2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
We like ACL and this is our 3rd cruise with them. Pluses: We booked our next cruise with them while on board to get the 15% savings. and no port charges. We like the intimacy of a smaller ship with less hassles going on & off ship. ... Read More
We like ACL and this is our 3rd cruise with them. Pluses: We booked our next cruise with them while on board to get the 15% savings. and no port charges. We like the intimacy of a smaller ship with less hassles going on & off ship. For people with mobility issues the smaller ship is good as there is less walking around the ship.The ship being small could go to ports like Petersburg where the larger cruise ships cant go. An added surprise was overnighting in Glacier Bay and being able to go off ship at Barlett Cove and walk around. Again something that the big ships cant do. When we saw whales the Capt stopped for some time and then rotated the ship so everyone could see.. The ship is all inclusive with no shops, casino or spa. We like this as opposed to the big ships that can push sales constantly. There is no mail box or name on the cabin door so no worries about having to cull advertisements out constantly like on some ships PLUS & MINUS: The food is good but rich and the desserts are constantly pushed, cookies at 10 am, desserts at lunch & dinner. Happy hour with treats then dinner and for the night's program root beer floats & sundaes. For anyone struggling with a sweet tooth or watching sugar intake has a constant temptation. Snacks are kept out. ACL has started room service for breakfast which we didn't use. A highlight was our Tlingkat Native interpreters that came on board in Glacier Bay Barlett Cove with the Ranger for 24 hours. Captain, Capt Brown who was retired Coast Guard.Capt Brown was very pleasant and conscientious .Our hotel manager Nico was excellent always working and determined to please. MINUS: The vast majority of the staff are younger students.We found this to be true on the other 2 cruises we took with ACL. This was a problem that wait staff needed better training and meal service could be very chaotic. Even the Cruise Directors were young so we see ACL as a training ground for students going into the hospitality field. I would like ACL to include and pay higher wages to some seasoned waiters to mentor the young waiters. The waiters try but it can be frustrating to see the chaos and their stress. Internet was sporadic and we lost it in Glacier bay for several days which met that people could not check in with home or use their cell phones except for the 3 hour stop at Barlett Cove in Glacier Bay. When we cruised Tray Arm again the loss of internet & cell from about 3 am the last day until about 8 pm when we arrived back in Juneau..I think ACL needs to improve their WIFI which we found to be slow. People with health issues have on the larger ships access to medical clinic with doctors. On ACL there was a medic I believe but no medical clinic. I believe a heart attack in Glacier Bay could be a major issue for a medical evacuation. ACL does cater to the older crowd with a higher probability of health issues. There is no cable TV and some of the videos shown on the ACL channel were very dated at least 20-30 years old. there were movie videos but the lack of updated videos on the Alaska channel was disappointing. Excursions are mainly walking tours and the fishing, float and Kayak tours had limited space and sold out. I would like ACL to have more variety with their tours and increase the capacity for float, kayaking and fishing. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
This was the first trip away from our young kids and wanted to do Alaska on a small ship. I found out how new this ship was and chased it down. Here are my notes. Quest Sunday - long day to buy time to get on ship at 5:30pm, they ... Read More
This was the first trip away from our young kids and wanted to do Alaska on a small ship. I found out how new this ship was and chased it down. Here are my notes. Quest Sunday - long day to buy time to get on ship at 5:30pm, they mean it and no-one got on before then. Juneau is boring and I wouldn't stay there. Tram was cool and worth it. When we did we got a person to take us to our cabin and desctibe all the features. There was more storage and room in our cabin than in hotel room. Don’t stay at recommended hotel - small rooms, noisy (loud) heaters (boilers) and it is just old. Our cabin on the ship was so much more spacious and has a crazy amount of storage, no way to use all of the drawers and other provided spaces. Pillows and blankets are amazing. Internet doesn’t work - too high latitudes for satellite to work.. I paid and got money back as we did get some cell service in small fishing villages but latency was so high that some applications wouldn’t work. Ship is a shield, so for any coverage you have to be on deck. Tracy Arm (Transit all night) Monday AM, I was pretty excited and woke up at 4am just to look around and saw icebergs out my window and I was on deck by 4:30am - and not only one. It was so crazy pretty that I stayed on deck pretty much to lunch. Food was very good all around. I’m not that picky and I give the food a B+ all around. Something for everyone and after meeting all the guests - no one had a bad thing to say. You get briefings before dinner and after breakfast every day. They over-communicate which seems annoying, but was rather useful. Staff is amazing all around. I can’t say enough good things and I look for those ‘cracks in the crew’ and found none. The respect for the naturalists was crazy high from fellow crew, not to speak of the guests. Monday was Tracy Arm and zodiac tours of the glacier. They take the entire guest list and chop into groups A, B, C and D. They use that to get rid of big lines for activities. We were in group C so they call on the PA to give us a 15 minute notice of when we should head to the mud room to put on Life jacket and board the zodiacs. Max wait was 10 minutes. They clearly have this figured out. Preso’s every day after lunch and dinner by very polished naturalists who know their stuff. I was crazy tired this night and crashed hard.. Speaking to other guests which I now had a chance to socialize with - was the same. Tuesday Morning - hit the zodiacs to go see icebergs that have calved off the glacier. Sounds boring? - look at the pictures and video. Amazing morning - water perfectly still and warm. We all got amazing photo’s - walk on fire trail, banana slugs and bear skat. Then kayaking that wasn’t so interesting but good exercise. Petersburg at lunch - great sleepy fishing village. Could arrange floatplane flights. Or walking (or van) into town or taking a free bicycle which we did. Very nice stay and we had dinner while the ship pulled out of port. This was a real treat. MIT alumni group on board and a professor gave a talk on climate. Very interesting and nice people. weather turned hawaii and we had upper 70’s, sun and heat. crazy. Wish I had more t-shirts. I wore shorts to dinner 4 nights in a row. Wednesday early morning hiking - no so interesting and then kayaking, was cool but not the best. Afternoon (Wednesday) was ok hiking morning, but ‘activity watching in afternoon cruise’ which started out pretty boring, everyone looking but some sea lions. Weather was hot in the sun. Then someone in bridge saw something on the port shore - ship turned too hard and some dishes went flying(turns out that was autopilot accident) - but we found a large group of humpbacks were bubble feeding on the shoreline. They split into 2 different groups and were amazing. We had that all day where I stopped counting at 25 ‘breaches’ of the bubble fishing. Most amazing day ever. Would check most folks bucket list to see 1 or 2, but 25+. You have never seen a more satisfied group of passengers and crew that dinner. Most of us knew that was a ‘1 in a lifetime’ afternoon. I hope I can post a few photo’s. Thursday (Icy Strait) - morning hiking in a great rainforest - like walking on sponges. lots of wild flowers and such. After that taken to ‘kayak beach’ where we kayaked ‘follow the leader’ around the Idaho inlet and it was awesome. Guest MIT lecture on Climate and then zodiac rides (A, B, C & D) with real alaskan weather and saw whales, sea lions, otters, eagles taking fish…. great lunch day (turkey) Afternoon zodiac tour of the Inian islands. Amazing - saw whales, sea lions, otters and a Bald Eagle took a 1/2 fish from a sea lion thirty feet in front of our zodiac. I have a picture of that that Tom caught - amazing. took it easy and let folks take naps and slow down a bit. Great dinner and lecture after about summer solstice, some video of diving around the kayak route and Chelsey talking about seals, sea lions and Otters - awesome. Got cold and folks went to sleep. Alaska part 2 Plan for the best - you have your cold weather gear, but you have crazy storage on the Quest - don’t forget t-shirts and shorts. On my trip I left our walk weather stuff in Florida and regretted it. We had 3 days in a row where it hit upper 70’s and I was hot in the sun. I had only 1 pair of shorts and wish I had more. We had *lots* of empty drawers we could have used. Suitcases fit under the bed (easily) Video and camera My wife brought her DSLR (Canon) and they have free lenses for you to use on the ship. She borrowed a few 600mm lens and got the best whale photo’s of the trip. There are at least 2 professional photographers on the trip who will spend as much 1:1 time as you want. Take advantage of it. Star of the show is my iPhone 10 using 4K 60fps video. You can zoom like crazy and will be able to post-process great video. My MacBook air wasn’t powerful enough to do that and iCloud is setup that I needed WiFi (that doesn’t work at those latitudes - so don’t pay for it) I would let the iPhone take video if the whales are around - if you get it, great. If not - delete and try again. Don’t wait till you see them - will be too late (for bubble fishing). Same for glacier calving - I would record for 3 minutes and delete if nothing happened, but if it does - you will get most or all of it in 4K video. Clothing 1st day was cold and clear. I had bought these wind pants with a thin layer of fleece on the inside and they were killer good. My go to pants when cruising or a colder zodiac ride. Too hot for hiking when in 60 or 70’s, so I used my hiking pants and was ok to be a little cold on zodiac ride (10 minutes) and very comfortable on the hike. Front or side pockets to keep iPhone kept if very handy when something unexpected happened, which seems to be all the time Saturday We signed up for the ‘strenuous hike’ and had a good workout though the rainforest to a lake where the guides were surprised had some salmon already. I used my polarized sunglasses to get some good video on my iPhone. After we hiked back down we put on the low profile life jackets and went kayaking in this amazingly clear water. Most of the folks all agreed this was the best of the Kayaking on the trip. Good workout - back to the ship and ate a good lunch. The rest of the afternoon was cruising and looking for wildlife - most folks were tired and slept or started packing. This part of the cruise there seemed to be otters everywhere and I got my otter photo’s here. Right before dinner I was on the bow with some other folks when we saw porpoises on the bow. They rode the bow for 25 minutes and I got my iPhone out there for 4 minutes until my fingers were too cold to hold the phone. Some amazing video I need to edit when I get home. That night after dinner we did the guest slideshow. Each guest could submit 10 of their best photo’s and it was amazing what people got. Anyone could download it from 2 iMacs they had in the lounge. Was very fun. Lots of folks exchanging email addresses and the like for the rest of the evening. Also having some drinks with the crew as you have gotten to know them pretty well at this point. Last day We anchored outside Sitka. Hit the dock at 6am. 6:30am wake-up call. 7am breakfast and they wanted all bags (tagged) and put outside cabin before 7am. Most of us were on same flight from Sitka to Seattle at 2pm. There were 97 passengers. 13 were under age 18. 3 groups of families Grandparents and kids. Bunch of retirees - good group of folks. I'm 53 with wife 46 and we had a great time. Never felt crowded, but we had insane weather. Ask for tour of engine room and kitchen - very cool. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
We wanted to experience Alaska on a small ship. The Un Cruise Wilderness Explorer and her crew made the trip on of the GREATEST vacations of our lives. The kayaking and zodiac rides were AWESOME! Hiking was fantastic and the wildlife ... Read More
We wanted to experience Alaska on a small ship. The Un Cruise Wilderness Explorer and her crew made the trip on of the GREATEST vacations of our lives. The kayaking and zodiac rides were AWESOME! Hiking was fantastic and the wildlife viewing was all you could ask for. I saw more bears than in my last TWO trips to Alaska. As for the dining I gained a pound a day even thought we were VERY active for 3-4 hours per day. The food was amazing! The crew was highly trained and could not do enough to make sure you had a superior experience. I changed our activities several times to spend time with some of the great people we met on board and it was handled in no time by the crew. We cruised from Juneau to Sitka through the inside passages.It was an unbelievable experience. I would highly recommend this Company and ship for anyone looking for the small ship experience in Alaska! CAM Chicago Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2015
We started in Juneau, southbound to Seattle with a total of 16 'Safari Questers' on board and nine crew. From the first night it was one lifetime experience after another. We saw pods of Humpback whales on numerous occasions, ... Read More
We started in Juneau, southbound to Seattle with a total of 16 'Safari Questers' on board and nine crew. From the first night it was one lifetime experience after another. We saw pods of Humpback whales on numerous occasions, with one pod feeding in an awesome display of power. An Orca swam next to us for a short distance (at night so no photos other than the one planted in the memory bank). We were also accompanied by dolphins, eagles and the 'skiffers' caught and captured a bear on digital video and DLSR still as it was fishing a very short distance from our intrepid travellers. Two successive nights of the northern lights and the Big Dipper planted mid photo screen whilst two 'Questers' had a lazy hot-tub as the photographers did there work. Great trips ashore in Petersburg, Wrangell, Ketchikan and Friday Harbor, sadly as the big ships AKA floating hotels were leaving. My wife was stopped by a long line of returnees in Ketchikan and told "there's a queue" you'll have to wait in line; said "excuse me, not for our ship" and continued to our birth. A multi talented terrific crew, enjoyable company with all our fellow 'Questers' superb sailing by all helmsmen/women, wonderful activities (skiffing, canoeing, hiking, photography, FUN AND MORE FUN) a great room with lots of under king sized bed storage and lots to do or nothing if that was your fancy. Got the brochure and planning our next small ship cruise. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2015
We joined this cruise very much under protest as we had been due to sail with Un=Cruise on one of their "tiny" ships (36 passengers) but it had engine trouble and so we were offered the alternative (cost met by Un-Cruise) of 5 ... Read More
We joined this cruise very much under protest as we had been due to sail with Un=Cruise on one of their "tiny" ships (36 passengers) but it had engine trouble and so we were offered the alternative (cost met by Un-Cruise) of 5 nights aboard L'Austral. None of us wanted a large cruise ship -anything above 500 passengers is not our scene and even the 250 passenger L'Austral seemed huge in comparison to what we had planned. However we were made very welcome on board and quickly settled into a life of luxury. Obviously with only 250 passengers the choice of activity and food is more limited than on a larger ship but we had absolutely no reason to complain. The crew were all attentive and friendly form the tender boat crew right up to the Captain and the officers were very much in evidence at all meals. The cabin so far as we were concerned was very suitable and indeed we praised its design with separate WC room and showeroom with washhand basin. Yes these 2 rooms were small but how long do you intend to spend in them! The kingsize bed was extremely comfortable, The range of shore trips was excellent in our opinion. Some had to be pre-booked days before embarkation but as the ship was not full we were able to get on all the trips we wanted to do and thoroughly enjoyed them all. The highlight of these for us was a zodiac trip close up to the Dawes glacier which calved off a huge chunk of ice just as we were about 300 metres from it with a resultant large wave. My only adverse comment would be that the swimming pool seemed quite small but frankly in Alaskan waters there was little call for it though is was exceptionally warm weather when we were there - hence the salmon run had not started and we saw no bears. However one night just as we sat down to dinner the Captain announced that we were in the the middle of a large pod of Humpback whales. He stopped the ship for about 45 minutes whilst most passengers deserted the restaurant for what was a great opportunity to view a pod of whales bubble feeding. This disruption of dinner did not faze the restaurant staff who took it in their stride. Perhaps one advantage of having only one sitting. The food and wine was fabulous as perhaps one would expect on a French ship. The restaurant was fine dining waiter service but there was a buffet facility on an upper deck which we tended to use for breakfast and lunch. No complaints there either. We were not allocated any specific table or dining companions which I find preferable. I would recommend the L'Austral to anyone who enjoys small ship cruising. The stage entertainment was perhaps a little lacking but the standard of the musicians on board and who played mostly in the bar but also on occasion in the theatre could not be faulted. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2014
It's Spring 2015 and I simply cannot let the season escape without finally writing my review on the trip of a lifetime, that I was madly planning this time last year... The hubby and I came into an unexpected gift of money and ... Read More
It's Spring 2015 and I simply cannot let the season escape without finally writing my review on the trip of a lifetime, that I was madly planning this time last year... The hubby and I came into an unexpected gift of money and wanted to do something we could remember the person by, and would never have normally would have done...and I found it in and astonishing adventure on board the Safari Endeavor!! We booked the July 14, 2014 week long Discoverers' Glacier Country Un-Cruise out of Juneau, AK. That week in particular had a wonderful Marine Biology host, Jackie Hedgpeth who truly added to the already highly educated and informative staff on board. We were greeted on board on embarkation day by all the staff from our awesome lady Captain, Jenna Stevens down to dining and cabin crews. All folks on the Endeavor rolled up their sleeves and helped out any given time/day on launching kayaks in the morning to being nature guides in the afternoons..many enjoyed multiple roles..our evening table server, would be an expedition assistant leader the following day on a hike or kayak excursion. We truly got to know all the staff... who consistently and constantly reached above and beyond the call of duty to make sure, all on on board were welcomed, comfortable and got the utmost they wanted out of their daily/weekly adventures!!! Every evening in the Lounge all ...84....yes I said that ...84 passengers!!! joined together enjoyed our all inclusive bar libations while listening to talks from the Naturalist or crew on tomorrows upcoming adventures.. Let's stop for a moment and discuss that passenger number. Yes..only 84 passengers on board, what a phenomenon in the Cruise world!! This small ship cruising allowed for the unimaginable development of some great friendships on board...some folks we still keep in touch with to date, a year later! Folks from all over the Globe were on board..from England, Wales, Australia and all over the US. And on a personal note..2nd couple we met were form my hometown in Penna..small world! The staff and crew we got to know as well and shared many a story and photos on our nightly talks in the Lounge of the ship's adventures from the day. Can't tell you the camaraderie that developed over shared hikes, kayaking moments, whale sightings, glacier hikes...on and on to many to describe with the staff, crew and fellow passengers. Back to adventures!!! ....each evening the Expedition Guide would offer tomorrow's listing of adventures passengers can choose to participate in...both AM and afternoon varieties or, all day: from really tame walkabouts on the shore line, to glacier hikes, to half or full day kayaking, to half or full day hikes into wilderness. The hubby, a Georgia Exterra trail series runner was looking for full on daily wilderness adventures..I on the other hand enjoyed the luxury the ship had to offer as well as accomplishing a fine mix of mild AM adventures such as guided group Glacier hikes to afternoon kayaking along the shoreline. I eventually built up my adventure seeking skills to partake in the Hubby's regular all day adventure "crew" on an exciting all day, 8hr hike to a Glacier Lake that no other ship or passenger group got to attain last summer! Our outstanding Expedition Guide, Connor Adams was as great Team Leader who motivated all of us, including me who was definitely in the back 'o the pack shall we say.. to kick it up and we pushed ourselves so well thru the rain forest, he got permission from the ship's Captain to continue onto Swan Lake. What a thrill to share in this accomplishment of an awesome all day hike thru stunning rain forests of SE Alaska! No bear sightings, but fresh footprints were to be had! Super proud and exhausted when we returned to the ship in time for the fun event of Polar Bear Swimming which is an all passenger adventure, if you dare! Even in July the water was cold!! Let's talk about food and drink..the food was scrumptious to say the least! Usually 2-3 entree offerings at each meal and always a veggie option for anyone who doesn't do meat, or in my case who doesn't do seafood. I know, wrong place to be.. to not partake on the super fresh local seafood offerings, but hubby enjoyed it, every meal!! The crew offered any solution if you couldn't possible find anything to eat of the menu for each meal. One lunch was all seafood and they kindly made me a grilled cheese sandwich which I happily ate... All alcohol is included and the Bartenders in the Lounge were excellent,there was a special creative drink offered each evening as well as a full bar. Never failed on service or tastes.. 12 tables I believe, 8 along the viewing windows to catch the ever changing sea/landscape and view wildlife passing by and 4 center round tops were in the dining room. Which lends itself to enjoying getting to know all the passengers or eventually for us, we sought out our favorite group of new friends from England, Penna., NC and NY and shared our adventures of the day! The only complaint I would have about dining is you had to get down there fast at mealtime or the window tables would be taken! Not that you couldn't see but it was cool to be up close. Admiral Cabin....#202. Since it was a gift of money that drove this once in a lifetime adventure cruise, the hubby went full on every day adventure excursions and I went for one of the top of the line larger cabins! Quiet, just off the lounge, low traffic hallway and steps away.. in the jammies to get a morning coffee in the lounge... Comfy bed, wonderful private large viewing window(Upper deck cabins have windows along the outside walkways and passengers sd kinda bothersome), teeny tiny bathroom for us tall folks but super minor detail as you are so busy each and everyday in this Alaskan wonderland..no bothers. Wonderful cabin service on a daily basis if you want service or not...minimal required for us. One of the most outstanding features of the cruise was the desire of the Crew and Captain to offer ever possibility to educate us on, as well as to see, view and experience the wildlife in SE Alaska. One impossibly delightful evening, dinner was delayed as we had the show of a lifetime in front of the ship: a rainbow to the west, a pod of Orcas straight ahead and Humpback whales breaching to the right. The Captain slowed and then stopped the ship and all on board, included as always, the Crew were invited to experience the beauty of this sight. Unforgettable! The saddest day is knowing you are arriving back in Port and your disconnections with people you have gotten to know, and goodbyes are in front of you. The Crew all came out to see us off and it was bittersweet... Would love to partake in their Baja trips in the Winter to see the Humpbacks and other wildlife in a warmer climate. Same ship..same Crew..same Captain..what a dream. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2011
Exploring Alaska from Anchorage to Vancouver was a nice theme and the many stops along the way were interesting. Our stateroom was quite nice and the staff was excellent at taking care of the room and anything we needed. Towels were ... Read More
Exploring Alaska from Anchorage to Vancouver was a nice theme and the many stops along the way were interesting. Our stateroom was quite nice and the staff was excellent at taking care of the room and anything we needed. Towels were luxurious and always freshly replenished. The excursions were way overpriced for what we got - for example, $185 per person to take a hike on a wooden plank trail in the national park - there was no way you could get lost and the trail head was only a short distance from town. And the post-hotel accommodations were amazingly overpriced - I found a wonderful hotel on the internet with a full deluxe kitchen for half the daily rate for the hotels Oceania arranged in Vancouver. I arranged our own 2.5 hour kayak tour for $69 and Oceania charged $155!!! And we were a very small group with only 3 kayaks and lots of input from the guide. I would recommend you arrange tours on your own - the internet makes it easy. Speaking of internet, the service on the ship was incredibly slow and expensive!! $80 for 100 minutes and it took at least 15 minutes to download e-mail!! Better to just take your laptop to the library or coffee shop in the towns. At three of the ports we had to tender in and out - not the most convenient. We were not impressed with the entertainment - OK quality but not outstanding. The string quartet was very nice during high tea. Activities on the ship were minimal - unless you wanted to enter the putting or shuffleboard competition or maybe do needlepoint with a group of ladies. The guest lecture was OK but a bit dry. Dining was nice but not what I had anticipated for a luxury cruise - our first dinner in the Polo restaurant was disappointing and service in the Tapas restaurant was sometimes quite lacking - over 1/2 hour to get recognized and get coffee at breakfast one morning and some mornings they offered juice and others they did not. So overall, I would not cruise again. Perhaps because I am more adventurous and not afraid to venture out on my own and do not need everything arranged for me - in fact, I prefer a little adventure and maybe making a wrong turn somewhere and finding something absolutely amazing like a sunset or a rainbow. Read Less

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