In another setback for Seattle’s pandemic-scuttled cruise business, Windstar Cruises is moving its headquarters from Seattle to Miami.
The company, known for a small fleet of mid-size luxury vessels that operate worldwide, said Friday that it would relocate its downtown headquarters to Miami in June 2022.
Christopher Prelog, Windstar Cruises’ president, said the move was driven by several factors, among them the company’s Seattle office lease, which ends next year, and by Miami’s proximity to Windstar’s Caribbean and European markets.
“We will be in closer contact to ships and crew when they pass through Florida, and we also gain the benefit of being in the center of the cruise industry,” Prelog said in a statement.
The announcement comes three weeks after Seattle’s 2021 cruise season was largely canceled following the extension of a Canadian ban on large cruise ships in Canadian waters through February 2022.
Passage through Canadian waters and to Canadian ports en route to Alaska is key for the Seattle-based cruise business, which has been on hold since last spring due to U.S. and Canadian restrictions.
Although Windstar’s vessels, which carry 148 to 342 passengers, would have been affected by the ban, the company operated only a single vessel from Seattle to Alaska, and had already canceled that route and moved the vessel, the Star Breeze, to the Caribbean, said spokesperson Sarah Scoltock in an emailed statement.
“Luckily for us, we made that move way in advance of the Canadian border closure for ships,” Scoltock said. “We don’t operate weekly cruises out of Seattle – just a few calls a year on its way to/from Alaska.”
On Feb. 24, Windstar announced it was delaying the restart of operations another month, to June 2021.
Another factor in the decision to move was the ease with which the company’s 120 Seattle-area employees have adapted to remote work during the pandemic, Prelog said. Those employees will either relocate to Miami or to Denver, home of Windstar’s corporate parent, Xanterra Travel Collection; or they will work remotely from Seattle, the company said.
In 2019, Windstar made waves for a plan to lengthen three of its vessels by slicing them in half and adding a central section. The first of those stretched ships was completed in November.