Where to even start; I don’t think anything could have prepared us for the experience we would have with UnCruise Adventures on our Inside Passage Cruise. We had never been to Alaska before but knew we didn’t want the experience that the big cruise ships had to offer, we wanted something smaller, something more intimate.
The UnCruise itinerary not only offers you small ship cruising but an itinerary you won’t find with any other ship on the waters of Alaska. They are about nature, they are about wildlife and they are about the destination, without any distractions.
So we decided to put UnCruise to the test and see if what they advertised was really true. Do they really cater to people that like adventure? Will they really be dragging us into the dense forests of Alaska to hike? Will we actually have opportunities to kayak in areas without hundreds of other tourists?
We headed for our Alaska Inside Passage cruise on a Spring sailing of the Exploring Muir’s Wilderness itinerary and boy did we get a surprise. UnCruise delivered what we wanted from a cruise and so much more.
11 Reasons to Take an Alaska Inside Passage Cruise with UnCruise
One of the most enduring factors of taking an UnCruise for your Inside Passage cruise is the small ship size. Instead of being a massive floating hotel, the ships are intimate, with cozy, quiet lounge areas with big windows and unobstructed views of Alaska.
Cruising on a small ship means you get to access places the big boys cannot, like hidden coves, fjord arms and you can even get right up to glaciers. It also means you get to know all the staff and they get to know you. You’re greeted by your name and become friends with the people that work on the boat. You won’t get this on a big cruise ship.
Small Group Sizes
Small ships mean small group sizes. Our UnCruise ship, the Safari Endeavor, holds a maximum of 84 passengers and is the largest ship in their fleet. This meant our excursion groups were small, never more than 10 people, and very personal. The adventure guides got to know our names and we were able to hold conversations and get to know each other on the days out in the wilderness.
This also meant we weren’t clambering around and tripping over each other all day. We moved quietly together and were able to enjoy the scenery around us without fighting for space. We could all be close to the adventure guide to hear the stories and details about the places we were visiting. You really can’t trade an experience like that. It’s intimate and allows you to be intimate with the experiences you are having.
Forget the buffet, with UnCruise every meal is enjoyed in a dining room setting with friendly service. Each day you are presented with 3 options to choose from, including a vegetarian option, for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The chef incorporates locally sourced ingredients to give you a feel for what cuisine is like in Alaska, so it’s safe to say you can expect salmon and Dungeness crab on your cruise.
The dining room on the Safari Endeavor was roomy with large windows meaning you didn’t have to miss any of Alaska when you sat down for a meal. The crew even placed binoculars on the window ledges for use during wildlife sightings. I can’t tell you the number of times we enjoyed meals while watching whales outside.
All Cabins Have a View
You won’t find any interior cabins on these ships; every room on an UnCruise has a view. While room categories do vary, every room has a window that I found to be incredibly mindful of the company. There was mornings that we would wake up, open the curtain and watch Alaska unfold in front of us in the privacy of our room.
If we were in our room and the crew came over the speaker to announce a whale sighting, we could also choose to view the activity from our room. It doesn’t get much better than that.
While I know a lot of people enjoy shopping when on vacation, you won’t find any opportunities for shopping outside of the ships gift shop and the Juneau Port on either side of the cruise.
We thoroughly enjoyed being with a group of people who were not distracted by shopping and able to thoroughly enjoy just being in the destination. This aspect really sets UnCruise apart from traditional cruising and helped make our cruise a true adventure. Your Inside Passage cruise doesn’t have to be about shopping.
An Inside Passage cruise in Alaska gives you direct access to some remote wilderness. It’s a chance to add to the flare of adventure and you won’t find box tours to popular and crowded sites on UnCruise. Instead, grab some mud boots, rain gear and get ready to head off into the wilderness. One of our daily adventure options was spending several hours blazing trails and bushwhacking through the Alaskan Wilderness.
Leaving the ship on a skiff, our small group would be brought to a remote beach with an adventure guide, where we would enter the tree line and begin a trek through the forest without trails and without other people. We were given opportunities to sit in silence on the forest floor and reflect on the raw beauty of Alaska as a destination. This is priceless in today’s busy, rapid world.
Fastened to the back of every UnCruise ship is a custom built launch pad that allows dry take offs and landings for their onboard fleet of sea kayaks. Kayaking is a great way to get on the water and get up close to nature. Guided kayak trips and open paddles were on offer daily and one day they even offered a full day paddle.
We signed up for this and found the rest of our ship not so adventurous, there were only 2 other people with us besides the guide. It was heaven, the 5 of us paddled over 12 miles to a never visited beach where we had a picnic, explored the tidal zone and bushwhacked in one of the most beautiful forests we encountered during our 4 weeks in Alaska. This was one of the most special days we had in Alaska.
If you didn’t feel up to kayaking or bushwacking, you had daily options to board one of the four onboard skiff boats to tour the area we were docked in, view wildlife on shore and in the water or just enjoy being off the ship.
Depending on your preference, you could choose a skiff with or without railings and because they keep their groups small, everyone has room to move, rotate and capture photos of the landscapes and wildlife you see on your excursion.
Intimate Glacier Viewing
Alaska’s Inside Passage is stuffed with opportunities to view glaciers. With UnCruise, the experience becomes intimate when you are given options to board the skiffs and view the glaciers up close and personal. Our itinerary brought us right up to the face of the glacier in both Glacier Bay National Park and Endicott’s Arm.
On our last day we traveled all the way to the end of Endicott’s Arm to the Dawes Glacier, got as close as we could with the ship before boarding the skiffs and getting up close to icebergs and the glacier face. They even served us hot chocolate while we shivered from the icy wind and admired nature at it’s most powerful.
Small ships mean quiet ships. No loud disco music or theatres onboard an UnCruise meaning the wildlife isn’t scared away. We enjoyed hours of wildlife viewing from the bow of the ship including Eagles hunting and fishing alongside our ship, grizzly and black bears on the shoreline, seals, puffins, orcas, humpback whales, moose and so much more.
On the day we did our all day paddle, we came up on a peninsula in the tidal zone where we witnessed two giant bald eagles feasting on an octopus they had just extracted from the ocean. They were maybe 40 feet away from us; it doesn’t get much wilder than that.
As long as the weather cooperates and you’re willing, they offer you the chance to polar plunge into the chilly water of Alaska’s Inside Passage. Providing a life jacket and support crew both on the ship and on skiffs nearby, take a deep breath and jump on in.
The kayak launch pad gives you water level access off the back of the ship, so you can sit, jump or flop into the water, whatever you desire. We won’t lie, it’s frigid cold, but remember that as soon as you’re back onboard you can run up to the hot tubs and warm up again.
Emphasis on Wellness
Last but certainly not least, adventure your heart out by day and relax those muscles with a dip in the hot tub, yoga in the morning and/or a massage in the evening. Or have a massage during the day, your call! We loved that the Safari Endeavor offered complimentary yoga classes and massages during our Alaska cruise and it was the perfect fix to any sore muscles we had from a week of adventuring in the wilds of Alaska.
The massage treatment rooms were quiet, dark and soothing with aromatherapy incense being burned and soft music playing. They gave yoga classes on the aft deck in the open air with the beauty of Alaska all round you. They even have a fitness area on the top deck with weights, machines and mats for keeping fit during the cruise. Their wellness team is well trained and attentive to your needs during the entire week.
Our Thoughts on an Inside Passage Cruise with UnCruise
What are you waiting for? If Alaska has been on your list but you’re not crazy about the idea of sailing around with thousands of your new best friends, then we may have just provided you with the answer you’ve been looking for.
Speaking from the heart, we’ve become fans for life. The adventures that UnCruise have to offer in Alaska, and probably any of their other destinations for that matter, are about the destination and every single person involved with that company is passionate about what they do and what the company stands for. Without a doubt, we’ll be on another UnCruise in the future.
Hot Tip: Be sure to plan a few extra days in Juneau on either side of your UnCruise adventure. The city has so much to offer and some amazing and classic Alaska experiences you shouldn’t miss.
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Looking for more information about Alaska? Check out these travel blog post.
Is Spring the Best Time to Cruise Alaska? | Denali State Park Heli-Hiking Adventure in Remote Alaska More Than Northern Lights – Things to do in Fairbanks, Alaska | Ultimate Guide of Things to Do in Juneau, Alaska | 19 Photos That Prove Juneau, Alaska Is More Than Just A Cruise Stop | The Ultimate Alaska Packing List | Visit the Mendenhall Ice Caves Before They Melt – Juneau, Alaska | Alaska Travel Guide | Alaska National Parks – The Fabulous 8
Resources for Planning Your Trip to Alaska
Recommended Guide Books For Alaska: Lonely Planet Alaska (Travel Guide)
- Fodor’s Alaska (Full-color Travel Guide)
- Fodor’s The Complete Guide to Alaska Cruises (Full-color Travel Guide)
- DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Alaska
If you are road tripping in Alaska or renting a car you must have: The Mile Post
The Best Alaska Maps: Alaska (National Geographic Adventure Map)
Plan your Alaska car rental adventure with Priceline. We got a killer deal on our rental through them.
Find Accommodation in Alaska: Read reviews and check prices for hotels in Alaska at TripAdvisor.Com
Travel Insurance: We use for Allianz for travel insurance and have since our first trip to Mexico in 2003. They’ve been there for us on our adventures – and many friends and readers – multiple times over! If you want to book with Allianz Travel Insurance, simply use this link to get their travel insurance!
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Disclaimer: We were guests of UnCruise Adventures on our Alaska Inside Passage Cruise. All opinions, as always, are 100% mine.