When Is A Cruise Not A Cruise? When It's Un-Cruise!

with Ming Tappin

Part of the Un-Cruise fleet docked in Seattle's Fishermen's Terminal.

Caterina Armeni of Travel Best Bets(R) touring a stateroom with Sarah Scoltock of Un-Cruise Adventures.

Ming relaxing in a suite onboard the S.S. Legacy - the vessel dedicated to the Columbia & Snake Rivers.

Typical cozy lounges make for relaxation and casual conversations. 

Tony & Esperanza DeMarco of Cruise Planners Gig Harbor enjoying their visit onboard.

Un-Cruise Adventures had an open house for agents and clients last weekend to showcase 3 of their ships at the Fishermen's Terminal just outside of Seattle. A ship inspection is one of the best ways to learn about a brand, and when there is a road trip thrown in, I'm all over it.

Operating since 1996, Un-Cruise carries on the legacy of Cruise West & American Safari Cruises, 2 old familiar names in the niche cruise segment. We were treated to tours on a good cross section of the fleet - from a 22 pax adventure yacht to a 76 pax expedition vessel and an 88 pax replica turn-of-the-century coastal steamer. Each feels like a cozy private floating home - with comfortable living quarters, communal living rooms, loads of outdoor space and watersports equipment.

All of Un-Cruise's itineraries are destination intensive and surprisingly, many don't even have ports of call. In Alaska and the Pacific Northwest, days are spent getting up close and personal with marine wildlife, tumbling waterfalls and glaciers via hiking, kayaking or zodiac tours. Sailings to Hawaii, Panama, Costa Rica, Galapagos and the Sea of Cortes offer the same soft adventures, and the Columbia & Snake River cruises relive the history of Lewis & Clark. One thing for sure, wherever Un-Cruise takes you, there will be no t-shirt shops or Diamonds International in sight.

Concerns about cuisine and service onboard these adventure vessels should be left at the door - or I should say gangway. Meals are cooked to order, in buffet-style or plated course by course. After sampling freshly baked pastries (made daily onboard) and appies, and seeing the fine selection of local wines, micro-brews and even fine whiskeys, clearly gastronomy is well looked after.

Caterina Armeni of Travel Best Bets, along with a few other Vancouver agents also made the 3 hr. drive to Seattle to visit the ships. Caterina had not been familiar with Un-Cruise Adventures, but seeing the ships, learning about the product and meeting the warm onboard staff already set her wheels in motion. As an agent specializing in hosting cruise groups, she sees a terrific opportunity on the Columbia and Snake Rivers, perfect for her clients who want a river cruise experience without having to fly to Europe or the Mississippi. In fact, sailing roundtrip from Portland, there would be no flight required at all.

For Canadians and Americans who are staying closer to home these days, I see Un-Cruise being a great option for a unique and inclusive cruise experience different from the big ships. Small ship cruising is also extremely conducive to incentive and family groups, and Un-Cruise brags that actress Kate Winslet is a regular charter client.

If you have nature-loving clients looking for something off the beaten path such as kayaking next to a glacier, hiking through forested wilderness, and on my personal bucket list  - swimming with whale sharks - look to Un-Cruise for an adventure of a lifetime. 

Ming  Tappin is a cruise veteran with over 20 years’ experience in the industry and has sailed on 38 cruises and counting. Based in Vancouver, Ming is Owner of www.yourcruisecoach.com

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