Safari Explorer is a true expedition ship, aimed at passengers looking to breathe in every part of Hawaii, its vivid land and seascapes, and its culture. It eschews onboard frills like hot tubs, big restaurants and massage rooms for toys -- kayaks, stand-up paddle-boards and skiffs -- for use off the ship. Virtually every part of Safari Explorer, which sails from Molokai to the Big Island (or vice versa), is designed for utility and practicality rather than to impress. And, yet sailing on Safari Explorer is impressive.
It all begins with flexibility. In fact, you might spend months obsessing about your itinerary, only to be told your first day that it's simply a starting point -- the captain and exceptional crew take you to where they're seeing wildlife or to where weather conditions allow. That flexibility carries through to almost every aspect of a Safari Explorer cruise, where the skilled chef might pick up local ingredients in port for that night's dinner or the crew might decide to open up the marine deck for some afternoon swimming. Passengers who love surprises and don't need a firm agenda will feel right at home.
The ship's low-key approach is a big part of its appeal. People don't sail Safari Explorer for the ship: They do it for the destination, the interaction with nature and the adventurous outings. Safari Explorer gets people where they want to go, and it does it in a comfortable, exceptionally fun way.
The enthusiasm of the crew, always an eclectic and passionate blend of people who clearly love their jobs and embrace Hawaii, is contagious. Passengers and crew quickly become friends onboard, and service is sterling, in part, because it's so downright genuine and meaningfully friendly. Passengers, too, bond with one another and skip pretense -- and shoes -- early on. Dining is a joy, both because the locally inspired and sourced food is exceptional and because it's a chance for everyone to get together to talk about that day's adventures.
Molokai is unique to UnCruise Adventures; with only 8,000 people on the tiny island, it's not aimed at (or interested in) large groups of tourists. In fact, the island has only one hotel -- Hotel Molokai -- and passengers booking on Safari Explorer will likely stay there at the beginning or end of their journey. It's also the meeting point for passengers heading to the ship.
Other islands you might stop at along the way include Maui, Lana'i and the Big Island. All three are more developed in terms of tourist areas, and bigger cruise ships will stop here as well. Still, you'll likely spend far more time exploring the coasts of these islands than actually on them, so set expectations accordingly.
Passengers on Safari Explorer travel a lot. They're well-educated and well-off. Most are from North America, though Brits and Aussies aren't unheard of. Many are retired, but it's not unusual to see parents traveling with their adult children. Curiosity and flexibility are common traits among passengers.
It's also worth noting that many people sailing Safari Explorer are veterans of other sailings by UnCruise Adventures. These passengers sing the praises of UnCruise Adventures and itineraries offered in other locations, like Alaska and the Sea of Cortez. They're collectors of sailings who will repeat their favorites over and over.
Included with your cruise fare:
Not included with your cruise fare:
Daytime: Casual. Most passengers stick with swimsuits and rash guards. Maybe a pair of shorts. Sport shoes, like Keens, are appropriate for hikes.
Evening: Casual. Shorts and T-shirts. Some women wear casual sundresses, though most elect to skip makeup, except for a dinner ashore in Molokai. Even shoes are optional onboard.
UnCruise Adventure's Wilderness Discoverer isn't glamorous, but thoughtful touches, such as memory foam mattresses, bedside stands with pull-out laptop spaces and outside hooks for bulky gear, abound.