Walking along the chilly waterfront on this gorgeous Saturday morning to board the Cinnamon Bear Cruise, we were excited to share the experience with our now 6 year old son Marshall and his friend Addie. Marshall has been on this particular adventure before, while, for Addie, it was a completely new experience. Watching their eyes shine as we were greeted by Captain Tintop and Captain Taffy for our “Welcome Aboard” photo was just the beginning of our magical adventure.
As we walked down the gangplank to board the cruise, the questions were numerous. Where were we going? Who would be there? Would we go fast? How far would we travel? And when the captain’s mate and her pet parrot greeted the kids, they were full of hugs, smiles and excitement for all that lay ahead with this colorful crew.
We were escorted to our table (VIPs for this trip), and as we settled into our window seats overlooking the Willammette River, the kids were offered tasty (and perfectly cooled) hot cocoa, with two marshmellows each. The decorations aboard the ship are appropriately holiday-themed. There is enough, but not too much. It feels like you’re on a holiday cruise to a fun colorful place filled with smiling faces and lots of sugary treats. As the kids sipped their drinks and munched on cinnamon scones and fruit, the questions came again. Were we moving? How far were we going? When were we leaving? And then … the engines churned and the water began to roughen, and we were off!
As the ship departed, the first order of business was, of course, safety. Captain Taffy, with the assistance of Button the candy fairy, walked us through safety precautions (life jackets and such) for water travel. He was followed by the beautiful Queen Melissa, who brought out the Cinnamon Bear himself! Each child was invited up to sit with Patty O’Cinnamon himself, have a photo taken by the staff, and be gifted with a cinnamon bear cookie. This lovely and very large bear was patient and kind as all the children – from newborns to tweens to entire families – visited him for their photo opp; a magical experience usually reserved only for Santa this time of year.
We returned to our seats to research the map of the ship – a visit to Captain Taffy and his candy plunder, as well as hugs and “boo!” for the Crazy Quilt Dragon on the upper deck was our next destination. After taking the captain’s “Candy Buccaneer” pledge, then directing the Portland Spirit’s boat captain to “Mind the rudder” and telling the first mate of their qualifications, each child was allowed to plunder the captains candy treasure – fun for a kid of any age!
Next up? Storytime with Queen Melissa. The beautiful Queen sang a couple of Christmas carols with the audience, then read a condensed version of the Cinnamon Bear book. The shortened version did a wonderful job of allowing the children (and parents) to get the gyst of the story, while drawing them in with interactivity of helping with character expressions.
And then came the kids favorite part of the cruise – Presto the Magician’s magic show. I won’t give much away, but rest assured he is quite funny and filled with talent for both magic and entertainment!
During the last 15-20 minutes of the cruise, the children are given their Cinnamon Bear photo (from the beginning of the cruise) in a nice folder with a golden Cinnamon Bear seal. There is carol singing and all the wonderful staff – er characters – aboard the ship sign each child’s folder with their character names. As we left the ship, we waved good-bye to the many wonderful characters we had met as we visited Maybeland.
The Cinnamon Bear Cruise is two hours long, and heads south from downtown Portland to just past Oaks Park and back. It is well-orchestrated with activities to keep families and children of all ages occupied; however, none of the activities are forced. Since they take place on separate decks -should your child need to take a break for the festivities – there’s plenty of room to take a small break from Maybeland and enjoy amazing views along the river.
On the cruise, there are plenty of wonderful goodies (in addition to all the great personal photo-opps) for kids, including a Cinnamon Bear cookie, photo, candy buccaneer certificate, light snacks, hot cocoa and candy. There is, of course, a gift shop on board with well-chosen gifts – among them the silver star ornament, Cinnamon Bear book, CD set, small stuffed animals, photos, wands, wings and other fun novelites. It’s easy to want to treat the kids, but also easy to distract them if an additional purchase isn’t in your plan for the day.
The Cinnamon Bear Cruise boards at SW Naito and SW Salmon in downtown Portland. Cruises run Saturdays and Sundays through December 27th and weekdays December 22-26 (except Christmas). Tickets are $30 adults, $22 children ages 1-12, children under age of 1 free. Price includes one picture with the Cinnamon Bear for each child and light snack buffet.
Tabitha and her family were given tickets to aboard the Cinnamon Bear Cruise for review. She was in no way compensated for her opinions.