A Final Day of Un-Cruising – and a Recap of our Journey
Aaron Saunders, Live Voyage Reports
March 7, 2014
Our last full day aboard Un-Cruise Adventures’ Safari Voyager, finds us sailing south toward Los Cabos as we complete our weeklong Baja Bounty itinerary that has taken us through some of the most intriguing spots in Mexico’s Sea of Cortes.
The full recap:
Un-Cruise, Safari Voyager: Mexico’s Sea of Cortes
|Day 1 - Embarking Safari Voyager in Los Cabos||Embark Safari Voyager; welcome cocktail and dinner.|
|Day 2 - Hiking Ensenada Grande||Begin the week's adventure in this home to humpback whales, mobula and Manta rays, tuna, dolphins, and hammerhead sharks.|
|Day 3 - Isla San Francisco||Snorkeling and kayaking in Half Moon Bay; interpretive hike; possible post-dinner night swim.|
|Day 4 - Bahia Magdalena||Guided hike at Isla Santa Catalina to see the world's tallest cactus; explore the Bahia Agua Verde coast by skiff|
|Day 5 - Bahia Agua Verde||Wildlife and marine mammal watching & scenic cruising; sunset bonfire (weather permitting.)|
|Day 6 - Los Islotes||Don a wetsuit for a pre-breakfast snorkel; enjoy an afternoon of aquatic fun at Ensenada Grande; farewell dinner|
|Day 7 - Gordo Banks||Disembark Safari Voyager; onward journey home|
After breakfast, we spent some time sailing Baja’s famous Gordo Banks. Sometimes referred to as the “Gorda” Banks, this region is home to two undersea seamounts that attract an abundance of marine wildlife. Which, in turn, attracts expedition cruisers like us.
Like anything in nature, wildlife sightings are never guaranteed. Today, our cruising off the coast produced a handful of whales that betrayed their location thanks to their tell-tale spouts of water. But the crew of the Safari Voyager did their best to hunt down some good sightings for us, taking the ship off course, turning in circles, or even stopping dead in the water until a fix could be obtained.
This is a great time to mention the changeable nature of expedition voyages. Unlike large cruise ships that have to adhere to strictly-regulated docking schedules that are arranged years in advance, expedition voyages are able to rearrange their itineraries to provide guests with the best possible experience.
Originally, we were scheduled to call on Gordo Banks last Sunday, on our first full day onboard. Sea conditions at the time necessitated a change for the comfort of guests, and so we visited Ensenada Grande first.
But this kind of flexibility is an absolute advantage on any expedition ship, and I am thrilled to see that Un-Cruise believes in keeping the itinerary loose and changeable. One of my favorite travel sayings – actually coined by river cruise line AmaWaterways – states that “experienced travelers know how to be flexible.” I think that is very true for guests here aboard the Safari Voyager.
All told, it was nice to have a day of cruising and whale sighting to just relax and unwind on this, the last day of our Baja Bounty voyage. It gave guests time to pack or sit out on deck with their favorite book, or to perhaps enjoy one of the fantastic margaritas in the Lounge on Deck 3.
It’s also a great opportunity for guests to get in that last-minute massage; on all of Un-Cruise’s luxury vessels (except the small Safari Quest) and even the new Heritage-themed S.S. Legacy, guests are treated to one complimentary massage per voyage – a nice touch, particularly with all the active adventure options ashore.
This afternoon was also the first time we’ve really experienced any sort of pronounced movement of the ocean here aboard the Safari Voyager, perhaps not surprising considering we’re heading around into the waters of the Pacific as we near Los Cabos.
It’s also a great time to start leafing through the 2014-2015 Un-Cruise Brochure – as numerous guests have been doing today when they’re not glued to the open decks watching whales breach and splash about.
In Mexico alone, Un-Cruise offers two separate itineraries that explore the magical Sea of Cortes, including the special Cousteau’s Aquarium of the World that ventures even further north than our Baja’s Whale Bounty itinerary did.
But while Un-Cruise offers voyages that explore the Columbia and Snake rivers, along with expeditions to Hawaii, Washington State and British Columbia, Alaska remains their bread and butter. The line offers 12 Alaskan itineraries that encompass their Active, History, and Luxury vessels. They even operate in the Tongass National Forest under a special use permit from the USDA Forest Service, and in Glacier Bay National Park as an authorized Concessionaire of the National Park Service’s Department of Interior. Neither of those permits are easy to come by, and both speak to the dedication Un-Cruise has to the regions in which they operate in.
Here in Mexico, the Safari Voyager still has some growing pains to overcome. But one thing that need no tweaking, however, is the stellar crew here aboard the Safari Voyager that have made this trip such an enjoyable one. The overland experiences have been jaw-dropping; the wildlife sightings amazing. The Expedition Team has shared their knowledge, and most importantly, their passion with us every step of the way. The crew have treated us like old friends for the entire journey, despite the obvious demands of their jobs.
This evening, I arrived back in my stateroom to discover a small USB key sitting on my desk. On it are all the photographs our Expedition Team has taken over the past few days. Every guest aboard the Safari Voyager received one. It’s actually one of the more touching end-of-cruise gestures I’ve ever received. So simple, yet so powerful. (as a post-cruise sidenote: I also received an email with a digital download link to pass along to friends and family just yesterday.)
This is Un-Cruise – and what an adventure it’s been!