What is an Un-Cruise?

Wilderness Adventurer

Un-Cruise Adventures

People hearing the term Un-Cruise for the first time may wonder just what exactly is an un-cruise?  The answer – an Un-Cruise is the cruise ship experience everyone can enjoy!  If you like boats or nature an uncruise could become the vacation of a lifetime for you.

small ship cruise line

On the Wilderness Adventurer in Seattle’s Fishermen’s Terminal

Love the big cruise ships?  Then odds are you’d love an uncruise too.   You still get to go on a ship and visit different places.  It’s a smaller ship, but the service is more personal and the itinerary includes places the big ships just can’t go.  Meals come with excellent food and a better chance of getting to know your fellow passengers since there aren’t too many of them.  In the casual atmosphere of un-cruise vacations there’s no need to dress up for dinner.

kayaking in the San Juans

Kayaks launch from Wilderness Adventurer

Hate the big cruise ships?  An Un-Cruise could be the perfect vacation for you.  These small ships don’t hold a big crowd.  The entire amount of people on board wouldn’t make the sort of line you sometimes find getting on or off a big ship.  Don’t like crowded touristy ports?  Any port stops along the way take place in small towns or quaint villages where no big ship would fit.

beach landing

skiffs bring guests to shore from anchored ship

The un-cruise sails cove to cove with daily stops in wild areas where passengers get off the boat to hike, kayak, take skiff tours on small boats, or maybe even snorkel or take a turn on a stand-up paddle board.  Itineraries are flexible and may deviate from the published schedule for things like weather or wildlife sightings.

Safari Quest of Un-Cruise Adventures yacht cruises

Safari Quest – the smallest vessel in the Un-Cruise Adventures fleet

Unrushed, uncrowded, unbelievable uncruises come in three different options. Expedition vessels take adventure minded passengers out to experience the wilds with active exploration discovering whatever nature has to offer.  Luxury in the pursuit of adventure describes the small ships and yachts which provide a complete vacation with more plush accommodations, upscale amenities, cultural experiences and included massage, wine/beer/spirits plus adventure activities.

replica steamer

SS Legacy cruises on the Columbia and Snake Rivers
photo courtesy of Un-Cruise Adventures

Heritage cruises provide a different sort of un-cruise on an old fashioned style steamer.  River cruises with the crew dressed in period costumes follow a path taken by early explorers to America’s west coast.  With an emphasis on history, the ship stops in ports with interesting things to see including forts, museums, and wineries.

small ships can stop in small ports

Wilderness Adventurer in Port Townsend, WA

Un-Cruise vessels range in length from 120 to 232 feet and hold anywhere from 22 to 88 guests.  Summertime brings a wide variety of ship choices in Alaska, with several itineraries to choose from.  Or take a break from cold winter weather with an un-cruise to the unspoiled beauty of the warm wilds of places like Hawaii or the Sea of Cortez.  In between try a cruise in the Pacific Northwest or choose a river cruise down the Snake or Columbia rivers.

wilderness hiking

Guided Hike in Washington State’s San Juan Islands

The adventure guides onboard have a wealth of knowledge in various subjects about the places visited.  Some have degrees in things like geology, botany, or marine biology.  If they don’t know the answer to passenger’s questions immediately they’re happy to do some research to satisfy people’s curiosity.

Un-Cruise Adventures

beer tasting on a beach during beer themed cruise

Some cruises have theme itineraries with knowledgeable guest hosts and activities or excursions centered on themes involving things like craft beer, marine biology, photography or the explorations of Lewis & Clark .

eagle in flight

Bald Eagle

Wildlife sightings happen frequently on an un-cruise.  The ships sail through wild places, often dropping anchor to take passengers out in small skiffs to view the surrounding area.

ever taste an iceberg

Skiff Tour in Alaska’s LeConte Fjord

These small vessels bring guests to see some marvelous things never seen by passengers on large ships.  Surrounded by magnificent icebergs in Alaska’s LeConte Fjord, we could touch and even taste one.


blue ice in LeConte Fjord, Alaska

Alaskan itineraries sometimes include bear sightings.  Commonly viewed wildlife includes a variety of birds as well as seals or sea lions.  Un-Cruisers often see whales during their cruise.  On our last un-cruise we saw deer, raccoons, and otters too.

bears fishing in Alaska

young black bears

copyright My Cruise Stories 2014

About LBcruiseshipblogger

MyCruiseStories blog tells stories about adventures in cruising on ships big and small. Things to do onboard and in port. Anything connected to cruising. Also food, travel, recipes, towel animals, and the occasional random blog.
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5 Responses to What is an Un-Cruise?

  1. I never knew there was such a thing as an uncruise. If I were the type who could swim and wasn’t completely turned off setting foot on a boat, I would be very interested — if the price was right. I suspect that an uncruise might cost a lot more than a regular cruise.

    Were you aware of the story that Patricia Marx wrote that was published in the New Yorker earlier this year about sailing on a freighter?Here’s the link, but unless you’re a subscriber you cannot access the piece in its entirety. I thought it was a fun read.


    • You can find cruises on the big ships for less than the uncruise, but you can also find them for more. On the big ships if you want to take the excursions they offer it costs extra, but on the uncruise the excursions were included at no extra charge so that helps to keep the cost down. Life jackets were required for the skiffs and kayaks so knowing how to swim was not necessary for keeping afloat should you fall in, though the only people on our trip who ended up in the water were the unlucky crew members who played the victims of a kayak roll-over in a rescue training drill.

      I wasn’t aware of the Patricia Marx story, and not being a subscriber could only take a peek at the part they let you see on your link. I have heard of freighter cruises and checked into it thinking they would be cheap, but disappointingly they are not. Kind of like the Alaska Ferry. I had thought to do some sort of “Poor Man’s Cruise” on that until I discovered it would cost more than taking a regular cruise ship to Alaska.

  2. Chris says:

    If freighter cruises are not cheap why would anyone want to do it? I work offshore and I like crusing because cruise ships are nothing like working ships. I wouldn’t go on a freighter unless they were paying me. The uncruise ships look like live aboards for diving but with a more general list of things to do. I had a great time on the live aboard in Australia so the uncruise boats look fun too.

    • The beer-themed un-cruise that we took probably would have been your perfect vacation. A boat, wilderness hikes, and all sorts of craft beer.

      I’d imagine freighter cruises appeal to people who want to take a long leisurely cruise that visits places cruise ships may not go. They’d have to be the sort who can entertain themselves both on board and in port. Perhaps they want to see how a working ship operates as well. I’d do it if I had the time and money. I suppose they aren’t cheap because there aren’t that many freighters that take passengers at all and the ones that do don’t take very many so bookings are limited.

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