The American Empress, a once-common sight along the Columbia River, has officially been sold to Connecticut-based American Cruise Lines.

The sale comes after American Queen Voyages shut down operations

In February 2024, the owner of the American Empress - along with sister ships American Duchess, American Queen , and American Countess - announced the immediate closure of their cruise business. The closing resulted in 508 lost jobs, including 16 in Washington State.

The other ships offered tours along the Mississippi, Ohio, Cumberland, and Tennessee Rivers.


Paddleboat was a common sight along the Columbia River

The cruise line offered cruises between Spokane, Washington, and Portland, Oregon, along the Columbia River. Communities along the river, like Tri-Cities, would often catch sight of the American Empress as it passed by. The American Empress would also often dock at Howard Amon.

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I remember the first time I saw the boat docked in Richland. It was my first year living in the Tri-Cities - actually, the first time I was visiting Howard Amon Park. Living along a river was a new experience for me, and I was caught in a moment of awe. Now I just realize it's a shame I never took pictures, or embarked on the cruise, while I had the chance.

The future of the American Empress and sister ships is yet unknown

Although American Cruise Lines has confirmed its purchase as the final bidder on the American Queen paddleboats, it has not yet released its plans for where the paddleboats will eventually dock or cruise. Thankfully, the ships are relatively young and unlikely to be scuttled.

Hopefully, we'll see the American Empress cruising down the Columbia River once again. In the meantime, get a glimpse of the ship through this promotional video.


Read Also: Has the Columbia River Ever Frozen Over? Yes!

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