As we sailed past Alaska’s Chiswell Islands on our way to Kenai Fjords National Park, guests and crew were all smiles, watching sea lions, puffins and humpback whales play — and we were barely an hour into our first full day onboard Windstar Cruises’ Star Legend.
Mother Nature certainly did her part, but as a majority of the 206 passengers onboard were repeat Windstar guests, expectations for the inaugural season in Alaska were high. Near the start of what was only the ship’s third sailing in Alaska, captain Ned Tutton admitted, “we’re still finding our way” — but the mostly retired crowd onboard was thrilled to take part in the adventure.
Windstar excursions go beyond Alaskan port overviews and whale-watching trips. Concierge Collection excursions are typically limited to fewer than 10 guests and include activities such as a glacier helicopter landing and airboat adventure in Juneau, along with halibut fishing in Hoonah.
Signature Expeditions offer clients opportunities to get closer to Alaska’s coast, to spot goats along the Tracy Arm fjord and harbor seals resting on icebergs in front of Aialik Glacier. Led by the onboard Signature Expeditions Team, zodiac tours are limited to just six passengers. Weather permitting, kayak expeditions navigate shining icebergs, offering opportunities for all levels of paddlers.
Guests who don’t take part in a Signature Expedition still gain knowledge and insight, thanks to daily talks covering everything from whales and Alaska’s fishing industry to how to make the most of your phone’s camera during your sailing and beyond.
As for accommodations, each of the 106 suites onboard Legend features ocean views, a spacious bathroom with a bathtub, a walk-in closet and a sitting area that’s perfect for taking in the scenery.
Windstar is the official cruise line of the James Beard Foundation, and Legend offers a variety of options for gastronomes. There’s seated dining in Amphora at every meal; Veranda serves a buffet at breakfast and lunch, then in the evening becomes Candles, a fine dining option; and the top deck, Yacht Club, offers smoothies, yogurt parfaits and sandwiches, along with coffee and tea. Room service is available around-the-clock and is perfect after long days onshore or for evenings spent whale watching on deck.
Live music is typically offered in the Compass Rose lounge after dinner, and there is a small casino. But evenings tend to be quiet onboard Legend. The small library offers a nice selection of books and DVDs for viewing in guest suites. The ship’s open bridge policy makes it easy to visit the captain and learn about navigation.
At WindSpa, cruisers can receive treatments ranging from facials and massage to acupuncture. Personal training is available at the fitness center, but several classes are complimentary, including stretch, yoga and Pilates. There is also a small pool and two hot tubs.
Windstar has three Alaska itineraries for the 2018 season: Wonders of Alaska & Canada; Alaskan Splendors; and Islands & Inlets of the Inside Passage. In 2019, most of the season will be dedicated to Alaskan Splendors sailings. The Islands & Inlets of the Inside Passage sailing will be offered twice — once in August and once in September.