You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myAJC.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myAJC.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myAJC.com.

Un-cruise for a personalized voyage adventure


Lots of cruise lines tell you what they’re all about: Carnival, the Fun Ships; American Cruise Line, Small Ship Cruising Done Perfectly; Holland America Line, A Signature of Excellence.

Un-Cruise tells you what they aren’t: They aren’t noisy, rushed, crowded or pretension, and they don’t compromise in the dedication department, seriously subscribing to “Leave No Trace” practices. Un-Cruise tells you what they aren’t, and what they aren’t is like the other guys.

Frankie and Bert Daniel of Spring Hope, N.C., boarded the S.S. Legacy in the fall of 2013 for Un-Cruise’s Legends of Discovery voyage on the Columbia and Snake Rivers.

“We had never been on a ‘small ship’ cruise before,” said Frankie Daniel. “We were blown away by the attention that was given to each passenger; the attention to detail was unbelievable. We had been on several cruises before but nothing compares to Un-Cruise.”

Un-Cruise vessels aren’t built to carry thousands of pleasure seekers, but just a couple to several dozen on a quest for a very personalized cruise experience, whether that’s whale watching in Alaska’s Icy Strait, navigating the arroyos of Mexico’s Sea of Cortés by burro or exploring two UNESCO World Heritage Sites — the Galápagos Islands and Quito’s Colonial city center — without getting lost in a throng of jostling elbows.

The itineraries are more flexible, the paths much less beaten. If, for example, there are more dolphins and whales to be seen further up the coast of Maui on the Hawaiian Seascapes adventure, that is where the captain goes. Such detours for the sake of spotting superb marine life are very Un-Cruise. On the Uncharted Isthmus excursion, passengers on the 64-guest Safari Voyager go in search of sloths and howler monkeys as they transit the nearly 50-mile-long Panama Canal.

Un-Cruise ships are the boutique vessels of the cruise world. They aren’t built with casinos, arcades and massive showrooms, and the salon and spa are noticeably absent. Their stock in trade is understated elegance. A salon or lounge with comfy seating sets the mood for both pre-dinner cocktail parties and onboard programming. A cabin transformed into a massage room is a calming retreat and the place where the knots in your shoulders, earned from a day’s canoeing or kayaking or swimming off the back of the ship, can be worked out.

The Un-Cruise fleet includes expedition vessels, yachts and one replica coastal steamer — the S.S. Legacy — which features period decor and Old World charm. Reflecting the personalized attention to detail, vessels have a variety of amenities: an EZ Dock launch platform or full-beam swim step; bow-mounted underwater camera; on-deck hot tub, sauna and fitness equipment or a fitness room; one or two massage rooms; library; fully stocked bar as well as wine taps.

Most of the vessels carry adventure equipment onboard, including inflatable skiffs, kayaks and stand-up paddle boards, as well as gear you’ll need for appreciating the marine life, such as snorkel gear and wetsuits. Yoga mats are also available — as are sunrise yoga and stretch classes.

“The activities and the history are awesome, said Daniel. “And I was pleasantly surprised at the demographics onboard — all ages.”

You won’t need to stake out a deck chair before sunrise. With such a small group, seating on the Sun Deck or in the Sun Lounge is plentiful, with cushioned couches and chaises offering shade and a place to lounge while watching the unfolding scenery. You won’t amass a drink tab that equals a week’s pay, either. Fine spirits, wines and microbrews are included in the fare with Un-Cruise on all but three vessels.

You won’t find poolside hairy chest contests, pirate-themed dress-up deck parties or buffets with queues snaking into the hall. Rather, you’ll find an incredibly unassuming and relaxing ambience, with a generous bar, open seating at meal times to get acquainted with all your cruise mates and a Wine Library (or other intimate lounge) for reading, playing games — even playing the piano.

———

ADVENTURE GUIDE TO DON’T-MISS MOMENTS

—In Hawaii, talk story with Anakala Pilipo Solatorio, the kapuna (eldest) of the native Hawaiians still living in Halawa Valley, and make poi with his son, Greg Solatorio; take a skiff out for sunrise whale watching; and enjoy a traditional hula dance and live Hawaiian music at the Molokai Museum during a pa’ina (feast).

— On the Columbia and Snake Rivers, ride a jet boat right into Hells Canyon; climb the switchbacks at the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area for an up-close view of Multnomah Falls; and be completely enchanted by the Theatre de la Mode exhibition of post-World War II French fashion mannequins at the Maryhill Museum.

—In Mexico, on Sea of Cortés sailings, snorkel with sea lion pups; see the red rock cliffs of Ensenada Grande, whose beach is among the world’s top beaches; and take a burro ride with local rancheros to explore the arroyos.

———

Author, travel and lifestyle writer, and travel goods expert Kathy Witt feels you should never get to the end of your bucket list; there’s just too much to see and do in the world. She can be reached at KathyWitt24@gmail.com or KathyWitt.com.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Travel

How to turn any hotel room into a sleeping cave, and other travel tips

Sam Shank has been a travel junkie for almost his entire career, logging periods at search engine DealBase and pioneering hotel review site TravelPost, which Kayak has since absorbed. Now he logs up to 100,000 miles a year as chief executive officer of HotelTonight, a slick last-minute booking app he co-founded in 2010. When he's not at home in San...
Three reasons why US airlines are not losing your luggage as often
Three reasons why US airlines are not losing your luggage as often

There are few quicker ways to ruin a vacation than for your luggage to end up in a different city than you are.  And while nearly every traveler has a story of waiting around a terminal while employees hunt for his or her misplaced bag, the truth is U.S. airlines are doing better than ever at taking care of passengers’ luggage.  ...
Sail the Galapagos from April through June and save up to 30 percent

This week's best travel bargains around the globe.  Land   - Receive a free night at 11 Hilton properties on four Hawaiian islands. The Another Day in Paradise package is valid at hotels on Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the Big Island. Minimum-night stay requirements vary. For example, at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort on Oahu...
Why record crowds are flocking to Joshua Tree
Why record crowds are flocking to Joshua Tree

JOSHUA TREE, Calif. — Wind blows hard and cold over the high desert here, howling between boulders and bending legendary yuccas that once reminded Mormons of the Biblical Joshua reaching up in prayer.  It may be difficult to believe such an environment could capture the world’s imagination. But the combination offers a mysterious and...
Hotel packages for cherry blossom time in Washington

A much-anticipated annual tradition in Washington is here: The National Cherry Blossom Festival will take place through April 16. The event, celebrating its 90th anniversary, commemorates the 1912 gift of 3,000 cherry trees from Japan to the United States. Today, there are 3,800 cherry blossom trees, and visitors to the city during the festival can...
More Stories