Engine Fire Sidelines Riverboat, Passengers Evacuated

April 8, 2008

An engine fire aboard Majestic America Line's Queen of the West early this morning required 124 passengers to be evacuated. Queen of the West was on the second night of a weeklong Portland-based river cruise along the Columbia River.

The fire was noticed last night around midnight and the Coast Guard was notified. The incident occurred while the boat was sailing between The Dalles and John Day Locks; the boat was towed to Maryhill where the passengers were safely evacuated at around 5 a.m. Three crewmembers were treated and released for smoke inhalation by paramedics on the scene.

Queen of the West is undergoing assessment at this time to determine what caused the fire. Passengers were transported to local hotels; the remainder of the cruise has been cancelled and they are being assisted in their travel arrangements by Majestic America Line staff. All passengers will be offered a full refund and will receive a 50 percent discount off the published fare for any Majestic America Cruise within the next 12 months. This includes any 7-night cruise on any itinerary in the U.S., which includes Alaska, the Columbia River, and the Mississippi River.

Last year Majestic America Line went through a series of mishaps with its Empress of the North paddlewheeler, which struck a reef near Juneau, Alaska in May and was out of service for several weeks. Empress of the North also failed its USPH inspection in February of last year with one of the lowest scores (67 percent) ever recorded by the USPH.

--by Jana Jones, Cruise Critic Contributor