This was the third actual cruise for the American Empress after the reopening. We started from Clarkston WA and sailed down the Snake and Columbia Rivers. The cruise was fairly full and the crew was slightly short handed. But the officers and assigned people filled in marvelously well. The cabins are small and compact on the Empress but most have private verandas. Food was American style, seafood, beef, pork, chicken. The buffet on the upper deck was served by crew members to minimize spreading of possible virus. The weather was HOT six out of nine days were over 100 degrees. But two days near the coast were cool.
The American Steamboat Company uses a Hop-on Hop-off bus system that is available at all stops along the river. The same buses are staged along the river following the boat. Local guides are employed at each location to give the historical and local information. We took advantage of each of the Hop-on Hop-off excursions. The local guides were outstanding in every town. The bus drivers were excellent navigating the narrow streets and traffic filled roads. These excursions were the best and are recommended.
The premium excursion we took were city tours in both Spokane and after dropping off the boat in Portland also excellent tours. The local guides knew their cities. One extra premium excursion we took was to the Maryhill Museum and wine tour. The stop at Maryhill was disappointing since, like the information said the house is just a museum and the inside of the house was never finished as a house. The builder stopped the detailing out of the house after the outside was completed. So the current owners made the property into a museum. But the highlight of the tour was a stop at a local winery. The people who worked there seemed to be over joyed that we stopped in. They made us feel very welcomed and comfortable.
Response from BriannaH, Guest Relations @American Queen Voyages