With the highly anticipated return of Windstar Cruises to the scenic beauty of Alaska in May 2018 (after a hiatus of more than 20 years from sailing in the region) comes an agenda of larger-than-life adventures awaiting those boarding the 212-guest Star Legend. The award-winning cruise line has announced that a new batch of Alaska cruise tours are open for booking, combining the best of Alaska’s interior along with a cruise. The new cruise tours start at $4,269 per person.
The four new cruise tours will let visitors spend up to 20 days exploring by land and sea, while the newly announced Signature Expeditions will bring them even closer to the action with experiences like kayaking to explore glaciers with experienced glaciologists and marine biologists guiding the way. These experienced Signature Expeditions staffers also sail with guests for the entirety of their Windstar cruise – providing opportunities for personal discussions, lectures, and insider information. On tap with the new cruise tours will be unparalleled, up-close views of glaciers and the Inside Passage as well as the perfect combination of interior and port cities.
“Our cruise tours coupled with our new Signature Expeditions will take our guests beyond the expected,” said Windstar President John Delaney. “Traveling in small groups with more freedom to explore and meet locals eager to share their world and discovering some of the most authentic corners of ‘The Last Frontier’ by small ship are just a few of the spectacular highlights of Windstar’s new cruise tours in Alaska.”
On land, guests will see majestic Mount McKinley standing watch over the six million acres of rugged land and wildlife that is Denali National Park. Exploration of the park itself of course includes scouting for bears and other wildlife, and the journey to the park is a scenic adventure in its own right – reached via a deluxe domed train that passes remote and beautiful scenery along the journey. At sea, they will be able to cruise through Kenai Fjords National Park and up Misty Fjords past areas where larger cruise ships normally turn around, and then launch small watercraft directly from the ship to explore hidden coves and glacier-fed waterfalls, pausing to take in the jaw-dropping vistas or spot a humpback whale.
The following cruise tours are now open for booking:
Denali & Alaskan Wilderness Cruise Tour – Fairbanks to Vancouver (18 days)
This tour begins near the highest point in North America among the breathtaking beauty of pristine Denali National Park and then sets sail through the ice floes and turquoise-tinged glaciers of the stunning Alaskan coastline. Seafood lovers can feast on delectable king crab paired with classic sourdough bread and hoppy handcrafted amber ales. The four-day land tour portion of Alaska begins in Fairbanks where guests can explore downtown before boarding the Riverboat Discovery up the Chena River then driving to Denali National Park to embark on an action-packed excursion searching for wildlife, like caribou and grizzlies. Guests then travel to Talkeetna aboard a beautiful domed train to enjoy the area’s colorful history and a farewell dinner. Denali & Alaskan Wilderness Cruise Tour truly highlights all that The Last Frontier has to offer. From a scenic cruise through Kenai Fjords National Park – a place larger ships cannot access – to spot sea lions, puffins and whales to Icy Strait Point – travelers can sample a variety of daring activities and visually captivating settings. Haines, a quaint little town on North America’s longest fjord bordering 20 million acres of protected wilderness, will offer outdoor adventures like rafting and historical Wrangell will reveal an impressive collection of totem poles, as well as thousand-year old rock carvings. The voyage continues in Prince Rupert, British Columbia where sightseers can take a tour of the old salmon cannery before sailing through the protected waters of the Inside Passage packed with a feast for the senses including lush rainforests, brilliant white lighthouses, majestic orcas and playful seals. This epic tour finishes in Vancouver passing beneath the iconic Lions Gate Bridge. Here Windstar guests have the option to extend their stay and take in a few famous attractions like the Vancouver Aquarium, Gastown and Granville Island’s Public Market.
Alaskan Explorations & Denali Cruise Tour – Vancouver to Fairbanks (15 or 16 days)
Adventurers can experience a combination of British Columbia’s grandeur and Alaska’s small community seclusion, sailing north along Canada’s Inside Passage to the Eastern Alaskan Coast and remote interior, while catching glimpses of scenic glaciers and fjords, as the compact size of Windstar’s vessels grants unsurpassed access and perspectives. Devoting four days to exploring Alaska by land, the Alaskan Explorations & Denali Cruise Tour starts off in Vancouver, a bustling metropolis set against magnificent beauty, before heading north to the Klondike through the Canadian Inside Passage and spending time in Ketchikan where guests will have the opportunity to visit artisans weaving baskets and carving totem poles. Snowcapped peaks and lush vegetation surround t Star Legend on its way through Misty Fjords to Wrangell, a fisherman’s paradise known for some of the world’s finest fly fishing. Other attractions include a trip to Icy Strait Point where the largest summer population of humpback whales call Point Adolphus home, and a stop in Juneau, Alaska’s capital encompassed by 4,000-foot glacier-draped peaks. Many more unparalleled photo opportunities await travelers in Haines from soaring white-headed bald eagles and brown bears to vibrant, spring wildflowers, while the imposing twin Sawyer Glaciers found in Tracy Arm Fjord will captivate even the most seasoned photographers. The tour will also make its way through the ever-popular Kenai Fjords National Park and end up in Seward where guests will drive to Anchorage amidst stunning views of the Turnagain Arm shorelines before taking a deluxe dome railcar from Talkeetna to Denali and a river cruise in Fairbanks prior to returning home.
Pacific Crossing & Denali Cruise Tour – Tokyo (Yokohama) to Fairbanks (17 days)
Between the Far East and America’s furthest west and from Japan’s sleek and trendy urban wonders to Alaska’s rustic outposts, this 17-day tour is abundant in both the exotic and bucolic, spending four days touring Alaska by land and 13 days cruising the North Pacific. In Tokyo, travelers can take advantage of Michelin-star restaurants, Kabuki theater and Sumo wrestling before continuing on to locations like Kushiro, home to Japan’s largest marshland and endangered Japanese cranes, and Miyako, a city slowly recovering from the devastating 2011 tsunami and whose Jodogahama Beach has been nationally dubbed a “Place of Scenic Beauty.” The second half of this awe-inspiring trip explores Alaska, beginning in Seward, visiting the blue-green waters of Kenai Lake amongst other local activities before driving to Talkeetna, a small mining town, to board a domed railcar to reach Denali National Park. Guests then will delve into the magnificence of Denali with a seven to eight-hour tour, encompassing the park’s history and catching glimpses of a few local friends like caribou, moose, and grizzly bears. The voyage ends in Fairbanks, Alaska’s Golden Heart, where highlights include a cruise down the Chena River detailing the history of the pioneering community, meeting champion sled dogs and a final, mouthwatering farewell dinner.
Denali & Aleutians Cruise Tour – Fairbanks to Tokyo (20 days)
Legendary Denali National Park and the best of the Far East are within reach during this epic three-week cruise tour that ranges from the rustic and remote Alaskan interior to Tokyo’s vibrant and trendy shopping districts. Cruisers can swig amber ales shoulder to shoulder with rugged Alaskan fisherman or slurp steaming Udon noodles next to Sapporo-sipping salarymen. This expansive North Pacific crossing offers unforgettable and immersive opportunities among the best in Alaskan and Japanese scenery, culture and cuisine, spending four days touring Alaska by land and 16 days cruising the North Pacific. Beginning in Fairbanks, Windstar guests can enjoy a walk through historic downtown before setting sail on a three-hour Riverboat Discovery cruise exploring an Athabascan village and ultimately arriving at Denali National Park for a welcome reception filled with all-you-can-eat salmon and barbecue ribs – satiating appetites in preparation of the adventure-packed fun that awaits trekkers the following day. Denali & Aleutians Cruise Tour also makes stops in the bohemian town of Homer, an eclectic mix of fishermen, hippies and artists with an impressive farm-to-table movement; Russian-influenced Kodiak, home of the Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church and Baranov Museum; the small cannery settlement known as Sand Point where very rare, long stretches of sandy beaches appear; and Dutch Harbor – the site of a Japanese bombing during World War II. The remainder of the cruise will take place in Japan from visiting the artists’ villages in Kushiro to the beautiful shores of Miyako and the exhilarating backdrop of Tokyo.
To learn more about authentic small ship cruising with Windstar, contact a travel professional or Windstar Cruises by phone at 877-958-7718, or visit www.windstarcruises.com.