Un-Cruise Adventures

Wilderness Legacy

Overall Editor Rating
Jessica Shaw March 06, 2024

Fodor’s Expert Review

Ship Overview

Un-Cruise Adventures
Cruise StylePremium
Ship SizeSmall
Price Range$$$$
Sails To

Sou...dy Glacier

Southeastern Alaska, including less visited areas of Glacier Bay National Park, South Baranof wilderness, Chichagof Island, and Brady Glacier
Sails From Juneau, Alaska
Juneau, Alaska
Duration8 days

The company name says it all. An Uncruise cruise is not what comes to mind when most people conjure up an image of vacation at sea. There are no breakfast buffets, evening entertainment extravaganzas, or tourist-filled ports of call, which is exactly why the cruise-phobic flock to these intimate, adventure-filled journeys. The Uncruise fleet includes nine ships that venture as far as the Galapagos and Hawaii, but mostly cruise around Alaska and the Pacific Northwest. The smallest of the fleet, the Safari Explorer, holds 22 guests, while this ship, the Wilderness Legacy, is the largest, holding 86 guests.Read More

The Wilderness Legacy, which focuses on exploring Southeastern Alaska (and specifically areas that bigger cruise ships can’t reach) was built in 1984 to resemble late 19th century coastal steamers, minus the turn-of-the-century propensity for boiler explosions. Vintage touches are everywhere, from the Victorian-style cabin furniture, to the dining room and lounge’s tin -plated ceilings, to the Steamboat Willie-worthy helm, to the elegant (and well-stocked!) wood bar and old-school stools.

Most passengers flock either to said bar and lounge (for booze and board games) or the Bridge deck’s two hot tubs by late afternoon for some relaxation and recap of the day’s adventures. Regardless of whether the Legacy is anchored at the rarely-visited South Baranof Island or near the LeConte or Baird glaciers, the “Wild, Woolly, and Wow” cruise includes guided morning and afternoon activities of varying levels of exertion that depart from an attached dock affectionately known as the “Sea Dragon.” Guests can choose from kayaking, a low-impact nature walk, a motorized skiff tour, or a “bushwhack,” which is essentially a trail-free and mud-filled hike best done in ship-provided rubber boots. And if hearing your guide giddily tell you why that pile of scat means grizzlies might be nearby, watching a calving glacier from just-out-of-danger distance, or polar plunging into iceberg-strewn waters doesn’t sound like something you could experience on a cruise, guess again.


Ship-wide loudspeaker announcements ensure passengers don’t miss humpback whale sightings or the breathtaking Northern Lights
Slideshow talks given by the experienced guides are actually riveting
Small ship can access small passageways that large cruise ships cannot
There’s no WiFi
Cabins are comfortable but basic and bathrooms are no-frills bathrooms
If you need more than nightly tournaments of chess or Bananagrams to pass the time, buckle up for some boredom

What to expect on board

Staterooms & Cabins

Editor Rating

The 43 cabins fall into six categories, from the most simple, the Navigator cabin, with a double bed to the 600-square-foot Commodore Suite, a 2-room cabin with a king-sized bed and a bathtub. The all-external rooms offer a window, night lamp, armoire, under-bed drawers, and desk. The bathrooms are tight, but serviceable, with a small shower, hairdryer, and eco-friendly bath products. Rooms have TVs with attached DVD (remember those?) players and the lounge offers a solid selection of movies.

The Wilderness Legacy has an elevator that can access three of the four floors. (Only the Bridge Deck cannot be reached, where guests can find the hot tubs and fitness equipment.)  In addition, cabin 309 has a small ramp to access the room and grab-bars in the bathroom. But considering this cruise is all about active adventuring, it’s hard to recommend it to those with mobility issues.

Food & Drink

Editor Rating

Even a restaurant-frequenting snob will be impressed by the quality and variety of the dining offerings.  All meals are served a la carte, with two options at breakfast and lunch, and three at dinner. Some standout dishes one week included bison chili, corn-crusted cod on a brioche bun, tuna poke bowls, chicken shwarma, and an insanely delicious coffee mousse. One dinner’s all-you-can-eat crab feast was a messy dream to almost everyone on board. (This shellfish-allergic writer was the one exception, so the considerate and meticulous staff made sure to set up a beautiful table in the lounge and had food prepared away from crab to ensure no cross-contamination.) There are plenty of vegetarian options, substitutions, and seconds for those who ask.

Outside of the meals is the popular 3:00 pm cookie hour where a cookie-of-the-day, from chocolate chip to gingerbread, is offered in the lounge. Latecomers are often out of luck.

There is one impressively-stocked bar (premium liquors are all included, but not ultra-premium wines), and if every bartender is as lovely as Andrew, the mixologist on this writer’s trip, the patrons are in for a treat. He crafted an ever-changing cocktail du soir, using concoctions he created during the day, from a blueberry compote and bourbon creation, to cucumber-infused tequila, to homemade Irish cream.


Editor Rating

Planned entertainment events are relatively no-frills and certainly not a reason to choose this cruise. One evening a guide might lead a parlor game and another evening might be devoted to art, with watercolors and mini-canvases placed on tables in the lounge. There is no entertainment more jaw-droppingly magnificent than an impromptu Northern Lights display, but Mother Nature doesn’t stick to a schedule.

Spa & Fitness

Editor Rating

The “exercise area” is a covered portion of the Bridge deck that doubles as lifejacket storage. The equipment– 2 stationary bikes, 2 elliptical machines, a rower, and some hand weights– is hardly cutting-edge or even particularly inviting. Then again, why row when you can kayak in glacier water and why go nowhere on an elliptical when you can hike on spongy muskeg?

Key cruising tips

Health & Safety

Several crew members along with the guides have medical training and over-the-counter meds for maladies from headaches to allergies to seasickness for anyone who needs them.

Junior Cruisers

Uncruise will offer three “family explorer” cruises in 2024, along with three “adults only” cruises, all to Alaska and all on the Wilderness Legacy.  If not specified, all ages are welcome, though the vast majority of guests are active, 60+ adults.

Dress Code

There is no official dress code and because of the daytime adventurous activities, passengers show up to most meals in nothing fancier than their finest hiking outfit. The best sartorial advice for this cruise is to leave any formal wear at home and bring rain gear to protect from unpredictable Alaskan weather and getting splashed while kayaking in glacier water.


The warmth, friendliness, and going above-and-beyond style of the staff starts from the very top. On the first day one recent week, the captain announced an open-Bridge policy and those who took advantage were treated to wonderful stories about the Alaskan wilderness, lessons in navigation, and eagle-eyed spotting of marine life. (There are several high-powered binoculars on the deck that visitors are welcome to use.)  The professional and playful guides memorized the names of all the guests within a day or two, and the ever-friendly dining room servers got to know guests’ off-the-menu orders.  The expedition leader on this reporter’s cruise, Kenzie Holland, was a superhero of scheduling who somehow managed to accommodate every request without breaking a sweat.


It is recommended that each guest tips $250 at the end of the week.


Entered Service
Number of Cabins
Passenger Capacity
Crew Members
Passengers to Crew Ratio
Gross Tons
40 feet
192 feet

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