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Fred Norful

Age: 50

Occupation:Computer Systems Consultant

Number of Cruises: 5

Cruise Line: Cruise West

Ship: Spirit of Endeavour

Sailing Date: September 20th, 2002

Itinerary: California Wine Country

Based upon our experience with Temptress lines in Costa Rica, we looked for another cruise this year. The Temptress Explorer is now managed by CruiseWest; we decided to try their 2002 Wine Country cruise aboard the Spirit of Endeavor.

Our arrival in San Francisco was very well managed. Easily identifiable CruiseWest agents greeted us, helped with our bags, and navigated us to our transportation downtown. A hospitality suite was set up at the Sheraton Fisherman’s Wharf hotel. Some glitches encountered with the buses for getting us to the boat were reasonably well handled.

The first morning found us docked on the Napa River. Sunrise was experienced accompanied by the sounds of “Ride of the Valkyries”, being played on shore by the members of some group (whose history dates to their days as vigilantes) who were still partying from the night before. It reminded me of my days at the biker rallies in Laconia. A better place to dock should be found, not at an RV park.

The tours of the wineries were run pretty well. Napa and Sonoma during the crush/press season are difficult places to drive. We were glad we were on the bus once the other passengers who were drinking and singing settled into their naps. The driver, guide and “wine guy” (kudos to Bradley Gray of Schug winery!) all handled the days itinerary very professionally, and with help and good humor as well.

We were a little taken aback by needing to purchase bottled water and wine with dinner while on board. It’s a small thing, but at more than a $1000 per person for a three-night cruise, this should have been included. The wine selection on board was pricey, not very good, and mostly not Californian.

Neither the food nor the service were adequate. More than one meal had to be returned to the kitchen. The wait staff was young and inexperienced.

Lastly, we filled out the comments form fairly completely. We travel frequently (for work and pleasure) and typically have few complaints. With as much dissatisfaction as we expressed, we were surprised that no follow-up was done. When we contacted CruiseWest, they said that they didn’t respond to the surveys, but did use them to improve service. They did express regrets that the cruise did not meet our expectations. That’s all. We are now looking for alternatives to the Costa Rica / Panama cruise we would like to take next. CruiseWest will not be among those alternatives.

 

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