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UnCruise Adventure in the Sea of Cortez Trip Report Part 1

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*I was planning to post these reports live as we cruised however we didn’t have internet at all most days so I ended up writing them as we went but waited to post when we got back home again.  

  I am so excited so be getting ready to start our UnCruise Adventure in the Sea of Cortez!  When I first heard about this cruise I knew right then I just had to do it!    I remember the first time I went to Sea World, when I was 8, I was totally in love and thought I wanted to be a Marine Biologist when I grow up.  Well that didn’t happen but I do still love dolphins and whales and getting to spot them up close whenever possible.   Jacques Cousteau called the Sea of Cortez the world’s aquarium so I cannot think of a better place to get to see many of them on one trip. 
 UnCruise has small boats that get you so close to everything.   They also include all your adventures while cruising such as snorkeling, kayaking, hiking, and more!   We landed in Los Cabos to meet up with UnCruise and get our bus over to the ship, Safari Endeavor, which was in LaPaz.  We were taken right to the boat, literally our bus drove us right to the gangway.   I was so impressed that the Captain was out on the pier introducing himself as we walked up the gangway.   There were only 58 of us boarding so we were off the buses and to our rooms in no time.   We met a few more of the crew and one of the adventure guides, Sarah, took us to our room and pointed out a few things and let us know we needed to head down to the lounge for the safety briefing.   Our room is small but functional.   It has all you need beds, a desk, closest, drawers, and a bathroom with shower.   The beds are not our favorite since they are fixed twins against the walls so you cannot combine them make a queen but that is OK.   We have 2 large windows and our room door opens right out on the deck.   There are only 4 decks and just 42 rooms onboard.   Crew to Guest ratio is 2.5 to 1 which is super!   
We went down to the lounge where Captain Shep talked a bit and introduced some of the other crew.   We then did the usual safety drill where you find your muster station and all the fun stuff.  After that it was time for dinner and then time for the ship to pull out of port.   


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Day 1 – Puerto Los Gatos
I started our first day with the 7 am stretch.   If you know me you know I am not a morning person, except for maybe when I am on vacation.  It really was wonderful to start the day with a stretch on the top deck before heading to 7:30 breakfast (yes breakfast is 7:30 everyday).    At breakfast we learned that each morning we will place our order for lunch and dinner as this allows the chef to prepare and not waste a lot.  After breakfast we headed to the lounge where we would learn more about the day’s adventures.  Everyday has multiple included adventures to choose from.   Some days we will be able to choose 2 and some days just one.  For our first day we could just choose one since the morning was being used to learn about everything and collect our gear.   Jessica our Adventure Coordinator started going over all the options but in the middle of that a pod of pilot whales was spotted nearby.  One of the best things about UnCruise is nature is a focus so we stopped what we were doing and went out on the bow to check out the whales.   Mike, one of the adventure guides, said they haven’t seen the pilot whales here in 5 years so this was a pretty amazing sight.   It was a pretty good size pod and Mike explained that what we were seeing was called logging and it is when the whales are pretty much hungover from eating a lot of squid the night before and are floating along in a sort of sleep mode.   They were all very close to each other and would be up on the surface for a bit and they go back under.   It was so cool to be close enough to hear their breaths.  The captain will change course and slow down for things like this.  After watching them for about an hour we moved back inside to get back to the stuff we needed to do.   We heard about all the options for today and had to pick one.  The options were – snorkeling 101 (for those that might need a refresher or like me never snorkeled in a wetsuit), snorkeling 201 for experienced snorkelers, a leisurely walk, a rigorous hike, or a skiff ride.   Since I haven’t snorkeled in a long time or ever in a wetsuit I chose snorkel 101 which would be entering the water from a beach vs from a small boat like the 201.  After everyone put in their adventure order it was time to go over some of the procedures and collect our gear.   Some of the procedures are for getting on and off our ship along with getting on and off the small boats that are used to get us to shore.   While in the middle of the procedures talk a call from the bridge alerted us to whale sighting so again we stopped and all went out to check it out.  This time it was a single whale and it took a little time for the experts to identify it but while trying to figure it out we realized it wasn’t just one but 2 and it appeared to be a mom and calf.    They were not giving us much time to really see a lot of them so it took a bit but they were identified as Sei Whales.   While watching them a few playful dolphins came over to check out our boat and ride our waves.  We hung out for a bit watching them but then back to getting ready for our upcoming adventures.  We got back to the procedures and learned about the very low tech method of tracking who is on and off the ship – there is a magnetic board with all the room numbers and a circle magnet for each guest that as you are getting off you slide your circle to off and then back on when you come back.  Low tech and laid back is pretty much the theme for UnCruise.   There is no wi-fi on the ship (I know crazy right but we are hoping our portable hotspot will pick up a signal).   You do not have or need a key for your stateroom door because it does not auto lock so you can only lock them from inside.   At first I thought that seemed odd but I am already liking not having to worry about a key.   With such a small boat you get to know everyone pretty fast so nothing to worry about.  Plus even if someone did take something it is not like they can go far.   Since pretty much everything onboard is included no need to worry about a room key to charge things to either.   They even provide things like sunblock, binoculars, and reusable water bottles!   Everything is very causal almost like cruising with family.   No need to dress up for dinner either.
After going over all the procedures it was time to pick up all our gear for the week.   We picked up our wetsuit and snorkel equipment, all of these are included for use during your cruise along with other things like walking sticks.  I had done a little research after finding out we would be given wetsuits to use to find out what people wear under wetsuits since I knew I wasn’t going commando in a borrowed suit.  I was glad I did because I found out that many people prefer another layer underneath in cold water.   I knew I would be cold no matter what so I got a full body suit for under my wetsuit along with fin socks to keep my feet warm.   After getting our equipment it was time for lunch and then after we head out for our first adventure.   I don’t usually eat a big lunch but it was so good and I can already tell I love the pastry chef!   

We suited up and headed to the aft to board a skiff to the beach for our snorkel 101.   It was a bit cloudy and breezy but that wasn’t stopping us.   We gathered on the beach while our adventure guide Jenny went over the basics.   It was sort of like a bit of torture though as first she made us all get into the water without fins or mask just to get the feel of the wetsuit.   She also wanted to prove that you cannot sink when wearing a wetsuit which I did not know until I tried it.   Ok so it wasn’t just me that thought the water was cold – the water temp was only 64 degrees and the air only 74 but hey that is why we had wetsuits to begin with.   So after getting all wet we had to get back out of the water to get our masks on and test those.   So back into the water test the masks and snorkel to then get back out to get the fins.   Once we got the fins our outfit was complete and we were ready to snorkel!   It was cold and I realized I wished I had bought swim gloves and maybe even a hoodie since my ears were getting very cold.   I wasn’t giving up that fast though I powered through and really enjoyed snorkeling more than I ever did when I tried before so I think the wetsuit is key.   Just being able to float was so nice.  After about a half hour though most of us were ready to be done.   We wrapped up in towels the crew brought over and then walked around the beach a bit to explore the very interesting red rock formations on the beach.   We then headed back to the boat took off our wetsuits and hung them up on the aft deck. The 2 hot tubs right there on the aft deck were perfect for warming up after our adventure (again another reason to not go commando under the wetsuit since I could take mine off right there on deck and jump right into the hot tub).  
 Before we knew it it was time to head back to the lounge to talk about the next day’s adventures.   Each night before dinner everyone gathers in the lounge for happy hour and also to choose our adventures for the next day.   Jessica went over all the options and this was going to be one of those days where we get to pick 2.   The choices were Kayak 101, Kayak 201, Burro ride, Boulder Bash (extreme hike), or skiff.   We chose Kayak 201 and Burro ride.   After everyone put in their order Jessica takes those and works them into a schedule that gets posted on the wall in the main hall the next morning.   So on your way to breakfast you can check to see what times you are doing each thing.   Again nice and low tech just a print out paper where you look for your name on the list under each time slot.   Also on that board is a laminated map of the area where our route so far is highlighted in marker as we go (since the route can and probably will vary there isn’t an itinerary already mapped out).   This board is also where things that we have seen will get posted so photos of the whales and other wildlife are starting to appear here.  I am sure it will be totally full by the end of the cruise.  
We had dinner and crazy enough were pretty much ready for bed before 9 pm!   Adventuring takes a lot out of you!  I am looking forward to another 7 am morning stretch so happy to go to bed early.