We wanted a small boat experience to do the Inside Passage and chose the Safari Explorer which had a capacity of only 36. Fortunately from Seattle to Ketchikan there were only 12 of us as it was the first cruise of the season, and 26 from ... Read More
We wanted a small boat experience to do the Inside Passage and chose the Safari Explorer which had a capacity of only 36. Fortunately from Seattle to Ketchikan there were only 12 of us as it was the first cruise of the season, and 26 from Ketchikan up to Juneau - this made their service even better.
The staff were helpful, knowledgeable and professional in every sense. Our excursions on the skiffs and kayaks plentiful, we saw humpbacks, orcas, porpoises, seals, and grizzlies. Often there would be a choice of activities including hiking (where the pace was quite slow) and 'bush-wacking' which was fun.
The food and bar service was excellent and flexible to cope with the various food requirements of the varied guests - nothing was too difficult for them.
They has an extensive supply of waterproof jackets and trousers, wellingtons, and binoculars.
It was expensive of course, but worth it. Read Less
Just returned from the 4/17-29/17 "Famed Passages of Discovery" cruise from Seattle to Alaska. Can't begin to say how incredible it was. The small ship experience let us get to know everyone on board, including the entire ... Read More
Just returned from the 4/17-29/17 "Famed Passages of Discovery" cruise from Seattle to Alaska. Can't begin to say how incredible it was. The small ship experience let us get to know everyone on board, including the entire expedition team. All wonderful, enthusiastic, adventurous people. The mountains, waterfalls, and wildlife were beautiful. Enjoyed the hikes, boat tours, kayaking, paddle boarding, snorkeling, polar plunge, ...... all tailored to the group. You could choose from many options to meet your level of desired activity. The itinerary was altered to get the best weather.
The UnCruise team was very impressive - especially noticed how well everyone was treated. It is a rare cruise that allows the team to stop what they are doing and photograph and observe wildlife when they are present, even if that means dinner will have to wait. The entire team was also personally introduced on the first day and thanked by the captain on the last night. The team worked together to get what needed to be done completed - not unusual to see the captain down on the EZ dock pulling your kayak in. He provided the nighttime entertainment one night by singing with his guitar.
We had a wonderful stretch of weather - less rain in April than usual. Would love to go on another UnCruise adventure - biggest question is which one should be next. Highly recommend!!!!
Cabins are very small (and bathroom is the smallest I've ever seen), but we didn't spend any time in there other than to sleep. Not too much evening entertainment, but by then everyone was too tired to do much and headed to bed. Not too much fitness equipment on ship, but plenty of off-ship hiking, kayaking, and paddleboarding available. This was a "wellness/fitness" cruise so we had added yoga, fitness classes and discussions of nutrition that aren't normally included. Given the space limitations, it was impressive what fitness activities could be done on board.
If you like the spa treatments, formal nights, casino, shopping, city tours, or entertainment of more traditional cruises, this is NOT the cruise for you, but if you prefer seeing the unspoiled wilderness & native wildlife with a few adventurous people, this is DEFINITELY the way to go. All excursions and alcoholic beverages are included in the price. Read Less
We were 14 happy people on the Safari Quest Seattle to Seattle. Fabulous crew catered to our individual and collective interests. We had several rainy days, but the gear provided kept us warm and dry. Guides were very knowledgeable ... Read More
We were 14 happy people on the Safari Quest Seattle to Seattle. Fabulous crew catered to our individual and collective interests. We had several rainy days, but the gear provided kept us warm and dry. Guides were very knowledgeable about the places we visited. All were cheerful, helpful, and fun. Highly recommend the company, this ship, and the itinerary.
We were invited along on this trip to celebrate a friend's birthday. Ten of us were part of the party. Two other couples booked independently, but we were all friends - like family - soon after we left Seattle. The crew made all of us feel welcome, and encouraged us to mix.
Food was exceptional - quality, variety, presentation all memorable. Cook always provided a vegetarian option. We especially enjoyed the fish options for dinner, although pork and beef entrees were excellent too.
A special shout out to the bartender and service staff - always mixing up new drinks. Wine selections impressive.
A great time.
Barbara and Chuck from Minnesota Read Less
This was our second trip with UnCruise so our expectations were very high as we had a wonderful cruise the first time. Every aspect of the Yachter’s Paradise cruise was exceptional. We were picked up at the airport in Seattle and ... Read More
This was our second trip with UnCruise so our expectations were very high as we had a wonderful cruise the first time. Every aspect of the Yachter’s Paradise cruise was exceptional. We were picked up at the airport in Seattle and transported to the Crowne Plaza downtown. Refreshments were provided as we waited but most of us explored the downtown area until we left for the Safari Quest mid-afternoon that was berthed at Pier 69. We were greeted with champagne. After a safety briefing we departed for Victoria. Dinner was filet mignon and/or salmon. Both were cooked perfectly. The quality and consistency of food was exceptional, both the entrees and desserts.
This was an inclusive trip which, in Victoria, included High Tea at the Empress Hotel. On our departure we were treated to 6 humpback whales. On Monday we took the skiffs out at Skookumchuck rapids where we saw harbor seals, sea lions, oyster catchers and bald eagles among other seabirds. I can’t say enough about the Expedition Leader, Maria. We’ve been on several cruises that have included a naturalist. Maria was the most knowledgeable, not only regarding wildlife but the areas we explored. She really made this trip special. Princess Louisa Inlet was amazing with rock walls that climb a mile straight up from the water. With on board kayaks and two skiffs, we were out on the water most days exploring the area and searching for wildlife.
The cabins were on the small side but did include a TV for watching DVDs, a private bath with heated floor, closet, dresser and night stand. Our cabin was in a Mariner stateroom on the lower level. We would not hesitate to book another trip with UnCruise. Read Less
Un-Cruise choosen to stay in USA and do a river type cruise.
Beautiful scenery trip could be done by taking your own car and use ferry system, where you could be more independent.Good variety of meals were served at 7:30,12:30 and 6:30 ... Read More
Un-Cruise choosen to stay in USA and do a river type cruise.
Beautiful scenery trip could be done by taking your own car and use ferry system, where you could be more independent.Good variety of meals were served at 7:30,12:30 and 6:30 or picnic lunches to go. Activities are 2 per day and they use sign up sheet in evening and post in AM. Three levels of activities each with a guide. The staff are English speaking, college educated or above, enthusiastic thru out the whole week, Un-Cruise can be very proud of the staff we had on board, they and the Captain made the trip what it was. Would have like to have more activities. Bring book/games for inbetween times. Did watch for wildlife, not skunked but not as many whates as I thought we would see. Rooms are small even though we had a Pathfinder room, your entrance door is heavey metal and slides open, stepping out onto deck. I would opt. for twin beds in lower area as Pathfinder not worth extra cost, also noisy with anchors and laundry storage area, people above. Not a place to get much rest.. At least with twin beds one has a place to sit and stretch out instead of climbing over. Our bathroom had a real smell to it until used for a few days, get new towels each day as they don't dry well. They base out of Crowne Plaza in Seattle, we came in day ahead and paid for transportation/another hotel that we didn't need to do if we would have had Un-Cruise info ahead of time. Called them 25 times for info about trip, very frustrating. Need for better communication! Read Less
I am an experienced cruiser but this was my smallest ship (boat?) to date. We had 19 passengers, served by a crew/staff of 10. Just looking at the picture of Safari Quest tells a lot. Service was extraordinary. By the end of day 2, we ... Read More
I am an experienced cruiser but this was my smallest ship (boat?) to date. We had 19 passengers, served by a crew/staff of 10. Just looking at the picture of Safari Quest tells a lot. Service was extraordinary. By the end of day 2, we knew every fellow passenger and all the crew on a first name basis. Many of the waters transited are protected, but not all. I expected a lot more motion, but Safari Quest is quite stable. We were offered motion-sickness medicine the first night, and that was the only time I used it. I'm not aware of anyone who had seasickness the entire trip.
The itinerary (Yachters' Paradise) was wonderful. A typical day has some hiking, touring ashore, kayaking or cruising in the early morning or evening. Some stops were at charming places with people, like Victoria BC and Friday Harbor in the San Juan Islands. Others were beautiful and pristine sites like Princess Louisa Inlet where the only other humans were on a small pleasure boat or two. You can take a skiff if you don't want to kayak. You can also paddleboard if you like (no experience required!).
This part of the world (Seattle, San Juan Islands, etc.) has a rainy reputation, but we didn't see rain until the last day. Hikes could be muddy with rain, but we didn't experience that.
Dress is casual. Period. Even High Tea in Victoria. Don't bring anything fancy unless it's for before or after the cruise. Makes packing easy. Jeans were my best attire item, as I didn't have "high-performance tech fabrics" that some passengers sported.
Life onboard is excellent, from dinig to accommodations to public spaces. I'll comment on the cabin in the cabin review. Don't look for Broadway productions or a casino!
All in all, I was very favorably impressed and I'm already planning my next Un-Cruise adventure. Read Less
For many, the Un-Cruise experience begins with being fetched at the airport. This was our second Un-Cruise adventure and we have yet to experience that, as our first was in home town Portland and to reach this Seattle departure we enjoyed ... Read More
For many, the Un-Cruise experience begins with being fetched at the airport. This was our second Un-Cruise adventure and we have yet to experience that, as our first was in home town Portland and to reach this Seattle departure we enjoyed a train ride north.
All assemble at the designated hotel, generally the Crowne Point in downtown Seattle, which is in a fine location. Its big recommendation? Location. Other than that, it’s just an average hotel with above average prices.
The hospitality room is staffed by a fellow called Steven who is very helpful and deserves a raise. Why? On disembarkation day there was a communication glitch which put us back at the hotel instead of in a cab to the train station. I told Steven I was not thrilled and his only question was “What can I do to make this right?” He got four of us an Uber SUV within two minutes and off we went. Great problem-solver.
I mention that because he deserves a pat on the back, but more important because it is typical of the attitude of every Un-Cruise crew member we encountered on our fantastic week. They look for ways to make your experience better.
From the hotel, our group of 19 passengers was taken to the ship via a one-hour bus tour of Seattle which was nice enough. The driver talked nonstop, trying to be both informative and funny. Some people loved it. Personally, I thought it was annoying. (But people say the same about me, so there you go.)
At the ship, the entire crew turned out to bring us on board and show us to our cabins. My wife and I had cabin A4, with a large sliding glass door that we would enjoy for hours once we got to some spectacular scenery. The cabin was comfortable and quiet – other than the engine noise when underway and the clatter of the anchor chain now and then. But neither was a bother.
Right away, we met pretty much the entire crew except Rob, the second mate, who was asleep as he would be driving the boat that night. Our crew of 10 included seven women – Captain Denee Blanchard, hotel manager Erica Van Ausdal, expedition leader Pam Navis, chef Kerri Eckels, pastry chef (!) Kate Fujimoto and stewards Courtney Landon and Carla Minnichofer – and three men – chief mate Dirk Boschek, second mate Rob McDougall and engineer Steve Eagleston.
It didn’t seem to matter a whole lot what a crew member’s job was, as they all pitched in to help one another and each was willing to tackle a passenger’s request no matter how complex or trivial. Or help without asking. When my camera went for a short swim and failed to work despite my having cleaned the contacts and dried it to within an inch of its life, engineer Steve raced down to the engine room and returned with a baggie of rice and packet of desiccant. A night in the baggie and the camera was good to go. In the lounge and dining room, Carla, Courtney and Erica soon learned our preferences and anticipated our wishes.
Capt. Denee grew up messing about with boats and inspired confidence despite her tender years. Talk to her in the wheelhouse and she'll gladly explain boat operations, navigation, all sorts of seafaring stuff. The multi-talented Pam is an expert sailor, a naturalist, a gifted story teller, intimately knows the areas into which we sailed and is a fine musician to boot. One passenger asked “Is there anything this woman can’t do?” The thing about the crew, though, is they all seem to enjoy each other and love what they are doing. It’s a happy ship.
A word about the food. I’ve been on several cruise ships and never have I eaten so well as on Safari Quest. I hope Kerri decides to stay and stay, for she’s a magician. She takes often simple, often local ingredients and produces meals that would do a restaurant anywhere proud. We were looking for a way to adopt her. Kate gave us not only extraordinary desserts, but out of this world rolls. This is not a place to lose weight.
Each day begins with “early riser” coffee/tea, fresh fruit and yogurt and pastries at 0630, with a full breakfast at 0730 or later, depending on the day’s schedule. Days include looking for wildlife while cruising, the chance to kayak or paddle board, skiff rides, hikes, sightseeing if in port, or just hanging out on the boat. The day draws down with happy hour aboard or ashore around 5:30 or so, dinner, then a gathering in the lounge to share stories of the day and discuss the next day’s activities.
On our cruise, passengers seemed to range in age from mid-50s to late 70s. Some were quite athletic, some were not but were game to try anything, some just enjoyed skiff rides, some hung out on the boat. All were personable, boon companions. Pam, the expedition leader, made sure to include all – no matter how outgoing or how shy – in activities, in conversation, and in the photos she shot all week long.
Probably the favorite spot of just about everyone was that beautiful place as far north and as remote as we got – Princess Louisa Inlet. It is spectacular. No, spectacular is something of an understatement. You can see photos, you can hear descriptions, but until you see it for yourself you won’t truly appreciate it.
My wife and I have signed up for a third Un-Cruise trip, destination unknown at this point. It could well be a repeat of this one; it was that good. Read Less
Alaska has been one place we have always wanted to visit and a cruise seemed the best introduction. The only problem was we didn't want to be on a big ship. Searching the internet led us to Un-Cruise.
The Safari Endeavour was ... Read More
Alaska has been one place we have always wanted to visit and a cruise seemed the best introduction. The only problem was we didn't want to be on a big ship. Searching the internet led us to Un-Cruise.
The Safari Endeavour was heading for it's summer playground of Alaska from Baja and we picked it up in Seattle. We started at a reception centre in the Crowne Plaza and made our way to the ship via a short city tour on a coach. At dock side the owner welcomed us on board.
We were photographed before being shown by a member of the crew to our cabin where our luggage was already waiting. Cabin 303 was towards the front of the ship on the 300 deck. We wanted to be able to step out onto the deck straight from our cabin and the 300 deck is ideal for this.
I've always been amazed at how much room they find in these cabins. The two single beds had plenty of storage under although one appeared slightly lower than the other. One full length and two half length wardrobes plus 6 large draws took all our clothes with ease. The desk was handy for odds and ends. Coat hooks took the waterproofs and dressing gowns.
The bathroom was cosy. I'm not small and once I became custom with the shower curtain all worked out pretty well. Towels, soap and shampoo are provided but there isn't a problem on environmental grounds for using your own. The tap water is drinkable as the Safari Endeavour has it's own water producing system. It can make 500 gallons of fresh water every hour!
Introductions by the owner, captain and other department staff were done in the lounge. Being the start of the summer season for the ship we only had 32 passengers, a ratio of 1:1 with the crew. We were going to be spoilt! Before we set sail we had an abandon ship drill.
The great thing about Un-Cruise is there isn't a dress code, except when doing water based activities when life jackets are a must. We were gently reminded the cruise was Un-Cruise Adventures and one aim of the crew was to get you off the ship at every possible opportunity.
I might add at this stage the crew were made up of 3 different departments:
The Ship's Crew consisted of the Captain, his Mates, engineers and deck hands. They drove the ship, kept it going and made sure everything bolted down was ship shape. They also drove the skiffs and zodiacs for off ship excursions.
The next section were the 'Hotel' staff. The cooks, bar staff, waiters and cleaners, the latter being the same.
Lastly there were the Expedition staff. This group had the job of keeping us entertained, on our toes and off the boat! I would add to this group the 3 fitness instructors who also gave the complimentary massages at the end of our first week.
The ship can hold 84 passengers. For the first 6 nights we had only 32. The last 7 nights we gained another 30 or so. Naturally we noticed the difference but we never felt crowded. The lounge can hold the full amount of passengers as can the dining room (one sitting per meal) The other public areas like the decks rarely felt crowded. What was nice was the crew also joined in watching whales etc.
I'm told they hold early morning yoga lessons and afternoon stretching sessions. I must have missed those...
Whilst in US waters we were able to get off the boat and explore places very few go to. Double man kayaks, paddle boards and skiffs are used most of these days. Bush hikes also are led by the expedition staff. Lessons are given on using the kayaks and some like my better half were taken out on one with a staff member. My back doesn't allow me to use a kayak and I found the skiffs restricting my photographic needs. I mentioned this to the 3rd mate when he asked me how things were going. Within minutes he invited me onto a zodiac for an hour exploring the bay we had stopped at!
Port of calls included Friday Harbor were we had a 1/2 day to explore and visit the whale museum (included), Ketchikan (full day) were a local gave us a tour of the old town (included) and we picked up extra passengers, Wrangell (morning) where we were given a tour of the local chief's lodge (included).
The hotel staff looked after us so well. Within a day they were all calling us by name and had started to learn our likes and dislikes when it came to food. Generally the food was very good but we do prefer simple fair. Breakfast might have a special omelette etc but bacon, sausages, egg and hash browns were also on offer as was cereals and oats. Early risers also had a continental style affair available in the lounge at 6:30. Some availed themselves of both.
During the trip my wife celebrated her birthday for which a cake and song was given at dinner. The following day was our 35th wedding anniversary and a small treat was also cooked up by the galley staff.
Lunch was generally one option other than a vegetarian version. Often we would just ask for a sandwich which wasn't a problem. Dinner had a meat, fish or vegetarian option. Fine wines are served with meals and all drinks are included with this cruise. A pity we don't/can't drink...
After dinner one of the Expedition staff would give a short talk on their specialist subject. I stopped by for the knots demo and sky at night but the urge to be on deck watching for wildlife won me over. I think later in the season I wouldn't get any sleep as I tried to be on deck during all daylight hours. This may have been a little different if we had a typical Alaskan shower. The thing is we only had one time when we got wet during an off boat excursion.
I don't think I can describe or give justice to the scenery we saw. We did see a brown bear and a black bear but it was a little early in the season for them. Some saw orcas but I missed them but humpback whales were plenty and so were bald eagles. Sea otters, porpoises and other wildlife and birds were also snapped. I can only finish with a short appraisal of our final full day:
We woke up at about 6am to find ourselves slowly making our way into Endicott Arm towards Dawes glacier. We waived between growlers (small icebergs) until we could see the end of the glacier about a mile away. Breakfast then out to listen to the glacier creak and explode as the force of nature pushed it towards us.
In turn we climbed onto the zodiacs and made our way through the floating ice towards the wall of blue. We kept to about 1/4 mile away but calving ice still made the zodiac rise and fall with the waves. Hot chocolate was served.
Once all were back on board the ship retreated to a small side bay where passengers and crew were invited to take a Polar Bear Plunge. A good many jumped in, I chose to take photos. After that some went out in kayaks and paddle boards and I will confirm some came back with fresh ice for their drinks.
By early evening we made our way out of Endicott Arm into Stephens Passage. Here we encountered so many humpbacks. I must have spent 4 hours snapping away. By 10pm I thought I'd better get some sleep. At 11pm a tannoy announcement stated the Aurora Borealis had made an appearance. The deck filled with dressing gown clad passengers and crew. As it disappeared porpoise started to dance at the bow of the ship. It was a perfect way to finish what had been a perfect Un-Cruise. Read Less
Saturday April 30th
After a quick flight into Denver’s snowy airport we boarded our flight to Seattle. The flight was smooth and arrived on time. Seattle’s airport is clean and bright with lots of windows. We got our bags quickly ... Read More
Saturday April 30th
After a quick flight into Denver’s snowy airport we boarded our flight to Seattle. The flight was smooth and arrived on time. Seattle’s airport is clean and bright with lots of windows. We got our bags quickly and waited for a representative to pick us up at the baggage claim area as indicated on the initial paperwork. I called the after-hours phone number (206). A woman answered and told me Steven would call us right back. He did and told us where to pick up the van. Others on the van received a text message with more specific directions. We did not. The drive was very scenic to the Crowne Plaza hotel. The driver did not say a word the entire drive. The Crowne Plaza staff was very friendly and helpful. We went to the hospitality suite and met Steven. He checked us in, recorded information from our passports, and labelled the bags. We left our “carry-on” in a specific area to keep with us for the drive to the boat, but didn’t want to carry around Seattle that afternoon.
We walked down a couple of blocks to Farmer’s Market. It was an enjoyable area to view. We took lots of photos of the local flavor, ocean vistas, the Ferris wheel, ships, and colorful people. We got a quick bite to eat and arrived back at the hotel for 3:45 bus tour of Seattle. The driver was funny and informative. Seattle traffic was terrible, but it allowed time to see the sites without rushing. The tour plans changed a couple times due to road closures. The parts of Seattle we saw were charming!
We met our Expedition Leader, Pamela, and boarded the Safari Quest. Captain Dano has been a captain for 30 years and with UnCruise for 6 seasons. Our trip was the first of 2016! We then met Carla, right at the gang plank. She reached out and grabbed my carry-on luggage and showed us our cabin. She was so fun and nice. We immediately loved her! There was a quick safety briefing/drill, showing us how to put on the life vest. We met the rest of the crew. Erica the Hotel Manager, Emi a Stewart, Mark the Chef, Cari and Chef in Training, Kate the Pastry Chef, Steve the Engineer, and Robb the Chief Mate. Robb is also the Safety and Medical Officer. The crew wears “uniforms” – Oxford shirts and black slacks - that make them look very professional.
After meeting the crew we finished unpacking. We had cabin A2 with a large sliding glass door that was terrific to open for fresh air and viewing. The cabin was quite quiet. We never heard our neighbors, or anyone in the hall, or in the bridge. There is a closet in the room, two large, deep drawers under the bed and a couple hooks on the wall. Also under the bed are two large storage areas. We easily kept our luggage, carry-ons, camera bag, shoes and extra pillows underneath. We had two nightstands with two shelves. Lamps were on the stands as well as a bright overhead ceiling light. In the bathroom are four deep shelves with a lip at the end so things don’t slide out. There was a countertop around the sink large enough to hold a tray of two glasses, and a box of Kleenex. On the clean, fresh bed are lists of other passengers’ names as well as the crew. Also, there were binoculars, and two water canteens. The bed was comfortable with plenty of pillows to choose. Extra fuzzy blankets are on the bed too. They could have more hooks, especially when you came in with wet clothes. We did view a cabin on the lower level and they had a 4 drawer dresser. There is a TV in every cabin. We were busy every evening until 10:00ish so we didn’t have time to watch any of the DVD’s (movies) we brought.
Leaving the harbor and going through the locks was remarkable. It is amazing how they drop the level of the water, in just a few minutes, to reach the correct level on the other side. A real engineering marvel!
Dinner was DELIGHTFUL! A wonderful fresh green salad. Choice of filet, salmon, or a vegetarian dish with asparagus and potatoes. The filet was tender, the salmon moist. For dessert we had a chocolate cake, chocolate mousse with chocolate ganache extravaganza!! It was topped with coconut, nuts, and raspberries; very rich and delectable.
The daily schedule for the next day is discussed in the lounge after dinner. The crossing was smooth. We slept like baby harbor seals.
Sunrise was brilliant! Cresting above the peaks to the East and slowly hitting the snow-capped mountain tops to the West. Clam water with bobbing fishing boats completed the scene.
Sunday May 1st
The day started (6:30AM) with a delicious yogurt with fresh fruit, blueberry scones and assorted teas and coffee. At 7:30 the main breakfast served a Chef’s special of Tomato Frittata with herbs and sausage. Also always available is omelet, eggs, pancakes, baked oatmeal, or bagel and lox. The UnCruise fleet works with the Monterey Bay Aquarium and their “Seafood Watch” program. They only use (cook) seafood and fish that are farmed and fish responsibly, and are not over-fished, or in the way they are caught. Our ordered meals of eggs, bacon, and toast came very fast.
We left the boat to go through a series of security screening with Canadian border guards. The Safari Quest docks in a secure, patrolled section of the harbor. It was very safe. We walked to the Empress Hotel to view their beautiful gardens and architecture. It is under construction right now, but still very stately. We walked through the hotel and out the back door which is right across the street from the Royal BC Museum. It was magnificent. A real treat! We did get a reservation for High Tea at the famous Tea Room of the Empress so we walked back there. It was very, very nice. Their tea was the finest I had ever tasted. Lunch was served on a three tiered plate in the middle of the beautifully set table. The first layer had finger sandwiches, second scones and the top mini cakes and tarts. All were absolutely delicious. The layer chocolate dessert was NOT as good as last night’s dessert on the boat. Afterwards the group split up. We had enough time to walk to Fisherman’s Wharf. The harbor seals were slapping the water to gain your attention for treats. The wharf is beautiful. Those that live there are very lucky. Their houses had gorgeous flower boxes and unique art around their brightly painted boat houses. We did not try and of the food, as we had just eaten, but lines were forming at some of the popular places. The boat left the dock on time. On the way out of the harbor we saw eagles, white sided dolphins in the distance, otters, seals, and deer on an island. Another fantastic dinner with lamb, cod, vegetable polenta. For dessert a caramelized pineapple tarts. The anchorage was in calm, secluded, peaceful waters – Buccaneer Bay.
Monday May 2nd
We cruised to Skookumchuck Rapids and did a skiff tour to explore the intertidal areas. Saw beautiful bright purple and orange sea stars, sea urchins, anemones, and rocks underwater. Highlight was the eagles and seals. The skiff (Zodiac boat) got right up on top of the rocks near the shore or hovered in place to watch the seals. It was a lot of fun. The crew was on the back deck of the Safari Quest to help us get in and out of the skiff.
Lunch was terrific… again!
We cruised up Jervis Inlet and entered Malibu Rapids Beyond we could see Princess Louisa Inlet, where we would anchor for the night. The Indians called it Suivoolot which means sunny and warm. We did have sunny and warm conditions this day. In route we saw over a dozen eagles. Two flying very close to the boat. We were transfixed watching them; we forgot to raise our cameras to take a photo!! The crew all day could not have been more accommodating. They served drinks to everyone, no matter which deck they were on. They found you whether you were in the bridge, on the lower decks or sunbathing up top. Up and down the steps all day. They really do work very hard. Countless thin waterfalls cascaded down the steep mountain side into the water below. All around us, on both sides, the waterfalls tumbled down steep cliffs. At the end of the inlet is Chatterbox Falls. A large, thunderous waterfall that was sending out so much water over the rocks the mist covered the area. Those who ventured into the cloud of water were showered and soaked within seconds, but invigorated beyond words. We were transported over to land and walked a short distance through fern and moss covered forest on a boardwalk. The crew not only cleared the spider webs from the trail they had been setting up our “happy hour” in the octagonal pavilion – even building a fire. Drinks, snacks and hordurves were served as we sat around the fire and listened to the crew’s beautiful voices and hidden talents. A few passengers joined in when they knew the song. The sunlight started to creep behind the tall 7,000’ cliffs and shadows ascended on the falls. Friendly faces greeted us as we got back on board as the lounge filled up with drink orders and memories of the day. I noticed clouds floating in as they are the first ones we have seen on days. Dinner was served at 6:30PM.Pork, fish, and a vegetable dish. Dessert was fun as well as delicious – deconstructed s’mores. The graham crackers as well as the marshmallow were homemade!!
Tuesday May 3rd
After 8AM breakfast we kayaked to Chatterbox Falls and surrounding waterfalls in the inlet. A little drizzle started this morning but it didn’t damper the spirits of the kayakers. The trip was exhilarating to the base of one of the powerful waterfalls. They did provide rain pants and jackets to those that didn’t bring them. The kayak life vest was much more comfortable to wear than the other one. The crew was GREAT helping us get in and out of the kayaks. Teaching us how to paddle and show the distress signal. Afterwards the crew had hot chocolate and coffee with Bailey’s or Jameson Irish Whiskey. AND, of course, whipped cream! Lunch at Noon with the regular choices and the Chef’s special of focaccia bread, roasted chicken sandwich. The dressing on the salad, again, was wonderful. Mark really knows how to blend ingredients to perfection. Dessert was individual carrot cakes. No one left a crumb on their plate. It was still raining, so most of us decided to stay on board to get to the Malibu Lodge tour. One person took the skiff, with other crew members, to tour the shore on their way to the lodge. That afternoon I went down to the lounge to get hot tea, as I was chilled. Carla asked if she could get me an extra blanket. How thoughtful! Erica asked if she could make me the cup of tea. That is just a small example of the type of crew they have on the Safari Quest. About half of us went on shore for the tour of Malibu Lodge. Steve drove the skiff to the dock of the Club. The captain asked Steve if he would come back on board, just to have one more crew, in case of an emergency going through the rapids. We were very impressed with the safety measures they take. After checking out the course through the rapids and checking it twice, we were ready to go through the rapids. First Mate Robb took the wheel and without any problems we got through the rapids. Good job! There is also a satellite phone on board for emergencies. They also periodically check in with the Coast Guard as their position and intentions of course. This is just a little bit of the behind the scenes to ensure our safe passage through the inlets. The walking tour of Malibu Lodge was interesting. It is a beautiful complex. Dinner was served at 6:30PM. Duck, scallops, and a wonderful chocolate lava cake. The cake was rich, but not sweet. The chocolate they use is fantastic! Tonight we head to Harmony Islands for the night.
Wednesday May 4th
It was a cool, sunny morning in Harmony Islands. My husband was not feeling well this morning. Erica and Emi asked if they could bring him something to eat. Pamela told me a story about a passenger that never left the boat. He said that 51 weeks out of the year he is on land, but this one week he was on a boat with food, drinks and service. I think it was her way of making me feel better. So nice! She also said that she could find a crew member to kayak with me if I wanted. I decided to join the group and go skiffing around the islands and view the 800’ waterfall. First, we drove south to a smaller island. We saw eagles, seals, and sea lions that slipped into the water as we approached. The eagles soared high about, land on the tops of trees, view us for a while and then fly off. We spotted a black bear on shore eating oysters. He almost looked like a black rock, he was so still. It took a few steps and was engulfed into the dense forest. The Dogwood trees were in bloom along the shore. Pam whipped the boat at full speed back to the Safari Quest, where delicious hot chocolate with whipped cream and Grand Mariner awaited us. I was surprised when I took off my waterproof pants the chill in the air. They worked great to shield my legs from the wind chill on the skiff. Lunch was great! A salad with grilled prawns, green beans, artichoke, deviled egg, olives, tomatoes, fingerling potatoes with herbs, and a key lime tart! Yum!!
A couple minutes after lunch we were transferred to Jedidiah Island. The walk was wonderful. Old fern filled evergreen forests change to sunny meadows. The old house, barn and surrounding buildings still stand. The house is perched on a hill overlooking a magnificent view of a gorgeous bay with large rocks, trees, and a beach of oyster shells. A quick skiff ride back to happy hour and dinner. Are we eating again? At dinner we had the Chef in Training, Cari. We noticed the difference right away. Short ribs, salmon were not as tasty as Chef Mark’s. Dessert was a terrific Tiramisu tart. Beautiful presentation and we think the best dessert so far!
Thursday May 5th
Anchor up at 6:30AM to try to beat the wind. We set sail through the Strait of Georgia. I took an early breakfast then up to the bridge for wildlife watch. Besides beautiful islands, narrows and other boats there wasn’t a reason to get the cameras out. Lunch was at Noon as we docked in Ganges. We walked out through security and got to shop for a quick hour before boarding our bus for a tour of Salt Springs with Jason. We got to see this beautiful island, a goat cheese farm, and a short hike up the coast. The goat farm was interesting with delicious samples of their cheeses, jams, chutney, olives and creamsicles. The hike along the coast was spectacular. As we were resting at one of the scenic points, an eagle landed in a nearby tree. He let us take a couple of photos before flying off across a bay and screeching to his mate. We arrived back at the harbor with enough time to visit a couple more shops in town before they closed. Before dinner we got a tour of the engine room. We were surprised it was larger than we thought and very clean. The water treatment was interesting. Dinner was served at 7:30PM. Choices were a moist chicken breast, perfectly cooked cod filet and in honor of Cinco de Maya, a vegetarian cheese empanada. For dessert we had a 3 layer cake with fresh berries. It was so rich. After dinner there was story telling by Captain Dano – a true treat!! Also, magic tricks, jokes, but no singing. It was fun. You could venture into town if you wanted, as we were parked at the dock all night. There was a sign out and sign in board if you left the ship.
Friday May 6th
I can’t believe it is Friday. But, looking forward to getting back in the USA! Customs went smoothly in Friday Harbor. We gathered in the lounge after breakfast. The agent came on board and checked out everyone’s passport. She asked us what we purchased then welcomed us back! We then were ready for the tour of San Juan Island. The first stop was of a lighthouse and State Park. The walk was beautiful down to the coastline and then across to the lighthouse. We later found out that this spot is one of the BEST places in the world to view Orcas! Down the road was a lavender farm and Alpaca Farm. We didn’t have time to see the National Park, which was disappointing to me, but stopped at Roche Harbor. We got to the Whale Museum with enough time to view before lunch back on board the boat. The museum had a lot of “hands on” displays. Lunch was at 1PM. Pork tenderloin sandwich or roasted eggplant. Again, the salad was very good. Dessert was Pecan Bar. After lunch it was back up top to watch for wildlife. I did not spot any whales in the many hours I looked through the binoculars. There were plenty of different types of birds, if you are a birder. We did come alongside a fellow Quest boat. It was fun to watch them do the Polar Plunge. Dinner was SPECTACULAR!!!! A tasting extravaganza!! First was Salmon roe with cucumber au jus. The first course was parsnip soup with roasted parsnips. Second course was halibut with finger length potatoes. Third course was NY strip steak, mushrooms, Brussel sprouts. Dessert was a wonderful lemon and ricotta cheese cake with pistachio shortbread crust. After dinner we received our luggage tags for tomorrow’s disembarkation. White was for the airport people; yellow for the hotel transfer. We also had the opportunity to check out our tab. 7% to 10% of cabin rate is standard for a tip. Some gave less, some gave more. We hope that more gave more. The crew is worth every percent you give them. The slide show was outstanding. The music was great and photos even more so. It was fun to relive the wonderful memories of an awesome cruise in a few short minutes.
We are very lucky to be able to compare this cruise (and crew) with many we have taken. This cruise and especially this crew is by far the BEST! The crew works extremely hard to ensure you have a terrific time. Even while we were at breakfast the last morning, they tidied up our stateroom. We had requested two things before we sailed. One was a special juice and the other a specific soda. They provided both without making it seem like an inconvenience. Other cruise lines have informed us that “this” is the juice they serve, or “this” is the brand of soda they have. It meant the world to us that they made a special effort to get those specific things for us. It showed us early on that they cared! Thank you so much Safari Quest!!
Saturday May 7th
The final breakfast was as good and fast as the others. The special was vanilla pancakes that were so fluffy. It was served with fresh berry compote. My eggs were cooked to perfection (over easy), as well as my toast. While at breakfast they loaded our luggage onto awaiting buses. The crew lined up on the pier to wish each and every one of us a safe journey and thanked us for cruising with them. We in turn thanked them profusely for the terrific week we had. They are special!! Every one of them made our week the most memorable, fun, and special experience imaginable. One bus drove to the airport, the other to the hotel’s hospitality room. Traffic was light and we arrived at the airport in 45 minutes. It was sad to leave such a pretty city and the best cruise line, UnCruise, behind. We will be on another UnCruise as soon as we can! BUT, I do not think that another crew can surpass the Safari Quest’s crew! Read Less
We had never been to the Seattle area and wanted to see as much of the area as possible. The Un-Cruise from Seattle was an excellent way to see this area. Each day we would be at anchor near a different island. In the evenings after ... Read More
We had never been to the Seattle area and wanted to see as much of the area as possible. The Un-Cruise from Seattle was an excellent way to see this area. Each day we would be at anchor near a different island. In the evenings after dinner, we would hear about the next days' activities. We could sign-up for any of about 3-4 different excursions. Normally, 2 of the excursions were hikes. We always took the longer hike. We also did several kayak excursions. There was no cost for any of the excursions. All were lead by guides from the ship.
The ship is an excursion-style boat that holds fewer than 100 passengers. For our trip, there were about 45 passengers. The ship is showing some age and the cabins are on the small size (we had one of the 4 largest cabins). Luckily, you do not spend a lot of time in the cabins. Common areas were very nice for viewing wildlife. Also, the captain allows full passenger access to the bridge. It was awesome to sit up front and see the scenery from the bridge. Captain and his crew were very nice.
Dining was at a set time and the dining room could accommodate everyone easily. There were 3 entree selections in the evening, one a vegetarian entree. Food was very good. Breakfast and lunch were served buffet style. I had no complaints about the food.
This is a cruise that active people will enjoy. There is no entertainment on board. The entertainment is watching for wildlife as you cruise around the islands. One day we saw a pod of about 7-8 orcas. On this ship, the captain could stop and give us time to watch. During the day, we would be transported to shore and lead on the best hikes of each island. There is no way we could have covered 1/2 as much ground on our own. We saw whales, eagles, otters, porpoises, and hundreds of different birds.
Highlights were: Orca sightings, hikes, new friends, Un-Cruise staffers.
Also - the weather was beautiful all week!! Read Less
As a resident of Southern California and a regular visitor to Seattle, I've spent time in the San Juan Islands and up and near Vancouver/Victoria. I had heard about the Princess Louisa Inlet and decided this was the year to explore. ... Read More
As a resident of Southern California and a regular visitor to Seattle, I've spent time in the San Juan Islands and up and near Vancouver/Victoria. I had heard about the Princess Louisa Inlet and decided this was the year to explore.
This was my 3rd Un-Cruise, a company I love and remain very loyal to. I was skeptical about the small size of this vessel and the 22 guests onboard knowing I really enjoy 50 - 75 people on these small ships. I was in for a big surprise. I had a blast. The very small group allows you to really bond and jump from summer camp for adults (which has been my larger small ship experience ~ vessels under 100 guests) to bonding as a family of strangers. The group consisted of a varied age group from 50 to 80. Since it was September (and my favorite time to take off to avoid lots of kids), I knew the age group would be older. The great thing about these kinds of cruises if that you get to know everyone very quickly. Those of us who are high energy, very adventurous and want to exert energy found ourselves being cheered on by those who have either had their day in the sun or simply don't want an overly physical trip. It's all available here.
Embarkation was a breeze. Be at the designed hotel is downtown Seattle by the assigned time, go to the hospitality suite, ditch your luggage and transfer to the ship. Easy-breezy. The hotel is located in the heart of all that can be found on foot downtown. A ten minute walk to Pike's Place Market, a three minute walk to the Nordstrom mothership and a 15 minute walk to the REI flagship store. Lots to do and see if you arrive early and have the full day to explore.
The vessel is small but very clean and well assigned. The bar was stocked with high end spirits (Belvedere vodka thank you very much) and some very good wine. I would recommend the Bridge Deck. The cabins are spacious and have French balconies. The cabins on the main deck open directly into the dining room and the cabins on the cabin deck do not have any porthole or balcony only bridge lights. They are still worth it, believe me. I talked with everyone on board about their accommodations. You get to know everything in a group this small. Within a very short time after embarkation you realize you have found a jewel and the feeling is that you have your own privately chartered yacht. It is a spectacular experience.
Meals are served in the dining room at set hours. Pick a table, order, enjoy. The one HUGE perk for me is that they are very conscious of waste and no meal is ever super-sized. For me, the ultimate cruise turn off are large buffet lines with plates piled to the ceiling being hauled by generously proportioned guests. With a focus on nature, nature lovers and outdoor sports, most of the guests on Un-Cruise are somewhat health conscious so the portion size of all meals encourages healthy eating. If you wish for a 2nd serving, it is yours for the asking. I never saw anyone go for it.
As with all Un-Cruise itineraries, the day is set by wildlife. If you encounter a pod of humpbacks or orcas, you will stay with the pod to allow maximum viewing without encroaching on nature. Un-Cruise is VERY observant and respectful of proximity to these amazing creatures and respectful of their place in our oceans. We witnessed day boats following dangerously close to a pod but maintained our required distance and still had a spectacular viewing.
I am an adrenaline junkie so getting out and about on a kayak is my favorite experience in the Pacific Northwest. We had 4 days of kayaking with ample time to get a great workout and then some. There were also hikes and a campfire with singing thrown in for good measure. Sounds cheesy? It wasn't at all.
The success of any cruise is dependent on two things. Your perspective and ability to be flexible and the crew's ability to insure you have a great trip. Un-Cruise excels in this area. I booked late in the process but one of the onboard crew saw my name on the manifest (I sailed with her last year on the Endeavour) thought it could be me and remembered I love ruby red grapefruit juice and vodka. Voila, imagine my surprise when I was greeted with my favorite drink. Heaven on the high seas!! Our EL "Exploration Leader" was great. She knew her stuff about the area we were headed to and the flora and fauna we came across. She was also very savvy in quickly sizing up those of us that would require a little more adrenaline stimulation and insured that we got our time out in nature. It was a perfect blend of time spent burning calories and being one with nature.
The crown jewel of the itinerary is the Princess Louisa Inlet. It is truly spectacular and not easy to access. It is also well worth the effort to get to. Since it is accessible through a very narrow channel and tide-dependent, large cruise ships cannot reach it. That's a huge plus. The pristine nature of the whole experience is a testament to its accessibility. You may have a few private yachts anchored but you are virtually in your own little world and it's beautiful. This is the place for west coasters who think they've seen it all, love nature and yachting. Again, the private yacht experience comes in to play here. The exclusivity of it makes it that much more enjoyable.
In summary, this was a really great vacation. Lots to see, do and experience with some very cool new friends. Well worth the price to have the feeling of your own private yacht, to wake up at the base of Chatterbox Falls in the Princess Louisa inlet, to be in waters with some of the ocean’s most beautiful creatures and to have them put on a private show all for you. Very few people will ever experience this honor. Read Less
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
My wife and two daughters just returned from a cruise on the Safari Quest beginning in Seattle and cruising North in the San Jauns, Puget Sound, Straits of Juan de Fuca and all the way to Princess Louisa Inlet. We were very lucky as the ... Read More
My wife and two daughters just returned from a cruise on the Safari Quest beginning in Seattle and cruising North in the San Jauns, Puget Sound, Straits of Juan de Fuca and all the way to Princess Louisa Inlet. We were very lucky as the weather was spectacular for the entire trip and the waters were calm.
On the NEGATIVE side, the itinerary is nice but lacks substance and activity. Much of your day is spent steaming to the next port or attraction and that means a lot of down time. The sites and scenery are wonderful and mesmerizing but little time to look for mammals and sea creatures. The visit to Ganges Harbor is a waste of time. Friday Harbor is nice and we would have liked more time there. Princess Louisa Inlet in the highlight of the trip and yet we only spent one night and one morning there because it is so far North.
The cabins on the first and second decks are small as you would expect but very nice and recommended. The beds are comfortable, the bathrooms adequate and each has a very large double sliding glass door. The lower level (below the water line) cabins, four (4) of them, are not adequate and somewhat dangerous. There is really only one way out, a steep spiral stair, and no windows. They are hot and noisy. They put three handicap persons in three of the rooms which was very dumb. Because of the location of these rooms and the difficulty to exit them they should really canvas the possible guests and be sure to place them above the lower deck or not accept them at all. Also, the cruise line should greatly discount these rooms.
On the plus side, the crew, the food and the service were wonderful. There were 18 passengers on board and a crew of 10, Captain, First Mate, Cruise Director, Hotel Manager, Engineer, two cooks, and three stewards. We never wanted for anything and the food was plentiful. Drinks were included and always available. I can't say enough about the crew; they made the trip. The cook, SinGyn, was a character and served gourmet meals out of a very small galley kitchen. The Cruise Director, Lia, was very knowledgeable, professional, personable but not very accessible. She was always there when it was time to be there and always did her job very well but she did not mix with the passengers very well unlike Emily, Monica and Holly who were always talking with us and joking with us. Lia did a very good job, don't get me wrong, she just needs to loosen up a bit.
Overall I would give the ship a 4.5 out of 5, the lower cabins a 2. I would give the crew a 5, the itinerary a 3.
I'm a yachtsman and was surprised and more than pleased that the captain, mate and engineer were willing to share their knowledge and experience with me. I was quite impressed with the state-of-the-art gear they have aboard and the ... Read More
I'm a yachtsman and was surprised and more than pleased that the captain, mate and engineer were willing to share their knowledge and experience with me. I was quite impressed with the state-of-the-art gear they have aboard and the bridge team's very close attention to the task at hand.
You experience professionalism at every level on Safari Quest - the hotel staff made us feel right at home. Better than at home, I have to get up and get my own drinks at home and I never offer myself a cookie. Their job looks exhausting, but they never let a passenger think that they're working at all.
The fact that my wife and I are on extreme diets tells the whole story on the excellence of the chef and the pastry chef. OMG - I have no self-control when confronted with delicacies like they prepared. The meals were right-sized, too. That's pretty unusual in American restaurants.
The naturalist-guide-tour-director-boat-driver-kayak-coach is a star. If I could remember half of the important stuff she taught us, my head would explode. And she's a standout at customer service, fulfilling the "mother duck" mission as well as her many other roles with style and grace. If she were your daughter, you'd be very proud.
We experienced some of the most beautiful country that BC and the San Juans have to offer in comfort and style. If it weren't for the requirement to work, I'd sign up for another cruise next week.
This was my first cruise of any kind and I'm afraid I'll have to stay with Un-Cruise for my future trips. I was on their smallest ship, the 22 passenger Quest. We were not full so there were fewer than 2 passengers for each crew ... Read More
This was my first cruise of any kind and I'm afraid I'll have to stay with Un-Cruise for my future trips. I was on their smallest ship, the 22 passenger Quest. We were not full so there were fewer than 2 passengers for each crew member. The crew was friendly, welcoming and helpful. Cabin was very comfortable; memory foam mattresses, heated floors in the bathrooms. Common areas were very spacious and homey. Activities were varied and plentiful. With a group so small, there is no need for sign-up sheets for activities. We could all kayak together if we wanted. The crew brought provisions on shore and we had happy hour at the base of Chatterbox falls with a bonfire while Monica serenaded us with Irish tunes on her fiddle. A terrific end to a most wonderful day. The food was plentiful and well prepared. You can't go hungry. Freshly baked cookies in the afternoon. Desserts with lunch as well as dinner. There was a choice of both a meat and seafood entrée at dinner, or you could have some of both. The chef had no problem satisfying special orders, whether it was for food allergies or personal preferences, he'd make it just for you. I can highly recommend Un-Cruise and can say without doubt that I will be sailing with them again. Read Less
Our luxury yacht cruise on the Safari Quest through the islands of British Columbia with Un-Cruise Adventures was truly an incomparable cruise experience. The yacht is relatively small, holding only about 22 passengers along with crew, but ... Read More
Our luxury yacht cruise on the Safari Quest through the islands of British Columbia with Un-Cruise Adventures was truly an incomparable cruise experience. The yacht is relatively small, holding only about 22 passengers along with crew, but was very comfortable and roomy inside. The crew was one of the best we have ever had and provided great service, seeming to really enjoy their jobs and the cruise experience. We did have one night of really rough water when we left Seattle and there was some seasickness aboard, so be sure to take motion sickness medication if you are prone to this. The rest of the cruise was completely smooth and the weather was beautiful in the area in early April. Our cabin was very small compared to those we had experienced on large cruise ships but it was comfortable and well-designed so everything we brought was easily put away. The food was good and plentiful with three meals a day and plenty of snacks available. There was an open bar with a variety of drinks and you were welcome to get yourself a soft drink, coffee, tea, or hot chocolate at any time. The best part of the cruise was the locations as the areas were visited were just gorgeous. Every day, a variety of activities were offered; everything from kayaking on your own to group hikes and tours of the area by skiff. We had a local expert on the ship and she was wonderful about sharing information about the local flora and fauna, even plucking starfish from the rocks to show us in the skiff. We absolutely recommend this cruise to anyone who is interested in a small ship adventure in this area. It's the best way to see the beautiful islands of British Columbia. Read Less