CruiseCompete's Cruise Podcast

Small-Ship Alaska with Uncruise Adventures (CruiseCompete Cruise Podcast #4 with Debi Lander)

November 13, 2019 Season 1 Episode 4
CruiseCompete's Cruise Podcast
Small-Ship Alaska with Uncruise Adventures (CruiseCompete Cruise Podcast #4 with Debi Lander)
Chapters
CruiseCompete's Cruise Podcast
Small-Ship Alaska with Uncruise Adventures (CruiseCompete Cruise Podcast #4 with Debi Lander)
Nov 13, 2019 Season 1 Episode 4
Bob Levinstein/Debi Lander
A small-ship Alaska criuse on UnCruise Adventures including Glacier Bay and Juneau.
Show Notes Transcript

Join us for a different type of Alaska cruise on small-ship cruise line UnCruise Adventures.  On this active voyage, hear about getting up close and personal with humpback whales in Glacier Bay; porpoises and bears; the northern lights; kayaking among calving glaciers; hikes to waterfalls; and Juneau highlights with my guest writer and photographer Debi Lander.

Speaker 1:
0:15
Hello and welcome back to CruiseCompete's cruise podcast where we share tips, ideas, and inspiration to help make your next cruise a fantastic experience. I'm your host Bob Levinstein. Today's topic is a different type of Alaska cruise on a small ship adventure line called Uncruise Adventures. My guest is ms Debi Lander, a freelance travel writer and photographer who specializes in travel, food and lifestyle. Her work focuses on historic and cultural sites, culinary experiences and adventure travel among other publications. You can find through articles and experiences on Allthingscruise.com as well as her website bylanderbysea.com. We'll be right back with Debi right after this.
Speaker 2:
1:00
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Speaker 1:
2:07
My guest today is Ms. Debi Lander, a travel writer and photographer this past spring Debi experienced Alaska aboard the Uncruise Adventure small ship Legacy along with her partner John. Debi, welcome to the program.
:
2:21
Thank you for having me.
:
2:22
Oh, you bet. Really excited to hear about this. So I understand you had a chance to explore Juneau before boarding your ship. What was that experience like?
Speaker 3:
2:31
I did, but first I should tell you that this was my very first trip to Alaska, so I was very excited about being in our 49th state. Juneau itself is just one of those kind of cool old gold rush towns. It's on the side of a mountain and uh, checked out a couple of the good bars there, but I also checked out the Capitol building because Juno is the of Alaska and I was able to go in and actually managed to see a vote in both the house and the Senate chambers. Oh yeah. That was very neat, you know, and then, um, unproved provided complimentary tickets to the tramway. So I walked down there and I took the tram up pretty high above the city and you just get this fantastic panoramic view was wonderful.
Speaker 1:
3:30
Nice. So you were actually welcomed to your cruise by the owner of the cruise line. That's gotta make you feel a like a well, like a valued customer I would think.
Speaker 3:
3:40
Well we were welcomed by Dan Blanchard himself who was the owner of on cruise. He is quite a guy. Some people in fact call him Mr. Alaska. He lives in Juneau and he I guess he's always been connected with both. He was first a boating importer and, and then at some point he became a day cruise captain in Glacier Bay. And claims that that was a life changing, assignment that he fell in love with Alaska and eventually was able to work for a small mapping line and then, you know, progress that into small ships. And now he's the owner of Uncruise.
Speaker 1:
4:27
Wow. So you have sailed, both large ships and small ones. What, what made you choose UnCruise to see Alaska?
Speaker 3:
4:36
Well, I really think the advantage of Uncruise in Alaska is the fact that it is a small ship. It can go where others are, certainly where those big ships can't fell. And then the other thing that really appealed to me was getting off and being active. Um, you know, if it's not a, this is not a sit back and just watch the sunset cruise, this is get out there and do something every day.
Speaker 1:
5:06
I, uh, I, I understand where you're coming from. That's a, that's the kind of vacation that I tend to buffer as well. So tell us about the ship and your cabin and what people can expect. We're used to being on large cruise ships. You know, what's different, uh, what's the same, uh, what do you have to prepare yourself for if you decide to go that route?
Speaker 3:
5:26
Well, first of all, I was on the SS Legacy, which is a copy of an 1898 gold rush. Steamboat. It's a very cool looking boat from the exterior. Um, the interior carries kind of along with that theme, there's like a Victorian theme and the in the lobby and then the restaurant. But the cabins themselves are, um, modern. I would tell you that they're not luxurious, but, um, certainly more than adequate. My cabin had two single beds and, um, the shower right up, I mean a bathroom with shower and then right outside the door is the balcony. So you felt like you had your balcony, but you know, it wasn't absolutely your own. Got it. Um, the one thing I guess that people need to realize is that, um, there's not very much wifi in the inner passage of Alaska. So it doesn't really matter whether you're on a big boat or a small boat. There's just not going to be great wifi.
Speaker 4:
6:36
Okay.
Speaker 3:
6:38
Oh, so what's that? What were the other passengers like? Well, the other passengers, I was curious about that. Um, and then I've w like me, I'm a boomer, I will say predominantly this cruise was boomers, um, successful business people, you know, um, no kids and uh, and very, very friendly. This worked out that way.
Speaker 4:
7:05
Okay.
Speaker 3:
7:07
I'm not sure if it's allowed except maybe during summer months. Got it. But I'm not positive on that. We had no kids on the cruise I was on.
Speaker 1:
7:17
Got it. So mostly, um, successful go get her is healthy. You want to get out there and uh,
Speaker 3:
7:26
yeah. And access active.
Speaker 1:
7:30
Well I guess you've probably got a lot of just sort of interesting stories and interesting people who've traveled through a lot of different places.
Speaker 3:
7:36
Absolutely. Yeah. It's, it, you know, it's, it was a really, um, communicative group because we all sort of just bonded with each other and, and telling stories like that. Where have you been? And, um, you know, what other cruises have you been on? So
Speaker 1:
7:53
right about how many, how many people on the ship total?
Speaker 3:
7:57
Well, the ship holds a maximum of 90, but I went and the very first week of the Alaskan cruises. So we were maybe just two thirds of that. Um, but I will tell you that we were the only ship out there, which was really very cool.
Speaker 1:
8:17
Oh, that's neat. And so you get to see, um, you also get to see the same people locked in and get to know them a little better than you would on her.
Speaker 3:
8:24
Yes. Yeah, it was a small group. Right. So how was the, how was the food
Speaker 1:
8:30
and the service and how do they handle all the, uh, the dining and things like that?
Speaker 3:
8:35
Well, the food was, I think very good. If it to me would be like, if I'd go to a fine restaurant. Now I'm not saying it's Michelin five stars, but it was very good food and you always had a choice, um, early risers and I'm one of those you could find and, and you know, um, start or breakfast in the lounge, no matter how early you got up. And
Speaker 1:
9:03
as I mentioned, there are a lot of, a lot of early risers.
Speaker 3:
9:06
That's true. Yeah. Right. Um, the cocktail, the bar is complimentary and um, I forget, but I think it opens at 11 in the morning. It seemed like it was always open. Um, and they did have a pastry chef, so we had excellent, excellent dessert. And, um, one night there was a a all you can eat Alaskan crab leg dinner. That was a big hit with everybody.
Speaker 4:
9:37
Wow.
Speaker 3:
9:38
Um, of course, you know, salmon, you're in Alaska. I happen to like salmon, so I think I had it twice during the week.
Speaker 4:
9:47
Nice.
Speaker 1:
9:49
Yeah. A surprise. Wake up call at two in the morning is usually not a good thing. But I hear you had a very pleasant surprise the first night you were on board.
Speaker 3:
9:57
I did. Um, we were awakened in our cabins by some announcements. Um, there was an Aurora Borealis outside and I've never seen one. So I just quickly throw on my jacket and I don't know my boots or something and ran out there. And um, now I will say it wasn't like the fabulous pictures you see of the really saturated colors in the sky. This was more like this just super amazing glow in the sky. It's um, it's definitely a picture that's hard to describe, but certainly I will, we'll keep it in my memory bank always. It was a wonderful experience.
Speaker 1:
10:43
I've been to Alaska twice. I still have not seen in rural Borealis, so I'm a little envious there.
Speaker 4:
10:49
Okay.
Speaker 3:
10:49
Well I want to go back and see, see, you know, one of those real you really great colorful ones.
Speaker 1:
10:55
[inaudible] like that and you know, then you can figure out how much of the, the pictures you've seen or people messing with their saturation say. So, uh, the owner of the line is an expert in glacier Bay as you mentioned, and I guess you guys spent two days there. What were some of the highlights?
Speaker 3:
11:15
Well, glacier Bay is kind of everything that I envisioned Alaska being. It was pristine landscaped snow covered peaks, crystal clear blue water, um, just, you know, a dramatic view every which way you turned. Again, we were the only strip out there so that, that was like we had the entire park to ourselves. Um, I had never seen a glacier before and, um, we got a chance to get up close and actually watch them chaff, which is where they break off in the part, falls down into the, to the water and see, you know, icebergs floating. Um, my,
Speaker 1:
12:04
did I do what? Did you do a glacier hike on the wisher?
Speaker 3:
12:09
No. Well, yes, we did. Yeah. Um, yeah, we did. We did. I'm sorry, I forgot.
Speaker 1:
12:14
Did you put on the crampons on your shoes? Just for a little section. That's, that was my, I did one up in, uh, in Canton, Canada and the Canadian Rockies. And just that, just that physical sensation of the sort of crunching along on this big ice field with the, the, um, the fresh water coming down and reveal it. Just,
Speaker 3:
12:38
it is, it is. It's, it's pure Alaska. You know, I have to tell you what my best memory is from glacier Bay, and that is the polar plunge. I, um, decided I was there and I might never get to go back again. So I put on my bathing suit and I jumped off the back of the deck when they were doing it into 38 degree water. It was thrilling. It was thrilling. I popped out very, very quickly, but I would do it again. It was, it was awesome.
Speaker 1:
13:13
That sounds amazing. So obviously one of the big attractions of Alaska is the wildlife and you guys saw some fantastic Marine and land wildlife on your trip. Do you want to tell our listeners about that?
Speaker 3:
13:29
Again, it was not disappointing. Um, the very, very first day I'm on a skiff or like a little tender going out for a hike and all of a sudden we slow down and then stop. Uh, we couldn't go on our planned hike because there was a bear on the shore fishing. So that was like, okay, we really are in Alaska. Um, another time we saw humpback whales that were just, it was like they were putting on a show, they were breaching over and over and over again for over, you know, 40 minutes. It, it was just phenomenal. And everybody I know and everybody was so excited about it. And talking about it. And then the captain comes on when we just sit down to dinner and says, sorry folks. But I think you might want to know. There's a pod of orcas out there. Everybody liked dashed down in the dining room, started, you know, looking at the pod of orcas. So that was another really cool thing. We also saw, um, goats like mountain goats, um, sea lions that were basking in the sun on this one particular Island. And then day when we were out on the skiff, um, these purposes, I think they're called doll purposes. Big ones. They, they just like escorted our boat along. It was like they were our private, you know, escorts.
Speaker 4:
15:07
Okay,
Speaker 3:
15:08
very cool. And then, Oh, of course there's, there's many body bald Eagles there and other birds.
Speaker 4:
15:15
Okay, amazing.
Speaker 1:
15:19
This was a very active trip. Uh, skiffs and high acts, sorry, kayak and hiking trails. Uh, what were some of your favorite hikes in a, in outdoor activities that you did?
Speaker 3:
15:30
Well, I just really love being able to get out and, and, and see real Alaska, you know, not just what I could see from the boat, but actually to go bushwhacking back in, in the brush. Um, we took some hiking trails that led to scenic waterfalls. You again, you couldn't see them from the ship. You had to get off the boat and do these. Um, and then the skiff tours, sometimes the skiff tours went out so that we could get a more up close look at some of the whales or the glaciers. Um, and they were amazing as well. So I, I don't, I had loved all the outings.
Speaker 1:
16:14
So tell me, tell me about the guides and the folks who are escorting you around and, and doing the education.
Speaker 3:
16:21
Well, almost everybody on this ship, unlike most other ships I've ever been on, the crew was American or Canadian. Um, and um, you know, this is what they live for. They are true naturalists' and they're very into, um, the scenery, the wildlife, they make sure they take very good care of you. Um, so they were, they were a tremendous help.
Speaker 4:
16:53
Nice.
Speaker 1:
16:54
So what were the, uh, the evenings of worship like?
Speaker 4:
16:58
Yeah.
Speaker 3:
16:58
Well, again, if you're going to compare this to a big ship with professional entertainment, there is none on an on cruise. It's a very low key, um, environment in the evening. Some people will play card games together. A couple of times we had a speaker or a photography slide show. Um, but this is a group that, uh, was active in the day and get up early but also goes to bed early.
Speaker 1:
17:28
Well, yeah, a day being out there hiking, it's gonna make you ready to, are you for a couple of drinks or good me all in bed, I would think. Exactly. Now Alaska is a definite Mecca for photographers and a, and you're a pro. Uh, I can imagine you went through a lot, you know, in the old days it would've been a lot of film. Now I'm sure it's a lot of megabytes, but what are the favorite photos that you took on your trip?
Speaker 3:
17:54
Well, my, I guess my favorite is the whale breaching. I got one really amazing shot, you know, with his eye. Perfectly clear. And the, the, you know, the water, just him shooting out of the water and it just shutting up there. Um, I also was able to catch that sort of ultimate whale's tail, you know, where it's just perfectly up in the air. Um, that was, that was exciting to get one of those. Um, one day we went to this beach where there were these just round, it was round Rocky beach. It was very difficult to walk on, but photographically it was fantastic. So I have some panoramic shops there because there were mountains in the distance and then these really, really amazing rocks up close. Um, that's one of my favorite pictures. Um, I will say this, that the UNHCR OOS people, the guys that they also take pictures of the participants while you're out there, so they send those to you when you get home. So it's kind of fun. You know, I, I have a picture of me taking pictures.
Speaker 1:
19:07
What do you, what do you tend to do with these photos? Do you, uh, you, uh, blow them up and put them on the wall and printers on campus or,
Speaker 3:
19:15
yeah, from this trip I actually made a poster and had it printed, you know, one of those collage posters. It's, uh, it has, you know, I dunno, 12 pictures or something from it. Um, because yeah, that we, we were so lucky we had clear sky six of the seven days. So it was, you know, great for picture taking. And even on the last gloomy, rainy day, I was actually excited by that because it gave a totally different look to the picture. It looked like, you know, that scene, those scenes in Titanic, a little icebergs floating all around. Uh, so I was able to capture that too.
Speaker 1:
20:01
Wow. Yeah. I imagine it's one of the tough, toughest thing probably was deciding which pictures are the best. When you take a couple of thousand and everywhere you look is something that can be a, a piece of art.
Speaker 3:
20:15
Well, that's true, but you know, for me, they're stored on my computer, on my hard drive and, um, the best souvenirs I could ask for. I can spend, you know, time, just looking back at those in night, bring back all the wonderful memories. So, um, just, you know, get an external hard drive and store them all on there.
Speaker 1:
20:39
Um, you know, if you wanted to do a little photo display and throw that up on the all things crews, uh, just as a, that would, uh, think that would be neat. I think our listeners would, uh, we'd definitely like to check that out. I'm actually kind of excited to see them. I am not a professional photographer, but I take a lot of pictures that I love for a little bit and then look at a month later and go, yeah, that's not really very good. But I do like, I actually, my whole house is photos that I've taken on my travels that I've had printed on canvas or had printed on metal that I have up on the wall and I'm running out of wall space and it takes them down. But to also, do you have some up at a, at a, at your website, at by lender by C?
Speaker 3:
21:23
You know, I don't think I really do have them yet. I've been traveling so much. I have not done that, but I can, I could put some up on all things cruise.
Speaker 1:
21:32
Oh that would be great. That would be great. Um, so once you returned to Juno, you had a chance to visit the, uh, Alaska state museum cause you find that to be worth the trip.
Speaker 3:
21:43
Yes, I really did. It's a fabulous museum and I think a lot of people do miss it, um, because UNHCR cruise, you know, really tries to educate their guests. I learned a lot of Alaska history during the week, but that museum going there on the last day before I left really put everything into perspective. So I was very glad I went in there.
Speaker 1:
22:11
Nice. Any, uh, overall advice for our listeners?
Speaker 3:
22:16
Well, don't wait as long as I did to go to Alaska cause it's really amazing. And I would say go early in the season. I went, you know, that first week they offered a cruise and um, it was amazing. So far less crowds. Um, and you know, as I said, we had, we had glacier Bay to ourselves pretty hard to beat.
Speaker 1:
22:44
Well, um, this has been absolutely great. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us. I am sure you know, your descriptions are been very vivid and uh, I know that, uh, I'm now anxious to go back to, I'm also kinda hungry for crab legs and salmon. Truth be told,
Speaker 3:
23:05
well, I would go back in a heartbeat.
Speaker 1:
23:07
No, well, I guess today's been Ms. Debi Lander, a travel writer and photographer a again, you can see Debbie's work at AllThingsCruise.com as weall as bylander--as in lander--byleaderbysea.com to our listeners. Thank you so much for spending time with us today. I'm Bob Levinstein for cruise compete.
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