day 1 Vancouver, BC, Canada
This gem of a Canadian city is where the Pacific Ocean shares its views with distant snow-covered peaks. The green-space pride of the city is Stanley Park, largest urban park in Canada with 1,000 acres of rose gardens, Native totem poles, and wooded rainforest trails. Ride a bike or walk along the waterfront to the park’s beaches.Time your stay to include dim sum in one of North America’s largest and oldest Chinatowns. While in the historic neighborhood, escape to Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, with its exquisite architecture, plantings, and koi ponds. Art-lovers will want to check out the works of modernist Canadian painter Emily Carr and the Canadian Group of Seven at the world-class Vancouver Art Gallery, home to a permanent collection of 10,000 works.
5:55 AM TO 5:56 AM
Canadian Inside Passage
day 2 Scenic Cruising Canadian Inside Passage
Your cruise will explore parts of the Inside Passage, which is not just in Alaska – it runs from Washington state into Canada. The protected Canadian portion of the famous archipelago is between Port Hardy on Vancouver Island and Prince Rupert Sound, near the Alaska border. Your Windstar cruise takes you through the Inside Passage past the rugged, spectacular scenery of coastal British Columbia. Views include towering snow-capped mountains, tall waterfalls, and deep green forest. Your ship maneuvers through a maze of channels, impressively narrow at times. You’ll want to be on deck to take in remote fishing villages and beaches where grizzly bears may linger – keep your binoculars at the ready! Look up to spot eagles and a variety of seabirds, and watch, too, for orca and humpback whales.
1:30 PM TO 10:00 PM
Ketchikan, at the southern tip of Alaska’s Inside Passage, claims status as a capital of salmon fishing. Guests who want to try and reel in the big one will find such opportunities on fishing excursions. Kayaking is a great way to get on the water. Or, you may see colorful starfish and other creatures under the surface of the sea by putting on a wetsuit and snorkeling. Snorkeling in Alaska? Bring home a picture to show dubious friends. And reserve time to take a photo of the colorful buildings built on pilings on Creek Street – once the town’s red-light district – located along a creek where salmon swim upstream in spawning season. Ketchikan is a strong center of the Tlingit, Tsimshian and Haida cultures and one of the best places in the world to learn about totem poles. These carved beauties hang out everywhere, in parks, building lobbies, and on the town’s streets. Totem poles are best viewed with an interpreter who can read the stories they tell. Some may surprise you. In nearby Saxman Native Village, young people lead tours of the village’s collection.
7:00 AM TO 1:00 PM
day 4 Misty Fjords, Alaska - Optional Expedition Day
On your Windstar Alaska cruise you have the rare treat of experiencing Alaska’s Misty Fjords National Monument, 2.1 million acres of wilderness within the Tongass National Forest and only accessible by small ships, boats, and floatplanes. The name is appropriate to the climate. A mist often lingers, providing an eerie envelope to blue fjords topped by towering cliffs, cascading waterfalls, snow-capped peaks, and a dense temperate rainforest. You may further immerse yourself into the environment of protected coves on Signature kayak and Zodiac excursions. Keep your eye out for the resident killer whales, Dall’s porpoises and brown and black bears, plus all five types of Pacific salmon.
10:00 AM TO 7:00 PM
Tracy Arm / Endicott Arm
day 6 Scenic Cruising Tracy Arm / Endicott Arm, Alaska
A cruise to the Tracy Arm or Endicott Arm fjord brings views of tree-covered wilderness, snow-covered mountains, and, once you enter the fjord, sheer granite cliffs as high as 4,000 feet with cascading waterfalls. The big treat is that each arm has a glacier at its head – where you will experience what’s known as “white thunder” when the glacier sheds ice into the sea. Your Windstar captain will gently guide the ship around dozens of icebergs, some of which may be dotted with seals and their pups, halting in front of the massive Sawyer Glacier and South Sawyer Glacier in Tracy Fjord or the Dawes Glacier in Endicott. A Signature Windstar kayaking or Zodiac experience lets you get as close as is safely possible to the tidewater glaciers.
6:00 AM TO 6:00 PM
With its gorgeous location between mountains and sea and its small-town vibe, Haines may remind you of the old TV show “Northern Exposure,” complete with quirky characters – how else to explain a museum dedicated to hammers? Haines has modern-day gold seekers too, as featured on the reality show “Gold Rush Alaska.” Some tours from here head to Skagway to see the restored period buildings of the Klondike Gold Rush Historical Park or to take a ride on the narrow-gauge White Pass & Yukon Route train alongside the treacherous route that stampeders took to the Yukon. Stick to Haines to partake in adventure experiences such as hiking, biking or rafting in the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve, where you have a very good chance of seeing aerial wildlife. Or walk around the parade grounds and restored buildings of Fort Seward (also known as the Chilkoot Barracks), decommissioned after World War II and 42 years of service. Take a respite at the Port Chilkoot Distillery, known for its award-winning gin.
Juneau is the only state capital you can’t drive to. While the city is not on an island, it is cut off from the rest of Alaska, and Canada to the east, by impenetrable forest and the enormous Juneau Icefield. Ice is a major attraction, whether you head out to see the Mendenhall Glacier, only a dozen miles from town, fly over glaciers on a floatplane, or land on the ice via helicopter for such experiences as putting on crampons and hiking or dogsledding with a team of huskies. In town, check out the state capitol building or make a beeline to Tracy’s King Crab Shack, where the giant boiled crab legs and crab bisque have gained such fame the restaurant was featured on the TV show “Top Chef.” Food and brewery tours hit local hotspots. For exercise with views take the Mount Roberts Trail (two miles up to the timberline) and then head back down on the harbor-view Goldbelt Tram.
12:00 PM TO 12:00 PM
day 8 Juneau to Anchorage to Talkeetna
Depart your small ship and transfer to the airport for an included flight to Anchorage and board a motor coach to quaint Talkeetna for a Welcome Reception and informative talk about the town’s colorful past.
(Includes overnight at Talkeetna Hotel and Reception)
12:00 PM TO 12:00 PM
day 9 Talkeetna to Denali National Park
Stretch your legs and enjoy the scenery from your deluxe domed railcar as your train makes its way to Denali. Tonight, get your bearings with a Welcome to Denali Talk, followed by an all-you-can-eat salmon and barbecue dinner and a show at the Alaska Cabin Nite Dinner Theater.
(Includes overnight at Denali Lodge, Breakfast, Cabin Nite Dinner)
12:00 PM TO 12:00 PM
day 10 Denali National Park
Your full-day Tundra Wilderness Tour takes you 63 miles into the park for the best opportunities to see both Denali’s famous wildlife and the iconic mountain. Back at the lodge, there’s time for an optional tour, or just relax and enjoy the lodge and scenery.
(Includes overnight at Denali Lodge, Breakfast, Bag Lunch and Snack)
12:00 PM TO 12:00 PM
day 11 Denali to Fairbanks
Head north to the Golden Heart City of Fairbanks, a city shaped by gold and oil. Board the Riverboat Discovery for a cruise on the Chena River, sampling frontier life at an Athabascan village and meeting some legendary Iditarod huskies who will cover 1,150 miles in the 8-15-day race. Recount your favorite experiences with friends over a delicious Farewell Dinner.
(Includes overnight at Fairbanks Hotel, Breakfast and Dinner)
12:00 PM TO 12:00 PM
day 12 Fairbanks and Departure
Today is yours to explore as you will. Various attractions let you pan for gold, or browse a goldmine of history at the Museum of the North before your flight home.
*Rates shown are per person, based on double occupancy, reflect all discounts and include non-discountable amounts. Taxes, Fees & Port Expenses are additional.