A wide-ranging interview with a legend in the small-ship cruise business, Captain Dan Blanchard, CEO and Owner of UnCruise Adventures. A can't-miss for active adventure lovers.
Before founding UnCruise, Dan spent years traveling, including four years sailing the world with his family on a sail boat. His passions for cruising, and for the wild lands and native cultures of Alaska have culminated in Uncruise Adventures, the small-ship adventure cruise line he owns and helms.
Today we’ll be talking with Dan about how new protocols for the resumption of cruising; and of course about small-ship cruising in Alaska and in South and Central America.
Bob Levinstein 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 we'll be talking with a legend in the small ship cruise business Captain Dan Blanchard, CEO and owner of UnCruise Adventures. Dan has spent years traveling the world he's explored winding waterways, comb beaches and sail the world in search of incredible wildlife and cultural encounters. His passion for cruising and for the wild lands and native cultures of Alaska has culminated in uncruise adventures, the small ship adventure cruise line he owns and helms. Today we'll be talking with Dan about how new protocols for the resumption of cruising will change the cruise experience. And of course, about small ship cruising in Alaska in general. We'll be right back with Dan, right after this.
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Welcome back. My guest today is Captain Dan Blanchard, CEO and owner of uncruise adventures. Dan, welcome to the program.
Dan Blanchard 2:23
Well, it's great to be here, Bob, I'm not sure I live up to the legendary comment in your intro, but I'll take it.
Bob Levinstein 2:31
Well, you know, you are definitely well known throughout the industry. And I've heard a whole lot of good things.
Well, thank you, those of our listeners who may be less familiar with uncruise Adventures, what's the what is the uncruise experience like?
Dan Blanchard 2:46
Well, you know, Bob, it is, like many cruise experiences we're all a little different from each other, right? And uncruise just by name defines itself is quite a bit different than a typical cruise. So first of all, you know, our cruises are small groups, as little as 22 aboard one of our private family charter yachts, with most of our boats in the 60 to 80 passenger range. So the big difference difference is the number of guests and a high crew compliment but probably the the thing that really separates uncruise from typical cruising is that we're really more to kind of envision us as like a sea Lodge. Take a look at the most beautiful lodge you've ever thought of in the mountains at a ski resort or a back country Lodge and put that on a boat and do a hub and spoke all day long in the wilderness and that is uncruise adventures.
Bob Levinstein 3:42
That sounds amazing. Especially right about now and we've all been cooped up quite a bit
Dan Blanchard 3:47
yeah, I think we're all feeling that aren't we? I know I am. I've been my wife and I have been going on
sank sanctuary Sunday's into the mountains to to keep ourselves sane during these COVID periods. Nice. And your your cruises really are geared to more more active adventures right? Well, it is yes. So our cruises generally are you know everywhere from just very light adventure to a little bit harder adventure. There's a whole plethora of activities available from really folks it might be fairly sedate maybe it's you know grandparents taking grandchildren on a trip where the grandparents might go on a skiff ride or beach stroll and the kids might you know climb a mountain are gone and all day kayak. So even though we have you know, variety of adventure, it allows for you know, folks that may or may just want to chill and read a book in the hot tub and watch the oils go by to those that want to get sweat on their brow. Yeah, well, I tell you, for me the if I'm not tired at the end of the day from hiking further than I should have or you know, using muscles that I've forgotten about to try to kayak. It's
It's not it hasn't been a great day. But that's one of the great things about cruising in general, it's not monolithic, you get to pick your adventure, you get to pick what you want to do that day. And all of your options, you know, are laid out there right for you. Yeah, that's very true. Basically, you know, the night before we people take their adventure order during happy hour, and our guides come around and talk to them about what they're looking for in the next day. And that might mean you know, an early morning kayak that just goes out and watches for birds or starts out on an all day trip, or it could be, you know, making up at 10 o'clock having a quick bite and, and going out for a paddleboard for a couple hours. So it's it varies quite a bit even on our boats, the activity level and, and the availability of activity. That customization sounds great. Although if it were me, I'm not sure I'd want to make my order for the next day during happy hour, I might decide on something that's a little beyond my capabilities.
I've got a story about a 20 k race that I ended up signing up for the night before because they had drinks at the
at the you know, the meeting the night before the race that I was just down with some friends.
But all sounds really wonderful, especially right now just to get out in the great outdoors. Yeah, well, that's a hilarious example. By the way, I love that.
One of the biggest questions I think people have is how the cruise experience is going to change when we return to sailing. I guess the first question is with a new announcement from the CDC. When when do you think that will be for uncruise? Well, we were targeting April in Alaska. You know, we feel that not only with the CDC announcement, which we view is very positive,
that it's going to take time for testing to get in place, it's going to take time for the market to return. We've found as we've had different experiments with operating over the last six months, that you know, once people get the word of a sailing happening, it really takes four to six weeks for that to gel in with them and then start to begin to book again. So you know, my hope for the travel industry and for my company specifically is that as we get into, you know, November, December, early January, that we've seen a big shift in the tide on this specifically on rapid, reliable and regular testing. I like call it the three R's. And if that happens, I think that the likelihood that we're all going to see a successful spring in summer season is very good. Yeah, the I'm very encouraged by what's been going on in Europe with the testing on MSC what they've been doing. I guess there was a little bit of a scare on some both, but then it all came back that every single positive was a false positive. So that I think all bodes very well for the future. In a normal year, though, how late the how late Do you guys sail? Well, we do sail year round. We have vessels that operate to down south in Panama and Costa Rica and Hawaii as well, during the winter months, as well as the Gulf Coast, but our Alaska operations. We for many, many for decades have been the longest to seasonal operator in Alaska. And we generally start in the first week of April and wrap up in the first week of October.
Oh, nice. I am. You know, boy, the weather can certainly change up there fast. I remember a trip I did to Alaska. I've got a buddy who's got a cabin up on a lake near Denali that you have to fly into. And looking at the picture. I took a whole lot of pictures that week. And just in the pictures you can see the snow creeping closer and closer and closer down the mountains. Just as that week went on.
I've always thought about you guys as an Alaska wind. Tell Tell me more about about some of your Southern adventures. Well, we actually Of course started in Alaska, that's my home and and where we started in 1996. But in 2000, we started to branch out we started traveling to Mexico Sea of Cortez, we've been down there since of course the Colombian Snake River is a very popular fall destination during the crush. Washington State is really that one is really coming. It's amazing how much activity we're getting on our on Washington Pacific Northwest itinerary. And then we about 2010 we started operating in Hawaii, and 2000 I guess it was
14 or so we started going down to Panama Costa Rica and so that's so it's been a while. But Alaska is always our bread and butter. It's where all our boats work and you know is our mainstay for sure.
Can you tell our listeners a little bit more about your history with Alaska and
What you love the most about it and how it kind of led to the creation of uncruise? Yeah, you know, it's really interesting I was in the cruise industry, I was a Vice President of Operations for another small ship cruise line. And I went out to hang out sailing for three years with my family in our 40 foot sailboat across the Pacific. And I came back to my job. And this was in the, you know, mid 90s, and came back to my job. And you know, at that point, now, as a small ship cruise line that was just going to small port, there was no real difference between it, that small ship line and a big ship line, just the port calls. And I had just finished this epic, epic time with my family. And it just wasn't satisfying anymore to just do port calls. And, and that was kind of also at the time where the adventure travel trade really just started catching on fire was kind of a change between the world war two generation and the baby boomers. And the boomers wanted to get out and touch and feel and smell. And so we we started American star cruises was the original name of uncruise adventures, which we changed in late 2012. And it was all based on not on port calls, not what was on the boat, but everything off the boat. And so that, you know, Alaska was the perfect place to start for that. I had first traveled to Alaska in my early 20s. for work. I grew up in the Seattle area, and it was very common for people to go work up in different fishing lodges or particularly back then it was about the canneries, right, processing plants. And, and I first, you know, worked up in Alaska in my 20s and then went up and started as a captain and Glacier Bay in 1986. And then that literally changed my life you know, 97 days with a park service naturalist standing right next to me sharing the the wonders of the natural world and Glacier Bay it It literally changed my life. Wow, they were an animal.
Oh my gosh, depends on on the time of day. But I saw a great video of
a great video that a friend posted today of a bear that was in downtown Juneau wandering around last night.
It was right now that was my knife a it was a big, big black bear. And it went right up next to my my buddy Jared narrows bar and was trying to get in just hilarious to me this morning.
It's amazing. It's a it's really a different world up there. And it's,
you know, I think one of the great things about travel because it takes you out of your own reality and it takes you out of your own head. And it just, you know, expands your mind to the, to the incredible world distance that we live in out there. For some of your for your non Alaska cruises, for the ones down south in, say Panama
or that air or Sea of Cortez, what's what for us the biggest the biggest attraction of that what's the best one of the best things that you do with the guests? Well, you know, that's a really good question. And I have to kind of harken back to Alaska, because we always use the experience we have in Alaska as the litmus test for wherever we go. So if it doesn't have an element of adventure, nature, education, and most of all laughter, it's just not going to happen. And in Panama, for instance, you know, everyone thinks about Panama as the Canal Zone, but Panama is so much more than the Canal Zone that Tambo areas is amazing gamba and and you know, you get off into the San Blas or Guna Yala is it's called islands. And I mean, it is amazing how Panama around the canal It is very developed, but you get outside the canal. And it is as wild and wooly as Alaska. So places like Panama, we all know about Costa Rica. I mean, they've just done such a fabulous job of protecting the land in Costa Rica.
So those aquatic parks that we go to in Costa Rica, the marine parks and preserves are prolific, and of course, the Gulf Coast. We all know about the Gulf Coast. I don't need to sell that one to you. But the important thing is, is that they have those elements that a person can go on a trip and Alaska and go to the Sea of Cortez, for instance, and be in a place that is just as wild and remote and a feeling of just being alone in nature. It's a good thing.
Um, yeah, and I think and I get the message because that's that's must be the the unproved part of the name. Yeah, it's the antithesis. You know, we did a lot of work on that name prior to actually taking it on we we salt and peppered our information.
Within, you know, four years with the term on cruise, and it was really our past guests that pushed over the top, they said, you know, you are cruise, you have to have that in your name, but you guys are so different. You got to come up with something. And of course, it was the generation that you remember that and cola. Right, right. Yeah. So yeah, I'm that old. Okay, good. And,
but, ya know, I get it, it's, but the
any entrepreneurs out there listening, you just got got a masterclass in, you listen to your people, if you're going to make a big decision as like a name change, you do it gradually, you prepare people for it. And you know, you really focus on your, on your branding, and on, you know, how to communicate what it is that you're offering that's different out there. And that's, that's all just brilliant.
Speaking of, you know, speaking of management, so what what's gone on behind the scenes, with your company, in response to this whole, this whole crisis? And how you handled it? And and what are some of the stories that come out of that? Well, I think with all of us, there's, you know, what, what, what we do for our living and and what we do in our personalized and my, I'll go with the personal real quick here first, and, you know, we found ourselves into, Sunday's being our sanctuary or sanctuary Sundays, and we go up in the mountains, we hike every Sunday, because we're working, you know, 1012 hours a day, six days a week. And we found that, you know, this wasn't like a blip on the screen COVID, this is lasting a long time. And we finally got to the point, we realized our own mental health was super important. So I would say to anyone out there, take care of yourself first. And then you can take care of others. So from a personal standpoint, we're getting up in the mountains a lot, whether it be outside Juneau, or in Seattle. But the from a business standpoint, this has been a an interesting time, because there's really, if you look at it, most travel businesses in the United States are seasonal. And if you will sit there and look at the fact that many of those travel businesses are going to go 14 months with no income or very little income. You realize the challenge is huge. Most companies are not prepared to go 14 months with absolutely no revenue. And but yet, that has been the case for the vast majority. So what we did early on is we realized that we had a big challenge in front of us that particularly US flag small ship operators were going to be challenged, you know, high capital cost, we still have to pay for those boats, we still have to maintain them. So we created a small ship coalition of eight companies in the United States that operate US flag overnight vessels. And that was really one of the first steps and you know, part of that was to really say, hey, US business community, US government, there is a US flag industry, because there was a time when Congress was talking about absolutely no stimulus funding going to any cruise in any entity. And we knew we needed a carve out so you know it through different many different iterations. And working with Congress, we've been able to be included in those stimulus packages, which has kept kept these companies alive. And so that's just one float, you know, I could have sent a float.
Literally, as I look out over my boat, so I'll fit enough here. They all look like they're in the barn right now. They're all stacked right next to each other.
But yeah, keep us afloat, literally. Yeah. And and you know, I'm thankful that we have a government that does Listen, then we did have a PPP. And that there may be another one coming up here soon. So it's looking pretty good. Yeah, it had just switched and got encouraging in the last couple of days.
I hope but for you guys. There is a
I think there's a maximum number of employees are going to throw in the second round. At least that's been that's been bandied about. Yeah. And there was on the first as well in which we're under and right now we're looking like we're going to be under the average 350. Okay, okay, good. Yeah. They averaged it out over the year. So during the summer, for instance, uncruise employs about 430 to 450 employees. But he balanced that out over the winter, and we still fit the criteria. Oh, God. Well, that's great news. I'm glad to hear that for you. Yeah. What? Speaking of your employees, what what kind of how have you been getting helping to get them through this? Oh, boy. Yeah.
I think you know, the best thing we've done is we have our weekly
Zoom meetings. And, you know, it's kind of funny, we used to not be able to get all our staff, weekly or monthly or even annually in one room. And this whole idea of zoom has actually changed the feel. I mean, our outside sales folks that are, you know, 1000 miles away are right with us every week. So, you know, one of the benefits of COVID-19 is we're actually a better company, in the sense that I think we're more unified. Now, just like all businesses in the travel and hospitality, we've had to face layoffs. But we're just we're hoping in the next couple of weeks, as we think we've reached the bottom of the cycle here, that we're going to start bringing back some of our furloughed, folks. Well, that's great to hear. I'm sure they'll be excited about that. I think, you know, we're excited that
Chris got him, you know much about Chris compete, but we've been a, in a sense of virtual company from day one.
Funnily enough, with all of the hundreds of travel agencies who are members, there was a time I think, maybe, you know, I may have met a handful of the agency's agents
face to face in 17 years. I'm sorry, yes. 17 years. Wow.
And it was, you know, I had known one of my partners, Heidi Shane, who's,
you know, it's been within
one of the cofounders of the business. I had known her for, probably three, four years before I went into business with her.
But we were in business together for two years before we met face to face. Wow, wow, though, it's sort of it's kind of funny watching sort of the rest of the world catch up. And realizing that, you know, you can do stuff over the phone, and you can do stuff on video conferencing. And you don't need to be, you know, you don't need to be face to face, people can work from home and have and be productive. And it's going to be very interesting to see what happens to some of these cities where the big attraction is, you're here, because your job is here, right? I mean, you live here, because your job is here, when you don't have to pay San Francisco rents, or New York City rents. You know, there are people in California,
you know, even I've lived out there many years ago, but even then you have what they call super commuters, who would see him spent drive an hour and a half. So they could have a nice suburban home, and work in Silicon Valley or San Francisco.
Now, the companies are finally realizing I don't need these people to be here. And in fact, in a lot of ways, it's a disadvantage to me to have these people here. As a company, it's gonna be fascinating to see what happens over the next five years. Oh, yeah, I am, we're already seeing this in Seattle, where I'm at right at the moment, and where a lot of people are moving out of town and moving to Whidbey Island or the San Juan's or to Idaho. And because, you know, their businesses, the businesses they work for they own have found that they can be remote and, and be even more effective. Yeah. And, you know, you can pay that person less, and they will still end up, you know, making netting more money by not having to pay, say California taxes, you know, or the cost of commuting, or, you know, the cost of living in some of these places. Yeah, that's really true, you know, well, and one other thing along that line, we've have done, we've been updating during this quiet period, a lot of our information technology, and we switched the whole company over to teams, sometime in April or May. And oh, my gosh, just the great communication tools that are available that make email just seem like you know, it's the pen and paper. Right. Right. Yeah.
mazing Um, so, you have a relationship with some of the some of the native tribes in Alaska? Well, I do I, for a long, long time. I mean, the the primary native group that I'm involved with are the southeast Alaskan clickit natives, and very close there, as well as the Haida and tsimshian that are in Southeast Alaska. But yeah, I'm actually was adopted a number of years ago into the
the Orca or killer whale house of the Plunkett tribe, and yeah, so it's gonna be very annoying. How did that come about? Well, you know, it's it. First of all, you have to understand that in most indigenous peoples, with most indigenous peoples, excuse me.
Adult adoption is not an unheard of thing. In fact, it's very, very common. It isn't in European society, but it is
And native culture. And so I had a friend, I would call him a brother and in every way,
except through blood that I've known for many years, he's about 20 years older than I am. And he, he was adopting his children's spouses and, and the governor of the state and included me and asked me if I wanted to be adopted. And, of course, I did and had always honored that whole, you know, thing of being adopted as an adult. And so we had a huge Potlatch massive hundreds and hundreds of people, we raised totem poles, and that was a number of years ago and catch can now
But yeah, I my heart and soul. And I would even say, literally,
I'm adopted kit, and I believe that it somehow runs in my blood, even though it really doesn't.
You have many, many natives working, working for the company. On seasonally, yeah, you know, it's
up in Alaska, we, we, there's a fairly significant native population. And particularly, what we find is a lot of college students will come and work during the summer months and then move on. But it's a it's a mix of all Alaskans. It's not particularly native, or particularly Camtasia. Yeah, that's got to be great, you know, additional experience for your passengers, your guests, you know, to get to, you know, speak directly with, with with natives that have different experiences, different culture, different background, and, you know, start to learn some things that way that you wouldn't encounter on a normal, certainly nothing normal cruise.
And one of the great things, I think one of the best things I think about cruising is just the people that you meet, whether they're part of the crew, or they're the other passengers. What, how would you characterize some of the passengers on cruise?
You know, I would, in the broad sense, kind of their psychographic is, they've always been adventures, they might have been, you know, they were probably the type that during college, went to Europe on 20 bucks a day, or something like that.
You know, maybe they weren't always outdoor adventures ventures, but their adventure, adventure, some mindset. And the type that, you know, I like to make the comparison, their parents were really happy to stand on the bow of our boat with a cognac in their hand and toasted glacier. But they as a group, and I'm talking, you know, our primary client is 55 to 70.
I would say that they, they were not satisfied with toasting the glacier, they had to get up and touch the glacier, they have to feel the cold on their face. And if there's a chance to hop on top of it, and walk on the glacier, they're going to do it. So you know, I would say adventure, some hearts that were laughter. The great thing about that is you get all the stories for all the different places they've been, you know, you get your, you get stuff added to your bucket list. Yeah, you're a loving description of where they've been someplace you may not have heard of, or, you've heard of, I never thought about traveling there. So that is so true. And you know, whether you call it the bucket list, or just experiential travel or, or whatever, it has to have the the element of touch and laughter and education. And that's what our guests really gets excited about. So when we work with, you know, travel agents, or the industry as a whole, you know, trying to make sure we get that right guests that's going to be happiest on our product is very, very important. It's funny, you mentioned, you know, touching glacier in the same sentence for me.
As soon as soon as somebody mentions glacier, what comes to my mind is that feeling when you put the crampons on, and you start crunching up the crunching up the glacier, that feeling of like stepping on, you know, big, crunchy fall leaves, or it's just that that feeling just brings back the whole thinking about that feeling brings back the whole experience for me. Oh, Bob, you and I, literally in the same boat on that one brother.
You know, the funny thing for us, I like it. Oh, yeah. Well, I was actually cleaning out my storage just a couple days ago. And as you know, you know, crampons are different for different purposes. You know, you have Yeah, and and the ones who the crampons you went for going across the glacier are different than what you would use to go up an ice wall. Well, anyway, I found my my old set that I use when I'm crossing the top of the glaciers, and this was just yesterday. So it's so funny you mentioned that
So when do you think we'll, we'll be back to normal in the cruise business overall, all ships sailing all ports open?
Well, normal is always a subjective thing. But you know, I think that,
you know, I think it's going to be 22 before things are back to an even keel completely, another nautical Airforce metaphor.
We should have announced at the beginning with that, you know, you have to take a shot every time you you get a ship metaphor, oh, yeah, shot across the bow even. And
but the you know, it's our feeling that we have a good, good chance at a successful season coming up, based on the changes that are happening in the three R's, reliable, rapid and regular testing. And that is moving quickly, as we've all been reading.
I'm a real believer in, you know, we're pushing our delegations in Alaska, Washington, Idaho, and Oregon, to really
insist that we nationalize testing in transportation hubs, if that happens, we will see a major opening of the door, if we don't have a nationalized testing program, we're going to struggle as a country that can absolutely guarantee it. And so to me, in the end, my message to Congress and to all the entire travel industry is we just got to get this nationalized testing in place. Unfortunately, in the last two weeks, people are starting to talk about it. And so I take to answer your question. We're looking forward to starting in April, in our home in Alaska,
I think that we're probably going to, you know, we're probably going to operate all our boats. But we're prepared. And you know, we have Plan A, B and C. Right. And so you have a big Swan, and then you're gonna have a good lesson to everybody that you can't take anything for granted, not just in this business, but in life in general. Yeah, that's very true. And you have to have the multiple level plans on how you're going to execute, not knowing what what we're really going to have in April and May. But certainly, you know, we feel that and have felt for a long time that January was going to be in is going to be an inflection point for the industry for the summer. And if we're in a good place in January, I think we we stand to have our first good recovery year. Sure, the thing, the thing that that's really encouraging about the possibility of failing starting in November, even if it's just a handful of ships, even if it's, you know, they're not sailing at full capacity, just the ability to demonstrate that, yes, this can be done, you know, you got a lot of advantages as a cruise ship, it's a controlled environment. You know, you know, who's getting on and getting off, you've got a lot of eyes out there that can be trained to look for anything to be worried about.
And the fact that they've had so much success in Europe already, I think is a very, very positive,
very positive thing. And you know, for you guys, especially, you're not taking people to big cities, you're taking people out in nature, you're not going to catch, you know, code for a moose or a grizzly bear. Although, if you're close enough to the moose of the grizzly bear to catch COVID, you've got different we're probably in a bad spot anyway. Yeah. Yeah. Sure. Well, you know, we, we like to joke amongst ourselves that we've been socially distancing since 1996. Yeah. You know, because we, you're right, we're not. ports are only where we, we board and depart the vessel. And so that's, that's very true to us. But I think that, you know, what is happening in Europe is really good. When we experimented with operating here in August, late July, you know, we had a single, false positive, and the pressure at that point, and the slow retesting, which was three to five days, shut the trip down. But today, that happens, just in these few months. Today, that happens. And people are retested almost immediately and isolated at the same time, and it's accepted. That wasn't even accepted just a couple months ago. So to me, I sit there and go, okay, not only are we getting better at testing, but people are beginning to learn to live with COVID in a safe manner. Right, right. I mean, some of these things, have, you know, you were exposed. He waited a few days and you got tested and you were negative. They still want you to isolate. I mean, that's silly, you know, but it's a question of people starting to understand what the risks are and really how small they are.
For the vast, vast majority of people,
but you know, it's, um, it's like anything else, we tend to overreact to everything.
As humans, you know, some guy tried to put a bomb in his shoe. What is it 25 years ago now and 20 years ago, whatever it was, and we're still taking off our shoes at the airport, you know,
it's and just starting to learn to, to adjust to some of these risks. And not overreact. It's really just as people it's just it's very hard, I think, for humans to to adapt to those kinds of things. So cruises competitive industry, you guys are part of the cruise industry, but in a lot of ways, you know, a very, very, very unique product.
Are you offering any special booking incentives offers promotions right now? Yeah, you know, typically, you know, value for us is really in the experience, right. And that's what our guests focuses on. But during this time of COVID, just as a, you know, different more assurance where we've been putting out $100 deposit. You know, we hit 10. lattes.
And for cabin, so that's 150 bucks per person, that is the official currency of Seattle, that was that is the official currency of Seattle, 10 lattes, or five lattes per person, even even double skinnies, maybe, but
Unknown Speaker 36:30
I have no idea.
Dan Blanchard 36:34
But the, you know, the joy about that is that it's easy for people. And it, it makes it easy for us. And so we have a few things out like that, you know, typical early booking discounts and that kind of thing. But the biggest thing that that uncruise is able to sell is the value of the wilderness, the value of the experience on board. So we don't, unlike a maybe more mass market, we typically don't have the the deep discounts like you see elsewhere.
Here's a question actually, um,
what if somebody, this is this is an outdoor adventure, somebody's going to come and show up for your cruise in Alaska? What do they need to bring with them, there are a lot of gear that they need to get for their, their clothing they need to buy, or as a lot of this stuff, just already there waiting. And it's a little more turnkey. You know, it's both, I mean, certainly, when you get on board the boat, we're going to have, you know, muck boots and life jackets and hiking poles and wetsuits and that type of thing for snorkeling. All that's going to be onboard. But we also really encourage people, you know, you're going to be most comfortable in your own gear that fits right, and all this kind of, so we, you know, we we carry the boots that they need, but there's still some people that bring, you know, their own muck boots or hiking boots.
You know, hiking boots, we almost always if they're really into hiking, the hiking in Alaska is very steep. It's not measured in miles. It's mostly measured in elevation. And so, you know, we want them to bring that kind of gear. But really, they don't have to bring a whole lot, you know, they got a good good rain parka. Good rain pants are always a good idea in a rain forest. But even that's on board the boat.
So and I think there's a lot of plenty of advice and packing lists. And if you're not sure what to buy, you can call and and go and get some extra help. Yeah, and you know, the I will tell you that the biggest crisis people have are the boots. Do I bring my own boots because boots are you know, sizable to pack right? Oh, yeah. Yeah, I hear you. We even have videos on you know, why you should or should not bring your own boots. And it's a it's kind of fun to go through that with people so they really understand what a rain forest is like. Well, I've got I've got a pack of coupons. That one.
I hate to check. I hate to check that. Yep. I am very much a big backpack and roller bag when I travel. And the funny thing about that is, you know, the backpack is a personal item. I have never been questioned on the size of my backpack. And I have abused the heck out of the airlines on that. There are no airlines.
And here's the thing, you can take your boots and you can tie them on to the outside of the backpack. So they hang behind the backpack.
And they will you will never be questioned on that. Yep, they don't quite fit. Yeah, and tie them and stuff them in next to it. Yep. Yeah, it's so ya know, it's funny, the more that I have been with, you know, hiking with native Montanans or native Alaskans or, you know, those kind of folks, the more I see that there
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