Into the Wild: Life Aboard Un-Cruise Adventures In Alaska

By embarking on Un-Cruise’s small boat, we were able to get back to nature and truly connect with the wilderness of Alaska.

 

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.

Wilderness Adventurer boat

kayaking in alaska

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.
 

Daily Excursions

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.

skiff tour alaska

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!

Read more: The Perfect Road Trip Itinerary to Alaska’s Mat-Su Valley

skiff tour dawes glacier alaska

adventure kayaking alaska

adventure in alaska

paddleboarding wilderness adventurer alaska

kayaking waterfall dawes alaska

hiking alaska
 

Meals

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.

Read more: 8 Bucket List Experiences You Don’t Want to Miss in Alaska

sunset from wilderness adventurer boat alaska

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.

dawes glacier alaska
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.
 

Plan Your Trip to Alaska

After traveling consistently for over 10 years, we’ve come to trust and rely on a few websites to help us find the best deals on flights and accommodation.

Flights:

  • Going is the first place we check when searching for cheap flights. If you sign up for their email alerts, you’ll receive flight deals at up to 90% off. I have traveled all over the world using their flight deals.

Accommodation: 

  • You will most likely need to book at least one night of accommodation in Seattle before or after the cruise. Booking.com offers savings on hotels, apartments, and villas in 80,000 destinations worldwide. You can browse hotel reviews and find the guaranteed best price on hotels for all budgets.

 
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.

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10 Comments

  1. Little Nat says:

    We are thinking of doing the same trip this summer. It looks like you had great weather! Photos are gorgeous. Did you see any wildlife…bears, moose, whales? Also, can I ask what class cabin you were in? We are thinking of Navigator class, which is smaller but seems closer to the water since there is no outside walkway. Would love any specifics. So excited to find your page!

  2. Sam@GreenGlobalTravel says:

    I love the vibrant colors in your pics! It’s just gorgeous! Sounds like an awesome adventure

  3. hikebiketravel says:

    I am definitely not a cruise person either but I made an exception for the Galapagos and loved it. I’d definitely do the same thing here.I would so love to kayak in Alaska. Your photos are enticing as always.

  4. Smith Jack Lean says:

    Thanks Christy Woodrow for your post. You are awesome photographer. Please keep posting your photograph.

  5. Traveling Ted says:

    Amazing photos of Alaska. Seeing the outdoors from a kayak or canoe is the way to go. Love that the alcohol was not jacked up too much seeing they had a monopoly on the supply.

  6. Gregory Berg says:

    Thanks for the heads up on Un-Cruise Adventures, Christy! My wife and I (fellow San Diegans) took a Windjammer Cruise (the amazing small-ship company that sadly went out of business) down the coast of Costa Rica and Panama ten years ago and have been looking for something with a similar vibe in Alaska. This sounds like it may be a fit!

  7. Nancie (Ladyexpat) says:

    Alaska is definitely a place where I would want to take a cruise. This one looks great! I love that second last photo!

  8. Jennifer Dombrowski says:

    Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous photos! I’m generally not a fan of cruise ships but I think I’d like a smaller more adventurous cruise like this.

  9. BeyondBlighty says:

    Looks amazing! I love your picture of all the kayaks 🙂

  10. The scenery looks stunning! I need to start doing more outdoor focused travel.