5 Things to Expect on a Historical Theme Cruise

December 9, 2013 | By | No Comments

Step aboard the S.S. Legacy, Un-Cruise Adventures’ one-of-a-kind heritage-style ship, and prepare to enter a time warp. Added to the fleet in August, the 88-passenger vessel, previously named Spirit of ’98, focuses on historic programs onboard and in ports, following in the footsteps of early explorers, prospectors and pioneers along the Columbia and Snake rivers and in Alaska. The crew dress in period costumes – and encourages cruisers to play along too.
Sound too corny for you? With Legacy, Un-Cruise is targeting the less sporty, more inquisitive cruiser. If the shoe fits, why not wear it showboating? Here’s what to expect if you go:
All In.  Most cruises come with a cast of fascinating characters. Usually it’s the passengers. On this trip, it’s the crew. Even deck hands get in on the act, dressing as old-fashioned showboat workers.
Then there are the stars, the entertainment staff dressed as real people from the late-1800s. On my Columbia River cruise out of Portland, Oregon, entrepreneur Sam Hill roamed the decks in a felt hat, dark suit and tie. Sugar heiress and art patron Alma Spreckels dressed for success in flowing gowns. Dress code for the rest of us? What dress code? It’s totally casual.

Safari Legacy crew/Photo courtesy of Eric Lindberg
Talking Heads. Not only do the onboard actors look the part, they speak it. They take this role-playing seriously, setting the stage for the ports that follow. The major players actually stay in character when you talk with them, unlike the silent Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck of Disney fame, for daytime lectures about historic events and while starring in after-dinner shows. After a day or two, I started thinking of the actors as real folks from the past and would have been startled to see them wearing jeans and T-shirts.
Of course, it helps that Legacy looks its part. The ship is a recreated coastal steamer that whisks you back to the days when riverboats looked like fancy, white-frosted wedding cakes.
Play Dress Up. You, too, can jump on the riverboat bandwagon. Drop by the Pesky Barnacle Saloon where you’ll find a trunk packed with hats and other good-old-days gear. Help yourself to a shot of whiskey or a mason jar of frosty tap beer—all drinks are included—and settle down to a not-so-serious game of poker. Passengers on my cruise readily joined in crew-organized card games, but otherwise left the fancy dress to the occasional photo op or late night antics.
Mind your Manners. When was the last time you hugged your captain? Bet she wasn’t wearing a floor-length 1800s dress and an enormous velvet hat. The old-fashioned mannerisms continue when you go ashore. In The Dalles, Oregon, folks from the visitors’ bureau dress as turn-of-the-century floozies, gunslingers and the sheriff. Sorry gals, only the floozies give kisses.
Beyond Yesteryear. Legacy isn’t always about the past. On the Pacific Northwest rivers, you’ll fast forward to trendy Washington wineries in Walla Walla, zoom 50 miles up the Snake River on a wild jet boat ride and lock through eight state-of-the-art dams. In Alaska, nature’s cast of characters (whales, bears, eagles, otters) supplies hours of entertainment, right along with Gold Rush prospectors (your crew).
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