Let me begin by saying this was our fourth trip to Alaska and third cruise of the Inside Passage. We have cruised on a 2,000 passenger ship, a 140 passenger ship and now on a 60 passenger ship. The 60 passenger ship is the way to go.
We were on the Un-Cruise Wilderness Adventurer on an Ultimate Adventure http://www.innerseadiscoveries.com/alaska-ultimate-adventure. Two weeks of awe inspiring beauty, animal sightings and adventure. Other bloggers have adequately covered the itinerary. Check out
I would like to give some specific tips, allay some fears and alter some expectations. So here goes.
First, the trip is not a “free for all”. Don’t expect to be able to go ashore and hike wherever you like or kayak on your own route, outside the view of the ship. ALL hikes and “kayak trips” are escorted and planned by the adventure crew, with the exception of “open kayaking”, which I will discuss later. That said, the opportunities are varied and depend on the itinerary.
On our two weeks there were three “long kayak” trips offered. These were 5 hours long and included a packed lunch for your time away from the ship. There were also several short 2 or 3 hour kayak trips. These are active trips with steady kayaking for a long period.
“Open kayaking” is offered when the ship is at anchor. You can kayak as long or as short as you like, they just ask that you don’t go out of sight of the ship. This was the option my husband and I took advantage of three times over the course of the trip. Our friends tried a 3 hour trip, but they like us, prefer to kayak for a while, then rest and just enjoy the view or sounds of nature. They decided that the open kayak option was better suited to their kayaking style.
Second, I’ll give you some packing advice. The Un-Cruise recommends layers. Layering is a good idea, however, don’t leave all your heavy layers at home. I brought thermal shirts and pants, a wool sweater and a down jacket. I used all of these layers. The day we went through Tracy Arm to Sawyer Glacier, everyone was out on deck viewing the ice on the water. It was cold and the glacier produces cold air. I was toasty warm in my ski pants and down jacket. I was sitting next to a woman from New York. She looked at me and said that she wished she had brought some heavier clothes. When they said to bring layers, she brought all light layers and left all her heavy winter gear at home. I had brought my down jacket in a “space bag” with the air all compressed out of it, so it took up little space in my bag.
Foot wear has been a topic of frequent discussion. We took four pairs of shoes, rubber boots, hiking boots, sneakers and water shoes. We used all of these at least once on the trip. If I was going to leave something at home, I would leave the water shoes and wear my sneakers in the kayak, knowing that they may get wet. Also, I was asked by a couple from Israel to tell foreign travelers to leave the rubber boots at home. The boats have about 30 pairs of rubber boots for loan. If you have a very small or large size, then for sure bring your own rubber boots.
Third, what does the cabin look like and where will I stow my gear? We had the smallest cabin offered and had plenty of room under the beds to stash our two 25” rolling duffel bags and a 20 inch carry-on, along with an odd assortment of shoes (rubber boots are kept in the hallway, along with your rain gear). We use packing cubes and these proved to be invaluable. There is no hanging closet (this is also true in the larger cabins). There are four hooks and a shelving unit. Our packing cubes stacked up very nicely on the shelving unit.
NOTE: These photos and comments only relate to the vessel Wilderness Adventurer, cabins on other Un-Cruise ships may have differences.
Lastly, please note that the itinerary is subject to change due to weather or wildlife. Our second week was scheduled to include a visit to a village, but there were six foot swells in the sea we would need to cross, so the captain advised us that we would visit Devilfish Bay and that he was excited because he had never been there. We spent a day anchored at the bay and were able to kayak out of sight of the ship, although the crew had a skiff in the water with us.
The next day we spent looking for whales, but ended up putting skiffs in the water to check out a colony of bachelor sea lions. They put on quite a show for us.
In closing remember my travel mantra, “Be flexible”. Life is too short to get locked into things and you may miss some awesome experiences if you stick to one plan and never alter.