6 UnCruise S.S. Legacy Group and Theme Cruise Reviews

Yes, you could certainly taste (and possibly even drink) the 83 wines served up on the week-long “Rivers of Wine” cruise at the boutique wineries and on board the replica gold rush steamboat S. S. Legacy. But you could also enjoy ... Read More
Yes, you could certainly taste (and possibly even drink) the 83 wines served up on the week-long “Rivers of Wine” cruise at the boutique wineries and on board the replica gold rush steamboat S. S. Legacy. But you could also enjoy the widely varying scenery along the Willamette, Columbia and Snake Rivers as you cruised east from Portland (Oregon), as well as experience the historical and other highlights along the way, including: + A replica of Britain’s ancient Stonehenge overlooking the Columbia River. + Furniture from the Queen of Romania. + The route followed by American explorers Lewis and Clark seeking the Pacific Ocean. + “Meeting” Sam Hill, who built the Peace Arch on the Canada-U.S. border at Blaine, Washington. This wine-themed cruise featured both resident and visiting wine experts and also knowledgeable speakers/tour leaders – all of whom gave afternoon and evening talks as well as providing information both on and off the buses during the daily excursions. The boat (44 cabins, renovated in 2013) offered non-stop high quality food (can’t decide which of the three main courses to have? Ask for smaller portions of two or even all three) and open bar from morning to night – plus, if you could find the time, loaner DVDs and books. While of course the trip highlights were the visits to the wineries, I thoroughly enjoyed the variety of non-wine sights and sites. On the Saturday we cast off from downtown Portland’s Tom McCall Waterfront Park and sailed a short distance on the Willamette River before turning upstream into the mighty Columbia River, which separates Oregon and Washington states. Sunday brought us to the Multnomah Falls with spray cascading straight down to break on lower level stone outcrops. It was definitely worth climbing the easy footpath to the bridge about halfway up the falls. And so to our first winery: Springhouse Cellars, housed in the ruins of a former turn-of-the-19th-20th-century fruit cannery and distillery. Before it got too hot, I enjoyed the tastings held outside, like they were at Springhouse. Next stop: Mt. Hood Winery, with the winery’s 11,250ft./3,429m volcanic namesake dramatically completing the view in the distance over the vineyards. We returned to the ship and my complimentary massage by Mari with her soothing firm but gentle hands. I was so relaxed I slept back in my cabin for an hour – and awoke to an almost surreal experience when I looked outside: giant brilliantly coloured butterflies skimming across the whitecaps…which turned out to be windsurfers and kitesurfers darting back and forth on and above the wind-whipped waves of the Columbia River Gorge, in front of and behind the ship, with the snow-covered Mt. Hood in the background. Magical, wonderful…. I noticed how quickly the vegetation was changing, from the green firs and other trees to the yellow grassy hillsides. “For every mile east/upriver the countryside loses one inch of rain a year,” freshwater conservationist David told us, as we watched the greenery shrink to a thin line along the riverbank where roots could reach water. This was summer; winter and spring would turn all the landscape green again. That evening, heritage leader Lilly took us along with Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark and their Corps of Discovery as they descended the Columbia River in the fall of 1805 in their quest for a continental water route to the west coast, and then voyaged back upstream the following year. With pictures and quotes from the Lewis and Clark expedition, she brought to life the encounters with Indian tribes, as well as with the rocks and rapids and other natural wilderness features much like the ones we saw on our cruise and shore adventures. The next day we visited wineries Basel and Dunham in Walla Walla, then took a walk around town including an excellent French pastry place. “No cellphone reception: enjoy the peace and quiet!” we were informed as we neared Palouse Falls State Park. And a sign warned us: “Travel beyond this point is on unmarked, potentially hazardous trails. Users assume all risks. Rescue costs will be at the expense of the injured party.” Fortunately nobody was injured. And on our return to the boat, several people took the plunge into the Snake River to cool off. Wednesday and we were heading back downriver, accruing more wine tastes and knowledge at the Walter Clore Wine & Culinary Center and Red Mountain’s Terra Blanca with a very nice $125 “1010 Cabernet Sauvignon.” Then, there it was: Stonehenge, an exact replica of the 14th century original in the English countryside, built on a hill in Washington State overlooking the Columbia River by Quaker pacifist Sam Hill to honour the military dead of the First World War. Hill also designed and built the Peace Arch in Peace Arch Park at the Washington-British Columbia border to celebrate a century of peace between Canada and the U.S. And he developed experimental paved roads on his own land around the Maryhill townsite, where both the winery and museum of art with that name are located. The museum featured an eclectic mix of Rodin sculptures, furniture from Hill’s personal friend Queen Marie of Romania, native Indian art and postwar French fashion miniature “stages” when there wasn’t enough material to clothe regular models. Next stop, The Dalles, known for producing railway ties and maraschino cherries, and for its 40 brothels during its Wild West days. Friday found us in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, where it must have been difficult for the organizers to decide which two of the more than 250 wineries we should visit. They settled on Archer Vineyards and then the very elegant Domaine Serene known both for its Wine Spectator Magazine’s “World’s #3 Wine of 2013” and also for reversing the trend of Burgundy vintners buying Oregon vineyards by becoming the first Oregon winery to buy a French vineyard: Château de la Crée, a Burgundy wine estate in the Côte d’Or. Back on board S. S. Legacy we wrapped up the final daily 5pm wine tasting/learning session by enjoying a 2011 Chateauneuf-du-Pape which would probably cost around USD$300 a bottle in a restaurant. The following morning we disembarked in Portland – realizing how much more there can be to a wine cruise than just the wine. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
We chose this cruise because it didn't go onto the open ocean, and we wanted the river experience. Overall impression: Nice, but you have to be a real Lewis & Clark fan to get the most out out of this cruise, and you need to be ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it didn't go onto the open ocean, and we wanted the river experience. Overall impression: Nice, but you have to be a real Lewis & Clark fan to get the most out out of this cruise, and you need to be able to handle the heat during summer. We cruised from Portland, OR to Clarkton, then back, in July. I should have done my geographical homework before we left. I thought "Columbia Gorge!! Oregon rainforest! Nice and cool!" I couldn't have been more wrong. The Columbia Gorge part was about a day. The remaining 5 days were absolute desert with not much to see. Hot hot hot. I could have dealt with that, IF: 1. There had been a pool to dip into occasionally, but no. 2. There had been more locations to sit outside under shade. (Only three tables and 6 chairs in the shade for 66 people.) As it was, if you weren't interested in the endless lectures on Lewis & Clark, there was nothing to do and no place to even go and read a book except your bed or the lounge that was freezing all the time. Know before you go: no wi-fi available and no cell signal most of the time. Embarkation: We were shuttled from the airport to a holding area called the Glasshouse. We could store our bags there, snacks provided, and walk around the city until we could board the ship. For our family, that meant we had to hang out there for about 4 hours. I wish I'd known to take a later flight so we could have avoided the long wait. Website: Not enough information; what there was was not easy to find; and no photos of the cabins make you wonder if they're worth being photographed (even though mine was great). The plus side: #1- The food was spectacular! Limited (3) options, usually. The waitstaff wasn't very knowledgeable about how things were prepared, but the food made up for it. #2 - The whole staff was exceedingly attentive and went WAY out of their way to do anything for us. They were top shelf all the way. On the bridge, the first mate patiently answered every question we could think of about how the ship worked, which he must answer all day, everyday, but you'd never know it. #3 - Our room was wonderful (#302), the bed was excellent (and I'm very critical of mattresses). The bathroom was tiny, of course, but the shower had plenty of hot water. #4 - The buses used for the shore excursions were, hands down, the best buses I've ever traveled on. Cool, comfortable, and the sound system was excellent - no problem hearing even from the back. The only suggestions I would make to the ship are these: #1 - Hang light sheer curtains in that room, because although the view is gorgeous, being right out on the front of the ship, people stood at the railing right in front of our windows, and tend to look in frequently. One guy out there even started a conversation with me as I sat on my bed. Every time you want to change clothes or take a nap you have to close the blackout curtains which plunges your cabin into total darkness. Or you have to take everything into the tiny bathroom. That was a pain. #2 - Create more shade on the 4th deck so we can use it! #3 - Offer something other than Lewis & Clark morning, noon, and night. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
We were looking for something a little different and kind of stumbled across Uncruise. Very happy we did. The 7 day wine cruise out of Portland, OR up the Columbia and Snake Rivers was more and better than expected. There were only 51 ... Read More
We were looking for something a little different and kind of stumbled across Uncruise. Very happy we did. The 7 day wine cruise out of Portland, OR up the Columbia and Snake Rivers was more and better than expected. There were only 51 passengers of a possible 88. Certainly not crowded and the missing 37 missed out. Quaint cabins with enough room because you aren't in them anyway. The beds were comfortable, bathroom roomy with a good shower. Storage OK not great. Open bar 24 hours a day, staffed for 12 of them. Charley is a great bartender and quite cute. A well stocked bar for spirits and a variety of wines. Nice hor de vours at 5 along with a wine talk by our 2 wine experts. We toured 2 wineries each day as well as a couple of great water falls. Quite pleasant cruising the river with the ever changing scenery. Food was good, not great. We didn't expect a 5 star dining experience anyway. Getting on board and off was handled quite well. The crew really assists when needed and helps without being asked. A couple of folks needed assistance and got it rapidly. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
An absolutely fabulous experience- cruising on the Columbia River! The crew and staff were the friendliest, most enthusiastic and most competent we've ever experienced bar none. We never lacked for a thing- the chef was more than ... Read More
An absolutely fabulous experience- cruising on the Columbia River! The crew and staff were the friendliest, most enthusiastic and most competent we've ever experienced bar none. We never lacked for a thing- the chef was more than happy to accommodate any request- many passengers opted to order items that weren't on the menus and were served accordingly. The onboard entertainment was well suited to the cruise- highlighting local historians and lecturers. The shore excursions were both informative and well paced. This is advertised as an all inclusive vacation. Keep in mind this is NOT, and hopefully never will be, an average small ship cruise experience. There were 42 passengers on the SS Legacy which can accommodate 88 passengers. A 1/2 hour massage was also included in the program. The bar was open 24/7 and manned for 12 of those 24 hours. The only thing not included in the fare was the gratuities for the crew. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
We had wanted to take a Columbia River cruise for some time and in May 2015 we finally did. We picked Un-Cruise Adventures and the S. S. Legacy. Background: S.S. Legacy is “a replica coastal steamer” built in 1983. Capacity is ... Read More
We had wanted to take a Columbia River cruise for some time and in May 2015 we finally did. We picked Un-Cruise Adventures and the S. S. Legacy. Background: S.S. Legacy is “a replica coastal steamer” built in 1983. Capacity is only 88 and we had 80+ on our sailing. Except for this particular ship, the rest of Un-Cruise focus is on adventure cruises. Living history, specifically Lewis & Clark was the theme of the S.S. Legacy. PROS: The Itinerary was truly magnificent and made the trip for us. We took the Columbia River cruise just 7 days after finishing a 9 day Alaska cruise on the NCL Jewel and so we had an excellent point of reference on wonderful scenery and itineraries. The Columbia River Gorge is beautiful and we recommend it to all as an itinerary. The ship was an excellent platform to sit and watch the scenery go by. The cruise was all-inclusive, so that was nice. Alcohol was included and available 24/7 (some self serve), which was a selling point to some of our fellow cruisers! Excursions were included as well. So there was not much need, and limited opportunity except ashore to spend additional dollars. The on-board policy allowed complete access to the bridge. You can enter the bridge, observe the operations and even ask questions. This was especially nice during the locking operations (8 sets of locks in each direction). Meals were tasty but simple, with typically three options for lunch and dinner. Requests for anything not on the menu were problematical at times. CONS: Embarkation! We were picked up at Portland airport and comfortably transported to downtown Portland. Our luggage was unloaded and pastries and coffee were available. There were no rest rooms in the “hospitality area” we waited in! Part of the group met in a hotel lobby a couple blocks away. We were encouraged and expected to explore downtown Portland. This is an OK concept except it didn’t take into account that many in the group had been traveling all day. We didn’t leave the hospitality area until about 5 PM for the ship. That was a long time to subsist on pastries etc. as we arrived around 12:30 PM and the first meal was aboard the ship at 7:00 PM. Cabins! Ours was like most, fixed twin box beds, comfortable, but also very rustic. We have cruised around 50 times and this holds the record as the smallest bathroom yet encountered. There were no keys for the cabins provided, (“never been a problem”), no safes, and no phones. The TV programming was ship related only. Service was just okay. The young US staff were earnest, but not that efficient. Service got better towards the end of the cruise, but was never up to standards for a US hotel/restaurant and definitely not up to current service levels on a Europe river or ocean cruise. The most glaring deficiency was that all week no activity ever started on time. Julie the cruise director would announce that a presentation or excursion would start at a given time, and actual start or departure time was always up to 30-45 minutes late. She never made a noticeable effort to move events or passengers along. In Clarkston Idaho, the jet boat tours up the Snake River to Hells Canyon left almost an hour late. The jet boat operator was bound by contract to get the group back to the ship by a specified time. To accommodate the late start we turned around early and never entered Hells Canyon proper. It was very disappointing to miss one of the published highlights of the cruise for an avoidable reason. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
This Historic Cruise was made memorable by the expertise and enthusiasm of the historians/actors/guides. The ship, SS Legacy was small with about 80 passengers which led to instant camraderie with ones fellow passengers and the great crew. ... Read More
This Historic Cruise was made memorable by the expertise and enthusiasm of the historians/actors/guides. The ship, SS Legacy was small with about 80 passengers which led to instant camraderie with ones fellow passengers and the great crew. The food and drinks were outstaning and all included. Each day's shore excusions on various spots on the Columbia and Snake Rivers were very interesting/informative/and plain enjoyable. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
S.S. Legacy Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.5 4.0
Dining 4.0 4.5
Entertainment 3.0 4.3
Public Rooms 4.0 4.5
Fitness Recreation 3.0 3.9
Family 3.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 5.0 4.6
Enrichment 4.5 4.7
Service 4.5 4.8
Value For Money 4.5 4.4
Rates 4.0 4.0

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