My blog posts likely contain affiliate links, including for the Amazon Associates program.
My coffee is steaming, as is my breath as I exhale in the cold morning air. I’m in Alaska. My home state. I’m back, for the first time in three years, and it’s May; there’s still a bite of winter in the air. I’m standing aboard the bow of the Safari Endeavour, a ship operated by Seattle-based UnCruise Adventures.
When most people think “Alaska Cruise” they don’t think of UnCruise ships. They think of white-hulled behemoths that power-churn through the waterways of Southeast Alaska in search of whales, wildlife, and wilderness – but often see very little of any because of their heavy ecological footprint.
UnCruise, as its name suggests, approaches cruising differently, seeking to take visitors deeper into a destination than other cruise companies do (or can). I was invited to board the Safari Endeavour in May 2017; I’ve since had the chance to cruise twice more with UnCruise in Hawaii (2019) and Baja (2023) – and have loved it every time. In this post, I’ll share my UnCruise Alaska review, giving you a peek inside life aboard UnCruise in Alaska.
Best of all, I’ve got an UnCruise discount code! If you want it right now, use code VAL500 to get $500 off per person on your Alaskan UnCruise adventure… but if you still need to be sold on the experience, read on.
In this post, I promote travel to a destination that is the Lingít Aaní of the Áak’w Ḵwáan (Tlingit) people. With respect, I make a formal land acknowledgment, extending my appreciation and respect to the past and present people of these lands. To learn more about the peoples who call these lands home, I invite you to explore Native Land.
This post was originally published in August 2017, and was updated most recently in November 2023.
All prices and itineraries should be accurate for the 2024 season.
How to Choose an Alaskan UnCruise Itinerary
Many people want to book an Alaska cruise from Seattle. It’s convenient to fly into Seattle, board a ship, and spend a week cutting a path through the wilderness of Southeast Alaska. If you’re craving an Alaska cruise experience, you’re not alone: nearly 1 million travelers took a cruise from Seattle to Alaska in 2016!
UnCruise offers eight different itineraries in Southeast Alaska; one of them lets you UnCruise to Alaska from Seattle. They range from 7 to 14 days in length, and can take you all over the Inside Passage. (As of 2024, they also offer a few other Alaska itineraries in different parts of the state and different seasons!)
Regardless of how long your Alaskan UnCruise will be or where you embark and disembark, UnCruise offers a truly unique cruise opportunity. You will see Alaska as it actually is. Alaska is open and wild and for the most part empty – big ships that cruise through Southeast Alaska can’t reach the coves, bays, and fjords that give you a sense of how huge Alaska is (and how small you are in it).
An Average Day Aboard UnCruise Adventures in Alaska
Curious what the average day is like? Here’s a general recap of the average day on Alaskan UnCruise.
An average day on an Alaskan UnCruise starts with yoga on the aft deck in the chilly morning air. There’s nothing quite like waking up – and warming up – through some yoga on an Alaska morning.
Afterward, I would enjoy my coffee in the lounge or on the forward deck, followed by breakfast in the dining room. The food aboard the Safari Endeavour is on par with every meal I’ve had on other cruises.
After breakfast, you’ll have the opportunity to head out on a morning activity. These activities are announced each evening before by the Expedition Leader for the boat, and you have time to sign up that previous evening. This can be any activity ranging from kayaking to skiff tours to hiking; see the next section of this post for more info about excursions.
Lunch is another indulgent affair, followed by more activities off the ship. One of my favorite parts of my Alaskan UnCruise was how each day our goal was to get off the ship. Bigger cruise companies want you to stay on the ship where you spend more money; UnCruise wants you to experience the destination, and all activities are in service of this goal.
Most people would spend the late afternoon relaxing in their cabin, the open-air hot tubs, or the lounge. At 5pm, Happy Hour would begin as Jimmy (our bartender) unveiled the day’s specialty cocktail.
Dinner was around 6pm, followed by an evening talk in the lounge on subjects ranging from glaciers to grizzly bears. Then, most people would wander off to bed or stay in the lounge for an additional glass of wine or whiskey.
The rhythm of life on the ship was immediately predictable and reassuring, without ever feeling dull. After a few days, I looked forward to each new phase of the day, and by the end of the 7-night cruise, I was reticent to give up my new lifestyle of delicious meals, adventurous activities, and a lot of lounging around.
Read on to dive into the exact activities and experiences I had on my UnCruise Adventures Alaska trip, and what you can expect during your cruise.
My UnCruise Adventures Itinerary: Alaska Fjords & Glaciers
When I cruised with UnCruise in 2017, my itinerary was called “Inner Reaches Eastern Coves;” today it’s called “Alaska Fjords & Glaciers.” As part of my UnCruise Alaska review, here’s a run-down of the experience each day so you can get a sense of what the whole week was like. My friend Marissa from Postcards to Seattle joined me on this trip, so you may see her in some photos!
It’s important to point out that UnCruise Adventures Alaska itineraries (and all of their itineraries) are flexible. While your ship captain will do their best to follow the route maps UnCruise provides for your itinerary, they will deviate as necessary for whale watching, better weather, and other great experiences.
Day 1 – Embark from Ketchikan
After flying from Seattle to Ketchikan in the morning, Marissa and I explored the small town while waiting to go board our ship. We wandered past the huge cruise terminal, tiny local souvenir shops, and ate at a local bar.
There are lots of great things to do in Ketchikan, so you can easily fill a day there before embarkation, or spend even longer if you have the time. My favorite experience is Totem Bight State Historical Park, which requires a bit of work to reach (by public transit), but is well worth it for the introduction to Alaska Native culture that you’ll see elsewhere on your trip.
Day 2 – Walker’s Cove & Rudyerd Bay in Misty Fjords National Monument
We woke up our first morning as we pulled into Misty Fjords National Monument. With fjords that rival any you’ll see in Norway, mirror-smooth glass, and my favorite type of clouds in the trees, it was the perfect spot for our first off-ship excursion (kayaking!).
Misty Fjords is one of the most stunning spots I’ve seen in Alaska – it’s also a place you’ll never see if you take a mega-ship cruise, as only mid-sized and smaller ships can enter. (Some larger ship companies do offer excursions to the area, but they won’t have the same experience.)
Day 3 – Bailey Bay in Tongass National Forest
Another day in the Alaskan wilderness, we spent the day doing skiff tours and hiking. This is where we learned the expression “boot-sucking mud,” and had our chance to experience it directly.
Day 4 – Port Day in Wrangell
After three days aboard the ship, it was weird to spend most of the day on land in Wrangell, Alaska. Marissa and I spent the morning exploring Petroglyph Beach, where 8,000-year-old Tlingit stone carvings were left scattered across the beach. We then learned about more modern Tlingit traditions at Chief Shakes’ House, where local resident Arthur Larsen told us his family history – and heritage.
I’ve had the chance to visit Wrangell again a few times since my first visit with UnCruise and there is no shortage of other things things to do in Wrangell; if you want to stretch your legs, Mount Dewey Trail is easy to reach from town and offers a nice view on a clear day.
After dinner, we also passed through Wrangell Narrows, a 22-mile-long channel that requires small ships to time their passing by the tides. It’s so narrow and shallow that large cruise ships can’t pass through!
Day 5 – Thomas Bay, Scenery Cove, & Baird Glacier off Frederick’s Sound
Among the several bays and coves we visited on this day, Scenery Cove was most aptly named – it was a picturesque spot to soak in the stunning mountains on all sides.
In the afternoon, most people on the boat took a skiff tour to see Baird Glacier. We had to hike across the alluvial plain and various moraines to see the face of the glacier. It was our first glacier encounter (but not our last) and my group was lucky enough to have a glaciologist among us, so we had an extra knowledge boost.
What I really liked about the whole UnCruise experience is that it showed how it takes effort to see the most beautiful sights in Alaska. Yes, there are glaciers you can cruise right up to, but there’s something special about the ones where you have to pick your path across huge smooth boulders and silky silt to reach.
Day 6 – Frederick Sound & Robert and Crow Islands
If there’s one animal everyone wants to see in Alaska, it’s whales (followed closely by moose and bear). On our day crossing through Frederick Sound, we spent most of the midday dancing with some humpback whales feeding in the area.
While we never saw a breach, we saw plenty of breathing and feeding – and even a mother/calf duo! Afterward, we set out on another set of afternoon activities, and again I opted for kayaking. It was such a peaceful yet active way to see the land up close.
Day 7 – Endicott Arm, Dawes Glacier & Tracy Arm Wilderness
On our last full day aboard the Safari Endeavour, we had two treats: a bigger glacier encounter, and activity “free time!” First, we spent the morning in the shadow of Dawes Glacier, a massive tidewater glacier whose icebergs we passed for hours leading up to our arrival.
At the glacier, everyone boarded skiffs to navigate the ice-strewn waters to get closer to the face of the glacier. We enjoyed hot chocolate and spotted some harbor seals in the area too. In a week of breathtaking and picturesque moments (yes, two of the most cliched ways to describe it!), this was a grand finale.
Our last afternoon was relatively calm: most people borrowed kayaks or standup paddleboards, took one last dip in the hot tub, or relaxed in the lounge. (I opted for the latter, enjoying a few last fresh-baked cookies and a cocktail while assembling my notes and photos to write this story!)
Day 8 – Disembark in Juneau
We woke up on the last day of our Alaskan UnCruise to disembark in Juneau, the capital of Alaska. It was luckily not a ship day for larger cruise companies, so we had the town to ourselves. Marissa and I met up with Midgi from Juneau Food Tours to explore the blossoming food scene in this tiny town.
After a walk through town and delicious brunch, we boarded a bus to the airport and winged back to Seattle… do we have to go home??
As the largest community in Southeast Alaska, there are lots of things to do in Juneau; it’s easy to fill your half-day here after disembarking before your flight. If you have longer to extend your Alaska visit I also have a guide on how to spend one day in Juneau.
Notes on UnCruise Adventures Alaska Itineraries
To round out my UnCruise Alaska review, here are a few extra points. These address some of the top questions I’ve received since initially writing this review over five years ago.
By Alaska cruise standards, we had a short route of roughly 700 nautical miles (if my memory serves). For context, most large cruise ships cover up 700 nautical miles in one day. With UnCruise, you spend seven days moving slowly and quietly through the massive waterways of Southeast Alaska, getting a real sense of the beauty of this state.
The other important thing to remember is that UnCruise is different for every single route. Even if you take the same Alaska Fjords & Glaciers route I did, your ship will likely dock in different places, offer different activities, and feature a different crew and menu. UnCruise adapts to Alaska and all it has to offer: some days you may not go hiking because it’s too muddy, other days you may get a special skiff tour that I never had the chance to do.
UnCruise Alaska Excursions & Activities
Despite my love of lounging, the best part of UnCruise by far is the off-ship-organized activities and excursions each day. Typically, we had to choose between two or three of several options:
- Skiff (small inflatable boat) Tours
- “Yak and Whack” – kayaking and bushwhacking hikes
- “Go Getter” or “goat” Hiking (more strenuous for the ambitious types!)
- Standup Paddleboarding
Aboard the Safari Endeavour, our Expedition Leader Kent would brief us on the options for the next day just before dinner. He would detail the two or three options and then come around to collect our preferences. The Expedition team would then organize tour groups and departure times – all of our gear was provided by UnCruise, so all we did was show up for whatever adventure awaits!
In addition to organized activities each day, there are a variety of less structured activities aboard the ship:
- Morning Yoga Sessions
- Workout Equipment
- Massage Treatments
- Hot Tubs (Open from After Lunch to Dark)
- Evening Lectures
- Team Trivia
These happened intermittently (or every day) throughout the cruise, and added some relaxing aspects to an otherwise active, adventurous cruise.
UnCruise Alaska Cabins (Peek Inside!)
UnCruise Adventures operates several ships in Alaska each summer; I was aboard the Safari Endeavour and you can also choose from a cruise aboard the Safari Explorer, Safari Quest, Wilderness Discoverer, or Wilderness Legacy. As you can see above, UnCruise Alaska cabins are cozy but sufficient for a night of rest after a day of adventure.
(Marissa and I had a two-twin room arrangement, but the more common arrangement is a queen-sized bed for couples.)
Your cabin is meant to be the place to store your gear and rest – it’s not like larger cruise ships where you might have a couch and other excess space. Instead, you can use the common areas like the salon to lounge during the day.
UnCruise Alaska Itineraries for 2024-2025
If you’re totally sold on doing an UnCruise to Alaska now, the only question is: which excursion will you choose? UnCruise has really nice maps for each route on their website, but I wanted to include a list of the itineraries here so you could get a general sense.
Most UnCruise routes operate in Southeast Alaska, but they’ve added two new ones – a Prince William Sound cruise in Southcentral starting in 2024, and an Aleutians route in Southwest Alaska starting in 2025. I’ve organized them by price below.
🧊 Alaska Fjords and Glaciers – 7-night from Juneau to Ketchikan (or reverse) exploring Ford’s Terror Wilderness, the Wrangell Narrows, Blaske Island, Yes Bay, and Behm Canal. From $3,600 per person.
🐋 Wild, Woolly, and Wow – 7-night round-trip from Juneau, exploring Glacier National Park, Baranof Island, Leconte Glacier, Baird Glacier, and Stephen’s Passage. From $4,400 per person.
🏔️ Glacier Bay National Park Adventure – 7-night round-trip from Juneau, exploring Glacier Bay, Chichigoff Island, Frederick Sound, Hobart Bay, and Sawyer Glacier. From $4,400 per person.
🧘🏻♀️ Adults Only: Glaciers & Tranquility – New in 2024, 7-night round-trip from Juneau, Glacier Bay National Park, Margerie, Grand Pacific and Sawyer glaciers, Tracy Arm, and Frederick Sound. From $4,400 per person.
🛳️ Northern Passages and Glacier Bay – 7-night from Juneau to Sitka (or reverse) exploring the Lynn Canal, Glacier Bay, Icy Strait, and Chichigof and Baranof Islands. From $4,900 per person.
❄️ Alaska’s Glacier Country – 7-night round-trip from Juneau, exploring Glacier Bay, Icy Strait, Chichigof Island, Admiralty Island, Windham Bay Wilderness, and Dawes Glacier. From $6,100 per person.
⛰️ Inside Passage & Glacier Bay Wilderness – 12-night from Juneau to Seattle (or reverse), exploring the San Juans, Vancouver Island, Canada’s Inside Passage, Misty Fjords, Ketchikan, the Alaskan Inside Passage, and Glacier Bay. From $6,100 per person.
👨👩👧👦 Kids in Nature: Glaciers & Wildlife Family Explorer – 7-night round-trip from Juneau, exploring Glacier Bay National Park, Margerie, Grand Pacific and Sawyer glaciers, Tracy Arm, and Frederick Sound. From $6,300 per person.
🚢 Prince William Sound Explorer – 7-night round-trip from Whittier, exploring Chenega, Columbia, Meares, and Sheridan Glaciers, College and Harriman Fjords, and Cordova. From $7,100 per person.
⚓️ Alaska Fjords & Glacier Bay Ultimate Expedition – 14-night from Juneau to Ketchikan (or reverse), exploring Yes Bay, the Wrangell Narrows, Fords Terror Wilderness, Baranof Island, Glacier Bay, and Haines. From $7,200 per person.
🐻 New for 2025: Aleutian Islands, Kodiak, Katmai & Kenai – 10-night from Whittier to Dutch Harbor (or reverse), exploring Prince WIlliam Sound, Kenai Fjords, Kodiak, Shumagin, Unga, and Akutan Islands, and UnAlaska. From $8,900 per person.
I’m already dreaming of that Aleutians route – it’s going to be so unique among Alaska cruise offerings for any ship size! Do you have other questions about my UnCruise Alaska review or choosing the right UnCruise itinerary for your trip? Let me know in the comments below!
Don’t forget: you can get $500 off per person if you use code VAL500 when booking your UnCruise – be sure to mention it over the phone if you decide not to book online!
I was hosted by UnCruise aboard the Safari Endeavour. This post was produced in partnership with them.
Keep Planning Your Cruise!
My Alaska Cruise Guide ebook will help you plan the basics of your cruise and wade through all the excursions in each port to make the best choice for each stop on your Alaska cruise itinerary.
Get your copy for just $12.99!