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The cruise company's new ship sails routes to Alaska and Japan

Windstar Cruises will reintroduce Alaska and Japan into its itinerary in 2026 with the launch of its newest ship, StarfinderThe announcement marks a return to the regions after a three-year hiatus.

Starfindera 224-passenger boutique yacht expected to debut in December 2025, will begin her Alaska cruises in May 2026. She will offer 7-, 10-, and 11-day voyages between Juneau or Seward, Alaska, and Vancouver, British Columbia.

The Star-class shipwhich is currently being built at the WestSEA shipyard in Portugal, will be in service in Alaska until the end of August and will offer shore excursions to Denali before and after the cruise.

Windstar Star Breeze in Alaska
Windstar Star Breeze in Alaska. (Photo credit: Macklin Holloway)

After the season in Alaska Starfinder will travel to Japan, where it will offer 10-day Grand Japan cruises between Tokyo and Osaka from late August to November 2026.

“We are very excited to bring Alaska and Japan back to our guests,” said Windstars President Christopher Prelog. “We know these popular destinations and many people ask us to return there.”

Windstar last sailed through Alaska and Japan in 2023 before deploying its 312-passenger ship Star Breeze to Tahiti.

Windstar will provide details for Starfinder Deployments in Alaska and Japan can be booked from August 2024.

Windstar's new ship and new routes

Itineraries for Windstar's Alaska and Japan programs have yet to be announced. Star Breeze Pre-repositioning itineraries included 7-, 11- and 12-day options, as well as repositioning cruises between Seward and Tokyo.

Cruises to Alaska typically traveled through the Inside Passage, Tracy Arm, Kenai Fjords and Misty Fjords, calling at Ketchikan, Wrangell, Haines, Skagway and Sitka. Routes to Japan included stops in Tomatsu, Tomonaura, Karatsu, Nagasaki, Kagoshima, Shingu, Shimizu and Tokyo.

Similar to previous operations in the region, Signature Expeditions will be led by onboard Expedition Leaders. Expeditions will include hiking, kayaking and skiff tours, allowing guests to explore more remote wilderness areas such as the Misty Fjords.

Star Seeker renderingStar Seeker rendering
Representation of the Star Seeker. (Photo courtesy of Windstar Cruises)

Small-group excursions are led by experienced guides who provide background information and insight throughout the trip. Onboard presentations by expedition leaders will further deepen guests' understanding of Alaska's history, culture, flora and fauna.

“The immersive expeditions in small groups are an important part of our Alaska program and bring our guests closer to the beauty of Alaska,” said Prelog. “When you’re on the water and you see the topography from this perspective, you realize the majesty of Alaska.”

Starfinder will have 112 suites with completely private verandas and infinity windows. These include two VIP suites, the so-called Owner's Suites, located at the rear of the ship and featuring wraparound balconies.

Also read: Small cruise line announces plans to expand fleet

The new vessel will feature ice-strengthened hulls and modern safety and navigation systems, including pumpjet engines and forward-facing sonar. It will also be equipped with Rolls-Royce Stage III engines for NOx emissions, shore power connection and modern wastewater treatment systems.

Familiar amenities such as the water sports platform, Yacht Club Café and Lounge, a state-of-the-art spa and fitness center, and on-deck barbecue facilities will also be available, while the main dining room, Amphora, will be redesigned.

Starfinder Sister ship, Astronomerwill also be built at the WestSEA shipyard and is scheduled for delivery in December 2026. At this time, no announcement has been made as to where it will sail.

With the additional ships, Windstar Cruises' boutique fleet grows to eight ships.

Windstar Cruises returns to Alaska with Star SeekerWindstar Cruises returns to Alaska with Star Seeker

Anna Harden

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