Un-Cruise Adventures offers a unique small-ship cruising experience, ranging from Indiana Jones-caliber adventure to low-activity destination immersion.
In 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 a 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.
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-focused itineraries. Each ship's expedition staff is charged with helping passengers with activities like spotting humpbacks or identifying 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 pad 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 line's 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 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 ships. 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 that are 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: Luxury Adventures' cruise fares include all excursions, alcoholic beverages and one massage (complimentary massage not available on Safari Quest).
S.S. Legacy, which joined the fleet in August 2013, is the only ship to offer Heritage Adventures. Heritage Adventures highlight a region's history, culture and wildlife through a series of local tours in port and enrichment lectures with the Heritage Team onboard. Like the Luxury Adventures, the Heritage cruise fare includes all excursions and lectures, alcoholic beverages and one massage.
Heritage Adventures provide even "softer" adventures than Luxury, with the extent of recreation being a little walking in town. During free time in port, there are options for those looking for a little more activity. After excursions, passengers typically have the opportunity to explore on their own and tend to do so by hiking the local trails or window shopping along the blocks.
About Un-Cruise Adventures
Picture off-the-beaten-track and 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. Passengers take 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.
Such 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 for the 2012 season. Un-Cruise Adventures aims to reveal in-depth Alaska, Mexico, Pacific Northwest and Hawaii experiences to sophisticated travelers -- and it does so 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 defunct Cruise West.
Un-Cruise Adventures Fleet
The 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.
Un-Cruise then bought Wilderness Discoverer and smaller Wilderness Adventurer from defunct Glacier Bay Cruise Line. After complete refurbishments, the ships were launched for the 2011 Alaska season. Originally sold at 49 passengers for 2011, 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 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 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 Spirit of Endeavor. In August 2013, 192-foot S.S. Legacy (88 passengers) joined the fleet.
Un-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 proven 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.
Onboard Heritage Adventures, you'll find yourself among a mostly mature crowd of passengers with adventurous spirits, who essentially want to be forced to relax. Because there are no skiff rides or kayaks on these sailings, passengers embrace their desire to explore the region's wilderness and culture in a state of total relaxation, with a camera on hand at all times. Most passengers are from within the U.S., but you probably will notice Australian and European passengers, too.
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