The American Queen Steamboat Co., which launched steamboat cruises on the Mississippi River last spring, has bought a second riverboat that will sail the rivers of the Pacific Northwest starting in April 2014. The company, named for its Mississippi River paddle wheeler, announced Tuesday it had purchased the former Empress of the North and will rename it the American Empress.
The 360-foot boat has five decks and will hold 223 passengers. It is smaller than the 436-passenger American Queen but larger than most riverboats. Built in 2002, Empress of the North sailed the Pacific Northwest and Alaska’s Inside Passage for Majestic America Line until 2008. American Queen Steamboat Co. bought the boat from the U.S. Maritime Administration for an undisclosed price.
The boat will undergo rehabbing, then move to its homeport in Portland, Ore., where it will sail seven-day voyages on the Columbia River and Snake River, between Portland and Clarkston, Wash.
Cruises are expected to be available for booking within a few weeks, with fares starting at $3,795 a person, double occupancy. Information: 888-749-5280, www.AQSC.com.
The American Empress won’t be the only boat on those rivers, although it will be the largest. American Cruise Line’s Queen of the West and Un-Cruise Adventures’ S.S. Legacy also sail on the Columbia and Snake.