American Queen Finalizes American Empress Purchase

Since its debut in the summer of 2012, the American Queen Steamboat Company has experienced enormous demand for its highly inclusive Mississippi sailings operated aboard the venerable American Queen sternwheeler. Now, the company is poised to double the size of its fleet.

A New Lease on Life: the former Empress of the North will enter service this April as American Empress. Photo courtesy of American Queen Steamboat Company.

A New Lease on Life: The former Empress of the North will enter service this April as American Empress. Photo courtesy of American Queen Steamboat Company.

The American Queen Steamboat Company has just secured full ownership of the former Empress of the North, a sternwheeler constructed in 2003 for the now-defunct Majestic America Line. The acquisition was originally announced in May of last year, but was subject to financing and upgrades to the ship’s mechanical and passenger spaces. Renamed American Empress, she is now officially the property of the American Queen Steamboat Company.

“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,” said 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.”

American Queen Steamboat Company Chairman and CEO John Waggoner (right) and HMS Global Maritime In-House Legal Counsel Bob Herre (Left) sign documents officially closing the purchase of the American Empress from the US Maritime Administration. Photo courtesy of American Queen Steamboat Company

American Queen Steamboat Company Chairman and CEO John Waggoner (right) and HMS Global Maritime In-House Legal Counsel Bob Herre (Left) sign documents officially closing the purchase of the American Empress from the US Maritime Administration. Photo courtesy of American Queen Steamboat Company

When she enters service on April 5, 2014, she’ll effectively double the size of the company’s fleet – and also expand its reach. Unlike the American Queen, the newly christened American Empress will sail from Portland, Oregon and Clarkston, Washington on journeys along the Columbia and Snake Rivers. Stops will include Astoria, Oregon; Stevenson, Washington; The Dalles, Oregon; and Scacajawea State Park, Washington.

Like all American Queen Steamboat Company voyages, the journeys aboard American Empress will feature complimentary shore excursions in each port of call. These are designed to highlight the unique culture and history in this fascinating area of the United States.

Pacific Northwest cuisine will complement the trip, providing guests with the opportunity to enjoy the region’s renowned seafood and wines.

The ship can accommodate 223 guests and features seven stateroom categories. Both Eastbound and Westbound itineraries will be offered between April and November of 2014.

More information on the new American Empress will be posted here on River Cruise Advisor as it becomes available.