Windstar Cruises is embarking on its second consecutive Alaska cruise season, running May 22 through September 12 and including the Signature Expeditions Program. This time the cruise line will be sailing to smaller ports on longer voyages that bring cruisers closer to calving glaciers and wildlife. Windstar also will offer in-depth cruise tours combining coastal cruises with in-depth overland explorations to Denali, Fairbanks and now the Canadian Rockies.
Next year for the 2020 Alaska season, Windstar will offer Alaska Glaciers & Prince William Sound, a brand-new itinerary with first-time visits to ports like Valdez and Petersburg, as well as new scenic cruising to the Hubbard Glacier and College Fjord in northern Prince William Sound that includes five tide-water glaciers.
Windstar’s newly enhanced Star Breeze, the first Windstar ship to emerge from the $250 million Star Plus initiative, will sail Alaska next summer offering 22 different journeys beginning May 16, 2020. The 312-passenger ship will have 50 new suites, including a 1,374-square-foot Grand Owner’s Suite, new restaurants, an enhanced spa and fitness center, elevated pool, and even more enhancements, as well as new, more environmentally-friendly engines.
There will be six signature expedition experts: naturalists, glaciologists, marine biologists, photographers and historians on board throughout every Alaska voyage. The expedition team will share the history of the region, cultural tales, scientific discoveries, insider knowledge and local tips. Guests may also attend scheduled lectures and enjoy expert narration while cruising, as the team points out wildlife and explains the natural surroundings. Windstar’s guests can ask questions and learn from the expedition team at daily talks. Additionally, the team of scientists and naturalists will lead kayak and Zodiac excursions directly from the ship giving guests more time for close-up views at sea level. The tours offer perspectives on the icebergs, calving glaciers, natural habitats and experience the active wildlife of Alaska first-hand while cruising.
Hannah Hindley, a naturalist, is one of the experts that will focus on understanding Alaskan glacier communities on the forefront of climate change; she will be joined by Alberto Montaudon, a photography teacher and underwater videographer who has guided tours in Arctic Norway, Greenland, Galápagos, and more. The expedition leader, Captain Simon Hook, grew up intrigued by ocean wildlife in northern California. His love of nature led him to Sitka, Alaska, where his maritime career began as a deckhand on passenger vessels.
The Signature Expeditions Team has a schedule of nearly 20 locally inspired lectures:
- Knee Deep in Herring – A look at the historical and cultural significance of Alaska's Pacific herring, as well as the current issues and controversy involving the Sitka Sound commercial harvest.
- Chokers, High Riggers, and Whistle Punks – A history of logging in the Tongass National Forest and the Pacific Northwest.
- Killer Whale Culture – A peek at the social relationships, dialects, and coordinated foraging strategies used by groups of killer whales (also known as orca).
- Video Editing 101 – A workshop that’s part trivia, part hands-on learning, and part sharing.