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All of my adult life, I have scoffed at the ads on TV and in the media touting cruises and cruise lines. The prospect of spending days on board a boat with 3000+ total strangers, many of whom are out to behave badly, while dodging rugrats and waiting in line for the buffet and stuffing yourself several times a day just doesn't appeal to me. I want a voyage where the destination is more important than the journey, where you get the opportunity to learn about the port of call, where the locals view you as a guest, not a mark, where you don't have to pay extra for an outside cabin, where you don't get nickeled-and-dimed to death every time you order a soft drink, and on and on. Do I sound like a curmudgeon? The good news is that I have found the perfect cruise that addresses all of my negatives, while accentuating the positives. The American Queen Steamboat Company's American Empress, which cruises the Columbia and Snake Rivers of the Pacific Northwest, delivers all that it promises and more. Some facts to support my argument: - The passenger capacity for the American Empress is 223. This is not a typo. - No provision is made for children; you can bring them, but there are no babysitters, video games or activities for them. - Terrific meals, using locally sourced ingredients whenever possible. - 24-hour room service at no charge. - Local wine and beer are included with dinner at no charge, and soft drinks, bottled water, coffee, tea, cappuccino, etc. are available at no charge at all times. - Free wi-fi throughout the ship. - No "at sea" days; you'll be at a port every day. - Shore excursions are included in each port, and premium excursions are available. - There are several dedicated motor coaches that drive a circular route through each port, so you can hop on or off where you like. - Every cabin has a window with a view, and all but seven of the cabins have their own veranda with a table and chairs. - Daily lectures covering the geology, history, etc. of the region are given by the in-house expert, the "Riverlorian." - Most of the typical add-ons that other cruise lines use to squeeze some more money from you are *not* available-- no casino, no spa, no exercise classes, no laundry or dry cleaning, no 'premium' restaurant for dinner (the Empress has a fine-dining restaurant called the River Grille, which passengers are entitled to dine in twice during the cruise, but there is no additional charge). - An experienced all-American crew and staff. Picture this: you wake up, take a shower (Clarins bath products included), put on a warm bathrobe and slippers (included), make yourself a cup of coffee or tea (A Keurig coffeemaker and pods are included), step out onto your veranda, sit down and relax while sipping your drink and watching the shore scenery go by. Bliss.

A Cruise for Anti-Cruisers

American Empress Cruise Review by mitchhellman

28 people found this helpful
Trip Details
All of my adult life, I have scoffed at the ads on TV and in the media touting cruises and cruise lines. The prospect of spending days on board a boat with 3000+ total strangers, many of whom are out to behave badly, while dodging rugrats and waiting in line for the buffet and stuffing yourself several times a day just doesn't appeal to me.

I want a voyage where the destination is more important than the journey, where you get the opportunity to learn about the port of call, where the locals view you as a guest, not a mark, where you don't have to pay extra for an outside cabin, where you don't get nickeled-and-dimed to death every time you order a soft drink, and on and on. Do I sound like a curmudgeon?

The good news is that I have found the perfect cruise that addresses all of my negatives, while accentuating the positives. The American Queen Steamboat Company's American Empress, which cruises the Columbia and Snake Rivers of the Pacific Northwest, delivers all that it promises and more. Some facts to support my argument:

- The passenger capacity for the American Empress is 223. This is not a typo.

- No provision is made for children; you can bring them, but there are no babysitters, video games or activities for them.

- Terrific meals, using locally sourced ingredients whenever possible.

- 24-hour room service at no charge.

- Local wine and beer are included with dinner at no charge, and soft drinks, bottled water, coffee, tea, cappuccino, etc. are available at no charge at all times.

- Free wi-fi throughout the ship.

- No "at sea" days; you'll be at a port every day.

- Shore excursions are included in each port, and premium excursions are available.

- There are several dedicated motor coaches that drive a circular route through each port, so you can hop on or off where you like.

- Every cabin has a window with a view, and all but seven of the cabins have their own veranda with a table and chairs.

- Daily lectures covering the geology, history, etc. of the region are given by the in-house expert, the "Riverlorian."

- Most of the typical add-ons that other cruise lines use to squeeze some more money from you are *not* available-- no casino, no spa, no exercise classes, no laundry or dry cleaning, no 'premium' restaurant for dinner (the Empress has a fine-dining restaurant called the River Grille, which passengers are entitled to dine in twice during the cruise, but there is no additional charge).

- An experienced all-American crew and staff.

Picture this: you wake up, take a shower (Clarins bath products included), put on a warm bathrobe and slippers (included), make yourself a cup of coffee or tea (A Keurig coffeemaker and pods are included), step out onto your veranda, sit down and relax while sipping your drink and watching the shore scenery go by. Bliss.
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Cabin Review

Cabin 205
The cabin was roomier than I thought it would be; the "C" class cabins are approx. 180 square ft., not counting the veranda. There are two floor-to-ceiling wardrobes, (each with several drawers, one with a safe), a desk and desk chair, one queen-size or two twin beds with a nightstand and a clock/radio/MP3 player, two chairs, a corner unit with a flatscreen TV, several shelves, a coffeemaker, a refrigerator, and a pair of binoculars. The bathroom is small but efficient with plenty of storage space and a curtained stall shower with a handheld shower head attached to a hose.