New to the Columbia River this year is the beautiful American Song. Completed in 2018, the new ship represents the next evolutionary phase in American riverboats. Two of us were fortunate to cruise on the inaugural Columbia River journey aboard the American Song, and are happy to share our pictures and experience with you.
The design of the boat is impressive. The American Song is truly beautiful. Each level of the boat has a different color carpet, which came in handy to remind me where I was, and whether I needed to go up or down. The indoor and outdoor lounges were lovely, with fun shades of blue and green. Lots of places to sit and enjoy the view! The staterooms were a good size – plenty of room to relax and enjoy your downtime. And I loved standing on our balcony and taking photos of the passing scenery. There was even one morning I looked out the window to see a wall – we were inside a lock! The Magnolia Lounge was a fun gathering place for historian lectures, evening entertainment, and cocktail hour. The Sky Lounge was a great place to grab a late night snack and sit quietly with a good book.
#1 | Bow Landing
I loved docking in Kalama, because we just pulled up as close to shore as the ship could fit, and then opened the bow to extend the ramp to the beach. It was so much fun to walk off the boat a different way, and to look up and see the inside of the bow! This is an unique feature, and was quite exciting for me. From the picture (right) you can tell that it was a rainy afternoon when we docked, but that didn’t stop me. Even though I wasn’t going on the shore excursion that day, I was one of the first passengers down that ramp -just to look and take pictures! The crew kept trying to cover me with an umbrella, but I just smiled, rolled my eyes, and informed them of my Native Washingtonian status. Hee hee! But all those other passengers were more appreciative of the umbrellas and ponchos.
#2 | Cocktail Hour
Every day, we looked forward to cocktail hour! It was a great time to relax after shore excursions, plus enjoy yummy hors d’oeuvres and a mixed drink before dinner (left). We all would wander through the crowd, finding our friends. If someone went on a different shore excursion than me, I would ask how it went, and what fun adventure they found. I did post this picture on our Facebook right after taking the photo. The plate includes chicken satay with teriyaki sauce, beef tartlet, cheese and crackers, and red pepper hummus on my carrots. What I didn’t take a picture of (because I ate it too fast) was the lamb lollipop! Oh, and that’s my Jack and coke with grenadine. By the end of the week, the bartenders knew my order before I said it, which was nice. And I heard stories from other passengers that they asked for a specific liquor the first night and the boat didn’t have it in stock. When we docked the next day, crew went to a store and bought the requested alcohol so that the passengers could drink their preferred cocktail the rest of the week! Their attention to detail when it comes to the passengers is touching.
#3 | Locks and Dams
I’ve toured Bonneville Dam before, but I’d never ridden a boat thru the lock before. New experience! The Bonneville Dam was early in the morning, and some passengers woke up to a wall outside their window – including me! But The Dalles Dam was during cocktail hour, so everyone was at the front of the boat to watch the approach. The boat had to get all lined up properly with lock, and we all stood and waited for the ‘green light’ and the doors to open. I expected metal-on-metal screeching noises, akin to something from Star Wars. Surprisingly, it was silent! We also crossed the John Day Dam, McNary Dam and Ice Harbor Dam. There were three more dams on the schedule, but our cruise was re-routed due to spring water levels.
#4 | Evening Entertainment
The American Song offered entertainment every evening in the Cascade Lounge. Not every one was a star, but the boat tried to provide a variety of styles to suit most people. There were two standout performers on our cruise. The first was Kevin Neil. We actually were fortunate enough to enjoy Kevin’s company twice during our cruise. In Astoria, Kevin performed “Songs of the Sailor,” and provided historical tidbits and sailor humor that gave us all a giggle. In Stevenson, Kevin joined us again for “Cowboy Songs.” That night we laughed even harder! He’s a great singer and guitar player and knows a lot of music, but his stage presence is great and he knows a lot of funny stories and jokes. Our last night onboard, we had a saxophone quartet. Now I enjoy a good saxophone, but I didn’t know what to make of four saxophones alone. They were fantastic! They arranged their own music, and played a variety of upbeat tunes that had us dancing in our seats. The best part was the end, when they said they were playing a sing-along song but weren’t going to tell us what it was. They played, “Tequila”! So we all yelled the one song lyric at the appropriate times in the song. It was great fun!
#5 | Back Porch Cafe
There was never a bad meal in the dining room. Ever! All the food that comes from the dining room is fantastic. I never knew heaven tasted like lentil stew until I ate theirs for lunch. But, new to the American Song was the Back Porch Cafe. Just outside the Sky Lounge, on the back deck, is a small little kitchen, serving scrumptious goodies for anyone wanting a change of pace, or who missed a mealtime. We chose to have lunch there one day, and enjoyed a delicious hot dog (right)! They also had pizza, soup, ice cream, and more. There was plenty of outdoor seating, but this was a March cruise, not a warm cruise. So we all went into the Sky Lounge to eat.
#6 | Crew Pranks
We boarded our cruise in Portland, and we all started noticing the fun and beautiful decorations around the boat. In Astoria, I noticed a cute dog statue on the left side of the table between the elevator and staircase on the 4th deck. Then in Kalama, it seemed like the statue had changed – now it was a dog doing yoga. I was suspicious, but I dismissed it from my mind, thinking that I must have been mistaken. I was on a new boat and still getting used to my surroundings – my brain must have just mixed up the two statues. Then in Stevenson, the yoga dog statue had been moved to the center of the table and decorated… with a shower cap. Ah ha! At this point, I knew I hadn’t imagined it. Someone was messing with the statues on purpose. In The Dalles, the dog was replaced by the alligator statue for half the day, then the yoga dog came back again. This continued the rest of the week. Every time I went to the 4th deck, something was different. Passengers started questioning their own memory and reality as they began noticing the changes. Even the crew would ask us who was doing these silly things! We didn’t know, obviously. Someone onboard that boat was having a good giggle at the rest of us.
Overall, our cruise was a lot of fun. We had a relaxed week aboard the American Song. And, of course, it goes without saying that we’re huge fans of the Columbia River! Why else would we live here? Come visit us and take a cruise thru our backyard.
American Song Cruise Schedule
Portland to Clarkston
Secret #7 | Locally Sourced Food
When we arrived, our welcome folder included a list of all the foods that would be served that week that came from somewhere in the Northwest. The dairy was all from Oregon, with the milk and cream from Portland, ice cream from Eugene, and cheese from Tillamook and Grants Pass. The seafood was from all over Washington and Oregon, including the steelhead, sturgeon, salmon, cod and crab. The beef was from a farm in Moses Lake, Washington. And the fruits and vegetables were from over, including the apples, pears, beets, peppers, squash, cabbage, cucumbers, mushrooms and so much more! All of these fantastic local foods were prepared expertly by the amazingly skilled chefs onboard, and presented beautifully for our consumption each day, like the seafood ravioli pictured to the right.