Un-Cruise Adventures Alaska Cruise Review
My internal clock wakes me before the sound of my alarm and I instantly peek out the window above our bed. The captain has already anchored near El Capitan on Prince of Wales Island — the first stop on our seven-day cruise aboard the Wilderness Adventurer in Southeast Alaska.
We jump out of bed — eager to soak up the scenery and experience the day’s activities.
We chose this cruise over a larger cruise company because we wanted to explore the wilderness areas where the big ships are not apt to travel. By embarking on a 160-foot boat, we were able to get back to nature and truly connect with the wilderness of Alaska.
Each evening aboard the Wilderness Adventurer, we were given a briefing on the next day’s activities. Annie — our enthusiastic adventure leader — came up with a list of activities which usually included shore walks, more advanced hikes, guided kayaking, open kayak and skiff tours.
After one of the knowledgeable crew members provided an explanation of the area and information about the local wildlife, Annie would then stop by our table as we all sat down for dinner to take our adventure order. If one activity was more popular, she would always work out a way to make sure everyone was able to go on the excursion they were most interested in.
Each guided activity was generally no more than three hours long, so we usually picked two activities — one in the morning and one after lunch.
A few of our favorite excursions for the week:
- Eagle viewing in Port Houghton — both on land and on skiff tours
- Open kayak — ALL the locations, especially North Dawes (near Dawes Glacier) and Bay of Pillars because it’s rich with charming Sea Otters
- Bushwhack hiking on Kuiu Island — we made our own trail and saw a black bear!
- Skiff tour in Endicott Arm to view Dawes Glacier
- Guided kayak in Patterson Bay — reflections galore!
We rarely expect much when it comes to food on a boat — I’ve never really been impressed with the food on cruise ships — but we were blown away by the meals on the Wilderness Adventurer.
Breakfast and lunch are served buffet style and there was always something different on the menu. They even made spaghetti and meatballs taste delicious. Compliments to the chefs!
Dinner was normally a sit down, three course meal. Each night, we could choose from three main course items and there was always a vegetarian option. Many of the guests chose the surf and turf — meaning the cooks would prepare a half order of both the meat and the fish option for those guests who wanted to taste both.
There wasn’t a meal we didn’t enjoy, but a few of our favorites included scallops in butter sauce, duck, potato curry, and crab legs.
Advantages of Cruising on a Smaller Vessel
If you are used to traveling on large ships, you may be surprised at the size of a 160-foot vessel at first glance. The Wilderness Adventurer has four levels and holds a maximum of sixty guests, so it’s not huge.
Something I found extremely unique about this experience is that none of the guests are given keys to their rooms. I think this confuses everyone at first, but it was definitely easy for us to get used to. After a few days, I couldn’t imagine having to keep track of a key or be bothered with unlocking our cabin door the dozens of times we entered each day.
Another advantage is that your room is never far away. If I wanted to switch camera lenses or grab my tripod during a whale sighting, I was never worried I would miss the action. On my last cruise to the Caribbean with family, I often got lost on the way to my room and it would sometimes take me fifteen minutes if I was on the other end of the ship.
For us, the list of advantages is lengthy, so I’ll only mention the most important conveniences we found below.
- The captain and crew have the freedom to make changes to the itinerary based on weather and ocean conditions. We didn’t stick to our original itinerary because a storm was headed that way and our Captain wanted to avoid rough seas.
- There is a more intimate feel with a small group of people, so we found it easier to meet like-minded people.
- Un-Cruise Adventures offers very active itineraries and all of the activities are included in the price except a few extras like backcountry camping and snorkeling.
- They loan out rubber boots and dry bags.
- They provide complimentary seasickness pills.
- Alcoholic drinks were surprisingly inexpensive — $4.50 for a beer and $5.50 for a glass of wine.
- They offer a large DVD and book collection and all cabins have DVD players.
For most destinations, cruises are not our first choice. But, Alaska is one of those places we felt a cruise would be beneficial. My only regret is not extending the trip a few days to explore more of Juneau and Ketchikan. Our next visit to Alaska will definitely include a dog sledding or seaplane tour!
For a complete list of what we brought on our Un-Cruise in Alaska, see our Alaska packing list.
Have you been on a cruise in Alaska? If so, what did you think of it?
A special thanks to Un-Cruise Adventures for hosting our stay on the Wilderness Adventurer and giving us a unique tour of Southeast Alaska. As always, all opinions are our own.