Birthday Cruise on the Willamette River!

Well, today our daughters treated my husband and me to a Brunch cruise on the Portland Spirit for my birthday, his birthday (next week) and Father’s Day. It was a 2-hour cruise up the Willamette River, on a beautiful Portland, Oregon afternoon, sunny and warm.

The Portland Spirit has an interesting history:

Launched in 1987 by Chesapeake Shipbuilding, the ship operated on the Connecticut River during its first year. The vessel was then sold and, after a long trip, including passage through the Panama Canal, operated out of Maui for four years. In 1992 the operation was purchased by Pacific Marine and moved to Honolulu. The ship’s name was changed to Stardancer and operated in Hawaii until March 1994. At that time, American Waterways, Inc. acquired Stardancer for cruise service on the Columbia and Willamette Rivers and was sailed across the Pacific Ocean.

The journey from Hawaii is a story in itself. The crew of five left Hawaii on April 1, 1994 after spending 10 days undergoing safety preparations which included outfitting the vessel with special radios, radar and survival equipment. The boat’s lower level, the Willamette deck, was filled with over one hundred 55 gallon drums of fuel and every window was covered with steel plates. One hundred miles into the trip, the captain had a medical emergency and a helicopter was required to lift him off the vessel. The ship and remaining four crew members arrived in Portland nine days later. After a full refit, Portland Spirit began cruises in May 1994


photo courtesy Portland Spirit.

Our table was located next to a window on the second deck, which also had outside access. Food was plentiful and ono, and as we slipped away from the dock, we were munching blueberry crepes, eggs, bacon, fresh fruit, bagels with cream cheese… coffee, orange juice… anything we wanted was ours for the asking.

After eating, we went out on deck. It was a 90-degree day, and the river was filled with boaters, jet-skiers and sailboats. It was a gorgeous day, and I enjoyed the relaxation and warm weather, being away from my desk, and having some quiet time with my kids.

The Portland skyline faded away as we cruised under several bridges, and headed south up the river. We were treated to views of million-dollar homes (actually, one is on the market for over nine million dollars (!) and the Waverly Country Club where it costs $100,000 just to join it. Too rich for my blood, that’s for sure. I’d rather take that kind of money and go back to the &#8216&#257ina! During the cruise, the captain would point out historical and interesting facts about the boat as well as what we were seeing along the river. (After the cruise, I did, very mildly, point out that he’d inaccurately stated that the Portland Spirit “left Hawai&#8216i for the States”. I was very nice about it…I hear that statement all the time!)

It was a wonderful day; it couldn’t have been better. Our girls and son-in-law had such a good time that we’ve decided to make it an annual June event!

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