Un-Cruising Alaska: Staying Active on the Inside Passage

Humpback Whales in Alaska
Kraig Becker

Recently we profiled Un-Cruise Adventures, a small-ship cruise operator that offers unique opportunities to visit some popular destinations in a way that is very different than most other cruises that you'll ever take. That's because an Un-Cruise itinerary is designed to be more active and spontaneous than traditional cruises, giving passengers chances to experience a place in unique and sometimes unusual ways. 

This is especially true in a destination like Alaska, where the landscapes are simply begging to be explored rather than just simply sailed past. Which is why the company offers multiple ways for passengers aboard their ships to stay active while on a cruise. This was definitely the case on my recent Un-Cruise departure, where each day we were presented with multiple options for getting off the boat and interacting with our surroundings. Those activities helped to make the experience even more unique and gave us some up-close encounters with the local wildlife as well.

Guests on an Un-Cruise in Alaska have the following options for active adventures.


One of the best ways to truly explore any destination is on foot, which is why hiking and trekking trips are so popular with adventure travelers. But in a remote place like the Inside Passage, there aren't a lot of trails to be found, turning an Un-Cruise hike into a bushwhack instead. That usually involves making your own trails or following those created by the wildlife, through thick undergrowth and lush forests. Those walks can be demanding, but also give hikers a chance to spot unique birds, as well as plenty of other animals and plant life.

The daily bushwhacking tours are also a good way to get off the ship and get some exercise too. Just don't be too concerned about hiking boots. The area is so boggy and muddy that rubber boots are the best choice when it comes to footwear. 

Coastal Walk

If a challenging hike into the Alaskan bush sounds too difficult, there are often other options for those who still want to get off the ship and go for a walk on land. The Un-Cruise expedition guides also organize treks along the coastline that give you the chance to explore the area without delving too deeply into the thick wilderness. These walks are scenic, informative, and less arduous than the bushwhacking excursions, which makes them a good respite for those looking for a breather from a more active outing.


Guided Kayaking

One of the most popular excursions on an Un-Cruise trip is the regular guided kayak excursions. The ship is equipped with an array of two-person sea kayaks for guests, and single boats for guides, who lead the passengers on paddling outings along the coastline and around the islands that make up the Inside Passage. Along the way, you can spot a wide variety of wildlife, including seals, sea lions, bears, fish, mink, and whales. The waters can range from very smooth and calm, to rough and choppy, which is all part of the fun.

But the kayaks are very stable and easy to keep upright, even when things get a bit choppy. This makes them very easy to paddle, even for beginners making their first excursion out into the sea.

Open Paddling

In addition to a full complement of sea kayaks, the Un-Cruise ships also have several stand-up paddleboards onboard as well. Both the kayaks and SUP boards can be checked out during "open paddling" hours to go exploring on your own. This is a good option for the days that you don't want to spend several hours out on the water committed to a guided kayak, but would still like an active escape none the less. Unfortunately, open paddling isn't available as an option every day, so take advantage of it while you can.


Skiff Tours

The Un-Cruise ships aren't just equipped with kayaks, they also come with several zodiac skiffs as well. Those boats are used to take guests out on tours of the Inside Passage too. A skiff tour involves far less physical activity than hiking or kayaking but gives passengers a chance to visit places that the larger ship can't always get into. It also allows travelers to get closer to the wildlife, while also taking a leisurely cruise through the stunningly beautiful Alaskan landscapes. On those days that you don't want to stay onboard the ship, but aren't feeling particularly energetic, a skiff tour is a good option.


All-Day Outings

For those who really like to stay active, the Un-Cruise guides also organize full-day excursions for hiking, kayaking, or a combination of both. When embarking on those activities you'll carry a box lunch and enjoy most of the day off the ship, leaving in the morning and arriving back onboard later in the afternoon. These "hard-charger" outings don't offer much in the way of a break throughout the day, but they are a very rewarding way to make the most of your visit to the Alaskan wilderness. 

These are just a sample of some of the activities that take place on an Un-Cruise. Much of the rest of the time is spent enjoying some downtime onboard your ship, watching wildlife, spotting whales, and getting to know your fellow passengers. Unlike most other types of cruises, the possibilities for adventure are boundless here, making them a good choice for active travelers who aren't especially likely to consider a cruise in the first place.

Find out more at Uncruise.com.

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