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12 UnCruise Alaska Cruise Reviews

Weather is a huge factor on any trip, and is very unpredictable in Alaska. We were lucky to have mostly cloudy but dry weather with only a few sprinkles one day of the 7. We are an active retired couple who had avoided big cruise ships ... Read More
Weather is a huge factor on any trip, and is very unpredictable in Alaska. We were lucky to have mostly cloudy but dry weather with only a few sprinkles one day of the 7. We are an active retired couple who had avoided big cruise ships since a conference I attended years ago aboard a Carnival ship visiting Key West and Cozumel. Since then, we had enjoyed a 4-day, 400-passenger ship river cruise on the Yangtze as part of a China tour, and an even smaller (28 passenger) riverboat voyage on the Mekong. We bike, kayak and hike and travel to see new places and meet people, not to overeat, gamble and drink aboard a floating city. We found more than 70 other passengers of mixed age groups on board the Wilderness Explorer who were "our kind of people", on our full-capacity early July Glaciers and Fjords Alaska cruise with UnCruise. We loved and appreciated the crew and how hard they work, enjoyed the fresh and attentively-prepared food, and the opportunity to get up close and personal with nature in SW Alaska's inside passage after a 2-week small group land tour (much more affordable) to points further north and east through G-Adventures (also recommended). We did see quite a variety of wildife on land and sea (even a few bears) though not at close-enough range to spot without binoculars and zoom lenses. I agree with some of the other reviews that some longer and more physically vigorous excursions would be welcomed by some of the more active passengers, also that the ship's interiors are getting a bit worn and outdated and could do with an overhaul. We didn't participate in the "polar plunge" but enjoyed watching others jump into the icy water, including an 80-something-year-old patriarch of a large extend-family multi-generational group. With full capacity, our ship was a bit crowded at times especially the (only) lounge/bar area, where there was insufficient seating for the nightly gathering to reserve the next days' excursions. Our cabin was fine, small but with efficient use of the space including a murphy bed that raised up into the wall while a sofa took its' place. The ventilation system was a bit noisy, and generators constantly running so no at-sea peace and quiet like I recalled from some youthful times aboard a small sailing yacht. There were DVD's in the small shelf library, but no DVD-player in our cabin, we speculated that we would have had to request them to be played on a central system, but never asked since we had brought books to read. Alcohol, including a special bartender's "drink of the day", using premium liquors and fresh fruit juices, was included and unlimited but no one seemed to obviously overindulge. Since our consumption is typically limited to one beer a day, I would prefer to pay separately for drinks with a reduction in cruise fare or less lofty gratuities expected. Those came as kind of a shock as they were triple ($500 for the week compared to $25/day) the set-rate gratuity we're being charged by Windstar on an upcoming Caribbean cruise we have booked. It sort of tainted our final day farewell experience, raising suspicions that they are underpaying the crew and expecting them to make it solely on the gratuities. I would rather they price the cruise higher and pay them a decent wage, but perhaps they're reluctant to do that due to already being high-priced compared to other cruises. But it's a significant amount to be added-on unexpectedly, and the way it was handled on our ship (maybe not always the case?) was pretty tacky, in my opinion, as everyone is checked-out at the bar register on the last day, waiting in line to pay your tab, with the gratuity added on, ringing up the amount you tell them in full view of others in line and verbally confirming the amount in an audible voice, as if to shame anyone who might want to tip anything less than the $500. We had already planned to tip more than for the Windstar cruise considering the excursion guides (who on other cruises would be separately tipped individually) were part of the crew sharing in the total gratuity, not solely the ship's hotel, kitchen, cleaning and wait staff. However, our choice would have been perhaps double the amount, not triple. My preference would have been to tip each excursion guide separately from the ship's crew, since we liked some guides much more than others. This handling of the gratuity and pressure/obligation to tip so lavishly unfortunately tainted our overall UnCruise experience. I wondered if it was a company policy, that particular ship or that particular crew who quoted such a high suggested amount and had decided they could be more assured of getting it by collecting it so very publicly? I won't say we would not do another UnCruise adventure (especially if they start offering Antarctica or the Amazon), but it won't be our automatic go-to cruise line without investigating what else (among smaller-ship, more casual and active cruises--a segment that I hope will grow considerably beyond the limited choices now available) our internet searches and friends' recommendations might turn up for the same destination. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
Very impressed with Uncruise. Having sailed big cruise ships before, this was a far superior experience. Every day we saw beautiful, jaw dropping sights without another boat in sight. It was lovely to go kayaking and be completely alone in ... Read More
Very impressed with Uncruise. Having sailed big cruise ships before, this was a far superior experience. Every day we saw beautiful, jaw dropping sights without another boat in sight. It was lovely to go kayaking and be completely alone in nature and turn back and see our charming vessel anchored in a little cove. The staff were very keen and enthusiastic and tried very hard, even though not always as knowledgeable as I hoped they would be.Southeastern Alaska is a geologic marvel and a little more information such as regarding the role of glaciers in carving the landscape would have been welcome. The presentations in the evening were very not very informative despite the staff trying hard. Perhaps Uncruise could employ someone who has extensive knowledge to do the presentations and not expect the young adventure guides to perform that role. We were lucky to have days with good weather, but one windy day did prevent off the boat activities. I loved the gender equality aboard and the lack of single use plastic. The boat could use some updating. Our cabin while extremely clean( very hardworking staff) was run down and needed a complete overhaul. The beds were comfortable and bedding, while not Frette, was fresh and clean. The biggest downsides were the lounge did not have enough seating for all guests and one had to line up at mealtimes. I was very impressed however with the quality of the equipment: life jackets, kayaks, skiffs etc as well as the concern for safety. The getting in and out of skiffs and kayaks was extremely well monitored and easy. The food was good. Portions were adequate and the staff certainly took into account special requests and asked each meal if we had food allergies. I loved the waitstaff, Jonathan and Tichelle who worked really hard and were so pleasant. We did a galley tour and was amazed at the tight quarters and limited equipment. I can’t imagine how the chef, Bri was able to turn out the meals she did in that space.: Another example of the excellent employees of Uncruise. Most people onboard were very well traveled, very friendly and active. While I usually avoid open seating like the plague,on this cruise I enjoyed meeting new people and hearing their interesting travel stories. By the end of the week I had spoken to most people on board as we had either sat with them at meals, chatted over drinks or done an activity together. I recommend this cruise to people who want a more active vacation and to see parts of Alaska the big ships don’t go. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
I love wilderness. I love small ships that don't really go "anywhere." This cruise promised and delivered exactly what I wanted. We had 3 whole days in Glacier Bay with nary another person or ship in sight. To add to the ... Read More
I love wilderness. I love small ships that don't really go "anywhere." This cruise promised and delivered exactly what I wanted. We had 3 whole days in Glacier Bay with nary another person or ship in sight. To add to the sensory overload was 3 continuous days of sun, something unheard of in most of Alaska. Alaska was Awakening and while there were no babies of any sort and the bears were still hibernating, it was a great experience. Small ship cruises are most expensive. With 37 passengers and a crew of 25, there was lots of attention. The food was good and the cabin, albeit with its tiny bathroom, was comfortable. Each crew member had a particular interest. What I found troubling was that there seemed to be no one in charge of wildlife spotting. While not every bird, otter, sea lion, seal and porpoise needs to be enumerated, it is good to call them out and identify them. I found that lacking and it was disappointing. There were multiple and daily opportunities to kayak, hike, and go for skiff rides to explore. The activities are not tremendously difficult. On the cruise we were on, I think young children would be bored. I would go again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
This was our first experience with any type of cruise. We chose the small boat because we heard that we would be able to go to areas not normally allowed of the big cruise ships. We were not disappointed! The cabins were very nice and ... Read More
This was our first experience with any type of cruise. We chose the small boat because we heard that we would be able to go to areas not normally allowed of the big cruise ships. We were not disappointed! The cabins were very nice and ours had a sliding door that opened on to the deck. I would not recommend spending the extra money on this type, since there was no added value for the door. Also, because we had no cross ventilation, none of the clothes that got wet were able to dry during the whole cruise (and these were NOT cotton clothes). Everything else in the cabin worked great. The guided trips were fantastic, especially dropping anchor next to a glacier and then kayaking closer. The whale watching was not a disappointment, as we saw quite a few whales. Some even swam just yards from the boat. Another favorite was the snorkeling. Obviously we needed to use their wet suits because the water temperature was 34 degrees. But I never got cold. Unfortunately, there was only one 45 - minute chance to perform this activity and we paid $35 to rent the suit. Very expensive for just the one time. They should have scheduled more snorkeling activities. The crew was extremely friendly and went out of their way to make sure you had what you needed. Megan was a fantastic leader for all of the activities and Dawn was a great guide, who knew quite a bit about many things. The food was excellent, definite fine restaurant quality. Breakfast and lunch were buffet style while the dinner was slightly more formal sit down. For dinner each night you could choose a meat, seafood, or vegetarian. What we didn’t realize until the last couple of days was that you could order half and half. And we didn’t know this until a fellow passenger ordered it. This was not publicized. All in all, we had a great time and will certainly book another cruise in the future. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
My kids had a great time, this was their first cruise, so they had no other comparisons. I was expecting more for $20,000 (4 of us)- like linen changes, portion sizes of dinner more than 4oz and special occasion celebrations as shown in ... Read More
My kids had a great time, this was their first cruise, so they had no other comparisons. I was expecting more for $20,000 (4 of us)- like linen changes, portion sizes of dinner more than 4oz and special occasion celebrations as shown in brochure. It is one of the few cruises that you can lose weight, many choices of activities. The staff was wonderful and we enjoyed getting close to nature. I think this cruise line is a great idea for parents with teenagers because there is no internet and the kids get unplugged and do some physical activity out in nature. The evening presentations were also very educational. Kids entertained themselves with board games, books and binoculars (looking at whales and other animals). The staff worked hard to make everyone's trip enjoyable. I would recommend this trip for people, who are willing and able to get off of the boat and are up for adventure. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
PROS We chose this cruise because - being a small boat it get's to places the big ships can't go (max 70 passengers). We stood 30 metres off shore from calving Glaciers - wow ! The sea and land scenery were simply awesome. ... Read More
PROS We chose this cruise because - being a small boat it get's to places the big ships can't go (max 70 passengers). We stood 30 metres off shore from calving Glaciers - wow ! The sea and land scenery were simply awesome. Every day you get to chose variety of off-boat activities i.e. kayaking, skiff tours & shore excursions and rough trails. The have the best methods of launching and decking returning kayaks. The crew are likable, friendly, capable and very knowledgeable, so is the Captain. Breakfast and lunch are a very scrumptious smorgasbord, but dinner was a la carte. I found the portions very small and not being able to eat bread (a coeliac) left me hungry at night. They also gave me 3 dinners containing gluten 3 times in error and this made me ill. Of course you can stay on the boat, look at the wonderful temperate forest, mountains and occasional glacier or just read a book. But if you like adventure, especially kayaking, this is the cruise for you, but it's up to you to take part. I expected to see more wildlife, but we saw our share of bears, eagles, otters, seals and sea lions and I guess it's all down to luck. CONS Luke warm coffee and tea was a constant downer. Couldn't wait to get off the boat and get a hot tea or coffee. If you're not used to tipping e.g. Australian, English or NZ, we got a BIG shock when with 2 days to go the Capt told us we were expected to tip 15-20% of the cabin cost ! Our cabin cost was $10,000 AU which meant paying another $1,500 to $2,000 extra. OK I've tipped $150 to the cabin steward on our Hawaiian cruse but not 15% of the cruise cost. I felt this was unconscionable but our American friends assured us it was all above board in USA. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
We wanted to see Alaska, but are not fans of big cruise ships, nor did we want an extreme nature cruise. This cruise fit the bill. Nice size, nice crew, interesting passengers. Beautiful scenery. I would highly recommend. ... Read More
We wanted to see Alaska, but are not fans of big cruise ships, nor did we want an extreme nature cruise. This cruise fit the bill. Nice size, nice crew, interesting passengers. Beautiful scenery. I would highly recommend. The outstanding item I want to highlight was the bartender Daniel Harding. Not only a great bartender in general, his Irish Coffee was the best I have ever had! The Buena Vista in San Francisco should take lessons from Daniel! We went in May and loved watching the humpback whales. Glaciers were outstanding and we learned much about several that we got to see up close. Watched what is called caving…calving? Pretty spectacular. You are pretty remote the entire time and cell service is sparse if any. It was nice to be disconnected from civilazation! They even offer on board massage, which I passed on. Others spoke highly of the massage and even one was said to call it "a spiritual event". Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
Pros Great, fun, responsive, accomodating crew Clean ship; flexible course; no crowds or tourist stops Good (not great) food & drink Very fun activities (Hiking, snorkeling, kayaking, animal life sightings) Park ranger ... Read More
Pros Great, fun, responsive, accomodating crew Clean ship; flexible course; no crowds or tourist stops Good (not great) food & drink Very fun activities (Hiking, snorkeling, kayaking, animal life sightings) Park ranger on board for 2 days really added alot Hot tub on bow Negatives Cabins are adequate but not as pleasant as those pictured in brochure Crew does their best to be informative but not to the level of experts on Natl Geographic tours A few small improvements would go along way (signage, food prep & presentation, pertinent videos), so sollicit more feedback from passengers Etc. Be patient as the pace of activities builds A nice balance between cost and value Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
Having tired of looking at European cathedrals, we decided to enjoy and appreciate nature and wild animals for a change. Well, we saw a number of creatures, orcas, humpback whales, sea lions, harbor seals, brown bears, bald eagles and, ... Read More
Having tired of looking at European cathedrals, we decided to enjoy and appreciate nature and wild animals for a change. Well, we saw a number of creatures, orcas, humpback whales, sea lions, harbor seals, brown bears, bald eagles and, scariest of all, a woman who joined the voyage the second week who was never without her glass of wine. The crew worked diligently to make our trip pleasant and worthwhile. One caution: the on shore hikes are grueling and the trails quite primitive. If you're not a seasoned hiker, be sure to ask a crew member about the level of difficulty. (And honestly, the scenery on the hikes is not memorable.) The kayaking was a definite highlight! Some excursions are self guided and some utilize a guide. You will be out there for one to two hours, so take water along. We rated the food as mediocre, not even close to the quality found on European river cruises. However the bar service with excellent brands was top notch, as was the wine selection. Cabins are a bit cramped. You should opt for a twin bed arrangement unless one of a couple wishes to crawl into the sack from the foot of the bed. The ship is well outfitted with binoculars, rubber boots and waterproof pants for kayaking. If you intend to hike, bring a pair of properly fitted boots for the occasion. Visits to towns, Friday Harbor, Ketchikan and Wrangle were a waste, especially Ketchikan where three large ocean cruisers were disgorging frantic tourists all at once. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
Un-Cruise Adventures does an outstanding job providing a real Alaskan expedition geared to a wide range of interests and athletic ability. I have been on nine other cruises, all ships with at least 200 people. None had the same ... Read More
Un-Cruise Adventures does an outstanding job providing a real Alaskan expedition geared to a wide range of interests and athletic ability. I have been on nine other cruises, all ships with at least 200 people. None had the same "adventure" focus as UnCruise. I think the cruise line fills its niche well. We flew to Juneau the day before, staying at Hotel Baranof. The next morning, we walked to the convention center where we left our luggage in the UnCruise "day room" while exploring the town. As you'd expect from a small ship with only 72 passengers, embarkation and disembarkation were uncomplicated. At disembarkation in Sitka (what an appealing town!), passengers could leave luggage at a convenient hotel. Uncruise arranged for transportation to the airport and passengers didn't have to deal with luggage. Although not a luxury cruise, the food was excellent. Buffet breakfast and lunch offered something for everyone. At dinner there were three entree choices, one vegetarian. The pastry chef created tempting desserts. Crew members were uniformly friendly and accommodating. I appreciated nice touches like water bottles available for use and good binoculars in each room and in the lounge. My teenage granddaughter relished kayaking and paddle boarding. I stuck with tamer activities. Two of our favorites were watching humpback whales up close and walking amid icebergs in a Glacier Bay "ice , garden" . The itinerary was flexible to allow for good wildlife viewing and longer stops to enjoy the beauty. Public spaces: the one indoor gathering spot cannot accommodate all passengers comfortably though this was rarely an issue. Our twin bed cabin was small but efficient (and larger than I expected). There is a separate toilet and shower; the sink is in the cabin. Advice for cruisers: take your own boots; you'll need them for water landings. There are boots to borrow, but borrowed footwear rarely fits well. I sloshed around uncomfortably. Hiking boots are unnecessary. Overall, this was an outstanding cruise except for one thing: engine noise. I knew there would be noise, but this was NOISE. While it wouldn't have been as bad in a cabin farther from the engine, there is no getting away from it in the dining room where carrying on a conversation is impossible when the engine is running. Our last morning, the engine started up at 4:30 a.m. No more sleep after that.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
We have sailed on a number of small expedition ships and have found this to be our preferred way of cruising. We had a wonderful first week in which the Wilderness Explorer met all of our expectations.The Wilderness Explorer did not have ... Read More
We have sailed on a number of small expedition ships and have found this to be our preferred way of cruising. We had a wonderful first week in which the Wilderness Explorer met all of our expectations.The Wilderness Explorer did not have the luxury of some of the ships we have experienced but the price was quite a bit lower and on the whole, the first week represented very good value for money. The second week however was very disappointing and I would not recommend it at all. Firstly though the advantages. During the first week, there were some good hikes and excellent opportunities for paddle boarding and sea kayaking. . The main benefits for us were the excellent staff especially those helping with the sea kayaking and the small skiffs. The staff were also quite knowledgeable and seemed to genuinely try to make the experience enjoyable for everyone. On most evenings, there was a lecture after dinner and it was interesting to hear from the staff about aspects of the environment or Another great aspect of the trip was that we were able to visit many places which would have been inaccessible to larger ships. This was a real bonus as some places such as Misty Fijords were truly spectacular. It was also wonderful to be in places where our ship was the only one to be seen and which seemed to be true wilderness areas remote from other people. The food on the ship was quite good and very plentiful. There was plenty of variety and lots of salads and vegetables. Except on the final night, all meals were served buffet style. There was also bar where it was possible to purchase cocktails and other drinks and nibblies were served before dinner. In summary, every day during the first week was filled with interesting activities, beautiful scenery and opportunities for exercise. The second week was a very different story. We had booked for the cruise in Australia and I did not realize that there was an opportunity to disembark the ship in Ketchikan. Only a third of the passengers remained on board for the second week- most of whom were other Australians. During this time we had full three days at sea where it was not possible to leave the ship at all. The ship was simply too small for this to be a pleasant experience. Additionally, our mid range cabin was very small and very cold so it was a pleasant place in which to relax. The other days, while pleasant, were spent in areas which could not be considered wilderness areas. I think that the whole week was oriented towards bringing the ship back to Seattle at the end of the season.The staff too, seemed to relax after most of the passengers left. Even on the days which were not at sea, many of the staff seemed to be not as helpful as they were during the first week and we had the feeling that they were simply wanting to finish the cruise. I can understand this as the staff must have worked incredibly hard all season and were probably ready to move on to other aspects of their lives. Finally, we were slightly annoyed that one of the staff made it very clear that a ten per cent tip would be expected at the conclusion of the trip. We know that this is common practice but it still irked. Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
As a former CruiseWest Alaska fan, I've been looking for a replacement. My travel agent recommended that I try InnerSea Discoveries. I had a reasonably nice time on this cruise but I am not sure I will try this company again. ... Read More
As a former CruiseWest Alaska fan, I've been looking for a replacement. My travel agent recommended that I try InnerSea Discoveries. I had a reasonably nice time on this cruise but I am not sure I will try this company again. Highlights of cruise: 8 hour fishing excursion, caught a 3-foot long King Salmon. We also saw a humpback whale so close that it went under the (very small) fishing boat! Whale biologist came on board and showed us videos from whale "critter cams" including whales feeding. Humpback whale came right up to the side of the ship and rolled over while feeding. I got a great picture. Hundreds of eagles on a rock outcropping and feeding - the captain said he had never seen that many eagles in one place, ever. Visit to Klawock with delightful native teens as tour guides and getting to see a totem carver at work. Zodiac trip to see the sea lions, who followed the boat very closely and playfully. Zodiac trip close to a glacier and seals spy hopping on bergy bits near the ship. Met some interesting and very nice people. Great hot tub on observation deck. Comfortable cabin (I had a bigger one all to myself with an outside entry) Good wine selection Outstanding bartender Excellent massage therapist Things I didn't like: The staff was somewhat disorganized. That may be because this was the inaugural season. For example, we had to draw names for the fishing trip because there were only 4 spaces and 6 people wanted to go. There was no warning of this and the couple that didn't get picked wasn't happy. I would have been really unhappy if I had not been picked. The camping trip was full before the ship sailed, even though I tried to book a space by phone with the cruise line ahead of time - they said I had to do it on the ship but when I tried that it was already full. I was really unhappy that there was no PA announcement system to tell us about wildlife. On the last night we had whales feeding all around the ship and didn't know until someone went on deck after dinner and came back to tell us. Many of the activities offered were too strenuous for me and a couple sounded dangerous. On the days when we were anchored in coves for these activities there wasn't much to do unless you wanted to kayak or paddle board near the ship. I spent most of one reading - which was fine but I was really there to see wildlife and scenery. The most disappointing part was the food. It was just OK and I think we were hampered by the fact that we were in the wilderness most of the time and had no ports to get supplies. I did think some of the choices were strange - on the day when the naturalists talked about the negatives of fish farming, they server tilapia - a farmed fish - for dinner. We had rough seas the first night, they passed out pills which helped and recommended that we go to bed. The rest of the voyage was calm. Overall it was a nice experience but not outstanding. I enjoyed my extra days in Ketchikan and Juneau more than some of the days during the cruise. If you are a very active person and like to kayak or do bushwhacking (hiking with GPS and no trail) this would be a great cruise for you. I am more into photography, moderate exercise and spending time in the smaller cities in southern Alaska. I have selected a different cruise line for this year's Alaska trip. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
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