A cruise on the winding Columbia river through Oregon and Washington was something I never knew was possible. Until I read about it from UnCruise Adventures.
The prospect of a seven-night river cruise along the Oregon and Washington border and its unique itinerary sounded really exciting to me. It was also my first time in the Pacific Northwest.
Here’s my Columbia river cruise review roundtrip from Portland. The more I explore the U.S., the more amazed I am at all the diverse river cruise experiences that are here.
Columbia River Cruise Introduction
The S.S. Legacy, an 88-passenger replica of an old time steamer ship, was my home for a next week of discovery along the wide Columbia River and the narrower and wilder Snake River.
When UnCruise Adventures acquired this lovely ship after Cruise West ceased operations in 2010, S.S. Legacy underwent a thorough refurbishment. Today, the shiny black hull and funnel gleamed in the late September sunlight.
I’ll admit it…I’m a latent Lewis and Clark enthusiast. I must have slept through most of my American History classes in high school because suddenly I find their mission to find the Northwest Passage to the Pacific utterly fascinating. We would follow much of their route through the Pacific Northwest.
Two Rivers, Two Volcanoes and a Wild Canyon Await
That’s one of the reasons why I jumped at the chance to experience this UnCruise Adventure. Woven into the colorful fabric of this off-the-grid cruise would be various onboard lectures, shoreside visits to small towns and ever-changing geological and agricultural scenery.
We’d cruise along the Columbia River as Lewis and Clark’s Corp of Discovery did 210 years ago. I looked forward to walk in the wheel ruts left by the covered wagons of brave pioneers as they ventured west to create the famous Oregon Trail. Halfway through the cruise, jet boats would take us on a day trip deep into deserted and rugged Hells Canyon.
Day One – Boarding Day
It doesn’t matter where I’m going; embarkation day always brings the same rush of excitement and trepidation for me. Excitement for being back on the water, meeting new people and getting familiar (or re-familiar!) with the ship and the places we’d visit.
READ NEXT: S.S. Legacy Cabin Photos
Boarding the S.S. Legacy at the Port of Portland was no exception. Passengers were asked to check-in at the downtown Portland location between noon and 3:45pm directly across from where the ship was docked. Refreshments were provided for those that arrived early.
At 5pm, we were escorted for a 10-minute walk across the street, strolling past a fountain of dancing water that gleamed in the late Autumn sunshine until we reached the S.S. Legacy.
A welcome reception at 6pm brought everyone together in the Grand Salon for hors d’oeuvres and champagne and a “Meet the Officers and Crew” introduction. And of course, a muster drill.
Onlookers lined the river’s edge as the Captain blew the ship’s horn, the ropes were untied and we slowly moved away from the dock. Our upstream eastbound voyage along the Oregon and Washington border to where the Columbia meets the Snake River in western Idaho had begun.
First evening aboard S.S. Legacy
Being the only solo traveler on the ship, I sat by myself at dinner, not wanting to intrude on others. I also wanted to decompress after my three-night Amtrak California Zephyr train ride from Chicago to Portland.
After dinner, as on river cruises everywhere, we met in the Lounge for a briefing on what to expect during our week in the middle of a beautiful and exciting nowhere.
Unlike some other river cruises, onboard the S.S.Legacy, top shelf spirits were complimentary along with the usual regional wine and beer selections. Even more unique, the western-themed Pesky Saloon offered whiskey on tap.
Exhausted and to prepare for an early morning shore excursion, I headed back to my room at 9:30pm.
As they say, on a river cruise, everyone wakes up when the captain wakes up. Tomorrow, right after breakfast, was a visit to the massive Bonneville Dam followed by a short motor coach ride along the winding Columbia River Road to Multnomah Falls.
Columbia River Cruise Itinerary
Follow along with me on this seven-night cruise aboard UnCruise Adventure’s S.S. Legacy that traces the river voyage that Captains Lewis and Clark, Sacagawea and a band of three-dozen adventurous men experienced long ago.
Day 1: Aboard the S.S. Legacy to cruise the Columbia and Snake Rivers (That’s this post!)
Day 2: Bonneville Dam and towering Multnomah Falls
Day 3: A relaxing “sea” day on the river
Day 4: Jet Boating through Hell’s Canyon
Day 5: Walla Walla Wineries, the Whitmans and the Oregon Trail
Day 6: Maryhill Museum, The Dalles and a real Stonehenge
Day 7: Following Lewis and Clark to Fort Clatsop and a visit to Astoria, Oregon