Windstar Cruises has doubled its number of Concierge Collection shore excursions in 2018, increasing the total number of these tours to 90. The Concierge Collection excursions are small-group experiences that range in size from just four to 16 guests—with most under 10. The program is designed for those travelers who are looking for experiences off the beaten path, offering the opportunity to live life like a local.
Of the 44 new Concierge Collection tours, many are highly localized culinary experiences, while others are focused on the environment and natural world. In many cases, the Concierge Collection experiences combine both of these travel aspects—culinary and the environment—showcasing a bit of local culture along with the area’s natural scenery.
Here are highlights from nine of the new Concierge Collection tour additions taking place this summer and early fall:
Akureyri, Iceland Concierge Collection: Polar Flight to Grimsey Island
North of mainland Iceland lies Grimsey, a small island that straddles the Arctic Circle. Cruise guests are treated to a 30-minute flight with views over the mountains that line either side of Eyjafjordur Fjord. Upon landing on the polar outpost, a local Grimsey guide invites guests on a hike around the island, acquainting visitors with its viking history dating to 1024, cultural oddity of a cod currency and abundance of fish and birds. (Grimsey has extensive bird colonies, said to accommodate at least 60 different species such as kittiwakes, puffins, arctic terns, fulmars and guillemots.) Finally, the return flight provides more scenic views of Iceland.
Ketchikan, Alaska Concierge Collection: Fishing & Wilderness Dining
Guests can cook their catch of freshly caught Alaskan fish and shellfish from the wilderness and waters of the Tongass National Forest, where whales, bald eagles and numerous Alaskan seabirds can be seen. Guests can reel in Pacific halibut, rockfish, lingcod, Pacific cod and salmon before working with a local fish monger and chef to cook up the catch of the day, learning about the importance of sustainable fishing in many Alaskan communities.
Tangier, Morocco Concierge Collection: Cooking Class at the Blue Door
The first stop on this outing is the Grand Socco, a marketplace with street musicians, fish shops, scenic handicrafts and spices. Next stop is the Blue Door Hotel Cooking Classroom, where guests are welcomed with minty Moroccan tea followed by a cooking lessons. Guests also learn the secrets of how Moroccans make their bread, including a visit to a local oven where community baking is a tradition. While waiting for the bread, guests learn the proper way to make and serve Moroccan tea.
Tromsø, Norway Concierge Collection: Huskey Hike
Guests travel to the Tromsø Wilderness Camp to meet over 100 huskies. The local couple who runs the camp regularly participate in the Finnmark Race and have competed in the world’s longest dog race, the Iditarod in Alaska. The guide takes guests on a hike with some of the camp’s trained dogs, heading into northern Norwegian nature with views of the fjords and mountains surrounding Tromsø. Back at the Wilderness Camp, guests are treated to a hot beverage and a snack.
Portimao, Portugal Concierge Collection: Winemaker Experience & Bottle Blending Workshop
With this experience, guests get the opportunity to create a wine at Quinta dos Vales winery tailored to their preferences. With some information, training and all the necessary equipment, travelers can blend the wines in different combinations and proportions to make their own creation. To make it more personal, guests are able to bottle the wine, label it and cork it themselves.
Heimaey Island, Iceland Concierge Collection: Snowmobile & Helicopter Glacier Adventure
This tour contains a combination of helicopter flightseeing and snowmobiling on Iceland’s fourth largest glacier, Mýrdalsjökull. Guests fly over the islands of the archipelago before heading to the mainland of Iceland, along the way seeing Eyjafjallajökull Glacier, the volcano that erupted in 2010. After landing at Mýrdalsjökull, guests can ride the glacier on a snowmobile while enjoying the scenery, with Eyjafjallajökull Glacier from the west and the view over the South coast and its black beach. Following the ride, guests board the helicopter for the scenic journey back.
Quebec City, Canada Concierge Collection: Wendake Culinary Experience
La Traite Restaurant at Hôtel-Musée Premières Nations is a gastronomic tribute to First Nations, Inuit and Aboriginal heritage and culture. Guests are greeted at the museum with traditional drums and chanting, followed by a privately guided visit of the museum’s permanent exhibition. Guests then visit the nearby Ekionkiestha Longhouse to witness a Unification Ceremony followed by a rhubarb water tasting from a traditional Wendat cup, which is followed by a four-course meal that honors what has been hunted, fished or gathered.
Porto Empedocle, (Sicily) Italy Torre Salsa, Sciacca & Tasting
The tour starts with a visit to the World Wildlife Federation nature reserve of Torre Salsa before heading to a local farmhouse for an explanation of the olive harvest and its maceration. After a tasting of oils and homemade cuisine consisting of typical local and traditional dishes, guests continue to the center of Sciacca, known for its beaches, monuments and spas.
Bora Bora, French Polynesia Concierge Collection: Overnight Romance Package – Pearl Beach
Guests can enjoy a stay in a classic overwater bungalow at the Bora Bora Pearl Beach Resort. Guests are met on the dock on Bora Bora for a boat transfer to the resort, where there is access to the hotel facilities, pool, beach and non-motorized water toys. Then it’s a three-course dinner at Tevairoa Restaurant before staying in an overwater bungalow, with breakfast the next morning. Another highlight is a two-course lunch served beachside before the transfer by boat back to the Windstar ship.
For more information, visit www.windstarcruises.com.
This article originally appeared on www.luxurytraveladvisor.com.