S.S. Legacy Cruise Review by weekendsavvytravel
- Sail Date: August 2019
- Destination: Alaska
- Kayak through frozen, glacial water
- Paddleboard alongside jumping salmon
- Bushwhack through remote islands and land on deserted beaches
- Skiff to the face of calving glaciers
- Taste bullwhip seaweed
- Have a glacier silt facemask
- Kiss a giant slug
- Dive into Polar Waters
- Witness bears pounce and salmon jump
- View a dozen 50-ton Humpback whales play and breach off the bow of your boat
- Spot bald eagles, mountain goats, puffins, porpoise, sea lions, sea otters, seal, orca whales, countless bird species, starfish, porcupine....
- Berry hunt for the sweetest, wild blueberries and strawberries you’ve ever tasted
These can all be apart of your Alaskan Adventure!
Mid-August, my family and I spent a week on Uncruise Adventures' largest ship, the 90-passenger S.S. Legacy. The cruise was roundtrip from Juneau and we spent the week sailing the inside passage with stops at Tracy Arm, Dawes Glacier, Robert & Crow Islands, Saginaw Bat, Halleck Harbor, Red Bluff Bay, Kasnyku Bay, Ell Cove, Glacier Bay National Park, and Fern Harbor. Compared to other cruise lines sailing in Alaska, our ship was tiny. We were able to maneuver into small bays where no large cruise ship could attempt to go. And because of this flexibility, the crew could make changes based on the weather forecast or stops for wildlife at a moments notice.
Our departure date was one of Uncruise Adventure's family-focused sailings. There are typically 2 Alaska sailings each summer and 1 Baja Mexico sail date in the spring that are family-focused and include a guide specifically for children aboard. The departures dates and ships for 2020 are:
Mexico: Baja's Bounty – Safari Endeavour - March 28, 2020
Alaska Fjords & Glaciers – Wilderness Discoverer - July 4 & August 1, 2020
Prior to boarding, Dan Blanchard the CEO of Uncruise spoke to all the guests about the week ahead and, to our pleasant surprise, informed us that he would be on board with us. He would lead some excursions and together with a documentarian would be filming an educational video in opposition to the proposed logging of the Tongass National Forest. Dan was a fantastic addition to the cruise, as his expertise of the region is second to none and his energy and enthusiasm are contagious!
Once onboard, my family of four (Penny age 5 & Oliver age 7) found our accommodations very comfortable with twin beds in each room and fair-sized bathrooms. Our cabins are very well-appointed but not traditionally considered luxury in comparison to newer, larger ships, but don't let it scare you because the service is absolutely first class! This is an expedition-style ship with a focus on adventure and most of your time is spent off the boat or in common areas mingling with other guests.
Every morning and afternoon there were a wide variety of excursions for all activity levels, including the kids -- short/long kayaking tours, paddleboarding, zodiac tours, beach and meadow walks, beginner bushwacks, extreme bushwacks, etc. The expedition team is incredibly friendly, knowledgable, flexible and enthusiastic! The crew and expedition team are over the top flexible and truly want to give each guest the best and most personalized experience possible and all activity levels are welcome. Besides the families, most of the guests were retired and one guest had extremely limited mobility and used a walker. The SS Legacy has an elevator for the lower 3 decks, she was able to move easily around the ship with the exception of the top deck where the wheelhouse and jacuzzis were located. The Legacy is also equipped with a special launch pad, called the Sea Dragon, allowing guests to load into the zodiacs, kayaks, and paddleboards without touching in the water or getting wet.
For the kids, Alaskan-family-travel writer and guide, Erin Kirland created specific activities and excursions just for them. Parents could join in or choose to go on their own separate adventure, which allowed for a perfect balance between family time and freedom. There were 67 passengers and roughly 16 children onboard ranging from 5 years of age up to high school - several families, and a few children with their grandparents and a multi-generational family celebrating a 50th wedding anniversary. The first evening, Erin had a family "meet and greet" and explained the very flexible kid's program, introduced the designated "kid's hangout room" and laid out a few simple rules to keep the kids safe and happy. By morning, my kids had already made cruise buddies and by mid-week they were inseparable. My kids had the most incredible week learning about Alaskan wildlife, creating button quilts, making friendship bracelets, wild berry hunting, touring the engine room, exploring the beach, becoming Jr. Rangers, and enjoying "Kids Happy Hour" with the best snacks and so much more!
The Food and Beverage program on the SS Legacy was exceptional. There is a lovely, spacious lounge located on deck 2 near the bow of the ship, where guests can mingle, relax, read books, play games and grab a beverage throughout the day. An early riser breakfast is served each morning with fruit, oatmeal, cereal, coffee, tea and delicious pastries baked daily by the ships dedicated pastry chef. The lounge also has a self-service coffee, tea, water, snack station throughout the day. And in the afternoon, there is a happy hour with light appetizers. There is a full bar located in the lounge with 2 incredible bartenders who make daily craft cocktails or any guests' favorite drink. A full sit down breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served in the dining room on deck 1 with beautiful windows for viewing the incredible scenery and wildlife. The menu always included meat, fish, salad, and vegetarian options with wine pairings and a full kids menu. And the chef was always willing to customize a dish or meal to accommodate dietary restrictions and preferences and all meals were incredibly fresh and delicious. The wait staff was very kind and attentive and although there are no assigned seats at any meals, they became very aware of guest preferences. One afternoon there was a tour of the small kitchen facilities, which made it all the more impressive that the chef and his team are able to produce such amazing food!
Other things to note:
- Uncruise Adventures has an Open Wheelhouse policy on their ships, which allows any guest to visit the captain and be in the wheelhouse at any time. My son and his new friends made very good use of this policy and helped steer and blow the horns.
- There is no WiFi aboard the ship and the cell phone reception in Alaska was almost non-existent. My husband and I were nervous about this before the trip, but quickly realized the freedom and connection to each other this allowed.
- Everything except gratuities is included in the price of the cruise --- all excursions, all food, all alcoholic beverages (including top-shelf liquor)
I would be remiss if I did not mention that Alaska's landscape is rapidly changing. During our day in Glacier National Bay, a park ranger spent the day onboard and educated us about low precipitation, rising temperatures and the glaciers melting at alarming rates. So, now is the time to visit Alaska!
Once you have been on an UnCruise, you immediately want to go on another! The beauty of the sea, land, and wildlife, the attentiveness of the crew, and the connections made with other guests combine to call you back for more. One of our fellow cruisers was on his 7th UnCruise Adventure! And my son had such an incredible experience and made such sweet friendships, he cried for two hours after leaving the ship. Both my kids speak daily of fond memories of our time in Alaska. To date, this is one of our favorite family trips!
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