Columbia River Via Un-Cruise Adventures’ SS LEGACY, Part One

The 88-guest S.S. LEGACY is the newest addition to rapidly expanding Seattle-based Un-Cruise, formerly known as American Safari Cruises and Inner Sea Discoveries. Fresh from a stem-to-stern refit, the ship is kicking off the company’s Heritage program in tandem with U-C’s well-established Active and Luxury ventures.

Un-Cruise Adventures

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All photos by and copyright Peter Knego 2013 unless otherwise noted.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

I began this latest trek in Portland, Oregon, a mere 800 miles but a world apart from my semi-desert environs near Los Angeles.

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Oregon Street Scene:  Four for Jesus.

After an overnight at the Marriott Downtown Waterfront Hotel, I had a day to wander through parks with gushing fountains, past bustling cafes and even drop in at the 66,000-square-foot Powell’s Bookshop.

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It was such a magnificently clear Saturday afternoon that Fuji-like Mt. Hood was clearly visible, despite being some 50 miles east.

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MV S.S. LEGACY at Portland, Oregon.

At 4:00 PM, I walked down to the riverfront where Seattle-based Un-Cruises’ dapper little S.S. LEGACY awaited.  Despite her name, she is not an actual steamship but rather an elegantly designed and built diesel-powered replica of an early 20th Century steamer. Built in 1984 as the PILGRIM BELLE for Coastwise Cruise Lines, the ship was also known as COLONIAL EXPLORER and VICTORIAN EMPRESS before joining now-defunct Cruise West’s fleet in 1996 as the SPIRIT OF ’98. When Cruise West foundered in 2010, she was laid up at Seattle until purchased, refitted and brought back into service for Un-Cruise as the S.S. LEGACY. The 88-guest, 1,472-gt vessel boasts a vertical prow, layer cake superstructure and stovepipe funnel.

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S.S. LEGACY totally random (hammered tin) ceiling shot.

Inside, she sports some vintage decorative elements but the emphasis is on spaciousness and comfort versus over-the-top ersatz Victoriana.

Throughout the next week, from Lewiston to Astoria, our eye-catching vessel  would be the object of much ogling and scrutiny in the Columbia and Snake River towns she visited.

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Embarkation time with Captain Jill Russell and the Heritage Team greeting guests.

The LEGACY has a three-person Heritage team that would provide in depth presentations about the river throughout the cruise, sometimes taking on the roles of colorful characters, including road-building magnate Sam Hill and sugar heiress Alma Spreckles.

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Cabin 308, facing starboard.
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Cabin 308, facing port.

The LEGACY has six stateroom categories, ranging from a palatial Owner’s Suite to cozy Master Staterooms. I would be occupying Commander Stateroom 308 on port Deck 3. Measuring approximately 150-square-feet, it had twin beds, a writing desk, a wardrobe, TV with DVD player (with access to a DVD library) and plenty of under-bed storage space. An especially nice touch was the brass framed window that opened up to the promenade.

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Cabin 308 WC.

The bathroom had a shower, sink and toilet as well as a hairdryer and plush bathrobes.

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Cabin 308 amenities.

In lieu of small bottles, Un-Cruise provides dispensers with shampoo, gel, soap and conditioner.

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Jason pours proseco for all.

Heritage adventures are all-inclusive, with taxes, excursions, meals and drinks included in the fare. Quality wines, beers and other liquors flow freely, beginning with a “welcome aboard” proseco, served up in the Grand Salon by knowing bartender Jason.

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Grand Lounge, facing forward.

Located on forward Deck 2, the Grand Lounge is divided into fore and aft sections and seats up to 70 guests. It has access to the open bow, features large brass-framed windows, a self-service coffee and tea area, AV equipment for presentations, a boutique and the ship’s largest bar.

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Port Deck Three promenade, facing aft.

The LEGACY has plenty of wide open decks, finite sheltered promenades on Deck 2 and a wonderful wraparound promenade on Deck 3.

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Bell over Willamette.

Shortly after boat drill and an introductory presentation about the week ahead, our fine little ship cast her lines and began her journey along Portland’s Willamette waterfront towards the Columbia River.

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Fish and pasta entrée.

Un-Cruise cuisine is made with choice, locally sourced ingredients.  Dinners are simple but delicious, beginning with a salad or soup, followed by an entrée (a meat, fish or vegetarian choice) and dessert. There is a daily white and red wine selection but alternate wines, beers and other drinks are always available, as well.

After dinner, I visited with friends in the lounge, took a stroll under the stars and then called it a night. An adventure-filled morning lay ahead…

End of Part One

Much More To Come…

Special thanks: Martin Cox, Sarah Scoltock

Peter Knego

Peter Knego

Having documented over 400 passenger ships and taken more than 200 cruises, MaritimeMatters’ co-editor Peter Knego is a leading freelance cruise writer, a respected ocean liner historian and frequent maritime lecturer both on land and at sea.  With his work regularly featured in cruise industry trades and consumer publications.  Knego also runs the website which offers MidCentury cruise ship furniture, artwork and fittings rescued from the shipbreaking yards of Alang, India.  He has produced several videos on the subject, including his latest, The Sands Of Alang and the best-selling On The Road To Alang."
Peter Knego

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