American Empress Arrives in Homeport of Vancouver, WA

April 5th, 2014

The American Queen Steamboat Company’s American Empress arrived in her homeport of Vancouver, WA, on April 4th, 2014 after her first voyage on the Columbia River since 2008. The largest riverboat west of the Mississippi River, the 223-guest vessel will officially join the company’s fleet with the Memphis-based American Queen on April 5, 2014.

The U.S.-flagged American Empress was built in 2003 and operated by Majestic America Line from 2003 to 2008, sailing Alaska’s Inside Passage and the Pacific Northwest. The American Queen Steamboat Company purchased the riverboat from the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) and has had a team onboard preparing for her launch on the Columbia and Snake Rivers since May 2013. Formerly the Empress of the North, the American Empress delivers opulence on a grand scale, following in the pedigree of the line’s namesake riverboat American Queen.

“As we sailed up the river to our new home today, the excitement and energy onboard the American Empress was truly inspiring,” shared Ted Sykes, the line’s president and COO. “Just as the American Queen has brought luxury and grandeur to river cruising America’s heartland, the American Empress will do the same for the Pacific Northwest.”

As the American Empress approached downtown Vancouver as well as Portland, she was met by the city’s residents welcoming her to her new homeport.  Claudette Waggoner, wife of chairman and CEO John Waggoner, will serve as godmother and officially name the boat as part of festivities in downtown Portland on April 5, which will begin at 2:00p.m. Former Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, longtime leader for the U.S. maritime industry and champion of U.S. river cruising expansion, is the ceremony’s keynote speaker.

Highlights of the festivities will include performances by local musicians, a blessing of the boat by Chinook Nation Chairman Ray Gardner and the godmother crashing a bottle of local sparkling wine against the American Empress bow. Additional participating dignitaries include the 13th Coast Guard District Commander Rear Admiral Richard T. Gromlich and Acting Maritime Administrator Paul “Chip” Jaenichen.

Her maiden voyage will be a nine-day journey immersing guests in the splendor of the Columbia and Snake Rivers, departing from Vancouver U.S.A. Featured stops include some of the region’s most celebrated ports including Astoria, Ore.; Stevenson, Wash.; The Dalles, Ore.; Sacajawea State Park, Wash. and finally Clarkston, Wash. Complimentary shore excursions will be available in every port and include the cultural and historical landmarks that signify the living legacy of the region’s first settlers.  Travelers with specific interests are encouraged to enjoy the variety of Premium Experience Excursions such as the Walla Walla Wine Trail or a journey to the volcanic crater of Mount St. Helens. Daily lectures will also be provided by the Riverlorian, an onboard history and culture expert.

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