Saturday April 30th
After a quick flight into Denver’s snowy airport we boarded our flight to Seattle. The flight was smooth and arrived on time. Seattle’s airport is clean and bright with lots of windows. We got our bags quickly and waited for a representative to pick us up at the baggage claim area as indicated on the initial paperwork. I called the after-hours phone number (206). A woman answered and told me Steven would call us right back. He did and told us where to pick up the van. Others on the van received a text message with more specific directions. We did not. The drive was very scenic to the Crowne Plaza hotel. The driver did not say a word the entire drive. The Crowne Plaza staff was very friendly and helpful. We went to the hospitality suite and met Steven. He checked us in, recorded information from our passports, and labelled the bags. We left our “carry-on” in a specific area to keep with us for the drive to the boat, but didn’t want to carry around Seattle that afternoon.
We walked down a couple of blocks to Farmer’s Market. It was an enjoyable area to view. We took lots of photos of the local flavor, ocean vistas, the Ferris wheel, ships, and colorful people. We got a quick bite to eat and arrived back at the hotel for 3:45 bus tour of Seattle. The driver was funny and informative. Seattle traffic was terrible, but it allowed time to see the sites without rushing. The tour plans changed a couple times due to road closures. The parts of Seattle we saw were charming!
We met our Expedition Leader, Pamela, and boarded the Safari Quest. Captain Dano has been a captain for 30 years and with UnCruise for 6 seasons. Our trip was the first of 2016! We then met Carla, right at the gang plank. She reached out and grabbed my carry-on luggage and showed us our cabin. She was so fun and nice. We immediately loved her! There was a quick safety briefing/drill, showing us how to put on the life vest. We met the rest of the crew. Erica the Hotel Manager, Emi a Stewart, Mark the Chef, Cari and Chef in Training, Kate the Pastry Chef, Steve the Engineer, and Robb the Chief Mate. Robb is also the Safety and Medical Officer. The crew wears “uniforms” – Oxford shirts and black slacks - that make them look very professional.
After meeting the crew we finished unpacking. We had cabin A2 with a large sliding glass door that was terrific to open for fresh air and viewing. The cabin was quite quiet. We never heard our neighbors, or anyone in the hall, or in the bridge. There is a closet in the room, two large, deep drawers under the bed and a couple hooks on the wall. Also under the bed are two large storage areas. We easily kept our luggage, carry-ons, camera bag, shoes and extra pillows underneath. We had two nightstands with two shelves. Lamps were on the stands as well as a bright overhead ceiling light. In the bathroom are four deep shelves with a lip at the end so things don’t slide out. There was a countertop around the sink large enough to hold a tray of two glasses, and a box of Kleenex. On the clean, fresh bed are lists of other passengers’ names as well as the crew. Also, there were binoculars, and two water canteens. The bed was comfortable with plenty of pillows to choose. Extra fuzzy blankets are on the bed too. They could have more hooks, especially when you came in with wet clothes. We did view a cabin on the lower level and they had a 4 drawer dresser. There is a TV in every cabin. We were busy every evening until 10:00ish so we didn’t have time to watch any of the DVD’s (movies) we brought.
Leaving the harbor and going through the locks was remarkable. It is amazing how they drop the level of the water, in just a few minutes, to reach the correct level on the other side. A real engineering marvel!
Dinner was DELIGHTFUL! A wonderful fresh green salad. Choice of filet, salmon, or a vegetarian dish with asparagus and potatoes. The filet was tender, the salmon moist. For dessert we had a chocolate cake, chocolate mousse with chocolate ganache extravaganza!! It was topped with coconut, nuts, and raspberries; very rich and delectable.
The daily schedule for the next day is discussed in the lounge after dinner. The crossing was smooth. We slept like baby harbor seals.
Sunrise was brilliant! Cresting above the peaks to the East and slowly hitting the snow-capped mountain tops to the West. Clam water with bobbing fishing boats completed the scene.
Sunday May 1st
The day started (6:30AM) with a delicious yogurt with fresh fruit, blueberry scones and assorted teas and coffee. At 7:30 the main breakfast served a Chef’s special of Tomato Frittata with herbs and sausage. Also always available is omelet, eggs, pancakes, baked oatmeal, or bagel and lox. The UnCruise fleet works with the Monterey Bay Aquarium and their “Seafood Watch” program. They only use (cook) seafood and fish that are farmed and fish responsibly, and are not over-fished, or in the way they are caught. Our ordered meals of eggs, bacon, and toast came very fast.
We left the boat to go through a series of security screening with Canadian border guards. The Safari Quest docks in a secure, patrolled section of the harbor. It was very safe. We walked to the Empress Hotel to view their beautiful gardens and architecture. It is under construction right now, but still very stately. We walked through the hotel and out the back door which is right across the street from the Royal BC Museum. It was magnificent. A real treat! We did get a reservation for High Tea at the famous Tea Room of the Empress so we walked back there. It was very, very nice. Their tea was the finest I had ever tasted. Lunch was served on a three tiered plate in the middle of the beautifully set table. The first layer had finger sandwiches, second scones and the top mini cakes and tarts. All were absolutely delicious. The layer chocolate dessert was NOT as good as last night’s dessert on the boat. Afterwards the group split up. We had enough time to walk to Fisherman’s Wharf. The harbor seals were slapping the water to gain your attention for treats. The wharf is beautiful. Those that live there are very lucky. Their houses had gorgeous flower boxes and unique art around their brightly painted boat houses. We did not try and of the food, as we had just eaten, but lines were forming at some of the popular places. The boat left the dock on time. On the way out of the harbor we saw eagles, white sided dolphins in the distance, otters, seals, and deer on an island. Another fantastic dinner with lamb, cod, vegetable polenta. For dessert a caramelized pineapple tarts. The anchorage was in calm, secluded, peaceful waters – Buccaneer Bay.
Monday May 2nd
We cruised to Skookumchuck Rapids and did a skiff tour to explore the intertidal areas. Saw beautiful bright purple and orange sea stars, sea urchins, anemones, and rocks underwater. Highlight was the eagles and seals. The skiff (Zodiac boat) got right up on top of the rocks near the shore or hovered in place to watch the seals. It was a lot of fun. The crew was on the back deck of the Safari Quest to help us get in and out of the skiff.
Lunch was terrific… again!
We cruised up Jervis Inlet and entered Malibu Rapids Beyond we could see Princess Louisa Inlet, where we would anchor for the night. The Indians called it Suivoolot which means sunny and warm. We did have sunny and warm conditions this day. In route we saw over a dozen eagles. Two flying very close to the boat. We were transfixed watching them; we forgot to raise our cameras to take a photo!! The crew all day could not have been more accommodating. They served drinks to everyone, no matter which deck they were on. They found you whether you were in the bridge, on the lower decks or sunbathing up top. Up and down the steps all day. They really do work very hard. Countless thin waterfalls cascaded down the steep mountain side into the water below. All around us, on both sides, the waterfalls tumbled down steep cliffs. At the end of the inlet is Chatterbox Falls. A large, thunderous waterfall that was sending out so much water over the rocks the mist covered the area. Those who ventured into the cloud of water were showered and soaked within seconds, but invigorated beyond words. We were transported over to land and walked a short distance through fern and moss covered forest on a boardwalk. The crew not only cleared the spider webs from the trail they had been setting up our “happy hour” in the octagonal pavilion – even building a fire. Drinks, snacks and hordurves were served as we sat around the fire and listened to the crew’s beautiful voices and hidden talents. A few passengers joined in when they knew the song. The sunlight started to creep behind the tall 7,000’ cliffs and shadows ascended on the falls. Friendly faces greeted us as we got back on board as the lounge filled up with drink orders and memories of the day. I noticed clouds floating in as they are the first ones we have seen on days. Dinner was served at 6:30PM.Pork, fish, and a vegetable dish. Dessert was fun as well as delicious – deconstructed s’mores. The graham crackers as well as the marshmallow were homemade!!
Tuesday May 3rd
After 8AM breakfast we kayaked to Chatterbox Falls and surrounding waterfalls in the inlet. A little drizzle started this morning but it didn’t damper the spirits of the kayakers. The trip was exhilarating to the base of one of the powerful waterfalls. They did provide rain pants and jackets to those that didn’t bring them. The kayak life vest was much more comfortable to wear than the other one. The crew was GREAT helping us get in and out of the kayaks. Teaching us how to paddle and show the distress signal. Afterwards the crew had hot chocolate and coffee with Bailey’s or Jameson Irish Whiskey. AND, of course, whipped cream! Lunch at Noon with the regular choices and the Chef’s special of focaccia bread, roasted chicken sandwich. The dressing on the salad, again, was wonderful. Mark really knows how to blend ingredients to perfection. Dessert was individual carrot cakes. No one left a crumb on their plate. It was still raining, so most of us decided to stay on board to get to the Malibu Lodge tour. One person took the skiff, with other crew members, to tour the shore on their way to the lodge. That afternoon I went down to the lounge to get hot tea, as I was chilled. Carla asked if she could get me an extra blanket. How thoughtful! Erica asked if she could make me the cup of tea. That is just a small example of the type of crew they have on the Safari Quest. About half of us went on shore for the tour of Malibu Lodge. Steve drove the skiff to the dock of the Club. The captain asked Steve if he would come back on board, just to have one more crew, in case of an emergency going through the rapids. We were very impressed with the safety measures they take. After checking out the course through the rapids and checking it twice, we were ready to go through the rapids. First Mate Robb took the wheel and without any problems we got through the rapids. Good job! There is also a satellite phone on board for emergencies. They also periodically check in with the Coast Guard as their position and intentions of course. This is just a little bit of the behind the scenes to ensure our safe passage through the inlets. The walking tour of Malibu Lodge was interesting. It is a beautiful complex. Dinner was served at 6:30PM. Duck, scallops, and a wonderful chocolate lava cake. The cake was rich, but not sweet. The chocolate they use is fantastic! Tonight we head to Harmony Islands for the night.
Wednesday May 4th
It was a cool, sunny morning in Harmony Islands. My husband was not feeling well this morning. Erica and Emi asked if they could bring him something to eat. Pamela told me a story about a passenger that never left the boat. He said that 51 weeks out of the year he is on land, but this one week he was on a boat with food, drinks and service. I think it was her way of making me feel better. So nice! She also said that she could find a crew member to kayak with me if I wanted. I decided to join the group and go skiffing around the islands and view the 800’ waterfall. First, we drove south to a smaller island. We saw eagles, seals, and sea lions that slipped into the water as we approached. The eagles soared high about, land on the tops of trees, view us for a while and then fly off. We spotted a black bear on shore eating oysters. He almost looked like a black rock, he was so still. It took a few steps and was engulfed into the dense forest. The Dogwood trees were in bloom along the shore. Pam whipped the boat at full speed back to the Safari Quest, where delicious hot chocolate with whipped cream and Grand Mariner awaited us. I was surprised when I took off my waterproof pants the chill in the air. They worked great to shield my legs from the wind chill on the skiff. Lunch was great! A salad with grilled prawns, green beans, artichoke, deviled egg, olives, tomatoes, fingerling potatoes with herbs, and a key lime tart! Yum!!
A couple minutes after lunch we were transferred to Jedidiah Island. The walk was wonderful. Old fern filled evergreen forests change to sunny meadows. The old house, barn and surrounding buildings still stand. The house is perched on a hill overlooking a magnificent view of a gorgeous bay with large rocks, trees, and a beach of oyster shells. A quick skiff ride back to happy hour and dinner. Are we eating again? At dinner we had the Chef in Training, Cari. We noticed the difference right away. Short ribs, salmon were not as tasty as Chef Mark’s. Dessert was a terrific Tiramisu tart. Beautiful presentation and we think the best dessert so far!
Thursday May 5th
Anchor up at 6:30AM to try to beat the wind. We set sail through the Strait of Georgia. I took an early breakfast then up to the bridge for wildlife watch. Besides beautiful islands, narrows and other boats there wasn’t a reason to get the cameras out. Lunch was at Noon as we docked in Ganges. We walked out through security and got to shop for a quick hour before boarding our bus for a tour of Salt Springs with Jason. We got to see this beautiful island, a goat cheese farm, and a short hike up the coast. The goat farm was interesting with delicious samples of their cheeses, jams, chutney, olives and creamsicles. The hike along the coast was spectacular. As we were resting at one of the scenic points, an eagle landed in a nearby tree. He let us take a couple of photos before flying off across a bay and screeching to his mate. We arrived back at the harbor with enough time to visit a couple more shops in town before they closed. Before dinner we got a tour of the engine room. We were surprised it was larger than we thought and very clean. The water treatment was interesting. Dinner was served at 7:30PM. Choices were a moist chicken breast, perfectly cooked cod filet and in honor of Cinco de Maya, a vegetarian cheese empanada. For dessert we had a 3 layer cake with fresh berries. It was so rich. After dinner there was story telling by Captain Dano – a true treat!! Also, magic tricks, jokes, but no singing. It was fun. You could venture into town if you wanted, as we were parked at the dock all night. There was a sign out and sign in board if you left the ship.
Friday May 6th
I can’t believe it is Friday. But, looking forward to getting back in the USA! Customs went smoothly in Friday Harbor. We gathered in the lounge after breakfast. The agent came on board and checked out everyone’s passport. She asked us what we purchased then welcomed us back! We then were ready for the tour of San Juan Island. The first stop was of a lighthouse and State Park. The walk was beautiful down to the coastline and then across to the lighthouse. We later found out that this spot is one of the BEST places in the world to view Orcas! Down the road was a lavender farm and Alpaca Farm. We didn’t have time to see the National Park, which was disappointing to me, but stopped at Roche Harbor. We got to the Whale Museum with enough time to view before lunch back on board the boat. The museum had a lot of “hands on” displays. Lunch was at 1PM. Pork tenderloin sandwich or roasted eggplant. Again, the salad was very good. Dessert was Pecan Bar. After lunch it was back up top to watch for wildlife. I did not spot any whales in the many hours I looked through the binoculars. There were plenty of different types of birds, if you are a birder. We did come alongside a fellow Quest boat. It was fun to watch them do the Polar Plunge. Dinner was SPECTACULAR!!!! A tasting extravaganza!! First was Salmon roe with cucumber au jus. The first course was parsnip soup with roasted parsnips. Second course was halibut with finger length potatoes. Third course was NY strip steak, mushrooms, Brussel sprouts. Dessert was a wonderful lemon and ricotta cheese cake with pistachio shortbread crust. After dinner we received our luggage tags for tomorrow’s disembarkation. White was for the airport people; yellow for the hotel transfer. We also had the opportunity to check out our tab. 7% to 10% of cabin rate is standard for a tip. Some gave less, some gave more. We hope that more gave more. The crew is worth every percent you give them. The slide show was outstanding. The music was great and photos even more so. It was fun to relive the wonderful memories of an awesome cruise in a few short minutes.
We are very lucky to be able to compare this cruise (and crew) with many we have taken. This cruise and especially this crew is by far the BEST! The crew works extremely hard to ensure you have a terrific time. Even while we were at breakfast the last morning, they tidied up our stateroom. We had requested two things before we sailed. One was a special juice and the other a specific soda. They provided both without making it seem like an inconvenience. Other cruise lines have informed us that “this” is the juice they serve, or “this” is the brand of soda they have. It meant the world to us that they made a special effort to get those specific things for us. It showed us early on that they cared! Thank you so much Safari Quest!!
Saturday May 7th
The final breakfast was as good and fast as the others. The special was vanilla pancakes that were so fluffy. It was served with fresh berry compote. My eggs were cooked to perfection (over easy), as well as my toast. While at breakfast they loaded our luggage onto awaiting buses. The crew lined up on the pier to wish each and every one of us a safe journey and thanked us for cruising with them. We in turn thanked them profusely for the terrific week we had. They are special!! Every one of them made our week the most memorable, fun, and special experience imaginable. One bus drove to the airport, the other to the hotel’s hospitality room. Traffic was light and we arrived at the airport in 45 minutes. It was sad to leave such a pretty city and the best cruise line, UnCruise, behind. We will be on another UnCruise as soon as we can! BUT, I do not think that another crew can surpass the Safari Quest’s crew!
We had cabin A2 with a large sliding glass door that was terrific to open for fresh air and viewing. The cabin was quite quiet. We never heard our neighbors, or anyone in the hall, or in the bridge. There is a closet in the room, two large, deep drawers under the bed and a couple hooks on the wall. Also under the bed are two large storage areas. We easily kept our luggage, carry-ons, camera bag, shoes and extra pillows underneath. We had two nightstands with two shelves. Lamps were on the stands as well as a bright overhead ceiling light. In the bathroom are four deep shelves with a lip at the end so things don’t slide out. There was a countertop around the sink large enough to hold a tray of two glasses, and a box of Kleenex. On the clean, fresh bed are lists of other passengers’ names as well as the crew. Also, there were binoculars, and two water canteens. The bed was comfortable with plenty of pillows to choose. Extra fuzzy blankets are on the bed too. They could have more hooks, especially when you came in with wet clothes. We did view a cabin on the lower level and they had a 4 drawer dresser. There is a TV in every cabin. We were busy every evening until 10:00ish so we didn’t have time to watch any of the DVD’s (movies) we brought.
We walked down a couple of blocks to Farmer’s Market from Crowne Plaza Hotel. It was an enjoyable area to view. We took lots of photos of the local flavor, ocean vistas, the Ferris wheel, ships, and colorful people. We got a quick bite to eat and arrived back at the hotel for 3:45 bus tour of Seattle.
We did get a reservation for High Tea at the famous Tea Room of the Empress so we walked back there. It was very, very nice. Their tea was the finest I had ever tasted. Lunch was served on a three tiered plate in the middle of the beautifully set table. The first layer had finger sandwiches, second scones and the top mini cakes and tarts. All were absolutely delicious. The layer chocolate dessert was NOT as good as last night’s dessert on the boat.View All 22 High Tea at the Empress Hotel Reviews