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Linda Androlia

Age: 54

Occupation:travel agent

Number of Cruises: 20

Cruise Line: Cruise West

Ship: Spirit of Endeavour

Sailing Date: May, 2000

Itinerary: Inside passage

I am a travel agent and was on the Spirit Of Endeavor from Seattle to Juneau. I have sailed to Alaska many times on the “big” ships, so this was a different experience for me.

We were notified a few days before sailing that there might be a minor problem with the ship and it would have to go into the dock for repairs, possibly delaying our start by a few hours. This actually did happen and unfortunate as it was it was handled well by the CW staff.

We were recognized at the airport immediately by our CW bear pin that was sent to us with documents with instructions to wear for identification. The CW representative stood with us waiting for baggage and was very personable and answered all our questions. With luggage we were taken to a van where we met a few other people who would be on the cruise. We were then given Seattle map sand taken to the Hyatt Regency Bellevue. Rooms were ready for us and we had a few hours to sightsee before a 3pm briefing. At the briefing we were told the condition and time frame of the ship repairs. Food was prepared for us, the staff was wonderful in their explanations, their anxiousness to get on the ship as strong as us passengers. This was clearly not the best way to start the cruise, but under the circumstances, the CW staff did everything to make it pleasurable for us. We had beautiful rooms, a fabulous banquet dinner and entertainment by our Cruise Director Monique. We had a good nights sleep and were taken by bus to the pier quite early the next morning. We were at a later time offered a generous discount on a future cruise to make up for this unfortunate beginning. Cabins: Adequate size and nicely furnished. Each room had two high power binoculars, which we used extensively, as well as classy CW umbrellas in the closet. The ship was spotlessly clean and well maintained.

Food: Well prepared and varied. Fresh baked bread for each meal. Fresh fish for dinners, salmon BBQ, crab night (bought fresh in port that day). Food was quite good, my only complaint was desserts. Would have loved more creative desserts, they were always good but not fabulous.

Crew: This is a five star all around. Everyone has numerous jobs, your waiter may also be cleaning your cabin and lowering the tenders. People work on this ship because they enjoy it. The staff are all energetic young people who become like family within the first day of the cruise. A staff member became a grandmother during our cruise, we laughed that we were all in labor with her daughter. Our Cruise Director Monique was an act by herself. She was personable, funny, efficient, and most of all extremely knowledgeable of Alaska, the wildlife, the fauna etc etc. This lady has done her homework. She had an answer for all our questions, and the few times she didn’t, she had an answer for us a few hours later. Monique and her energy set the mood for the whole cruise.

“Entertainment”: No casino, no showroom on this cruise. An evening with a Tinglit Indian family one night. Lucy the crab expert from Ketchikan one night, lectures on whales etc. And the companionship of 90 other well traveled educated friendly passengers engaged in conversation. There is a video library and books, both best sellers as well as many books on Alaska and related topics. I even read “Mr Alaska”, a book on Don West the founder of Cruise West.

It was amazing to arrive and be the only ship in port. No crowds, you fit in with the locals. Port excursions with CW were small, personal well organized and value for the money. As fun as the ports were, the high point of the trip was the days on ship. Getting to know the Captain, spending time on the bridge with him, listening to the Cruise Director explain about areas we were cruising through. Hearing the Captain announce the sighting of seals, bears, bears with cubs, eagles, moose, (yes a huge moose swimming in 35 degree water), sea lions, whales, dolphins, waterfalls, lighthouses, quiet secluded inlets, and GLACIERS. The ship is so small it can maneuver close to the wildlife and glaciers. When we sighted a brown bear and her three cubs, the Captain brought the ship close to shore and turned off the motor. We sat there for a half hour watching them in their natural surroundings. Many times we would have the motor off, absolutely silent and watch wildlife. Glacier days were magnificent, up close watching the calving while the park ranger explained what we were seeing. What makes it special: The feeling of family. You know the crew, you know the passengers, the feel of it being YOUR ship for the week. Binoculars everywhere on the ship to be used when needed for sighting. The last night we were presented with a group photo that was taken in front of a glacier. A list of all passengers name/address, even e-mail. A map with the route marked on it. A list of all the wildlife we had viewed during the week. Little personal touches all week long that shows how personal and important you are.

I now want to experience the Sea or Cortez and the Wine Country. Any place CW goes would be an unforgettable experience. I highly recommend it.

Linda Androlia
Sunstone Tours & Cruises

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