Story by Dawn Woolcott

Two of our staff recently had the opportunity to experience the new Ocean Victory for a sneak peak before it took on its first passengers on an inaugural voyage to Alaska. The Ocean Victory will be cruising the San Juan Islands and Alaskan coastline during the warmer months, then down to Costa Rica and San Diego during colder months. As we are located here in the Northwest, we are especially excited to see this beautiful and unique new ship joining the cruises available in our area.  Part of American Queen Voyages, the Ocean Victory will be an excellent addition to their fleet of ships.

Elegance and Excitement

Combining an elegant interior with an exciting environmental itinerary, this cruise ship is unlike others. The ship’s focus is on the environment. With a unique X bow hull design that allows the ship to head into icy waters safely with minimal acoustic interference for marine life, and a comfortable ride for those aboard, this ship works hard to be as environmentally friendly as possible.  The focus is on the environment – seeing and experiencing the  world around you – not just passing through with a cocktail in hand. Of course, you are free to enjoy a cocktail from any one of the three bars on board while you take advantage of the microscopes, telescopes, and lectures held while you are there.

Ocean Victory window seat
Conversations by the ocean view
Ocean Victory observation lounge bar
The Observation Lounge bar
Ocean Victory Lounge Area
One of two main level lounge areas

The excursions may be the highlight of your trip as the crew are ready to lead you out into the waters to explore the local wildlife and habitat up close. You’ll travel aboard kayaks if the water is calm, or on a zodiac inflatable motorized boat that holds about 10 people. If getting out on the water is what you like to do, the zodiac rides are fun and easy. Each cabin is assigned a locker down in the “mud room” where you can store your gear when out. The crew assists you with a life vest, and has a good selection of waterproof boots available if you need them. Then just store them in your locker for the duration of the trip, taking out when needed. Of course, if you prefer to stay indoors with cocktail in hand with a good book or viewing wildlife and glaciers from a distance with binoculars from the top observation lounge, that is entirely up to you.

Ocean Victory locker room
The mud room

Entertainment and enrichment opportunities will always be available on board, with a variety of lectures, education, and local entertainment each day. You won’t find any Vegas style shows here, though. The focus is on the local communities that the ship will be visiting, and local entertainers will be highlighted. Lectures provided by guest scientists may provide you with insight into the acoustic world beneath the ocean waves including the many calls and sounds made by whales.

ocean victory stateroom with private balcony
Private balcony stateroom

Yet if you are inclined to stay in your room and relax for a while, no one could blame you, for they are beautiful and spacious rooms. We stayed in rooms with private balconies with a comfortable bed, lots of storage, a flat screen t.v. with a good variety of movies ready to watch if you are in the mood, a love seat couch, and desk with chair. The bathroom was well-appointed and did not feel cramped. The design and colors are well-chosen, enticing you to spend more time in your room than you probably should, for there is so much else to do.

When not out on an excursion or other enrichment opportunity, you are spoiled for choice on places to relax. The main level on deck 5 is home to the large lecture/enrichment room, a small library with books and games, a bar lounge with piano and two comfortable seating areas with wonderful views, and the main dining hall. On deck 7 you will find the elegant observation lounge with telescopes and microscopes, a bar to get a coffee or something else to drink, and enjoy the 180 degree view.  There are several outdoor seating areas including the pool deck where you find a small infinity pool, poolside lounging chairs, and two hot tubs with outstanding views.

Ocean Victory pool deck hot tub
Top deck hot tubs

You might want to take advantage of the onboard spa facility – schedule yourself a nice massage after a day out exercising. Perhaps you are inclined more towards indoor exercise, and you can in the gym area with treadmills, stairstepper, rowing machine, and benches for doing those all important sit-ups. But maybe a little pampering is more in line, and the hair salon will get you all ready for eating out at the beautiful dining hall downstairs.

ocean victory enjoy the view
Enjoying the view at dinner
Ocean Victory main dining hall
The main dining room
Elegant dining on the Ocean Victory
Elegant white tablecloth dining

The main dining hall is a beautiful, elegant room, with brass accents on the chairs, blue glass water goblets, pure white china, and white tablecloths.  The service is excellent and you will be treated like royalty when being served by the attentive staff.  Breakfast and lunch are served buffet style, with a good combination of cold and hot options. Dinner is a more formal affair, with a menu offering 2-3 items per course, and all are well-marked for vegetarians or those seeking gluten free. We never felt rushed, and enjoyed our time visiting with other guests – usually someone different at every meal. Of course you can opt to eat by yourself, or sit with the same guests at every meal, as there are a variety of tables set up to hold 2 people, 4 people, 6 people, or up to 10 or 12 if needed. It is all about flexibility and freedom to sit where you want and with whom you want.  The guests come first.

Overall we were very impressed with the Ocean Victory, its staff, and all the amenities offered onboard.  It may be a small ship with a maximum 186 guests, but it lives like a bigger ship. The advantage of the smaller ship is tremendous, with its ability to get into bays and waterways where the big ships are not able to go. You’ll see more than just the top 3 stops in Alaska, giving you a much more in-depth experience. American Queen Voyages are truly trying to give you a life-enhancing experience, not just a checkmark off on your bucket list. They are passionate about sailing along the Alaskan coastline and sharing this passion with their guests.

Ocean Victory in San Juans WA
Near Friday Harbor, WA
See where the Ocean Victory can take you!