Tuesday, June 12, 2018

UnCruise Adventures "Alaska's Whales & Glaciers" Highlights!

Just back from an amazing week in Alaska as Photography Theme Host with UnCruise Adventures. Based out of Seattle, WA, this company holds ties to my past as the owners, Captain Dan Blanchard and Tim Jacox were former executives with Cruise West where I too worked in the late nineties. Cruise West eventually closed it's doors, but in 1996 Dan and Tim had embarked on their own small ship enterprise creating what eventually became UnCruise Adventures.

Our journey began in Juneau's bustling port, jam packed with cruise ships both large and small and an endless stream of float planes transporting eager tourists to destinations unknown.  Since Dan spends most of his time living in Juneau, guests embarking on our trip were treated to one of his enthusiastic talks about Alaska and the journey we were about to undertake. He also personally greeted each and every guest as we boarded the ship, something I have not experienced with any other company and a really nice touch.

Highlights of the trip for me were...

The fjords and waterfalls of Tracy Arm. Although we had a rainy day, it did not spoil the magic and beauty of this area.  In fact, I think I preferred it this way!  We enjoyed kayaking and skiff tours to the face of the glacier, harbor seals hauled out on the ice and jaw dropping scenery.

A large school of dall's porpoises following and playing alongside the ship late in the evening. The excitement of seeing humpback whales in Frederick Sound, including one that surfaced very close to the ship generating lots of oohs and aahs!

Visiting the Tlingit community and artisans in Kake. Learning about their history, culture and traditions including demonstrations in basket weaving and carving techniques used on totem poles.

The beautiful and at times comical children of Kake who performed for us and an invitation to participate in a Tlingit communal dance. A unique memory and experience to treasure!

Maneuvering around stunning blue icebergs adrift in the ice sculpture garden of Le Conte Glacier.  Witnessing their transformation before our very eyes, as they seemed to take on a life of their own, rotating and rolling, crackling and popping, releasing centuries old oxygen bubbles!

Waking up in pristine coves with incredible views right outside my cabin door!!! Sunrise at this time of year in Alaska is EARLY and it was already light at 4:00am!  For me, this was the absolute best time of day to completely immerse oneself in the absolute quiet, stillness and stunning beauty of the Alaskan wilderness. It was also the best time to see and photograph glass like reflections such as this.

At 6:30am each morning, there was also the opportunity to participate in a yoga session out on deck.  What an amazing setting in which to stretch, meditate and prepare for the exciting day ahead!

With the long days of summer, sunsets were late, around 10:00pm, but well worth waiting up for with scenes such as this in Thomas Bay.

Other highlights included kayaking in pristine, turquoise waters and bushwhacking our way through wild terrain! We also saw lots of bald eagles and bears!

Additional options for guests throughout the week included paddle boarding and hikes/walks on marked trails. And for those a little more daring, a polar plunge!

Our journey ended in the beautiful city of Sitka with Mount Edgecume as a backdrop and I only wish I had more time to spend here.  Next time I hope!

What makes these small ship cruises so special is the ability to get to know everyone on board and I truly enjoyed meeting both young and old from around the globe. Last but not least, the staff and crew of the Safari Endeavour was absolutely wonderful and I thank them all for their excellent service and support!

You can find more images from my adventure in my Alaska gallery.  Here is a short video I put together from some iPhone footage I took throughout the trip.

UnCruise Adventures "Alaska's Glaciers & Whales" - May 2018 from Jacqueline Deely on Vimeo.

To learn more about UnCruise Adventures, their wide range of Alaska itineraries and other amazing destinations, VISIT HERE! 

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