Concierge Collection excursions are more intimate, small group experiences that range in size from just four to 12-16 guests, most often under 10. The program is designed for those travelers who are looking for experiences off-the-beaten path that offer the opportunity to live life like a local for one day.
Windstar Cruises has introduced 44 new Concierge Collection tours, many are highly localized culinary experiences, while others are a deep and meaningful encounter with the environment and natural world. In many cases, the Concierge Collection experiences combine both of these travel aspects – culinary AND the environment – imbuing a bit of local culture along with exposure to awe-inspiring scenery.
We listed highlights from nine of the new Concierge Collection tour additions this Summer and Early Fall:
Polar Flight to Grimsey Island: North of mainland Iceland lies Grimsey Island, a green oasis that straddles the Arctic Circle. Cruise guests take a 30-minute flight with views over the tall mountains that line either side of Eyjafjordur Fjord. Upon landing on the polar outpost, a local Grimsey guide invites them on a hike around the island where they learn about the island’s Viking history dating to 1024, the cultural oddity of a cod currency, and renowned abundance of fish and birds. A photographer’s paradise, Grimsey has extensive bird colonies with at least 60 different species like kittiwakes, puffins, arctic terns, fulmars and guillemots. The return flight provides more spectacular views of rugged Iceland, as well as bragging rights to having crossed the Arctic Circle twice.
Fishing & Wilderness Dining in Alaska: On a tour from Ketchikan, guests get to cook their catch of freshly caught Alaskan fish and shellfish from the pristine wilderness and waters of the Tongass National Forest, where whales, bald eagles and numerous Alaskan seabirds are often seen. They can fish for Pacific halibut, rockfish, lingcod, Pacific cod, and salmon before working with a local fish monger and chef to cook up the catch of the day, learning about how sustainable fishing is a pillar of many Alaskan communities.
Cooking Class at the Blue Door in Tangier: The first stop on this program is the Grand Socco, home to street musicians, a fish market, handicrafts and spices. Next stop is the Blue Door Hotel Cooking Classroom, where guests are welcomed with minty Moroccan tea followed by a class on how to cook a traditional Moroccan dish infused with fragrant herbs. Guests also learn the secrets of how Moroccans make such moist bread, including a visit to a local oven where community baking is a time-honored practice. While waiting for the bread, guests learn the proper way to make and serve Moroccan tea.
Huskey Hike in Tromsø: Guests travel to the Tromsø Wilderness Camp to meet some of the friendliest inhabitants of Norway: 100+ huskies. The local couple who run the camp made their mark in the world of dog sled racing and regularly participates in the Finnmark Race and have competed in the world’s longest dog race, the Iditarod in Alaska. The guide takes guests on a hike with some of the camp’s top-trained dogs, heading into spectacular northern Norwegian nature with great views of the fjords and mountains surrounding Tromsø. Back at the Wilderness Camp, guests are treated to a hot beverage and a snack before it’s time to say goodbye to the huskies.
Winemaker Experience in Portugal: One of the reasons Quinta dos Vales has quickly become one of the leading wine producers in the Algarvean wine region in Portugal is its focus on quality instead of quantity. With this unique experience, guests get the opportunity to create a wine perfectly tailored to their preferences. With some information, training and all the necessary equipment, only creativity is needed to blend the wines in different combinations and proportions. To make it even more personal, guests are able to bottle the wine, label it and cork it themselves.
Snowmobile & Helicopter Glacier Adventure in Iceland: This tour combines helicopter flightseeing and snowmobiling on Iceland’s fourth largest glacier, Mýrdalsjökull. Guests fly over the islands of the archipelago before heading to the mainland of Iceland, along the way seeing Eyjafjallajökull Glacier, the volcano that erupted in 2010 and brought the world to a halt for a few days. After landing at Mýrdalsjökull, guests drive their snowmobile on the glacier while enjoying the scenery, with Eyjafjallajökull Glacier from the west and the view over the South coast and its black beach. Following the ride, guests board the helicopter for the journey back.
Wendake Culinary Experience in Quebec City: La Traite Restaurant at Hôtel-Musée Premières Nations is a gastronomic tribute to First Nations, Inuit, and aboriginal heritage and culture. Guests are greeted at the museum with traditional drums and chanting, followed by a privately guided visit of the museum’s permanent exhibition. Then they visit the nearby Ekionkiestha Longhouse to witness a Unification Ceremony followed by a rhubarb water tasting from a traditional Wendat cup. They dine on a four-course meal (along with wine) that honors what has been hunted, fished or gathered.
Torre Salsa, Sciacca & Tasting in Sicily: The tour starts with a visit to the World Wildlife Federation nature reserve of Torre Salsa before heading to a local farmhouse for an explanation of the olive harvest and its maceration. After a tasting of oils and home-made cuisine consisting of typical local and traditional dishes, guests continue to the center of Sciacca, famous for its beautiful sea, monuments, and spas.
Overnight Romance Package in Bora Bora: Guests get the opportunity to stay at the Pearl resort in Bora Bora in a classic overwater bungalow. They are met on the dock for a boat transfer to the resort, where there is access to the hotel facilities, pool, beach, and non-motorized water toys. They can enjoy a three-course dinner at Tevairoa Restaurant before staying in an overwater bungalow, with breakfast the next morning. Another highlight is a two-course lunch served beachside before the transfer by boat back to the Windstar ship.