Here's One of the Only Ways to Cruise Alaska This Summer
UnCruise Adventures will test the waters off Alaska with some socially distant trips this summer.
Small expedition company UnCruise Adventures will resume its trips to Alaska on August 1, the Seattle-based brand announced. It will be one of the only ways that travelers can explore the state by ship this summer, as major cruise lines have paused operations — not just in the 49th state, but around the world.
As such, the move is a major development for Alaska as well as for UnCruise itself, said the company’s owner and CEO Dan Blanchard. "This is a pivotal moment for the travel industry and Alaska," said Blanchard, in an emailed statement. "These initial departures represent a re-framing of what adventure travelers are increasingly looking for: small groups, inclusion, and human connection."
UnCruise has announced a planned five itineraries this summer, starting with a seven-night trip to Glacier Bay National Park from Juneau. The trip spends two full days within the national park and also includes opportunities for hiking, whale watching, birding, and sea kayaking, among other adventures.
The trips are possible, despite the current No Sail Order from the Centers for Disease Control, because UnCruise Adventures ships are small: The CDC rule applies only to vessels that carry 250 passengers or more. UnCruise’s Wilderness Adventurer, by contrast, typically carries just 60 guests — and capacity will be further reduced this summer to aid in social distancing. Each of the five August departures will only be two-thirds full, an UnCruise spokesperson said.
Of course, other safety measures are in place. “We have taken every necessary precaution for our guests, crew, and the public to resume operations,” the spokesperson told Travel + Leisure. “We have worked in lockstep with the state of Alaska on their precautions and will be foregoing port calls for the season to respect the small local communities and indigenous tribes we have partnerships with.”
“In addition, all passengers and crew will be required to have a negative [COVID-19] saliva swab test, which can be taken between 72 hours and five days before departure,” the UnCruise rep continued. “Once on board, passengers and crew will have daily temperatures taken prior to leaving their cabin for added safety. Appropriate [personal protective equipment] will be worn while [guests and crew are] in close contact.”
Rates for the August trips start around $4,400 per person plus $375 in port taxes and fees. UnCruise says travelers are booking, albeit cautiously, and they’re bullish about operating this summer and into the fall. (The company is making contingency plans in the event last-minute cancellations become necessary.)
“On board our small boats, we are in a contained environment, with no exposure to crowds other than the other few dozen on board,” the company’s spokesperson said. “We do what we do best, social distancing in the wild since 1996.”