In another blow to Pacific Northwest cruising, the one-year-old Great American River Journeys, which had sailed Oregon's Columbia River from Astoria to Lewiston, has ceased business operations. A call for comment to its Seattle headquarters was met with an automated "disconnected" message and the cruise line's Web site no longer exists.
The one-ship line had acquired Columbia Queen and undertaken a fairly significant refurbishment of the ship. Reviewed by Cruise Critic last year (in its first and only year of service), our correspondent told us that "when describing the Columbia Queen, the words compact and cozy immediately come to mind. Add an easy-going, friendly, all-American ambience, and you get the picture. You'll feel right at home from the minute you walk up the bow ramp and step onboard for a welcome glass of Champagne.
"It's the little, unexpected perks that set the Columbia Queen apart from other U.S. river cruises, and that's the cut-above niche the line is trying to fill. Advertised goodies include robes in the staterooms, complimentary house wine with dinner, and a couple of postcards stamped and mailed. Surprises might be a rum punch after a full day's outing. The real standouts are the daily tours themselves. They are included in the cruise fare and are specially set up with guides in period or Wild West costume spinning yarns that bring Northwest history to life. Think cowboys, Native Americans and pioneers. The riverboat fits right in."
The riverboat originally was owned by Delta Queen Steamboat, which launched it in 2000. This is Columbia Queen's second experience with financial failure; Delta Queen declared insolvency in 2002 and sold the ship to a group of investors. Alas, the primary investor of the company had said in early 2006 there were financial problems (and, indeed, Glacier Bay, a sister line, is another to have disappeared from the region).
No word has remained about places for answers to inevitable questions about this year's cruises, but assume they are canceled. We'll update you as circumstances warrant.
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Great American River Journeys Is Kaput
March 15, 2006