Cruising the Wilds of Southeast Alaska

Written by Teresa Bergen

An UnCruise Alaskan adventure isn’t for passengers who obsess over itineraries, require casinos or demand shopping. Instead, it’s a day-by-day journey featuring kayaking, bushwhacking, skiff riding, shore walking and wildlife watching. The evening entertainment will probably be a talk on Russian history in Alaska or a game based on biomimicry.

If you like to follow game trails — sidestepping thorny devil’s club, contemplating moose droppings and turning over rocks to examine moss and fungi — this could be the vacation for you.

So toss aside the brochure and enjoy what each day brings your way.

A Day In Alaska

A typical day on the S.S. Legacy starts with 6:45 a.m. yoga. Then comes breakfast, an adventure activity, lunch, another adventure activity, happy hour, dinner and an evening talk. Sometimes the ship cruises by sea lion colonies, stops to admire a glacier or follows the captain’s best intel on where to find whales. UnCruise draws active people who want to participate. Still, there’s no requirement to do everything. More than half of the 48 passengers skipped yoga on the Legacy’s late April sailing, even though it was a themed yoga and fitness cruise.


Kayak, bushwhack, skiff ride, repeat. There’s a sameness to the activities, as things to do in the Alaska wilderness are limited. But the guides keep bushwhacks and kayak trips interesting by spotting a giant purple sunflower sea star underwater, or pointing out a fungus called fairy goblets — which look just like their name — on a piece of dead wood. They tell fond stories of the local residents, such as the sea otters who fall asleep holding hands, and moose that dive for algae to eat. Passengers from drier parts of the country ooh and ah over the lime-green moss covering the forest floor.

The most difficult activity of an April trip was the all-day ’yak and whack. Participants braved a cold and rainy day, kayaking two hours to a beach, then bushwhacking through dense vegetation. Eventually a skiff picked them up and brought them back to the ship. “It wasn’t for the faint of heart,” reported one ’yak and whacker.

Passengers who prefer a mellower experience can tour the cold waters by skiff, or look for anemones and sea cucumbers in tide pools while strolling the shore.

Wellness Amenities

After days of kayaking and bushwhacking, everybody appreciates getting a massage. The Legacy has two small massage rooms and two massage therapists aboard. This wellness staff also teaches morning and sometimes afternoon yoga classes.

Probably the best way to watch glaciers is sitting in one of the two hot tubs on the Legacy’s top deck. The only drawback is being hit by a chilly glacial wind when you finally emerge. Cruisers who don’t get enough exercise on their adventures can partake of the ship’s cardio machines and assorted dumbbells.

Casual Dining

If your idea of dressing for dinner means wearing jeans instead of rain pants, you’ll fit right in. Sit-down meals are served three times a day at unreserved booths and tables. After passengers get to know each other hiking and kayaking, sharing meals seems natural. The Legacy offers a land, sea and vegetarian option at each meal. With advance notice, staff cheerfully accommodates passengers’ vegan, gluten-free, low-salt or other food allergies and preferences. But watch out — many guests groaned over their failure to avoid the double dessert temptation of sweets offered after both lunch and dinner.

If You Go

Juneau averages more than 60 inches of rainfall per year, so a waterproof wardrobe can make the difference between wonderful memories and wet misery. UnCruise provides a useful packing list.

Depending on the itinerary, UnCruise’s Alaska cruises depart from Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, Seattle or Petersburg. American and Delta Airlines both make the long flights to Alaska from Richmond, Va., or Norfolk, Va. You’ll probably need to allow an extra day for travel to get there in time for boarding the ship.

All of UnCruise’s Alaska itineraries are action-packed. If you’re looking for a yoga and fitness focus, three themed sailings on the S. S. Legacy or the Safari Endeavor are coming up on Sept. 2nd and May 3rd and Sept. 1st in 2019. Visit uncruise.com/destinations/alaska-cruises for more information.

About the author

Teresa Bergen

Teresa Bergen is a Portland, Oregon-based freelance writer and web content developer who specializes in health, fitness and travel. Her articles appear on/in MSN.com, Spirituality & Health, India Currents, Whole Life Times Magazine, Pique, Yogi Times, the South China Morning Post, travelandleisure.com and many other print and online publications. She’s the author of Vegetarian Asia Travel Guide and Meditations for Gym Yogis and writes a blog called Veg Travel and Fitness. She’s also the vegetarian/vegan editor of Real Food Traveler. In addition to writing, Teresa is a yoga teacher and ACE-certified personal trainer and health coach.

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