My late husband and I took Uncruise twice within Alaska and loved it- it was exactly what we were looking for. Up close and personal with nature, staff who really knew their stuff about what you were seeing on hikes and other excursions. ... Read More
My late husband and I took Uncruise twice within Alaska and loved it- it was exactly what we were looking for. Up close and personal with nature, staff who really knew their stuff about what you were seeing on hikes and other excursions. good, locally-sourced food but food was not the 24/7 focus of the trip. Fellow travelers friendly, curious, down-to-earth, everyone leaves their egos and their bling at home, There are no locks on the doors.
This new destination did not disappoint. For this cruise, we met in a lounge at the Hotel Bristol in Panama City, which was a VERY good choice for my two-night stay. I brought a sandwich from the convenience store down the road; offerings in the hospitality suite were mostly coffee, tea, water and mini-pastries. We filled out immigration forms and handed in passports, which were kept by the crew all week so that we didn’t have to bother with formalities when we crossed borders.
There was a mix of ages, mostly older and middle-aged. The vast majority were repeat customers, some on their third or fourth cruise with the company.
Panama Canal: I booked this trip for the nature aspect and the fact that it transited the Canal was a “nice-to-have”. It turned out to be a spectacular start to the trip. We made a 2-hour visit to the Visitor’s Center, where we could see ships transiting the new segment of the Canal and saw a video on the construction of the new section. Another example of why UnCruise is a class act: there was an admission charge and I was ready to hand over my credit card and found that a crew member was handing out tickets. Cost of passage depends on time of day, size of ship, load, etc. but for our ship was probably $20-$25K, maybe $850K for bigger ships.
I retired early after we’d passed through three locks; projected time to the Pacific side was at 1 AM, which was well past my bedtime. The time was spent in interesting conversations with my fellow passengers, watching the locks open and close and watching the giant ships around us.
Food: 2 or 3 entrée choices, always a vegetarian option, dessert at lunch and dinner. Seconds for those who wanted it. Chocolate ice cream was a popular dessert substitute! Lunch examples: chicken gyro, either beef or roasted vegetables on a tostada. Dinner: ropas Viejas, fish prepared in various styles, vegetable curry, seared ahi tuna, plaintain-encrusted chicken, plaintain-encrusted tofu. Breakfast- Costa Rican beans and rice, chorizo sausage, eggs Benedict, steel-cut oatmeal, vegetable frittata. Early bird breakfast at 6:30 AM included fruit, some type of fresh pastry and a variety of overnight oatmeal. It really felt like I was eating two breakfasts! Lunch and dinner had 3 menu options, one always vegetarian. Staff easily handled requests such as gluten-free, no onions. etc.
No Wi-fi- on PC open to guests with maybe a 15-minute limit would be an improvement for those of us whose cell phones didn't have an international option in the plan. Crew- a mix of US-based but including local guides and skiff operators. All switched easily between English and Spanish, including one whose mother tongue was one of the indigenous languages. The guides were knowledgeable and LOVED to tell you about their country (they were mostly Costa Ricans).
I was traveling solo and had a great time. The staff was friendly and couples didn't always stick together at excursions or early breakfasts or out on the decks so at any point I might be talking with just one of them. Seating for meals is not assigned so I ended up dining at least once with just about everyone. All alcohol included and it's good stuff. I did note in my comments that I would prefer buffet lunch- lunch was at 12:30 and sometimes that was too close if your excursion was at 1:40.
All excursions included and carefully explained the night before so you didn't end up on one that was too strenuous. My favorites were the snorkeling trips. The last day I kayaked, snorkeled, swam and hiked on the same day.
Fitness- they have a few machines on one deck. Nothing to write home about but the swimming, hiking, kayaking, etc. are plenty! Yoga every morning at 6:15 AM. I did not partake. I had an excellent massage- included in the cost.
This line caters to a very specific market who doesn't want a floating shopping mall, do not need to be treated like deposed European royalty by staff from developing countries, and who care about the environment and the culture of the places they visit. I've already put down a deposit on my next cruise- my 4th- most likely the Sea of Cortez!
The lounge has a library with board games, tons of books on the wildlife and history of the area and even charts of the constellations. Yes, it's that kind of crowd. Read Less