North To Un-Cruise Alaska!
Tomorrow will mark the start of another Live Voyage Report, and yet another journey that will take me back to the gorgeous State of Alaska. This time, though, I won’t be taking a mainstream ship there on the standard run from Vancouver or Seattle. Instead, my journey will begin right in the Alaskan capital of Juneau, where I’ll set out for a week of adventure to see a side of Alaska that remains elusive to many visitors.
On Sunday, I’ll embark Un-Cruise Adventures’ Safari Endeavour, an 84-guest ship that, at 232 feet in length, is positively petite when you see her docked alongside some of the much larger ships that call on Juneau. I know. I saw her there this past June, docked near the floatplane dock at the end of the pier, nearly resting in the shadow of one of the mega cruise ships that was berthed there.
Her intimate size is the entire point, though. Because she’s smaller, she can go to places where big ships simply cannot – and because she carries just over 80 guests, Un-Cruise can treat them to experiences that other cruise lines can’t.
Of course, for me, getting there really is half the fun. My journey will take me from Vancouver to Seattle, where I will hop onboard one of Alaska Airlines daily nonstop flights to Juneau. Juneau is only accessible by air or sea, and is the only United States capital outside of Hawaii that you can’t drive to. Alaska is the only airline that flies to Juneau year-round, though Delta Airlines did begin offering seasonal service this summer from Seattle.
I’ll also get to spend a night there pre-cruise at the Westmark Baranof, which I am quite looking forward to. I’ve always been to Juneau onboard a cruise ship on a day call, and I’d imagine that “Juneau After Dark” would make for a rather interesting book.
The full itinerary, both here and onboard:
|Day 1||Juneau, Alaska||Arrive Juneau; overnight stay at the Westmark Baranof|
|Day 2||Juneau, Alaska||Embark Safari Endeavour; Upon boarding, your crew greets you with champagne and smiles. Set sail for a week of scenic channels and secluded wilderness.|
|Day 3||Glacier Bay National Park||Accompanied by a National Park Ranger, over the two days in the park you’ll travel nearly 60 miles cruising up-bay to the tidewater glaciers of Grand Pacific and Margerie, which frequently calve huge icebergs into the bay. If conditions permit, we’ll lower the skiffs and weave among the icebergs that have fallen from the face of the glaciers. Enjoy an evening at anchor, and mornings paddling your kayak in the quiet of this majestic wilderness. Here in the bay are puffins and sea lions, mountain goats and bears, moose, eagles, and scenery more spectacular than any place on earth. Glacier Bay is at its best when explored by small groups with unfettered time for treks and kayaking inside the bay and wilderness areas.|
|Day 4||Glacier Bay National Park||Enjoy another exclusive day exploring the glaciers and wildlife of Glacier Bay National Park.|
|Day 5||Icy Strait||Today’s the ultimate day of exploration. Set your course for arguably the richest whale waters in Southeast Alaska. Keep watch for the telltale blow of the humpbacks as you scour the nutrient-rich waters in search of whales, porpoise, sea lions, and other wildlife. Join the Captain on the bridge or go on deck with your Expedition Leader. Late afternoon, we’ll drop the skiffs and kayaks for closer inspection of the remote coastline with eyes set on shore for possible bear sightings. This evening, take in the solitude while relaxing in the upper deck hot tub or enjoy a nightcap with your fellow yachtmates in the salon.|
|Day 6||Chichagof Island / Baranof Island||With no binding agenda, today you’ll cruise the waterfall coast of Chichagof Island. Marvel at the grand scenery of Alaska’s wilderness as the crew expertly guides you through those “not in the guidebook” places known only to the locals. This evening, perhaps tucking away in a waterfall-laced fjord, there’ll be time for skiffing, beachcombing or treks ashore, and kayaking to look for sea otters and bears before calling it a day near Baranof Island.|
|Day 7||Frederick Sound / Stephens Passage||Spend the day exploring in Frederick Sound and Stephens Passage—another excellent chance to view humpback whales and other marine wildlife. Pass by Five Fingers Lighthouse and watch for playful antics at a large sea lion haulout made from dozens of rocky islets. Later, cruise picturesque bays, where evergreen forests crowd the shores.|