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Sailing Aug. 1, UnCruise expects to be only Alaska operator this season

CRUISE Capt. Dan Blanchard in Alaska.jpg
Capt. Dan Blanchard with Wilderness Adventurer in Alaska. Five sailings are scheduled this season, round-trip Juneau
Seattle-based UnCruise Adventures is resuming Alaska sailings Aug. 1 and expects to be the only small-boat operator there this summer.

CEO Capt. Dan Blanchard is set to welcome passengers aboard in Juneau on Saturday.

The US no-sail order applies only to overnight ships carrying 250 or more souls (passengers and crew) and, as a US-flag operator, UnCruise does not need to stop at a foreign port so it matters not that Canada isn't allowing cruise ships now. This is an entirely domestic itinerary.

Wilderness Adventurer will be embarking with 36 passengers and 30 crew. The five seven-night 'Glacier Bay Adventure' departures scheduled this summer sail round-trip Juneau and focus on nature and wilderness, with no stops at other communities. The company self-imposed a 66% occupancy cap and said occupancy is 'strong,' on that basis.

Alaska requires negative COVID-19 test to skip quarantine

Alaska allows visitors to enter without quarantining provided they present a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken no more than 72 hours prior to travel. The state is also accepting negative results from tests taken up to five days prior to travel but people then have to take a second test in Alaska.

Uncruise credits its restart of operations to pivoting quickly as a small business along with establishing crucial conversations with government officials and leading the Small Boat Operators Coalition. The company's team has undergone safety training and protocols.

Adventurers, not tourists

'Travelers want to have a positive impact upon communities and the environment now more than ever,' Blanchard said. 'We left the term "tourists" behind long ago. Tourism isn’t about a one-way channel. A balance is needed and that is what "untourism" is. Our guests are adventurers, not tourists.'

As UnCruise approaches its 25th year, 'we are mindful of where we go from here, and our roots are in a people-to-nature connection,' Blanchard added. 'That is the future of travel.'

He called for protection and stimulus for small businesses and said travel companies should be a priority.

Physical distancing, added daily activity rosters, testing and extensive health and safety protocols are components of the UnCruise operations.

The company said it continues to work with officials to help effective testing become more widely available and prioritize measures to support travelers and crew.