Photo by Heidi Leppert

We had heard great things about Windstar Cruises, so we decided a cruise to Alaska with our son and daughter-in-law was the perfect chance to try the line out.  I have to say that the check-in process was as easy as they come. With a mere 200 or so passengers onboard the Star Legend, it took us no time to get set with stateroom keys in hand. Upon arrival to our cabin, we were so delighted to see it so amazingly large and nicely appointed. This room, while the norm on the ship, was so spacious and functional. We felt like we genuinely had a suite as there was a true seating area aside from the bedroom space. There was also plenty of storage and closet space, which was more than adequate for our 12-night cruise, as well.

I had never been on any type of expedition cruise before, so I was really looking forward to the zodiac adventures off the Legend. We decided to make our first excursion to the Sawyer Glacier as I am a huge fan of seeing the majesty of a calving one. We approached the glacier through a congested iceberg field of smaller bergs called bergy bits. The local seals were out enjoying a snooze atop many of the ice chunks. It was really cute seeing their faces rather close up. Of course, the highlight of the trip was seeing a HUGE piece of the glacier crack off from down under the water and shoot up through the air causing even more large pieces of the glacier to break off. One piece was about 150 feet long and remained in one huge piece as it floated away from the face of the glacier. We knew what a treat this event was as even our excursion guide, while having spent years leading these zodiac trips, said he’d never seen anything close to this calving event. We sort of felt like we won the ice lottery! It was a spectacular moment capping off my first and certainly not last zodiac tour.

The Windstar trip in Alaska is really a nice blend of “regular” cruise ports with the usual types of city and land tours blended with the more ambitious kayaking and zodiac excursions, for those who want a bit more of an up close and personal adventure. The tours are not included in the cruise price, but this way we only paid for the tours we wanted to do. Having been up to Alaska on cruises 20 times before, we didn’t want to repeat excursions we had already done before. We now like to take time exploring places we have seen before and enjoy taking our time to revisit our favorites. The zodiac and kayak tours were the best though, truly an added bonus for us!

While the excursions were not included in the price of the cruise, an all-inclusive package was offered for those not wanting to have to pay every time they made a beverage purchase or needed laundry done. This price includes the onboard internet, all of the regular tier alcoholic beverages, the tips and laundry service. With all of these items included in this package, the pricing was very reasonable. As we are not big drinkers, we opted to buy only the unlimited laundry package which allowed us to send out our clothes for cleaning and pressing everyday of the cruise. It was a really nice option having our clothes returned to our room all cleaned and pressed on a daily basis.

The staff on Windstar is as great as everyone says they are. They are not only very helpful and proficient at their individual jobs but are just nice, friendly folk as well. They called us by name from day one and were always there with a smile and a warm greeting. They made us feel like part of the family before we disembarked from the ship. In addition, it was so much fun watching the Crew Show the last part of our cruise. There were crew members from so many departments involved in entertaining us with their voices, dancing and comedy. It is a wonder they could find the time to rehearse with their jobs requiring so much time, but they took the time so we, the passengers, would be able to see the fun and personal side of each of these unique people. We thank them from the bottom of our hearts for making our trip so special!

While Alaska was our first experience on Windstar it will not be our last. There are so many other reasons we will be back, but for now, this small snippet will have to do. So, see you soon on the wonderful Windstar ships!

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