23 American Queen Steamboat Company American Empress Senior Cruise Reviews

Cruised before on the American Queen. Loved the service and staff. 5 stars. Thought the Empress might be similar and it was just as good, maybe considering the scenery, better. First, the cabin. Knowing that the cabins on these boats ... Read More
Cruised before on the American Queen. Loved the service and staff. 5 stars. Thought the Empress might be similar and it was just as good, maybe considering the scenery, better. First, the cabin. Knowing that the cabins on these boats tend toward being a bit smaller and knowing that the weather would be cold and rainey, we opted for one of the biggest cabins onboard, 704. Cabin was large and comfortable, well decorated, lots of storage. Yes, you've heard that the bathrooms are small - they are, but certainly not the big deal that some reviewers thought. Not an issue for us in the least. Yes, the walls are thin and you can hear next door's TV and the toilets flush. Again, not a biggie, and not bothersome for us. You know these things going into this cruise and if you think it is a problem (it is not), well it just comes with the territory. Some of the TV bleed through could be avioded if the speakers were not inside the TV cabinet, against the wall where they would use the wall as a sounding board. But again, it did not impact upon this 5-star cruise. Food was mostly excellant. Never had a meal that was less than a 9+, and most were a "10." Had lobster 3 nights (two in the River Grill). Steaks were supurb. Wines were very good, although I thought the house red could have been better. That said, we had the drink package and had the upgraded wine list to choose from. I'm nit picking here, but if you were on the drink package and wanted the better wines, it took the staff forever to get it to our table. Again, this is nit picking. Service: It simply does not get any better. We have been on 40+ cruises, mostly on upscale lines, and American Queen and Empress are the best. Never saw anything but smiles, and they were real. Staff seemed to enjoy themselves as much as the guests. Their simply was nothing that they could not do to make your cruise even better. As an example, American Airlines as usual lost our luggage for a couple of days. The hotel manager (purser's office) actually drove back from Clarkston to Spokane in the middle of the night (a four-hour round trip) to retrieve our luggage. We actually had a similar experience on the "Queen" several years back that sold us on this company. On board entertainment was certainly not Broadway (you will need RCCL large ships for that), but considering the venue, the singers and band - supurb. If you like 50s, 60s, and 70s music, this is for you. Throughly enjoyed every evening's entertainment. Tours: First, the scenery is absolutely spectacular throughout the entire trip. Jet boat to Hell's Canyon had great staff, lovely scenery and commentary, but I though it was an hour or so too long. Still, well worth while. The trip to the nuclear plant was again great, although the guides explanation was a bit too technical for me, and I was a physics major, The lunch boxes are made in China would you believe. The Falls: again some of the most beautiful scenery I've ever viewed. Well worth while. The HOHO bus tours: The first couple of towns were really small, not much for us to see and do. Astoria, however, was well worth walking the downtown area. I've given Fitness and recreation only one star, but that really is not fair, as I knew going into this that there was not gym (thankfully). It is really as "n/a." Would I do this again? In a heartbeat! Thank you AQSSC. Frank. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
We had driven through the Columbia Gorge, but wanted to see it up close at a gentle pace. Our trip started in Spokane. One night at the Historic Davenport Hotel was included in the trip. We opted for an extra night and were glad about ... Read More
We had driven through the Columbia Gorge, but wanted to see it up close at a gentle pace. Our trip started in Spokane. One night at the Historic Davenport Hotel was included in the trip. We opted for an extra night and were glad about that. The Historic Davenport Hotel is a destination in its own right. Registration was at the hotel. The next day we went by bus to Clarkston, where we boarded the Empress. We had a "deluxe veranda stateroom" which was cozy but efficient. The dining was very good to excellent. This website's review expressed disappointment that regional wines were not served with dinner. Clearly, the parent company heard that, because we had wines from a different regional winery every night. The entertainment exceeded our expectations. On a ship this size the music team has to be small (seven in all, I think), but they did a great job. The "Rock and Roll Dance Party" on the next to last night sounded corny, but it was a blast. Many crew members joined passengers on the dance floor. The Hop-on Hop-off buses worked very well. We took three premium tours, which delivered what they promised. I must comment on the friendly staff. Everyone on the ship worked hard to make our trip memorable. We were taken by how many staffers learned and remembered our names. The entertainers were friendly and approachable. The Riverlorian's lectures were always interesting. After this trip, ask me anything about Lewis and Clark! (Honestly, if you aren't interested in learning about Lewis and Clark, take a different cruise. That expedition's history permeates every port of call.) Definitely not a cruise for children, unless they were teens who are fascinated by history. The WiFi was mostly a bust. After a bit, we decided that this would be a great week to drop out of the daily news cycle anyway. Would we go again? Yes. We could do all the same day trips and take in different sites everywhere. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
I am working for two ladies in their late 80's as their caregiver on board the ship, but one of them is my employer. I work for her as an all around helper ,cook,driver and maintenance man. But before that i took care of her husband ... Read More
I am working for two ladies in their late 80's as their caregiver on board the ship, but one of them is my employer. I work for her as an all around helper ,cook,driver and maintenance man. But before that i took care of her husband for 4 years until he passed away. Fortunately she kept me on and I still work for her. Once a year she and her sister in law go on vacation for a week and take me with them as a helper. They got me my own stateroom on the boat. It's a very wonderful experience for me and hoping one day I can do it again with my wife. The crews are excellent and the boat is nice and clean. All the hop on hop off buses were so convenient and always on time. Even the tour guides at each location are locals, so they are very knowledgeable about the area. Unfortunately , I had one bad experience from other co-passengers. For I am a man with two senior ladies and some of them gave me the eye and a few questioned me about my relationship with the ladies. But on the final days of the cruise ,they seemed to understand the situation and complimented me with some nice words. All I can say that this cruise is highly recommended for more mature people and who love to learn about the past. Thanks for the excellent job ! and to Captain Ron Gray for choosing us to be invited to have dinner with him.That was very special. Keep up the good work and I will surely try other rivercruises of your company in the future. May Godbless you all ! And I want to share with you some great photos of mine on the cruise. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
My wife and I were thrilled with our trip from Clarkston to Vancouver on the Empress. Starting with our included pre-cruise stay at the incredibly restored, beautiful Historic Davenport Hotel in Spokane, WA. You can fly into Spokane and ... Read More
My wife and I were thrilled with our trip from Clarkston to Vancouver on the Empress. Starting with our included pre-cruise stay at the incredibly restored, beautiful Historic Davenport Hotel in Spokane, WA. You can fly into Spokane and arrange for a shuttle to the hotel through the Davenport. The staffs from the Captain down through all the others that operate and maintain the boat and its facilities were all extremely knowledgeable, friendly and helpful at all times. The food was incredibly well prepared and served with such grace. Our cabin and all other facilities, along with nightly entertainment, was top notch. We lucked out with perfect weather for the entire trip which made for beautiful scenery watching as we moved gently down the rivers. The Hop-on-Hop-off bus excursions are convenient and well run, all though, pretty basic. This is a must for those interested in an elegant cruise on the Snake and Columbia rivers. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
The trip was recommended to us by a longtime friend and we wanted a paddle boat experience. The trip was was a very enjoyable experience. The evening shows were super with some very talented performers. The food was above our general ... Read More
The trip was recommended to us by a longtime friend and we wanted a paddle boat experience. The trip was was a very enjoyable experience. The evening shows were super with some very talented performers. The food was above our general expectations. We have sailed many times on river boats and ocean liners and this was an easy match to our other cruises. There were very interesting and informative lectures throughout the trip. The entire staff was friendly and helpful, they made the trip special. We will be going on other cruises with American Queen Cruise Line in the future. The American Queen is a beautiful ship and well kept. It is very comfortable The officers of the American Queen are very friendly and managed the ship very well., But the exception is that this trip is not for everyone if you want Diamond International and a ship that contains a casino this is not a cruise line for you. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
My wife and I, along with four other couples, sailed the American Empress from Spokane to Portland on May 20, 2018. This was our third cruise with American Queen Steamboat Company. We had previously done the Upper Mississippi and Nashville ... Read More
My wife and I, along with four other couples, sailed the American Empress from Spokane to Portland on May 20, 2018. This was our third cruise with American Queen Steamboat Company. We had previously done the Upper Mississippi and Nashville to Memphis on the American Queen. DAY 1: American Queen provides your first night stay at the historic Davenport Hotel. The hotel shuttle which we had reserved thru the hotel ($25 per room) was waiting for us and quickly delivered us to the hotel. The hotel is beautiful and we enjoyed lunch in the Grill. The prime rib French dip sandwich was melt-in-your-mouth delicious. We completed our ship check-in, enjoyed dinner and walked a few blocks to see Spokane Falls. DAY 2: The next morning, following a buffet breakfast provided by American Queen, we took the Spokane City Tour Premium Excursion. We returned to the hotel around noon which gave us time to check out and eat lunch before boarding the bus for the two hour drive to Clarkston. If you choose not to take the extra-cost city tour, the morning is yours until it is time to board the bus to Clarkston. After boarding the boat, one member of our group went to make reservations for the River Grill “specialty” dining and another member went to the dining room to request a table for ten for the entire cruise. During dinner we had a short cruise on the river before returning to the dock. DAY 3: Still in Clarkston, following breakfast we did the hop-on, hop-off bus before returning for lunch on our veranda. Our group had four adjacent cabins on the Vista Deck. Outside each cabin were two chairs and a small table. A low railing separated the veranda from the walking deck and there was a metal partition between each veranda. At our request, the deck crew removed the metal partitions between our cabins so the area was open and we could all sit out and talk to each other. We went thru our first lock this afternoon which lowered us 100 feet. Following dinner we enjoyed the evening show and spent about 45 minutes chatting with the performers after the show. It’s great being on a small ship where the crew and entertainers know your names after the first day. The weather has been perfect although it’s been warmer than we expected. DAY 4: When we arrived in Richland, WA we weren’t able to dock due to the high water level of the river because of early snow melt run-off. The boat was positioned perpendicular to the shore and the bow gangway dropped. The premium excursions and hop-on, hop-off ran as usual. We left at 4:30 pm and were told that we were sailing to Umatilla, OR so the boat could take on water and fuel. We enjoyed another wonderful dinner and show. DAY 5: The regular dock in Umatilla was flooded so we’ve docked at an industrial dock. Unfortunately we spent most of the day here and the stink of diesel fuel was horrible. We should have spent the day cruising. This was the low point of the cruise. About 5 pm we reached the John Day Dam lock. Enjoyed another wonderful show this evening. DAY 6: Arrived in Stevenson, WA for an overnight stay. The weather and scenery has really changed. Much cooler, windy and forested. Beautiful scenery. We visited the Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum this morning, enjoyed dinner and the show. DAY 7: Visited Multnomah Falls, Vista House and Latourell Falls. Another delicious dinner followed by a great show. After the show we enjoyed a rock & roll dance party. DAY 8: Arrived in Astoria, OR to a beautiful sunny day. Everyone is telling us that this weather is unusually good for Astoria which is normally overcast and cloudy. We did the hop-on, hop-off bus this morning and following lunch we took the Lewis and Clark excursion. Enjoyed our last dinner and show and packed for the trip home. DINING We had requested and received early dining but a specific table is not assigned until you arrive for dinner. The dining room manager had us at two tables (6 and 4) the first night, but the rest of the cruise we had a table for ten with the same servers each night. The River Grill and Bar becomes a “specialty” dining venue with a fixed menu with several choices. Five or six seatings are offered each night. There is no extra cost to eat there but each guest is limited to two dinners per cruise. We had made reservations for two nights but after our first meal we cancelled our second reservation. We were not impressed. Several in our group had the steak and lobster and by the time the server got around to removing the lobster from the shell, it was cold and the steak for several people was cold upon arrival. The food was no better than that served in the dining room nor was the ambiance. For breakfast and lunch the River Grill has buffet offerings as well as cooked to order items such as eggs, hamburgers, etc. The soft serve ice cream machine and assorted toppings are located here. Several days later we were talking to the Dining Room Manager about our experience and how we felt it would be better to following the example of the American Queen and have the River Grill serve buffet style in the evening for those guests who would prefer a quicker, casual meal. He said that would be his preference also since he really doesn’t have the staff to do a proper job in the present set-up. The Dining Room offered varied menu items for breakfast and lunch, although we always ate breakfast and lunch in the River Grill. Dinner in the Dining Room offered a changing menu consisting of three starters, six soup/salads, eight entrees, several side items and five desert choices. There were several times when we ordered multiple entrees or extra servings which were happily provided. Overall the food was very good except for the pastry items which left much to be desired. They need a new pastry chef. ENTERTAINMENT The shipboard entertainment was excellent. Singers/dancers Sammi Sadicario and Daniel Lopez were both outstanding performers. Greg Pendzick sang and acted as the master of ceremonies and his wife Lindy Penzick sang and was the ship’s officer in charge of hospitality. Frank Chase played piano in the Paddlewheel Lounge. Kevin Neil captured the spirit of the wild west through his cowboy poetry and songs one evening. STAFF The staff was excellent. Everyone was extremely friendly and helpful. Our cabin attendant Olivia kept our cabin spotless and was a joy to work with. Dining room manager Baja arranged a special table for ten for our group and our servers Delonte and Lulu performed their duties in an excellent manner while making sure we had fun at dinner. A special thanks to Greg and Lindy Pendzick who handled their roles as entertainers and ship officers in a wonderful manner. They knew everyone’s name after the first day and went above and beyond to ensure that our cruise was wonderful. We never encountered a crew member who wasn’t helpful and more than willing to go out of their way to make our stay more comfortable. HOP-ON, HOP-OFF American Queen has their own fleet of four buses that follow the boat from stop to stop. At each town they provide a free hop-on, hop-off bus tour staffed by local historians that explain what you’re seeing and what’s at the different stops. The buses run in a continuous loop so you see what you want at your own pace. It’s a great system. In Clarkston we visited the Nez Perce National Historical Park and the Bridablik/Schroeder House. The House is a don’t miss attraction. It is a privately-owned residence that has been restored and filled with antiques. It is only open to American Empress guests and the owners take you on a wonderful tour followed by refreshments. Unfortunately they don’t allow any photography inside the house. In Astoria we visited Flavel House, a restored antique-filled house and the Astoria Column. PREMIUM SHORE EXCURSIONS We did several premium excursions which we felt were excellent and reasonably priced. The Spokane City Tour included Bing Crosby’s home, Manito Park and a ride on the historic 1909 Looff Carrousel. This tour fills your morning before being driven to the boat in Clarkston. Two members of our group went on the Hells Canyon Scenic Jet Boat Experience and enjoyed it. They said it was a smooth scenic ride. The High Octane Antiques: The Western Aeroplane and Automobile was wonderful. Over 325 airplanes, automobiles, motorcycles, jeeps and tractors are displayed. The Multnomah Falls & Vista House excursion included Multnomah Falls, Vista House and Latourell Falls, all beautiful locations. The Lewis and Clark Experience was very good. The Portland “The Rose City” Tour was also very good and delivered us to the Portland Airport by noon. Overall we had a wonderful cruise thru beautiful scenery. When comparing this cruise with our two previous trips on the American Queen, we preferred the American Queen. It is a larger ship which seemed to have more amenities. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
I am in my 70s, an Australian solo traveller, love seeing new places and love cruising. I enjoyed an upper Mississippi cruise on the American Queen a couple of years ago and, as I had never been to the Pacific Northwest before, knew that ... Read More
I am in my 70s, an Australian solo traveller, love seeing new places and love cruising. I enjoyed an upper Mississippi cruise on the American Queen a couple of years ago and, as I had never been to the Pacific Northwest before, knew that a paddle boat cruise would be a great way to go. I was not disappointed - the accommodation was VERY comfortable, food was delicious, all of the crew from the Captain down were so helpful, and very approachable. I was so impressed with the standard of entertainment, particularly for such a small boat - all were excellent. Lindy, the Hotel Manager, ran a "tight ship", with everything running smoothly on board, and external problems (eg. a dodgy lock, which wouldn't fill) were handled efficiently. Love the Hop On Hop Off buses, painted to look like riverboats, which took us around each of the towns we docked at, and on the premium excursions. My favourite was Zip-lining, which I hadn't tried before, and the jet boat cruise up the Snake River. I met lots of lovely people, so had plenty of good company when I wanted it. Thoroughly enjoyed the cruise, and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to others. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
Beautiful Location, short trip, excellent small boat with personal service and great entertainment. Food selections were varied and fresh. Unfortunately our trip included several wet and misty days, but knowing this ahead of time, we ... Read More
Beautiful Location, short trip, excellent small boat with personal service and great entertainment. Food selections were varied and fresh. Unfortunately our trip included several wet and misty days, but knowing this ahead of time, we dressed appropriately. The well appointed rooms on the boat are very comfortable and the boat includes 2 dining rooms and 2 lounges. We had plenty of time to get outdoors and exercise our legs, but the well organized hop off, hop on buses were a great alternative. Local Guides were well informed. I Would recommend to elderly, couples or families, although no young children. Each port of call had interesting museums, river walks and information about the local area. Shopping wasnt as good as I expected. A cruise like this is a great getaway to spoil yourself, get refreshed and learn about another part of the country. We look forward to booking a Missippi River cruise in a couple of years. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
On September 10th my wife and I and 34 neighbors from our Del Webb community took the American Empress riverboat from Clarkston Washington to Vancouver Washington (not Canada). The costs were $9189 not including flights, gratuities or ... Read More
On September 10th my wife and I and 34 neighbors from our Del Webb community took the American Empress riverboat from Clarkston Washington to Vancouver Washington (not Canada). The costs were $9189 not including flights, gratuities or transfers. Although everyone had a great time as we were all friends prior to this trip, we were very disappointed that we completely missed the major scenic portions of the river due to the Oregon fire and the Native American salmon fishing rights which prevented our docking at The Dalles. Due to the fire, we completely missed the Columbia gorge (passed thru after midnight), Mt. Hood, Multnomah Falls, The Old Scenic Highway, Bonneville Dam, and Timberline Lodge. We felt American Queen Steamship Company let us down, when they decided to compensate us with a day in Vancouver Washington with an included 15 minute hop on-hop off bus trip, and an additional day in Astoria Oregon with an included shopping trip to Cannon Beach and Seaside beach (local beaches). We asked them to provide a trip to Mt. St. Helens as they had done on the previous trip, but they refused. After returning home we requested our travel agent to ask them for compensation but AQSC did not respond. The bottom line is the fire and the blockage of The Dalles port were completely out of American Queens control, however their replacement options simply fell way short of the missed experiences to say nothing of the $1000+ a day cost. By the way they continue to advertise the same experiences we missed, even though the State of Oregon indicates those experiences may be closed for up to 2 years as a result of the fire. Although we all had fun on the river boat, we all felt that AQSC fell short in substituting for the missed experiences. We are aware that their contract says they can make any changes they want, including doing nothing. As a group we had a great time, but probably would not travel with AQSC in the future. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
Regrettably, our $7K cabin had malfunctioning air conditioning. It was terribly hot so we were provided with a fan! On the fourth day of the cruise, a maintenance person fixed the air conditioning unit but the thermostat was irregular ... Read More
Regrettably, our $7K cabin had malfunctioning air conditioning. It was terribly hot so we were provided with a fan! On the fourth day of the cruise, a maintenance person fixed the air conditioning unit but the thermostat was irregular and lowered to 65 degrees. With this, this, the air conditioning vent started dripping a significant amount of water into the carpeted floor. It was only after my third try that there was any action, and since I had the staff attention, I asked to have the room fully cleaned as well. There was significant dust on the baseboards and where the carpet met the walls. There was food in the refrigerator when we arrived. My assessment is there is simply no quality control. Yes, the ship has an English speaking crew but if they are not attentive, then it is of no value to the passenger. The company's apology to me was a complimentary bottle of wine. As for dining room food, I don't know. I asked someone how they liked the food and the reply was "I guess it is ok if you are hungry." My husband and I missed the first night dining because our room was so hot making unpacking impossible in the short time frame we had to unpack and change. When we did go to the dining room another day, we were seated by ourselves so we never went back. Instead, we had room service on our veranda. The value of the cruise for money spent is absurd. The scenery is really nice but the cruise experience was not something I would recommend. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
We chose a destination with cool weather and new scenery. North Texas summers are hot, oppressively hot. We had not traveled often enough in Washington and Oregon. This cruise not only gave an opportunity to see these states but also ... Read More
We chose a destination with cool weather and new scenery. North Texas summers are hot, oppressively hot. We had not traveled often enough in Washington and Oregon. This cruise not only gave an opportunity to see these states but also the beautiful Columbia River Gorge and the scenic mountains; Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helens, and Mt. Adams. The river is a vista of ever-changing mountainous scenery. We went thru 8 or 9 locks (from sea leve to about 800 feet elevation at Lewiston, Idaho.) Our first day in Astoria, Oregon, was cool enough that I was concerned with not bringing enough warm clothing. The entire trip the morning weather was excellent and as we got further from the coast the afternoon weather got warmer. So if you are looking for a morning shiver with your cup of coffee during July and August, here is the trip. The food, the service, the accommodations, the entertainment, the crowd (over 70) was great. No kids, no drunks, just plain ordinary seniors, dignified, mostly well-traveled and polite. The staff & crew were well trained, very professional and would go out of their way to be friendly. Our first cruise was on the 'old Delta Queen' many years ago and this riverboat cruise was just as memorable as our first. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
We had never been to the Pacific Northwest and wanted to experience the beauty and grandeur that Lewis & Clark discovered. The ship is small enough to be intimate, yet large enough to enjoy quiet areas without waiting in lines. The ... Read More
We had never been to the Pacific Northwest and wanted to experience the beauty and grandeur that Lewis & Clark discovered. The ship is small enough to be intimate, yet large enough to enjoy quiet areas without waiting in lines. The staff was friendly and, by and large, loved their jobs. The entertainers were top-notch, including the instrumentalists in the band and piano. Our woman captain presented her ship in a bridge tour and was proud of every detail. The food was exceptional. Wine is included with dinner and though it was not expensive wine, neither was it cheap; it was drinkable, often local, and enhanced the food. My wife has mobility limitations and the entire staff, including the hop on-hop off bus drivers were most accommodating and helpful. The premium shore excursions were excellent. We were a bit concerned about the Hell's Canyon Jet Boat experience, but are so glad that we went. Our jet boat captain was exceptional and the experience was not to be missed.The "Riverlorian" chats could be improved, but the lady was exceptionally knowledgeable. The art throughout the boat was amazing. We will go again, but want to enjoy other American Queen vessels first. One of the benefits of river cruising over ocean cruising is the smooth sailing; no motion-sickness and much easier to walk about. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
We wanted to see more of the United States. Have been to California and seeing Oregon and Washington finishes the West Coast for us. There is so much of the U.S. to see here that we are only putting a small dent in it! The American ... Read More
We wanted to see more of the United States. Have been to California and seeing Oregon and Washington finishes the West Coast for us. There is so much of the U.S. to see here that we are only putting a small dent in it! The American Empress is a perfect ship size to meet most of the passengers, it's small enough that you don't get lost trying to get to anything. The food is elegantly delicious! I love there ON-OFF excursion buses--make it very easy to spend as much time in each area of the port as you want. The Riverlorian talks onboard are very interesting and entertaining. The only thing I miss is a pool onboard or at a hot tub--I enjoy swimming and doing my PT (Physical Therapy) exercises which are a must since I've had knee replacement surgery on both knees. But the excursions are perfect for the walking exercise that I'm supposed to do. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
We have family in the Pacific Northwest and wanted to both see them and tour the region. We are in our seventies and found most of the passengers just around our age bracket. The boat is easy to both board and get around. The hotel ... Read More
We have family in the Pacific Northwest and wanted to both see them and tour the region. We are in our seventies and found most of the passengers just around our age bracket. The boat is easy to both board and get around. The hotel accommodations before the cruise were quite good. Clean quiet room. The check-in procedure went well. The boat was close enough to the hotel that we could walk to it. The most outstanding feature that I remember about the boat is that it had the loudest flushing toilets I have ever heard. I've been on other cruises and have used the facilities. But this was a roaring beast! As to the ports of call, I realize that weather is a contributing factor in allowing the rivers to be navigable. I find that usually some adjustment has to be made as to itinerary. The company knows this as it happens often. Yet the American Empress seems to be caught off guard by it. On our next to the last day we were to cruise up the Snake River. This couldn't happen and we were left at a industrial dock. The speed boat trip down the Snake became a bus trip to Walla Walla. The company could have accommodated the boat trip, but told the speed boat company that they had something else planned for its passengers. As for the food, there is certainly enough of it and, as cruises go, it is good. But practically every traveler on this cruise was hovering ten years on either side of sixty. Food was entirely too salty for this clientele. Also, desserts were never printed on the menu. I suspect this was because they ran out of certain offerings. The scenery was absolutely breath-taking and the riverlorian a highlight of the cruise. He knew both his geography and history. But, all in all, it was a mediocre cruise at best. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
We choose this because we wanted a River cruise after having many ocean cruises. We have never been to Washington or Oregon. It is for older individuals with no children on board. Cabin was adequate size. Extras- robes with slippers, ... Read More
We choose this because we wanted a River cruise after having many ocean cruises. We have never been to Washington or Oregon. It is for older individuals with no children on board. Cabin was adequate size. Extras- robes with slippers, fridge, tv, audio speaker of 1 music station and a flip switch to B to hear Riverlorian when speaking about history or places to visit. The ship, is very clean. The dining really tasty food with a good selection of choice. The entertainment- is small cosy and of fine quality. Lindy, Mel and Kevin do a variety of small scale well done performances along with the quality 4pc band.Activities on board Frank is a talented piano bar player, small scale games and activities, Dance nite was nice, Champain toast to the crew- no one made a toast!, most off boat, varied selection, adaptions per safe water travel. Pendelton coulda had 2 days Wool city,underground city subway+more,Keith Madison our local tour guide was the best, lots of museums and National parks to see at different stops. If you go make sure to look for the great local art galleries right off the boat that they don't mention, good stuff and great gifts. They have a hoponhopoff bus situation with safe drivers.So much to see in constrict of time, you do get a taste of everything to leave you wanting more. You get a daily map/list of activities-only ask percer for info- crew clueless. Even so they missed a variety of things. Astoria has a wonderful trolley(we didnt get on). Some crew were amazing. Want to eat in the Grill (2 nights only) contact Lisa Head waiter, have issues- as we did, requesting to be seated WITH people, contact Carman Head Matradee.Angie was the 1 server in the bar. She works hard. Valerie also on excursions. More to do than meets the eye. So why not 5 stars-there are some areas lacking. They do not have radios or phones to contact crew/staff when needed. A simple but important fix. Twice I had genuine valid upsetting issues trying to catch up with scheduled events where a simple phone/radio connection (COMMUNICATON) would have solved the problems quickly and efficiently. Instead of making me upset to a point of outburst anger and not feeling well for a good 1/2 hour after. The highlite for me was going thru the LOCKS-1 was 113 feet with a guilotine opening at 3 am. Very cool though, smooth sailing on river waters no sea sickness. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
I chose this cruise for two reasons 1) I had traveled on the American Queen and had a great time and 2) the Snake and Columbia Rivers were places I wanted to explore. That being said, one must be philosophical about river travel. This ... Read More
I chose this cruise for two reasons 1) I had traveled on the American Queen and had a great time and 2) the Snake and Columbia Rivers were places I wanted to explore. That being said, one must be philosophical about river travel. This spring the water in the Snake has been too high for some weeks. Unfortunately, mine was one of those weeks. So two of the reasons I signed up for the tour, the Snake River and the Dalles were cancelled. However, this cruise still gets 5 stars because everything that is the control of the on board staff and crew is perfect! The food, the service, the boat, the entertainment cannot be topped. Our Riverlorian, Laurence, was outstanding. The entertainment crew was top notch. In the evenings when I should have been watching the river go by, I was enjoying the entertainment at both ends of the boat. There are not enough superlative words to describe the level of talent on the Empress. The size of the boat is perfect.It is smaller than the AQ but so intimate. After two or three days the crew knows your name, and you have made friends with folks from all over. A few tips:1) If you are traveling with a friend and sharing a room, see if you can get a room where the beds are perpendicular to each other. If I had known this was option I would have requested it as the rooms are very small for two people to move around in. 2) For those of us mechanically challenged, a card in near the shower with instructions as to how to operate it would have been very helpful. 3) Get to know the deck crew. I was lucky to have met Terry. From him I learned that to see one of the best river lock/dam systems anywhere in the world, the John Day, I would need to be at the bow of the boat at 3am. He arranged a wake up call and I was there with a few other hearty folks. It was amazing! 4) Get a bike at the ports where you can bike along the river. 5) On a rainy day, get the art brochure from the pursers office and take yourself on a tour of the art on the boat. It is really nice stuff. Shore Excursions and Ports of Call: One suggestion for the AQ company, is for more time in Astoria. One day was not nearly enough. We spent two days in a smaller port where there was much less to see. Would I go again? YES but only if I could be sure that I would be able to be on the Snake River and see the Dalles. Time of year might make a difference and I would check on that before I booked. I embarked in Spokane a lovely city, with a fine book store with craft shop attached. Loved the Davenport Hotel. I disembarked in Portland. Both processes went smoothly. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
I chose this US waterways cruise because 1) I had never done a river cruise before, 2) it is fully in the USA so no worries about difficulty returning to my homeland, and 3) a steamboat is intriguing. The American Empress is an intimate ... Read More
I chose this US waterways cruise because 1) I had never done a river cruise before, 2) it is fully in the USA so no worries about difficulty returning to my homeland, and 3) a steamboat is intriguing. The American Empress is an intimate boat with a capacity of approximately 220 passengers. It offers beautifully appointed cabins with private verandas. Housekeeping is personalized and the same attendant serves you all week. Embarkation is as easy as can be with luggage awaiting your arrival in the cabin. Once aboard, a presentation is offered to acquaint the travelers to the location of key venues and to meet the staff serving you during the cruise. The ship is easy to navigate, elevators and stairways easily visible, clean environment, and comfortable areas to meet or have conversations. Dining is spectacular with a more upscale dining room as well as a casual lounge. Both serve a variety of menu items and the food is very well prepared. Delicious! The staff obviously enjoy their jobs and interact with all passengers in a friendly, playful yet professional manner. Absolutely delightful. Ports of call are interesting, based in history of the area, and shore excursions deepen one's knowledge of the area. The on board Riverlorian also details what you are seeing as the cruise follows the Columbia River. This is not a cruise for youngsters (one must be 18 to be on board). It is definitely primarily an informational cruise. The on board entertainment is twice nightly, delightful, fun, and engaging. I would, and will, go again! A fabulous trip, fun and enjoyable. LOVED it all! Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
The travel from Spokane and Embarkation process was very efficient. The stay at the Davenport hotel was the highlight of the trip. Cabins on board the Empress were adequate and the beds were comfortable. The cabins were clean, well ... Read More
The travel from Spokane and Embarkation process was very efficient. The stay at the Davenport hotel was the highlight of the trip. Cabins on board the Empress were adequate and the beds were comfortable. The cabins were clean, well appointed and good size for the length of the cruise. The staff onboard was attentive and engaging . The Hop on, hop off excursion process was efficient but really not much interesting to see at each port. The enrichment presentations with Mary were very well presented and enjoyed by all. The entertainment with Greg and Lindy was very good for the size and location of this cruise. This 7 night cruise could have been done in 4 nights. It is Very slow paced. Dining service staff were well-trained and the table presentation was high quality. For me, this cruise was not a good value and did not meet my expectation. Don't need to do this trip a second time. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
We have cruised extensively over the last decade, but this was the first time we cruised in US waters. My husband is mobility impaired and I was shocked to discover that nobody on board really seemed to notice and to try to assist my ... Read More
We have cruised extensively over the last decade, but this was the first time we cruised in US waters. My husband is mobility impaired and I was shocked to discover that nobody on board really seemed to notice and to try to assist my efforts to walk with him or to participate in excursions with him. On the ONE excursion we finally tried, although we were in the handicap seat at the front of the bus, NO-ONE OFFERED to help me get him off or back on the bus. The driver and excursion leader stood at the bottom of the stairs and watched him and me struggle with his cane and with his unbalanced attempts to take those steps. Throughout the cruise, as we entered dining or program rooms, no-one from the ship ever made even one attempt to help me get him seated or in or out of the public room. We had to call the EMT while on the ship as my husband fell in the cabin, and no-one , except the EMT, from the crew ever followed up nor was additional support offered in any way after that event. Transfers to and from the cruise ship were also unacceptable. No-one from the cruise company was available in the lobby of the Doubletree Hotel in Lewiston, ID and I was left to my own devices to manage our luggage while I was assisting him. Finally, someone did come to our aid, BUT IT WAS A FELLOW PASSENGER - NO-ONE FROM THE HOTEL OR CRUISE COMPANY OFFERED ANY ASSISTANCE. For the return transfer to the Portland OR airport, I discovered the luggage cart machine wasn't taking any form of payment, so I asked the bus driver to please help me find a porter. She said, and I quote, "I am not really familiar with this airport and would not know how to make that happen." I made the same request of some person on the bus who had been identified as a company person, and he gave me the same answer. So I, by myself, had to find a way to get the luggage and the two of us into the terminal. The only assistance we received was from the SAME FELLOW PASSENGER I mentioned earlier. who took pity on our plight and accompanied us to our room while managing the luggage for us. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
We cruised on the American Queen last October on the Tennessee/Columbia Rivers and enjoyed it very much. The positives of this cruise was the size of the room and its furnishing (other than the twin beds!), the service, the shore ... Read More
We cruised on the American Queen last October on the Tennessee/Columbia Rivers and enjoyed it very much. The positives of this cruise was the size of the room and its furnishing (other than the twin beds!), the service, the shore excusions and all the guides. There are several suggestions I would like to make: The first three deal with what is printed in the brochure... 1)It states that we had a option for twin beds or queen...no one asked which preferred...when we discovered we might have twin beds about two weeks before the cruise, I telephoned and talked with Tamara...I think she tried to accommodate us, but to no avail. The wording in the brochure and the pictured rooms all show a queen bed. We were duped! My husband and I have been married 2 1/2 years and in addition,this was his birthday cruise and we were stuck with twin beds! Really? Why not specify in the brochure that the choice is "upon request"? 2)The second "mistake" in the brochure is the "complimentary" cappuccino...we never could find that the crew had no idea where it was either. 3) The brochure also states that each room has a DVD. That was simply not true. We brought along two DVDs about Lewis and Clark and the purser had to locate one and plug it up to the TV with the DVD placed on one of the chairs. I guess we were lucky they found one! I would like to suggest that you provide optional name tags for the guests...issued at the first opportunity...whether at the hotel, on the first shore excursion before leaving the city, or upon arrival at the ship. That name tag might also note the guest's home town so we can forego "Where are you from?" I would have liked to have better wi-fi service so I could download my photos from my phone and my husband's phone and manage them at night when there was time. Whenever you decided to add more tour buses please consider domed buses especially in the areas where the scenery is mostly mountains and please consider cup holders, netting and hooks for purses. We love the buses as far as the outside and the comfort inside and the guides were exceptional! Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
American Queen Steamboat Company (AQSC) Best For: • Guests who enjoy a first-rate, relaxed river cruise experience. • Couples, family & friends traveling together, and parents traveling with adult children. • The ... Read More
American Queen Steamboat Company (AQSC) Best For: • Guests who enjoy a first-rate, relaxed river cruise experience. • Couples, family & friends traveling together, and parents traveling with adult children. • The overall demographic is primarily 60-plus age range. As a FAM cruise, this lowered the overall age range. • Well-traveled history buffs looking for a luxury river cruise. • Domestic travelers, there are a very small percentage of international travelers. • Guests who have traveled on AQSC sister ship, the American Queen. • Cruisers who prefer to relax and enjoy the unfolding river views. • Guests who have motion sensitivity, as the river cruising is very calm. Itinerary/Port Experience: Saturday April 2nd: Pre-Hotel Stay – Portland Hotel Stay Guests of AQSC received a complimentary, one night deluxe hotel stay in Vancouver, Washington (Portland Airport-PDX-is the nearest airport). For this 2016 Launch season for the Columbia and Snake River Cruise, AQSC used the Hilton Vancouver Washington. This package included breakfast, taxes, porterage and transfers. The ship is close to the Vancouver Farmer’s market, the number one visitor attraction and home to over 200 vendors. Guest staying at this hotel received a morning overview of the American Empress, priority specialty dining reservations at the River Bar and Grill, and pre-cruise check-in. For FAM guests, the hotel is not complimentary. I opted to stay at Hotel Rose in Portland, Oregon. The hotel is pet friendly. This hotel lured me with it complimentary pineapple cupcakes, and coffee daily in the lobby. The hotel is approximately 25 minutes from PDX and equal distance to the dock in Vancouver, WA. Conveniently located walking distance to Portland’s famous Saturday Market, and the ooey gooey goodness of Voodoo Donuts. Hotel Rose provided complimentary bicycles, helmets and locks for guests to mix in with the local biking culture. I recommend including a few landmarks which are a short distance by bike: Powell’s Books (largest bookstore on the planet), St. Mary’s Cathedral, and Waterfront Park Trail along the Willamette River. Using transportation there are some great stops while in the city: International Rose Test Gardens, Portland Japanese Gardens, and The Grotto – National Sanctuary. Note: Portland is for foodies and has a very casual feel. “Keep Portland Weird” is the city’s motto. Save some time for people watching it is truly fascinating. There is a bounty of stellar food venues; many have got their start from the unending lines of food trucks adorning the city streets. I decided on cuisine from Kathmandu, Nepal, which was a solid choice. Portland is a utopia for vegans. I had my first, unbelievably good, burger made with beets and cashew cheese. The curry ketchup with home style fries was excellent. If you only have time to make one food stop, I highly recommend The Salt and Straw. Best fresh made ice cream (gelato included), I’ve ever experienced. The ice cream is made with all locally grown ingredients, and Zagat-rated. The 30 minute line was well worth it! I sampled the strawberry honey balsamic with black pepper; the honey lavender; and Arbequina olive oil. I landed on a scoop of the Arbequina olive oil. They do offer ice cream by mail. Sunday, April 3rd, Day 1: Vancouver, WA The ship departure at 6 p.m. allowed for some pre-cruise premium shore excursions (additional charge): Mount St. Helens Tour including Portland City Tour; and Portland City Tour – “The Rose City”. Both excursions included pick up at the Hilton in Vancouver and transfer to the ship. I arrived shortly before the 3 p.m. embarkation which allowed me to meet guests, which later turn out to be phenomenal new friends who I shared the journey with. Guests were greeted at embarkation with jazz music from the Empress Quartet and small treat from the dessert tray. My luggage was delivered within ten minutes of arriving in my stateroom. AQSC is touted as the largest, most elegant riverboat in the Pacific Northwest. AQSC has a dedicated fleet of motor coaches, which includes a fully narrated hop-on, hop-off (ho-ho) tours for each port town. The morning typically has three departure times from the boat (AQSC uses the term boat, not ship). Maps are provided every night in the staterooms outlining the various stops along the ho-ho route. Motor coaches pick up are every 15 minutes in the morning, and every hour in the afternoon for most days. The boat visits small towns so the ho-ho provides time to explore the local shops and museums. Some guests took the ho-ho tour for an overview of the town. Most full circuits requiring about 45 minutes. Most admission fees to museums and attractions are part of the tour, though you will still want to bring some spending monies as most have gift shops. AQSC started the journey with full-color, double-sided maps outlining our journey staterooms. Lewis and Clark’s expedition was the opposite direction of our itinerary. According to Laurence Cotton, our Riverlorian, traveling the same direction as the expedition, East to West, provides more daytime travel. The rivers passes through 7 ecosystems in 7 days! The West is close to a rainforest, receiving up to 80 or more inches of rainfall a year. The East is has desert conditions receiving less than 15 inches or less of rainfall a year. Monday, April 4th, Day 2: Astoria, OR This is the oldest American Settlement west of the Rocky Mountains. This area was inhabited by the Clatsop Indians for thousands of years. In 1805, Lewis and Clark’s expedition arrived here where they wintered at Fort Clatsop.   The battle of the premium shore excursions was shared by many guests. The tough decision between The Lewis & Clark Experience and Zip Lining Adventure ensued with much thought. The winner was the Zip Lining Adventure, which allowed me to face my fear of heights, head on. The day was a double victory as our small entourage of three guests zip lining was enhanced when our tour guide offered to take us through a fast-forward tour of the Lewis and Clark National Historical Park at Fort Clatsop. High Life Adventures provided a progressive series of an 8-course zip line. What a tremendous pleasure to share in the bucket-list-item for an 82 year-old from our ship as part of our zipping team. The afternoon of adrenalin culminated with The Zwing Extreme Zip Swing (additional charge, highly recommend). A surprise visit from Yeti at the end of one of the zip courses, added to the fear factor as he jumped from behind the trees. Note: Guests on The Lewis & Clark Experience received a complimentary book, In the Wake of Lewis and Clark: From the Mountains to the Sea by C. Mark Smith. Though I did not purchase this excursion, I did order my copy on Amazon and enjoyed the easy read. Bonus, C. Mark Smith was one of the tour guides on the ho-ho. Tuesday, April 5th, Day 3: The Dalles, OR The terrane has changed significantly from the lushness of Oregon’s west coast to the desert-like conditions of The Dalles of Oregon. There were no premium shore excursions in this area, though interestingly enough, our Lounge Entertainer, Ted Horwitz, hails from this small town. He entertained us each afternoon and evening in the Paddlewheel Lounge. The Dalles has many high tech companies residing there due to tax breaks, enhanced with the Columbia River Gorge Technology Alliance. Google invested 1.2 billion dollars in its data center. Apple and Amazon are investing in communities in Oregon, as well. Quite a few guests participated in the on shore hike emulating the Corps of Discovery on an easy ½ mile hike lead by Laurence to Lewis and Clark’s Rock Fort Camp. The crew and Riverlorian offered numerous on shore hikes ranging from ½ miles to 2 miles most days. The American Empress left port at 3 a.m. on day Day 3. New friends from aboard the boat came together after a yummy dinner to walk to a local karaoke dive. What fun times were had singing “We are Family” with some friendly folks from The Dalles! Wednesday, April 6th, Day 4: Stevenson, WA I choose the popular Multnomah Falls and Vista House premium excursion. This tour began on the Old Scenic Highway offering breathtaking views along America’s most scenic landscape. There were many vantage points and photo opportunities along the way: The Columbia River Gorge, Crown Point, Vista House, Multnomah Falls (Oregon’s highest waterfall), and much more. When I arrived back in my stateroom, AQSC surprised me with a picture memento of our day’s journey on the premium shore excursion. What a stellar gesture! Thursday, April 7th, Day 5: Cruising The Columbia River & Tri-Cities (Richland), WA (overnight) It was a relaxing morning paddling down The Columbia River with many onboard activities to choose from: Zumba Gold, Read Our Mind Game Show, Trivia, Riverlorian Presentation, Bridge Players Meet, Future Cruise Talk, and Disembarkation Talk. We arrived in Richland at 2 p.m. and the Ho-Ho ran every 30 minutes. Friday, April 8th, Day 6: Tri-Cities (Richland), WA My journey down The Columbia River to The Snake River was highlighted with the premium shore excursion Hells Canyon Scenic Jet Boat Experience. Hells Canyon is North America’s deepest gorge. The jet boats were very comfortable and covered. The bench seat in the back was even more exciting as daring guests were drenched with a combination of mist and waves. The views along the banks offered tremendous view. Our tour guide mentioned sometimes there are sighting of bear, Big Horn sheep, deer, and other native wildlife can be spotted. I spotted cattle, horses, deer, bald eagle, and various birds. At the farthest East end of the river, we stopped at the Idaho Garden Creek Preserve and enjoyed beverages and cookies. The views were gorgeous from the of river, orchard, and nature’s landscape. Note: The Jet boats were enclosed and contain onboard bathroom facilities. This was a scenic jet boat experience; there were no white water rapids. A week after I arrived home, my latest issue of Backpacking magazine featured an article boasting best views in America’s National Parks, and featuring Hells Canyon. What a fun way to showcase the end of my journey aboard AQSC! I did see many hikers along the river enjoying the gorgeous 80-degree weather and views. Highlights: What made AQSC memorable is the outstanding crew and friendliest guests on any cruise line I have journeyed! The overall feel of the ship was jovial, fun, and lasting friendships were forged. • The maîtres’ in each dining room decorated the dining table for a friend’s birthday. In the Astoria Dining Room, Carmen, head maîtres, gave her a small gift. I have never witnessed such a remarkable experience on any premium or luxury cruise line. On the last night of the cruise, Carmen gave everyone at our table a beautiful picture of Mount Hood, signed “We will miss you”! • The Riverlorian, Laurence Cotton was the most knowledgeable, engaging, and enjoyable lecturer I have had the pleasure of listening to. He is a true gem for AQSC! He gave daily lectures with a broad range: The Columbia River, “Our Journey Through Time and Place” introduction to the region and its history; “The Lewis & Clark and the Corps of Discovery: Onwards to the Pacific and Homeward Bound”; Kennewick Man and the Hanford Nuclear Site, “Frederick Law Olmsted: Designing America (his film produced for public TV); “Oregon Trail: In Their Own Words”; and Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce War (his own film). • I thoroughly enjoyed the Broadway style nightly entertainment in The Show Lounge. Each evening featured a fresh vibe, engaging audience interactions: Music of the Silver Screen, greatest pop & rock from 50’s-70’s, love songs, and Broadway songs. • Locks and Lox were featured in the River Grill as American Empress traveled through the Bonneville Dam, the first of many locks on the river journey. This was coupled with the $5 Bloody Mary or Mimosa bar with all the fixings, offered most mornings. Laurence indicated the eastbound itinerary featured more daytime cruising through the locks than the westbound itinerary. • Enrichment Presentation featuring the gifted guest speaker, storyteller, and Native American Tribal Member, J. R. Spencer sharing tales about the Nez Perce Indians. • Maryhill Wine Tasting with special guest presenter Rich Washburn for a complimentary tasting of local favorites. • “Dare to Dream” featured the history of steamboating in an interesting video showcasing the origins of the American Queen. • The good and the sad…welcome aboard and the Farewell Champagne reception. Stateroom Experience: My floating home away from home was a category C deluxe verandah stateroom #226 on the Frontier Deck. This was an ideal location being one door away from the stairwell and elevators. I enjoyed the view from the port side of the boat across the river as the boat headed eastbound. The stateroom was just down the corridor from the Paddlewheel Lounge where most activities were held. I could hear the music from my stateroom at night which was welcomed. AQSC was completely refurbished in spring 2014. Staterooms were stunning in the Victorian era with ornate furniture and elegant wallpaper. Many of the staterooms are configured for two twins with limited queen configurations. The AE-C categories are 180 sq. ft. with one picture window, and one door with window. There was ample storage in the two armoires. The stateroom was well accommodated with a flat screen TV, alarm clock, mini refrigerator, safe, Keurig coffee brewer, and binoculars. The bathroom was small though had a good design. The bath shower stall was quite small. There was a hairdryer, bathrobes, and slippers in the stateroom. Other features were an antique writing desk with chair, which I rotated for views from the picture window. There were two antique style chairs and fine artwork from the regions American Empress travels. Every evening, the River Times was left in each stateroom and offered a map of the ho-ho destinations, and newsletter for the follow day’s adventures. Note: The staterooms and on the Vista View Deck have the walking track surrounding them. There is a small railing, see below.  Dining Experience: • The cuisine above represents some of the regional Pacific Northwest cuisine, using locally sourced, fresh ingredients with a contemporary vibe. I highly recommend the grilled lobster, and espresso-rubbed tenderloin. • An all-American staff provided gracious service and warm hospitality. This was the friendliest service I have ever experienced. The head chef visited our table most every night. He even surprised our table with a specially made dessert. • The ship had a country club casual ambiance, no formal wear was required. • The Astoria Dining Room had fine the same fine service breakfast, lunch, and dinner. • The catch of the day was featured each evening in the Astoria Dining Room. • The drinks were overflowing with regional wines and beer in both dining venues during dinner. • The River Grill and Bar offered morning made-to-order omelet station, alternative grill options for lunch; including hamburgers, roast beef sandwiches, fajitas, and much more. Both breakfast and lunch buffet had varied daily options offering many choices of cold, hot, and dessert options. Afternoons you could find fruit and cookies to snack on. The drinks were self-service. There was alfresco dining or you could take in the rays from the floor to ceiling windows indoors. • Complimentary cappuccino, espresso, bottled water and soft drinks were available in The River Grill & Bar anytime. • Late afternoon snacks were offered in the Paddlewheel Lounge with a wide daily range: huge shrimp & cocktail sauce, cheese & crackers, veggies & dips, and so much more. The antique popcorn popper allowed for a salty and buttery option at any time. For my sweet tooth, I frequented the platter of different types of homemade cookies. • Room service was available with a special menu and I am told you could have cuisine from the dining room’s menu in your stateroom or for a romantic dinner on your verandah. Activities/Entertainment: • Happy hour in the Paddlewheel Lounge allowed guests to try the featured drink of the day, while tapping their feet to the sweet beat of Ted Horwitz, entertainer and pianist. Ted covered many decades and music varieties from American Folk Music; tunes from the Rat Pack; smooth sounds; to hosting a Rock ‘n Roll Dance Party. His friendly and fun banter with guests, kept the crowd engaged. After dinner, the Paddlewheel Lounge was filled with guests taking in a night cap or dancing to their favorite requests. • The Empress Quartet featured jazz some evenings. They were a talented group on guys from different parts of Missouri (shout out to where I grew up). • The gift shop was open when the boat was in port, which was handy. • A self-guided art tour was offered by way of a brochure in each stateroom/suite. The American Empress showcased fine historical artifacts and artwork of the Native Alaska, Russian, and Gold Rush throughout the corridors. • Onboard activities offered something for everyone: line dancing lessons, trivia, Independent Travelers Meet & Greet, Bingo, Veterans Meet & Greet, Bridge Players & Game Players, movie matinee, Blackjack Tournament, Pilot House tour, Engine Room Tour, crafts, Read Our Minds classic TV gameshow and The Match Game, and Liar’s Club Game. Insider’s Tips: • Complimentary bicycles were offered to guests on a first come, first serve basis to explore destinations on their own. • Be first to attend select lectures by Laurence the Riverlorian as he handed out full-size maps. The maps reflected in detail Lewis & Clarks’ expeditions, featuring the Columbia River and points of interest. • Take time slow down and take in the view. The rocking chairs on the public deck outside the River Grill & Bar invited a laid-back vibe, whilst overlooking the wake views and paddlewheel. • I recommend waiting to sign up for the optional tour once onboard, instead of advance for some special travel agent rates. • Before the cruise, sign up for some Premium Experience Excursions for a more in-depth and active options while in port. The pricing is nominal and money well spent! Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
My wife and I took an American Queen Steamboat Company Cruise on The American Empress Steamboat last week, traveling up the Columbia and Snake Rivers. We have been on 30 international large cruise ships, but this was our first United ... Read More
My wife and I took an American Queen Steamboat Company Cruise on The American Empress Steamboat last week, traveling up the Columbia and Snake Rivers. We have been on 30 international large cruise ships, but this was our first United States River Cruise. The total 10 day cruise started with a Bus tour of Vancouver, Washington and Portland, Oregon which was followed by and over night stay at the Hilton Vancouver Hotel. The next morning the steamboat embarked from Portland, Oregon, going up the Columbia River and stopping in Astoria, OR. The Dalles, WA. Stevenson, WA, Richland, WA. and Clarkson, WA. After leaving the steamboat in Clarkson, WA we took another bus tour up to Spokane, Washington where we toured the city, and then checked in at the luxurious Davenport Hotel for a two night stay. It was a great Cruise trip, as we experienced the same sense of excitement and wonder that Lewis and Clark had, as they explored the Columbia and Snake River areas of Oregon and Washington. We visited many historical, scenic and enjoyable sites on our voyage up the famous rivers. The American Empress is a beautiful steamboat and is the largest overnight riverboat west of the Mississippi River. The American Empress also has a vast collection of some of the finest historical artifacts, and artwork from the Native Alaskan, Russian, Gold Rush, and stern wheeler eras on board. The corridors of the American Empress hold nearly as much beauty and intrigue as the dramatic scenery unfolding on the river outside. Our state room with a balcony was beautiful, and the bed was so comfortable. All the Meals on the ship prepared by Executive Chef Bill Ballard and Staff, were very Delicious! Chef Ballard would walk around every night checking with all the guests on the ship making sure that everyone was totally satisfied. The up stairs more casual River Grill & Bar was fantastic every time we ate there, as Restaurant Manager Lisa was so friendly and professional, as she guided the River Grill servers every night to do a great job. Desiree and Rachel were outstanding as they served us several times.The down stairs more up scale Astoria Dining Room, was managed by Maitre D' Ann Gilbert along with the very nice Restaurant Manager Allan Baja. Derrick who served are table of four people multiple times was excellent, professional, and had a great personality. The Bar Manager Ed Jenkins was also so nice as he would hustle around the steamboat making sure his Bartenders were preparing the Beer, Wine, and Cocktails that every guest wanted. One of the most important people on the entire ship was the Riverlorian Laurence Cotton, who worked very hard everyday giving multiple historical lectures, about the Columbia and Snake Rives and the Lewis and Clark expeditions. Laurence has so much knowledge and presented it very well. My wife and I also went on a tour of the Bridge, and met the Master of the steamboat Captain Ron Gray. It was a great tour, and the Captain was so nice as he instructed us about the functions of the American Empress Steamboat. We also took another good tour of the engine department with Chief Engineer Noah Sheppard. During the day on our many ports of call, we would go on either the Hop On-Hop Off luxury Bus tour which were included in the price of the Cruise, or we picked a premium excursion tour to go on. All the tours were so educational and very well organized. At night after dinner, we would go see the nightly showtime entertainment in the show lounge. The two main headliners most of the nights were the two married Cruise Directors, Lindy and Gregory Pendzick. They were FANTASTIC! During the day the two Cruise Directors were hustling around the ship making sure they did everything to take care of all the guests on the steamboat. Lindy and Greg did a great job coordinating bingo, game shows, and craft sessions for all the guests. At Night they both put on an outstanding Singing, Dancing, and Broadway play performances, that delighted the entire audience. Both Lindy and Greg have an extended list of professional stage experiences, and did a great job every night, along with the American Empress Band. After the Showtime entertainment finish at night, most people would then go up to the Paddle wheel Lounge on Deck 2 to have a Drink which would be served by Angie, and to listen to Piano Player, Singer, and Comedian Frank Case. Everyone enjoyed the "Fun with Frank" nightly categories, where he would play everyone's favorite tunes and highlights, from all the famous singers in entertainment history. Frank Case has Phenomenal Talents! All and All, my wife and I had a great time on the Steamboat Cruise, and I was totally impressed with the way the cruise was executed by the entire staff. My wife and I would definitely go back on another American Queen Steamboat Company Cruise, maybe the Mississippi cruise would be next. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
Corrections/rebuttals of other reviews: There is a toilet on board the busses. We did not have the female Riverlorian – ours was Lawrence and he was very interesting and informative. I attended all of his lectures. I didn’t think ... Read More
Corrections/rebuttals of other reviews: There is a toilet on board the busses. We did not have the female Riverlorian – ours was Lawrence and he was very interesting and informative. I attended all of his lectures. I didn’t think the Internet was that slow and always worked, but I only used it in the Paddle Wheel Lounge, which was down the hall from our room. Someone said that all the cabins have balconies. You will see from the ship’s layout before booking that there are cabins without balconies. There were not a lot of people using walkers on our cruise. The elevator was fast and large enough to hold everyone. However, there were only 105 passengers aboard that week. We've done 17 non-river cruises (Holland American, etc.), but this was our first river cruise. Dining: Dinners in the Astoria Dining Room were always very good, but service was slow (for us) and it took a minimum of two hours. This is a beautiful dining venue with sparkling crystal chandeliers and an attractive blue-lit ceiling, which added to the ambiance. I don’t know why most people were having breakfast and lunch at the River Grille. I thought the buffets there were pretty mediocre. I had many breakfasts and lunches at the almost empty Astoria Dining Room and enjoyed some great entrees – eggs benedict or specialty French toast in the morning, and lunches including southern friend chicken with home made biscuits. Be careful to watch the schedule for when the restaurants open for breakfast and lunch because they aren’t open very long. One day we went to the river Grille at 1:00 p.m. and they were putting the food away – we didn’t realize that they closed then. Another couple told us they arrived at the restaurant at 9:00 a.m. and couldn’t get any food for the same reason. We ate at the River Grille for two nights and they let us order a combo of filet mignon and lobster. The lobster was really good and we ordered it the other night we dined there as well. Then the main dining room had lobster on Friday night and we had another tasty lobster. I love sweets, but the desserts were a disappointment to me in both dining rooms. Therefore most eveneings we ordered ice cream. I don’t think they had a pastry chef on board. The cookies at the River Grille lunch buffet and Paddle Wheel Lounge were the same each day. It made me think that none of the desserts/cookies were home made – maybe just picked up from a mediocre vendor for the ship –like Costco. The dessert for lunch at the buffet at the River Grille seemed to be lemon bars every day. I didn’t like the house wines in either dining venue, but our waiter found one they weren’t offering but was still free: Saint Chapelle Soft White Wine. It was very good and I was able to request it for each meal. For the best coffee, order a cappuccino or latte from the Astoria Dining Room, because they have an espresso machine. There’s a self-serve one in the River Grille as well – a real one, which easily serves espresso and also steamed milk separately. It was very good. Entertainment: A banjo player boarded our boat mid cruise. He flew in from the American Queen on the Mississippi. He was unbelievable; so we enjoyed a fantastic banjo/guitar evening, with a very good cruise band backing him up. Art Gallery in Halls: Every floor has excellent artwork on the walls of the halls. Take time to tour each floor’s paintings. The 4th floor has old photos from the Gold Rush Days. What to Wear: As one reviewer stated, the public rooms and halls can be “ice-box cold”. In the Paddle wheel Lounge, I was surprised that even the men were asking the staff why they couldn’t make the room any warmer. My husband ordinarily never gets chilled, but wished he had brought a long-sleeve shirt even though it was summer. I wish I had brought a cashmere sweater set. I was surprised at how many people were really casually dressed for dinner. I personally feel that if you bring what they suggest wearing for dinner in the brochure, you will be fine. Excursions: Bring a warm sweater or wrap on the hop on/hop off bus. It’s usually very cold no matter what the temperature is outside. The busses are okay, but I didn’t find them that comfortable for an hour or longer ride. Also, be careful to look at each day’s program sheet for which time periods there are 15 minute pickups from drop off points and which are one hour. One day we decided to relax on the boat in the morning, and take the bus in the afternoon. We found out that we had to wait an hour at each drop off point for the bus to pick us up. The bus drivers were really accommodating and helpful – I found them to be the best employees on our cruise. I think the towns we visited and site we were dropped off at were not very exciting. It would probably be better to book their premium excursion. We did not do this because with my husband’s bad back, his limit is 3 hours and the premium excursions were a minimum five hours long. I would recommend the one that goes to Mt. Hood’s Timberline Lodge, because we came in several days before the cruise and spent the night here. Also, I’ve heard that the Maryhill Museum of Art is outstanding. We met a couple that did the wine country tour and loved the scenery. Also, everyone enjoys the Hell’s Canyon Jet Boat. However, we were content to relax, and enjoy being on the river on this fine ship. We had looked forward to it and it met our expectations. Post-Voyage Travel Days: We took the train from San Diego to L.A., and then the Coastal Starlight Amtrak train from L.A. to Portland (left Tues 10:10 a.m., arrived Wed. 3:32 p.m.). We had a deluxe sleeping room and the scenery was very good as well as the dining car meals. They have an old fashioned, restored parlor car for use by those passengers with sleeping rooms. Upon arriving in Portland, we had to wait an hour for a taxi ride a mile to our Hilton Hotel. We picked up a Hertz rental car and drove to the Timberline Lodge in Mt. Hood. We loved the lodge. The great food alone is worth the trip. Then we took the “fruit loop” and spent a night on the Columbia River Gorge at the Skamania Lodge in Stevenson, WA with beautiful views of the river. The bus ride after our cruise, to Spokane, took three hours but was a beautiful drive. We stayed at the old Davenport Hotel for 2 nights. It is beautifully restored, but I didn’t like how high the bed was – you had to use a step to get into it. I usually love staying in historic hotels, but this time I think I would have liked their more modern hotel across the street. The price for a wash/blow dry in their spa was reasonable and gave me use of their relaxing “quiet room”, etc The Davenport’s food was just so-so. We rented a car from Enterprise and the hotel’s shuttle gave us a ride there and the rental car co. gave us a return ride back to the hotel. We drove to the Coeur d’Alene Resort in Idaho and had a 5-star lunch facing the lake. We didn’t stay over night here because of the $400 per night room rate. We had a nice breakfast down the street from our hotel at The Post Street Ale, and walked to dinner at the Europa Restaurant – dinner was mediocre but the desserts were incredible. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
American Empress Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.4
Dining 4.5 4.5
Entertainment 4.5 4.5
Public Rooms 4.5 4.4
Fitness Recreation 3.5 3.0
Family 1.0 3.0
Shore Excursion 4.5 4.4
Enrichment 5.0 4.5
Service 5.0 4.7
Value For Money 4.0 4.2
Rates 4.0 N/A

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