"The smell of the glaciers, the beauty of the blue ice … you just feel so blessed to see it firsthand."
My background: “I have spent more than 20 years in the travel industry, focusing on itinerary planning and development.” What I do: “You might say I’m a destination scout, always on the lookout for the most unique and authentic ways to immerse our guests in the local cultures.” Regions covered: Alaska, Caribbean, Northern Europe, Iceland, Canada and New England, West Coast. Daily mantra: “I get to help create unforgettable travel experiences that enrich people’s lives. Doesn’t get any better than that.”
One of Michele Hanson’s favorite ways to experience the “true Alaska” is kayaking Endicott Arm: “The smell of the glaciers, the beauty of the blue ice … you just feel so blessed to see it firsthand.” Such intimate encounters are only possible on a small ship like Star Breeze, and one of the many reasons why Michele ranks this Windstar cruise among the best in the Great Land. Sure, she may be a little biased (okay, more than a little), but just consider that guests get to experience a variety of glaciers — College Fjord, Hubbard, and Tracy — as well as seldom-visited Prince William Sound, all on one itinerary. Another benefit: Windstar is able to tweak it in real time — so if, say, a pod of humpbacks is spotted bubble feeding in Point Adolphus, the captain can maneuver the ship for prime viewing.
Windstar’s Signature Expeditions staff is tops in the field, and the cruise line goes out of its way to expose guests to authentic Alaskan culture in tiny communities like Wrangell as well as onboard interactions with local speakers and performers. Some of Michele’s all-time favorite travel memories are from calls on this journey: dog-sledding on Mendenhall Glacier, hiking Dewey Mountain, and of course, kayaking Endicott and Tracy Arm. During her last paddle there, she says, “I couldn’t get the smile off my face watching guests beam with happiness … (T)his is what small ship cruising is all about.”