Top 7 Reasons To Explore Alaska On UnCruise Adventures Safari Endeavour

Alaska with UnCruise Adventures

Top 7 Reasons To Explore Alaska On UnCruise Adventures Safari Endeavour

Top 7 Reasons To Explore Alaska On UnCruise Adventures Safari Endeavour

By WAVEJourney

 

WJ Tested: 7-Night Alaska Glaciers & Whales Small Ship Adventure Cruise from Juneau to Sitka with UnCruise Adventures Safari Endeavour

 

To quote UnCruise Adventures’ owner and CEO, Captain Dan Blanchard, “The brochure is only a guideline. Throw expectations out and let the crew take you by the hand and show you what Alaska is really about!” If passengers follow this credo, they are bound to experience an incredible Alaskan small ship adventure with UnCruise Adventures!

 

WJ’S TOP 7 REASONS TO EXPLORE ALASKA ON SAFARI ENDEAVOUR

1. Destination and Itinerary – Glaciers and Whales and much more:

UnCruise Adventures - Juneau to Sitka, Alaska cruise on Safari Endeavour

UnCruise Adventures – Juneau to Sitka, Alaska cruise on Safari Endeavour. (Map courtesy of UnCruise Adventures)

Creating unforgettable travel memories is possible with UnCruise Adventures. Experiencing dramatic scenery, remote hidden coves, snow-packed mountain tops, mist-covered forests, walls of icy turquoise glaciers, pristine crystal clear coastal waters, and wildlife in their natural habitat are part of the adventure.

Glaciers and waterfalls in Alaska

Glaciers, ice fields and waterfalls in Alaska

An UnCruise Adventures small ship cruise is a unique way to discover Alaska in a unique manner – with days filled with soft adventures, and nights spent aboard your floating boutique hotel.

Tlingit village of Kake

Tlingit village of Kake, Alaska

The cruise spent time in the 16.7 million acre Tongass National Forest in southeast Alaska (the largest national forest in the U.S.), and a visit to the remote Tlingit village of Kake provided an authentic experience to witness Alaska native life and culture.

 

2. Safari Endeavour – Small ship soft-adventure cruise experience:

Safari Endeavour

Safari Endeavour

UnCruise Adventures’ Safari Endeavour is the largest in the fleet, and affords a small ship cruise experience for a maximum of 84 passengers (68 on our trip). This size and style of adventure ship provides an ideal way to reach more remote parts of coastal Alaska – most often going where the big ships can’t.

If the weather isn’t cooperating, the Captain can change the itinerary and go with the flow. If wildlife is in the area and worthy of watching for longer than originally anticipated, the timing and course can change on a dime.

Safari Endeavour is a purposely-built and designed expedition ship. The comfy and open plan lounge/bar is where passengers spend most of their indoor time between activities, meals or when expedition guides are giving instructions or briefings.

UnCruise Safari Endeavour

UnCruise Safari Endeavour – Lounge, Bar and Dining Room

The dining room features round tables of eight in the middle of the room, with booths that seat six along both port and starboard sides. A small library off the dining room held a selection of books about Alaska, wildlife, flora and fauna, novels – fact and fiction, etc., along with a couple of guitars, board games, DVDs and maps.

The upper sundeck is equipped with exercise equipment and plastic furniture – sun loungers, tables and chairs. The outdoor aft area on deck three has two hot tubs (perfect for relaxing after strenuous excursions), and is where everyone gears up for activities off the ship.

Safari Endeavour Outside Spaces and Equipment

Safari Endeavour Outside Spaces and Equipment

Safari Endeavour features a limited variety of cabin sizes and configurations, so the earlier you can book the more likely you will get your preferred cabin.

The cabin bathroom is tiny with a shower (and shower curtain), toilet, sink and bathroom amenities (dispensers of hand soap, shampoo, conditioner, body wash).

Safari Endeavour Cabin 317 Bathroom

Safari Endeavour Cabin 317 Bathroom

All passenger cabins (most with fixed twin beds) have windows to the outside. Cabins on deck 3 are only accessible from the outer deck – which is a handy location if you want to pop out of your cabin for fresh air or to take outdoor photos in the middle of the night (which we did on numerous occasions when we heard wildlife).

Safari Endeavour Cabin 317 Fixed Twin Beds

Safari Endeavour Cabin 317 Fixed Twin Beds

 

3. The Food – You won’t go hungry or thirsty with UnCruise:

Safari Endeavour Dining Room

Safari Endeavour Dining Room

The onboard pastry chef will become one of your favorite crew members. The delicious freshly made pastries, breads, cookies, desserts and more will be very difficult to pass over.

Continental Early Riser Breakfast

Continental Early Riser Breakfast in the Lounge

Mornings start with early riser continental breakfast (fresh-baked pastries – the bacon maple scone was especially yummy, cereal, fruit juices, granola and yogurt, fresh fruit, etc.) at 6:30.

At 7:30 PM the announcement is made that breakfast is ready to be served in the dining room (typically two choices of breakfast dishes – i.e. eggs benedict, French toast, pancakes, omelettes, frittatas – with sides, or order ala carte eggs and bacon, etc.).

Two Course Lunch in the Dining Room

Two Course Lunch in the Dining Room

A two-course lunch with included beer or wine in the dining room is served starting around 12:30 PM and consists of a hot main course (examples: Moroccan falafel in pita with salad, pork bahn mi sandwich, tuna poke bowl, vegetarian teriyaki) and dessert (lemon meringue tart, iced cup cake, profiterole).

Cookies, Snacks, Coffee and Tea

Cookies, Snacks, Coffee and Tea

Freshly baked cookies are plentiful in the afternoon in the Endeavour lounge for guests to help themselves, and each day is a different flavor.

Libations at the Bar

Libations at the Bar

Cocktail Hour starts at 5:30 PM and passengers meet in the Endeavour lounge for included cocktails, mocktails, wine, beer and hors d’oeuvres (baked avocados, flatbread with prosciutto and spinach, charcuterie, Crudités platter, meatballs, baked brie, bacon-wrapped dates).

Cocktail Hour Hors d'oeuvres on Safari Endeavour

Cocktail Hour Hors d’oeuvres on Safari Endeavour

Dinner is a 3-course meal with included beer or wine in the dining room and service typically starts at 6:30 PM. The first course was either a soup or salad.

Dinner Entrees and Dessert

Dinner Entrees and Dessert

Main courses have three choices – from the sea (fish and seafood – halibut, Dungeness crab (all-you-can-eat dinner), Pacific Rock cod, Pacific Ling cod, sockeye salmon), from the land (meat and fowl – braised beef cheeks, breast of chicken, veal shank), or from the garden (vegetarian – stuffed Portobello mushroom, roasted stuffed cabbage, veggie enchiladas). Dessert was always delicious and varied (panacotta, vanilla sponge cake, rhubard tart).

 

4. Activities and Excursions:

UnCruise Adventures Kayaking and Polar Plunge in Alaska

UnCruise Adventures Kayaking and Polar Plunge in Alaska

Offering a variety of included daily activities, with varying levels of adventure and exertion, passengers can participate in the excursion du jour of their choice – bushwacking, beach nature walks, ocean kayaking, standup paddle boarding, skiff rides, and a possibility to take a polar plunge off the ship’s aft EZ Dock activity launch platform.

For those that do not want to exert themselves, it’s perfectly fine to just sit back and relax on the ship with a cocktail and their favorite book while taking in the scenery.

Safari Endeavour Skiff Excursions and Morning Yoga

Safari Endeavour Skiff Excursions and Morning Yoga

Most evenings, wildlife and nature talks by an activity guide take place in the lounge after dinner.

Our cruise had a professional photographer aboard, Jacqueline Deely, who helped passengers improve their photography skills, gave specific tips for capturing wildlife, and helped those using only a smartphone as their camera to improve their photos. It was a bonus for the guests that only booked that cruise because of the photography theme, as well as anyone even slightly interested in the subject to pick up a couple of tips.

 

5. Adventure Guides and Crew:

UnCruise Adventures Safari Endeavour Crew

UnCruise Adventures Safari Endeavour Adventure Guides and Crew

Most UnCruise guides and crew have been with the company for more than a couple of seasons – the longest tenure on our cruise was 8 years. We found the adventure activity guides were enthusiastic and knowledgeable about the location, wildlife, and activities – working hard to provide the best Alaska experience possible.

Each day there were a variety of excursions for passengers to sign up for. Most evenings a brief onboard naturalist lecture about Alaska-related subjects (flora, fauna, wildlife, geology) was given in the lounge after dinner. Wildlife on the viewing wish list that guides work hard to safely encounter include whales, sea otters, seals, bald eagles, moose, bears and sea creatures.

Hard working service staff (stewards) perform a variety of duties, so be prepared to see them cleaning cabins and tidying common public spaces between serving meals in the dining room.

The bartenders start early in the morning making sure coffee, tea and espresso-based beverages are available for the early rising guests. Their bartending skills are put to the test for the remainder of the day – concocting innovative cocktails until the last passengers retire for the night.

The Wellness team take care of the daily morning yoga/stretch on the outside deck, and a 30-minute complimentary massage is included for all guests at some point during the week.

The ship’s crew of consists of the Captain, Chief Mate, 2nd Mate, 3rd Mate, deckhands, Chief Engineer and engineers, Wellness crew, Chef, Sous Chefs, Pastry Chef, Galley Utility, Housekeeping Supervisor, Food & Beverage Manager, Hotel Manager, and Expeditions Leader.

 

6. Passengers – Get to know your fellow cruisers:

Get to know your fellow passengers

Get to know your fellow passengers

Getting to know fellow passengers – mostly clad in casual quick-dry and moisture wicking outdoor garb – and make new friends is easy on a small ship cruise. When you share tables at mealtimes three times each day, hang out in the lounge for libations and various activities, and when you have similar interests based on this choice of cruising style, an UnCruise small ship provides a fun and convivial atmosphere for like-minded individuals. The majority of passengers (ages 16 to 80+) on our sailing were from the USA, but there were also a few others from Australia, Great Britain, New Zealand and Canada.

 

7. Value:

Alaska on Safari Endeavour

Alaska on Safari Endeavour

With a passenger to crew ration of approximately 2:1, service is professional and efficient.

The all-inclusive cruise fare (not including gratuities) includes:
– three meals daily – breakfast, lunch and dinner,
– early riser continental breakfast,
– snacks,
– afternoon cookies,
– cocktail hour h’or douvers,
– hand crafted premium cocktails,
– beer, wine and spirits
– morning and evening cabin service
– lectures and onboard presentations
– active excursions and soft-adventures with professional expedition guides
– outdoor gear for activities (varies per ship and itinerary)
– sundeck exercise equipment use
– 30-minute massage

 

Tips for Cruising with UnCruise Adventures:

Cruise Tips - UnCruise Adventures

Cruise Tips – UnCruise Adventures (left to right: WAVEJourney/Dan Blanchard)

The Ship – The ship is designed and functions as your floating adventure base that takes you from one remote location to another. The destinations are the main focus, so enjoy the nature and wilderness location you’re in the midst of exploring.

Staterooms are compact and cozy – so take no more luggage than you absolutely need – and TV’s only have the daily itinerary and menus (although a small selection of older release DVDs can be borrowed).

Public space is limited to the outside deck, lounge and dining room – therefore, be prepared to spend a lot of time with fellow passengers.

There’s no casino, live entertainment, swimming pools, multiple dining venues or extensive menu selection – so be prepared for the limited venue space.

There are no keys to lock cabin doors from the outside, but you can lock the door from inside. The “No Wake Zone” sign is very handy to place outside if you don’t want to be disturbed. This is very freeing just being able to come and go without wondering if you have the key to your cabin or what to do with it on excursions.

 

Gear and Clothing – Heard the saying, “There’s no bad weather, just bad gear!”? Alaska will definitely put outdoor gear to the test!

Rain gear and rubber boots are a must on a small ship Alaskan adventure cruise (or even a land trip). Safari Endeavour had unisex Helly Hansen seam sealed rain jackets and pants in a multitude of sizes available for passenger use, but if you don’t wear “average” sizes, make sure to bring your own rain gear so you’re comfortable and dry. Rubber (mud/rain) boots were available for guests to use, but the sizes available were limited – so if you want to make sure you have the perfect fit, bring your own.

Even though casual attire is the norm, you’ll need enough clothing and layers to keep you warm and dry during your trip as no laundry facilities are available (and it’s always super difficult to air dry anything on a ship).

A waterproof daypack is also extremely handy to have on an Alaskan trip. We used an Outdoor Products Amphibian waterproof 20L daypack and found it invaluable. https://outdoorproducts.com/collections/day-pack/products/amphibian-20l-backpack

 

Internet – WiFi is not available through the ship, so if you have mobile service (or a hotspot) that occasionally works at a very slow speed in the remote areas the cruise travels, prepare to switch off and not connect for the week.

We travel with a KnowRoaming Global SIM card that typically works where other mobile services won’t. In the remote parts of Alaska where we spent most of the week, we barely picked up a signal between leaving Juneau and arriving in Sitka. We also found the connection too slow to post photos, although we did manage to download emails a couple of times.

 

Wildlife Sightings – Alaska is less travelled in the early months of the cruise season, so travel deals can be found more easily in May and early June. But, keep in mind that the weather at this time of year will most likely be colder and wetter than in summer.

During our entire 3-week Alaska experience (small ship cruise, land tour, and large ship cruise) between May 28 to June 6, wildlife viewing was quite limited and nowhere as abundant as it is during peak season (late-June through mid-September). The joke flying around was, “Can you spot the dot?” as most wildlife we did see was at quite a distance, therefore, best viewed with binoculars (provided in each cabin and in the lounge) or large zoom camera lenses.

 

Camera & Techie Gear – Bring lots of memory cards and extra batteries for your camera. A bag or cover to keep your camera dry is also a necessary item – even a heavy duty gallon size Ziploc bag work really well (carry extras).

If you want to backup or look at your thousands of photos from each day, a laptop can be very useful.

Extra battery packs are also handy for charging smartphones when the weather extremes and constant use quickly drains the battery.

If you have a waterproof camera, it will be very handy for excursions on land, in the skiffs or out kayaking when the elements are soggy.

Drone flying is not permitted in the majority of locations Safari Endeavour sailed, so you decide if it’s worth taking along to maybe only use once during your cruise.

 

Gratuities – Tips are not included in the cruise fare, but can be paid with cash or credit card on the last full day of the cruise.

The Hotel Manager takes care of dividing the gratuity amongst the crew – so you won’t need to worry about handing out cash unless you feel the need to extra compensate particular people for exceptional service.

Two different amounts were suggested on our voyage – the Hotel Manager suggested US$25-35/day per person, while the Captain suggested US$350-450/week per person during his farewell chat.
(Note: The general consensus from passengers on our cruise was they were comfortable tipping about US$250/week per person.)

 

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Notes: WAVEJourney were media guests of UnCruise Adventures in May 2018. All information is correct at time of writing, but be sure to check for current details. All opinions and recommendations are completely our own. Read our full disclosure statement to see our review policy.

 

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