We recently took our two young boys on an 8-day Caribbean cruise.
I could just leave it at that. Maybe I’m biased, or spoiled because I work in the travel industry, but this recent vacation was one I’ll never forget. And not in a good way. Let’s just say I learned a TON and I’m ready to report back about why you should take your family on a Salmon River trip instead of a cruise in 2020.
But first, a little background.
My husband and I have a 3 year old and and an 8 year old. Two boys. Two busy, busy, into-everything-all-the-time boys. We decided the youngest was finally old enough to enjoy a family vacation beyond the typical weekend-hotel-with-a-swimming-pool routine. All you parents out there, I know you hear me! So we booked a cruise. An 8-day Caribbean cruise. Our rationale was this: we’d be in one room for the whole trip, the kids could spread out a little without having to pack up daily, there’d be fun, age-appropriate stuff for the kids to do everyday, we could hit a buffet for meals so everybody’s tastebuds would be happy. Heck, the ship even boasted they had free daily child care…that meant mom and dad could have an hour or two to themselves each day! We were excited for months.
And then we got there.
I found out I am NOT a cruise person.
- That ship was loud. I mean LOUD. Like, “I-can’t-hear-you-even-though-you’re-yelling-in-my-ear” loud. The music was loud, the dining room was loud, which makes sense given the fact that we were surrounded by 3000 other people. Which brings me to my next point:
- There were people everywhere. Long lines to get lunch, people staking out “their” deck chairs at 5:30am and holding onto them all day, so many people packed into the pool swimming was nearly impossible. People breathing down your neck to get to the front of the coffee line. I felt more like I was herding my boys along so we could let the masses through, rather than spending much quality time with them.
- Talk about feeling lost in a crowd–I’ve never been more aware of being just a number. My whole identity boiled down to my stateroom number.
- Are you like me and get irritated when you are browsing through a shop and salesperson will NOT LEAVE YOU ALONE? Holy moly. Every time I turned around someone was trying to sell me something else. “Let me take your pictures! You can buy them at guest services later!” Or, “Your life will be absolutely changed for the better after you buy these $300 orthotics (honestly, what is the DEAL with the cruise ship/orthotics relationship?)”
- The food. Ok, I had always heard cruise ship food was the real deal. And you can eat as much as you can possibly stuff yourself with. The latter turned out to be true while the former was disappointingly wrong. The food was boring, low-quality and mayonaise-y. Anyone who’s done a cruise with me on the mayo?
Yes, I have to admit, I compare all vacations and trips to the ones we offer here at Aggipah River Trips. And yes, I know I’m biased and believe the absolutely everyone needs to do a Salmon River Trip, or they’ll be forever missing out. And I get the lure of the cheap (relatively speaking) cruise ship vacation.
But let me tell you, you’ll get SO much more out of bringing your family to Idaho for a 6-day Main Salmon or Middle Fork whitewater trip.
- River trips are not loud. Well, ok, there are some loud moments, like in the middle of a big rapid when the guide yells, “ALL FORWARD!” And whitewater itself can be loud, but in a soul-freeing sort of way. There’s no piped-in reggae-pop mixes constantly assaulting your ears. Come to think of it, there are no annoying ring tones going off either. Cell phones don’t even work in the canyon. Double plus.
- Our trips are limited to 30 folks total. Including the guides. That means just 23 guests. And sometimes we don’t even have 30 on a trip, especially during our shoulder seasons of June, late August and September. You’ll find yourself becoming fast friends with the people on your river trip. Just this past fall, I caught wind of some unrelated guests from one of our Main Salmon trips meeting up for a concert in Salt Lake City: a result of new friendships founded on the river. 23 or fewer folks on one trip means that much more time exploring the canyon because we’re not having to wait around for all 350 people who joined such-and-such a tour. Often our trips consist of various family and friend groups, which means there’s an understanding atmosphere if a family just wants to spend some time alone.
- You can tailor your Salmon River trip to your exact expectations. We can get personal! We offer a huge range of special-interest trips from all-women’s adventures, fishing-specific trips, special-occasion trips like 50th wedding anniversary family reunions, horseback riding combination trips, we can even run trips where we stay each night in riverside lodges rather than camping. If you have something special you’re celebrating, or an idea for an epic adventure, let us know so we can make it happen. As far as being more than just a number, you can bet we’ll remember your name. I still remember most of the folks I’ve done river trips with for the past 25 years, and Bill never forgets a name. He can tell you a story about “Ed from the 7th of July trip, 1983.”
- We’ll sell you the necessary stuff and leave it at that. We might offer you a chance to pick up a souvenir sun shirt or baseball cap, but that’s about it. When you join an Aggipah trip, your time is respected. We realize you’re here to enjoy the beauty of Idaho and not to shop till you drop. Plus there’s no where to shop anyway, save for that ice cream sandwich at Buckskin Bill’s. You can ask me about that later.
- Ok. The food. Let’s talk about what we’re going to eat. I’ll tell you this: you’re going to eat REAL. No chopped up, pre-made, thawed out cheap food. We believe food is best enjoyed fresh, prepared on-site, and sourced as locally as we can possibly find. Each meal is an opportunity to enjoy a well-balanced plate. Meats, such as New York strip steaks, salmon, and another of our favorites, BBQ ribs, are prepared to order. We’ll amaze you with Dutch-oven lasagna. We work with a local farmer for much of our produce, and we try to serve the fruits and veggies at the peak of their season. So that means one trip might showcase chard, snap peas and early lettuce, and later in the summer we’ll be featuring tomatoes, corn, broccoli and cantaloupe, among other varieties. We buy breads and cookies from our local bakery, and use local honey in recipes and on the table. Our wines come from Idaho, their grapes grown in the Snake River region. We’re big believers in eating well so you can play well. We’re great at accommodating alternative diets, too, as long as we have advance notice.
River trips are the absolute best way to spend time with family and friends. There’s something for everyone. You can bring little ones along on the Main Salmon for that beachy, sand castle-building vacation you’ve been dreaming about, or you can gather your college buddies together for an early-season high adrenaline big whitewater adventure on the Middle Fork. Or maybe get your best gals to join one of our women-only fitness and wellness trips. You won’t be distracted from enjoying the company of those who mean the most. Time moves a little slower in Idaho, and I can’t even begin to describe the night sky away from all the city lights. All the things you think you may get out of a cruise are even better on a river trip. Call us, (208) 756-4167 to get on the river in 2020. There’s still time to break free from the cruise mentality for a vacation that’s truly meant for YOU.