S.S. Legacy Cruise: Saying farewell to a wonderful voyage

Dan Lisher gives a program on the S.S. Legacy about the Lewis & Clark expedition.
Dan Lisher gives a program on the S.S. Legacy about the Lewis & Clark expedition.

ABOARD THE S.S. LEGACY – Sometimes magic happens. Nothing you can really plan.  Even if you make all the best arrangements in the world, some trips just don’t quite come together as hoped.

Maybe the food isn’t to your liking; the shore excursions too tough or too tame; entertainment rather bland or not your type; crew members inattentive or rude; fellow travelers tend to be prima donnas or grouches or know-it-alls. Maybe your room that looked so great in a brochure turns out to be dingy and depressing.

Any of those unplanned glitches can mar what should be a great experience.

Then other trips seem touched by magic from the very beginning.

So it has been with my S.S. Legacy cruise down the Columbia and Snake Rivers of Washington and Oregon.

To be honest, I have never met a ship I didn’t like or taken a cruise that didn’t make me happy. But the 88-passenger Legacy is an unusual vessel. Built in 1984, she is a replica of a turn-of-the-century coastal steamer with lovely furnishings combined with modern amenities. The Legacy joined the Un-Cruise Adventures fleet of vessels in 2013.

On our cruise, we had 33 passengers – a special number, as Legacy heritage leader Ryan Downs pointed out. “That is how many members there were in the Lewis & Clark Corps of Discovery when the group arrived here.”

Appropriate since our Legacy itinerary was named The Legacy of Discovery as it followed in the footsteps of Lewis & Clark. To add to the historic feel, Legacy crewmembers often dressed in character to make long ago folks come alive.

My cabin on the S.S. Legacy
My cabin on the S.S. Legacy


When I returned home at cruise end, a friend asked what I liked most about the Legacy and our weeklong adventure. Here, in no particular order, are some of the Legacy’s charms that made this trip so memorable:

~ Preliminary information I received via email before the cruise started was very helpful.  All my questions with Un-Cruise Adventures were quickly answered and the booking process worked smoothly.

~ Being welcomed at the airport and transferred to the Legacy hospitality room in the Downtown Portland Marriott was a wonderful way to start the cruise. After refreshing drinks in the hospitality room, our heritage leaders took us on a short stroll to the Legacy. Our luggage had already been unloaded and put in our cabins.  A crewmember met me as I stepped on the ship, led me to my cabin and explained how things worked in my new home. I don’t want to compare big ships with little ships because I like them all but this was about the easiest embarkation and debarkation I have ever done.

~ Crew couldn’t do enough for us. They went above and beyond to anticipate whatever we needed. They were fun, friendly and fantastic.

~  My cabin was roomy, with four windows, big shower, flat screen TV (which I never turned on), plenty of storage space and white bed linens. I really like white bed linens and I appreciated the turndown treat and next day itinerary left on my bed each night.

~ The “No Knock Knot” hanging on the inside of my cabin door. Putting the gold-colored cord on my outside door handle meant I didn’t want to be disturbed. No keys to carry around on the Legacy. The cabin doors don’t lock, except from the inside when we want privacy.

~ Meals were delicious with plenty of choices and made with fresh regional produce and meats when available. The option of half/half entrees was wonderful for diners like me who want to try it all in smaller portions. Chef was very accommodating, visiting during dining and asking what he could do better.

End of a glorious day on the S. S. Legacy
End of a glorious day on the S. S. Legacy

~ All-inclusive cruise meant not having to pay for any drinks – soft drinks, wines, cocktails, beer – at any time. Passengers also got a complimentary massage during the cruise, plus all free shore excursions and a very comfy tour bus to take us there. The big bus had plugs at each row of two seats to recharge our cameras, cell phones, etc. The bus followed along for our cruise and was always waiting for us to board for our shore jaunts. We even received a free CD at the end of our cruise with photos taken by the heritage leaders during our trip. Tipping for crew was not included in the cruise cost.

~ History galore. Instead of a cruise director, the Legacy has a heritage leader and assistants. Programs by the crew were excellent as were the guest speakers brought onboard. Heritage leader Ryan Downs is a wealth of information and has an interesting way of sharing it.

~ Fitness offerings were good, although I usually used that time to write rather than exercise. Stretch/ Pilates sessions were offered in the morning and yoga/stretch in the afternoon. All complimentary, of course.

~ Fellow passengers were a very congenial group. The more I learned about them, the more I liked them. With this blog I am posting two videos. One gives glimpses of our wonderful adventure. The other video shows what good sports the passengers were as they presented a special “talent” on Open Mic Night. Surprising and funny.

~ Shore excursions were tops. Since our cruise was following the path blazed by Lewis & Clark, many of our stops were at historic sites associated with the Corps of Discovery. Learned more than I ever did in school history class.

One evening, assistant heritage leader Dan Lisher talked about the Lewis & Clark mission. “Arguably the  most important venture in American history,” he said. Although the corps didn’t discover the fabled Northwest Passage that had eluded explorers for hundreds of years, their trek was a great success.

“The journey was the discovery itself. It was an amazing feat,” Lisher said. “That’s what life is itself – a journey of discovery. Life is fantastic, tragic and mundane.”

Although we had been following the route of Lewis & Clark, Lisher said, we also had been learning about our lives and ourselves. That is what travel and the time spent between our birth and death is all about.

“While we are fascinated with the Lewis & Clark adventure, we are all here to discover ourselves on another level,” Lisher said. “We are all on a journey of discovery.”

A good way to put it. And I’m very grateful I was able to take this brief life tour with this particular group of people at this particular time aboard this particular vessel.

May the S.S. Legacy have a long successful life cruising our nation’s rivers and introducing passengers to each other and themselves.

Photos and videos by Jackie Sheckler Finch

June 22, 2014

S.S. Legacy Cruise

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