For the first time in my career, I’ve had the opportunity to experience two amazing adventures on one ship. Late one August a few years ago, UnCruise hosted me on an unforgettable journey in Alaska’s Inside Passage aboard the Safari Endeavour. I still consider it to be one of the best trips I’ve ever taken. So naturally when I was offered another adventure on the Safari Endeavor, but this time in Mexico’s Sea of Cortez, I jumped at the chance.
As expected, so much of what I loved about the Safari Endeavour on my Alaska journey, I rediscovered in Mexico. Here’s a quick rundown of how these two Bucket List adventures were similar and how they were different.
One of the things that impressed me most with UncCuise in Alaska was the crew. Everyone, regardless of their position on the ship seemed to genuinely enjoy their job and seemed to really care that each guest had a great experience. Crew members seemed to help one another out with whatever needed doing. While it appeared to be a totally different crew on my Mexico trip, their spirit and commitment to excellence was the same. Most crew members from both trips seemed to know my name – not just the bartenders:)
Each day in Alaska, UnCruise offered a wide range of activities/excursions in varying skill levels from easy to more strenuous – all at no extra charge. Morning yoga classes, hiking, kayaking, and searching for wildlife were common activities on both cruises. The different climates provided for some variety as snorkeling, paddle boarding, and donkey excursions were offered in Mexico, and glacial assaults and the Polar Plunge were offered in Alaska!
Another thing that impressed me in both Alaska and Mexico is that guests could immerse themselves into the history, culture, geology, and biology of the area through nightly presentations. Presentations were usually conducted by one of the expedition leaders and generally included information pertinent to the particular area we were in and to whatever critters and plant life we might encounter during the next day’s activities.
According to my bathroom scales, the food was excellent on both trips. In spite of passing on bread and dessert and engaging in yoga classes and physical activities each day, I still managed to gain a little bit of weight on each trip. Overall I probably had more seafood in Alaska and more Mexican inspired entrees in Mexico. But I tended to get into trouble when I ordered more than one entree because I couldn’t make up my mind. And FYI, there was always a vegetarian option at each meal but I never chose that one:)
Beverages on Board
On both adventures, we were greeted with special, signature cocktails whenever we returned to the ship from a shore excursion. The Safari Endeavour has an impressive well-stocked bar on board and guests are able to enjoy all the beer, wine, liquor, and cocktails they care to try – any time of day – not just during cocktail hour – for no additional charge!! To be perfectly honest, having the ship’s Captain as my designated driver and having a well-stocked open bar just one flight of stairs away from my stateroom may have contributed to my gaining weight on both trips as much as the food. It’s one of the hazards of my job but I owe it to you to be thorough with my research:)
Whether sailing in Alaska or Mexico, the ever-changing views outside the windows were downright inspirational. Each trip had its own unexpected magical moment. In Alaska, it was when during lunch, someone notified the captain that there was a momma grizzly and her cub walking along the shore. The captain turned the ship around and we followed the grizzlies for about 30 minutes until they turned and walked into the woods. That never could have happened on a large ship! In Mexico it was a mesmerizing sunset during happy hour. Almost everyone in the lounge went outside to photograph it and enjoy it.
As for demographics, I would classify the majority of guests on both trips as English speaking, affluent, professionals in their 50s and 60s who love to travel. It was very easy to strike up conversations and make new friends. Though many of the guests had already retired from their careers, none of them had retired from their pursuit of adventure. I was really impressed with how many of the other guests had done multiple cruises with UnCruise and plan on doing many more.
Wildlife had been a major highlight of both of my UnCruise adventures. I saw more wildlife in one week in Alaska than I had collectively seen in my whole life up to that point. Seeing scores of bald eagles, sea otters, sea lions, grizzly bears, and breaching humpback whales was simply enthralling! In Mexico I was able to swim with ginormous whale sharks – the largest fish in the ocean! Snorkeling with young sea lions was more entertaining than just about anything I can remember. They are like curious puppies darting through the water and checking everything out!
The ship’s wellness team offered each guest a free 30 minute massage. My massage in Mexico came at the perfect time – after a day of exploring Bahia Agua Verde on the back of a mule. The massage was as magical as the sunsets on the Sea of Cortez. I was secretly hoping I would find another guest who did not sign up for a massage and I would volunteer to take their spot, but no such luck. In Alaska, I received my massage after doing the polar plunge. I didn’t want it to stop.
Yoga classes were offered early each morning before breakfast on both trips. I highly recommend it as it helps loosen you up before the day’s activities. In Alaska, I had the same yoga instructor each day who got to know us and our limitations. By the end of the trip, I was able to do some of the contortions other people were doing on the first day. In Mexico, we had three different instructors who rotated throughout the week. Each instructor was excellent and had her own style. They were all good at recognizing the diversity in skill levels and encouraged everyone go at their own pace.
We put together a video about our Alaska adventure aboard the Safari Endeavour for USA Today Travel. With their permission, we are sharing the video here. Check it out for a tour of the ship and to get an idea about what the small ship experience is all about!
Though both Alaska and the Sea of Cortez are Bucket List destinations, the small ship experience aboard the Safari Endeavour made being there that much more enjoyable and meaningful.