American Empress docks in Vancouver

American Empress docks in Vancouver

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by Joe Smith, KGW Business Reporter

kgw.com

Posted on April 5, 2014 at 11:53 AM

Updated Friday, Apr 18 at 12:20 PM

VANCOUVER -- The largest river paddle boat west of the Mississippi river has dropped anchor at its new home in Vancouver.

The ship was once 'The Empress of the North.' It's now called 'The American Empress.'  

A new name and a major remodel means a new tourist attraction for the entire region.

National travel writers, friends and family were on board for a test run Friday as it docked in Vancouver next to The Red Lion.

After being mothballed for five years, the ship's new owners, the American Queen Steamboat Company, purchased the paddle boat for $6 million in 2012.

Another $5 million was spent to get it in ship-shape. Every deck is also an art gallery, the walls lined with a history of river boats and more.

There are 112 state rooms that can carry 223 passengers.

"The folks in Vancouver totally went out of their way to welcome us and bent over backwards," said John Waggoner, chairman of the American Queen Steamboat Company.

The seven day trips will travel the Columbia and Snake rivers, starting in Vancouver and ending in Clarkston. Tour buses follow, ready to take passengers on shore excursions.

Saturday, the ship will be christened in downtown Portland. Former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood will be on hand.

The cost of a cruise is $3,795 per person.

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