For as long as I can remember, my oldest son has wanted to travel to Alaska, so when the opportunity to explore Alaska with UnCruise Adventures presented itself, I knew I couldn’t say no. He just finished his first year of college in May, and I knew he would be the perfect companion on an Alaska adventure cruise.
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*We were guests of UnCruise Adventures for the purpose of this review. As always, opinions are 100% our own.
We didn’t know exactly what to expect with UnCruise, because honestly, it seems most people find them through word of mouth. Once I was able to track down a few people who could tell me more about UnCruise Adventures, I knew it sounded like the perfect Alaska cruise for us.
What is UnCruise?
UnCruise Adventures is a company that focuses on big adventures in small ships. They travel where the big cruise ships can’t.
This is especially handy in destinations like Alaska where most people see the glaciers and tide pools from afar. With UnCruise you’ll get right up close to the icebergs and even have a chance to touch them.
Where does UnCruise sail?
UnCruise has several options depending on the season. In the spring they explore Baja California Mexico and the Sea of Cortez. Swimming with the whale sharks was one of my all-time favorite experiences, and I imagine this trip is epic.
When summer rolls around, the small ships relocate. Summertime is all about small ship cruises in Alaska, the Galapagos, and the Pacific Northwest.
There are small ship adventures in Hawaii from November through April, and starting this year they will offer a Belize/Panama itinerary in October and November.
Their Costa Rica/Panama itinerary is offered from October through December. No matter the destination, there is an UnCruise adventure for you.
What can I expect with UnCruise?
UnCruise ships are not flashy. Most of their vessels are older, with the bare amenities on board. We sailed on the Wilderness Legacy and there was a lounge for relaxing, the main dining room, two hot tubs (for 6-8 people each), a small workout area, a library, and a bar. The ship can accommodate up to 86 guests, but I believe our sailing had around 70 people.
Other ships offer similar amenities, and the smallest UnCruise ship can carry 22 guests. Wilderness Legacy is the largest of the UnCruise ships and has a staff-to-guest ratio of 3:1.
Rooms on UnCruise are small but comfortable. They have efficient layouts with a wardrobe, drawers under beds, and a small desk area. There’s a tv with the daily schedule and a speaker for ship announcements.
Bed configurations are double beds, a queen bed, or twins. Some of the suites have king beds.
The bathroom is compact but it does its job. Anyone taller than 6 feet will feel like they are showering in a box due to the low ceiling.
What’s a typical day like on an Alaskan UnCruise?
We took the Alaska Wild, Wooly, & WOW itinerary and the days were very structured but flexible. The weather in Alaska is constantly changing so you need to be ready for anything.
Our amazing lead adventure guide Sarah, aka “creator of the perfect schedule” was in charge of organizing all of the activities for the week. She was responsible for adapting the daily itinerary depending on the weather and did a phenomenal job ensuring everyone had an unforgettable cruise.
Sample day aboard UnCruise
- 6:30 Early Risers – coffee and baked goods available in the lounge
- 7:30 Breakfast in the main dining room. Afterward, the waitstaff comes around and asks for your selections for lunch and dinner so the chef can prepare accordingly.
- 8:30 Morning tours begin – the day before everyone signs up for two activities they want to try the following day. There might be a mild hike or kayak adventure, or maybe a tidal pool walk. Everyone is assigned a different time slot, so every day you will be with a new group. It’s a great way to meet other travelers.
- 12:30 Lunch
- 1:45 Afternoon tours – this will be your second adventure of the day. It might be a skiff tour, paddle boarding, or bushwhacking. As I mentioned, you choose your own adventure.
- 5:30 Happy Hour – everyone meets in the lounge for snacks and a before-dinner cocktail. Stories about the day are shared by everyone.
- 6:30 Dinner
- 7:30 Nightime activities – different nights bring different crew members sharing Alaska-themed lectures or game nights. One night might be all about icebergs, another could be Alaska Jeopardy, and another might be about the animals of Alaska. You can choose to attend or unwind in your room.
Where in Alaska does UnCruise travel?
UnCruise goes where the larger ships can’t. Our Wild, Woolly, and Wow itinerary covered the Tongass National Forest, Brothers islands, Ideal Cove, LeConte Bay, Keku islands, Neka Bay and Chimney Rock, Chichagof island, Inian islands, George island, and Glacier Bay National Park, phew!
The other UnCruise small ships to Alaska visit the Northern Passages, Glacier Bay, the Endicott Arm, and Misty Fjords National Monument to name a few. Cruise duration varies from 7 nights to 14 nights depending on the ship.
What type of food is served on UnCruise ships?
Every morning the pastry chef creates a few trays of pastries and fruit cups that are served in the lounge starting at 6:30. These are left out until they are gone. Granola bars are available all day.
Breakfast on UnCruise
Breakfast is a sit-down affair with two main options: the omelet of the day and one other dish. One morning was a delicious huevos rancheros, another day was a broccoli cheddar quiche.
If neither of the options appeals to you, oatmeal, eggs, toast, bagels, yogurt parfaits, and cereal are available. Bacon and sausage are available every day.
UnCruise lunch and dinner
Every morning at breakfast the chef asks guests to make their lunch and dinner choices. There are typically three options: a meat, vegetarian, or fish entree for each course. Lunch options included dishes such as chicken gyros, stuffed peppers, and bison chili.
Dinner choices have included lamb, duck, crab, rockfish, and more. Each day brings a different menu and every meal ends with dessert.
Afternoon and Happy hour snacks
After each afternoon activity, there are cookies available in the lounge. Happy hour begins at 5:30 with light hors-d’oeuvres such as olive tapenade and toasted bread or mini pizzas. There is no shortage of food (or alcohol) onboard UnCruise ships.
How active are UnCruise Adventures?
UnCruise is not one of those companies that docks in a tourist town and lets you off to explore on your own. Most of the adventures launch right from the ship.
And these aren’t just any adventures. We’re talking bushwhacking trips to unexplored islands, half-day kayaking trips, and shore hikes. If guests choose to skip a morning or afternoon activity they can always take a skiff ride or relax on the ship.
This cruise is as active as you want to make it since you are choosing your activity options each and every day. Whether you’re traveling with teens or grandparents, we are sure everyone can find a well-balanced schedule.
We traveled in mid-May, and the average age was probably 65, but these were some of the most active travelers I’ve ever met. Not only were they well-traveled, but they were also regular hikers, tri-athletes, and kayakers.
It is my understanding that the summer Alaska cruises have more family travelers, which would make sense. UnCruise does offer family-focused adventures when children and teens are onboard.
What about UnCruise staff?
I don’t even know where to begin with this question. The UnCruise staff is easily some of the hardest working individuals in the cruise industry, and they do it all with a smile.
The adventure guides are SO knowledgeable about Alaska and the environment, and they have fabulous personalities. Have to give a shout-out to all of the amazing ones on our UnCruise: Keika, Gray, Aiden, Bobby, and Julie. Each of them has a wonderful personality and made the excursions immensely enjoyable.
Then there’s the dining room staff and bartenders. We had stellar service from Brianna, Emma, Dakota, Rachel, and Carolina. No request was too big and by the end of the trip, they felt like family.
Why should you take a cruise with UnCruise Adventures?
UnCruise makes cruise ships fun. There’s no dressing up for extravagant dinners, no chance of getting lost on the ship, and no chance of being bored.
Our active family loved trying out one of the smaller cruise ships to Alaska because it brought us to places the big ships simply can’t explore.
The highlight was easily the polar plunge in Glacier Bay National Park, but there were many other epic moments, including kayaking alongside glaciers and hiking to private beaches. There were many times throughout the week that my son and I just looked at each other and said, “wow”.
From the stellar crew to the once-in-a-lifetime destinations, this is certainly an unforgettable adventure vacation. If you’re looking for the best small ship cruises to Alaska, look no further, UnCruise is the only way to go.