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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.

Excellent Adventure

American Empress Cruise Review by mwjack

9 people found this helpful
Trip Details
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.
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Cabin Review

Cabin 308
Note to light sleepers. There is loud fan that will run all night if you do not turn it off. I had an understanding roommate. Otherwise I would not have slept a wink. Also walls are thin, and loud snores will travel. So take ear plugs, get adjusted to a sleeping potion before you go.
Our cabin was clean and kept lovely the entire week. Beds were comfortable and my roommate would have loved to have purchased a pillow to take home.