Un-Cruise Adventures added S.S. Legacy to its fleet with the intention of offering an expedition cruising experience unlike any other: one that highlights the wildlife, beauty, history and culture of a particular region without putting its passengers' agility to the test. This style of cruising -- comparable to the paddlewheel-style of cruising that flourishes on U.S. rivers -- is perfect for those looking for an intimate, low-activity adventure, heavy on history and enrichment.
Since its debut, S.S. Legacy has succeeded in offering just that. The extended downtime can be either an upside or downside, depending on your taste. There is no casino, massive lido deck with swimming pool or round-the-clock buffet. On sea days, passengers create their own entertainment, which isn't hard to do, considering the ship's capacity. Passengers quickly get close to one another, and a cruise can start to feel like a family reunion.
Meals are all open seating, which also makes for closer acquaintances or a way to easily carry conversations from the lounge to the dining room. Not having to choose an assigned seating time or feel obligated to sit with the same tablemates is definitely a highlight on this ship -- as is the food, which almost always includes a freshly caught regional option (even at cocktail hour) and something to cater to dieters.
The service is just as pleasing. Passengers aren't the only ones bonding by the end of the cruise; crewmembers also exchange emails and vow to keep in touch.
On S.S. Legacy, you're essentially trading all the entertainment options of a bigger ship for a smaller, more intimate experience. You don't need to be outgoing to enjoy yourself during down time, but if you're not inclined to being social, bring a good book or two. Chatty or not, evenings can be a downer as far as staying entertained; most passengers go straight to their cabins after dinner. (If you find yourself alone at the bar, consider heading to the upper deck for a private hot tub session.)
Un-Cruise Adventures purchased the 88-passenger ship, formerly named Spirit of '98, from defunct Cruise West and transformed it into an expedition ship reminiscent of a turn-of-the-century coastal steamer. The ship debuted with its new moniker in August 2013.
S.S. Legacy looks and feels more like an old Victorian vessel than what one might envision from a standard expedition ship. During its extensive makeover, the ship was given a new life while preserving details like the original layout of the dining room. There's a quaint, old-timey feel throughout; you'll see it in details such as the Western decor of the Pesky Ballroom saloon. Crewmembers frequently dress in historic clothing, encouraging passengers to play dress up, too. Crew don Gold Rush-era costumes, for example, on Alaska itineraries.
S.S. Legacy has sailed Alaska itineraries, but it primarily sails on the Columbia and Snake rivers in the Pacific Northwest.
Cruises include all food, alcoholic beverages, excursions and enrichment, plus one massage.
Casual, causal, casual. And layers are key, because of the ship's presence in the Northwest, where rain and cool temperatures are common. The atmosphere onboard is relaxed; passengers typically head to dinner in something similar to what they wore on their excursions. You'll see a lot of long pants, rain jackets, hiking boots (great for walking on wet decks) and hats.
There are no formal nights; in fact, passengers are encouraged to dress down at times. There is a captain's dinner at the end of every cruise in which passengers have the option to break out the one nice sweater they packed, but are not required to do so.