UnCruise Adventures Navigated the Pandemic’s Stormy Seas to Turn a Profit
In a time when inflation is on the rise and the future of the US economy is uncertain, a recovery story of a small US-owned business is one that should be celebrated and emulated. Our fast-paced world doesn’t always provide allowances for travel and leisure but when a brand’s survival depends on travel, they take action. That’s what happened when a founder faced losing his small ship adventure company.
Dan Blanchard, the heart and soul, and CEO behind UnCruise Adventures, was not willing to give up on his life's work. In the face of one of the greatest challenges our global economy had seen, Blanchard rallied and took bold action to save his beloved company.
Dan Blanchard, Owner & CEO of UnCruise Adventures (and dog
Keku) in Seattle, WA, near the companies satellite office.
As the world continues to recover from the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses have been left struggling to keep their doors open. The travel and leisure industries have been hit particularly hard, with cruise lines especially facing massive losses and high debt loads for the past three years.
However, amidst the challenge of these large behemoths we often hear about, one small business has managed to not only weather the storm but to come out on top. UnCruise Adventures, a privately held, US-owned and operated cruise company, has managed to not only survive but thrive in the wake of the pandemic.
The company's focus on market trends and consumer preferences, cost-cutting measures, investment in technology and sustainability, and commitment to a unique guest experience, are lessons that other businesses can learn from. Under the leadership of CEO Captain Dan Blanchard, UnCruise was able to take immediate action when the pandemic hit. In March 2020, the company made the hard decision to lay off staff and reduce pay to save millions in expenses. They also moved seven of their ships to freshwater storage in Seattle, which lowered the cost of keeping the ships in certification.
But perhaps most impressively, UnCruise was able to restart cruising in April 2021, months before the rest of the industry, as Dan Blanchard, Owner & CEO of UnCruise Adventures (and dog Keku) in Seattle, WA, near the companies satellite office. the first fully vaccinated crew and the first cruise line worldwide to return to sailing. This was a bold move, but one that paid off for the company as it returned to profitability in both 2021 and 2022. Meanwhile, the large publicly traded cruise lines are still struggling to turn a profit after three years of losses.
This is a testament to the agility and resilience of small private businesses like UnCruise, who can respond quickly to changes in the market and adapt their strategies accordingly. Captain Blanchard also recognized the importance of collaboration within the industry, and formed the US Flagged Small Ship Coalition, a coalition of six small ship competitors, to help ensure they would not be left out of COVID stimulus funding.
This demonstrates the power of cooperation and the ability of small businesses to come together to overcome challenges and secure their place in the market. This ultimately assisted in receiving temporary but crucial economic relief with stimulus funding. He became a spokesperson for the industry forming alliances and a voice among government officials, municipalities, and mayoral representatives to make sure small businesses were heard.
In a recent statement, Blanchard said, "The success of UnCruise Adventures is a testament to our determination and commitment to not just surviving but creating something of beauty in the face of adversity. Our quick and decisive action during the pandemic, combined with our focus on data analytics, strategic planning, marketing, technology and sales, allowed us to stay ahead of the competition and return to profitability. This is a success story for small private businesses everywhere." And the success of UnCruise is not just good news for small businesses, but for the US economy as a whole.
Dan Blanchard, UnCruise Adventures CEO with Colleen McDaniel Editor of Cruise Critic,
post cruise industry recovery interview
The company operates with just 54 administrative staff members, keeping jobs local and providing a much-needed boost to the economy. "We believe in the power of small private businesses to drive change and create positive, profitable outcomes," Blanchard said. "Our success and a return to profitability prove that with determination, and adaptability, you don’t have to give up your dream." In a time of turmoil and uncertainty, the success of UnCruise Adventures is a beacon of hope for small businesses everywhere.
There is something in holding tight to our dreams and not losing sight of what we want to achieve, even when the waters are choppy and the winds are against us. "I remember my first moments of inspiration. Embarking on a world cruise with my family aboard a small sailboat was a moment that will forever be etched in my memory," reflects Blanchard. "The limitless vistas, the sense of liberation, the stunning ports of call, the diverse cultures and peoples, and the memories shared and created all blended together to create an epic adventure that kindled my spirit. I was driven to share this experience with others and make small ship cruising accessible to all, like a floating bed and breakfast. And thus, UnCruise was born - a manifestation of my dream, which all started from that small sailboat I still call home in Seattle today."
In a world where the big players often dominate the headlines and small businesses are often overlooked, UnCruise Adventures shows what can be achieved with the right combination of work and a never-say-die spirit.
Whether you're a small business owner or simply someone who appreciates the story of the little guy, UnCruise Adventures is worth paying attention to, and a business worth supporting. True experiential travel is returning, and insightful travelers are paying attention to brands that create change and inspire them, like this one.
Small ships focus on more personalized and unique experiences, have a higher crew-to-passenger ratio, have niche itineraries, small groups, and customized onboard experiences. Additionally, their small footprint has become increasingly important to many travelers.
The story of UnCruise Adventures and its CEO, Captain Dan Blanchard, serves as a powerful reminder that small businesses can still succeed and thrive in the face of adversity. Sometimes being small really does make a big difference.