Empress of the North To Resume

March 27, 2006
American West Steamboat's Empress of the North, which ran aground last weekend on the Columbia River, fulfilling the old wives' tale that bad things happen in threes -- at least as far as cruise-related accidents are concerned, will resume sailings on April 2 as company officials predicted.

The 235-passenger paddlewheeler ran aground as it was making its way to the port of Washougal, Washington. Passengers -- of whom 179 were onboard -- were reported to have commented that the boat jolted and then seemed to be running over gravel. They were held onboard for about eight hours until Queen of the West, the fleet's other sternwheeler, arrived to take them ashore. American West then transported them to a hotel in Washougal, where it also picked up the tab for dinner. They then continued with the land-based part of the trip.

The ship, which according to media reports hit the sandbar as it was trying to avoid a barge, did suffer some damage and an investigation is under way. In the meantime, American West has announced that this week's cruise -- which was to have departed from Astoria, Oregon, yesterday, had been canceled.

It took two days to float the ship off the sandbar and Empress of the North has made its way to the Cascade General Shipyard in Portland, where the ship is undergoing an inspection.