Number of Cruises: 12
Cruise Line: Cruise West
Ship: Spirit of Columbia
Sailing Date: 09-09-2008
Itinerary: Gold Rush inside passage
Cruise West - Not worth the cost. The food was spectacular, and there was plenty of it. Our lower level cabin, which we expected would have no windows and would be small, stunk from mold. We complained within 5 min of getting on the boat, and the onboard staff supplied us with a dehumidifier which helped, but made the room way too hot. With the machine running all day while we were out of the room, it filled up with over a gallon of water every day! Our clothes stunk, our luggage stunk, we stunk. Each night we would stay in the lounge as late as possible to avoid spending any extra time in the cabin. Later in the trip we learned from the crew that customers had been complaining about this cabin all season, and nothing had been done about it. When we returned home, we had quite a job getting the smell out of our clothes and luggage. One thing that attracted us to this cruise was the on board naturalist (also, the cruise director). From day one, she was very difficult to follow because of her poor speaking ability. Every other word was "and" or "um," or "uh" (We may post video on YouTube). She was also rude when dealing with one-on-one conversations and questions. Part of her job was to spot and point out wildlife, but the one time she spotted a whale breaching she got on the public address system to tell us how amazing and beautiful it was, but neglected to tell us WHERE it was (based on her pre-arranged and standard clock position) until after the display was over. Very disappointing. Part of our rationalization to spend the extra money for this "small ship" cruise was that it included excursions in every port. The thought that we would not be "nickel and dimed" would offset the additional cost. However, the included shore excursions were for the most part a waste of time. They included such things as a 30 min dancing show by local children, and a $5 admission to a museum. After a year of planning, and saving for this very expensive "small ship" cruise, my girlfriend and I went on the "gold rush" repositioning cruise on the Spirit of Columbia. There was some good. Every employee on the ship was American and spoke perfect English. Most of them were very friendly and tried their best to be accommodating. Service was always good, and there was never a line or wait for anything. We enjoyed having a local Tlingit guide and park ranger on board in Glacier Bay. It made that part of the trip more interesting and in speaking to the ranger; we found out that he required the boat to stay out longer as the captain wanted to head back early. In addition to the above problems with the room and naturalist, we had other issues: The boat is not only small, it is SLOW. Because of the speed, we had less time than the big ships in each port. Had we been on a larger ship, with the extra time and money we could have taken excursions in each port to see all of the "close up" things we saw by being on a smaller boat. Note that Cruise West does not tell you how long you are in each port During our trip and upon our return we had our travel agent contact Cruise West regarding our problems. The management of does not care about any of this. We got a standard from letter response, with a "good will gesture" of a $200 credit on a future cruise and hopes that this experience would not "tarnish our good opinion of Cruise West." After taking the time document and report on our experience, it was adding insult to injury to receive a standard form letter with an offer of what amounts to less than a 10% discount on a trip we will NEVER take. Yes, there are advantages to "small ship" cruising, but this experience with Cruise West has demonstrated that it is just not worth it.