tahiti. Tuesday, the company announced it will buy three 200-passenger ships from the Yachts of Seabourn. The purchase doubles the number of Windstar ships and the number of berths, raising total capacity to six ships and about 1,200 berths, said Windstar CEO Hans Birkholz.

The first of the ships, Pride, will move to Windstar in spring of 2014; the Legend and Spirit, will join the fleet in spring 2015. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Xanterra, Windstar's parent company, bought the line in 2011 and has refurbished all three ships. The current ships all sport electronically raised sails. The Seabourn ships are traditional motor-driven yachts. But its the size and shipboard style—not the propulsion—that made the purchase attractive, according to Birkholz.

"We're very proud of our sailing heritage,'' Birkholz said. "But what our guests rave about is the intimate service, hidden harbors and small cities.'' The idea, he says, is to capitalize on the ambiance of upscale private yachting in a series of new destinations, like the Tahiti cruises that Windstar is adding this year. And the company is definitely shopping for more ships, he said.

Xanterra is best known as the operator of lodges in national parks. In recent years it has acquired other distinctive travel experiences, including its recent purchase of VBT, Vermont Walking and Biking Tours.

Meanwhile, Seabourn plans to replace the capacity it's losing with the order of a new ship later this year, said spokesman Bruce Good, in keeping with its newer ships, Odyssey, Sojourn and Quest.

Jane Wooldridge is T+L's cruising editor.