1. Home
  2. Cruise Lines
  3. American Queen Steamboat Company
  4. American Queen Steamboat Company Cruise Reviews

24 American Queen Steamboat Company Vancouver Cruise Reviews

We had been wanting to try a river cruise, especially after watching the size of ocean-going cruise ships balloon until some can carry more than 6,000 passengers. The American Empress beautifully accommodates just over 221, with an ... Read More
We had been wanting to try a river cruise, especially after watching the size of ocean-going cruise ships balloon until some can carry more than 6,000 passengers. The American Empress beautifully accommodates just over 221, with an attentive crew of 88. Our Category C cabin--212--was cozy, but well laid out so that we had plenty of closet space and storage, even in the bathroom. Yes, the shower is small, but it worked just fine for us. Ours was a late-season round trip from and to Vancouver, Washington, rather than the more common one-way trip from Vancouver to Lewiston, Idaho, or vice versa. We knew that there was a high probability of rainy/cloudy/foggy weather in the Pacific Northwest in November, and we were proved correct. We did have two sunny days, and only two really rainy days, so we were content. Our fellow cruisers were, in the main, like us--Baby Boomers and older. There were a few 40-50 somethings, but we were in the majority. I would not recommend this as a honeymoon cruise, unless your other passion is Lewis and Clark. As for the Empress herself, she is a delightful home away. The food was very good, particularly the fish entrees, and of those, particularly the salmon. The lobster was also quite good, and more moist--less chewy--than on many past ocean cruises. The River Grille, on the top deck (#4), offered buffet-style cuisine at breakfast and lunch, and becomes a stylish alternative (no extra cost) dinner house at night. I was captivated by the masses of fresh berries and bacon available for breakfast, along with made-to-order omelets and other breakfast fare. Lunch was equally tasty, with hamburgers cooked to order. The Grille also offered 24/7 access to coffee, sodas, soft-serve ice cream, and cookies. The cuisine was a big two thumps-up on the Empress. The ports consisted of Vancouver, WA, Astoria, OR, te Dalles, OR, Stevenson, WA, and Portland, OR. The Hop-on-Hop-off (HOHO) buses were a wonderful included extra in every port. We opted for two optional excursions--Fort Clatsop in Astoria and the Maryhill Art Museum outside of the Dalles. I recommend both. Back to the boat . . . The entertainment was passable, but we didn't take this cruise to be entertained. The "Riverlorian" was well-intentioned and knowledgeable, but a bit dry. The lounge singer provided guitar and vocals in the Paddlewheel Lounge, and was especially effective with James Taylor covers. The staff was unfailingly cordial, professional, and attentive. Bottom line: This was a great experience, and I recommend this cruise. The only negative was the lack of soundproofing between rooms. This was not a deal-breaker, but it could be improved. A definite plus was the binoculars, robe, and slippers provided (you get to keep the slippers!). It was such a positive experience that we are hoping to book a future cruise on the lower Mississippi with American Queen Steamship Company. Well done, AQSC! Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
This cruise for for my 10th anniversary. We were the youngest couple on the boat (not a critique, just an observation). It was the first river boat experience for both of us. There was one port-of-call change that was made after we ... Read More
This cruise for for my 10th anniversary. We were the youngest couple on the boat (not a critique, just an observation). It was the first river boat experience for both of us. There was one port-of-call change that was made after we booked due to an event at on of the ports that seemed significant enough to have warranted more warning. The excursions we took: The LEWIS & CLARK EXPERIENCE THE ULTIMATE PACIFIC NORTHWEST EXPERIENCE The PENDLETON TOUR THE COMPLETE LEWIS-CLARK VALLEY WINE TOUR The Hits: The room and service was excellent as expected The food was amazing with a variety of changing options at every seating The scenery in transit was beautiful The "riverlorian" The Lewis-Clark Valley Wine Tour Most of the entertainment The Misses: Some of the excusrions. The example I'll give is The Ultimate Pacific Northwest Experience, but we had similar experiences on more than excursion. This tour attempts to pack in far too much in one day. We were on the bus traveling between locations far longer than we got to spend at any of them. "Enrichment" on this tour is simply not an option. For example, stopping at the magnificent Multnomah Falls, we were allotted less than an hour. Only the most active and spry of us made it to the bridge, wit barely enough time to walk the rest of the grounds. It was basically race the bridge, then back down to spend a few minutes in the gift shop before taking off to the next place. Lunch was great, but maybe a catered lunch at Timberline instead, with more time at that location (and the others) would have made this excursion better. Maybe it's just me, but I would prefer more detailed enrichment at fewer places than less at more locations and spending too much time travelling between locations. The Entertainment The quartet contains talented musicians and excelled at the small scale pieces tasked to play. It was perfect for the '50-60's night. For some of the bigger themed pieces, a quartet is just not big enough to simulate some of the "big band" or Broadway orchestra pieces that were presented. This band would be so much better served with just one more member, specifically a horn, either trumpet or even a trombone, and it would really round out the sound. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
This was a 4-night "add-on" to the end of the normal cruise season. The price was irrestible, plus the convenience of being a round-trip cruise. We'd previously done the traditional 8-day, one-way trip up the Columbia on ... Read More
This was a 4-night "add-on" to the end of the normal cruise season. The price was irrestible, plus the convenience of being a round-trip cruise. We'd previously done the traditional 8-day, one-way trip up the Columbia on this boat. Earlier this year, we did a lower Mississippi cruise on the American Queen. AQSC is a "class act", and we love the company. I hope they will expand to other rivers. There is hope, as AQSC just acquired another cruise line. It helps that AQSC's parent company is in the maritime business, so this isn't just another piece of a conglomerate empire. I am trying to not sound like a company shill, so am being nit-picky about my complaints. With most cruise lines, they would be "lost in the noise" of other issues. AQSC's cruises are not cheap. Their boats are built and registered in the U.S. That means that they must meet a higher standard of health and safety regulations than foreign-flagged vessels. Also, all crewmembers must be legal to work n the U.S. Their smaller vessels do not offer the economies of scale enjoyed by lines with larger ships (Carnival, NCL, Celebrity, etc.). The smaller size, and nature of operations, preclude ancillary income opportunities, such as spas, casinos, art galleries, tourist photos, and premium restaurants. Some cruise ships have more than 20 times as many passengers as the AE. Over the years, I've spoken to many AQSC employees. Uniformly, they seem to enjoy working for the company, and feel valued and well-treated. The boat's staff, including non-public folks, such as engineering and deck divisions, seem focused on a pleasant experience for the guests. I wish that I'd been as happy during my careers (military pilot, airline pilot, and aerospace engineering analyst). I have some very minor complaints, described in the "Cabin" section. Also, the Wi-Fi is very weak, and often so slow as to be unusable. Mostly, I used my cell's hotspot. However, the desktop computers in the Paddlewheel Lounge were okay. Considering that nearly every other cruise line charges exhorbitant fees for slow Internet access, it's not much of a complaint. I did find it interesting that, when my devices connected to the AE's Internet service, the internal clocks synchronized to Central Time (company's headquarters). Because of the nature of this add-on cruise, Portland was one of the ports. Rather than the usual Hop-On, Hop-Off cruise, the AE's buses were used for a "2-hour city tour". It was interesting and done well. The only odd part was a 1/2-hour visit to Washington Park. We weren't told that we would be leaving the bus. Not everyone was prepared for a walk in the rain. Otherwise, these HOHO bus excursions are an outstanding idea, and a signature perk for AQSC. Generally, we don't take the premium excursions, because the HOHO ones are so good, and I don't want to miss in-port activities on the boat. Since this cruise was very different from others on this boat, some of the guidance was more relevant to other cruises than this one. That caused a bit of confusion, but nothing major. Again, I'm trying hard to find fault with this cruise. "It ain't easy". For the size of the vessel, entertainment was outstanding. The Cruise Director, Greg, did "double-duty" as a singer. A few of the songs weren't a good match for his very talented voice, but I would assign him an "A" grade as a singer and "A+" as Cruise Director. Jordan Gonzalez is a new addition to the staff, and was spectacular. Besides assisting Greg in both roles, she is a talented singer with a very versatile voice. The house band's main job is to support the singers. They did that very well. It's difficult to describe Laurence Cotton, the "Riverlorian". He was on our first AE cruise. Columbia River and Northwest history aren't a job or a hobby for him -- they're a passion that is infectious. I attended every one of his events, even missing some other interesting ones. I dunno about his counterpart for other cruises, but I would definitely pick a cruise on which he's working. I can't say enough good about him!!! Overall, AQSC's cruises (we've also cruised on the American Queen) are very close to "all-inclusive". Bottled water is widely available. Unlimited Northwest beers and wines are available with dinner. Cocktails are reasonably-priced. There is no pressure to purchase cocktails in the bars. The servers are equally happy to provide you with alcohol or glasses of water. We often had water, after having enough wine with dinner to last the evening. My sense is that AQSC views alcoholic drinks as a service to their guests, rather than as a source of income. Ditto for the premium excursions -- there's no pressure to sign up for them. We (traveled with another couple) signed up for dinner in the River Grille on the first night, assuming that others wouldn't. We guessed correctly, as it was nearly vacant. It is the buffet dining area for breakfast and lunch, but the alternative (reservations required) dining venue for dinner. The menu is very appealing, but constant throughout the cruise. I enjoyed a mouth-watering dinner of lobster tail. Yummy! The rest of our party enjoyed their meals. We ate other dinners in the Astoria dining room. Service there ranged from good to excellent. The cuisine was great, with many menu choices available for each meal. The buffet breakfast was comparable to that in many hotels, but included made-to-order omelets. Lunch had many choices, and was as good as a buffet can be. Soft-serve ice cream is available at any time in the River Grille. Snacks are available in the Paddlewheel Lounge from 3 to 5. Popcorn is available for a few hours more. I felt that the popcorn was too salty, though some might disagree. Even so, I would have preferred that it be available from late morning until the evening entertainment ended. Probably because of the price, the size of the vessel, and the orientation of the amenities, this isn't a cruise for children or for young adults looking for excitement. Passengers who aren't eligible for Medicare will be in a minority, though they're unlikely to feel like misfits. The entertainment is generally done by 10pm, unlike cruise ships that appeal to younger folks. Events happen at the scheduled time, which I appreciate, coming from a military and airline background. I'm frustrated by live performances ashore that seem to start a minimum of 10 minutes late. I tried hard to have more complaints to share with you, but I failed. Read Less
Sail Date November 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
Loved this cruise which sailed from Vancouver ,Washington to Clarkston Washington over 9 days .Not being American we didn’t really know anything about Lewis and Clark ,and mainly picked this cruise for the beautiful scenery, but ... Read More
Loved this cruise which sailed from Vancouver ,Washington to Clarkston Washington over 9 days .Not being American we didn’t really know anything about Lewis and Clark ,and mainly picked this cruise for the beautiful scenery, but learning about the Lewis and Clark expeditions was a bonus ,the Riverlorian was very informative and we enjoyed his commentary .The food ,the staff and the service were exceptional .The day excursions were great and well organised .The Entertainment was most enjoyable,but the standout was Frank in the Paddlewheel lounge ,he is a true entertainer !.Our only complaint was our room # 238.The room itself was really lovely and well serviced but on a couple of nights a ? Generator started up and it was like having a jet engine going in our room,we complained and they offered us a another room to sleep in just for the night but at 10.30pm the last thing we wanted to do was change rooms just to sleep,so we resorted to earplugs and got little sleep .We thought this was a one off thing but no it happened again several nights later when in port .They could not offer us any other rooms that didn’t have the same noise or the paddle wheel noise so we reluctantly stayed in that room.If we had known the noise was bad at the back end of the boat we would never have booked a room at the back end of the boat .The Staff did all they could to help but they need to make people aware that those rooms are noisy ,we couldn’t sit on our verandah as the noise out of the external air conditioning vents on the outside of the boat near our room did not entice us to sit out there.My advice is if you don’t like noise do not pick rooms near the stern of the boat Read Less
Sail Date May 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
Not our favorite cruise, yet, this week's expedition offered rest and beautiful country in Washington, Idaho, and Oregon. The staff bombarded us with picky details and scheduling, more than was necessary. The boat was noisy and the ... Read More
Not our favorite cruise, yet, this week's expedition offered rest and beautiful country in Washington, Idaho, and Oregon. The staff bombarded us with picky details and scheduling, more than was necessary. The boat was noisy and the companionways too chilly. Not many places to retreat and read. Too small for lounge chairs. Food was well prepared—caesar salad, fruit compote, pork roast, burgers, cheesecake—except for the clam chowder, which was malodorous. The riverlorian, Laurence Cotton, gave excellent guidance to Lewis and Clark history and to the background of significant figures. He also answered difficult questions about major events and post-expedition influence. Library contained quality choices of biographical, native American, and pleasure reading. Bar service was friendly and prompt with afternoon snacks—cookies, popcorn, guacamole, chips and dip—but pianist was a self-important clown who drowned out conversation with his "improvisations." Nighttime shows destroyed the serenity. Bus tours offered some excellent commentary and some pointless chatter, occasionally inaccurate. The cruise line does not compare with Voyages to Antiquity. An appealing evening entertainment would take passengers to a casino. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
We had sailed on American Queen along the Mississippi before and knew and liked the way the Hop-off Hop-On excursions operated. Our cabin onboard the Empress was larger and than what we had before, and we really enjoyed our private ... Read More
We had sailed on American Queen along the Mississippi before and knew and liked the way the Hop-off Hop-On excursions operated. Our cabin onboard the Empress was larger and than what we had before, and we really enjoyed our private balcony. The food has been outstanding--especially the seafood options, and having complimentary local wine with dinner is a nice touch. Having the Riverlorian provide great information about the area is a wonderful feature onboard AQSC cruises. We have learned quite a bit about the Pacific NW on this cruise and remember good topics covered on our Mississippi cruise. The other entertainment onboard is enjoyable-not as big-time showy as onboard the huge cruise ships, but very talented performers. Another nice features of these cruises is the providing of a night's stay in the embarkation city and transportation from there to the boat. This really eases any concerns about flight delays or other problems one might encounter prior to the cruise. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
This cruise line makes all kinds of promises and then backs out once they have your money. We paid out almost $30,000 for 3 suites and got bupkes. The bathrooms were so small as to be laughable. You could not turn around in the shower. ... Read More
This cruise line makes all kinds of promises and then backs out once they have your money. We paid out almost $30,000 for 3 suites and got bupkes. The bathrooms were so small as to be laughable. You could not turn around in the shower. The maître D was the most ignorant and unpleasant we have ever encountered. We have taken many cruises including ocean and river cruises in Europe and river cruises in U.S. This line is beyond description. SAVE YOUR MONEY Take another cruise line. River cruising is really great fun and very relaxing when cruise line knows what it's doing We also had to walk several blocks from the hotel to the dock for our embarkation. The so-called riverlorian was a little old lady who read from notes and obviously did not know her subject or the river very well. The so-called entertainment was a young husband and wife who sang and tried to entertain but fell miserably short. They did however lead several exercise walks in several ports of call. 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 had a great trip. Loved the accommodations, the size of the boat, dining options and quality of the food, high quality entertainment, educational experiences, hop on/hop off option and beautiful scenery. The population skewed to the ... Read More
We had a great trip. Loved the accommodations, the size of the boat, dining options and quality of the food, high quality entertainment, educational experiences, hop on/hop off option and beautiful scenery. The population skewed to the older side, so we were considered younger, active seniors (ages 67 and 69). This was not a problem since the Hop on/hop off feature allowed us to do extra walking and independent touring. The ship had a few bicycles available, which we used several times without any problem getting them when we wanted. We can see how this kind of trip would be easily accessible for older people, but it also suited our more active style. The staff was very friendly and accommodating and made an extra effort to remember everyone's name, which was impressive. The staff was also exceptionally talented and the evening shows were high quality. We also liked the Riverlorian who presented her educational information in an interesting and entertaining style. This was the perfect trip combining beautiful scenery, education and history, excellent dining, the right amount of pampering. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
Chose this cruise for the itinerary. Interesting places and wonderful and varied scenery. We were not disappointed. Starting in an area with 100 inches of rain a year and ending where there are just 8 Interesting calls in mostly ... Read More
Chose this cruise for the itinerary. Interesting places and wonderful and varied scenery. We were not disappointed. Starting in an area with 100 inches of rain a year and ending where there are just 8 Interesting calls in mostly small towns but each had several good points of interest. A good jump on jump off coach service included in the cruise fare and the optional excursions were enjoyable and reasonably priced. Service onboard was excellent and the evening entertainment surprisingly good for a small vessel. The cruise directors Mel and Kevin made all guests feel welcome as well as being good singers. Frank the pianist was very entertaining Had a great time but would not probably go again as a day in each of the ports was about the right amount of time to see the attractions Catering was good, excellent service. The quality of the food was high although the included wines with dinner were very ordinary Overall a great experience Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
Wanted to revisit the NW and felt that this was an excellent way to do it. The staff was pleasant and knowledgeable. The food was plentiful, but mediocre in quality. Music in the lounge was so loud that it intruded into our cabin and ... Read More
Wanted to revisit the NW and felt that this was an excellent way to do it. The staff was pleasant and knowledgeable. The food was plentiful, but mediocre in quality. Music in the lounge was so loud that it intruded into our cabin and despite 3 requests to have the volume lowered, nothing was changed. We couldn't hear the TV and it was impossible to read with the loud music - and we were halfway down the hall from the lounge! They tout that they offer free wine and beer throughout the cruise, but that is only with meals, and if you have the late dinner seating (7:45 PM) it's really too late to drink wine. Dining at the Grill is strictly limited to 2 visits per week, so you have no choices as to alternate dining arrangements. Our tour guide on the Ultimate NW Experience shore excursion was talkative to the point of almost being "yappy", and had no knowledge of the local flora/fauna when asked a question. A second bus on the same excursion had a totally different itinerary and our friends on that bus had a very different experience - it sounded very poleasant compared to our experience. We had considered doing another cruise with this company, on the Mississippi, but after our experience here, we will not do it. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
We took this Pacific Northwest river cruise for our 30th wedding anniversary. I really wanted a more intimate experience than a large ship/liner and this 220+ passenger boat was a perfect fit. From arrival to the hotel, to transportation ... Read More
We took this Pacific Northwest river cruise for our 30th wedding anniversary. I really wanted a more intimate experience than a large ship/liner and this 220+ passenger boat was a perfect fit. From arrival to the hotel, to transportation to the airport, to the daily newsletter delivered to our room, the cruise line had every detail covered. We are in our 50's and although we were definitely among the younger couples on board, that didn't stop others from joining us on some of the great premium excursions like zip-lining (which I highly recommend) or kayaking. Our room was spacious and the bed was remarkably comfortable. I do recommend bringing a small night light for the bathroom, as the room can be quite dark and the light switch was outside the bathroom. The halls are all covered in artwork and a self-guided brochure is provided. This was a nice way to get to 'know' the boat. Dining was wonderful, leave your diets at home and treat yourself. The more casual River Grill & Bar was noisier but worked well for breakfast and lunch when time was an issue. One of our favorite on-board experiences was listening to the Riverlorian presentations; Laurence was knowledgeable, friendly, and enthusiastic. We had a wonderful time and I still find myself saying, "I miss my boat." This cruise may have spoiled me for all other cruises and I would definitely go again. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
My husband and I have taken quite a few cruises on mid to larger ships. We were tired of the big cruise ship/company experience, as every ship seemed to offer the same food/activities, etc, and decided to take a river cruise in the USA. ... Read More
My husband and I have taken quite a few cruises on mid to larger ships. We were tired of the big cruise ship/company experience, as every ship seemed to offer the same food/activities, etc, and decided to take a river cruise in the USA. After doing quite a bit of research and chatting with folks on Cruise Critic we opted to take the American Queen's Lewis and Clark Expedition river cruise on the Columbia and Snake Rivers. We loved it! First, the American Empress is a wonderful, small ship. There were about 120 passengers and a crew of 90 aboard. The ship was refurbished about three years ago and they did a fine job in recreating the steamboat experience. We had one of the smaller cabins on deck 4 - the top deck - and when we first entered we wondered where we would put our stuff. Not to worry...this cabin was so beautifully furnished we did not use all the space. Loved the semi private patio, which afforded wonderful viewing opportunities as we cruised the rivers. Deck 4 is where the promenade deck is located so we got to meet folks as they strolled by. Plus, I was able to get my walking in every day without a problem. The River Grill was down the hall from our room which was very convenient for breakfast, lunch and snacks. I think one of the major pluses of sailing on this ship was the friendly and efficient crew. On the larger ships no one ever knows your name unless you wear a name tag. On this ship crew members seemed to remember our names and there were no name tags! I realize that part of the job for the cruise directors, hotel managers (both were married couples), the Riverlorean and others was to be friendly and outgoing. And, everyone sure was. In fact, we had breakfast one day with the Riverlorean, one of the hotel managers stopped by our table on another morning for a really nice chat, both cruise directors always knew our names and went out of their ways to ask about our day. Kudos to the Empress crew! We found the meals to be very good. The executive chef was always walking around the dining room to make sure everyone was happy with their meal. Lunch was great as you could choose from the buffet and grill in the River Grill or enjoy a sit down lunch in the formal dining room. And the crew paid attention to your needs. For example, I have a dairy allergy. They always made sure soy milk was available for me. On day, I started to take some salad from the buffet when one of the crew stopped me as there was cheese in the salad. After that day, all the salads came without cheese - it was offered on the side. Desserts were excellent and cookies were plentiful. The softy ice cream make was my hubby's favorite; mine was the espresso machine. Great coffee! We wee not aware that there are locks and dams all along the rivers. We went through eight locks and dams and, for me, this was a highlight of the cruise. Most were during the day but the night ones were really great. If you take this cruise make sure you are up for the transits though the locks. Very different than going through the Panama Canal. Entertainment was fun. The two couples - cruise directors and hotel managers - were the nightly entertainment, along with a fellow who played the piano and was very funny in the lounge. They did an awesome job and received several standing ovations. Band was also very good. When I mentioned how impressed we were with the camaraderie amongst the crew I was told they are all like "family". Apparently, many have been working together for the three seasons the Empress has been sailing the Lewis and Clark Expedition cruise. One of the grill cooks told me that she misses quite a few of her daughter's school events as she is on the ship, but is off from December to April. And, she told me she loves her job. There are two hop on-hop off buses that follow the Empress from port to port. There is a local guide at each port and all the stops are included in the cruise cost. This is a terrific feature as most of the ports are quite small so it was nice to have a local person tell about the history of the town. Most of the stops are at museums and interpretive centers. We took two premium tours and enjoyed both very much. I felt the cost of these tours was very reasonable and we saw way more than expected. The only negative feedback I can offer is that the embarkation process is not great. We left from Vancouver WA and a night at the Embassy Suites near the Portland OR airport is included in the cruise cost. Now, that part is great, especially if you tack on another day, as we did. But, once you check out of your room on embarkation day, you sit around the hotel for two - three hours waiting to board the coach for the short drive to the ship. There has to be a better way to do this and I hope the company figures out that out. All in all, this was one of our best cruises and, yes, we would do it again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
We just returned from a wonderful, scenic, relaxing cruise from Vancouver, WA to Clarkston, WA on the American Empress paddle wheeler up the Columbia and Snake Rivers. It was extremely enjoyable in every way. The age group of the ... Read More
We just returned from a wonderful, scenic, relaxing cruise from Vancouver, WA to Clarkston, WA on the American Empress paddle wheeler up the Columbia and Snake Rivers. It was extremely enjoyable in every way. The age group of the passengers ranged from the 40's to the 70's. Unlike ocean cruises, getting off the boat at various stops along the way was extremely easy for even the handicapped (elevators are the same as ocean cruise ships). They provide hop on/hop off busses at every stop along the way, making it pleasant and easy to see every sight. Everything is included with few add-ons. Wine and beer are included with dinner, but normal bar drinks are extra. I highly recommend taking the jet boat excursion in Clarkston. It's a trip for everyone to enjoy the spectacular Hell's Canyon in Idaho which is deeper than the Grand Canyon and a beautiful sight and experience. We saw more wildlife than we did in Alaska, including mountain goats and bighorn sheep. The towns along the way are quaint and historical. Another great excursion goes to Multnomah Falls and an overlook of the Columbia Gorge. The crew were outstanding and helpful in every way possible. We had a deluxe cabin with a large private veranda on level three and loved the decor, storage, TV, free wifi, and bedding. It had closets 8 feet wide with ample hanging and drawer space as well as drawers under the TV cabinet. The food menus were fabulous despite the fact that the chef had resigned just before our trip and was replaced by a new hire. The local salmon, filet mignon, and lobster were always available. They have two dining venues - The Astoria Dining Room and a grill on the top deck which also featured a beautiful outdoor patio with umbrellas. Oregon is known for its fruit and berries and we loved the huge helpings at breakfast along with the best apple smoked bacon (thick sliced on a skewer covered in maple syrup and baked to perfection). By far the BEST part of the cruise was the entertainment. We have been on countless european river cruises which had minimal evening entertainment and ocean cruises which ranged from poor to outstanding entertainment. We were so shocked to find wonderful talent at every venue on the boat. The theater had Broadway quality singers and dancers backed by a fabulous four piece band. The lounge had an unbelievably talented and witty pianist singer that kept us enthralled every evening. Especially noteworthy was the fact that there was always seating available in all areas. We were pleased to meet Europeans and New Zealanders who also loved the entire experience. We were all enthralled with the Native Americans setting their gill nets for the autumn run of Chinook salmon and steelheads. If you are seeking beautiful scenery, time to relax, nice people and quaint towns without the hassle of flying across the pond, this is a trip for you! Read Less
Sail Date September 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
We just finished a cruise from Vancouver Wa. to Clarkson Wa. And we were impressed with the quality of the product. Everyone was super friendly, no matter the position or rank onboard.. The food was excellent, the entertainment was ... Read More
We just finished a cruise from Vancouver Wa. to Clarkson Wa. And we were impressed with the quality of the product. Everyone was super friendly, no matter the position or rank onboard.. The food was excellent, the entertainment was fun,on shore excursions were well chosen.This was my second cruise with this cruise ship company,and the consistency was apparent between boats. They hire local people, and make it interesting with guests speakers, entertainers,and riverlorian. The guides were well informed. Use local cuisine were possible.Their no. 1 asset is the staff. And Thanks for a lovely week. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
A good friend and myself took the first cruise of the season on the American Empress. We were greeted at the dock by a very friendly petite woman (Lyndie) offering to help with our bags. We checked into a lush 2 bed room. Very ... Read More
A good friend and myself took the first cruise of the season on the American Empress. We were greeted at the dock by a very friendly petite woman (Lyndie) offering to help with our bags. We checked into a lush 2 bed room. Very comfortable size, beautiful attention to detail. The beds and bedding were amazing with a private veranda. You'll find extra comfort in your complimentary robes and slippers. Having a room close to the paddle wheel, hummed us to sleep at night. The crew is amazing! The food and wine is top notch! Seriously, I have never liked lamb chops until I tried them on this cruise and omg, delicious! Throughout the cruise the chef showed his talent, all the food was amazing. After having the lamb, I stepped out of my usual and tried a few new things including duck and oysters. There were no disappointments out of the galley. The wait staff was obviously well groomed, very friendly and attentive. My friend and I knew people in a couple of different ports and were asked if we would like to have company for lunch. What a treat for our friends. The American Empress has now gained some future guests due to their impeccable hospitality. The American Empress is the only cruise on the Columbia River that offers a Hop on Hop off tour, providing 3 buses, stopping at different points in town leisurely moving you around town at your will, stopping every 15 minutes. I loved that I could get the feel of the towns and people in them as we visited. Going beyond the tours they offer. The crew kept us entertained on board. Nightly shows and piano in the lounge on top of daily games and movies. We found a lot of joy in riding the bikes they offer around town. One of the things we were enthusiastic about was all the locks we went through. We were enthralled by the industrial end of things running back and forth at most locks (I fell asleep watching as we were going through the John Day Lock) taking photos. We loved Astoria, Or. and The Dalles, Or. with their community welcome at the dock as we disembarked. Stevenson, Wa. had a #GORGEous view all around with shopping a hop, skip and a jump away. In Richland, Wa. we pulled up to a lovely park with shopping only a block away. On the flip side, I did not enjoy our end point in Clarkston Wa. Also I tried to get a good martini on three different occasions and was disappointed with each. Though I must say with my first one the bar tender read me from across the room and offered to take it off my bill. Again impeccable hospitality. This could also be due to having limited space to keep specialty items/mixes. For 2 busy mom's with their careers (me being in hospitality and tourism) and families in full swing, it was just what the Doctor ordered. At first we were apprehensive to be away from it all for a full week but it was really just what we needed. A week of being treated like Empresses. A big Thank you to Captain Andrea and crew. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
Last October 2014 I had the pleasure of taking the American Empress cruise on the Columbia River from Vancouver, WA to Spokane, WA. I have been on several cruises, on both larger and smaller boats and enjoyed them all, but this by far was ... Read More
Last October 2014 I had the pleasure of taking the American Empress cruise on the Columbia River from Vancouver, WA to Spokane, WA. I have been on several cruises, on both larger and smaller boats and enjoyed them all, but this by far was the best cruise I have ever been on. The newly refurbished Empress is in beautiful shape, extremely clean and comfortable. The food was very good, and the entertainment was GREAT! Loved the lounge pianist, who was one of the best I have ever heard. (I never missed a late evening listening to him.), and best of all were Lindy and Greg Pendzick, our entertainers and hosts. Besides being very talented dancers and singers, they made sure everyone had a good time! I can't wait to go on another American Empress cruise!!!   Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
So "Happy" we chose The American Empress Riverboat tour of the Columbia River this September 2014. It was a perfect weather, perfect staff & accommodations trip. From the very start, the Hilton Hotel in Vancouver was gracious ... Read More
So "Happy" we chose The American Empress Riverboat tour of the Columbia River this September 2014. It was a perfect weather, perfect staff & accommodations trip. From the very start, the Hilton Hotel in Vancouver was gracious and provided a great location for the pre-cruise night. On board the Empress, it was such a pleasure. The staff, like Bobby, Jennifer, Anton, Lisa, Frank, Lindy & Greg, and Diane, just to name a few, were all so personable and happy people without being hovering. We were pleased that American Steamboat Co. only hires American staff.... Wise choice and most appreciated. Everyday was a charm....Hop-On Hop-Off Bus excursions at every port were so well planned...We especially enjoyed the Pendleton Round Up Rodeo, (which was ONLY on the schedule the very week of our trip)...Wow, Let'er Buck!. The meals on board were just lovely, expertly prepared and delicious, just right portions, too. The entertainment delivered, piano, quartet, singing, banjo and storytelling. Frank and Lindy & Greg were outstanding! What could be better than a fine dinner, followed by a great show every night. The scenery, the locks, the Native Culture, Lewis & Clark History, the ports...."all" were so carefully planned for us. It was our First Riverboat trip...... but it won't be our last. It met our expectations and so much more! Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
The difficult aspect of this review is to be accurate and objective, without sounding like a company shill. My wife and I were on the Sept. 20, 2014 cruise from Portland (Vancouver) to Clarkston. Of course, no voyage is perfect, so I’ll ... Read More
The difficult aspect of this review is to be accurate and objective, without sounding like a company shill. My wife and I were on the Sept. 20, 2014 cruise from Portland (Vancouver) to Clarkston. Of course, no voyage is perfect, so I’ll begin with the “rough spots”. It’s not apparent without examining the cruise itinerary, but the Clarkston to Portland (Vancouver) cruise actually begins in Spokane, a major metropolitan area in eastern Washington State. Getting to/from Spokane is considerably easier than Clarkston, or Lewiston, its twin city in Idaho. For most folks, this itinerary is probably better, because there’s a $49 charge to ride AQSC’s bus from Clarkston to Spokane, while it’s included in the cost of a cruise ending in Vancouver. The cost for both cruises is the same. This is the first year of cruising for the American Empress, and some of the promotional and informational literature remains focused on her larger sister ship, the American Queen, which sails on the Mississippi and tributaries. For example, the American Queen Steamboat brochure states that the River Grill offers “a selection of sandwiches, fresh fruits, popcorn, and soft-serve ice cream around the clock….” In practice, ice cream was always available there, popcorn never was, sandwiches only around lunch, and fresh fruit for only part of the day. Light snacks and cookies were also available in the Paddlewheel Lounge from 3-5 daily. AQSC presumes that all passengers fly to and from the cruise. They offer zero assistance in arranging transportation that’s not related to airlines. That’s both disappointing and short-sighted on their part. With no help from AQSC, my wife found a very inexpensive one-way car rental. We paid $65 for a two-day rental, from the Lewiston Airport ($25 cab ride from the dock) to downtown Seattle, where we live. That allowed us to visit with relatives in the area before traveling home. The shower controls involve a flow control on the left and a temperature control on the right. The controls are identical, with no markings, and no explanation in the guest guide book. It’s a great idea, but not typical of most hotels, and could use some explanation. I didn’t care for the coffee on the Empress. It tastes pretty much like generic diner coffee. In an area with so many excellent choices for coffee, AQSC could do better. The River Grill does have a self-service espresso machine. I didn’t use it, so can’t comment. I spent 20 years in the Navy, so this isn’t the worst coffee that I’ve tasted. That “honor” actually goes to Norwegian Cruise lines. It would be nice to have an indication of the ship’s position, ideally presented as a channel on the stateroom television screen. Hopefully, this will be added for the ship’s second cruise season. A repeater in the Paddlewheel Lounge would be nice. The deck plan on AQSC’s website is horrible. It’s too small, and nearly impossible to read the stateroom numbers. I found a better one on a cruise site. This was important when it came to selecting a stateroom. The complimentary Internet access was so slow as to be unusable. In fact, my cell phone refused to recognize it as a valid Internet connection, though my laptop did. I brought a mobile hotspot, which had coverage for about 2/3 of the cruise, as did my cell phone. Of course, most cruise lines charge obscene rates for Internet connections. If you need to have an airline boarding pass printed, ask the Purser’s office, which has better Internet access. This cruise is aimed squarely at adult passengers, with no provisions for children’s activities. I would not recommend it for families. The main dining venue, the Astoria Room, offers sit-down service for all three meals. The River Grill offers buffet service for breakfast and lunch. For dinner, it is reservation only. Unlike the Astoria Room, the menu doesn’t change. The staff tries very hard to offer an excellent dining experience. However, the arrangement of the room works against them, and there is considerable noise associated with the service. My wife and I ate there one evening, then canceled our second reservation. I would be happier if the River Grill offered buffet service for all three meals. It’s a nice effort by AQSC, but the passengers’ interests would be best served by offering a dinner buffet service. The first night of the cruise is actually in a hotel room, in Spokane or Vancouver. Bus transportation is provided to the ship’s embarkation point, though the Vancouver hotel is an easy walk from the dock. This is actually a very clever way to handle the check-in process, as well as baggage. Nevertheless, it is uncommon in the industry. AQSC stated that they had paid gratuities to the hotel staff, so none was expected from us. A voucher was provided for the hotel breakfast buffet. We had a wonderful time in the hotel, which is located adjacent to a very nice park in downtown Vancouver. We walked to the Veteran’s Memorial mural and to the Fort Vancouver site after checking in to the hotel. It’s a very pleasant area. With check-in accomplished at the hotel, you can go directly to your stateroom after boarding the ship, with your luggage waiting in your room. I should add that we rode Amtrak to the Vancouver station, which was a 15-minute walk to the hotel. We had roll-aboard suitcases and a backpack. Now, the good stuff. Basically, this cruise is as close to all-inclusive as could be reasonably expected. Unlike some other cruise companies, there is no effort to nickel-and-dime customers with bogus fees and continual exhortations to spend more money with them. You pay the published fare, $109 in port taxes, and $16.50 per day of the actual cruise (7 days) for gratuities (you can adjust this figure at the Purser’s office). If you want to participate in the specialty tours, there is an extra, but reasonable charge. Drinks from the bar are charged an automatic 15% gratuity. That’s it, unless you purchase items from the small ship’s store. There is zero pressure to participate in the specialty tours or to purchase drinks from the bar. Dinner includes your choice of four local craft beers or two wines (red and white). All are from the Northwest or California, and the choices change daily. Servers will keep filling your glass until you say “no”. In the two lounges, the bartenders made it clear that they were there to provide your beverage choices, not to push alcoholic drinks. We often chose a glass of water. After a few evenings, one bartender (Dan) brought our water as soon as we sat down. Bottled water is freely available, both in the staterooms and while leaving the ship in port. There’s no reason to bring your own. If rain is expected, loaner umbrellas are provided when departing the ship. Drinks in the bar are reasonably priced. The most expensive was a martini, at $12. The most expensive cocktail was $9. Beer and wine were $4-6, as I recall. The daily Happy Hour features reduced prices and drink specials. A bartender told me that all cocktails are original recipes developed by AQSC. While AQSC reserves the right to “prohibit and retain” alcoholic beverages, our luggage was not inspected, and the topic was never addressed. Besides, wine and beer are free with dinner, and bar prices are very reasonable. Repeatedly, the ship’s staff looked for ways to exceed our expectations. Our room attendant (Carol) offered to provide a different mix of coffees for the Keurig machine in our room, according to our preferences. When my wife commented to a bartender (Ed) that she liked Earl Gray tea, he said that he would insure that it was available in the Paddlewheel Lounge for the afternoon snack time. It was. Very early in the cruise, several staff members, including entertainers, asked our names, then greeted us by name whenever we encountered them in the ship. AQSC offers “hop-on, hop-off” tours at each port, for no charge. A fleet of three large, Greyhound-type buses follows the ship to each port. They’re easy to identify, with large murals of the American Empress painted on the side. One is dedicated to the specialty tours, and the other two operate on a schedule of every 15 or 30 minutes, depending on the port. Drivers remain with the buses, but local tour guides are hired from each port. Stops are typically placed at several local museums, dams, or interpretive centers, marked by sandwich board signs. AQSC has pre-paid the admission fee or donation, so there is no charge for their passengers. Like its larger sister, the American Queen, the American Empress is a US-flagged vessel, so it meets higher safety and health standards than do foreign-flagged vessels that operate to US ports (e.g., Alaska cruises from Seattle). All crewmembers are legally entitled to work in the US. Very few appeared to not be US-born. All seem to enjoy their jobs. It is reflected in their work attitudes. Pilothouse tours were offered twice, and were scheduled during port visits, for obvious reasons. The Captain was very friendly and explained the technology used to operate and navigate the ship. I visited the pilothouse again, after the tour. I had a wonderful discussion with him about the technology in the vessel and the maritime counterpart to Crew Resource Management training, which is now mandatory for US airline pilots. Engineering tours are not offered, but are available on request – also while in port. While every effort was made to have the American Empress look like a classic riverboat, its systems are very contemporary. The paddle wheel actually provides some of the propulsion, though powered by an electric drive motor. It is used only while cruising. For steering and maneuvering, the ship is equipped with two “Z-drives” and a very innovative bow thruster – all powered by the ship’s four diesel-electric generators. Three GPS systems, including an interesting GPS compass, along with a magnetic compass and gyro compass, two electronic map displays, and a radar screen, aid navigation. I was pleased to learn that the Captain is very comfortable with the technology, but still refers to paper charts. I am very familiar with airliner flight deck technology, and understand its limitations. The ship’s navigation technology is state-of-the-art for maritime applications, but well behind airliner technology. Technology in the engineering spaces is equally contemporary, though hidden from the public. The Astoria Dining Room is a wonderful venue, with sit-down service. One early reviewer didn’t care for the blue ceiling lighting. I agree that it’s inconsistent with the overall décor theme, but not unpleasant. It’s just different. The food was wonderful, as was the very attentive and accommodating service. Dinners included an appetizer, soup/salad, entrée, and dessert, along with beer and wine. A comparable dinner in a downtown Seattle restaurant would cost around $50, plus tax and tip. Entertainment was surprisingly plentiful and good for a vessel of this size. There were five entertainers, a music quartet, and the Riverlorian. That’s 10 entertainers for a ship with a capacity of a little more than 200 passengers! Two additional entertainers joined the ship during port visits. Two husband-wife teams (Lindy/Greg and Laura/Bill) provided great singing and dancing entertainment, plus Bill’s magic act. The piano player, Frank, is someone who simply must be experienced. He didn’t just play the piano – it was part of him. His casual, off-hand comments and stories were exceptionally entertaining. The quartet provided accompaniment for singing, as well as some great music alone. Entertainment was typically scheduled for Happy Hour in the Paddlewheel Lounge, one 45-minute show in the Show Lounge, and a second 45-minute show in the Paddlewheel Lounge. Unlike some larger cruise ships, all entertainment was finished by 10:00. This was a good thing, as it appeared that all passengers were eligible for AARP membership, with most being eligible for Medicare. This was a late-September cruise, but I would expect similar demographics in the summer. Laurence Cotton, the Riverlorian, was outstanding. He takes his job very seriously, and is well-versed in Northwest history, culture, and geography. He offers a large lending library of relevant books, a book of nautical charts for our journey, and at-least-daily talks about the Columbia River, its history, and its inhabitants, including Native Americans. Two guest presenters were also worked into his schedule. He provides a variety of tourist-related information for each of the ports in advance of the visits, and a summary of what we’ve seen. He’s typically found in the River Grill for breakfast, available to chat with the passengers about river lore and history. I skipped some tours and activities, rather than miss his talks. AQSC’s brochure suggests “country club casual” for evening attire. Women tended to dress a bit nicer than the men. There may have even been a cocktail dress or two. I saw one man wearing a sport coat, but several were in jeans. I wore a pair of white cargo pants for the entire cruise, with different polo or collared shirts. I felt very comfortable. Our stateroom was in the lowest-cost category, located on the fourth (top) deck. I selected it because I wanted to be on the top deck, for several reasons. The only other choices on that deck were the expensive suites. On check-in, I asked the Purser about deals for upgrading to a suite. Unfortunately, all were booked, even though the ship was only 1/3 full. Bummer! She was very cooperative and helpful in suggesting upgrades to mid-range cabins, and offered a discounted price. However, we were very happy with our room, so remained there. Our stateroom was small, but very comfortable. We’d requested a double bed. It was impossible for us to tell that two singles had been joined. The bed was very comfortable. The room included a desk, two chairs and a nice piece of furniture that housed the television, Keurig coffee machine, refrigerator, and several shelves for storing small items. Two large wardrobes provided plenty of closet and drawer storage. Even our cheap stateroom included robes and slippers. Several electrical outlets were available, unlike our previous cruise on the Norwegian Jewel, which offered a single one-outlet location to plug in all of our electronic devices. To summarize, the American Empress (and presumably her sister, the American Queen) is a “class act”. There is no nickel-and-dime strategy to generate incremental income from the passengers. Everything seems to function smoothly, despite this being the AE’s first season with this company, and the employees are simply outstanding. I look forward to another cruise with AQSC, probably on the Mississippi next time. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
We had the loveliest time sailing on the American Empress June 15-22, 2014. My mother and I had both enjoyed steamboat sailings on the Mississippi and we looked forward to this one, closer to home in Vancouver, Canada. We were not ... Read More
We had the loveliest time sailing on the American Empress June 15-22, 2014. My mother and I had both enjoyed steamboat sailings on the Mississippi and we looked forward to this one, closer to home in Vancouver, Canada. We were not disappointed. Everything was wonderful. - The crew were friendly, efficient and accommodating. - The dining room presented delicious, appealing and gluten-free options with sharp staff who remembered us and our preferences. We appreciated sampling local fare - huckleberry ice cream, local cheeses, wines, seafood. While we have in the past enjoyed our dining partners at assigned tables, we did prefer the open seating without a schedule or assigned tables this time. Sometimes it's just nice to have a bit of quiet, alone time after a busy day. Our maitre d' was astute and accommodating in these areas. - The land tours were informative and well organized. It was a nice balance between being on a schedule or having the option to wander on our own. I had not been to the area before, so found it easy to find something interesting in each port - whether it was a museum, heritage house, a winery tour, the quaint shops or - in Stevenson - the most adorable Newfoundlander puppies at Robbie's Coffee House! (I'm sure they're the size of a car by now). - Onboard, I appreciated the availability of the internet, casual games and the overall comfortable atmosphere. The organized murder mystery on a full sailing day was lots of fun - though there were several other activities people could choose for entertainment. - The evening entertainment in the concert hall was excellent. We loved Lindy and Greg Pendzick and their multiple artistic talents and musical genres. Their shows were never a letdown and, as individuals, were always charming and helpful throughout the journey. - People were down to earth, informal or formal when appropriate - and I preferred the "un-snooty" ambiance created by staff and fellow passengers. - We opted for the additional city stay in Spokane with winery and garden tours. The Davenport Hotel is exquisite and was a definite highlight. Once again, they had fabulous style and talents, but always with a comfortable, down to earth approach. - I can't recall any glitches that were terribly obvious or that ruined my day. Obviously unexpected things can happen in any business, but would be dealt with immediately and with minimal impact. Thank you, we look forward to the next time we cruise! Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
Already Booked?

Get to know who you’ll be sailing with

Find a Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click