OnboardIn January 2013, Un-Cruise Adventures was "born" when the parent company combined its two lines -- American Safari Cruises and InnerSea Discoveries. While the line's vessels remained the same, the renaming was aimed at conveying the line's unique style of exploration cruising. The company further rebranded its cruising styles, offering three adventure types: Active, Luxury and Heritage. Active Adventures encompasses the ships formerly under the InnerSea Discoveries line: Wilderness Discoverer, Wilderness Adventurer and Wilderness Explorer. Safari Endeavour, Safari Explorer and Safari Quest, which fell under ASC, make up the line's Luxury Adventure offerings, while S.S. Legacy makes up Un-Cruise Adventures' Heritage Adventure style.
Un-Cruise Adventures' Active Adventure ships provide an expedition experience that's built for comfort, not luxury. It's a great bet for passengers who have the latest in REI gear and are eager to use it. Don't bother packing dresses or collared shirts; you're more likely to wear rubber boots and rain pants on the ships' outdoor-oriented itineraries. Each ship's expedition staff is charged with helping passengers spot humpbacks or identify the flora.
Despite the casual atmosphere, Un-Cruise Adventures' Active Adventure ships offer thoughtful touches. There's a reasonably priced full bar, memory foam mattresses and a special kayak launching dock designed to get even the biggest couch potato out on the water. Having an onboard pastry chef means you'll replenish calories quickly. Dining focuses on locally sourced ingredients, such as Alaskan seafood. All cabins are above deck with outward facing windows that open and close, perfect for enjoying Alaska's crisp mornings and late sunsets.
The lines Luxury Adventure ships offer yachting, as opposed to cruising in the usual sense. The size of the vessels grants them access to inlets, coves, narrows and straits the larger ships can't even approach. Though you might travel the major waterways of the Inside Passage, you're more likely to share an out-of-the-way anchorage with a handful of commercial salmon-fishing boats than a harbor full of cruise liners. While you're anchored, the chef might stock up on the day's fresh catch and prepare it for your dinner.
Yachting emphasizes familiarization with the flora, fauna, geology and culture by means of guided shore excursions and soft-adventure activities. Your day in Alaska might start with a skiff tour to view a glacier up close and end with kayaking under the light of the midnight sun; in Hawaii, you might visit a macadamia nut farm by day and snorkel with manta rays by moonlight. Night sailing schedules depend on the venue: In Alaska, the yachts pull into secluded coves in the evening for cocktails, dinner and peaceful sleep. In Hawaii, ships anchor by day (for maximum water play) and sail by night.
Dinners are typically casual affairs long on camaraderie and conversation and short on menu choices, usually limited to a couple of tasty main course options, often based around local, freshly caught seafood. Wine choices -- all beverages for that matter -- are included. The bar is open 24/7 and stocked with top-shelf brands.
Another perk: free yoga classes and massages on select yachts (one massage per passenger; not available on Safari Quest).
S.S. Legacy, a replica Victorian-style steamer, joined the fleet in August 2013. The lone vessel offering Heritage Adventures will highlight history programs onboard and ashore, with itineraries in Alaska and the Columbia and Snake rivers in the Pacific Northwest.
About Un-Cruise AdventuresPicture off-the-beaten-track, up-close-and-personal ecotourism combined with the pampering of a luxury cruise. Imagine an encounter with a bear, humpback whale or spinner dolphin in the morning, followed by a perfectly chilled martini and fresh oysters at cocktail hour. And, while travelers on the big ships might be listening to a medley from "Cats," you're taking advantage of Alaska's 20 hours of daylight by kayaking after dinner in bald eagle territory or snorkeling with manta rays by moonlight off Hawaii's Big Island.
These combinations of experiences are the basis of the concept hatched in 1996 by American Safari Cruises, a partnership between former Cruise West executives, created to combine the upscale amenities of small, deluxe motor yachts with expedition-style cruising.
InnerSea Discoveries entered the Alaska expedition market in 2011 with two ships and itineraries along the Inside Passage. It added a third ship to the fleet for the 2012 season. Un-Cruise Adventures aims to do a better job than the big guys of revealing in-depth Alaska, Mexico and Hawaii to sophisticated travelers -- and it does it in style.
The company, headquartered in Seattle, is run by Dan Blanchard and Tim Jacox, who have significant experience with small-ship cruising, including stints at American Safari Cruises and the defunct Cruise West.
Un-Cruise Adventures FleetThe company began cruising in Alaska in 1997 with a single, leased yacht. In 1998, it purchased Safari Quest, leased a second vessel and added a second Alaska itinerary. In 1999, the company purchased Safari Spirit, which caught fire in April 2012 and was declared a total loss (Read more).
Un-Cruise bought the Wilderness Discoverer and the smaller Wilderness Adventurer from the defunct Glacier Bay Cruise Line. After complete refurbishments, the ships were launched for the 2011 Alaska season. Originally sold at 49 passengers for 2011, the Wilderness Discoverer bumped its load to 76 people; Wilderness Adventurer has a 60-passenger capacity. In 2012, the line added Wilderness Explorer under a long-term lease-to-purchase agreement. Originally run by Cruise West as the 86-passenger Spirit of Discovery, the ship was renovated to carry 76 passengers on Glacier Bay-oriented itineraries between Juneau and Sitka.
Un-Cruise Adventures' fleet also includes the 145-foot Safari Explorer (36 passengers); 120-foot Safari Quest (22 passengers); and 217-foot Safari Endeavour (86 passengers), which formerly sailed for Cruise West as the Spirit of Endeavor. In August 2013, the 192-foot S.S. Legacy (88 passengers) joined the fleet.
Fellow PassengersUn-Cruise Adventures appeals to a wide range of passengers. The Luxury Adventures Alaska, Sea of Cortez and Hawaii itineraries attract an active 30- to 70-something group of eco-conscious outdoor enthusiasts. Children -- even infants -- are permitted, but because of the exclusive, intimate nature of the yachts, staffers book young passengers selectively and encourage family cruise itineraries or individually chartered voyages when possible. Select dates are designated as "Kids in Nature" sailings, and families with children 12 or younger are encouraged to book those dates. The Active Adventures itineraries have proved popular with families and multigenerational travelers; passenger ages range from 5 to 85. The ship quiets down at night, primarily because people are worn out from the ample hiking, paddling and trekking opportunities. While the less athletic can enjoy a cruise on the Wilderness Discoverer, Wilderness Adventurer or Wilderness Explorer, you'll get the most out of your trip if you take part in the ships' outdoor activities.
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