Holland America Line has acquired the remaining 50 percent of Windstar Sail Cruises and now fully owns the tallship cruise line.
The Circle Line Group sold its share to gain access to capital needed for other projects, according to Karl Andren, President.
There are also indications that Windstar Sail Cruises has been losing money.
In a prepared statement, Holland America Line Chairman Nico van der Vorm said that Windstar Sail Cruises will maintain its identity and be operated as a wholly-owned subsidiary with separate operations to be based in Florida. He also said that the current management would remain intact.
While Holland America Line has been a basically non-active financial partner up to this point, a company spokesperson said that it would now play an active role in the marketing and sales of Windstar.
Slow sales are said to be the result of low consumer and agent awareness of the unique sail/cruise product.
Industry insiders also speculate that Windstar Sail Cruises will be merged within the Holland America organization.
A Holland America spokesman said that "the big change" in HAL's working relationship with Windstar will be that HAL's 36 worldwide district sales managers will immediately begin to aggressively promote group, charter and incentive sales on Windstar's three vessels. He said that HAL's sales force did very little selling of the Windstar's three 149-passenger vessels until now.
The spokesman explained that HAL will mobilize its sales force of 34 North American, one European and its one Pacific Rim DSM to "fold Windstar" into their standard HAL sales techniques. He added that HAL's four group and charter sales specialists will also start aggressively selling both Holland America and Windstar virtually for the first time.
The spokesman explained that HAL's previous arrangement with Windstar was "strictly financial" and that Holland America will now take a much more active role in the marketing and promotional operations at Windstar. He noted that Windstar President Jean-Claude Potier will now report directly to Kirk Lanterman as HAL's chief executive officer instead of reporting to the HAL-Westours board.
"The big problem with Windstar has been lack of both travel agent and consumer awareness," the spokesman noted, and HAL expects to counter that by launching an expanded trade promotional campaign before the end of the year. He also said that HAL expects to "significantly increase" Windstar's promotional budget for the more aggressive trade advertising campaign.
Holland America will also mobilize its direct mail apparatus for the Windstar operation in a much more aggressive manner, the spokesman said, by "probably'' launching quarterly mailings to HAL's 400,000 past passenger households. He added that HAL will also probably offer some form of discount on specific Windstar sailings to past HAL passengers that won't be available to the general public.