NEW ALBANY — American Queen Steamboat Company’s American Empress will be resuming operations on the Columbia and Snake rivers for vaccinated guests starting June 14, 2021.
The first 2021 Pacific Northwest sailing will feature the popular ‘Pacific Northwest Splendor’ itinerary from Spokane, Washington to Portland, Oregon, and operate with enhanced ‘SafeCruise’ health and safety protocols.
Following new Washington state guidelines, all American Empress sailings will require 100% guest and crew COVID-19 vaccinations to sail beginning June 14, ahead of AQSC’s fleet-wide vaccine mandate that’s set to begin on July 1. The requirement for American Empress sailings expands upon the SafeCruise protocols already in place, which include, but are not limited to, pre-cruise COVID-19 testing of all guests and crew as well as a mask mandate in all public areas where social distancing is not possible.
The resumption of American Empress follows the successful March restart of newly-christened American Countess and the boutique-style American Duchess, both of which have begun operating at reduced capacity.
Said Shawn Bierdz, president, American Queen Steamboat Company: “Following our successful March restart with the American Countess and American duchess on the Mississippi and Ohio rivers, the added capacity of the American Empress in the Pacific Northwest will help meet the unprecedented guest demand to travel again. Our domestic, close-to-home itineraries continue to resonate with travellers, many new to cruising all together, along with seasoned ocean cruisers and our most loyal paddlewheel guests.”
Bierdz added that with the 2021 American Empress itineraries almost sold out and limited November and December itineraries remaining, the 2022 inventory is also seeing an influx of bookings. To meet this growing demand, American Queen Steamboat Company released its 2023 season in February of this year, the furthest out a season has been offered to guests and travel agents. Guests are encouraged to book soon to sail on upcoming Pacific Northwest 2022 itineraries onboard the American Empress.