Columbia River Cruise Review: Sailing Aboard Un-Cruise Adventures’ Intimate s.s. Legacy by Jeffrey Ward, The Savvy Navigator
24/10/2014 1 Comment
by Jeffrey Ward, from Luxury Cruise News
With the growth of European river cruising, and its appeal to North American travellers, I’ve often wondered why there are not more river cruising vessels and destinations in the USA. I recently had the opportunity to spend a week onboard Un-Cruise Adventures’ s.s. Legacy sailing round trip out of Portland, Oregon, eastbound along the Columbia and Snake Rivers to the Idaho border. This five-star trip is an unparalleled experience here in the States, and I highly recommend the 7-day sailing for all cruise lovers.
The 88-passenger s.s. Legacy was built approximately 30 years ago as the Pilgrim Belle, operating as a coastal steamer in New England. She later traded on the St Lawrence River as the Victorian Empress and on the West Coast and Alaska as the Spirit of ’98. The design of the ship is based on naval architecture from the turn of the last century, but is equipped with today’s modern conveniences. The vessel was brought into the Un-Cruise Adventures fleet in 2013, after a complete refurbishment.
Un-Cruise originally deployed the ship in Alaska, but has decided to base her permanently in Portland for the April – November 2015 season, offering the “Legacy of Discovery” and “Ameritage – Four Rivers of Wine and History” themed cruises.
One great appeal of a river cruise on the s.s. Legacy is that everything is included in the fare – meals, accommodation, drinks, activities, a free massage, and airport or hotel transfers. The 44 cabins onboard are set up in either a twin bed or queen configuration. The accommodations are extremely comfortable, with en-suite baths and televisions (used for watching DVDs from the ship’s library) and twice-daily maid service. Another aspect of the ship that very much appealed to me was the open bridge policy. I spent quite a bit of time in the wheelhouse with Captain Dano Quinn and his team, which was mesmerizing – especially during sunrise and sunset.
For The Savvy Navigator, however, the highlight of the cruise was the impressive quality of the food and wine. Three meals are served per day, along with cocktail hour (daily at 5:30 p.m.), and early riser breakfast from 6 to 8 a.m. (where the coffee cake was the best I’ve ever consumed). The variety and quality of the food was excellent, and paired nicely with local beers and wines from the Pacific Northwest. In addition to the open-seating dining room, there’s a large, comfortable lounge on an upper deck above the bow, which is always stocked with snacks, libations, and coffee. (A special shout-out goes to the nocturnal pastry chef, whose bread, rolls, pastries, desserts, and other baked goods turned this non-dessert eater into a ravenous sugar glutton.)
The historical interpretation team offers authentic and entertaining insights into the region’s history.
Another highlight of the onboard experience is the historical interpretation team, who function as the guides for the cruise. Led by historian Ryan Downs, the team did an excellent job of bringing history to life, in an authentic and surprisingly entertaining way.
Older passengers are welcome onboard this cruise (and made up the majority of travellers on my sailing), as the excursions are not particularly active or physically challenging. And the sailing’s appeal isn’t limited to any type of cruiser – I’ve always preferred cruising aboard large ships, and now I’m a small ship convert.
The bottom line is that I loved this cruise. It was comfortable and interesting, led me to gain a few pounds, and exposed me to a completely new part of the world.