Day 1: Embarking on an Un-Cruise Adventure in Mexico’s Sea of Cortez

Safari Endeavour
The Safari Endeavor carries 84 passengers and 35 crew. On our trip, the first of the Baja season, there are only 54 aboard.

ABOARD THE SAFARI ENDEAVOUR — Donnelle Oxley and I flew into Mexico’s San Jose del Cabo Airport yesterday afternoon. AdventureSmith Explorations, the booking agency for Un-Cruise Adventures, asked all passengers to arrive at the airport by 2:30 pm on Saturday, so we flew in early and booked a room at the Best Western Aeropuerto for Friday night so we didn’t have to worry about tight connections. This gave us an opportunity to catch up on email before entering the Sea of Cortez, where there would be no wi-fi or cell service.

This afternoon we began meeting our shipmates at Un-Cruise’s hospitality room at the Barcelo Grand Faro Los Cabos, 20 minutes from the airport. Some of our shipmates had chosen to spend a day or two at the Barcelo, a sprawling all-inclusive with a large pool overlooking a pretty beach. The rest of us were given access to all of the resort’s amenities and restaurants until departure.

When our contingent was complete we boarded buses for the two-hour ride to La Paz, where the ship was docked. This was a change from 2014, when the itinerary began with a 10-hour overnight sail from San Jose del Cabo to La Paz, sometimes on rough seas. It was a good change, reflecting input from previous passengers. The buses were comfortable and well stocked with beer, wine, soft drinks and snacks. The time passed quickly as we followed an excellent highway through the desert terrain while Cruise Director Jeremy Saenz entertained us with information about the Baja Peninsula and the Sea of Cortez.

The Endeavor lounge has an extensive bar stocked with premium liquors and wines, all included in our trip fee.
The Endeavor lounge has an extensive bar stocked with premium liquors and wines, all included in our trip fee.

The Endeavour’s crew members were lined up to greet us on the dock in La Paz and in no time we had unpacked and were in the ship’s spacious lounge, hoisting a champagne toast to Captain Barrett Whitten. Dinner tonight was a choice of yellow fin tuna with pico de gallo, ribeye steak with port wine demi, or broad bean carbonara—all served with roast potatoes and asparagus. This was our first clue that we were going to fall in love with the chef and one of the stewards, Becca. At first we changed tables frequently to meet all of our shipmates, but gradually we gravitated to one of Becca’s tables because she had quickly learned our dining preferences—and had such a lovely smile.

Of course, Becca was not alone in her pleasant disposition. We had been wowed by the Un-Cruise crew (back when it was American Safari Cruises) on the Safari Explorer years ago in Alaska’s Glacier Bay, so we had high expectations. No worries! It was obvious from the beginning that the Endeavour had a well-trained, happy, personable crew devoted to making our experience the best it could be. Many of them had been with Un-Cruise for several years, which says a lot for the company.

Our Commander Class cabin is small, but well designed. There are larger cabins and suites, four with balconies
Our Commander Class cabin is small, but well designed. There are larger cabins and suites, four with balconies

Back in the lounge after dinner, Captain Barrett welcomed aboard several passengers who had arrived in 2014 for a cruise only to learn there was a problem with the ship’s new state-of-the-art sewage treatment system, which processes waste and returns it to the bay as pure as drinking water. Rather than take a chance on damaging the Sea of Cortez’s environment, Un-Cruise cancelled the trip, refunded the passengers’ money, and gave them massive discounts on a future cruise. I like a company that doesn’t hesitate to back up its environmentally friendly philosophy.

Speaking of which, we soon noticed the lack of plastic on board (we were provided with aluminum water bottles). Shampoo and bath soap came from dispensers in the showers, and reef-friendly sunscreen was readily available. And we made our lunch and dinner choices at breakfast each morning to avoid wasting food.

Donnelle and I turned in early, eager to settle into our Commander Class cabin (with its twin beds, private bath, large windows and ample storage space) on the third deck. During the night the ship got underway to Isla San Francisco, the first stop on our seven-night adventure.

Photos by Donnelle Oxley

November 7, 2015

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