In this episode, Dan takes us back to the early days of creating an adventure brand, and how important connection, family, friends, and nature has been in his life. He's joined by six seasoned adventure travelers, who have also traveled aboard the small adventure boats of UnCruise Adventures. They take a trip down memory lane sharing top travel stories and how they seek adventure while recognizing what the new normal of travel will be in 2021 and beyond. Where do you imagine yourself traveling? We hope you are truly inspired to seek adventure and connection in the wild places of the world.
A big thank you to our special panel of guests!
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Hey adventures. Welcome to the no ordinary adventurer podcast, a place we call home for adventure and the conversations you want to have. We bring you inspiration stories from the field and talk with adventure travelers and industry experts from around the world. This is a place to fill your heart and head with travel knowledge. Now, your host Dan Blanchard, a lifelong Mariner traveler, and CEO of UnCruise Adventures, a small boat adventure company defining the UN in UnCruise. Let's get started. Hey, everybody, this is Dan Blanchard, and I would say Captain Dan Blanchard, welcome you back to a wonderful time with no ordinary adventure. And today is really special for me, because there are a group of past guests that have been sailing with us for a long time, one couple since 1997, if you can believe that. And that is, I think the the love of connection speaks really loudly at UnCruise. And we're just happy to have these folks on with us today. I think, you know, as we're looking at this period in time, in late February 2021, we're finally starting to see a real lift out of the pandemic, where we can start to see forward. And so this is an interesting time. And I might just add for my guests that are both listening, and that are here, sharing this experience with me in a moment that this could well be one of the most historic times any of us make statements on a video to the public, in our entire lives. And it'll be fun, maybe, maybe we'll get back together in like five years, and play this bits between us. We'll play this whole tape again, and just kind of come back in five years. What was it like in February of 2021? What's it like in February of 2026? Wouldn't that be a riot. But anyway, I have this really what I would consider an esteemed group of people that are gonna share and talk about UnCruise Adventures, what it meant to them when they sailed, and maybe even what it might mean in the future, as we all look ahead towards a new and brighter day. So with that, I'm going to ask our guests to share stories, we have this great group and I am going to work right off my screen and and first ask first question, I'll ask you as, and maybe Holly, I'll start with you if I could. Holly, you and I met many years ago on board, we were just talking about the wilderness discover the Wilderness Explorer. But I had actually talked to you before that trip. And I remember being so excited to meet this woman named Holly. And I did. But Holly, share your your story in connection to UnCruise Adventures. What? How did that all go for you? How did you even find this? How did I find you? The irony was that I found you in 2010. Because no 2011 Because I was I had a deposit down on that company. And they went under and Tammy Harden, my travel agent said, hey, now look at this new bunch called inner sea discoveries. There. I've already been on their boat, and they're launching and maybe you should try them instead. So we moved we booked me on actually it was the maiden voyage out of Juneau for the wilderness discover. And so everybody was brand new. We were kind of inventing things as we went along. Some things. It's been great to watch them evolve over the years because some of those first ideas didn't work too well. But it was great. So there I was in Juneau, meeting people and getting on the wilderness discover for the maiden voyage. Oh, that's awesome. Yeah. And you've done it a number of trips since then. Yeah. I tried to do one every year. Last year kind of screwed things up. But this whole I've been with you guys in Alaska eight times. Wow. That's That's terrific. I mean, that is almost once a year. Yeah. At first that was when we brought the wilderness discover on that was the start of our green halls, which are more expedition type boats and and back then we had the American cert, Safari brand. And eventually we brought them all together. But so do you have a when you when you think back? Wow, eight trips. That's amazing. Thank you. Thanks for supporting all of us at UnCruise headquarters. What's your most memorable thought or memory that you have from trips with us? Absolutely. My most memorable was on my fourth trip, which was no my third trip was in 2013. Where's Captain Mars. And we finally saw bubble net feeding. And I have lived for that. And the day that Up came the humpbacks. And I was on the bat, I was on the outer area right in front of the bridge. And I turned around and Mars has given me the thumbs up. And I was like, Yes, we finally got bubble net feeding. That is definitely the most memorable. Oh, that that is and you know, bubble feeding is such an amazing thing to see. But it is so you know, you just have to be there at the right time. Total chance? Yeah, I mean, generally speaking, that's late July and August, but we've also seen it and may and it just depends but sometimes heaviest in August. That really appreciate that comment, you know about the the opportunity to see that course. Mars is a dear friend of mine, and just loved the years. She was relentless captain with us. Well, thank you for that. And hopefully get out sailing soon here. Hmm. Can't wait. And well, yeah, cuz you're signed up for the summer. I'm doing Pacific Northwest in May. Yeah, for the SPAR requests. My first time on her. Well, she's, you know, the spirit quest is part of our lineage she came on in 1999 is one of our our kind of heritage vessels for sure. Well, thanks, Holly. Moving along, we've got a guy, Chuck and Joe. Joe can't be with us today. But Chuck came on in sometime around 2010 or so for a trip. But Chuck, tell us about yourself. And how the heck did you ever find UnCruise Adventures. That's quite a story. I'm a retired executive from a high tech company here in Madison. And my wife told me at my 65th birthday, that she would take me any place in the world I wanted to go. And I like to hunt and fish. I don't think Jonah's ever seen the inside of a tent. So I knew that that wasn't going to work if we were going to go together. And I just started surfing and I found UnCruise on the internet did a little exploring. He saw the difference between the green hole and the blue holes in decided we would do a Blue Hole trip. And it was to Alaska. On the safari explore. Holly we were very lucky because we got to see bubble net feeding that very first time it was with Captain Mike Bennett. Hey, hold this show. You're not supposed to say that. I mean, Holly's gonna be she took her like took her like seven trips to make that happen. Yeah, well, anyhow, we had such a you can sock sock, just we had such a great time. Such a wonderful time that we immediately booked a trip to Mexico. So that was our, our second trip. And then it was shortly after that, that I wrote you a very long, detailed email to which he never responded. But apparently it struck a chord somewhere because eventually your marketing department got in touch with me. Yeah, that's true. I do remember passing it along and we're sharing ideas and some of your own background came through and that was wonderful. So what what would you say was you know you're between the two of you or maybe you just you that what was the thing that just is sticking in your brain after all these years? When you asked me to do this, I made a long list of memorable things and there there are so many that I could go on for hours seriously. Bubble net feeding is certainly at the top of the list. And I just happen to think of another one because of that young lady lady over your right shoulder the picture. I was out with her she's an expedition leader and I was out with her and we got to see lowdown goats. I had never I had never heard of low down goats before but according to the story she said whenever they The Mountain Goats come down to feed and they want to let people know the boats. They alert them by saying everybody we got lowdown goats that doesn't such glacier, whatever and we got to sit in watch them for a good hour or more. You know I'd have I'd have to rank right up there is making lifelong friends including one, Arthur Smith, who is from Perth, Australia. And we met I believe it was in that that second trip and Mexico and have become lifelong friends. I mean, we will be friends for the rest of our lives and he you know, that's certainly outstanding. Meeting Don Morford has to rank right up there. I mean, once you've met done work for you can you can pretty much call it quits after that. Well, thank thankfully he's out taking care of his car and his wife's here, because that would just elevate his ego beyond comparison. Female fit him in on the screen. That's awesome. Chuck. Those are great memories. And I think the the personal connections that we have are just as important of the I mean, I don't know, maybe the maybe Wales actually lunch fee. And that kind of thing is right up there with it. But it's, it's a key. But please switch on, I do have one word of advice for any people who have not gone on cruise before. This comes from my wife, and our experience in Hawaii. And she says, Whenever you see a request for sizes from UnCruise, give them your actual size, do not give them your goal size. Which she did and spent about three hours trying to get into a wetsuit to go view the manta rays off the coast of the Big Island. Well, we'll take that to heart like mobile after starting cluding. Really, folks your real size? Well, good. Well, I'm gonna carry on and chat with Lynn. But, you know, Holly, if you and you know, need to kind of duke it out with Chuck here, you guys can just, you know, well, you can do it visually. Okay. I understand you know it. Like I say, it's always chance if you see them at all. Yeah. And I also have to agree on the first trip I made dear friends and I traveled with them five years later, and I'm still in touch with them today. And I agree on making friends. I agree. And speaking of friends who are near our office, we're going to move to Lin and you know, speaking of, you know, how your connection work? How did you how did you ever find something, you're kind of a local to the company, but my guess is that's not how you found it? No, I was had some uncertain health issues, and it could have gone another way. Obviously, it worked out well for me. But in facing that, I decided to you know, what do I want to see what I want to be able to ask? So I looked at REI travel site, and they had something called Western codes. So then I I searched for Western poles, and called couple of people and nobody replied to me, I like to hold gastric. And she said, I can help you. You have to come to the right place. And that was interesting discoveries. And she booked us on that summer. So she said I have the phone available. They were both mostly booked. But we have this availability. And we we got it into a July. I work for Nordstrom in the IT department and I left the day after the annual sell started. That tells you how dedicated I was to see Alaska. We have so many fond memories. But I have to tell you first of all, I am so jealous. The one thing we haven't seen is Bobigny. But I will have to book three cruises. In August this year we can see it. You have to keep trying. I have two memories. I'd like to share both, I think show the difference between UnCruise and other cruise lines. And the first is we were in up in Alaska and a small bay with it was very foggy. We spent the morning kayaking with a guy named Sarah and her delightful time and you could hear whales but we couldn't see them. We came back had lunch and we were headed towards a whale Research Station. And we were picking up two people who were going to come on board and be our evening presentation. When right after lunch, the captain stopped the boat and said everybody out on deck we are surrounded by whales. It didn't matter whether you were in the front or the back the side there. You could see whales everywhere. You could see picket fences and and reaching and tail slabs and you could just see everything except from golfing and we were there for probably close to two hours when he says we have a lot of distance to cover to pick these people up we need to get going and I think I can't think of very many cruise lines in the world that would deviate from their schedule. That way to let us have that that time. You're giving me goosebumps. The other one was we were in the Sea of Cortez on the maiden season of the Voyager. And if you remember that boat wasn't quite ready for primetime at that point. And problems. Yeah, we had engine problems and had to, you know, make our way until the pause, and the engine was going to take a day so unchoose to go somewhere else. Well, it's now Friday night, and we're, we're headed back to, I think it was all pause at that time, is getting ready for captain's dinner with a super pod of dolphins a huge number more dolphins than I've ever seen, started to play with a boat. And at that time, there were two captains and I think from Ecuador, or wherever the it was licensed under and UnCruise. Captain, what are the cap? fans wanted to continue on? So we can have dinner on time. And we can make a pause and in good light and whatnot. And the other captain said, No, we're turning around. We're gonna play with this pie. And we did we turn around, and we played with that pod for probably 45 minutes until the sunset, they delayed dinner, it was remarkable to see that many dolphins It was incredible. Yeah, and that, again, is the difference because I can't think of another company that would have done that. Well, you know, it's in, you know, through my history, I can say that, you know, when I everything kind of has to fit the litmus test of what Alaska does, you know, in other words have a certain amount of wildness and freedom and, and it's experiences like that Mexico, I mean, you know, that it's not uncommon to find three or 400 Dolphins. Now it sounds like you are in a maybe like you say a super part of 1000 or more years doesn't happen as often. But I mean, it is a spectacle. And, again, you think about how smart those animals are. And wow, and that they're they've decided not only to stop their movement or move to a new place, they're actually playing with the boat. Wow, that's yeah, you know, it's fun about this. Dan, what's fun about this getting together with other guests is I find myself saying to myself, Oh, yeah, well, I you know, cuz there's all of a sudden memories were coming back about things that we were in a super pod wants to and, and saw gray whales. We were up in the Pacific Northwest. And a pod of orcas got a seal and they were teaching the they're one of the youngsters in the pod to hunt. And they were tossing it back and forth. And here comes a humpback gets between the seal and the the orcas. And it was amazing to watch that. Yeah, you know, that was actually we sent that information to the University of Washington to know because it was such a rare sighting to see a baleen whale come in and it was obvious that they were intervening from the videos I saw this this whale was intervening. And in keeping that burqa away from the seal wow, I mean, that's just a gray whale. A humpback? Right. Yes. Yeah, I don't you Chuck. You're you're gonna have to just shut it. You're just you're just I mean, you're taking the cake. I'm joking. Well, we all love the but I had, but that is what's truly one of the most amazing experiences we've ever recorded. That and I think just super rare in nature. Well, let's, let's bring on let's throw a few questions over to dawn. Looks like we may have lost Marilyn there. But Don, I'm really curious, you know, you you mentioned the Golden State. And and I will just say back in those days this for all of you listening, we were Americans for cruises and we had just started out and we we leased a boat the first year. We were trying to prove the concept a little 12 passenger boat. We could eventually get a bunch of these and, and and make a go of it. Well, later we learned that the economies of scale just didn't work. But Don tell us about I'm just curious because I remember The captain going out and actually going in the water once. Do you remember that review on that trip? I was. Chuck, this is important. It taught me there is a God who's ever praying. We wouldn't sink. I mean, it was interesting trip. But yes, he did go. We went through a little tiny Bay, if you'll recall, I don't know if you were on board or not Dan, but it was a little village that actually a fish hatchery that was closed. And he went in there with his bow. And we sort of went up against the and we got stuck. And he did go off the ball, etc. Yeah, that was. That was an amazing trip, though, because we learned a great deal. But Chuck like you there's so many memories. Dan, you and I go back way too far. Just been incredible, incredible journey, I think for both of the both of us. One of the things that some of you may have done, and I think one of you mentioned Costa Rica and and or sea of Sea of Cortez on the Sea of Cortez, we took our whole family remember this, Dan? Two years? It goes on with you on that trip? Yeah, that's right. And our three kids and our fee on his fiancee are since Beyonce, and when I had Christmas, had an incredible trip. But the highlight was the captain. And it was a woman I can't remember dance. She was great. But we ended up finding a rock, a huge mound full of sea lions. And she couldn't drop the hook. No place, by the way. Yeah, so we just we just floated. And all the young ones, those other 80 who are getting on wetsuits to go with the sea lions and my daughters came up to me and said, who I think we're about 50 and said, Dad, aren't you going to swim the sea lions? And I said, No, I mean, no, no, no, not No way. So after I got my wetsuit on and got in the water, I had, and I had a crew on each side of me and a daughter in front and behind me and my son coaching. So I was well protected. Got in swam with a Sealand Chuck, I don't ever did this or not. But we were warned to keep our hands by our sides use our fans, we had a mask and a wetsuit so we could float and a life preserver and I just sort of floated along. All sudden you feel these little nips, and these are the babies who weigh about 300 pounds, you know, nipping at your wetsuit because they are playful. That's why you kept your hands to your sides. I've never had and I swim all the time and experience like that on there. Forget it. And then we had Christmas on board. We each brought a stocking with us full of little trinkets. Dan joined us. We had one of the big state rooms, 10 feet by 10 feet. And that was the entire family. Six and seven of us kind of dance. And it was a incredible trip. Marilyn is not here. She'll be back. One more mention. Dan, do you remember her 70th birthday Maryland's? Yeah, I think Petersburg. Yeah. Petersburg? Yeah. Probably Petersburg. And it was the fourth of July. Because west or not very Spirit, the Spirit. They have a Maryland's a fourth of July, baby. So we went in for their prayed. And it's amazing. I mean, the whole town turned out. And we met people and never would have done that. You know, no, nobody said yet about the comparison between a large cruise line. And UnCruise we have sailed on large crew lines and they're fine. They they serve their purpose, and I'm not going to demean them. However, experience wise, there's absolutely no comparison. You meet a few people on the big ship, you might dine with them. But um, the UnCruise you meet everybody, not only everybody but you meet the crew. And to me the defining difference with UnCruise of everything else is the crew. I don't know how Dan does it. I do sort of know it's his own personalities amazing. And he he attracts and they manage it his image. And I've never had any buddy unpleasant on that crew. Just just incredible. And we've remained friends with many of them. So by the draw differential, I'd say the people you meet we all agree with that. And and the crew, they make a difference. You certainly have very trained professionals on the large ships. And these kids are trained professionals. But there's a warmth and camaraderie about them and a desire to learn and mix that's unsurpassed. Certainly we've been on the grill and figured 27 times something like that over the years. We've never had a bad trip. One interesting one. I'll quit Dan was over coming back from Juneau remember that one? Dad was on board. And this was a bit of a tragedy but it shows you how good the crew is. I suddenly had some internal bleeding. We were on our way home. And they had me down in a room intravenously kept hydrated fluids, the captain and they put the pedal to the metal to get me as quickly as they could to judo. I had no pain but I was bleeding quite badly They got me down there they dropped me in a word was Danica. So we didn't get into J but it was Akshay up Bay. That's, and I was meant by a fire engine, this a full hook and ladder. And I thought he gods that sir 911 suddenly took me down government hospital. That's what I got. Well, when I was so impressed with the crew, and I was scared, even though I had no pain, and it worked out as your case did, it worked out nicely. And we survived the telltale later. But you know, you talked about UnCruise it's almost like family. And that's, that's rare. I think. With him, you get off that ship. You know, everybody. You've all mentioned lifelong friends, with about four couples we have met over the years that we, including you, certainly you and Joe, Chuck, we, we love you guys. And we've got a lot more we do. So our cruising hopefully has just begun. We want to do any more. That's That's an awesome story. And thanks for sharing that. And I bet that as time has gone by, we've probably sailed out of those 27 trips, I think maybe three or four times together. And I will add a caveat though that my son and daughter did win major, major awards when they were babies and I lived in Petersburg at that Fourth of July parade. I think it was the floating ducks going down the street from the fire hose that they won that one every year seemed like so anyway, wonderful Southeast Alaska stories. But they did that they ran a fire hose down a little hill. And you've bet on floating ducks that came down with a water up on the hill. And people are cheering and they've got their feet was amazing. That was a fun ladder truck over the top but people on the ladder. That's right, that's right. That's so good. Well, I I'd be really curious to see you know, we we've all been in this pandemic for a year now. I know I was in Antarctica researching trips, this time last year and and came back and we the very next day we ended up with Safari Voyager getting turned around going from Costa Rica, Panama four days later, the safari endeavor was shut down in Mexico abruptly all based on COVID. And you know, obviously all of our lives, whether it's me at UnCruise or you and your own lives have been affected by the pandemic, but I'm really curious and this might be the important statements or remember when we do this in five years, what you know is we're starting we're seeing the virus be distributed we're getting just today or tomorrow we're going to hear about the Johnson and Johnson being fully approved people are starting to talk about you know, vaccine travel and this kind of thing that that maybe down the road here in three or four months there may be a vaccine requirement for certain types of travel all these things are out there in the marketplace and it's ever changing right now. But I'm just curious and anybody jump in as you please how are you feeling about the future of travel right now? Um, you know how the maybe how are you seeing this execute in your own mind your your fears, your hopes, I mean, I imagine we're all just dying to get out but I'll just open that up and anybody can jump in as they please. Well, I guess I guess I'll start I live in Wisconsin, and it has been a very, very long cold winter under best circumstances and you put on top of that the COVID restrictions that were all under I got my first shot yesterday and I think the travel industry is going to explode because there are a lot of people in this latitude that are are just so anxious to get out and do something I think things are gonna change a lot you know COVID has made some changes in our society the way we conduct business and so on. But I I know that Joan and cable and I we continually when we get in and zoom and talk talk to each other we talk about Let's book An UnCruise as soon as we can let's get on a boat and go to Alaska as soon as we can but Chuck I'm okay with that. I just felt like it really clear I am okay with that. So that's that's what I'm looking forward to scan I think the travel industry is gonna explode. Chuck I would I would check it that with one little caveat I think that that are people going on on cruise people going UnCruise I think are a cut above different breed and that is that they like adventure. So people are interested in cruising with us and our past cruise. I think our are going to be even more anxious chuck to get out and do something besides just get on a 2000 Fisher cruise ship in Sydney. So I would believe from our standpoint, I always look at the the glass half full. I think it's a real blessing for the future. Obviously nobody knows exactly what's going to happen the next few months but long term meaning within six months, whatever, I got to believe it's going to be lights out, because the friends I've got are like us, they like to travel, they like adventure. They don't want to just sit on a major ship and sit there. Besides that we go to places that big ships can't go. And when the big ships are full again, they're gonna go to places and they're just gonna overrun them. What I love about UnCruise we go to little courts, they welcome us, and we feel welcomed, and it's a whole different experience. So I believe our glass is not only half full, but it's filling rapidly. The question I have is whether Maryland's gonna go with you. She's right here. And I'll be careful. I can't see her. That's That's Chuck, you could guess that? Yeah. Yeah. She'll be there. Chuck. Where are we going? This time, wherever we can. We're booked on Alaska again. So with whenever she sails, we got our second shot last night, Chuck. So we're ready to go in about two weeks, we'll be fully covered. I hope. It's grand. That's grand. Well, it is a time where vaccinations are happening. And it's all moving along very rapidly. But others how are you feeling about travel and the thought of moving forward out of this mess, or maybe just holding steady. This is the first year in 2013 that I have not taken a winter cruise on UnCruise. And I've missed it so much. We were lucky. We were on the last completed. Panama Costa Rica last year. So we got off, and then it got started. And then it got hauled back. So we're really lucky. We got to complete it. It was a tremendous cruise. I know we're getting our second shots on Sunday. But I'm still a little nervous. We're booked for believes. And I keep thinking, hey, maybe we'll do the Pacific Northwest. But I really want to do the new Pacific Northwest. itinerary which is coming out I think next fall. Yes. Let's see then I've got Billy's Hi, I want to go back to Glacier Bay. Oh, I want to go to Hawaii. Oh, oh, gosh. So nervous, not so much on the people. Not from the time I got on the boat. That doesn't bother me. It's the going through the airports and getting to the boat that concerns me more understandable a lot of people certainly, I mean, that's the boat, we have our own little bubble, and with everybody being tested before they get on the boat. And that will be true. You know, even later on as long as the pandemic is around even at high vaccination rates. You know, those are just certainly challenges and I get it Lynne although I will tell you believes is going to blow your socks off when the time comes. But you know, I will be down there for a long time. We're not going to be get out of Belize anytime soon. I'm ready to go. I think we're all in the age group, that we're able to get our vaccines which, which helps a lot. And I'll get my second one next month. And but I also have friends in the age 40 to 50 category who are just drooling to start traveling and I don't like to flaunt that I've got my first shot. And and I am glad that we'll be vaccinated. But I'm also aware, Dan, you sent that email. Was it this morning yesterday talking about updating us on all the procedures and I'm trying to picture wearing a mask fogging up my glasses and trying to see through the viewfinder on my camera. This is going to work but it is going to take some modifications, but I'll take all the modifications necessary. I just want to get out there again. Yeah, and then you know what we'll be doing? And that's really good point. Hmm, you know, we're we're mandated now by the US Coast Guard, anytime you're not socially just to have a mask, but we're working on a lot of plans, we're going to bring on extra expedition staff so that we can try to keep more boats out. And therefore socially distance on the boats, particularly for when we know we have you know, those early morning times that tend to be really good for for birding and photography and that kind of thing. So, but yeah, I don't see the mask mandate departing for a while. And that'll be true with airlines as well. But yeah, good. Good. Points. Really good points. I also I feel really comfortable with Alaska Airlines. Lynn. You said you were concerned. I I snuck up to Alaska two times last summer anyway. And people on Alaska Airlines were so conscientious about keeping you couldn't get on the plane. without being handed a hand wipe, and they kept you separated. Anybody took off their mask that came around and told them to put it back on. I feel really good with Alaska Airlines. I don't know internationally yet how I would feel but it just seems like we're all focused on the same thing. Yeah, I have to back that up at first, I just flew down last night from Juneau. And it's, they're calling it really well. And a guy next to me, had his mask off beyond his meal time. And they just said, Sir, need to have that mask up. I mean, they did it an appropriate manner. But it is nice to see that. But the you know, what's really odd is Alaska Airlines, I think does a top job. And I don't know if you've seen their safety video. But it's just hilarious. And you haven't got to get on YouTube and watch it. It is a fun one. Yeah, it's it does grab your attention. So do a safety dance or something like that. I share share limbs, you know, where I found right now anywhere, the biggest challenges aren't necessarily their air plane itself, because I feel like Alaska is doing a great job. But it's just the nature of the airport. That is, you know, that's where I'm a lot more conservative, and I even double mask and this kind of thing when I'm going through the airport. But well, you know, this is a lot of good stuff you've all share, but maybe, maybe I'll share with you an update from UnCruise. And you guys, he will hear it first. You know, this is the whole COVID stuff is changing all the time, literally. And so it's been really interesting as we we've been looking at our COVID policy and, and in the letter that Holly referenced earlier, you know, I basically said, emphatically asking people to get because there are folks that don't believe in the vaccine, but we know to be safe, that we have to be able to vaccinate, and in some really good news I'll share with you on January 27, the federal government signed on to an International Maritime Organization accord, that allows us to get our crew members vaccinated as essential workers about the same level that grocery store clerks and which which means it's coming up very soon. So even a 27 year old crew member is going to be able to get vaccinated here soon. And that's really where, you know, there's the risk that we all take and travel, right, that as we get more people vaccinated, and of course, the crew is on the boat for a long period of time. So my responsibility is not only to you as guests, but I have to watch out for my crew members that are exposed potentially for quite a bit of time. So that is really good news. And, of course, we've seen the rollout go quite well. But I have to say, if you all were sitting here at UnCruise Central, you would be shocked at how busy it is. I mean, we have a lot of our staff are working remotely. We've gone from four full time employees when in September, October, November plus my fiance, Megan, who worked volunteer, my kids were volunteering my, my, my longtime engineer and boyfriend of my, my daughter, who's one of our captains volunteered with I mean, this was a family effort, right? Because we had to get through these this really tough time before stimulus was ignited and all this kind of thing. But I'm happy to say that that hump is over. And we've brought back a lot of our staff. So right now in the office, we have just under about 27 people that are on the phones and at home and here in the office. And last week, we brought a lot of our maritime staff back as they're getting ready to get going on the boats. And those of you who sailed on the Safari explorer, she's actually moving over today from Fisherman's terminal over to the shipyard for haulout on Monday. And these are the things that you know, talk about, you know, a rising tide lifting all ships. This is a big, big move for us as a company. And so but we're also reorganizing and so you you all love this because you know our crew, right? Well, what we're doing is, and this is maybe too much detail, but you know me and you love me and I love you and I'm just so happy to share this kind of information with you. We're taking it and we used to have like 35 people in our Marine Operations area and human resources. And what we're doing is we're taking our vessel leadership team, which is like the captain, the hotel manager, the expedition leader, the engineer, and now what we have onboard, it's a bit that business vessel Business Officer kind of like a Purser. And those five people, the majority of them are going to be full time full year employees where they used to be seasonal. And they're actually taking over the roles during the winter months of what our office folks used to do during the summer months. And you guys have all been long with us long enough, this was our pre 2014 business model. And we changed that, when we were thinking about other expansion and this kind of thing. So we're kind of going back to what worked. I like to always use the Michael J. Fox Back to the Future, right. So this is really exciting stuff. And our crew is they are so excited about it. Because you know, used to be a captain, if they weren't on a year round boat or an expedition leader, they worked roughly five to six months a year. And then because of the way medical stuff works, you know, we would, and we couldn't provide insurance for them, because there is a break in employment and, and then, you know, there is more turnover. So we're just so excited to move to this decentralized model with people that have been with us in many cases for over a decade. And a couple, my daughter and one of them. I think she's celebrating her 16 year with the company and she's she's only 34 gang. These are things that that really excite me and then I'll just share one other I just returned from Juneau you know, it was snowing. And when consolidating our office, I'm meeting with state officials and local officials about COVID approvals and how that plan is probably going to change again by mid to late March and, and all this kind of thing. But you know, the the thing i i love to share is that Alaska is always different. Oh, it's Alaska beats to its own drummer. And you know that Alaska has the highest vaccination rate in the United States, which means in the world. And so this little tiny place in planet earth, Alaska, small place, population, big place land, is is leading the world in not only vaccinations right now, but compliance. So in southeast Alaska, particularly, the compliance rate is very, very high. And and so isn't it. Nice to think that for all of you, since we've all been to Alaska, that this place we've all cherished is also leading the charge out of this mess, oh my gosh, it just cool. Just blows me away. And they just done a hell of a job on this. Not that it didn't come with the same problems we all have. But, you know, when I when I think how we're going to get out of this storm, how we're going to weather, all this, these are huge, important factors. It's giving me more confidence and the fact now go on and on here, you guys will have to eventually go shut it up, damn. But, you know, the other the other things that are that are just popping up is just the news. We we used to sit there for the last year and say, we have to just grab onto any piece of positive news and make it we have to live by it or we won't survive this emotionally. Because you know, going through all this is no ease the chore. And so we used to we'd get a little piece of news, like, hey, for people booked today. Wow, that was like October, or maybe September. But today, we're booking many more than that well over 100 a week, you know, from on cruises a business model we need. So that that's really, you know, wonderful, wonderful news. And of course, I can't help it also, you've all heard about the Canada cruise band ban on big ships and and I will say that's lit off our phones and because we're a US flag company, US built boats with the exception of well, even the Voyager was US built, but on US crude with our US flag vessels and such, we, you know, we're able to operate with with absolute freedom while the larger ships cannot. So, you know, I just want to say it's, it's a rising tide, and the news is getting better. I'll try not to get emotional here. Those of you who know me well, which is all over you know, I can I can get a little teary eyed now and then when I'm sharing about Alaska, but these are deep DGD days and I'm just so happy that all of you have come on today shared your stories and and shared the love for UnCruise it means a lot to me as a human being and an owner Okay, I made myself go into wet eyes. Sorry but not damn this is doing you're also looking a little pale. So Maryland I are heading to Palm Desert Tuesday, we just shipped our car today. So if you want to come down and have your Rocio medium rare she come back to law school of color, be sure to come on down, we'd love to have you as long as we can have a little bit of the red fruit in our drink. I always in my house always, always, you know, you bet. That's what Chuck comes with by a couple of cases. So good. Any last comments anybody has before we close out our time together today? Hey, Dan, I would like to personally thank you, because this company is a reflection of you. And it's because you care. And you hire people who care that we all have such fantastic adventures. Thank you. Thank you here. Thanks, Lynn. Yeah, Dan, you make dreams come true. You make dreams come true for a lot of us. And thank you very much. It's good to get back. Good to get back in the saddle again. Well, you always reply, I email you and you always reply. And so you know, that's pretty amazing when you can email the CEO of a company and get him to give you a response to your questions. And I appreciate that. Well, y'all got my email, so feel free to use it. And maybe I'll just close with one last comment. You know, and I appreciate your wonderful comments about me in the company. But I when I was growing up, I grew up in a home that was divided. One was very religious, and one was agnostic. And but they both you know, had great hope for their son in my beside that was very religious with my mother. And sometime at about 13 She had a visit vision that I was going to be in a position Sunday. Talking about mom here, oh boy, I got about mom here. That I'd be in a position someday to affect people's lives. And that it would be for the betterment of everyone involved. And, and she was quite sure I was going to be a preacher. And but you know what, that didn't work out. I actually, I actually used to when I was in my late teens, early 20s. I I preached on the streets of Seattle thinking that was what my destiny was. And I'm really glad that that did you end up that way. But I'm happy to say that her vision happened. And that we're working together all of us to make life happier, to affect the environments we're in. And to just send a message that you know, we have a there's reason to have hope. There's good reason to move forward. And is that not the best message any of us can have? shrews? Thank you, Dan. Somebody hold me accountable to uh, in February of 26. We need to all get together and share a glass and play this recording. We will we're gonna we're gonna do it bullies. Hey, Lana, I think that answers your question. All right, everybody. Bye, bye. Well, thank you so much for attending our podcast today. You know, as an owner of a company who started 26 years ago, I couldn't help but reflect on one of our past guests on Morford and Maryland, just about how they were on 27 I guess we 25 years ago, when they actually sailed with us for the first time. And that brings back a lot of great memories. So things that I had completely forgotten about. And I think that's one of the joys of being a small business owner, like myself, like UnCruise Adventures, is living those memories and just relishing in them. And I can't help but reflect on just the camaraderie i I was just overwhelmed with a thought of goodness. And maybe it's because of all the challenges that have gone on during the pandemic. Maybe it's because I'm very much living in the memory of what UnCruise has been to these folks. But also, I just think there's just a human bond that I just love today with these people. So for UnCruise Adventures, and for me, Dan, and our entire crew. Thanks for watching today, and we look forward to another great time here in the near future. Thanks for listening to no ordinary adventure sharing locally harvested stories about adventure Be sure to subscribe, leave a review tell a friend and help spread the word we are a community of nature lovers. intrepid travelers and outdoor adventurers mostly from the comfort of a small boat and we want to spread our love of this fascinating planet that's it for this episode now get inside