Uncruise, What Does That Mean?
Uncruise? What does that mean? Being in the travel business for many years, I am pretty well travelled and have been on an embarrassing number of normal style cruises. Just what was an “Uncruise” I wondered? Uncruise sounded very intriguing so off we went on a new adventure! We chose the San Juan Islands Uncruise as we love the Pacific Northwest and wanted to learn more about this area. We ﬂew into Seattle and spent one night before our "Uncruise" at the very cool Thompson Hotel (a Virtuoso property) located near the famous Pike Place Market. We then set sail on the Wilderness Explorer, a small expedition style boat with a 64 passenger max. We sailed out of the locks at Ballard and into the bay viewing the gorgeous Seattle skyline with the distinctive Space Needle looking like a giant exclamation point. Our Uncruise was off to a fabulous start! Each day we visited different islands in the San Juan Islands group including Orcas Island, Lopez Island, San Juan Island, and Sucia Island as well as cruising up the Hood Canal and visiting Port Townsend and Olympic National Park. The waters were calm throughout the entire trip as the boat stays in the protected waters. There is an open bridge policy so you can chat with the captain and crew as they navigate and check out the charts. Each day different activities were offered on each island and you could choose whatever you felt like doing. Some of the included activities were very active such as our 8 mile hike up Mount Constitution (whew!). However, do not fear, each day there are many choices so you are free to be as active or inactive as you wish. We enjoyed kayaking trips right off the back of the boat in protected bays and also stand-up paddle-boarding. We were fortunate to be on a specially themed Craft Beer Cruise so we visited various Pacific Northwest breweries as well as hiking, kayaking, and just exploring each island. The activities are well staffed with highly educated naturalists and guides. We learned a lot about the Paciﬁc Northwest geology, wildlife, history, and native peoples. The On Board Craft Beer hosts were of course experts in the art of beer making so we also learned a lot about beer!
The cruise is very casual through-out. In fact, everyone leaves their hiking boots out in the hall way in front of their cabin doors and jackets hanging on the convenient hallway hooks. Meals were excellent and dining is open seating so may dine with anyone. One night we were treated to all you can eat Dungeness Crab legs! Another night Rack of Lamb was on the menu. Special diets were accommodated and very nice box lunches were packed for us each to day for our hikes. Even though the menu fare is quite gourmet, the ambience is casual and jeans were the nightly attire. We were very active everyday so we did not feel too guilty enjoying these fabulous dinners each evening. Kayaking oﬀ the back of the boat was awesome and one night we even went night kayaking. The night kayaking was amazing! The beautiful bay in which we had anchored was full of little phosphorescent micro-organisms that sparkled when you paddled making the water around the kayak glow. The stars were so bright you could see the Milky Way above and the whole experience was quite magical. Another highlight of the trip was the hike in Olympic National Park through the rain forest. Our Uncruise guides were top-notch and made each outing educational as well as fun. Overall we enjoyed our Uncruise experience very much and would highly recommend it for who love nature and enjoy learning about the natural world.