SEATTLE — After a 20-year hiatus Windstar Cruises is heading back to Alaska for spring/summer 2018, with voyages starting at 11 days and sailing to spots like Misty Fjords National Monument and Kenai Fjords National Park, experiences usually booked as shore excursions on larger ships.
Each Windstar Alaska itinerary includes sailing through Tracy Arm Fjord. Park rangers, scientists, glaciologists, geologists and other experts will be aboard each cruise. “We are so excited to be enhancing the Alaskan travel marketplace by introducing our brand of true small ship cruising to Alaska,” said Windstar President John Delaney. “Sailing closer to pristine deciduous shorelines, delving deeper into all-enveloping fjords, kayaking in icy straits right off the ship’s Watersports Platform and viewing an endless wilderness from sea level … We are bringing our guests right to the heart of what makes Alaska and the Great Pacific Northwest such an amazing destination and magical place to visit,”
Delaney said the cruise line is working to arrange customized ‘bucket list’ moments like the chance to hike atop the massive Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau and zip-line over crystal-clear creeks in bear country.
Highlights of Windstar’s inaugural Alaska season with the 212-guest Star Legend yacht include:
- Tracy Arm and Misty Fjords on every cruise
- Optional kayaking and scenic cruising by Zodiac directly from the ship
- Seven to eight Southeast Alaska and B.C. ports on each cruise
- Sailing sail right into Misty Fjords and Kenai Fjords
- Multiple glacier experiences on northbound/southbound sailings featuring Mendenhall Glacier, Tracy Arm, and Kenai Fjords
- Longer itineraries of 11- to 14-days
- Naturalist/Expedition Leaders on all voyages along with speakers from Native American tribes
The news comes on the heels of Windstar’s recent announcement of its return to Asia in 2017/18, with the 212-guest, all-suite Star Legend yacht sailing from Tokyo to Seward (Anchorage) over a 14-day trans-Pacific cruise, which also stops in Miyako, Hakodate and Kushiro in Japan.
Once in Alaska, Star Legend embarks on three new itineraries with eight sailing dates, departing May to August, including a 14-day Seward (Anchorage) to Vancouver option; 12-day Vancouver round-trip itinerary, and 11- or 12-day Vancouver to Seward (Anchorage) voyages. Windstar also plans to offer pre- and post-cruise land excursions, allowing guests more time to explore Alaska’s interior.
- Wonders of Alaska & Canada – These 14-day voyages from Seward (Anchorage) to Vancouver are offered three times. B.C.’s Prince Rupert, on Kaien Island just north of the mouth of the Skeena River, is a highlight, a picturesque port rich in culture and heritage. Teeming with wildlife, guests can expect whale, eagle, salmon, and grizzly bear sightings, and also visit the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary, with one of the densest remaining North American bear populations.
- Alaskan Splendors – Multiple journeys between Vancouver and Seward (Anchorage) over 11- or 12-days offer a tour de force of top Alaskan destinations, says Delaney.
- Islands & Inlets of the Inside Passage – Offering two 12-day sailings, this itinerary cruises roundtrip from Vancouver, passing under the famed Lions Gate Bridge twice, both en route to the rugged coastline and on the return. A hidden gem at the midway point of the Inside Passage sits Metlakatla, Alaska on verdant Annette Island. This locale is the only U.S. settlement of the indigenous Tsimshian people, where guests get to visit a traditional longhouse and experience the full regalia of Native American song and dance shows.