Celebrating 20 Years, Un-Cruise Adds Theme Sailings, Updates Online Agent Portal
PHOTO: Safari Endeavour guests watching gentle whale sharks. (Photo by John R. Howard)
As it uncorked the Champagne bottle to celebrate 20 years of small ship cruising, Un-Cruise Adventures has reached another milestone by bolstering its excursion menu with Chairman’s, Alumni and National Park Centennial themes — great news for passengers as well as agents — who are invited to become specialists in what Un-Cruise has to offer.
The new Chairman’s Cruises introduce passengers to company leaders on board for the week, while Alumni Cruises unite past Un-Cruise guests. For 2016 only, cruises visiting Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska during the week of August 25 will honor the 100th anniversary of the National Park System, which was created on Aug. 25, 1916.
The Seattle-based operator’s fleet of boutique yachts and small ships carry 22-88 guests on adventure and river cruises running from 7-21 nights. All adventure activities and shore excursions are included.
With the trio of newbies, guests can now tap into 10 themed options for exploring Mexico’s Sea of Cortes, Alaska, Costa Rica, Panama, Hawaii, coastal Washington, and the Columbia and Snake Rivers.
According to Tim Jacox, president and COO, small ship perks pay off with experiences in waters inaccessible to larger ships and via opportunities for interacting with locals. “With ships carrying less than 90 travelers, we’re able to maximize our time outside on adventures,” said Jacox. “Small groups can explore remote areas on hikes, kayak along the shoreline, snorkel, spot wildlife and get up close to nature and wildlife. You can have multiple adventures every day.”
Selling Mexico’s Sea of Cortes
Described by famed undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau as “The World’s Aquarium,” Mexico’s Sea of Cortes welcomes nature lovers aboard the 84-guest Safari Endeavour. The seven-night sail departs the tip of the Baja to explore islands, bays and marine life in this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
"The Sea of Cortes is a dramatic landscape, very remote, teeming with marine life, and still off the beaten track and unknown to most people," Jacox said. "It's an ideal place for adventure travelers — kayaking, snorkeling with sea lions, hiking uninhabited islands, swimming with whale sharks, and seeing gray whales and calves up close."
The Un-Cruise 2016-2017 Sea of Cortes schedule includes:
• Ornithology-March 26 & Nov. 26, 2016; March 25, 2017
• Alumni-Dec. 3, 2016
• Chairman’s-Jan. 7, 2017
• Marine Biology-Jan. 21, Feb. 25 & March 18, 2017
• Photography-Jan. 28 & March 4, 2017
Rates for the seven-night inclusive journeys begin at $2,995 per person, double occupancy. Un-Cruise itineraries can also be customized with a pre- or post-cruise hotel stay in quaint San Jose del Cabo for voyagers wanting to say more “hola” before saying “adios.”
Selling the Sea of Cortes
The youngest sea in the world, the Sea of Cortes came into being more than five million years ago when tectonic plates shifted and separated what is today’s Baja California from mainland Mexico.
More than 700 miles long, this glittering turquoise jewel is sprinkled with islands predominantly located along its western shoreline and outlined by the long arm of the Baja peninsula. A desert of muted greens, golds and reds rises dramatically from the sea along the Sierra de la Giganta — the peninsula’s mountainous spine.
Un-Cruise notes that “it’s always a good time to visit the Sea of Cortes.” Conditions are mild and stable most of the year, with minimal variations most typically witnessed among migrating birds and marine life.
Depending on the time of year, weeklong adventures include either an opportunity to snorkel alongside whale sharks in Bahia de la Paz or the chance to view gray whales and their calves close-up across the peninsula at Bahia Magdalena.
The flexible sailing schedule explores Isla San Francisco, Bahia Agua Verde, Isla Partida, Isla Espiritu Santo and La Paz. “We’re guided by whim, weather and wildlife,” said Jacox. “We have the flexibility to make each day the best day possible.”
Excursions are also geared to immersing guests into the region’s culture. “In Mexico, we meet a local rancher and his family whom we’ve known for years for a mule ride into the arroyo in Bahia Agua Verde,” said Jacox. “They walk the mules down from their ranch miles away to meet us.”
Onboard, On Land, On Water
Those into snorkeling and diving have a heyday in the Sea of Cortes’ underwater world. A flurry of invertebrate species cohabitate with more than 900 species of fish and aquatic mammals that include whale sharks, dolphin, sea lions, mobula rays, butterfly fish, parrot fish, oarfish, squid, eels and hermit crabs.
Highlights for discovery include kayaking along rocky landscapes and pristine bays, stand up paddling in crystal-clear water, snorkeling in isolated coves, and skiff and panga rides to bird rookeries. An EZ Dock launch system makes it a snap to enter and exit the water.
For landlubbers, the Baja Peninsula’s arid desert supports more than 500 species of plants. Guests hike amid catci into arroyos, ride mules to a desert oasis, beachcomb, and relax on the sand for a barbecue with blankets, chairs, cocktails and snacks.
Even onboard activities keep guests engaged, with everything from yoga and tequila tastings to conservation presentations and wine from self-serve casks.
PHOTO: Safari Endeavour bartender, Gerry Jimenez, serves surprise sunset cocktails and hors d'oeuvres aboard the skiff, on the Sea of Cortes. (photo by Ellen Barone)
READ MORE: 6 of the Best Cruise Lines for Eco Travel
Welcoming Travel Partners
Un-Cruise Adventures invites travel professionals to visit its Agent Portal at un-cruise.com/travel-partners. Jacox also encourages agents to become "Adventurist” certified cruise specialists. Among the benefits, Adventurists are featured on the company website’s “Find An Agent” link for consumers seeking those in the know.
"Travel partners are a key component of our success," said Jacox. "Our Adventurist training program enables agents to accurately describe the nuances of an Un-Cruise adventure to clients.” He adds that webinars or live training, familiarization trips and marketing materials are available to help certified agent partners close the sale.
For descriptions, cruise dates and bookings, visit un-cruise.com. Since the website has recently been updated, all agents must register the first time visiting it even previously registered on the old site.
More by Dawna L. Robertson
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