Number of Cruises: 15
Cruise Line: Cruise West
Ship: Spirit of Endeavour
Sailing Date: April 22nd, 2006
Overall this was a disappointing cruise experience for a number of reasons but let me start with some positive comments about the trip.
I have cruised over a dozen times on almost all cruise lines and I must admit that the embarkation process with cruise west was the best I have encountered, bar none. We arrived at SEATAC airport and a staff member met us at the baggage carousel. From there I never touched me bags again until they were waiting in the cabin. We waited for only one other couple and were taken to a luxury hotel in downtown seattle for processing. This all took place in a hospitality suite with snacks and beverages. The process only took minutes. We were free to mix with other passengers or go out into Seattle a bit. After about an hour we were bused to the dock (a yacht basin). The crew was on the dock and welcomed us-a quick hand baggage search was conducted and we were on the ship. The folks at the airport and the hospitality suite were professional, helpful and cheerful. Great service.
From here things went down hill quickly.
The ship is SMALL-really small. When we got to our cabin it was SMALL. We were not in the budget category either. Our cabin steward came to room to introduce herself and couldn't answer the question where our room key was. She left and returned with the curious answer that there was no room keys-all passengers were considered "friends" and the cabins would always be open. This shocked me and when one of the "exploration leaders" asked me how things were going I told her I was stunned by the lack of room key-she asked what she could do the satisfy me and I told here to get a locksmith onboard and give me a key. She never came back and explained anything further about it. I spoke with the hotel manager on the ship and he similarly was surprised that the rooms did not have locks and he did not have keys to the rooms either. I challenged the "friends trust friends" concept by reminding them that the crew locked the gift shop and bar at night but the logic of my comment seemed lost on the crew. Overall the officers on the ship were "overwhelmed" by any questions or concerns about the routine/procedures or personal preferences. the attitude was "we know best". The exploration leaders run the ship and the show-dictating all activities and completing taking over the limited public space on the ship for endless lectures about wildlife (we didn't see any), flora and fauna (we had one 20 minute hike during the week) and their experiences in the wild. The only way to get a break from this imposed education was to hide in your cabin because the lectures were piped all over the ship (even on outer decks) but one could turn the speaker down in the cabin). At the end of each day a "review of the day" was held in the lounge by these folks and a microphone was passed around to passengers about their experience-if there wasn't enthusiastic response they were encouraged (and I'm quoting here) to "share the love". We were forced to endure a presentation by the chef before we were allowed to go into the dining room where he insisted on cheers for the menu before we went to dinner. This was a bizarre type of cult camp with everything directed to supporting the "product" and stroking the staff. After dinner the chef came to each table and wouldn't leave until everyone expressed "delight" with his offerings. Since there is no assigned seating we sat with about a dozen different folks for dinner and without exception there was discussion about what we could say positive about the food to get him to leave the table. The food was adequate but bland and often served cold. The wait staff are the same folks who make up the cabins.
The young american staff was more courteous and helpful than I expected but generally the officers on the ship were rude and not in the least bit interested in "customer service". I spoke with the captain (captain mike) and he was offended that I would take him away from his important duties to respond to my concerns. There are binoculars and umbrellas provided in each cabin which was a nice touch. If you're seeking a week of adult summer camp you'll probably be satisfied but if are seeking anything other than beautiful scenery you will be disappointed. Considering Cruise West is about twice the cost of a similar cruise it is not a value under any circumstances. I will not be cruising with them again.