About us - my husband and I are in our early 40s, no children, spending time with my well and healthy but aging parents on this cruise. Initially concerned about the expense, average age of the cruisers (65 and older) and if we would be bored. Parents are not footing the bill so to speak. My husband and I have hectic, stressful jobs from which it is hard to obtain this amount of time off. This is our first river cruise.
Pre-cruise hotel: Red Lion Inn, Jantzen Beach. Clean, large, and with great views of the Columbia River. Hotel restaurant had good food but service was slow.
Surrounding area with a Target and other convenient stores (ie. liquor and pharmacy) within walking distance or very short Uber/Lyft ride.
Embarkation: Not a great first impression as they asked to be in a meeting room at a certain time and let us sit for over 30 minutes without word from a cruise representative on why things were running late . There was also not enough seating in the room especially when many had disabilities. My husband, parents and I stood for most of the time allowing others with disabilities to be seated. My husband and another younger (in his 50s) passenger went and got additional seating from outside the meeting room for those without seats. Hotel staff, after 30 minutes, arrived and finally provided more seats. Embarkation finally proceeded after 45 to 60 minutes of waiting if memory serves correct.
Initial impression of the boat: clean, well kept in all general population areas. All staff was very friendly and rarely did you walk by a staff member without being greeted through out the cruise.
Dining: excellent. Fresh fruit at breakfast everyday - loved! Lunch and dinner always with an appetizer (soup or salad), three different choices for entrees (two meat options, one vegatarian) and dessert. My husband is a big guy and a big eater and he was never hungry after a meal. Snacks are available 24/7 including Coke products, Chex Mix, Sun Chips, granola bars and cookies. We were glad that we did bring our own insulated cups for consuming beverages in our room. Cups were small plastic cups in general areas and standard Styrofoam coffee cups in the room. Serving staff and chef's would do their best to satisfy every dietary need. We brought our own snacks and liquor just in case but overall they were not needed. We ate a small amount of our snacks when the on board snacks did not appeal. We barely touched our own liquor. Happy hour and "late bar" were open bars and generous. We'll just say my rum and coke did not taste like coke.
Entertainment/Enrichment: We did not attend many as they are "age" appropriate - bingo, music talent sang mostly older songs. The lecturer on board was a naturalist which was interesting but many things were held inside and my husband and I did not want to miss the scenery and cool weather therefore much of those times we spent on our balcony or on the 4th and 5th decks.
Ports/excursions: Our favorites were Mount St. Helens, WAAAM and the Hells Canyon Jet Boat (definitely worth the extra money). Many of the ports are small towns/cities and are walkable (we averaged about 2 to 5 miles per port). Thoroughly enjoyed going through the many locks on the river.
Disembarkation: went smoother than embarkation. Spent the extra for the Spokane shuttle -pro: off the boat at 7 am and at the airport by 9:30 AM; con: costly and our flight wasn't until 2 pm so had a long wait at the airport. If we had do it over, we probably would have rented a car, gotten a hotel in the Clarkston, Lewiston or Spokane area and explored then left the next day instead of the on the day of disembarkation.
In summation: we were concerned about the cost at first, but now we are glad we went and feel the cost was worth it. Were we bored? No. Although many things are tailored for an older population, we still enjoyed the quiet, leisurely and slow pace. Would not recommend for children, there is a lot of down time that only adults would enjoy.
Recommendations: take binoculars for bird watching and better views of the scenery; take a few DVDs with you - there were times that the satellite TV did not get good signal and one night we did end up using the DVD player; make sure you have a large data plan on your phone if you need to check e-mail etc. - the WiFi on the boat never worked for us.
Was surprisingly spacious. King bed with writing desk and chair, two bedside tables, two chairs, and dresser. Good size closet for a boat. First vacation that I have ever unpacked completely and didn't live out of my suitcase. Bed was a little lumpy and firm for our taste but after fresh air and walking ended up sleeping fine. I am a light sleeper and need white noise. The in cabin AC unit provided good white noise. Glad we were not closer to the stern, as engine noise may have been a problem if we were closer. Next cruise, may try to get to closer to the bow but overall engine noise was not too much of a disturbance. Room to room noise was not a problem - only a few nights where we could hear the TV next door. Seating on balcony is standard cast iron and not too comfortable but adequate for its purpose.
Bathroom: initially had a problem with the bathroom smelling like a public restroom. Spoke with housekeeping and after what I would assume was a more thorough cleaning the smell was better. Daily housekeeping visits and purchase of a small room air freshener at one of the ports helped. It may have just been me (the writer of this review) as my parents nor my husband smelled what I seemed to have smelled. Other things that helped were keeping the exhaust fan on 24/7 and when able, opening the bathroom door to let it air out and dehumidify.