3 UnCruise Safari Quest Mexican Riviera Cruise Reviews

This 7 day "Un-Cruise" left from Cabo San Lucas on Jan 25, 2014. In short, it was a great cruise with a great crew, packed with lots of activities, amazing whale watching, many nature and photography talks and sunny warm weather. ... Read More
This 7 day "Un-Cruise" left from Cabo San Lucas on Jan 25, 2014. In short, it was a great cruise with a great crew, packed with lots of activities, amazing whale watching, many nature and photography talks and sunny warm weather. Un-Cruise Adventures is a new company that seems dedicated to providing great cruises with a staff of "naturalists" that are wonderful, smart, well educated people. I'll provide lots of details in this review to help the reader get prepared for the cruise. Embarkation - An Un-Cruise agent met passengers at the Cabo Airport and drove us about 25 minutes to the Hilton Hotel in the "hotel zone" between Cabo San Lucas and San Juan del Cabo. There we checked in our bags with an agent in a conference room. The room had couches and chairs and beverages. We had full use of the Hilton's amazing pool and beach front. At 4:45 pm, they loaded the 40 or so passengers onto a nice bus for a 20 minute ride to the port in San Jose del Cabo to board Voyager. A few passengers went straight to the ship from the airport. Once we boarded, we went to our cabins, did the safety drill and then we pushed off. Itinerary - The staff explained that the itinerary in the brochure was tentative and that the actual itinerary depended on weather and other factors. We did manage to do all the major activities listed in the brochure, but the islands we visited changed somewhat, which was really not significant. Activities - we were always on the lookout for marine animals and the ship would detour to watch whales or dolphins or even jumping rays. On 4 of the 6 days we snorkeled; took small boat rides to get close to sea lions or birds or something interesting like a sun-rise photo shoot; hikes both easy ones along the beach, or up the hillside a ways for some great views. There was a Burrow ride one morning, a beach fire one night after dinner, and many nature and photography talks. Whale Watching - this was the #1 thing people were interested in, so we had 2 days devoted to that. On Tuesday we did the cross Baja trip to the bay of Magdalena to watch the grey whales up close and personal. Passengers were divided into about 5 boats and went out for two hours into the bay. The whales came close, but not close enough to touch (so we'll have to go back). The whales would stick their heads out of the water to look at us. The last day of the cruise was spent cruising the southern part of the Sea of Cortez looking for whales and we saw dozens of them. Most of them were a distance away, but we saw many breaches and fluke and tail slapping. It lasted all day until we had no more light. A great day for everybody, even though we didn’t snorkel, hike or kayak. Each cabin was supplied with a large pair of binoculars (7x50), and they were vital for whale watching. We brought an extra pair in our luggage so we both could watch. Cabins - We were in cabin 204, one of the best cabins. It had a double bed, a flat screen TV and a DVD player. Not all cabins had the TV's. Some nights the activities were done by 9pm, so it was nice to watch some DVD's. We brought our own. The ship's DVD and book library was rather slim at this point. The ship as just put in service in December and they are still adding amenities. There were no iPhone docking stations in the room for music as was advertised. The storage in the cabin was adequate and the bathroom had a roomy shower. The mattress and the sheets were very good. The beds are built in and cannot be reconfigured into singles, nor can the rooms with singles be pushed together into a double, so make sure you know your room’s configuration. The A/C units gave nice cold air, but no warm air. We just turned off the A/C unit and the room warmed up. There were plenty if hooks for hanging clothes for drying out, although damp clothes did take a couple days to dry. Food & Beverages - the day started with the early riser breakfast in the bar at 6:30, full breakfast at 7:30, lunch at 12:30, snacks and happy hour at 5:30 and dinner at 6:30. All drinks, mixed drinks, wine, soft drinks were included. Frequently they would leave a bottle of Kahlua next to the self serve coffee. There was a mixed drink special creation everyday. The food ranged from good to very good. Portions were small, so you didn't overeat like most cruises. You could have a second helping if requested. Choices were limited at lunch to the special of the day or a vegetarian variant of the special. At dinner, you had 3 choices, a meat, seafood or veggy entree. Excellent wines were served with all meals. Scenery - The Sea of Cortez has many uninhibited, craggy, islands and is quite beautiful, if somewhat similar to the last island. These islands make for great sunrises and sunsets. We saw very little boat traffic and no other cruise ships during our 7 days. Weather - It hardly ever rains here in the winter. We had one day of clouds and some light rain, which made for our best sunset. The rest of the time the highs were in the 70's, with lows in 50's. As soon as the sun dropped below the mountains it was time for a sweater. The wind was the main weather variable, which dictated if kayaking was offered. Snorkeling - The ship provided everyone with full wetsuits and excellent snorkeling gear. Each room has 2 mesh bags with room numbers on them for hanging wet snorkel gear on the back of deck 2. You also hang your wet suit on room identified hangers, so you don't have to bring them into the rooms. You receive a sport Personal Flotation Device at the beginning of the cruise and you store them in lockers, so you always have the same PFD. The water was a little cold, high 60's I would guess, so the wet suit was necessary. The snorkeling spots were not the best I've ever seen, but we did snorkel with Sea Lions and Rays one day, so that was memorable to say the least. Kayaking - The kayaks were the "sit on top" versions, very easy to operate. All the launches were from shore. We always kayaked in protected coves, so there were no waves to deal with. Hiking - some of the hikes were steep with some good vertical elements. Good hiking shoes were important here. Most of the beach landings were a little wet, so wear your water shoes on the skiff and then change shoes on shore. You can leave your water shoes and PFD's at the beach. There are always crew members to make sure they are safe. They also bring water, sodas and beer to enjoy after your hike, kayak or snorkel. They also bring beach towels and camp stools, a really well run beach program. The beach walks were fun and included some tide-pooling. Make sure you have thicker soled shoes for these walks, lots of rocks and loose sand. Photography - this cruise had a professional photographer on board, Peter West Carey, from Seattle. Peter gave photography talks and took thousands of pictures. Many of his pictures, along with a couple hundred taken by the rest of the crew were shown to us at the end of the cruise. Each cabin received a thumb drive with these pictures on it, a wonderful thing that all the Un-Cruise cruises do. Clothes - Casual clothes is the order of the day. Wear pants that you don't mind getting a little wet. Brings some sweatshirts and a light jacket as it does get cool in evening. I recommend 3 swim suits as they do take a while to dry. There is no laundry service on these small boats. The sun can get pretty intense while sitting on deck looking for whales, so bring some light weight cover ups to prevent burning. The ship provides sun block. They also put two aluminum water bottles in each room for taking on hikes. The Voyager - This 1983 vessel was refitted in 2013 in Columbia. The crew is still fine tuning things. Little things go wrong now & then and the crew makes repairs while underway. We did have one rough night at sea when we were headed north bound from Cabo to La Paz. The ship was comfortable at all other times. There are 4 pieces of cardio equipment on the upper deck for working out. Two stationary bikes and 2 elliptical machines. There are no weights to work out with. Wi-Fi - There is no wi-fi on the ship. On the trip to Magdalena Bay, there was a bathroom break in a hotel in the middle of Baja. They had free wi-fi. The password was posted at the small registration desk. This stop takes about 30 minutes, so you can get some emails downloaded and respond to some. Passengers - There was only one child and only one person in their 20's on the boat. Most passengers were between 50 & 80 and were quite capable of hiking, kayaking, and snorkeling with Sea Lions. All passengers spoke English. All passengers were very easy to talk to and were very nice. About half the passengers were from the UK. Tipping - The suggested tipping rate is 10% of the total price of the cruise. This is a lot of money, but the crew provides such great service, that they are worth it. Disembarkation - bags outside by 7:30am, then breakfast, board the bus at 8:30 for the ride to the Hilton, bags were brought into the Un Cruise waiting room. People were transferred to the airport at 10:30 or 12:30. We used the pool again and then changed into our airplane clothes and finalized the suitcases. The United check-in was mobbed, a huge line. We were in the Premier line, which still took 20 minutes to check the bags. The flight to LA was full, so everyone in line must have made it through the long line on time. Conclusion - No cruise is perfect and every time you decide to take a cruise you have to juggle many factors before picking one. The pluses for this cruise far outweighed the few minuses. Small boat cruising is significantly different from big boat cruising and it's not for everyone. It's definitely for active people. There is no ship doctor, so bring meds in case I'm happy to answer you catch a cold or a cough. The cabins are usually smaller than those on large cruise ships. Un-Cruise is a wonderful company and I hope they can continue this cruise concept as the passengers on this cruise sure seemed to love it. I'm happy to answer questions. kentennis@cox.net   Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
The fabled Sea of Cortes along Mexico's Baja Peninsula has been heralded by Jacques Cousteau as "The Aquarium of the World" and by naturalists as "America's Galapagos." Fewer cruise lines than ever are making ... Read More
The fabled Sea of Cortes along Mexico's Baja Peninsula has been heralded by Jacques Cousteau as "The Aquarium of the World" and by naturalists as "America's Galapagos." Fewer cruise lines than ever are making extended voyages into this pristine marine wilderness, but American Safari Cruises is a notable exception. Their 22-passenger luxury yacht, Safari Quest, explores the pristine waters of this World Heritage biosphere reserve from late November through late March, and it is a remote journey worth making.Hoping to escape an unusually chilly winter, we recently boarded the Safari Quest in La Paz for an eight-day round-trip cruise on sunny Mexico's Sea of Cortes, lured by the possibility of snorkeling with sea lions and sailing alongside the largest living beings on Earth, the blue whales.The Safari Quest's 11 staterooms are those of a yacht rather than a cruise liner, far smaller but splendidly outfitted with private bathrooms, memory foam mattresses, flat-screen TV/DVDs, and, in the case of the four Captain Staterooms, sliding glass balcony doors. Three passenger decks house a dining room, salon and a fully stocked, complimentary, round-the clock bar, one of many features that set American Safari Cruises apart.On the Safari Quest cabin doors do not lock, there's no dress code whatsoever, the pilothouse is open to passengers all day and sailing is usually restricted to daylight hours, affording maximum exposure to sea life and scenery. Unlike larger cruise ships, the Safari Quest does not call on busy ports, but sticks to the waters of the National Marine Park, dropping anchor in protected island bays and deserted shoreline coves. Two exceptions are a mule ride at Bahia Aqua Verde in the company of a local ranchero (cowboy) family and a stop at Isla Coyote, an islet just 200 yards across, where members of the Cuevas family maintain their own fishing village, complete with a tiny chapel and one-room schoolhouse.American Safari Cruise's emphasis is on marine adventure—plenty of kayaks, wakeboards, snorkeling gear and wet suits on deck—and on impeccable service. We rapidly found ourselves on a first-name basis with our nine crew members and nine fellow passengers, who ranged from Lauren, an Iowan teenager enjoying a far-flung winter break with her mother, to Steve and Carol, an English couple in their seventies, drawn from Hull to tally Baja's bird population.Most days began with a skiff ride to the sandy beaches of an uninhabited island, near where we were anchored. These excursions gave us our pick of options: beach-combing, kayaking, snorkeling, or hiking with our trip leader into the cardon cactus groves and sandstone cliffs.Bird life proved particularly fecund. Steve catalogued some fifty species, including several he had never spotted anywhere else in the world. We also spent a full day in search of Baja's great leviathans, and we were rewarded with sustained encounters with several gray whales, like us wintering in the Sea of Cortes.The highlight was a swim with a sea lion colony, the boisterous residents of Los Islotes, a phantasmagoric outcropping of castle-like rocks shooting straight up out of the sea. Outfitted in wet suits, we plunged over the side of the skiff and joined a circus of young sea lions who frolicked with us shoulder to shoulder, nibbling at our snorkel gear and turning cartwheels--a close encounter of a kind none of us would forget. Then there were the meals: Belgian waffles, strawberry parfaits, taco soup, passion-fruit popsicles (paletas), prime rib, a medley of fresh local seafood and the uncorking of two fine new wines each evening. Dining with our fellow passengers became as eagerly anticipated as the day's wildlife encounters and water sports. Our Safari Quest cruise made us feel that we had welcomed a dozen new amiable friends onto our private yacht, entered the world's most remote waters and sailed together far beyond the tug of TV waves and Internet towers.American Safari Cruises offers similar high-end, soft adventure water safaris in the Hawaiian Islands, on the Columbia and Snake Rivers, and in Alaska, where one can kayak to the feet of glaciers. Group charters are also available--and endorsed by stars Kate Winslet and Emma Thompson, who recently made their own safari through the Sea of Cortes. Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
120' MotorYacht Safari Quest chartered for 8 day, 7 night extended family [meaning most of us did not know each other] cruise in Sea of Cortes, Baja California Sur, Mexico, January, 2009. Boarded at LaPaz. Disembarked at Puerto ... Read More
120' MotorYacht Safari Quest chartered for 8 day, 7 night extended family [meaning most of us did not know each other] cruise in Sea of Cortes, Baja California Sur, Mexico, January, 2009. Boarded at LaPaz. Disembarked at Puerto Escondido [near Loreto]. The yacht is a well-maintained twin-screw island of paradise. Room accommodations are well-equipped, clean and welcoming. Not particularly luxurious as some might expect on a large ship, but you don't spend time in your staterooms on this boat. Kayaks, 2 skiffs, wetsuits, snorkeling gear, water skis all provided for guests' enjoyment. Yacht is large enough for everyone to find some personal space on the upper deck equipped with lounge chairs, exercise equipment and hot tub; the bridge deck with a library and, outside, chairs looking over the stern; or the first deck with plenty of space on the bow for whale, dolphin and sea lion scouting, or at the stern with a welcoming large table and chairs. Also on the first deck is a luxurious salon with plenty of comfortable chairs, the open and very well stocked bar, and the dining room and galley. Destinations, such as Isla San Jose, Los Islotes, Isla San Francisco, Agua Verde, all offer multiple opportunities for exploration kayaking, snorkeling, hiking, swimming, exploring, and, at Agua Verde, burro excursion. The itinerary is flexible. See whales off the stern? The good captain of the yacht will turn the yacht around and idle the yacht to give everyone the opportunity to see them up close and take photos. Rough winds? Well, the yacht will just anchor in a protected cove, and the passengers will enjoy a bonfire, cocktails and hot appetizers on the beach, before returning via one of two skiffs to the yacht for dinner. Want to take a swim? Ask the captain to hook up the rope swing from the yacht's crane off the stern. If you grab it from the top deck, you are braver than me. Meals are all prepared by Executive Chef and Pastry Chef. The food is is comparable in quality, preparation and service as you would experience in a fine restaurant. Although my experience was a private party charter, I didn't know most of the people before boarding. I would not be hesitant about reserving a stateroom for my wife and me to travel with strangers on this yacht in the future. The yacht is the right size to enjoy everyone's company, but nevertheless provides personal space when that is necessary. Go on the Safari Quest and you no doubt will have a magnificent time and make new friends in your fellow passengers. By far, however, the best friends you will make will be the individual members of the crew. My personal experience was that they all were just a great bunch of responsible, [yet fun-loving, joining in the activities of the guests], individuals working seamlessly together for the ultimate enjoyment of the experience of all guests. On our charter, we had 16 passengers and 9 crew: Captain, First Mate, Engineer, Hotel Manager, Executive Chef, Pasty Chef, Naturalist who led us on shore excursions, and 2 stewards. All shared in the responsibilities of the operation of the yacht and all were just great. Now, I will note that the advertised maximum passengers for Safari Quest is 21. Unless it was all a very close-knit group of family or friends for a private charter, I've got to say I think 21 passengers might be pushing it a bit. Just my opinion. Is it pricey? Yes, no doubt about it. But if you can afford and want this type of experience, you will not be disappointed. [Don't bother if you want gambling, discos, Vegas shows, etc. that is not what this trip and this cruise line are about!] For 8 short video slideshows of our trip, go to YouTube.Com, and search either for "WJRESQ" or "SARFARI QUEST". I trust this is helpful. Read Less
Sail Date January 2009
Safari Quest Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 4.5
Dining 4.0 4.8
Entertainment 2.0 4.0
Public Rooms 3.0 5.0
Fitness Recreation 3.0 4.4
Family 1.0 4.4
Shore Excursion 5.0 4.7
Enrichment 4.0 4.7
Service 3.0 5.0
Value For Money 3.0 4.7
Rates 5.0 4.2

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