UnCruise Hawaii Cruise Review - An Amazing Trip
By Ken Montgomery, 4th time UnCruise passenger Jan 2018
The UnCruise trip from Kona to Molokai (northbound)was a wonderful trip In so many ways. We were on the Safari Explorer for 7 nights. We embarked on Saturday Jan 27th, 2018. There were 33 passengers & 16 crew. There are 18 staterooms. We saw lots of whales, dolphins, turtles, Manta Rays and lots of reef fish.
Every UnCruise Hawaii trip will have a different itinerary due to weather factors - mainly wind and seas. We had calm winds and seas for the most part, so we were able to stay to the original cruise plan.
Saturday embarkation day. - passengers had to get their bags to the Hapuna Prince Resort Hotel ( 45 minutes north of Kona) by 3pm. There was a gathering room in the hotel for the UnCruisers. The bags were then taken to the ship and placed in the state rooms. At 4:30 the Cruise Activity leader Travis introduced himself and gave a quick cruise briefing, then we all loaded on a bus for a 10 minute ride to the ship. We were shown to our cabins, then had the lifeboat drill and free time till dinner @ 6:30. The dinner started with the welcome aboard drink and welcome from the captain and introduction of the crew.
After dinner, Travis explained tomorrow’s activities based on current weather & wind forecasts. There was a documentary or a talk about Hawaii on the cabin TV or in the lounge every night. The crew anchored the ship Saturday night off Kona. The ship had a gentle rock to it.
After breakfast we got ready for our first snorkel trip - south of Kona. Great water clarity and fish. Fins and masks were given to each passenger’s approximate sizes. They had plenty of extra fins and masks in case the ones given to you didn’t fit. Your gear was stowed in lockers on the bottom deck by cabin number. We then learned how to use their skiffs for snorkeling.
A fresh water shower & island punch awaited returning snorkelers. Lunch followed and we spent the afternoon positioning the boat for our evening adventure north of Kona. We saw a few whales along the way.
Sunday Night - a light dinner was served at 5pm. At 6 we had a briefing about our evening snorkel trip to see Manta Rays feeding. An outside vendor brought in wetsuits for everyone, which were needed. We took the skiffs out to the location where the Rays were feeding and we broke into 5 groups with about 6 people hanging onto each surfboard. A leader would tow us around the area so the passengers just focused on looking down at the action. We saw plenty of Manta Rays, a truly amazing experience. We were in the water about 45 minutes. Even with the wetsuits, many of us were a little cold and were ready to head back to a warm shower. This was the wildlife highlight for me on the cruise followed closely by all the humpback sightings.
We had snacks and deserts on board after we returned and had our showers.
Monday - 2 major activities. In the morning we went snorkeling at Captain Cook’s monument. In the afternoon we visited Kona where you could go on a guided walking tour, do an outrigger ride or just go shopping. In the evening we had a presentation from 2 lovely Hawaiians who told us about growing up and living in Hawaii.
Monday Night - the crossing from the Big Island to Maui takes all night and can be a little rocky, but our crossing was fairly smooth.
Tuesday - the morning activity consisted of a kayak trip along the south portion of Maui or a skiff boat ride exploring the coast. We saw whales before breakfast and during the kayaking trip. We returned to the ship and went whale watching off the west coast of Maui the rest of the day, seeing dozens of Humpback whales as we cruised. Following cocktail hour and dinner we had a staff presentation.
Morning - we did a skiff ride looking for whales and there were many whales putting in shows for us to enjoy. We went kayaking or paddle boarding after that.
Afternoon- a tour of Lanai City where we visited their museum and explored the small town in the rain.
Evening - Anchored in the lee of Lanai
Thursday morning - snorkeling with turtles off Lahaina
Afternoon - free time in Lahina town
Friday morning / docked in Moloka’i - van tour of eastern portion of island visiting cultural sites. Optional difficult hike to waterfall with 4 stream crossings, walking sticks provided. Bug repellent provided. Very interesting story about Hawaiin culture.
Friday night - went to a Panai, a Hawaiin party featuring roast pig and other traditional Hawaiin dishes at a local museum & community center with plenty of entertainment.
Saturday departure- bags out by 7:30, they transported us at 8:30 to the only hotel on Molokai where we waited for a shuttle to the airport. The new UnCruise passengers were arriving here also. Best to book an early flight out of Molokai, as there is nothing left to do on Molokai.
Crew Gratuities. UnCruise Staff recommends a $25 to $35 per day per passenger gratuity.
Cell service - sometimes you have a few bars, sometimes there is no service, depending on your service provider and location. There wouldn’t be enough cell strength to use streaming services. There is no wi-fi on the ship.
Laundry - there is no laundry service on the ship
Shoes - water shoes are useful for getting in & off the skiffs and walking around. Sandals work for all other needs.
Optional Excursions - there are no optional excursions - all activities, drinks, meals are included. The only thing you’ll ever need to pay for are Un-Cruise hats or t-shirts and the Crew Gratituities
Things you should bring
3 swim suits - so they dry in between uses.
Optional - a 3 to 5 mm wetsuit. A shorty would be fine. The water temp in January is in the mid 70’s and the snorkeling sessions were usually 45 to 60 minutes in the water, many passengers were cold without them. You can hang the wetsuit to dry on the deck on a hanger.
Rash guards are great for snorkeling, they give you sun protection and are perfect to wear under a wet suit. Buy them in any “Crazy Shirts” store in Hawaii. They even have rash guards that take on a new pattern once they are wet. They sell for about $48, long sleeves give the most protection, but are a hassle under wet suits arms. They dry very fast, so you can get by with one.
“Swimmers Ear” drops to dry out the water that stays in your ears from snorkeling.
Bring a long sleeve dry-fit t-shirt for boat trips or sitting out on the deck at night.
The ships store is very small, so bring your cold meds and cough drops in case you need them. A small tube of Vaseline in handy for minor scrapes & cuts.
Eye glass cleaner fluid and the microfiber clothes to clean them.
DVD’s that you’ve always wanted to watch. The ship has a few hundred movie DVD’s for borrowing. We like to bring documentary DVDs. Do not bring Blu-Ray DVDs, they won’t play on the stateroom equipment.
Extension chord to make plugging in all your chargers a lot easier. We only found one plug in the living area, so the extension chord was really essential.
Small flash lights for night time trips to bathroom
A secure hat for windy skiff rides.
Things You May Not Need to Bring
Binoculars- the ship supplies each cabin with a large 7x50 pair of very good binoculars
Large Suntan lotion container. The shop has them on deck. Bring a small tube if you are staying a few extra days in Hawaii.
Lots of fancy camera gear. This is not really a photography cruise like Alaska and many other places are. Whale photography is particularly difficult. It’s best to enjoy the action and view the professional’s work. There are many great documentaries on whales on U-tube and on Netflix where the photography is better than 99% of photographers can do.
Water bottle- UnCruise provides cold water in the dinning room and reusable water bottles for your use.
Alcohol- all the alcohol, beer and wine are free all the time.
Shampoos & conditioner are in the shower in large dispensers, so no need to bring your own. A hair dryer is in the bathroom.
Walking sticks - the ship supplies them for the 2 hikes. They are provided by outside contractors and are not carried on the ship.
Sea sickness meds, the ship supplies them.
Fancy clothes - everyone dresses casually all the time.
Jacket - it never really got cold enough for anything above a windbreaker
A great trip with fun adventures. The food was very good. The wine and cocktails were excellent & plentiful and free. The crew is hardworking and talented. They even remember everyone’s names.
2 large rooms, great storage, balcony, bed was great, A/C fan was loud