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Cruise Ship Information
Wilderness Adventurer was one of the first ships launched by Un-Cruise Adventures. The company, run by veterans from Cruise West, a now-defunct small-ship cruise line, bought the ship from the Glacier Bay Cruise Line, another defunct Alaska cruise line. After a complete refurbishment, the expedition ship went into Alaska waters in summer 2011 and now runs itineraries there with 60-passenger occupancy. 
If your idea of a great weekend is getting outside for a long hike or paddle, then a Wilderness Adventurer cruise is perfect for you. With the company's focus on getting up-close with nature and wildlife, you'll get the most out of your trip if you take part in the ship's outdoor activities -- all of which are included in the cruise fare. You'll be joined by fellow passengers who have the latest in outdoor gear and are eager to use it. Don't bother packing dresses or collared shirts; you're more likely to wear rubber boots and rain pants. 
Despite the casual atmosphere, Wilderness Adventurer offers thoughtful touches onboard. Cruisers will find a reasonably priced full bar, memory foam mattresses in the cabins and a special kayak launching dock designed to get even the biggest couch potatoes out on the water. Meals are served buffet-style at set times, and soda, lemonade and juice are included in the cruise price. The onboard pastry chef guarantees you'll replenish calories quickly. All cabins are above deck with outward-facing windows, perfect for enjoying Alaska's crisp mornings and late sunsets. An enclosed top-deck lounge provides great views, even when the weather is less than perfect. The ship quiets down at night, primarily because people are worn out from the ample hiking, paddling and trekking opportunities -- although the hot tub gets some use. There's little in the way of organized lectures or talks, a missed opportunity considering the surroundings. 
Tips can be added to your bill at the end of the cruise, and they are split evenly between the crew. The captain recommends 5 to 10 percent of your total cabin cost. 
The Wilderness Adventurer sails the smaller waterways of Alaska's Inside Passage, settling down for the night in small coves and bays. While most trips are seven nights in length, you can explore Washington's San Juan Islands and the British Columbia Inside Passage on longer 14-night itineraries as the ship travels to and from its Seattle base at the beginning and end of the season.
Atmosphere on board
Refurbished in early 2011, the 60-guest Wilderness Adventurer is the ultimate platform to deliver an Un-Cruise adventure—aboard the ship and in the water. The interior complements the outside and both public and private spaces are loaded with amenities. Enjoy socializing in the main lounge, which evokes the style of a National Park Lodge or neighborhood pub and relaxing on deck or keeping watch for wildlife.
Three accessible decks are fully equipped for comfort and action. The sun deck has an on-deck hot tub, sauna and fitness equipment; the observation deck allows for over-the-top viewing from the bow; and the EZ Dock launch platform on the main deck makes getting in the water a cinch. Onboard are kayaks; stand-up paddle boards; inflatable skiffs; hiking poles; yoga mats; hydrophone for listening to below-surface sounds; and a bow-mounted underwater camera pipes the action to the lounge and to your cabin TV.
The three cabin categories aboard the Wilderness Adventurer:  Navigator; Trailblazer; and Pathfinder accommodate singles and doubles.
Common to all Wilderness Adventurer cabins are:  Memory foam mattresses; Flat-screen TV/DVD; and iPod docking station. All staterooms come with a view window (no portholes).
Past Passenger Programs
La Pinta's combination observation lounge-lecture room-bar features 270 degrees of panoramic windows, a spotting scope and an eager barman ready to dole out pisco sours (minus the raw egg white, which tops the traditional version of the frothy drink), blue margaritas and Club Premiums (Ecuadorian pilsner). Spinnable blue chairs are clustered around twin pull-down projection screens used for multimedia presentations and next-day briefings, which precede dinner each night. The majority of drinks range from about $2.50 for a soda to $4 for a beer to $10 for a cocktail. (Passengers settle the bill at the end of the cruise.) The space also features one of two TV's on the ship. (The other is in the lobby.) Both scroll through hi-res wildlife pictures and a spreadsheet of the day's schedule.
Two Web-ready computer terminals and the self-service coffee machine are set up in an adjacent tiny "Expedition Library," which features a number of titles from Darwin, on Darwin and about Darwin's discoveries. The spines also reveal recommended Galapagos-related reading (memoirs, mysteries), nature photo-filled books, tomes on South America and a handful of left-behind pulp paperbacks. Wi-Fi, available in the library and lecture room, is $40 for unlimited use on a weeklong cruise and $20 for both the three- and four-nighters. Connection can be spotty, but that's perfectly understandable. 
La Pinta's lobby houses a candy jar, seasickness pill goodie basket and signup sheets for deep-water snorkeling, panga rides and glass-bottom boat trips (for the non-snorkelers). The space also features a small gift shop, offering a selection of necessaries -- sunglasses with strap, toothbrushes, sun block, single-use underwater camera , aloe -- plus a bit of apropos kitsch ("I Love Boobies" T-shirts). 
Should you get motion sickness -- and the most swaying is typically felt in August, September and October, say the naturalists -- there is a doctor onboard. His small examination room is located adjacent to the lobby. Passengers who've been bitten in half by a bull sea lion (the so-called beachmasters) will be out of luck, but the doc can offer creams for wasp stings, pills for gastro- and virus-related ailments and something slightly acidic for the occasional jelly fish-related issue. Achievable onboard medical care is included in the price of the cruise.
The top deck houses La Pinta's four pangas (and a crane to deliver them to the water), a glass-bottom boat and five tandem kayaks. Snorkeling gear (mask, snorkel and fin) and rented wetsuits ($30 for the week; some tour operators who sell Metropolitan cruises include this in the price) are initially doled out there. Nearby is the bridge, which is open to passengers any time, apart from when the ship is maneuvering in or out of port. The captain makes regular appearances throughout the cruise, and he (or anyone else manning the bridge) is happy to talk ship. 
It's not a public room, per se, but Deck 1 aft features a pull-out platform, which typically serves as one of two panga launch points or, very occasionally, a swim-off dock. (A pangero keeps watch during the designated cool-off times.) This is also where passenger wetsuits, sandals and snorkel gear hang out to dry. Finally, there's a single clothes dryer, which is free to use and shared among passengers and crew.
Fitness And Spa
Every day features a guided nature walk, some more rigorous (uphill, over lava) than others. Still, extreme trekking this is not. There are always innumerable stops to ogle a red-legged Swallow-Tailed Gull squatting over its newborn chick or a land iguana rolling spines off a cactus fruit before greedily devouring the pod. During the hikes, sometimes over rough lava -- ropy Pahoehoe and rubble-filled aa (pronounced ah-ah) -- proper footwear is essential. Bring a hat and water, too. Despite the slow pace, the equatorial sun can certainly wear down even the hardiest eco-passenger.
Phenomenal snorkeling is offered almost every day. Listen to the guides: they say the best course is to float and observe because water temperatures, especially in the cool season (about 70 degrees), can sap energy. There are wetsuits for rent, and they're especially necessary between June/July and December ($15 for three- and four-night cruises; $30 for weeklong cruises). 
The ship also carries tandem, sit-on-top kayaks, which are pulled out a couple times per cruise for casual paddles. 
Back onboard, La Pinta has a tiny fitness room with a Lifestyle-brand bicycle, elliptical and treadmill machines, along with a few assorted dumbbells. A framed picture of a loin-clothed Amazonian racing with spear poised provides extra encouragement. There is no spa, but the top deck features a hot tub that can snugly accommodate six passengers. A few wicker sunbeds and a handful of other outdoor seating setups are scattered throughout La Pinta's open spaces.
Food & Dining
Adequate meals provide the fuel to keep hiking, snorkeling and patiently waiting for the haggard, stumbling, flightless cormorant to plunge heat-seeking missile-like into the Pacific after an eel. All but one or two meals are served in the ship's indoor dining room, which accommodates all 48 passengers at once. 
The evening meal, always at 7:30 or 7:45 p.m., is the lone offering not served buffet-style. Four-course dinners feature one appetizer (shrimp, couscous, smoked turkey slices), one soup (cream of vegetable, Ecuardorian quinoa), a choice of entree (a fish, a foul and a vegetarian option) and dessert (fruit or something cake-ish). The occasional cruise-like flourish like Beef Wellington may rear its head, but don't be fooled: the quality isn't what you'd find on an upper-premium mass-market line (say a Holland America or Celebrity). However, most passengers we talked to weren't bothered by the asi asi food.
Vegetarians are certainly accommodated, but don't be surprised to see a few re-treads of meat-free appetizers (a plate of cold veggies) and soups (vegetable soup). Passengers who don't see something they like on the menu should chat with the cruise director. 
Given the social nature of boat life, dining is a communal affair. All tables are either four- or six-tops, so expect to mix and mingle at meals. Should groups request it, tables can be reserved. 
Breakfast is served buffet-style in the restaurant at 7:30 a.m. (with rare exception). Cold options include cereals (granola, flakes, choco-flakes), breads, yogurt, tropical fruits and juices (mix the guava or orange with some coconut water, sometimes on offer). A few basic Ecuadorian-style comfort foods, like fried plantains, compete with pancakes, greasy bacon and link sausage. A popular cooked-to-order omelet station is set up daily. 
Lunch options include plenty of light salads (bean salad, coleslaw, radish salad, pasta salad), a few hot dishes (chicken with mushrooms, baked fish) and the obligatory soup (usually a cream soup). A cook in chef's hat carves suckling pig, baked fish and turkey. Roughly once per sailing, the second meal is served at the covered top-ship restaurant, with glass panels providing protection from too vigorous breezes or sideways garua spritzes. (Garua is the misty rain that typically accompanies the cool season, July to December.) 
In between meals, passengers returning from morning and afternoon excursions are greeted with the ritualistic snack-and-juice offering -- "iguana" nuggets (chicken tenders), deep-fried pigs in blankets, mini-empanadas, pieces of fruit paired with sugary guava, orange or tree tomato juice. The daily finger-food and shot-of-sweet-juice offerings are one of the simple pleasures onboard. 
A coffee machine is situated in the library, alongside a few glass containers with a rotating (and fast-disappearing) lineup of tea biscuits, cookies or crackers. The push-button concoctions, which include hot water for tea, hot chocolate, coffee, too milky cappuccinos and espressos, are available 24 hours a day. 
While every effort is made to keep you fed, the non-reptilian eaters (low-blood-sugar types or those who like to snack between meals), should bring some of their own salty and sweet stuff -- especially if you're one of the few passengers who doesn't collapse into bed immediately after dinner. Snorkeling in chilly water (70 degrees or less during cooler months) can deplete your energy, and the aforementioned jars by the coffee machine may not suffice. Passengers stopping in Puerto Ayora, the Galapagos' largest inhabited city, might consider restocking there.
Entertainment
Performers include male lava lizards doing push-ups on basalt gyms, indescribably adorable baby sea lions careening for your snorkel mask and then avoiding impact at the last second, and whistling, grunting blue-footed boobies, whose wings flash skyward and painted webbed feet slowly rise and fall in a curious mating dance. Cue the standing ovation. 
During the (at least) twice-daily shore walks, one expedition leader and three naturalist guides provide the commentary and answers to any question on the islands' flora and fauna. You can stick with your favorite guide or simply get in line and end up with whoever is nearby. When snorkeling is offered, which is nearly every day, passengers can opt instead to take a scenic cruise on the glass-bottom boat. On a few occasions -- for instance when there's a lovely, sheltered cove -- sea kayaks may materialize. If there is a choice of activities, passengers are asked to add their name to a signup sheet in the lobby. (No one will be turned away -- it's just to help the staff with logistics.) 
Daytime lectures evoke memories of high school biology, with the ecology of fish and an explanation of why, geologically speaking, the Galapagos developed the way they did (the so-called "hot spot") among the offerings. 
Every night there's a briefing given by one of the naturalists, who may dive into another scientific subject (plate tectonics) and then outline the schedule and highlights for the next day. This is followed by a Q&A, should any Q's arise to be A'ed. 
A BBC docu-drama, the three-part "Galapagos End of the World," for instance, may be shown on the twin projection screens during afternoon intra-island transits. 
Chatting with the diverse passengers, united in their love for offbeat world travel, can provide entertainment and inspiration for your next trip, be it by land or sea.
Staterooms
For an expedition vessel, cabins are large and well equipped. There are 20 189-square-foot doubles and four 247-square-foot triples, all with decent-sized rectangular windows framing ever-changing rugged seascapes (and sometimes pods of dolphins). There are no wheelchair-accessible cabins.
Bed configurations are two twins, which can be combined into a queen (double rooms), or two twins and a sofa bed (triples). Pillows are on the firm side. Individual air-conditioning and heat control is a blessing, especially during February, March and April -- traditionally the most scalding months on the equator. September through November -- the coolest months of the "cool season" -- passengers may opt for a little heat, especially after a deep-water snorkel or a 20-degree temperature drop from one day to the next. 
A triple wardrobe offers more than enough space for the eco-lite cruiser, whose luggage typically includes a series of quick-dry shorts, pants, hats and shirts. A small vanity-topped desk has a phone (international phone calls can be made), a pair of 110v U.S.-style outlets and a pair of 220v European-style outlets. A meager hair dryer and a safe, par for the course in all of cruising, are tucked into the closet. A small table, sandwiched by a pair of blue-cushioned chairs, rounds out the storage offerings. It's all quickly covered by camera equipment and other gear. 
Shower-only bathrooms have three dispensers providing biodegradable shower gel, shampoo and conditioner. (For passengers bringing their own stuff, MT asks that it be biodegradable.) The showers are the most valuable accouterment in La Pinta's cabins, tiled numbers offering excellent pressure and plenty of hot water. Note that, while the water piped into the sinks and showers is potable and perfectly acceptable for showering and teeth-brushing, it is not recommended for drinking. There's a pair of two-tap units in the cabin corridor supplying hyper-filtered drinking water. The line provides a sealed plastic bottle and asks that you refill it. (They will hand out replacements, but it's a question of footprint.) Bring a reusable water bottle, or buy one onboard. 
Leave your window curtain up, and the rising sun, which doesn't shift much during the year, will serve as a 6:30 a.m. wakeup call. Otherwise strains of Chopin, Bach and Segovia, quietly piped into cabins at 7 a.m. each morning, rouse passengers in time for 7:30 breakfast. 
Given logistics and a real effort to minimize water usage (again, footprint), fresh linens are provided at the beginning of the cruise, then changed once per cruise on the seven-night voyage. (Take heed before crawling under the covers following a hike in 100-degree heat.) That said, linens will be swapped upon request.
Tipping

Fellow Passengers
For much of the year, La Pinta attracts a well-traveled, highly educated babyboom-and-beyond set. Passengers are generally fairly active, as the ship doesn't have facilities for those with mobility issues. Navigating the steep steps, metal lips and "watch your head" spaces is part of the expedition ship game plan. During June, July and August, expect an influx of parents and their offspring.
Our recommendation
Getting up for breakfast was a dream, The Restaurant is roomy, clean and accommodating, The hotel was full and we thought it would be difficult to get a table for 5 people but it was a breeze, the food is basic, but with 3 hotels in the Group, it is obvious they try their best to cater for everybody, coffee was plentiful and there was no shortage of cutlery or plates, cups etc