InnerSea Discoveries – the Uncruise
There’s an old saying that states if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Normally that is the truth, but once in awhile it’s not. When the offer came to take a media fam trip to give the new InnerSea Discoveries Alaskan adventure itinerary a preview on an AmericanSafariCruises yacht, it was way too good to pass by. We’re pretty much Motel 6 people, and this would be like Holiday Inn people staying at the Four Seasons. Granted it’s a working vacation, but who can complain when the work is this much fun.
When I learned they had Necky Kayaks aboard, it added to the excitement as I’ve wanted to see one in action for years. During the week leading up to this cruise, I checked the extended weather forecast online every day. Not a pretty sight. It called for rain every day of our trip. We packed a lot of extra clothes so we would have dry things to change into several times daily after exploring the great outdoors in the wilds of Alaska. I opened my hat drawer and picked the closest thing to a stylish warm hat I had. I looked at all my sun hats, almost grabbed one, and then shut the drawer thinking what for?
Day One: We met our travel group in Seattle at the lovely new Maxwell Hotel, a quaint boutique hotel near the Space Needle. Some of the people in our group came from as far away as Spain. We had about an hour drive to get there, with a stop along the way to leave our beloved dog at the PetSmart PetsHotel. The Maxwell had a stand of cupcakes and coffee in the lobby, a free treat for guests. Quite a nice hotel. We never got a chance to try the indoor pool or the bicycles available free for guests to use.
After checking in, our group met for a tour. The rest of them climbed into a stretch limo, while we got in our car and followed someone from the cruise ship company so we could leave the car in their parking lot during our cruise. We saw the Wilderness Adventurer at the dock along the way. We met up with the rest of them at the dry dock for a tour of the Wilderness Discoverer as it undergoes renovations, including an underwater bow camera. These are the two ships InnerSea Discoveries will use. Eventually all the ships in the American Safari Cruises fleet will have the bow cam feature as well. The flat screen TVs in the rooms will have a channel dedicated to the underwater camera where guests can relax in comfort as they watch life under the sea. With much smaller vessels than the major cruise lines, American Safari Cruises and InnerSea Discoveries explore the wilds up close and personal where the larger ships can’t go. Captain Dan plans for the decor of the Wilderness Discoverer to look something like an early forest service lodge. When he mentioned donations of old sporty items, I immediately thought of the saddle that has sat in my hay loft unused for years ever since a horse I once owned threw a bucking fit so intense he broke the saddle tree. Captain Dan seemed interested so perhaps if you sail on one of his ships someday, you will see that saddle as a lamp.
After the tour we had a wine tasting. My sister, the wine connoisseur, would have appreciated that. It was wasted on me since I don’t drink. My husband, John, did give me quite a surprise by drinking wine though. Not since the very early years of our marriage have I ever seen him drink, though he did admit to sipping a bit of wine in China to be polite to his hosts. Following that, we enjoyed a very informative presentation about the unbelievable, unforgettable, unimaginable uncrowded uncruise upon which we were about to embark. We learned that they are a green company. We also learned that they have culinary cruises on the Columbia River featuring local wineries. My sister would love that if it weren’t for the food part. She’s allergic to just about everything normal people eat. Through camping trips with her I have learned to appreciate things like brown rice flour, amaranth crackers, and shopping the hippie section in the grocery store.
Before turning in for the night we checked the extended weather forecast for Juneau and Ketchikan. Much to our delight it suddenly changed from the rain it had said we would have for the entire trip to sunshine for the whole next week. Probably because I didn’t pack the hat. Oh well, a sunburned nose might work for a good luck charm.
Day Two: We all met outside the hotel with our luggage. Most everyone else had one little wheeled suitcase and a backpack. We had a whole one of those bellboy’s hotel carts full. I find it quite embarrassing to stand there with all that luggage while everyone else has so little. John had more, than me, but that included camera gear and fishing tackle. I used to have a normal size rolley suitcase, but it broke in Australia, so now I only have tiny ones. Some of the other people actually used those tiny ones. Perhaps they didn’t bring spare shoes. (How does one pack for all that rain we were supposed to have without spare shoes?) I had to borrow John’s mega bag from China, and well if you have the space you just keep filling it. At least I do. So will we pack lighter next time? Probably not, but I will make an attempt to get a normal sized bag.
One stretch limo ride later we arrived at the airport. We took a long walk down the c-gate wing just in time to find out they had switched us to a d-gate. Sigh. Turn around, go back to start and head a different direction. With no further mishaps we boarded the plane and soon headed to Juneau. Our bags made it fine, but they lost some of John’s equipment. So while the rest of the group visited restaurants and tourist shops, or took the tram up to Mt. Roberts or the bus to Mendenhall Glacier, we went to the plumbing and marine supply store looking for a substitute. We did see a lot of salmon hanging out in a riffle of water under a bridge that everyone else missed out on though. We had a bit of time left so we wandered into a jewelry store advertising end of season sales. I just couldn’t quite negotiate the cost of the bracelet I wanted down a price I wanted it badly enough to pay. Sadly, I left empty-handed.
Off we went to tour the Safari Explorer (very nice) before boarding the Safari Quest. These ships belong to American Safari Cruises, parent company of InnerSea Discoveries. So we are getting a bit of a sample of the luxury life onboard a yacht as well as the adventurous side of the InnerSea itinerary.
Once onboard everyone settled into the salon for a welcome aboard drink.
“We have two kinds of fruit punch, raspberry or pineapple/coconut,” the girl behind the bar said.
I chose the pineapple/coconut, which tasted so good I was just thinking about asking for seconds when John said “That has rum in it.”
“The girl said it was fruit punch,” I replied.
Turned out it did have rum in it, and here I hadn’t had alcohol in over 20 years. Must have been some pretty good stuff for me not to notice it at all. She did not say it had alcohol and I didn’t ask. I probably should have known since it came from a bar.
We saw 3 humpback whales on our way to the night’s anchorage at Windham bay. After a scrunptions dinner, we had a dessert that reminded me of a challange I saw on the food network channel. Contestants had to upscale a familiar comfort food into something ritzy. It made me think of strawberry shortcake, with bits of fresh strawberries, yet the cake had been replaced by a tasty pastry and the whip cream by an amaretto mousse.
American Safari Cruises and InnerSea Discoveries are now known as Un-Cruise Adventures.