American Queen Steamboat Company has announced that the American Empress, cruising the Columbia and Snake rivers, will resume operations beginning June 14, 2021. The line’s first 2021 Pacific Northwest sailing will feature the popular Pacific Northwest Splendor itinerary from Spokane, Wash. (Clarkston, Wash.) to Portland, Ore. (Vancouver, Wash.) and operate with enhanced SafeCruise health and safety protocols. Additionally, American Queen Steamboat Company is reporting the 2021 season is almost sold out including the newly christened American Countess and boutique-style American Duchess, which both began operating at reduced capacity in March 2021.
Following new Washington state guidelines, all American Empress sailings will require 100% guest and crew COVID-19 vaccinations to sail beginning June 14, ahead of the July 1, 2021, American Queen Steamboat Company fleetwide vaccine mandate. The vaccination requirement for the American Empress sailings expands upon the SafeCruise health and safety protocols already in place, which include, but is not limited to, pre-cruise COVID-19 testing of all guests and crew and a mask mandate in all public areas where social distancing is not possible. Additionally, American Queen Steamboat Company continues its partnership with leading health advisor, VIKAND Medical Solutions, and is operating under the discretion of the CDC regarding evolving guidelines to protect guests, crew and the communities the vessels visit.
“Following our successful March restart with the American Countess and American Duchess on the Mississippi and Ohio rivers, the added capacity of the American Empress in the Pacific Northwest will help meet the unprecedented guest demand to travel again,” shares Shawn Bierdz, president, American Queen Steamboat Company. “Our domestic, close-to-home itineraries continue to resonate with travelers, many new to cruising all together, along with seasoned ocean cruisers and our most loyal paddlewheel guests.”
With the 2021 American Empress itineraries almost sold out and limited Nov. and Dec. itineraries remaining, the 2022 inventory is also seeing an influx of bookings. To meet this growing demand, American Queen Steamboat Company released its 2023 season in February of this year, marking the furthest out a season has been offered to guests and travel agent partners. Guests are encouraged to book soon to sail on upcoming Pacific Northwest 2022 itineraries on board the American Empress.
The American Empress is the third American Queen Steamboat Company vessel to begin operating this year. In March 2021, the American Duchess was the first vessel to resume operations on the Mississippi River, followed by the newly debuted American Countess which also celebrated its inaugural season with a private christening ceremony.