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The sun had just started its descent over Portland and the twinkling lights of the city’s famed bridges reflected off the Willamette River.
We set off to discover life along the Columbia and Snake rivers as part of the seven-night Legacy of Discovery itinerary onboard the SS Legacy. The 88-passenger vessel, a replica of a turn-of-the-century coastal cruiser, joined the Un-Cruise Adventures fleet in August of this year.
Over the next eight days, the ship traversed eight dams and traveled 1,000 miles to the Idaho border. Scheduled stops included the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area; Hells Canyon National Recreation Area; Walla Walla, Wash.; and The Dalles and Astoria, Ore.
Although the itinerary is structured as an exploration retracing the Lewis and Clark expedition, in reality it provides a detailed history of the entire Pacific Northwest, beginning with the first ice age when the catastrophic Missoula Floods devastated the region.
Although we learned about Lewis and Clark, we also explored life on the Oregon Trail and passed by the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, the home of the world’s first plutonium reactor. In addition, we learned much about the first sailing vessels to connect the Pacific Ocean with the Columbia River in Astoria, Ore., at the Columbia River Bar, a dangerous ship crossing nicknamed the “Graveyard of the Pacific.”
The Legacy of Discovery itinerary is part of Un-Cruise’s Heritage Adventures, which emphasize visits to museums and historical sites. Additionally, the all-American crew dress in period costumes and offer nightly presentations about the area’s history to immerse passengers in the experience. Dressing up is not required of guests, although turn-of-the-century costumes were available for passengers’ use.
Meals were a lively occasion, and the flexible seating allowed passengers to continue conversations that had started during the cocktail hour. There were always three choices for dinner — land, sea or vegetarian — or sampler platters with all three options. The crew worked closely with guests to meet special dietary needs, and a consistent selection of vegan food was always available. The meals were expertly prepared and made with local ingredients and products.
For breakfast, passengers could enjoy a casual continental buffet in the lounge or sit down to a meal in the dining room. Breakfast always consisted of one special of the day and eggs made to order. Guests usually had two choices for lunch — either a meat or fish dish and a vegan option.
The all-inclusive policy also included a variety of local wines and microbrews, which were generously served throughout the day. Passengers could always slip into the Pesky Barnacle Saloon, a self-serve hang-out, where they could select from a large variety of local brews and whiskeys from around the world.
History lovers will find plenty to enjoy on the Legacy of Discovery program, which explores intriguing parts of the nation’s history that are often underrepresented or not included at all in textbooks. The itinerary is available from September through November and March through May. Rates start at $3,195 per person and include all meals, beverages, excursions, transfers and even an onboard massage.