For centuries, Alaska has represented a challenge to be conquered by resilient people seeking a new path to blaze forward. Thus, this beautiful and highly sought-after destination also represents the perfect backdrop for the beginning of the comeback story for cruising. UnCruise Adventures, the small-ship leader in Alaska for more than two decades, made a big splash by launching its first sailings in May to mark the first significant step in the reopening of tourism in Alaska.
UnCruise brought six ships, the bulk of its fleet, to Alaska to meet the surging demand for expeditions in this idyllic location. The company had not sailed for more than a year and a half during the pandemic, but had managed to hang on long enough to celebrate a triumphant restart. Passengers were assured of a safe environment on these fully vaccinated cruises (both passengers and crew) that also required pre-cruise negative COVID tests.
My sailing on the 86-passenger Legacy departed from Juneau bound for Sitka with 60 passengers and 30 crew aboard. As is customary for UnCruise, the captain and crew always warn cruisers that the start and end points listed on the program are the only parts of the itinerary that you can really count on. The weather and whims of the whales and other creatures often dictate the course, as the goal is always to provide the most exciting experience and the best opportunities to see humpbacks, orcas, bears, porpoises, river otters, sea lions, moose and mountain goats. So, the ship goes where the animals are spotted.
Well, the weather certainly cooperated. As we departed rainy Juneau, slipping out of the marina and up Gastineau Channel on our way toward Icy Strait and, eventually, Idaho Inlet, the drizzle ceased and the clouds lifted.
Numerous passengers were experiencing both a cruise and Alaska for the first time. What a way to do it!