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28 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
Although the reviews of Uncruise on Trip Advisor and Cruise Critic are generally positive, our trip on the Wilderness Explorer left a lot to be desired, did not mirror the comments of previous reviews and is nothing like the brochure or ... Read More
Although the reviews of Uncruise on Trip Advisor and Cruise Critic are generally positive, our trip on the Wilderness Explorer left a lot to be desired, did not mirror the comments of previous reviews and is nothing like the brochure or the information provided to us by the travel agent. We booked this at the last minute, paid way too much-it is a poor value for the price, and are sorry we went. We have been to all 7 continents and are firm from this experience that Alaska is just not worth revisiting. I have been on a small ship like this (75 clients) for 3 weeks to Antarctica and a 15 person boat in the Galapagos for 2 weeks so I know what is possible-both of those experiences were superb. Uncruise is not a good small ship option or good value for the dollar. The Wilderness Explorer is in need of an overhaul. The rooms are small, dark and dank. The presence of sewer gas in our room and generally on our side of the ship was overwhelming. The "hotel manager", although responsive, indicated that this was an ongoing problem, could not be rectified, put a wet washcloth over the shower drain and the sink drain and gave us a bottle of Glade. Did not do the trick. Had difficult sleeping it was so overpowering. We kept the window open (it is minuscule) but it was not really much help. Spent most days (both when raining and sunny) with the door propped open but given that the source is primarily the shower and the door to the bathroom swings shut and opens out blocking the door to the room, it did not provide much relief. Over the week, many people shared their stories of sewer gas...it just shouldn't be an issue if the ships were maintained properly. Our bed was also "broken". Did not retract into a couch, making our room even smaller. But, because they dock on a Saturday around 9am and load new passengers around 4:30pm, they were unable to attempt to repair it. I would imagine it had been broken since the beginning of the season and will continue to be broken until the ship finishes its runs for the season. The activities are just ok. We enjoyed sea kayaking. Although potentially attributable to the unseasonably sunny weather, there is minimal wildlife and there are only so many things you can say about small, orange crabs so shore walks are a bust. Bushwhacking is an attempt to fill time. And the day in Wrangell is a total waste. In Wrangell, you are two hours by boat and less time by helicopter from one of the best bear sanctuaries (on a salmon stream-Anan Bear Sanctuary) and it is impossible to get there because the ship is not in port long enough. The activities in Wrangell are poor at best-brief hike, meeting at the "Chief's house", some petrogylphs (although most have been moved out to various museums so few remaining), etc. Management really needs to figure out how to offer a excursion to the Anan Bear Sanctuary on a regular basis-they have done it before when they were required to spend more time in Wrangell due to ship repairs. It might be the only wildlife anyone sees if it could be arranged. The food was very mediocre. At most meals, fellow table guests were trying to determine what ingredients that were in today's meal had been served in another form the previous day. Ignore the descriptions in the brochure-those are laughable. And although the chef does a good job with the space she has, even the scrambled eggs are terrible. The staff is good. Most are enthusiastic (but they are being paid) and helpful. They are knowledgeable although sometimes in esoteric subjects that have nothing to do with what you are seeing (but that may be because you are not seeing anything). The ship has one large meeting area which is basically the bar. There are no places on the ship that you can get out of your room and not have to sit among hordes of people who are also trying to get out of your room. Finally, they "share" with you that many people have asked about tipping. Our dinner table had a wonderful laugh about that-no one had asked about tipping before it was brought up. They encourage $250 per person, which is essentially, $50 a day per person. We thought that was high although it is getting split among everyone on the ship. We came to the conclusion that it was probably around $750 per ship employee for the week (some employees are exempted-captain, hotel manager, chef, chief guide, etc.). That lead us to believe they were not being paid particularly well. So, beware the tipping that isn't really optional and they are not upfront about in their brochures. In summary, choose another ship, ask questions about the last time it was FULLY overhauled-not just had a coat of paint slapped on it. And ask what they typically see in terms of animals. We asked all those questions and got satisfactory answers. Our travel agent is relaying our disappointment to their sales rep, but as much as we are glad that he is getting the feedback, it doesn't make our trip any better. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2018
4th Linblad cruise and lived up to expectations. Staff were fantastic. Loved the photography tips. Alaska is a beautiful place - animals, sea, quiet, pristine - few people - I am sure the earth is happy there also. Fewer people ... Read More
4th Linblad cruise and lived up to expectations. Staff were fantastic. Loved the photography tips. Alaska is a beautiful place - animals, sea, quiet, pristine - few people - I am sure the earth is happy there also. Fewer people everywhere would do the world a lot of good. The food was fantastic and the stewards so personal and great. The photographers were fantastic and the naturalists (Lee and Linda) are a Linblad treasure. I cannot say enough about John Mitchell - who I know is going back to school but he was a great EL. His voice created us every morning and set the tone for the day. Paolo and Kim added a new and fun dimension to the trip - being a diver myself, it was exciting to see their video. I cannot say enough about James Biscardi who stayed in the shadows but made and absolutely outstanding video. More Linblad please. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
Weather is a huge factor on any trip, and is very unpredictable in Alaska. We were lucky to have mostly cloudy but dry weather with only a few sprinkles one day of the 7. We are an active retired couple who had avoided big cruise ships ... Read More
Weather is a huge factor on any trip, and is very unpredictable in Alaska. We were lucky to have mostly cloudy but dry weather with only a few sprinkles one day of the 7. We are an active retired couple who had avoided big cruise ships since a conference I attended years ago aboard a Carnival ship visiting Key West and Cozumel. Since then, we had enjoyed a 4-day, 400-passenger ship river cruise on the Yangtze as part of a China tour, and an even smaller (28 passenger) riverboat voyage on the Mekong. We bike, kayak and hike and travel to see new places and meet people, not to overeat, gamble and drink aboard a floating city. We found more than 70 other passengers of mixed age groups on board the Wilderness Explorer who were "our kind of people", on our full-capacity early July Glaciers and Fjords Alaska cruise with UnCruise. We loved and appreciated the crew and how hard they work, enjoyed the fresh and attentively-prepared food, and the opportunity to get up close and personal with nature in SW Alaska's inside passage after a 2-week small group land tour (much more affordable) to points further north and east through G-Adventures (also recommended). We did see quite a variety of wildife on land and sea (even a few bears) though not at close-enough range to spot without binoculars and zoom lenses. I agree with some of the other reviews that some longer and more physically vigorous excursions would be welcomed by some of the more active passengers, also that the ship's interiors are getting a bit worn and outdated and could do with an overhaul. We didn't participate in the "polar plunge" but enjoyed watching others jump into the icy water, including an 80-something-year-old patriarch of a large extend-family multi-generational group. With full capacity, our ship was a bit crowded at times especially the (only) lounge/bar area, where there was insufficient seating for the nightly gathering to reserve the next days' excursions. Our cabin was fine, small but with efficient use of the space including a murphy bed that raised up into the wall while a sofa took its' place. The ventilation system was a bit noisy, and generators constantly running so no at-sea peace and quiet like I recalled from some youthful times aboard a small sailing yacht. There were DVD's in the small shelf library, but no DVD-player in our cabin, we speculated that we would have had to request them to be played on a central system, but never asked since we had brought books to read. Alcohol, including a special bartender's "drink of the day", using premium liquors and fresh fruit juices, was included and unlimited but no one seemed to obviously overindulge. Since our consumption is typically limited to one beer a day, I would prefer to pay separately for drinks with a reduction in cruise fare or less lofty gratuities expected. Those came as kind of a shock as they were triple ($500 for the week compared to $25/day) the set-rate gratuity we're being charged by Windstar on an upcoming Caribbean cruise we have booked. It sort of tainted our final day farewell experience, raising suspicions that they are underpaying the crew and expecting them to make it solely on the gratuities. I would rather they price the cruise higher and pay them a decent wage, but perhaps they're reluctant to do that due to already being high-priced compared to other cruises. But it's a significant amount to be added-on unexpectedly, and the way it was handled on our ship (maybe not always the case?) was pretty tacky, in my opinion, as everyone is checked-out at the bar register on the last day, waiting in line to pay your tab, with the gratuity added on, ringing up the amount you tell them in full view of others in line and verbally confirming the amount in an audible voice, as if to shame anyone who might want to tip anything less than the $500. We had already planned to tip more than for the Windstar cruise considering the excursion guides (who on other cruises would be separately tipped individually) were part of the crew sharing in the total gratuity, not solely the ship's hotel, kitchen, cleaning and wait staff. However, our choice would have been perhaps double the amount, not triple. My preference would have been to tip each excursion guide separately from the ship's crew, since we liked some guides much more than others. This handling of the gratuity and pressure/obligation to tip so lavishly unfortunately tainted our overall UnCruise experience. I wondered if it was a company policy, that particular ship or that particular crew who quoted such a high suggested amount and had decided they could be more assured of getting it by collecting it so very publicly? I won't say we would not do another UnCruise adventure (especially if they start offering Antarctica or the Amazon), but it won't be our automatic go-to cruise line without investigating what else (among smaller-ship, more casual and active cruises--a segment that I hope will grow considerably beyond the limited choices now available) our internet searches and friends' recommendations might turn up for the same destination. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
After a dull Alaska cruise on a large ship, we decided to try again and were not disappointed - this was a truly a wonderful expedition on the Lindblad/National Geographic Sea Bird. It wasn't only the humpback whales, killer whales, ... Read More
After a dull Alaska cruise on a large ship, we decided to try again and were not disappointed - this was a truly a wonderful expedition on the Lindblad/National Geographic Sea Bird. It wasn't only the humpback whales, killer whales, sea otters, brown bears and sea lions - we saw plenty of them for extended periods of time - but the chance to explore ashore in the wilderness. It was as if a veil was lifted and the boring scenery of endless spruces and hemlocks became a magical world of wildflowers, ferns, mosses, rushing brooks and birdsong. Our eyes could not get enough of the colors and shapes of the icebergs as they floated by. We were also introduced to culture of the native peoples. All the staff was excellent - the naturalists impressed us by their knowledge, enthusiasm and friendliness. Our expedition leader John Mitchell was extremely well organized, an excellent communicator, and above all had a wonderful sense of humor. The dining/cabin stewards were fine young people, always eager to please. The hotel manager responded to all our requests. The dining experience was top notch. Delicious food, and lots of it. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
... and maybe our last - unless we can come up with another one that equals this in the following ways: - small (40 passengers) - amazing crew (couldn't be friendlier or more caring and helpful) - focusing on wildlife ... Read More
... and maybe our last - unless we can come up with another one that equals this in the following ways: - small (40 passengers) - amazing crew (couldn't be friendlier or more caring and helpful) - focusing on wildlife (stopping for whales, otters, bears, etc) - allowing lots of on-shore time for walking or exploring or taking part in cultural experiences - very good meals in modest portions (no huge buffet pig-outs with accompanying waste) - many special excursions available only to this cruise line - the bridge was often open. Captain Eric, Charlie and all were welcoming and informative whenever they had guests. - special talks and performances were short and worth attending, all focused on enhancing the day's (or the next day's) experiences. - the ship, a catamaran, was mostly stable and even this landlubber was able to develop sea legs most of the time - every time we encountered a gigantic ship with its thousands of no-name passengers, we felt very lucky: most crew knew and used our first names! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
We have cruised to Alaska several times on larger ships, but decided to try the Lindblad/National Geographic cruise because we have taken others of their cruises and loved them - and because we wanted to go where the bigger ships ... Read More
We have cruised to Alaska several times on larger ships, but decided to try the Lindblad/National Geographic cruise because we have taken others of their cruises and loved them - and because we wanted to go where the bigger ships can't go and do what the larger groups can't do. We were not disappointed. What sets Lindblad/National Geographic apart for me is its emphasis on adventure, its excellent group of knowledgeable naturalists, its lectures and presentations about the places and the things to be seen and experienced, and the opportunities offered to guests to explore the destinations with guides to explain and to help every step of the way. Every trip we have been on has also had at least one National Geographic photographer on board who talks about his/her (always interesting) photography career, offers tips about photographing whatever the destination might be - and helps everyone on board who wants some advice about cameras, picture taking and picture processing. The destinations are carefully selected before the cruise and changed if need be due to weather conditions or because something really interesting is happening somewhere that shouldn't be missed. The activities and excursions are excellent. On this trip, there were plenty of opportunities to hike, to ride in Zodiacs (known here as Dibs) to get even closer to the wildlife or the interesting glaciers and shorelines, to ride bikes, to flightsee, to kayak or even for the brave to swim in the waters of Alaska - and all guests are led or accompanied by naturalists and guides who provide information and assistance (if need be) all along the way. There are no casinos or cabaret shows on board and no need to dress up for any occasion, which appeals to us very much, but may not appeal to others. The rooms on this ship are very small, but we did manage to find a space for everything we brought. The beds (twins) are comfortable but small; I wasn't sure how someone much over 6-feet tall would be able to sleep comfortably. The food was very good. The customer service was terrific. The staff, as on all trips we have taken, have been friendly, knowledgeable and very helpful. The only opportunity for exercise on board besides walking around the ship is to use one of three exercise machines, which are located on the top deck, which is essentially outside, which can be tough in the rain, the wind or the cold. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
My wife and I just completed an 'Inner Reaches, Western Cove', Alaska trip with a week aboard the 'Wilderness Explorer'. Simply Remarkable........We saw Orca, Humpback breaching, black bear, moose, dall's porpoise ... Read More
My wife and I just completed an 'Inner Reaches, Western Cove', Alaska trip with a week aboard the 'Wilderness Explorer'. Simply Remarkable........We saw Orca, Humpback breaching, black bear, moose, dall's porpoise and many other bird and flora life. Above our expectations, the food was good and well catered for. My wife is a Celiac (Gluten Free) and she was well looked after - thank you Uncruise. The small ship was comfortable and a family feeling was quickly felt by all aboard with thanks to a professional, dedicated team who made us feel very welcome and special. Hot showers, good heating and great service. Not to mention the daily activity choices with experienced and knowledgeable guides. What a fantastic adventure for us 'Aussies'. One we'd love to replicate in the future. Uncruise are a great alternative to the 'big ship cruises' as we were able to change course to take advantage of the wildlife and geography as events unfolded. This is a truly great experience. Do it....if you want an adventure. Read Less
15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
If you want to see wild Alaska up close, go with Un-Cruise. They are the best. The ever-changing and wondrous scenery ( glaciers, caves, rain forests, tidal pools, waterfalls, etc) and wildlife (whales, dolphins, bears, birds and tons of ... Read More
If you want to see wild Alaska up close, go with Un-Cruise. They are the best. The ever-changing and wondrous scenery ( glaciers, caves, rain forests, tidal pools, waterfalls, etc) and wildlife (whales, dolphins, bears, birds and tons of shoreline critters) was super, but what made this trip a once-in-a-lifetime experience was the fantastic crew, from the captain to the dinning room servers, from the engineer to the activity leaders, you could tell that each and everyone of them loved what they did and truly wanted guests to enjoy Alaska as well. Choices of daily activities ranged from guided kayak paddles, shoreline walks, and "bushwacking (i.e. no trails)" to skiff and cave tours, paddleboarding, and tours of the ships engine rooms, kitchens, and bridge. All these activities were led by very knowledgeable folks, who were able to explain the wonders of Alaska with a smile and humor. The meals were 4-star quality with at least 3 choices of which one was always fresh seafood. The ship was immactulate from stem to stern... actually saw one of the crew cleaning the metal treads on stairways between the three decks with a toothbrush! Could go on and on, bottomline... Un-Cruise is the best in every regard. Read Less
22 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
If you are looking for an Alaskan cruise where you dress for dinner, and have shows and casinos, this cruise is NOT for you! If you want to see all the things you associate with Alaska, then I say "Welcome aboard!" On our 11-day ... Read More
If you are looking for an Alaskan cruise where you dress for dinner, and have shows and casinos, this cruise is NOT for you! If you want to see all the things you associate with Alaska, then I say "Welcome aboard!" On our 11-day cruise from Ketchikan to Sitka, we crossed off every item on our Alaska bucket list: Northern Lights, orcas, humpback whales, black bears, mountain goats, sea lions, puffins, glaciers calving, and more. We even had a rainbow on our last day out. Now, I know that no cruise can guarantee that you will see all of those things, but I have never been on a cruise where they tried so hard to make our experiences the very best. Note: Other Alaskan cruises seem to charge for every shore excursion; this cruise is all-inclusive. Think about that when you are comparing prices. What surprised me from the beginning was how the captain and crew, barely 4 hours after dropping off the passengers from the 11-day cruise from Sitka to Ketchikan, greeted us with so much excitement and enthusiasm - which was the tone for the entire trip. The Alaskan Dream is a catamaran-type ship, 40 passengers/ 20 cabins and, with the exception of 1 [I think], most are small with a shower/toilet combo. Don't let that deter you; everything fit in our cabin 304, and the shower curtain kept our mini-bathroom dry and gave us plenty of laughs.The food was outstanding; so good, our baker is one of three contestants going on "Cake Wars" after the cruise season! By the way, the cruise company provides each passenger with rain boots and a rain jacket and rain pants, on hooks just outside the cabins, so we didn't have to bring that stuff. The best things about the trip were the relaxed atmosphere [jeans at dinner, yea!], and the ability to stop and see whenever the opportunity presented itself. The captain would come on the intercom and say, "Folks, there's a pod of orcas around us, so we're going to stop for awhile" or "Folks, I know it's late, but if you want to put jackets on over your pajamas and come on deck, we're going to stop and watch the Northern Lights" or "We've got some black bears fishing on the shore to the left. We'll stop so you can get a good look." I feel like I was able to have a REAL Alaskan adventure. I'm ready to go again! Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
MY 50th bday was to do something from my parents bucket list. They wanted Alaska cruise, I wanted to experience Alaska, not 500 to 3,000 other passengers. WHat we got was so much more than expected. By the end of our first of 11 days on ... Read More
MY 50th bday was to do something from my parents bucket list. They wanted Alaska cruise, I wanted to experience Alaska, not 500 to 3,000 other passengers. WHat we got was so much more than expected. By the end of our first of 11 days on cruise, we pretty much knew everyone on board and the staff was already picking up everyone's nuances. Captain Eric made the effort for us to see even the most difficult. Chef Brie and her crew gave us 5 star dinning while they managed to feed my very plain meat and potato husband ( a running joke onboard ). I could go on and on about the small things that each staff member did to make the trip special. Leaving was so sad. You felt like you were saying goodbye to family, passenger and crew alike. I will never go on another large cruise agin, but I'd sail with them again in a heartbeat. The ship was nice and between serving and doing things with us the staff was always cleaning. The cabins were small and cozy (be realistic if your choosing to go on a small ship) and I wanted to bring that bed and bedding home because it was so comfy! I miss that bed as much as our dessert/bakers 3:00 cookies and our bartender's awesome drinks. The ports were great as were our evening lounge info sesssions. We researched and went out on one outside excursion to a dog sled camp, which was well worth the money. Our captain even took us verses us waiting for a van to pick us up. THis is a 40 passenger ship, I wouldn't bring kids. My husband is 44 and was the youngest passenger on ship. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
Fantastic trip for our 50th wedding anniversary. Crew and staff great, friendly -local and knowledgeable, all with various outdoor backgrounds pertinent to our trip. Perfect size ship, experienced captain most accommodating when wildlife ... Read More
Fantastic trip for our 50th wedding anniversary. Crew and staff great, friendly -local and knowledgeable, all with various outdoor backgrounds pertinent to our trip. Perfect size ship, experienced captain most accommodating when wildlife or scenery was notable... stopping often for our viewing and photographing pleasure. Crew helped us learn new skills, led great shore excursions, shared native lore, and provided ample opportunities for outdoor activities. Food was delightful, plated dinners with at least 3 major entrees nightly, and buffet breakfast and lunch worked well with our relaxed "schedules". Kitchen staff offered plenty of variety and great baked goodies daily. Such a delight to be so remote and 'unplugged'; we felt our interests were completely accommodated without being overwhelmed by activities. Loved how we cruised into remote wilderness areas that larger ships cannot reach including close to glacier-calving, and skiff to locations for nature walks. Weather was fabulous although we planned for anything. We are already planning another un-cruise adventure! Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
Right off the bat, I'll say that I would give this cruise 10 stars if I could! We couldn't have been any happier and the cruise and staff more than exceeded our expectations. There are so few reviews of this boat, that I was a ... Read More
Right off the bat, I'll say that I would give this cruise 10 stars if I could! We couldn't have been any happier and the cruise and staff more than exceeded our expectations. There are so few reviews of this boat, that I was a little worried about what we would find when we got there. The Alaskan Dream holds about 40 passengers and is a large catamaran, which makes it fairly speedy and very maneuverable. I couldn't picture what it would be like, but it's a very smooth ride and very functionally comfortable. There is no need to sign up for any shore excursions, because everything was included. We were whale watching all the time, bear watching, bird watching, with cultural activities, hiking and city tours every day. Plus free time in town, if we chose. During our voyage, we saw tons of humpback whales, fluking, breaching and even bubble net feeding. There were so many whales and they were so close that Alex, our boat Marine Biologist, mentioned that the odd smell we all could smell was whale breath!! The cool thing (one of them), is that whenever we saw whales, Captain Eric would follow them for as long as it was still interesting. In addition to humpback whales, we followed several pods of Orca Whales, including babies fluking and breaching. We followed them for an hour while several big ships cruised right by. I'm sure while we were enjoying an up close and personal experience, no one on the big boat even realized what was there....it was during the dinner hour on the big boat. Our dinner was postponed until the whales were out of sight. In addition to whales, we saw Momma bears and cubs along the shoreline. Captain Eric brought the boat as close as was allowed so we could see them feeding along the shore. We also went to the Anan Bear Conservancy, which ended up being a highlight. The bears were feeding on salmon while we were watching from a deck and a blind, just a few feet from the bears. We saw beautiful waterfalls and icebergs all over Tracy Arm and Glacier Bay. We even saw a moose at Barlett Cove. In Glacier Bay, we had a National Park Ranger on board, and he was very helpful identifying the animals and birds along the way to the glaciers. We saw Crested Puffins and Horned Puffins and many other sea birds, mountain goats, sea otters and sea lions. We were lucky enough to see several glaciers calve and were, close enough to feel the wave from the ice dropping into the water. Jno, our onboard Alaskan Cultural Expert explained the history and culture of the three native groups in this part of Alaska. We saw many totems, longhouses, dancers and families. All were very proud to share their culture and to educate us on the modern practices and bringing back the language and customs. It was equally as fun and interesting as the wildlife. The boat provided binoculars, rain boots and waterproof rain suits, that we wore several times when it got really cold or wet. When we were on the boat, I would wear flannel lined hiking pants, a winter "undershirt" and a light sweater underneath my lined raincoat. When it got really cold, and it did a few times, I would put the rain suit over everything. Now granted....I'm a tourist and spent a lot of time outside. I also wore a winter hat and gloves a few times. In the towns, jeans, hiking shoes and my lined jacket were adequate....and remember, this was the end of July. This area is a temperate rainforest, so it's wet all the time. The food on the boat was spectacular, as good as any very nice restaurant. I'm gluten free and every meal was presented beautifully prepared and delicious AND gluten free. Only on one other cruise (and we've done several), was I able to get gluten free meals without a hassle. We were in cabin 102 on the main level. It was small, but adequate. By the time we got in our cabin each day, we were usually ready to nap and the bed was comfy. The shoilet is interesting and takes some getting used to, but we had plenty of laughs about it! It's a toilet/ shower combo and small, but perfectly adequate. Everyday at 3:00 there were homemade, warm cookies and at 5:30 a new cocktail of the day and appetizers. The food, crew and staff were outstanding and personal. What you won't find is a casino, TV or a Broadway show or dress up night. Only bring functional clothes, which simplifies packing!! Almost half the boat was from Australia or New Zealand, a family from UK and the rest were from all over the US. A wonderful group that we enjoyed tremendously. Go for it!! You won't regret your time on the Alaskan Dream! Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
I had always wanted to see the Inside Passage, and family/friends who had gone said the only way was to go on a small ship. This ship has only 40 passengers, a full crew (chef, baker, bartender, etc. in addition to captain and his staff). ... Read More
I had always wanted to see the Inside Passage, and family/friends who had gone said the only way was to go on a small ship. This ship has only 40 passengers, a full crew (chef, baker, bartender, etc. in addition to captain and his staff). We were able to see lots of wildlife: whales, eagles, bear, moose, seals, otters, puffins, etc. and many incredible views of glaciers, mountains, icebergs and more. We had guided tours of two native villages/towns, which were both quite special, and saw many beautiful totem poles in those places, as well as Ketchikan and Sitka. We had day trips in Juneau and Wrangell. The food was always delicious, as well as the desserts (full time baker on board). A nice surprise was a bartender, who made special cocktails every day. There were kayaks available, so most of us kayaked a few times on the calm waters of the inside passage. Read Less
44 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
We just returned from the two week Ultimate Coves and Passages cruise with Un-Cruise on the Wilderness Explorer. I wanted to post this in an effort to help others considering sailing with Un-Cruise. Bottom line: The trip was fantastic ... Read More
We just returned from the two week Ultimate Coves and Passages cruise with Un-Cruise on the Wilderness Explorer. I wanted to post this in an effort to help others considering sailing with Un-Cruise. Bottom line: The trip was fantastic and far exceeded our expectations. We are definitely going to sail again with them. Now I must state this up front. We had rain on day one and day 14. In between we had the most gorgeous weather. The Captain said in all his years of sailing in Alaska ours had to be in the top 2 or 3 based on the weather. I say this so you know the perspective my comments are based upon. The Ship – Wilderness Explorer. We were in 309. The room had two twin beds. I’m 6’2” tall and I had to untuck the bedding on one corner for my feet to stick out. Personally it was no big deal for me and kind of comical. The shower is a typical square shower with which I had no problems. They have a removable European style shower head which makes rinsing easier. They provided a liquid shampoo and body gel dispenser in the shower. The bow sitting are is large and many passengers were there enjoying the weather. The lounge is nice as is the dining room. One issue we had every night every night was that both became very warm. The crew was willing to open windows but sometimes people complained so they were closed. The engine noise was negligible as we were so high and mid ship so it wasn’t an issue at night. We brought ear plugs but didn’t need them. The Crew – Nothing but glowing cudos for everyone. They work so hard with multiple responsibilities. The five Adventure Guides were VERY knowledgeable with every aspect of Alaska. Each evening they would give a presentation on Alaska history, geology or wildlife. Meals – This is one area I think could use some improvement. They weren’t bad but they weren’t great either. I’d give them a 5 on a 10 scale. Breakfast and lunch were served buffet style and were by far the best meals of the day. Dinner was plated and served to you. You were given a choice of a meat, seafood or vegetable entrée. If you’re expecting the French Laundry you’re going to be very disappointed. However, if you’re expecting Denney’s or IHOP you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Every morning from 6:30-7:30 there was a great continental breakfast in the lounge (regular breakfast starts at 7:30.) The continental breakfast was wonderful with fruit, fresh baked pastries and oatmeal. Adventures – Lot of fun. Most days you were able to do a morning and an afternoon activity. Each evening the Expedition Leader held “Six O’Clock News” to let use know what was happening the next day and listed the available activities which included a guided kayak trip, free paddle kayak (go on your own), paddle boarding, zodiac (inflatable boat) tour, hiking or the infamous “buskwacking”. Bushwacking is a hike in the Alaskan forest where there is no trail. You’re breaking your own trail through the brush and trees. You need to be in good shape for these and they are fun. We’ve never kayaked before and it was a breeze. These are “sea” kayaks and are virtually impossible to turn over. Photography – I’m an avid photographer and came loaded for bear (pun intened). I brought way too much. Leave the tripod at home. The ship is always moving, even when anchored. When the engine is off they still have a large generator running for power and I could feel it on my tripod legs. Do bring a monopod if you’re using a large lens to relieve your arms. 90% of my shooting was done with my 70-200 lens. While on hikes or the kayak I used my Olympus mirrorless DSLR but many had their large cameras on the kayaks. The other lens I used was my 24-105 during hikes. Bring lens cloths and cleaner. You’ll definitely need a dry bag for kayaking and riding on the zodiacs and some form of cover for shooting in drizzle and rain. Clothing: We WAY over packed here. We took clothes for one week. When the ship docks in Juno mid trip, Un-Cruise provides you a laundry bag and they have a laundry service on shore do all your laundry at no charge. There is a commercial dryer on the top deck for passenger use. We packed a lot of cold weather layers we never used. If you have rubber boots definitely take them. If not, you can rent a pair for $25 for the trip. If you have very small or large feet consider bringing your own. We brought hiking boots and shoes. Should have left the boots at home. Bring a comfortable pair of sandals or tennis shoes to wear on the boat. Bring quick dry clothing as it will get wet. We had all Columbia pants and shirts and they worked fine. Definitely bring rain gear (jacket and pants). Bring wool socks. Bring warm gloves. There were times early in the morning or on the zodiacs where warm gloves were a blessing. Bring water booties/shoes for in the kayaks. You’re feet for the most part stay dry but you don’t want you’re regular shoes getting wet by chance. Bring layers. I had a warm vest I wore under my rain jacket and that was fine. Bring t-shirts as it was warm. Misc: Leave your hiking sticks at home. They have plenty on the ship for you to use. Bring snacks (trail mix etc). There is NO internet on this cruise so be prepared. Every so often if the ship sailed near civilization you might pick up a weak signal but that rarely happened. There is a very nice library containing books on every aspect of Alaskan life and history. Great reading. Each room was provided a set of binoculars so no need to bring your own unless you really like yours. Well I hope this helps someone. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
This small ship experience is as good as it gets! This was higher priced than the big ships but twice the Alaska experience and ten times the service and included activities. Incredible wines and top shelf liquors included. We had the ... Read More
This small ship experience is as good as it gets! This was higher priced than the big ships but twice the Alaska experience and ten times the service and included activities. Incredible wines and top shelf liquors included. We had the smoothest and fastest embarkation and disembarkation ever. The owner even came on the ship the last day to say goodbye. All the crew members lines up to shake you had or give you a hug when you got off the ship. Very emotional for all the passengers. Most guests were couples of all ages and a few singles. One couple even got engaged on the ship. Young children might have been bored, but they do have special sailings to include kid activities. This was our 5th Alaskan Cruise but by far the best of all. We are going on a family Alaskan Cruise trip in a few month on a large ship but will miss the Un-Cruise experience . Un-Cruises are the very best!!!! Read Less
19 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
Alaska had always intrigued us. We had associated it with the Artic, oil, Anchorage, amazing scenery, wildlife and large cruise ships. The amazing scenery and wildlife were of interest to us but not the large cruise ships. Then someone ... Read More
Alaska had always intrigued us. We had associated it with the Artic, oil, Anchorage, amazing scenery, wildlife and large cruise ships. The amazing scenery and wildlife were of interest to us but not the large cruise ships. Then someone told us about the Inside Passage. We discovered that we could explore this on a small ship. So we booked a seven night trip from Ketchikan to Juneau with Un-Cruise Adventures. We and the 58 other passengers on the Safari Endeavour were treated to an amazing experience by 35 enthusiastic crew members. We went at the beginning of May expecting cold weather and rain most days. Southeast Alaska is the thin coastal part of Alaska north of Vancouver. It can be very wet as the annual rainfall is 1,550 mm. We were told to bring layers of clothing, raingear, wellington boots, gloves, scarves and beanies. In the event apart from some drizzle in Ketchikan, there was no rain, the skies were blue every day on the ship, and the sun shone during the day. While we took some cold weather clothing, the raingear and wellington boots were provided on the ship. We were told that May and September are the best months to explore the Inside Passage, and so we were very fortunate to have picked May. We were on Safari Endeavour’s first trip of the season. The crew was fresh and enthusiastic. The ship wasn’t full (it can take 84 passengers). The people in the three small towns we visited during the week were happy to see us. The curator of the excellent Ketchikan museum told us: “We can’t wait for the cruise ships to arrive at the start of the season, and we can’t wait for them to leave at the end of the season!” At the height of the season there can be as many as five large cruise ships - each with more than 2,000 passengers - in any of these small ports at one time. The number of visiting tourists then outnumbers the number of local residents significantly. We flew from Seattle to Ketchikan. From the 1800s this small isolated frontier town has relied on fishing, salmon canning, timber and the occasional gold strike. These days fishing and the large cruise ship tourists are the main source of income for the town. We spent a night in Ketchikan at the Inn on Creek Street, an old Victorian hotel with an excellent restaurant next door. Creek Street was the red-light district up until the 1950s. The next morning we walked up along the creek past the original houses on ‘Married Men’s Walk’, named for its original purpose! At the top of the creek is a salmon run which helps the salmon migrate upstream in June. That’s when the bears come out of hibernation to feed. We spent time in the museum and walked along the waterfront where there was one very large cruise ship and our own very small ship away in the distance. We were glad that we were on the small one! We had a comfortable twin-bedded cabin on the Safari Endeavour. It had generous storage and a small but adequate en suite. The food on board was excellent. It was varied and delicious, very attractively presented, served by a small team of staff, and cooked by a small team of real professionals. The chef came into the dining room every day to give us a description of the food to be served at lunch and dinner. There was a choice of a vegetarian or other option, and he also catered for other special requests. One afternoon the chef gave us a tour of his galley. What his team produced in such a small space was miraculous. The barman in the lounge, Daniel, created different cocktails and served special snacks every evening. As an added bonus all the drinks were included in the price of the trip! The Southeast Alaskan scenery is stunning. There are vast empty seascapes, with high mountains covered with rain forest and still capped with snow in May. Everywhere there were high waterfalls cascading the melting snow down into the sea. Most mornings we anchored in a secluded bay, and were given the option of at least two activities – a walk (easy, more difficult or a bushwack), kayaking, paddle boarding, or a trip on a skiff (a large 14-person rubber duck). Swimming could also be an option, but the water was freezing at this time! Each activity was led by a guide, each of whom was an expert in wildlife. One specialized in bears, another in whales, and another in sea otters and sea lions. One of the guides gave an illustrated talk on their subject in the lounge after dinner most nights. Lindsay, the whale expert, had studied whales in Namibia and South Africa. When she took us out on a skiff in Traitors Cove and spotted a pod of humpback whale, she whooped with joy. One day we stopped in Wrangell, an isolated town of only 2,400 inhabitants with a small fishing harbour. Noticeable was the large stack of shipping containers. This is because the only access to all the towns in Southeast Alaska is by sea or air. We were treated here to a presentation about the local Indian culture, the Tlingit tribe, in a replica Indian long plank house. There was also an excellent small museum in the town which gave us a good insight into life here in the early settler days. On other days we walked in a rain forest, kayaked for the first time, walked along a beach exploring all the pools and beach life, and went out in skiffs exploring the scenery in other isolated locations. We saw many sea animals - whales (mostly humpbacks and some orcas), seals, sea lions and sea otters. These otters intrigued us. They swim on their backs with a small rock under one of their flippers. They use this to smash their catch before swimming off with the rock safely back in place! Bird life is fairly limited apart from Bald Eagles. They look like the African Fish Eagle but with a different call. Also fairly common are flocks of guillimots. They spend much of the time under water before coming up in a different spot. On land we had hoped to see brown and black bears and moose. It was too early to see the bears although one was spotted on the shore one day. On one of our walks our guide saw the backside of a departing moose. All we saw was its spoor and droppings. On the last day we sailed 55 km. up the Endicott Arm to the most amazing Dawes Glacier. The ship could not anchor as the fjord is 800 feet deep. We all climbed into the skiffs and went up close to the glacier. We watched as it was calving (large parts falling off into the fjord). This was one of the highlights of the week – as was the celebration afterwards. Our guide took us into a sheltered rocky cove and produced hot chocolate laced with peppermint schnapps – a brilliant drink! On the way back to the ship, she picked up a small piece of glacier ice from the fjord, and offered us shots of peppermint schnapps over ice! And to make this last day even more special while watching whales after dinner, we caught a glimpse of the northern lights! We ended our week in Juneau, the capital of Alaska. It’s another small frontier town with some impressive state administration buildings squashed in between the sea and the mountains. Over breakfast the Un-Cruise chief executive came on board and greeted us warmly. The vibe among the crew made all the difference to this trip. They all mucked in and did everything. The waiting staff also cleaned the cabins; the captain and his officers, as well as the massage and yoga staff, helped launch and organise the returning skiffs and kayaks for the activities. The whole atmosphere was very personal. On the last night at dinner the captain introduced every single member of the staff, and when we disembarked the following morning, each member of staff was on the quay to bid us goodbye. Alaska’s Inside Passage is amazing. It’s scenery and wildlife are incredible, and taking a small ship with such personal attention is the way to go! Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2015
In late June of 2015 we took our grandson, nearly 11, on an intergenerational trip. There were over 40 passengers plus the crew. It wasn't luxury - our small room had a double bed, a single bed, a sink and a separate combined toilet ... Read More
In late June of 2015 we took our grandson, nearly 11, on an intergenerational trip. There were over 40 passengers plus the crew. It wasn't luxury - our small room had a double bed, a single bed, a sink and a separate combined toilet and shower. But the beds were comfortable and we succeeded in unpacking everything and getting along well on the trip. Since the days were very long - the sun set around 11 pm - we needed and had good light protection in front of the large window in our room. We got on the ship by transferring at sea from a catamaran. Everyone made it with no problems. The cooks did a great job and all the meals were excellent with reasonable choices for those who weren't fond of fish. The trip was very educational and included stops at three different tribal villages where we learned about customs and, for two of the tribes, dances. All our stops were both educational and interesting. The day at Hobart Bay, exclusive to Allen Marine who owns and operates Admiralty Dream, was outstanding. Not only was it a beautiful spot, but the four different activities were excellent. The trip down Tracy Arm was both spectacular and great for taking pictures. The captain was able to get us quite close to South Sawyer Glacier and everyone enjoyed this opportunity. The stop at Orca Point Lodge was a highlight. The meal of unlimited fresh crab legs was outstanding. The morning in Juneau was just OK, partly because of rain, but seeing the Mendenhall Glacier in the afternoon without rain was excellent. We ended in Sitka on a beautiful day and we were able to see tourists sights. The whole trip was great and the Admiralty Dream was important in making this possible. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2014
I have to agree expensive paintings and jewelery auctions were a bit too much. The casino was a wasted space as far as we were concerned, and did not seem to be populated most of the time. We went to have a good time not rub elbows with ... Read More
I have to agree expensive paintings and jewelery auctions were a bit too much. The casino was a wasted space as far as we were concerned, and did not seem to be populated most of the time. We went to have a good time not rub elbows with the rich and famous. Service was great, the crew were helpful and friendly. Dinner menu's were elegant and deserts divine. Even though lobster was offered one night, I expected on an Alaskan cruise, Alaskan King Crab would also be a selected choice. It was not. The Oceanview Cafe, floor 14, was always busy. There was a huge selection of foods, however, finding a table and having your food still warm proved to be doubtful. Service at the tables for a beverage other than what was available on the floor was slow at first, but picked up as the days went on. The Mast Grill had great burgers and dogs. Seating was limited. People seemed to enjoy the pools and sauna's. The exercise room looked well equipped though I never saw many people there when I passed by. Our stateroom was roomy and comfortable with our balcony a pleasure. The steward and his assistant were the best. Having our beds turned down and finding towel crafted critters and chocolates on our pillows was a pleasant surprise. The hallways seemed to lengthen every time we went back to our stateroom. Most of the big stage entertainment was OK. I expected more on a ship of this magnitude. Lounge entertainment was pretty good while enjoying a drink in the evening before retiring. The educational shows were informative and interesting. The glass blowing exhibits were a nice addition and attendance was usually packed. Even though this ship exhibited favor to the wealthy, we were never treated by passengers or crew any differently than anyone else. The watch sale on 8-6 for an hour was a nice touch. I think I got a great buy at about 80% off retail. Over all, since this was our first cruise in 16 years and have nothing recent to compare to, we had a great time and were catered to beyond our dreams.   Read Less
Sail Date: August 2014
We did the sea and land package, there were 8 of us in our group. Before we left there were a few changes in our transfer and then our flights were moved ahead a whole day. I CANNOT stress enough the importance of booking your air through ... Read More
We did the sea and land package, there were 8 of us in our group. Before we left there were a few changes in our transfer and then our flights were moved ahead a whole day. I CANNOT stress enough the importance of booking your air through the cruise line if you do not plan on arriving a day or two early. HAL took great care of us and we also had the additional help of our travel agents in Michigan. HAL Representatives communicated with us every step of the way and met us at the airport to help guide us to our 5 star accommodations that were conveniently located in downtown Vancouver. I do not look forward to any cruise ship dining experience I just don't love food that much, and quite honestly it all begins to taste the same after about day 3. The Pinnacle Grill was excellent (it costs extra, we had a free dinner and lunch). I liked the 48 hour rule of not allowing the guests to self serve themselves in the Lido dining room. If I could offer one suggestion it would be to learn how to keep the food warmer, nothing ever seemed hot. When we got to the land portion I was amazed at how well organized it was. All in all, the trip was wonderful the scenery spectacular the weather better than we expected and the overall experience priceless. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2014
In 2013, My Mother-in-Law called me and said we are taking the entire family to Alaska for their 50th Wedding Anniversary but they wanted me to research the cruiseline options because they didn't want a big ship and you we had gone ... Read More
In 2013, My Mother-in-Law called me and said we are taking the entire family to Alaska for their 50th Wedding Anniversary but they wanted me to research the cruiseline options because they didn't want a big ship and you we had gone on a small cruise line before. I was thrilled and terrified as my husbands family (His sister and her husband their two kids and our two kids plus our in-laws all have very different interests and I wasn't sure how this was going to work. The small cruise line we had sailed before was Star Clipper but they don't sail in Alaska. A bit of Internet reach turned up Un-Cruise adventures and specifically their Kids in Nature cruise. It was perfect!!! My husband, 11-year old twin nieces, and my 12 year old son love challenging hikes. My 15 year old daughter hates anything too physically challenging but loves to find a quiet inspiring spot to curl up and work on the novel she has been writing since she was 13. I just love Nature. My Mother-in-law loves anthropology, shopping, and any awe inspiring site. My father-in law loves photography. My brother-in-law loves to find a quiet spot to read and my sister in law just goes with it all. Needless to say Un-Cruise had something for everyone. Choose your level of difficulty for hikes and physical activities. A terrific Child Wrangler (not a baby sitter!) but a head camp counselor who helped arrange social activities for the kids and made the activities interesting and fun. Amazing scenery for those that preferred to just hang out. Polar bear plunges for my action adventure junkies. Plenty of great photography! The crew is warm and approachable. The owner of the line met us at the end and genuinely wanted to know if we had a good time. The sites we saw where amazing. The guides phenomenal. Compared with Star Clipper the ship isn't as elegant. Think floating wilderness lodge vs. elegant but the action adventure was awesome! And every shore excursion is included. The craft beer was lovely. The food isn't gourmet but its plentiful and wholesome and hits the spot after a day of adventure. No one goes hungry. The animals are amazing! Bear, salmon, sea otters, moose star fish, Whales and more whales! Glaciers are a spiritual experience. You get up close and personal. We also did the land excursion to Denali. It was terrific but a bit too short would have liked it to be a day or two longer. I would definitely do this again but come to the experience that this is floating wilderness adventure lodge vs. elegant pampered cruise. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2014
My husband and I took the Wilderness Discoverer from Ketchikan to Juneau last week. We’d taken this ship and this itinerary two years before, so we knew what it would be like and were looking forward to it! In many ways, it was even ... Read More
My husband and I took the Wilderness Discoverer from Ketchikan to Juneau last week. We’d taken this ship and this itinerary two years before, so we knew what it would be like and were looking forward to it! In many ways, it was even better the second time. We were blessed with the same wonderful weather as last time but the caprices of nature (especially in Alaska) and the Captain’s ability to divert to more interesting places that aren’t on the itinerary mean that every trip is different. Embarkation and debarkation: Fast and smooth due to the small vessel size. They offer a "hospitality suite" at either end, but it's basically a large, windowless conference room with tables, chairs and just coffee and water supplied. Don't plan on spending a lot of time in them. Both Juneau and Ketchikan have plenty of places to explore and the Cape Fox lodge is a good choice for a leisurely lunch. The ship: A good, solid vessel bought from American Safari Cruises after their bankruptcy and thoroughly refurbished. Staterooms are small and unpretentious (those on the top deck are larger), with plenty of hooks inside and outside for hanging things up. View windows are good-sized with effective blackout curtains. 200-level rooms are much closer to the noises of the engine and the anchor; we stayed in 300-level this year and there was a difference. Most of the 200- level is taken up by the lounge, the main indoor public area. It’s a good size for the passenger capacity; it never felt crowded except a meal times (a bit). There are also outdoor decks that are open; the fantail on 400 is the largest, and has some exercise equipment (partly sheltered by a clear plastic curtain on one side). Morning yoga and afternoon stretch classes (both free) are held here daily. When the ship is at anchor, the 200 stern deck has kayaks and paddleboards available to anyone. I’ve never had to wait for a kayak. You’re free to explore within some pretty reasonable boundaries the crew will tell you (they don’t want you out of sight of the boat and you aren’t permitted to beach the boat and go ashore). Ship stability: very good. I've probably got average susceptibility to seasickness; I can't handle deep-se fishing in the gulfstream without meds- but on both cruises we had significant rocking only at night (presumably traveling in more open waters) and I found it very relaxing. It helped me sleep! Dramamine is available for free if they think it will be turbulent. The food: I love their philosophy on food. This is not a 24/7 moving feast and no one is trying to out-eat or out-drink anyone else. The food is very good, well-prepared from as many fresh ingredients as possible. Salads were always a variety of greens; I’m not sure I ever saw iceberg lettuce. A typical menu is shown. Breakfast and lunch is buffet style; dinner is served plated. There were always good vegetarian selections. If you didn’t like anything on the menu, the staff were very accommodating in making you something else. Excursions: This is my favorite part of UnCruise. Every night they tell you about the available excursions the next day. They can be guided kayak trips, skiff excursions, bushwhacking hikes, easier shore hikes… something for everyone. The staff is very clear about the demands of each excursion so you can choose something that suits your abilities and interests. No extra charges except the snorkeling which was all of $35. (That included use of a lot of expensive wet-suiting plus snorkel and fins.) While the snorkeling was in water temps in the low 40s, it was pretty interesting. I saw a lot of beautiful sea stars, some ribbon worms, a few jellyfish (no danger- I was padded), a couple of anemones and a nudibranch. We were in the water a little over an hour. Make sure your wet suit is just short of being too tight. My first cruise, I got one that was a little looser and the layer of water between my body and the suit was too much for my body heat to warm up. This time the suit was tighter and I was a lot more comfortable. That layer of water should be THIN! I also loved the bushwhacking hikes- this is pretty much virgin forest. Another hike led to El Capital Cave (there was a series of elevated ramps and steps up the mountain on that one), where the rangers told me only about 500 people per year visit. Note that the ship supplies rubber boots. Bring your own if you want, but we were fine on both trips using boots from the ship’s supply, with heavy wool socks. Whales: This isn't Sea World, so no one can promise that whales will jump up in front of your camera on cue, but this crew knows where to find them and has the flexibility to stop where they are and enjoy them. Thursday night on this cruise, we were in the middle of a group of whales creating a bubble net to trap fish. They were on all sides of the boat, floating and then diving. I even got a picture of an orca. It was far away but hey, it was my first orca. They kept the boat in the area till 11:15 PM so we could make the most of it. The crew: UnCruise must hire very carefully. The crew are uniformly helpful and the ones who guide the excursions generally have advanced degrees in fields such as marine biology. They are passionate about Alaska. Sarah, our guide on one hike, was just thrilled to encounter this leopard-spotted sea slug and cooed at it and petted it till its little eye stalks emerged. Folding your jammies into animal shapes is not in their job description. Explaining how glaciers recede is! They were exceptionally helpful when my husband needed medical attention for a flare-up of gout. The good news was that it was the day before we were scheduled to be in port at a small town (Klawock). The request was promptly relayed to the captain, who found the name of the local medical center and gave me the number. It was a short walk from the dock and my husband got the attention and meds he needed (after an inexpensive taxi trip to the Whale’s Tail Pharmacy in Craig, the next town- all part of the adventure). We were back on the ship before the group that had taken the tour of Klawock returned, although one passenger later said the crew had told him they NEVER leave anywhere without all of their passengers. We were glad we didn’t have to test that. Your fellow passengers: This is a group that’s doing pretty well in order to spend this much on a vacation, but no one is trying to impress anyone else. I’m sure most of the group had bling, bespoke suits and ballgowns at home, but we don’t want to drag them with us on vacation. The stateroom doors didn’t even lock. We mostly met smart, curious people who were as interested as we were in our surroundings. One night before dinner I heard an animated conversation about some unfamiliar animal droppings a group had seen on the trail; based on its apparent contents (seeds, fruits) they were trying to figure out what kind of animal it was. Our kind of people! Finally, for those of you who are trying to reconcile the “spending your kids’ inheritance” prices and the unpretentious nature of the vessel, here are a few things to note. The ship is a US-flagged vessel. They pay their crew by US standards and are subject to US laws. On our first cruise, 3 out of the 25 crew members were licensed captains. We liked that. Second, you are not an income stream. Nearly every on-board activity and offshore excursion is covered by the stated cost. (Exceptions: massages, alcohol and specialty coffees, and the snorkeling excursion I took). Our total for uncovered amounts, which included my snorkeling excursion as well as our alcohol bill, was $121 before gratuities. The latter are voluntary (5-10% is suggested) and NOT added automatically to your bill. They do not get kickbacks from stores in port (too few passengers, only one stop was in an actual town, pop. 845). They provide funding for park rangers at El Capitan caves and for lecturers for the mostly-Tlingit village of Klawock. UnCruise is aimed at a very non-traditional section of the cruise market and we’re happy to see that they’re expanding their reach to cruises in Hawaii, Baja, Washington State and the Glapagos (in the near future). For us and for many people, this is the way to cruise! Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2014
We originally booked an Alaska cruise with Oceania, but it was from Vancouver to San Francisco, making any significant excursions to Denali National Park or Fairbanks difficult. Our agent recommended a Regent Seven Seas cruise ending in ... Read More
We originally booked an Alaska cruise with Oceania, but it was from Vancouver to San Francisco, making any significant excursions to Denali National Park or Fairbanks difficult. Our agent recommended a Regent Seven Seas cruise ending in Anchorage and then a land package through another travel company. When I went to their site, I found Un-Cruise, and having enjoyed hotel barge cruises in France, we decided that a small ship approach would be something we might enjoy. We did a seven-day cruise from Ketchikan to Juneau. Here's the deal. If you want butler service, formal dinners, gigantic cabins, and lots of excursions, this is not the ship for you. If you want to see Alaska (or one of the other Un-Cruise destinations) up close and personal, this is the way to do it. We watched the 145-foot, 36-passenger Safari Explorer pull into port in Ketchikan early in the morning on our departure day. It was docked alongside four gigantic cruise ships and the difference was stunning. We gathered at the Cape Fox Lodge in the late afternoon for a welcome session with our shipmates and an introduction to the Tlinglit tribal culture from one of the elders of the tribe. We boarded a small bus to go to the dock. We were greeted by most of the 15-person crew, including the delightful Captain Mike Bennett. A crew member showed us to our room and our luggage was there waiting for us. There were only 24 passengers on board for our week, giving us an even better chance to get to know our fellow travelers. They were mostly 50+, well-heeled folks, who are experienced travelers, and the majority were Americans. This was the ninth Un-Cruise trip for one couple so they obviously were pleased with their experiences with the line. The staff was outstanding -- personable, knowledgeable, attentive, accommodating -- and seemed genuinely interested in ensuring that the passengers had a good cruise. We had an expedition leader and an expedition guide to take us on hikes, shore walks, or skiff rides. The two young women knew a lot about the local flora and fauna and were quick to share their knowledge. The Luxury cruises have a little less emphasis on adventure, but guests were able to decide every day what they wanted to do. Some chose more strenuous or adventurous pursuits -- visiting a cave, taking a long hike, or kayaking. Others chose less strenuous shore walks, skiff rides, or stayed on board for a massage or to nap, read, talk, or work on a jigsaw puzzle. The day we spent at Dawes Glacier was spectacular for everyone, whether staying or board, paddling up close in a kayak, or viewing it from a skiff. Hearing the thunderous sound of a glacier calving and passing close by the "bergy bits" of ice, some with seals lounging on top, is an experience you'll never forget. This is not the type of cruise where you cruise all night to get to a port so you can get on a coach to go on an excursion. The ship generally travels during the day. When we encountered a pod of Orcas, the ship stopped, passengers gathered on the bow with their cameras, and our guides were there to talk to us about the whales, their behavior, where they are found, how they stick together in pods, etc. There was only one scheduled port visit during the week, in Klawock, where we toured a native tribal village in the company of several members of the tribe. They walked us through town, showed off their hand-carved wooden competition canoe, their clan meeting hall, the carving center where totem poles are made, and the park where more than 20 totems can be seen. Most nights, we anchored in an inlet or cove without any other ships in sight. The galley is staffed by a chef and a pastry chef and it's amazing how flexible they are able to be in meeting passenger food preferences. Continental breakfast is set out every morning at 6:30 am -- fresh fruits, cold cereal, oatmeal, juice, and some sort of pastry. Full breakfast is served at 8 am. The stewards come to each table and let you know what the breakfast special is that day -- for example, a spinach and Swiss cheese quiche or a Greek yogurt, fruit, and granola parfait. If you don't want the special, you can order what you want -- for example, eggs to order, bacon, and an English muffin or a bowl of oatmeal. Toward the end of breakfast, the chef comes to the dining room and describes what he has planned for lunch and dinner. Lunch was usually sandwiches, wraps, or salads and dessert. There were three courses for dinner -- usually soup or salad to start, then three choices of entree for dinner each night -- one meat, one fish, and one vegetarian, and finally dessert. The stewards would them come back to each table and ask each guest (by name by the second day on board) what they wanted for lunch and dinner. Again, they were willing to accommodate special requests. Give me a sandwich for lunch instead of the salad. Or, I'd prefer a green salad to the potatoes with my dinner entree. Mid-afternoon, the pastry chef put out a snack -- brownies, cookies, etc. At 6 pm, the passengers gathered for cocktails and there was a different appetizer each night -- crab in puff pastry, tacquitos, chips and guacamole, etc. Speaking of cocktail hour, drinks are included in your fare, unless you want something premium, like a high-end bottle of champagne or wine from the onboard "wine library." And if there isn't a steward behind the bar, passengers are welcome to mix their own drinks or pour themselves a glass of wine. Wine is served with dinner. If you don't like what they are offering, you may request something else from the bar selection. A few other things to mention about the Un-Cruise experience. There is a massage therapist/yoga instructor on the crew. She taught a yoga class on the sun deck every morning at 7 am. I really enjoyed her classes despite my lack of experience with yoga. There also is a hot tub on that deck and a dry sauna. There are lounge chairs but it was still a little early in the season for sunbathing in Alaska in late May. The ship has an open bridge policy so at any hour of the day or night, as long as the door to the bridge is open, passengers are welcome to hang out there. Several passengers from our group took to spending time on the bridge with binoculars scanning for wildlife. We saw plenty of it during our trip: orcas and humpbacks, porpoises, sea otters, seals, black and brown bears, Dall sheep, and more bald eagles and other birds that you can imagine. There is no Internet package to buy and you are not in range of cell towers for most of the trip, at least not on our itinerary. There is a flat-screen TV in the cabins but no cable TV (except for one channel showing wildlife videos and another with the daily schedule). Dress is very casual, especially since there's a fair amount of hiking and exploring on shore. Onboard, most guests stuck with "REI casual" -- fleece, hiking pants, and so on. No problem with coming to dinner in jeans and a sweatshirt. No laundry facilities are available on the ship for passenger use. That's a lot of detail, but I wish we'd known a lot of this beforehand. Bottom line? It's not an inexpensive trip, but it was worth every dollar. We would go again in a heartbeat. In fact, we put down a deposit for our next Un-Cruise before we left the ship. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Un-Cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2014
Enjoyed a cruise in mid-May that left from Seattle ,Washington and went to three Alaskan ports and also a visit to Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Awesome trip..... the staff of the cruise ship are VERY attentive, I don't think I ... Read More
Enjoyed a cruise in mid-May that left from Seattle ,Washington and went to three Alaskan ports and also a visit to Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Awesome trip..... the staff of the cruise ship are VERY attentive, I don't think I have ever been asked so many times, how things were going? Is there anything you need? Are you enjoying your cruise? The staff were very intune to cruisers needs and did a great job making sure everything was good. The shore excursions were fun , very educational and enlightening . The disembarkation was easy every day, lines move along quickly and you were off the ship and ready to sightsee without any problems. Embarkation was just as easy in Seattle, as every day in the ports. The lines moved along and the the process was easy. I had only been on one cruise before, but it has definitely made me want to go on another cruise. The freestyle dining is okay, the food was good, nothing that special. The Japanese restaurant on board the ship was excellent and the food was delicious there. Food was certainly not a problem since there are many places on board to eat that didn't cost extra. I would definitely recommend the Norwegian Jewel for a cruise. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2013
This cruise was to be my daughter and my last big trip together before she graduates from High School. We had some very high expectations and all were met and exceeded on this trip.  We traveled with a group of 12 Girl Scouts and parents. ... Read More
This cruise was to be my daughter and my last big trip together before she graduates from High School. We had some very high expectations and all were met and exceeded on this trip.  We traveled with a group of 12 Girl Scouts and parents. It took us all 2 years to earn the money so our expectations were very high. This trip has something for everyone the high energy girls, the adults and one member who suffers from a chronic arthritic condition. The activities were diverse enough that everyone found something to do all day long every day. Can't say enough about the Naturalists on the ship, they really knew all about the local flora and fauna as well as sea life. The girls learned so much by being immersed in the wilderness, going on kayak adventures, hiking a to a muskeg, visiting a Tlingit Village, cave exploring, seeing Dawes glacier calving and seeing all the wildlife up close was beyond our expectations. We especially liked being tucked away in a cove or up a river and not seeing anyone else but those on the ship. The food was excellent the cabins were perfect for our needs as we only slept in them, we were always away on adventure, outside viewing nature or enjoying time with all the guests from around the world. I can't say enough about our trip other than when you can get teen girls on a trip with no cell service and no internet for most of the week and no one complains you are doing something right! Read Less

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