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We are so excited to see the old ships reclaiming their former glory on the rivers! First, the American Queen returned to the Mississippi River, and now the same company has brought back the American Empress to the Pacific Northwest! Currently being refurbished in Portland, it’ll begin its tours in April 2014 – cruising weekly between Portland, OR and Clarkston, WA. Empress

 I’m currently listening to a webinar about the American Empress, because I’m curious about how fantastic this ship is going to be. The American Empress is the largest most opulent riverboat in the Pacific Northwest, only second in the world to the American Queen. Travel in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark – the first American explorers to cross what would eventually be the Western United States. Although they spent the winter freezing on the Pacific coast (what is now Fort Clatsop, outside of Astoria, OR), they only lost one member of the expedition. Local sights have changed since the original Lewis & Clark expedition – especially the Mt. St. Helensbeautiful Mt. St. Helens, which has gotten considerably shorter since Lewis & Clark originally wrote about her: “Mount Hellenbears N. 25° E about 80 miles, this is the mountain we Saw near the foks of this river. it is emensely high and covered with Snow, riseing in a kind of Cone perhaps the highest pinecal from the common leavel in america” (Please excuse their bad spelling…) They considered Mt. St. Helens possibly the highest point they’d seen in the entire country – not anymore. The eruption of 1980 left the mountain considerably shorter, but no less beautiful! I’m surprised to learn that the fastest growing population to start booking this cruise already is from the Western half of the US – just because this is in your backyard doesn’t mean you’ve seen it like this! Even agents in our office, who’ve lived along the Columbia River for decades, have new experiences and learn new things when cruising the Columbia River! So don’t think that just because you live in Washington or Oregon, you can’t take a Columbia River cruise. You’re never too local to have new experiences. And if you’re local but never paid much attention to the gorge or the Snake River, this could be your opportunity to experience it all – without having to drive, check into hotels, or unpack/pack daily! Treat the Empress like your traveling hotel.

 

Perhaps in 2015, the Empress will be headed North? We’ll have to wait and see if paddlewheels will return to Alaska someday…

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