American Empress

American Empress Review and Specifications

Specifications of American Empress

Year built2003  /  Age : 15
Flag state USA
BuilderNichols Brothers Boat Builders (Freeland, Washington)
Classpaddle-wheel steamboat
Building costUSD 50 million
OwnerAmerican Queen Steamboat Company
Length (LOA)110 m / 361 ft
Beam (width)18 m / 59 ft
Gross Tonnage5975 gt
Passengers223
Crew83
Decks6
Decks with cabins4
Former namesEmpress of the North (Majestic America Line)
Christened byClaudette Waggoner

Review of American Empress

American Queen Steamboat Company bought American Empress (former Empress of the North owned by Majestic America Line) in 2013 and completely renovated the vessel, launching it officially in spring 2014. This paddlewheel boat is the biggest sailing the rivers of the Pacific Northwest. The ship is similar to fleetmate American Queen, and also to American Cruise Lines vessels Queen of the Mississippi and Queen of the West.

The refurbishment of American Empress was a dramatic overhaul; all cabins and public spaces got new carpet, wallpaper, paint, lighting and general updating. The minute you step onboard, you're transported to a time when the regular sight on America's rivers were steamboats.

American Empress cruise ship

The surroundings of the ship feature contemporary influences. Astoria Dining Room is light-filled with plenty of 2-tops and the newly added venue River Grill features a bistro-like experience. American Empress is often described as "a steamboat without steam", but there is no missing the iconic paddlewheel painted in red.

American Empress cruise ship

Note: You can see the CruiseMapper's list of all river cruise ships and riverboats in the "itinerary" section of our River Cruises hub. All companies and their fleets are listed there.

American Empress wiki

  • American Empress riverboat was built in the US and christened in Portland OR on April 5, 2014. The ship's godmother was ms Claudette Waggoner - wife of John Waggoner (Chairman and CEO of the American Steamboat Company).
  • As flagstate, the USA flag requires all officers, crew and hotel staff on the boat to be American (US citizens).
  • By design, this big river cruise ship is in the "paddlewheeler" class (a classic stern paddle-wheel boat). The vessel is similar to the fleetmate American Queen, and also to the American Cruise Lines ships Queen of the Mississippi and Queen of the West. These unique riverboats feature a stern-mounted paddle wheel.
  • American Empress is the largest overnight river cruise boat west of Mississippi. The ship's home port is in the US - Vancouver WA (Portland metropolitan area).
  • American Empress steamboat was initially built as "Empress of the North” for Majestic America Line. Following a 5-year long period out of service, the vessel was acquired in 2013 by "American Steamboat Co”. The next year Empress of the North was renamed to "American Empress”.
  • This cruise ship is famous for being powered by a genuine steam engine (professionally called steam plant). However, the riverboat also has a marine diesel engine as an alternative propulsion system, which is used only for better maneuverability in tight river areas or in special/emergency cases.
  • Just like all the onboard public rooms, all passenger staterooms are furnitured with Victorian-style reproductions and antiques. All cruise cabins also feature Victorian-era wallpaper patterns, polished wood, traditional paintings.

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