Day 7 – Gordo Banks

A Final Day of Un-Cruising – and a Recap of our Journey

The spectacular view from Un-Cruise Adventures Safari Voyager this morning. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
The spectacular view from Un-Cruise Adventures Safari Voyager this morning. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

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

PORTACTIVITIES
Day 1 - Embarking Safari Voyager in Los CabosEmbark Safari Voyager; welcome cocktail and dinner.
Day 2 - Hiking Ensenada GrandeBegin the week's adventure in this home to humpback whales, mobula and Manta rays, tuna, dolphins, and hammerhead sharks.
Day 3 - Isla San FranciscoSnorkeling and kayaking in Half Moon Bay; interpretive hike; possible post-dinner night swim.
Day 4 - Bahia MagdalenaGuided hike at Isla Santa Catalina to see the world's tallest cactus; explore the Bahia Agua Verde coast by skiff
Day 5 - Bahia Agua VerdeWildlife and marine mammal watching & scenic cruising; sunset bonfire (weather permitting.)
Day 6 - Los IslotesDon a wetsuit for a pre-breakfast snorkel; enjoy an afternoon of aquatic fun at Ensenada Grande; farewell dinner
Day 7 - Gordo BanksDisembark 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.

Safari Voyager plows through the seas en-route to Los Cabos. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Safari Voyager plows through the seas en-route to Los Cabos. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

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.

On the hunt for whales on the bow of Un-Cruise Adventures' Safari Voyager. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
On the hunt for whales on the bow of Un-Cruise Adventures’ Safari Voyager. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

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.

Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

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.

Of course, there's always time for one of the fantastic margaritas made onboard in The Lounge! Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Of course, there’s always time for one of the fantastic margaritas made onboard in The Lounge! Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

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.

Patience is rewarded! Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Patience is rewarded! Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

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.

How very apropos to our voyage here onboard the Safari Voyager. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
How very apropos to our voyage here onboard the Safari Voyager. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

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.

Guests look down from Safari Voyager's open decks, in search of whales for the better part of the afternoon. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Guests look down from Safari Voyager’s open decks, in search of whales for the better part of the afternoon. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

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.

Guests applaud the crew of the Safari Voyager as they make their way through the Restaurant tonight. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Guests applaud the crew of the Safari Voyager as they make their way through the Restaurant tonight. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

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!

Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
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One Comment

  • Nice reports, Aaron! I’m glad you enjoyed yourself despite the current shortcomings of the ship itself.

    Reply

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