American Empress Resumes River Cruises in Pacific Northwest: Travel Weekly
The American Queen Steamboat Company launched its first post-pandemic river cruise in the Pacific Northwest on Monday.
The company said the American Empress set sail on its Pacific Northwest Splendor route along the Columbia and Snake Rivers between Spokane, Washington, and Portland, Ore.
In addition to being the company’s first sailing to the region since the pandemic, AQSC said this was its first overnight river cruise to set sail with all guests and the fully vaccinated crew.
The company has been cruising the Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee and Cumberland rivers since mid-March, with Covid-19 pre-navigation testing for guests. But his company-wide mandate that all guests should be vaccinated does not take effect until July 1.
The company promulgated the vaccination mandate for the Pacific Northwest early on, as Washington state requires 95% of all passengers and crew on river cruises to be vaccinated. The company said it also still requires pre-navigation Covid testing for Pacific Northwest crossings.
“Today marks a milestone for the American Queen Steamboat Company and Pacific Northwest tourism as we restart operations in the region and cruise passengers can once again savor the majestic beauty of the Columbia and Snake rivers.” , said Shawn Bierdz, president of the AQSC. “We look forward to safely welcoming guests aboard the American Empress to navigate this diverse environment and discover the communities that make it such a unique travel experience.”
American Cruise Lines has been sailing the Pacific Northwest with American Song and American Harmony since early May, but stopovers were initially limited to Oregon due to tighter Covid-19 restrictions in the state of Washington. Washington opened its doors to ships with vaccinated passengers and crew in mid-May. ACL said it resumed its crossings to the two states at the end of May.
Correction: Washington State requires that 95% of all passengers and crew on river cruises be vaccinated. An earlier version of this report incorrectly stated that Washington required all passengers to be vaccinated.