Windstar Cruises Debuts Signature Expeditions in Alaska

When Windstar Cruises returns to Alaska this year after a long absence, it will be offering a brand-new program of events onboard and ashore that aims to bring Alaska’s rich history to live.

Windstar’s new Signature Expeditions program will debut in May aboard Star Legend, which will offer a full season of Alaskan cruises departing from Vancouver, British Columbia. Aboard each sailing, a five-member-strong Expedition Team will offer onboard enrichment classes and lectures that highlight Alaska’s diverse natural wonders and its pioneering history.

Ashore, guests can enjoy optional Signature Expeditions excursions, led by the same experienced onboard expedition team members.

Windstar Cruises’ new Signature Expeditions adventures in Alaska include kayak tours of Misty Fjords. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

With the debut of its new Signature Expeditions program, Windstar is bridging the gap between pleasure and expedition cruising in Alaska. Offerings can include Kayaking tours, hiking adventures, or even the chance to explore the rugged shoreline aboard the ship’s nimble fleet of Zodiac rafts. Examples of tours available include an interpretive walk in Wrangell, Alaska; the opportunity to kayak through the natural splendor of Misty Fjords; and a zodiac tour of the Kenai Fjords National Park and its surroundings.

These excursions come at an additional cost, and are intended to complement the more standard array of shore excursion experiences that can be had throughout Alaska. With just 212 guests sailing aboard the recently-refitted Star Legend, Windstar has the opportunity to create a more immersive product in Alaska and, in doing so, offer a more immersive product than its big-ship competitors.

Windstar will be sending its Star Legend on the line’s first Alaskan voyages in over a decade. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

“We are offering travelers the chance to slow down and truly enjoy scenic immersion cruising amongst the glaciers and wildlife, and we have the perfect size ships for Alaska, period,” said John Delaney, president of Windstar Cruises. “With the addition of our brand-new Signature Expeditions, our comprehensive land tours, and exciting roster of shore excursions, each guest will get to experience the best of adventure, breathtaking nature, and completely personalized service in an incredibly immersive yet completely uncrowded cruise.”

In addition to its Signature Expeditions offerings, Windstar’s new voyages in Alaska also offer a complement of more standard excursions, many of which have been designed for curious travellers looking to get more from their journey to Alaska. These include:

  • Kroschel Wildlife Sanctuary: This wildlife sanctuary near Haines sprawls over 60 acres and will provide incredible photo opportunities of orphaned Alaskan animals living in their natural habitat. The venue is overseen by caregiver Steve Kroschel, a real life Alaskan Dr. Doolittle. Kroschel was born and raised on a farm in Northern Minnesota and has worked with wild animals since childhood in a variety of ways, including producing his own wildlife documentaries and working on films for Disney and National Geographic.
  • Taku Lodge Feast & 5 Glacier Seaplane: For those looking for an authentic, one-of-a-kind Alaskan experience, the seaplane-only-access to Alaska’s famous Taku Glacier combines true wilderness with glacier-view dining. From Juneau, a classic DeHavilland seaplane will ascend over five breathtaking glaciers surrounded by the majestic Tongass National Forest and land on the Taku River at the elegantly rustic and historic Taku Lodge where travelers will savor a menu of fresh and homemade local fare. All participants get to enjoy a window seat and headset for continuous narration.
  • Fishing the Inside Passage: This scenic outing in Wrangell offers a chance to catch a variety of fish from halibut to salmon in the abundant waters of the Pacific along the famed Inside Passage of Alaska. A quick boat ride ensures that the most time is actually spent fishing rather than just getting there. With “captain’s choice”-style fishing there is also a higher likelihood of catching a specific species for that given day. To top it all off, any catch can be professionally processed and shipped home for an additional fee.

Windstar is also rolling out new pre-and-post cruise tours in Alaska that can be added to many of the line’s 2018 Alaskan voyages. Running five-days and four nights in length, these journey from Seward to Fairbanks, with a stop in the magnificent splendor of Denali National Park; Alaska’s crown jewel and a ‘must-see’ for any visitor to the State.

A full two-day stay in Denali National Park is featured on Windstar’s new pre-and-post Land Tours in Alaska. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

From Seward, Windstar’s new post-cruise tour visits Anchorage before spending a unique overnight in the small village of Talkeetna, roughly halfway between Anchorage and Denali National Park. This beautiful town boasts its own microbrewery and breathtaking scenery and was, until recently, presided over an honorary feline mayor named Stubbs the Cat.

Windstar then whisks guests by rail into the heart of Denali National Park for a two-day stay that includes a full-day tour of the Park. On the final day, guests travel to Fairbanks for an overnight stay and an exploration of the Chena River, followed by a farewell dinner that captures the frontier spirit of this wild place.

This excursion is offered in the reverse order as a pre-cruise tour, followed by embarkation of the Star Legend in Seward.

In addition to big-name ports like Ketchikan and Juneau, Windstar will also call on smaller, out-of-the-way ports like Wrangell, Alaska. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Windstar’s 2018 voyages to Alaska are on sale now. Star Legend debuts on her first sailing in May of 2018, and her season wraps up on September 10.

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