Paddle-wheeler to ply Columbia River once again

Paddle-wheeler to ply Columbia River once again

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by Joe Smith, KGW Business Reporter

kgw.com

Posted on October 1, 2013 at 5:23 PM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 1 at 6:55 PM

PORTLAND -- Another cruise ship line is getting ready to dock in Portland. The American Empress will make her maiden voyage next April, but not before the paddle wheeler gets back in ship shape.

The ship, originally named the Empress of the North, was built in 2003 and operated for just a few years until financial troubles forced it out of business.

Last year, the American Queen Steamboat Company, based out of Memphis, Tenn. purchased the vessel for $6 million. The four-deck ship with 112 state rooms is now undergoing a $4 million renovation to bring it up to contemporary travel standards.

It's scheduled to set sail next year with trips along the Columbia and Snake Rivers.

“We'll depart out of Portland and go to Astoria, then go all the way to Clarkston and Lewiston,” said John Waggoner, President and CEO of HMS Global Maritime. “That will be a one week trip.”

American Queen is already drumming up interest with tour companies from around the country.

The company is looking for a launch point in downtown Portland where it will be based. The cruises will be from April through November. A seven-day cruise will cost $3,000 to $4,000 per person.

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