Preparing for my Alaska Uncruise of the Inner Passage

 

I’m counting down! Alaska is one of only three states in the U.S. that I have not visited. So, naturally I’m thrilled to be headed to the 49th state for a Spring Awakenings Uncruise starting in Juneau. I’ll be sailing on the Uncruise line’s boat named the SS Legacy, a small ship with a maximum number of 90 guests. But, in this case, small ship cruising means big adventures. The Legacy can slip into narrow spaces and “Uncruising” suggests active plans.

We’ll be exploring the Inner Passage, often considered the best of Alaska. The Uncruise line promises hiking, kayaking, skiff outings, beachcombing, wildlife sightings and glacier viewing as well as the joys of a typical cruise. And, the end of April into the beginning of May means far fewer crowds and other ships in the area.

The Inner Passage has been called the red carpet to The Last Frontier. It stretches through some 500 miles of Southeast Alaska, where it reaches to the corner of Canada’s Yukon Territory. The big draw remains pristine wilderness and Glacier Bay.

First, John and I will fly from the East Coast the day ahead of embarkation, as it is a long process involving three flight segments- about 20 hours of total travel time. (Fingers crossed that all goes well.)

We will arrive late and spend the night at the Juneau Hotel in the out of the way, but capital city of Alaska. Before embarking on the Glacier Country Cruise, we will explore the small town’s gold rush history. We also hope to ride the tram to the top of the hilltop and overlook the scenic panorama.

Then, we’ll hop aboard the SS Legacy, a replica of an 1898 coastal gold rush steamer that sports Victorian-style décor and modern machinery. The Legacy can move at a speed up to 15 knots. She’s equipped with kayaks, paddleboards, skiffs and the Sea Dragon – a portable launch platform. Wherever she sails, she announces her arrival with an antique whistle.

Cabins include a private bath with shower, hair dryers, bathrobes, bath amenities, in-room safe, TV/DVD player, binoculars and reusable water bottles. The public areas offer two on-deck hot tubs, fitness equipment, piano lounge, large screen AV in the lounge, DVD and book library, and a bar stocked with premium spirits, wine and microbrews.

Since booking, the folks at Uncruise have kept in touch, suggesting reading material and offering a packing list. We purchased the suggested calf- high or taller rubber mud boots, essential for hiking. Otherwise, I picked through my stored ski clothes (I’m a Floridian) pulling out thermal underwear, a parka, wind pants, neck gator, gloves and hats.

As I think ahead, visions of moss and moose, thunderous glaciers and tiny birds fill my imagination. I can’t wait to visit and photograph rainforests, glaciers, fjords, waterfalls, Glacier Bay National Park and Tongass National Forest. I hope to see Grizzlies, black bears and “spirit bears,” not to mention the bald eagles, puffins, mountain goats, salmon and hopefully some whales. As much as I’d love to photograph the Humpback whales, I fear they may be around only in the summer. However, gray whales should be swimming in the Inner Passage. On the other hand, I may be too late, but am crossing my fingers for a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis, if conditions are right.

We’ll be unplugged as there is no Wi-Fi and little cellphone coverage, something that will force relaxation and reading. I look forward to eating some very fresh seafood including Dungeness crab. Both alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages, amenities, excursions, and transfers are included in the cruise fare.

I guarantee I’ll indulge in the hot tubs under the stars, but will I take a polar plunge? Stay tuned and see.

Story courtesy of Debi Lander. 

Photos courtesy of Uncruise.

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