Star Legend in Alaska

(12:38 p.m. EDT) -- Windstar's first Alaska cruise of the season is underway -- marking the luxury small-ship line's return to Alaska after 20 years away.

Star Legend arrived in Seward on May 17 for its maiden 14-night voyage. A kickoff event was held in Kenai Fjords National Park, where the Signature Expeditions team took passengers out on kayaks and Zodiacs in the icy waters. The 212-passenger ship will also visit Sitka, Juneau, Icy Strait Point (Hoohnah), Haines, Tracy Arm and Endicott Arm, Wrangell, Misty Fjords, Metlakatla, Ketchikan, and Prince Rupert, B.C. The maiden voyage ends May 31 in Vancouver, BC.

"We are thrilled to finally be back in Alaska having just launched our Signature Expeditions that embraces the natural beauty of the region, and allows for the most authentic, destination-focused experiences for our guests," said John Delaney, Windstar's president, in a company statement.

Star Legend will offer both roundtrip Vancouver cruises and one-way sailings between Seward and Vancouver throughout the spring and summer. In addition to the new Signature Expeditions tours, highlights of Windstar's Alaska program include local seafood served onboard and culinary tours ashore, in connection with the James Beard Foundation, as well as pre- and post-cruise tours to Denali.

--By Erica Silverstein, Senior Editor