We’ll go on the record saying we’re not big fans of the giant floating convention-center sized cruise ships that have become so popular with the big corporate cruise lines. We know they make a lot of sense from a business standpoint, but we’d rather not see our destination from the balcony of a ship that’s bigger than most hotels. We’d rather not be a number on something that is the tallest building in town when it docks.
So we like small ship cruises with lots of personal service, especially when they can get into places the behemoths are not able to go. One key place where this applies is the delicate but bountiful Sea of Cortez (or Sea of Cortés) between the mainland of Mexico and the Baja Peninsula. The next best thing to having your own decked-out yacht here is going on the Endeavor ship on an Un-Cruise. Good food, good wine, good attitude, but most of all you get lots of opportunities to get off the ship and have an adventure.
I just got a taste of what it’s like when I was on the Baja Sur Adventure Week sponsored by the Adventure Travel Trade Association. Normally the passengers go overland on the short trip up to La Paz and then the real journey by sea starts from there. That’s the itinerary that our correspondent Ellen Barone went on when she wrote this feature story for us: Baja Unplugged With Un-Cruise Adventures. I’m highlighting them again on the blog because I put together a video of the experience.
My group of writers and tour operators basically got a one-night experience though, leaving the port in Los Cabos and cruising overnight up to La Paz. Right off the bat we got to see loads of humpback whales shooting water out of their blowholes, sometimes mothers with babies, and at one point a big whale breached completely out of the water as we watched with our jaws dropped open. Only one of us got a photo because most, especially me, were enamored with the Mexican craft beer selection and premium tequila being poured at the bar.
Dinner was equally impressive, with individual orders presented with flair by an attentive wait staff. Don’t let the self-serve wine taps or the casual cabins fool you: this ship has been commissioned by a lot of A-list celebrities more concerned about a unique experience than whether there’s a fawning butler unpacking their suitcase.
I’ll be a snob and say there are only a few cruise ships I’d dip into my own savings to experience along with my family or maybe extended family, but this is one of them. The Baja Sur coastline is one of the world’s great wilderness areas, a dramatic coast where the desert comes right down to the sea and that sea is filled with all kinds of whales, giant fish, and rays. This is a true adventure that offers an experience that’s very hard to get in any other way. If you’re looking for bragging rights or just want to be surprised and delighted each day, go here: Baja Adventure Cruise.