My husband and I have always wanted to see Alaska. Unfortunately, we chose Windstar's costly 14-day cruise on the 200-passenger Star Legend and 4-day pre-cruise to Denali. We were extremely disappointed. After many cruises on lines ranging from Tauck, Silverseas, and Star Clipper to Royal Caribbean, this is--by far--the worst experience we ever had.
The 4-day pre-cruise trip through Denali was a total ripoff. For $5,000, Windstar provided a bus trip, a few hours on the Alaska railroad, 2 dinners and a box lunch, with a boring tour guide who spent as little time and energy as possible with the oversized 38-person group. For example: Day 4 took us from Talkeetna to Seward, an area with hundreds if not thousands of wonderful things to see and do, but it seemed as if Windstar only wanted to burn up the time with as little cost to Windstar as possible. We were bussed to downtown Anchorage and deposited at a museum for several hours, then dumped at a FLEA MARKET where we were told to scrounge our lunch among filthy food stalls before being bussed to the ship in Seward. Really? for $1,250 a day? Thank goodness our I-Phone directed us to a clean restaurant and edible food to wait out our precious, costly day in this magnificent area. If you want to see Denali, fly to Anchorage and rent a car or take the train, hire a flight seeing tour in Talkeetna and take the Park Service bus tour in Denali; you will have a much better experience for a fraction of the cost.
Onboard the Star Legend, the staff's principal mission is to extract as much onboard revenue from each passenger as possible. Everything but the food was extra: excursions, fitness classes and other onboard activities, drinks, wine with dinner, etc., and involuntary service charges were added to our account daily regardless of the service provided. Another passenger warned us too late to make our own inventory of the in-room bar, as she and others were charged for items that weren't provided in the first place.
Our stateroom was large and the furniture was comfortable, but the carpet was worn and dirty and the housekeeping was not properly managed or supervised. The room was never made up until late afternoon. Glasses were removed but not replaced, dust cloths and trays were left behind, and we had to ask for shampoo, water and other necessities. Nothing was ever really cleaned. I dropped an earring and looked under the bed for it; no one had vacuumed there in a long time.
Dogsledding was cancelled at 9 am but we weren't informed until 2 pm. At that point, our only option to salvage the day was a helicopter trip to the bottom of Mendenhall Glacier. Never got to see the Juneau Icefield, though we could have done so if Windstar had informed us that the trip we booked was cancelled.