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Wilderness Discoverer Cruise Review
4.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
27 Reviews

Unsatisfactory & misleading: cruisers under 50 years beware

Wilderness Discoverer Cruise Review by law-prof

17 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Jul 2011
  • Destination: Alaska

We booked this cruise because the website promised it was unlike others - it was an "uncruise". The brochure promised that there would only be "up to 49 guests", and that the trip could be highly active ("Whether you are looking for moderate activity or vigorous, extended and challenging outdoor pursuits, we can tailor most any expedition to suit your skill level.") We are in our 30s and moderately active, so this sounded ideal for us.

Upon going to the embarkation point, we discovered that almost all of our fellow passengers were considerably older than us. The median age would have been well into the 60s. That would have been fine, except the promised activities did not eventuate. Neither the original not an amended itinerary supplied shortly before the trip were complied with, and every change was to the detriment of active passengers.

For example, on Day 2, the first full day of the trip, the amended itinerary promised to "Push your senses and your muscles with the exhilarating combination of sea kayaking and trekking. Or ride a skiff to the same shore and take a relaxing walk on a trail that boasts a 350-foot elevation gain." The amended itinerary promised a much watered down version, to "Push your senses kayaking, trekking, riding a skiff, or trying your luck at stand-up paddle boarding."

What actually happened is that we were unable to do any offship activities whatsoever -- aside from an extremely tame and pedestrian small boat ride to look at Baird Glacier. In other words, the rigorous physical activities promised went from being considerable, to being mild, to being entirely non-existent.

Day 3 provides an even more outrageous example of bait and switch with regard to the physicality of the activities on offer. The original itinerary promised that we would "Take on the exposed terminal moraine of the Baird Glacier Trail, until you reach the top of the glacier itself. Enjoy a long guided kayak excursion from Scenery Cove to Cascade Creek and then treat yourself to a short trek on one of the several scenic Cascade Creek trails." This time the revised itinerary added something which sounded even more rigorous and strenuous than the original: in addition to the walk on Baird Glacier, it promised that we could "Choose guided kayaking and a lush forest trek on one of the scenic Cascade Creek trails. Or go big on the 5-mile hike to the glacially-fed and rarely visited Patterson Lake for spectacular kayaking."

What actually happened is that there was no guided kayaking. No lush forest trek on a Cascade Creek trail. And no 5 mile hike to, and kayak at, Patterson Lake. None of these promised activities actually happened at all. Instead, we got a visit to Baird Glacier which, despite being advertised as the "fast" hike option, was far slower than any hike I have gone on since I was a small child. And instead of any of the rigorous, interesting, challenging activities outlined in the original and revised itineraries, we were permitted only a "free", unguided paddle within very narrow parameters, no particular destination, and unchanging scenery.

On Day 4, once again the offerings did not live up to the promises previously made. All slots in the so-called "fast" hike had been taken by other passengers on the evening of Day 3 before we had an opportunity to put our own names down. As the thought of a hike even slower than the expedition to Baird Glacier was untenable to us, we requested Kirsten to make more slots available, or to arrange for an activity more suited to our energy levels to be added. She angrily told us that it was not possible, and that the existing offerings were sufficient. This was a striking contrast to the brochure's glossy promises: "Whether you are looking for moderate activity or vigorous, extended and challenging outdoor pursuits, we can tailor most any expedition to suit your skill level."|"One of the primary features of our "un-cruises" is our ability to cater to individual needs, so whatever it is you desire, please don't hesitate to ask."| "No matter what you are interested in, InnerSea Discoveries' goal is to provide you with as many opportunities as possible to challenge yourself in the outdoors while also making it extremely easy to enjoy moments or hours of escape and relaxation. The choice and pace are all yours."

The offerings on the cruise were so poor that in the end we ended up abandoning ship part way through when the boat reached Wrangell. I am writing this review to warn others about the possibility of extraordinary changes to their itineraries if they book this trip. There are clauses in the contract that purport to allow this kind of itinerary change. If you're younger and active, BEWARE - what is promised isn't necessarily what you get.

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