American Queen Steamboat Company, American Empress, exterior
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Photo Credit: American Queen Steamboat Company | American Empress
American Queen Steamboat Company, American Empress, Astoria Dining Room
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Photo Credit: American Queen Steamboat Company | Astoria Dining Room
American Queen Steamboat Company, American Empress, The Show Lounge
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Photo Credit: American Queen Steamboat Company | The Show Lounge
American Queen Steamboat Company, American Empress, Deluxe Veranda Suite
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Photo Credit: American Queen Steamboat Company | Deluxe Veranda Stateroom
American Queen Steamboat Company, American Empress, Richland
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Photo Credit: American Queen Steamboat Company | American Empress in Richland
American Queen Steamboat Company, American Empress, Multnomah Falls
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Photo Credit: American Queen Steamboat Company | Multnomah Falls

American Empress

American Queen Steamboat Company, American Empress, salmon dinner Photo credit: American Queen Steamboat Company | Salmon

The largest, most luxurious overnight paddle-wheeler west of the Mississippi, 223-guest American Empress debuted in 2003 as Empress of the North for now-defunct American West Steamboat Co. Purchased by American Queen Steamboat Co. in 2013, the ship was freshened up with a refit that toned down some of its ornate 19th-century, Russian-influenced decor. Since 2014, American Empress has sailed weekly itineraries in the Pacific Northwest along the scenic Columbia and Snake rivers, offering a largely inclusive experience with Wi-Fi, soft drinks, bottled water, specialty coffees, and wine/beer with dinner.

What We Love

The Scenery: The scenic vistas along the Columbia and Snake rivers are varied and beautiful, from the Victorian-era waterfront of Astoria to the spectacular Columbia Gorge and the rugged desert terrain of eastern Washington state.

Hop-On/Hop-Off Bus: In addition to regular excursions (available for a nominal fee), there is a complimentary hop-on/hop-off bus that allows guests to explore each port at their leisure. Another plus: Admission to most local museums is included in your cruise fare.

River Grill & Bar: The traditional dining room serves excellent, locally sourced cuisine. But you can also dine at no extra charge in the reservations-required, 55-seat River Grill & Bar. Added during the shipʼs refit, this alfresco venue (which can be enclosed in inclement weather) serves up lobster, steak, lamb chops, and fresh fish.

Best Known For

Riverlorians: Onboard historians/enrichment lecturers cover a wide variety of topics, from Lewis and Clark to the Missoula Floods and local Native American culture.

Ornate Decor and Valuable Artwork: Although the decor on American Empress has been updated, it's still festooned with crystal chandeliers, wood paneling, and an impressive art collection that was curated by the shipʼs original owners.

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Who It's Best For

Those Seeking an Inclusive, Laid-Back Cruise Experience: Life aboard American Empress is all about comfort, excellent food, attentive service, and spectacular scenery.

Don't Say We Didn't Warn You

Bells and Whistles Are Lacking: There is no pool, gym, spa, or childrenʼs facility, although six bikes (with helmets) are available at no charge on a first-come, first-served basis.

Peter Knego

Peter Knego is a California-based contributor to ShermansCruise who also writes for USA Today.

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