It is one of those “best of two possible worlds” moments. We, 25 top producing travel agents for Journese and friends, are sampling a segment of a new 7-night Pure Panama cruise introduced this year by UnCruise Adventures. We’ve spent the day spotting exotic bird species along the Mogue River from our flotilla of dugout canoes gliding by rain-forested riverbanks towards a gala welcome at an Embera Indian community.
When back on board the 62-guest Safari Voyager, this invited guest steals a time slot during which to raise a cold cerveza in salute to another great day—yesterday was kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, snorkeling and national park hiking—with cruise host Tim Jacox, and to get the lowdown on the UnCruise company of which he is president and COO. The tropical storm has subsided, the temperature is 85 degrees fahrenheit, yet the interview’s gone glacier-cool as he shares with obvious joy a particular passion for Alaska, birthplace of UnCruise.
“After 20 years of off-the-beaten-path, small ship (22-88 guests) cruising, our biggest base of operations is Alaska, actually the place where UnCruise started with one yacht 20 years ago, and next year we’ll have seven,” Jacox reports. “Every season we are always the first cruise line to capture the breathtaking wilderness of Southeast Alaska, a fact we’re promoting in 2018 under the banner ‘Alaska Awakening.’ April and May are tremendous months for good weather and best pricing, when we are basically alone in the wilderness; when there’s more snow on the mountains and waterfalls cascade down at their powerful best; when the bears are just waking up and coming closer to the shoreline; when glaciers cave; whale spotting starts, and there’s always a possibility of Northern Lights in places other cruises don’t—and can’t go.”
And, according to Jacox, spring departures of 7- to 14-night adventures are full of extras, including pre-cruise hikes near Juneau, led by Captain and CEO Dan Blanchard; expert hosts such as glaciologists, bear experts, photographers, authors and personal trainers; local festivities and celebrations; and an orca adopted for guests in each cabin on the 14-night Alaska Inside Passage & San Juans Cruise. And through Dec. 15, 2017, travelers save $400 per cabin, $200 per person.
The 10 itineraries in the Alaska Awakening campaign visit areas such as the Tongass National Forest, Glacier Bay National Park, the 25-mile Tracy Arm which leads to the Twin Sawyer Glaciers, and the 30-mile-long Endicott Arm ending at Dawes Glacier; and Misty Fjords National Monument. Cruises start at $2,995 pp, covering all adventure activities, all meals, all beverages (with and without alcohol), wellness amenities and transfers the day of the cruise.
Jacox’s other piece of news is all about the 88-guest S.S. Legacy, which, with a newly fitted launch platform, has transformed into an adventure-equipped ship able to offer kayaking, paddleboarding, skiff excursions, hikes on more remote trails, and white-water rafting down the Deschutes River. “Legacy will be our seventh vessel in Southeast Alaska, giving us the largest number of vessels cruising there,” Jacox notes.
Following Alaska duty, S.S. Legacy heads south to cruise the Columbia and Snake rivers on a new weeklong Rivers of Adventure itinerary focused on river exploration, including a jet boat ride into Hells Canyon, Deschutes River whitewater rafting, hiking, biking, yoga, paddleboarding, kayaking, skiff tours, swimming, and a winery tour. Rates start at $4,995 pp dbl, including charter air between Portland and Lewis. From October through mid-December, seven departures on a Rivers of Wine itinerary in the Pacific Northwest, sailing roundtrip from Portland, with a guest wine expert and sommelier on board for a week of winery tours and tastings. Rates begin at $3,745 pp dbl.
In between northwestern North America latitudes and Central America—with 8- and 15-night Costa Rica & Panama cruises introduced last year, and the 7-night Panama Pure this year—UnCruise also adventures into the Hawaiian Islands, Mexico’s Sea of Cortez, and by popular demand, five charter departures in the Galapagos Islands. According to Jacox, “We are now preferred partners to all the major marketing organizations and wholesalers such as Pleasant Holidays and Journese, who are all adding adventure products to their agendas; in turn, we attend their events and have just added a fifth field agent to our team to service their needs.”
To read more about this writer’s experience on UnCruise Adventure’s Safari Voyager, click here.