We really enjoyed the trip. We like the ship very much. It’s going in for
major refurbishing in a week, so I suppose it will become even nicer. I hear that they will have somewhat fewer staterooms, but they will be bigger. That will help; in the present set-up, it can be tricky getting into the bed on the side with almost no separation from the wall, and there wasn’t much shelf space. But we managed with no real trouble. Food was very tasty. There was too much food around, of course, but at least the portions were moderately small, and we could order 1/2 portions (but never did). There was shrimp or crab in great profusion; I don’t eat it, but there were always some alternates and the kitchen was obliging. Still, I think some people might have gotten tired of crab by the end of the trip. Imagine that! There was a lot of salmon, too, on the menu.
As you might expect from a week trip in October, most of the passengers were AARP-eligible. Those who really had problems getting around were treated very carefully by the staff. We met some people we’d be happy to stay friends with.
As for the shore excursions, they were a little disappointing. They were really much too expensive for what we got. They tended to be about $40 for a half-day trip which included a bus trip (with the driver pointing out things of interest en route, or showing a DVD relating to the destination), often
to a small museum where we could look at the exhibits for an hour or so, and then return. The itinerary was changed “by passenger suggestions”, and I thought it would be for the better: instead of going all the way to Astoria from Portland, and compensating for the time that would take by traveling
up-river at night, we docked near the town where the trip to Mt St Helens began, and people got a free tour either to Mt St. Helens or to Astoria. We
really enjoyed visiting Mt St Helens, although we would have liked an extra hour to walk around. However, most of the others were happy with just 1 hourat the “observatory”. The jet boat trip was now a possibility, with the time saved by not going to Astoria, and we did that, but were disappointed to
realize that the trip took us just to the start of the Hell’s Canyon National Recreation Area. It was a pretty trip, but the really spectacular stuff was way upstream from where we turned around.
With this itinerary change, we did do most of the travel during the day; there was only one overnight sailing stretch. It’s a beautiful river, never boring, and Todd Weber, the historian on board, gave very interesting talks about Lewis and Clark (wearing his homemade buckskins!) and what’s happening on the river now. There was some evening entertainment: a piano+ bass duo doing oldies, a cowboy guitarist (I didn’t go) and a banjo player, besides Todd’s presentations. The last night, we had a story teller from the Nez Perce tribe, who was excellent.
Returning to our room after supper that last night, we all found a cute stuffed animal on our beds. Boris really likes ours–a bear cub.
–Boris and Susan, Chicago, IL