5 UnCruise Wilderness Explorer 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would be welcomed by some of the more active passengers, also that the ship's interiors are getting a bit worn and outdated and could do with an overhaul.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
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
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
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
Wilderness Explorer Ratings
Category Editor Member

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