Cruising with Un-Cruise
What is it like to cruise with Un-Cruise Adventures? It’s unrushed, uncrowded and unbelievable.
Oh wait, that’s their tagline.
But it’s true. (Unlike Coca-Cola who, despite their best intentions, never actually taught the world to sing.)
We went on the 7 night Legacy of Discovery cruise from Portland, Oregon and traced some of the foot/canoe steps of Lewis and Clark, saw sights from waterfalls to deserts, took a jet boat to Hell and back and visited a winery (among other things).
Since Un-Cruise likes “uns” let us add that we thoroughly enjoyed that our experience was unstuffy, uncomplicated and understanding.
Enough with the “uns” what did you like about cruising with Un-Cruise?
The staff and crew
The staff consistently and cheerfully encouraged us to let them know what we would like to have or do in order to customize our enjoyment of cruising with Un-Cruise. Whether the request was for ice in a hot tub, meals with half portions of this and that or asking if we wanted them to take pictures of us (of course!) the staff and crew were unfailingly friendly and helpful.
Not only that but they were talented. The chef made 3 excellent meals with 3 choices per meal (including one for vegetarians). Her options were so appetizing it was hard to choose among them and that that’s how we got into the whole half of this and half of that habit of ordering.
It would be fair to say that our guide, Kenne Williams, was the leading man of the Legacy of Discovery. Kenny either knows an amazing amount of information or makes it up skillfully (we suspect he actually knows it), can perform brilliantly as a character from history and knows when to load up the bus early when the rain strikes. He sure can rock a suit and spats too.
The (really cute) bartender, masseuses, dining room staff, Captain and hotel manager were all skilled and personable. Clearly Un-Cruise does not recruit their staff from the IRS.
Un-Cruise is a family owned company which in and of itself is not a guarantee of superiority. But they seem to be a caring family that treats their people well and we assume that is a large part of the excellent service. Happy employees enjoy their jobs and that makes all the difference in the customer experience.
Activities; a good assortment done well
On most days we had at least two options which included sightseeing, educational tours, art museums, history museums, a winery and a day of beautiful scenery from a jet boat going deep into Hell’s Canyon. We learned a lot more than we intended and now can’t wait to drop conversational bon mots about salmon ladders (ask us, please).
In the evenings after dinner either Kenne, or his able counterpart Lilly, would give us a presentation or we would have a guest speaker which included a humorous Nez Perce Indian and the author of a book about a previously unknown component of Lewis and Clark’s expedition.
We also saw what had to be the worst movie ever about Lewis and Clark one evening. It was so bad it was excellent. We had been forewarned that this would not fall into the educational experience category. It was historically inaccurate, insensitively cast and so dreadful it was an instant crowd favorite. We liked that Un-Cruise had a good sense of humor and knew how to inject some levity after a long day of sightseeing.
Cruising with Un-Cruise never fills you with dread about the list of charges piling up in your name on a ledger somewhere in the hotel’s office. All shore excursions and activities, meals, alcohol, yoga classes and even a massage are included.
For lovers of beer and whiskey there’s a self-service saloon complete with a poker table. We lack much capacity for alcohol but even we managed to enjoy some of the bartender’s sangria and a nectarine Margarita. Oh and there was the beer on draft and those glasses of wine..
Access to what makes the ship function
If you want to walk into the bridge and make sure the Captain isn’t playing poker (one of his reputed ancillary skills) walk right in and ask questions and have a cup of coffee. We have been on ships where we wondered if anyone was in the bridge so it was nice to know about the open door policy in case we wanted to do a surprise inspection (we didn’t).
You can also tour the engineer’s room and there’s a scheduled galley tour. If you are someone who wants to know how everything works, cruising with Un-Cruise will satisfy your curiosity.
This is another aspect of cruising that until you have experienced its lack you may not properly appreciate its presence. The bus and driver Un-Cruise employs were both impeccable and always where and when we needed them. The winery tour was done by the owner and the lunch was catered by someone very talented. The caretakers of the Nature Conservancy farm we visited in Hell’s Canyon were ready and waiting for us when we showed up for lunch. Guides at each attraction appeared the instant we showed up.
Un-Cruise guests are kept well-informed
Although there had to have been times when Kenne wanted to scream “I’ve already told you this 3 times” he never did. He knows people don’t always retain everything they should so he reminds you of the times, the need for sunscreen and water and when to meet the bus.
Each room also has what we’re going to call a closed circuit TV even if that isn’t the proper name for it. On the TV you can see upcoming menus, activities, optional TV shows from PBS or the History Channel and weather forecasts. Basically if you’re cruising with Un-Cruise and don’t know what’s going on it’s probably your own fault (even though they will never say that).
So is cruising with Un-Cruise all unicorns and rainbows?
No, we never saw a unicorn, but there was a rainbow on the last day.
We always try to tell the whole story which basically boils down to no one but us is perfect. Some of these issues may or may not matter to you but we figure you should know about them.
No wi-fi or “real” TV
We would have loved wi-fi but were in an area of very poor cell-phone reception so wi-fi probably wouldn’t have been possible anyway. We can only speak for the S. S. Legacy and not for other Un-Cruise ships so if this is a deal breaker for you then check on your ship ahead of time (and maybe consider getting more of a life…)
We probably wouldn’t have watched anything but the news on TV but it could have been nice to have in the evenings. Again, not a biggie but a reminder to bring something good to read.
The suggested tip amounts – ranging from $559 to $1,119 per cabin were unexpectedly high to us. It’s made very clear that these are guidelines only and no doubt people have requested guidelines. Let your conscience and experience be your guide but at least plan on a hefty tip for that wonderful crew. (We had never been on a U.S. river cruise before so perhaps lacked a valid basis for comparison.)
There aren’t locks for the cabin doors. We were surprised by this at first but were told there’s never been an issue so we got with the program. (There is a safe in the closet.) If you’re in a windy area be sure you close your door very securely and rest assured that you can lock it from the inside.
Would you cruise with Un-Cruise again?
Yes, we would. We heard glowing reports from other passengers about the Sea of Cortes itinerary and snorkeling with sea lions. We drooled a little over the brochure for the new trip to Costa Rica and Panama and left with plenty of enthusiasm for a future Un-Cruise.
FTC Disclosure: We were given the cruise for free and we are ecstatic about that but we always tell you the full scoop. It isn’t that we can’t be bought it’s just that we haven’t been yet.