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.
The Cabin was very large and Beautifully decorated with Antique style Bed and Furniture. There were three antique chairs, alarm clock, and Hair dryer. The cabin had plenty of closet space and hangers with a nice desk and television. We also had a nice balcony area with two chairs and a table.The Cabin also had Free WiFi, and bottled water. The Bed was very comfortable and the sheets where nice and soft. The Cabin Attendant did a good job as she came in twice a day to clean the room.