Our two week trip to Hawaii was twenty years in the making and my wife and I considered all our travel options very carefully. We booked an Un-Cruise Hawaii for the week of March 5 through 12. For us, the total $9,500 fare is a ... Read More
Our two week trip to Hawaii was twenty years in the making and my wife and I considered all our travel options very carefully. We booked an Un-Cruise Hawaii for the week of March 5 through 12. For us, the total $9,500 fare is a significant amount and we came into the trip with very high expectations. I would never have imagined that our expectations would be so thoroughly exceeded and that we would finish the week so delighted with the experience.
In our mid-fifties, we consider ourselves physically and intellectually active; we are not content to travel to a warm clime and spend all of our time on a beautiful beach with a book. At first glance, being on a small cruise boat/yacht might sound confining but this was not the case at all. Instead, every day was full of activities, sightseeing, and learning from the time we woke up until we fell asleep exhausted at the end of the day. That said, my “gushing” should not mask the fact that this cruise would not be for everybody. The majority of the guests were very active and if you are not able to get about easily, you may want to consider another, less physically demanding, adventure. The value proposition is largely centered on unique Hawaiian activities. Also you might not be happy with the cruise if you are not “social” but more on this aspect later.
Our Yacht, the Safari Explorer carries 36 passengers and 15 crew. It is a converted research ship. The condition of the passenger common areas and cabins is very comfortable, clean and well kept. It has a full compliment of “toys” (kayaks, paddle boards, exercise equipment, DVDs, library, etc.) and nothing was wanting in that respect. The Bar was very well stocked with top shelf wine, craft beer and liquor. It should be noted that for our week, there were only 16 passengers booked- I understand this is an anomaly that occasionally happens (I tried to book other dates that were full).
The following summarizes what made this cruise so wonderful.
Crew: I have had the opportunity to travel on business and stay at high-end lodgings so I have a basis for comparison. The crew was by far the most exceptionally great hospitality professionals I have ever encountered. At every level, from the Captain to the stewards, they made you feel like you were “their guest” on a very warm and personal level. One example, the night we were going to have a “stormy” crossing to Hawaii, the Captain spent considerable time explaining what was going on and how it would proceed in great detail and with clear concern that all of the passengers would be as comfortable as possible. Realizing the crew gives so much of themselves every week to a different set of guests is amazing.
Activities: First, there were at least two to three activities each day. These included whale and dolphin watches, snorkeling, kayaking, snorkeling with sea turtles and manta rays, yoga, massages, marine biology and cultural lectures and land excursions. Additionally, the activities were very well planned and executed. When the weather or some other factor did not work with plan A there was always a plan B & C as backup. The Expedition Leaders were incredibly well informed about the science and culture of every aspect of what we were doing. They were clearly passionate about the subjects and enjoyed sharing their knowledge and enthusiasm with us passengers.
Food: We consider ourselves foodies. We have very high standards from four-star restaurants to food trucks- very, very high bar to clear on this one. I was amazed but every meal was very good to excellent. Flavorful, artfully presented, freshly cooked, and in a very appropriate proportion size (not needing to make up for a lack of quality with quantity).
Other Guests: We had a very enjoyable and fulfilling time getting to know the other guests. I am sure the dynamic with each cruise is probably somewhat different. In the group we were in for the week the passengers were all couples (55 or older) or pairs of friends, all professionals and not particularly diverse beyond different home locations- which included the USA, New Zealand, Australia and England. The meals are served based on a scheduled seating time and seating is family style; meaning you sit with one or two other couples. Our dynamic was such that we all very comfortably rotated around to different groupings each meal. It was a lot of fun from a social standpoint getting to know the other passengers in this manner. Additionally, you have the opportunity to interact during activities and cocktail hour. We established some relationships and are hoping to keep up with our fellow cruisers.
Conclusion: The Un-Cruise is not going to be for everyone but if you consider yourself active and a foodie it is worth a serious look. We came away with a deep appreciation of the parts of Hawaii we visited and some great memories of our activities and companionship during the week. We particularly left with deep admiration and respect for the crew. Read Less