American Empress
American Empress / American Queen Voyages
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Astoria Dining Room
Astoria Dining Room / American Queen Voyages
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The Show Lounge
The Show Lounge / American Queen Voyages
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Deluxe Veranda Stateroom
Deluxe Veranda Stateroom / American Queen Voyages
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American Empress in Richland
American Empress in Richland / American Queen Voyages
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Multnomah Falls
Multnomah Falls / American Queen Voyages
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American Empress

Our Ship Review
Deal Expert / Travel Blogger

Editor's note: American Queen Voyages has ceased operations.

The largest, most luxurious overnight paddle-wheeler west of the Mississippi, 223-guest American Empress debuted in 2003 as Empress of the North for now-defunct American West Steamboat Co. Purchased by American Queen Voyages in 2013, the ship was freshened up with a refit that toned down some of its ornate 19th-century, Russian-influenced decor. Since 2014, American Empress has sailed weekly itineraries in the Pacific Northwest along the scenic Columbia and Snake rivers, offering a largely inclusive experience with Wi-Fi, soft drinks, bottled water, specialty coffees, and wine/beer with dinner.

What We Love

The Scenery: The scenic vistas along the Columbia and Snake rivers are varied and beautiful, from the Victorian-era waterfront of Astoria to the spectacular Columbia Gorge and the rugged desert terrain of eastern Washington state.

Hop-On/Hop-Off Bus: In addition to regular excursions (available for a nominal fee), there is a complimentary hop-on/hop-off bus that allows guests to explore each port at their leisure. Another plus: Admission to most local museums is included in your cruise fare.

River Grill & Bar: The traditional dining room serves excellent, locally sourced cuisine. But you can also dine at no extra charge in the reservations-required, 55-seat River Grill & Bar. Added during the shipʼs refit, this alfresco venue (which can be enclosed in inclement weather) serves up lobster, steak, lamb chops, and fresh fish.

Best Known For

Riverlorians: Onboard historians/enrichment lecturers cover a wide variety of topics, from Lewis and Clark to the Missoula Floods and local Native American culture.

Ornate Decor and Valuable Artwork: Although the decor on American Empress has been updated, it's still festooned with crystal chandeliers, wood paneling, and an impressive art collection that was curated by the shipʼs original owners.

Who It's Best For

Those Seeking an Inclusive, Laid-Back Cruise Experience: Life aboard American Empress is all about comfort, excellent food, attentive service, and spectacular scenery.

Don't Say We Didn't Warn You

Bells and Whistles Are Lacking: There is no pool, gym, spa, or childrenʼs facility, although six bikes (with helmets) are available at no charge on a first-come, first-served basis.