American Empress Arrives in Homeport of Vancouver, WA

April 5th, 2014 Franz Posted in American Queen Steamboat Company Comments Off on American Empress Arrives in Homeport of Vancouver, WA

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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The American Empress to Call Vancouver (Washington) Home and Headquarters

March 20th, 2014 Franz Posted in American Queen Steamboat Company Comments Off on The American Empress to Call Vancouver (Washington) Home and Headquarters

The American Queen Steamboat Company announces its second vessel, the 223-guest American Empress, which will make Vancouver, WA her home port. She will officially join the fleet’s Memphis-based American Queen on April 5, 2014. In addition, the company announced that its Pacific Northwest office will also be based in the southwest Washington city of Vancouver USA, just across the Columbia River from Portland, OR.

“We are delighted to welcome the American Empress to Vancouver, WA and our unique Northwest paradise on the banks of the mighty Columbia River,” says Vancouver’s Rosemary Arruda Cooke, Director of Sales and Destination Services. “The style and service for which the American Queen Steamboat Company is known comes as a welcome addition to the region and we are thrilled for her to call our community home.”

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. Former Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, longtime leader for the U.S. maritime industry and champion of U.S. river cruising expansion, has been announced as the ceremony’s keynote speaker. Highlights of the festivities will include performances by local musicians, a blessing of the boat by Chinook Tribal elders with a bottle of local sparkling wine crashing 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.

The American Queen Steamboat Company entered into a purchase agreement of the 223-guest riverboat with the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) in May 2013 and has had a team onboard preparing for her April 2014 launch on the Columbia and Snake Rivers. She is currently undergoing final preparations for her inaugural season and sea trials with the U.S. Coast Guard are scheduled for later this month.

Her maiden voyage will be a nine-day journey immersing guests in the splendor of the Columbia and Snake Rivers, departing from Vancouver, WA. Featured stops include some of the region’s most celebrated ports including Astoria,OR; Stevenson, WA; The Dalles, OR; Sacajawea State Park, WA and finally Clarkston, WA. 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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Godmother Claudette Waggoner and Former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood To Lead American Empress Christening

March 13th, 2014 Franz Posted in American Queen Steamboat Company Comments Off on Godmother Claudette Waggoner and Former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood To Lead American Empress Christening

Today the American Queen Steamboat Company announces christening ceremony details for the U.S. riverboat owner and operator’s second vessel. The 223-guest American Empress, the largest riverboat west of the Mississippi, will officially join the fleet with the American Queen on April 5, 2014. Claudette Waggoner, wife of Chairman and CEO John Waggoner, will serve as godmother and officially name the vessel as part of the festivities in downtown Portland, Ore.

Former Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, longtime leader for the U.S. maritime industry and champion of U.S. river cruising expansion, has been announced as the ceremony’s keynote speaker. Highlights of the festivities will include performances by local musicians, a blessing of the boat by Chinook Tribal elders and a bottle of local wine crashing 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.

“It will be a great honor for my wife Kathy and I to join John and Claudette Waggoner, sharing our mutual passion for America’s rivers with the world,” explains former Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. “I look forward to meeting the inspiring American Empress crew and visiting with community leaders who will soon see the positive impact U.S. river cruising expansion will have on their cities and towns.”

One of only two conservatives in President Obama’s cabinet during his first term, Secretary LaHood quickly became known throughout the federal government as a bipartisan leader and skilled arbiter. In his role as Secretary of Transportation, LaHood led an agency with more than 50,000 employees and a $70 billion budget overseeing air, maritime and surface transportation missions. With a passion for building new transportation infrastructure, Secretary LaHood became a strong advocate for U.S. river cruising, recognizing the impact its growth has on the economy, particularly river towns and cities in America’s heartland. Secretary LaHood will speak on the importance of U.S. river cruising before introducing American Empress Godmother Claudette Waggoner.

“It is a true honor serving as the American Empress godmother and I look forward to sharing this majestic vessel with the world for the first time on April 5, 2014,” shares Waggoner. “As I have listened to guests share their many discoveries aboard the American Queen sailing the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers, I can’t help but be excited for them to now explore the Pacific Northwest in American Queen Steamboat Company style.”

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American Queen Steamboat Company Extends Partnership with National Trust

February 20th, 2014 Franz Posted in American Queen Steamboat Company Comments Off on American Queen Steamboat Company Extends Partnership with National Trust

The American Queen Steamboat Company announced the extension of its partnership with The National Trust for Historic Preservation. In an effort to preserve American heritage, the company will donate $100,000 to the National Trust’s Campaign to Save America’s National Treasures on behalf of guests sailing on the line’s two riverboats during the 2014 season. THe company wrote that the American Queen and American Empress are the only vessel members of Historic Hotels of America, designated for their contributions to delivering legendary hospitality and a classic hotel-style experience on the Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee, Columbia and Snake Rivers.

“Our guests share a passion for discovering America’s heartland and the Pacific Northwest. We are delighted to make this contribution restoring and maintaining important landmarks protected by The National Trust for Historic Preservation,” said Ted Sykes, president and COO of the American Queen Steamboat Company. “The American Queen Steamboat Company recognizes our responsibility to carry on traditions, educate guests and we embrace the Historic Hotels of America membership of our two riverboats. ”

Through the partnership, American Queen travelers have the opportunity to learn more about the National Trust’s National Treasure sites, located along the Mississippi River as well as the Pacific Northwest, where the American Empress will launch April 2014. The American Queen Steamboat Company is the contributing sponsor of the Mississippi Delta Heritage Area, Manhattan Project Historic Site in Washington and the Willamette Falls Navigation Canal and Locks in Oregon. Special attention to preservation concepts and techniques, as well as the work of architects, historians and other professionals in the field of historic preservation are highlighted onboard and onshore.

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Industry Veteran Pamela Harding Joins American Queen Steamboat Company

February 4th, 2014 Franz Posted in American Queen Steamboat Company Comments Off on Industry Veteran Pamela Harding Joins American Queen Steamboat Company

The American Queen Steamboat Company announced that travel industry executive Pamela Harding has joined the company’s sales team to lead the Pacific Northwest and Western Canada as Regional Sales Director. In her role, she will oversee the region including the states of Alaska, Oregon, Washington, Northern California (93600-96162), Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Utah, North and South Dakota. In Canada, her territory includes British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

“We are delighted to welcome Pamela Harding. With her wealth of experience in the cruise sector of the travel industry and her passion for U.S river cruising, she will be the perfect addition to the American Queen Steamboat Company,” wrote Ted Sykes, president and COO of the American Queen Steamboat Company. “As we launch our second vessel, Pamela’s strengths in the Pacific Northwest will be an asset to the team.”

Harding brings over 20 years of specialized experience in national accounts, international travel sales, marketing and business development. Her career includes business development leadership roles with companies that include Europe Express, Pacific Delight Tours and the original Delta Queen Steamboat Company.

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American Queen Steamboat Company Enters Refurbishment Preparing for Third Season

January 29th, 2014 Franz Posted in American Queen Steamboat Company Comments Off on American Queen Steamboat Company Enters Refurbishment Preparing for Third Season

The American Queen Steamboat Company announces refurbishment details of the 432-passenger paddlewheel currently underway at the New Orleans’ Boland Marine Shipyards. As part of the American Queen’s scheduled annual layup, which includes the renovation of the steam plant, many of the engineering and cosmetic enhancements will be evident to past guests boarding for the launch of her third season on Feb. 21, according to the AQSC statement.

“For our second season, we were delighted to carry over 20 percent more passengers as compared to our inaugural season,” explains American Queen Steamboat Company President and COO Ted Sykes. “With this year’s upgrades and improvements, we look forward to bringing even more guests the nostalgia of river cruising with modern comforts in the 2014 season.”

A team of local contractors and crew are dedicated to preparing the American Queen for her third season with this cruise line. New paint and coating systems are being incorporated throughout the vessel to improve her appearance. A major rehabilitation of the decks is being completed. Guests can expect brand new shows in the Grand Saloon, which are being custom made for the American Queen along with new sound and lighting. An added digital content management system will also allow for in-house programming in each hotel cabin television.

Some of the most significant electrical upgrades since the American Queen’s construction include the renewal of the main switchboard and all associated systems. In the galley, new steam powered “combi ovens” will add capacity and allow the culinary team to expand their onboard pastry and dessert offerings. Additionally, a state-of-the-art combustion control system will save fuel, reduce emissions and exert less stress on the vessel’s steam plant while making the vessel more environmentally friendly.

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American Queen Steamboat Company Closes on Purchase of American Empress

January 17th, 2014 Franz Posted in American Queen Steamboat Company Comments Off on American Queen Steamboat Company Closes on Purchase of American Empress

The American Queen Steamboat Company has announced the closing on financing and full ownership of its second vessel, the American Empress. The company entered into a purchase agreement of the 223-guest riverboat with the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) in May 2013 and has had a team onboard preparing for her April 2014 launch on the Columbia and Snake River. All documents were signed by MARAD and cruise line executives making the handover official, American Queen Steamboat Company announced.

“Over 30 skilled craftsmen and engineers have been hard at work preparing the American Empress for service over the last eight months focusing on the exterior, engine room and now the hotel portion of the vessel,” shares John Waggoner, Chairman and CEO of the American Queen Steamboat Company. “It is exciting to officially sign on the dotted line taking full ownership of the vessel and begin writing a new chapter in U.S. river cruising history.”

Formerly the Empress of the North, the American Empress will deliver opulence on a grand scale, following in the pedigree of the line’s namesake American Queen, and proudly serve as the largest overnight riverboat west of the Mississippi River. A U.S.-flagged vessel, the American Empress measures 360 ft. with five towering decks and accommodates 223 guests in seven stateroom categories.

“We are pleased with the robust level of sales already taken for the inaugural season of the American Empress,” remarked American Queen Steamboat Company President and COO Ted Sykes. “We look forward to a very successful year.”

The American Empress will begin service April 5 after a christening ceremony in Portland, Ore. Her maiden voyage will be a nine-day journey immersing guests in the splendor of the Columbia and Snake Rivers featuring stops to 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 the Western Antique Aeroplane & Automobile Museum. Daily lectures will also be provided by the Riverlorian, an onboard history and culture expert.

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American Queen Steamboat Co. explains details about the Empress of the North purchase

August 24th, 2013 Franz Posted in American Queen Steamboat Company, River Cruise News Comments Off on American Queen Steamboat Co. explains details about the Empress of the North purchase

After some confusion and rumors following the announcement of American Queen Steamboat Company about the purchase of the former Empress of the North (now American Empress) in May 2013, American Queen Steamboat Company now explains the details of the deal.

The cruise line said that AQSC is not formally owning the paddlewheel cruise ship yet but has a binding purchase contract with the U.S. Marine Administration (MARAD). According to Travel Weekly, the MARAD said as of now the vessel is under charter to the American Queen Steamboat Company.

In a press release Ted Sykes, president and COO of American Queen Steamboat Company said that he expects the sale of the Empress of the North, now renamed American Empress, will be final before the ship starts into its season on the Columbia and Snakes Rivers in April 2014.

While Sykes called it a “financing technicality” of when the closing of the purchase occurs, Travel Weekly cites Christopher Kyte, former president of American Queen Steamboat Company saying the announcement in May was misleading and made the acquisition of the ship appear final.

American queen Steamboat Company is investing millions of dollars in renovating the ship at Portland, Oregon, where it is currently docked.

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AQSC partners with National Trust for Historic Preservation

May 22nd, 2013 Franz Posted in American Queen Steamboat Company Comments Off on AQSC partners with National Trust for Historic Preservation

The American Queen Steamboat Company (AQSC) announce a partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation that is intended to help preserve American heritage, culture and promote National Treasures. As a key feature to the partnership, the American Queen Steamboat Company will make a corporate donation of five dollars to the National Trust for every river cruise booking as well as give guests the opportunity to match the donation.

Beginning June 30, 2013, American Queen travelers will have the opportunity to learn more about the National Trust’s National Treasure sites, located along the Mississippi River as well as the Pacific Northwest, where the American Empress will launch in April 2014. Special attention to preservation concepts and techniques, as well as the work of architects, historians and other professionals in the field of historic preservation will be highlighted onboard and onshore.

“We are proud to partner with the American Queen Steamboat Company and help bring America’s National Treasures to life,” shares Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust. “These places along our great waterways present the diversity of our nation’s built history and remind all of us of the importance of preserving the irreplaceable places that tell America’s stories.”

Through the partnership with the National Trust, American Queen Steamboat Company will become a contributing sponsor for four of the National Trust’s National Treasures: Mississippi Delta Heritage Area, Manhattan Project Historic Sites in Washington State, Willamette Falls Navigation Canal and Locks in Oregon and a future site to be named at a later date.

“Thousands of guests onboard the American Queen have rediscovered the treasures the U.S. heartland has to offer over the past year,” shares Ted Sykes, president and COO of the American Queen Steamboat Company. “We are honored to play a role in the preservation of these sites with the National Trust and add new treasures for our guest experience as the American Empress sets sail in April 2014 on the majestic Columbia and Snake Rivers.”

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Empress of the North becomes “American Empress”, joins American Queen Steamboat Company’s fleet

May 22nd, 2013 Franz Posted in American Queen Steamboat Company Comments Off on Empress of the North becomes “American Empress”, joins American Queen Steamboat Company’s fleet

Empress of the North, now American Empress

Empress of the North, now American Empress

The American Queen Steamboat Company announces the purchase of the Empress of the North from the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) for an undisclosed amount. To be renamed the “American Empress”, the vessel is scheduled to resume sailings on the rivers of the Pacific Northwest April 2014 calling her homeport Portland, OR.

“The American Queen has ushered in a rebirth of U.S. river cruising, welcoming thousands to discover the heartland of the United States and its iconic port cities,” says Ted Sykes, president and COO of the American Queen Steamboat Company. “Now the American Empress will continue that tradition as an ambassador to the Pacific Northwest, a region equally rich in American and natural history.”

A U.S.-flagged riverboat, the American Empress measures 360 ft. with five towering decks and accommodates 223 guests in seven stateroom categories. The American Empress will sail the Columbia River and Snake River, offering seven-day voyages between Portland, OR and Clarkston, WA. Ports of call include Astoria, WA; Stevenson, WA; The Dalles, OR; Umatilla, OR; and Richland, WA. The American Empress was built in 2002 and operated by Majestic America Line from 2002 to 2008, sailing Alaska’s Inside Passage and the Pacific Northwest.

For more details about the Empress of the North, now American Empress, picture gallery and her history, see “Riverboat Pictures: American Empress (ex Empress of the North)”.

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