The first thing to know about Safari Explorer is that, while it falls squarely in the luxury category of cruise ships, it's distinctly nonglitzy. While the cabins are well-appointed and the service impeccable, such over-the-top perks as personal butlers, thalassotherapy pools and pillow menus are not to be found there. Heck, there isn't even a dress code.
For a certain type of cruiser, however, Explorer's low-key luxury is precisely the point. After all, who needs casinos and cabarets when the main attraction is the great outdoors? Explorer's passengers are, first and foremost, nature fans, drawn by the ship's extensive roster of soft-adventure outings and its ability to maneuver in tiny coves and narrow passages that the big ships can't get to.
That's the second thing to know about Safari Explorer: By virtue of its small size, flexible itineraries and commitment to the local people and traditions, it provides experiences that would be impossible to achieve on a mainstream cruise. That includes sailing in uncharted waters and observing wildlife away from the crowds, as well as meeting local residents and learning about their culture firsthand.
It's that combination of understated elegance and expedition-style cruising that attracts this American-flagged ship's sophisticated, well-traveled clientele. There's nothing like returning from a snorkel adventure to be greeted at the stern by a crewmember proffering a Champagne cocktail, or tucking into a breakfast of macadamia-and-banana pancakes before setting out to kayak a remote cove.
Thirty-six-passenger Explorer, flagship of Seattle-based American Safari Cruises, specializes in in-depth visits to Southeast Alaska and the Hawaiian Islands. From October through April, it offers weekly seven-night adventure cruises from Hawaii's Big Island to Maui (and reverse). The itineraries vary but focus on the leeward (dry) side of the islands, including the lesser-known Lanai, Molokai and Molokini, as well as the Big Island's Kona coast. From May through September, the ship sails weeklong roundtrips from Juneau along Alaska's Inside Passage, with two days spent exploring Glacier Bay National Park, a UNESCO Heritage Site and Bisophere Reserve.
Explorer was built in 1998 as a bare-bones expedition ship, with dormlike sleeping quarters and few frills. It emerged from a $3.5 million renovation in 2008 with 18 oceanview cabins, all featuring individual climate controls and private bathrooms with heated tile floors (an especially nice touch on Alaskan itineraries). The heart of the ship is the main deck's inviting salon/library/game room, lined with picture windows and furnished with overstuffed leather sofas and chairs. On the open top deck, a large outdoor hot tub is flanked by teak chaises and chairs, perfect for sipping a crisp Chardonnay while admiring the sunset. All meals are gourmet-quality, with an emphasis on fresh food and locally sourced ingredients. Premium spirits, fine wines and microbrews are served gratis throughout the trip.
But aside from all that, the best thing about Explorer is its enthusiastic young crew. Whether they're freshening your drink, teaching you how to spit-polish your snorkel, or bringing you oatmeal when you don't want the crepes, their main goal is to please you. The 2:1 passenger-to-cruise ratio ensures that they accomplish their mission. Read More
We chose UnCruise because of a friend's recommendation and our aversion to large cruise ships and preference for adventure cruising. If what you want is floor shows, mega-restaurants, work out gyms, balconies, and relaxing cruising go ... Read More
We chose UnCruise because of a friend's recommendation and our aversion to large cruise ships and preference for adventure cruising. If what you want is floor shows, mega-restaurants, work out gyms, balconies, and relaxing cruising go elsewhere. But if you have a spirit of adventure, want to actually physically do something, encounter Alaska up close AND have fabulous food, personally involved crew, very comfortable but not uber rooms, an open bar, other fun adventurous passengers then go with UnCruise.
we saw orca including spyhopping, bubble feeding humpback whaes, a black bear, a large contingent of feeding grizzly bears, mountain sheep, loads of eagles, many good shore and sea birds.
The glaciers were awesome and Ranger Deb taught us a lot plus being very enthusiastic. We learned about glaciation and deglaciation and revegetation in post glaciation areas. Hiking in the temperate rain forest was great. You cannot miss and any of the cruises out of Juneau chould be great Read Less
Our weather was not great but the trip was superb. First, this is a cruise for people who enjoy nature and learning about it. We truly had an up close and personal encounter with whales, harbor seals, orcas, and bears. Each evening we had ... Read More
Our weather was not great but the trip was superb. First, this is a cruise for people who enjoy nature and learning about it. We truly had an up close and personal encounter with whales, harbor seals, orcas, and bears. Each evening we had a nice lecture after dinner. The crew was amazing! Our guide was simply the best in the business. Our chef catered to each person’s needs and made terrific meals. Each staff member was extremely helpful and always smiled. Our captain deserves special recognition. He went 2 hours off course and found a pod of orcas at dusk on a very foggy night for us to see. We followed them for at least 15 minutes. I still can’t believe he was so persistent and actually found the orcas. He was truly engaged in making sure we had the best experience possible. We also ventured “off course” again to view three pods of humpback whales bubble net feeding. We encountered one humpback that tail slapped 39 times and we sat there and looked at it. Activities include skiff rides, kayaking, and walks. The boat does not stop in any ports and for sure shopping is not part of the cruise. Dinner is casual and full of laughter and wonderful conversation. I love the fact that we are “unplugged” for almost the entire trip. Internet services and cell services are very limited. If you absolutely need some sort of entertainment, the boat has many DVDs you can use. This was our second trip to Alaska on this boat. We thought there is no way our last experience could be beat, but it was. The trip exceeded all of our expectations. Thanks, Uncruise! Read Less
AMAZING - 5 days off the grid and Alaska was cool too. UnCruise adventures was like being on an excursion for 7 days. We stopped in every inlet and saw Sea Otters, Sea Lions, bears, Bald eagles, and humpback whales. We hiked, kayaked and ... Read More
AMAZING - 5 days off the grid and Alaska was cool too. UnCruise adventures was like being on an excursion for 7 days. We stopped in every inlet and saw Sea Otters, Sea Lions, bears, Bald eagles, and humpback whales. We hiked, kayaked and watched nature pass. We didn't once stopped at one of those cruise owned ports. We had a park ranger on board that provided tons of information and perspective. Food and Service were exceptional! - Staff of two cooked meals for 30+ people in a room about 4x4; choices were abundant making a decision your only problem. Staff rotated chores on the ship and even the captain would help you on and off the ship during excursions. If you ever get the chance to go to Alaska consider Uncruise Adventures. As we pulled back into civilization I dread the thought of getting back on the grid. ^5 to the staff; they really make the trip exceptional! Read Less
Popular Un-cruise Safari Explorer Cruise Itineraries
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