My UnCruise Adventure was a seven-night journey titled “Rivers of Adventure and Wine.” We cruised the Columbia and Snake Rivers, beginning and ending the trip in Portland, Oregon. The Columbia River is the largest in the Pacific Northwest. Our journey took us along the Columbia River National Scenic Area which borders Oregon and Washington. The Columbia River Gorge changes in character from verdant forests, sheer cliffs, and numerous waterfalls to high desert plateaus.
UnCruise Adventures was one of the first companies to embrace small-ship cruising. Last year, they celebrated their 25th anniversary as a leader in small-boat, small-group, and small-footprint cruising. UnCruise Adventures has received numerous awards including “Best Small Ship Adventure,” Travel Weekly Magellan Awards, and Travel + Leisure Awards.
Here are 12 reasons I loved the UnCruise Adventure in the Pacific Northwest. UnCruise Adventures sponsored my trip. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
1. All-Inclusive Adventures
I loved that there were no hidden charges aboard an UnCruise Adventure. Everything is included: Beverages (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic), adventures, adventure gear, transfers, gourmet meals, and baggage handling are all included in the price of the journey. The saying is, “you can put your wallet away until the end.”
2. Wilderness Legacy
I was delighted with our small ship, the Wilderness Legacy, especially in terms of size and amenities. Wilderness Legacy is the largest ship in the fleet — with 43 cabins and a maximum of 86 guests. The small number of guests is perfect for mixing and mingling.
Four decks welcome you. On the fourth deck, two hot tubs welcome guests, there is ample room for sunning, and the highest of the viewing areas wraps around the bow. Indeed, the ship boasts the most spacious viewing decks of the entire fleet. The Upper Deck has the middle bow viewing area. It was also where my cabin was located. The lounge deck on the second floor has a beautiful and spacious lounge and bar, the largest of the viewing areas on the Wilderness Legacy and, indeed, the largest in the entire fleet.
The well-stocked bar and comfortable living room seating invite you to enjoy any time of day. Each window ledge has a pair of binoculars ready to use for your viewing pleasure. The lounge has several small libraries, a video library, games, and puzzles. Musical instruments available include a piano, inviting guests to “tinkle the keys.” The Wilderness Legacy is the only UnCruise ship with an elevator reaching decks one to three. The elevator only goes to deck three. Although there is an elevator onboard, guests need to be able to manage a gangway and step in and out of skiffs.
Click here for a virtual tour of the Wilderness Legacy.
3. Multiple Activities Daily
Daily on UnCruise Adventures, there are a variety of levels of activities. Whether you choose to be very active, slightly active, or laid-back is up to you. Activities offered include hiking, kayaking, exploring, white water rafting, museum/historical visits, visits to local wineries, onboard wine tastings, and fascinating history and geography talks. Guests may also watch channel five for destination videos and channel four for photos from the day.
There were photographers at each activity to capture memories for the guest. We loved seeing ourselves and our new friends in all the photos! This wide choice of activities is excellent for generational travel and for traveling with a friend or partner who likes different activities than you. After spending a wonderful day of adventure, consider enjoying Mother Nature’s night shows when the ship is anchored in rural areas. Away from the light pollution of a nearby town or city and on a clear night, the star show is a real treat.
4. Delicious Food
Each evening, there are three choices of entrees: Seafood, beef, and vegetarian. Not only is the cuisine delicious, but a lot is locally sourced. My favorites include herb-crusted rack of lamb with chimichurri, crab cakes with red pepper aioli, and sea-crusted scallops with brown butter. Save room for decadent desserts like bourbon-caramel cake trifle and kahlúa chocolate cake. Meal times were special on my UnCruise Adventure.
5. Curated Wine Pairings
I particularly enjoyed the wine pairings at lunch and dinner. Every course had its specialty wine, and the sommelier explained each. Over our seven-night trips, we had the opportunity to try 53 different wines. Some were local and regional; others were national and international wines.
I also appreciated receiving the menu and wine list at the end of the adventure. Each course is identified along with the wine pairing.
6. Educational Wine Talks
Our great sommelier, Julie, began her series with “Introduction To Pacific Northwest Wine Making,” followed by several wine talks and tastings. We learned a lot at the “Science of Taste Comparative Tasting” and had lots of fun at the “Junk Food Pairing” section. Who would have thought of pairing skittles with a sauvignon blanc or pairing Reese’s peanut butter cups with a port?
7. Six O’Clock News
Daily, we received a “six-o’clock news” brief featuring information on the evening talk and happenings the next day. Afterward, we signed up for the following day’s activities.
8. Sustainability Practices
UnCruise Adventures has long been recognized for its sustainability practices. Refillable water bottles and “reef-safe” sunscreen are available for all. Food waste onboard is reduced by having guests order the main courses the night before. Cleaning products are environmentally safe and water is conserved whenever possible.
9. Personal Touches
A sense of community is immediately established on an UnCruise Adventure. The staff and crew always greeted me by name wherever we met on board.
The crew encourages and helps one to try new activities. Guest to crew ratio is 3:1. The team is knowledgeable and shares that information throughout the journey. They exhibit outstanding guest service skills. We were greeted each time we returned on board.
In the lounge, I appreciated the two binders of crew names and guest names to further the small ship community feeling. During the last evening, we celebrated with a slide show presentation in the lounge. Later, we all received the slide show as a memento. Airport pickup and a shuttle back were the most welcome touches. Binoculars are included in each room.
10. Traversing The Locks
The Columbia and Snake Rivers, as well as full of natural beauty, are important transportation corridors in the Pacific Northwest. With more than 160 hydroelectric projects and 18 main-stream dams, there is plenty of action along the cruise. One of the most exciting ventures is traversing the locks. We transited six locks. Four are on the Columbia River: Bonneville Dam, The Dalles Dam, John Day Dam, and McNary Dam. On the Snake River, we passed through two locks: The Lower Monumental Dam and the Little River Dam. We transited four of the locks during the daylight hours and two were crossed during the night. One never tires of watching these amazing engineering feats.
11. Plenty Of Water
We are blessed in the Pacific Northwest to have ample water in our rivers, unlike other parts of the United States and parts of Europe. With mountain snow melting and Mother Nature providing lots of winter rains, the areas in Northern Oregon and Southwest Washington have ample water for small-ship cruising.
12. Access To Smaller Ports
The small ships of the UnCruise Fleet take guests to tiny ports that larger vessels cannot navigate. On this cruise, we could access the small ports of Astoria, Oregon; Stevenson, Washington; Walla Walla, Oregon; and The Dalles, Oregon. These ports enabled us to partake in many unique adventures. Check out this article for more details.
You may enjoy extending your trip and spending a few days in Portland. For ideas on how to enjoy the beautiful city, read my previous article about Portland. The mission of UnCruise Adventures is “to provide adventure travel experiences that inspire an appreciation of local cultures and the natural world.” This mission was undoubtedly achieved on my “Rivers Of Adventure and Wine” UnCruise Adventure. Do check it out. You will be glad you did!