The newly refurbished
The ship's lounge is where beverages are served throughout the day as well as the location of a nightly social hour, when guests mingle and sample appetizers before dinner.
THE WOW FACTOR: Since this is a small ship with the emphasis on natural surroundings, the "Wow Factor" is really the scenery. At each port, the naturalist guide narrates what is happening around us (there were sea lions at Los Islotes, blue-footed boobies at Isla Partida and the pod of dolphins swimming alongside the ship while at sea). Many guests prefer to stand on the sundeck for the views, but the lounge was quite popular for older guests who did not want to be exposed to the elements (mainly wind and cool breezes). The lounge was also the setting for lectures, slide shows and our cruise's daily book club meetings.
TOP TABLE: Unlike larger ships, there was only one dining room aboard the
RATING THE DIGS: We stayed in the AAA class category, below balcony. There was plenty of closet space for storage, and to allow for more floor space, the twin beds were positioned against perpendicular walls (the one con is that the beds could not be pushed together to create a double). The window was a good size, and we often used the in-cabin binoculars (each cabin has two pairs of binoculars) for wildlife viewing. For the best cabins, the balcony category offers great views, a mini fridge and queen-size beds.
Cabins on the Spirit of Yorktown offer lots of closet space for storage, which allows for extra floor space and convenience for passengers
HOT SPOTS: The most-used and busiest place aboard the ship was the lounge; this is where coffee and tea were served throughout the day. It's also where people met to play cards, sit around and talk or read quietly in the corner. There was a wall of books ("the library") at one end and an area of items for sale ("the gift shop"), too. "Social hour" was held in the lounge every day before dinner; guests mingled while appetizers were served.
NOOKS AND CRANNIES: Because this is such a small ship, it's hard to find a spot to be alone. However, we found that the sundeck right before sunset was a good bet for an evening cocktail. While most people were showering before dinner, this practically deserted area was a great place to watch the sun set over the mountains and islands.
The Spirit of Yorktown provides each cabin with binoculars for close-ups of breathtaking views.
EDITOR'S GLEANINGS: The
Daily activities include nature walks, snorkeling and kayaking, so a good amount of mobility is required. Clients should know that all activities are weather-dependent including whale tours and snorkeling with the sea lions (on our trip, we were able to see the whales, but, unfortunately, were unable to swim with the sea lions due to winds and rough sea). Many passengers were repeat Cruise West clients and very few had any interest in large-ship travel. Rather, they were drawn to the small ship's exclusive and intimate experience. Even though all talks were held in the lounge, they also could be heard in the stateroom via intercom (there were no TVs). The crew and staff are American.
AGENT SPEAK: Lisa Eckhart, CTC, from AAA Travel Agency in Seattle (
It's also an extremely social trip, and people make longtime friends while aboard. Stacy Weigant from Forest Travel Agency in Aventura, FL (
JUST THE FACTS: The Whales & Wildlife cruise operates late December 2008 to early March 2009. The lead-in price is $2,199 per person based on double occupancy.
The standard commission is 10 percent, but if agents sign up for the BEAR program, they can earn an additional 15 percent commission, for a total of 25 percent. BEAR is a marketing program in which the agent promotes the cruise and provides Cruise West with proof of the promotion, and for every booking they make on any departure date after the promotion the agent will earn the additional commission. To learn more or sign up for the BEAR program, visit www.cruisewestagents.com.