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​Spring Into Wellness: A New Awakening in Alaska

08-17-2017

Kristen Gill, Guest Blogger

Boarding the Wilderness Adventurer in Fisherman Terminal in Seattle, my mother and I set sail in mid April on the first passenger vessel of the year to cruise through the Inside Passage up to Southeast Alaska.

Not knowing what to expect, we had packed all the necessities and were ready for adventure!

Kayaking and bird watching go hand in hand when in the San Juan Islands. Copyright Kristen Gill - www.kristengill.com

TRAVEL IN SPRINGTIME

Springtime, as it turns out, is an exceptional time to visit Alaska, when the mountains are still snow-capped and the whales are returning from the warm waters of the south.

Spring temperatures are similar to those during the summer; you'll need to bundle up for the chilly evenings in both. We had plenty of sunshine on this trip and enjoyed warm days on deck admiring the beautiful vistas.

Springtime is also a time for awakening: bears are emerging from their winter slumber, searching for food along the shore; bright yellow skunk cabbage plants are in full bloom; and cascading waterfalls are abundant.

Springtime in Alaska includes lots of waterfalls and snow-capped mountains. Copyright Kristen Gill - www.kristengill.com.

JUMP INTO WELLNESS

Not only were we the first passenger ship to arrive in Alaska in 2017, we were also the first guests on UnCruise’s brand-new wellness-themed voyage, and this inaugural trip was special in many ways. Joining the amazing crew were a fitness and nutritionist expert, a yoga instructor, and a massage therapist.

What a perfect way to kick-start one’s wellness!

Yoga

Our gifted yogi, Alex Schimmel, conducted yoga classes on the deck each morning at 7 AM. Watching the sun’s soft palette fill the sky during sun salutations was a delightful and meaningful way to start each morning. One day we heard the captain announce, right as we had finished our final Asana, to look overboard on the starboard side to find a playful sea otter checking us out. We all waved and smiled as we wondered what that otter thought of our boat gliding through his watery home.

Fitness & Nutrition Classes

Who knew fitness could be so much fun? Fitness expert and Personal Trainer, Lindsay Ogden, was super encouraging and had us doing circuit training on deck in no time, mixing up our physical routines each day so that it was always enjoyable and motivating.

With a personal trainer on board, getting fit is fun! Copyright Kristen Gill - www.kristengill.com.

It’s always easier to start on a proper eating path when you’re away from your regular routine, and Lindsay’s nutrition classes were both inspiring and informative. We learned about how making simple changes to our health could reap major benefits. Fittingly, we had an abundance of healthy dining options on board, and learned a few tips on how to make wholesome meals at home. Before the trip ended, Lindsay followed up with each of us and gave us the tools we’d need to continue on a wholesome food and fitness path.

Healthy dining options are served at every meal. Copyright Kristen Gill - www.kristengill.com

Massage & Meditation

Our on board journey connected both mind and body wellness. While our yogi led us through guided meditations as we sat on deck with the sounds of the ocean and sea birds all around us, massage therapist Chela worked wonders on our bodies. You could tell who had just come from their massage, as they had a telling mellow, calm demeanor.

Rejuvenated, relaxed, and reflecting after a hot tub and massage treatment. Copyright Kristen Gill - www.kristengill.com.

Forest Bathing

Have you ever tried forest bathing? This new wellness trend originated in Japan (where it is called shinrin-yoku) and is a form of healing by simply taking in the forest atmosphere. You won't find a better place for it then in the secluded wilds of Alaska. Nothing was more comfortable and restoring than lying on a soft bed of moss and listening to the silence of the woods.

Forest bathing on a mossy log in the silence of the woods. Copyright Kristen Gill - www.kristengill.com.

Mindful Creativity

During our sail we had plenty of time for creative and relaxing activities, such as courses in navigation, nature photography, partner massage, knot tying, journaling, coloring, drawing, board games and interactive games.

Botanical drawing onboard. Copyright Kristen Gill - www.kristengill.com.

Nature’s TV

While assorted DVDs are available for lounge or cabin viewing, we opted instead to marvel at the live feed from the underwater camera that perfectly captured the playful Dall’s porpoises that seemed to visit us in the early evenings, riding along the bow of the boat and providing an excellent source of entertainment.

Night Gazing

Star gazing, along with a chance to see Northern Lights and the Milky Way, was a perfect way to wind down for the evening before getting restful sleep.

A glimpse of the Northern Lights in the night sky. Copyright Kristen Gill - www.kristengill.com.

ALASKA MEANS ADVENTURE

When you go to Alaska, expect adventure!

Knowing that the UnCruise line was famous for its exploratory expeditions, we were ready to join in on all of them. With first-rate naturalists and guides on board, we also learned a great deal about the environment, sea life, history, and geography of the region.

Exploring the moon-like atmosphere of Baird Glacier. Copyright Kristen Gill - www.kristengill.com.

Every day our expedition leader handcrafted the day’s adventure options, which included everything from hiking, kayaking, standup paddle boarding, skiff riding, snorkeling, short nature walks, and more. There were several intensity levels to choose from, so there was always something for everyone. You could also just relax in the hot tub or read a book on deck.

My mom and I loved hiking through the remote trails, taking our time zigzagging through waterfalls and enjoying the soft sounds of the magnificent forest. Other highlights were kayaking through the peaceful and awe-inspiring glacial valleys of Misty Fjords National Monument, getting “glacial facials” from the muddy, moon-like environment of Baird Glacier, and watching the spectacular calving ice at Dawes Glacier.

Enjoying the magnificent views and sounds of calving Dawes Glacier. Copyright Kristen Gill - www.kristengill.com.

We also enjoyed the cultural aspects of the trip, such as visiting Totem Bight State Historical Park in Ketchikan and meeting members of the Tlingit tribe who performed music, dance, and storytelling for us at Chief Shake’s House in Wrangell.

A member of the Tlingit tribe who performed music, dance, and storytelling for us at Chief Shake’s House in Wrangell. Copyright Kristen Gill - www.kristengill.com.

Between the physical activity, cultural immersion, nature and wildlife, good food, lively conversation, and relaxation, our 12-day cruise was just what we needed to get a jump-start on our health.

ENDINGS ARE TRULY BEGINNINGS

Although we hated for the trip to end, we will remember it forever. Just as the plants and animals emerged from the long, dark Alaskan winter, so too were we revived in body and spirit on this springtime wellness journey.

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