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American Empress

Former name: Empress of the North (Majestic America Line)

American Empress Review and Specifications

Specifications of American Empress

Year built2003  /  Age : 17
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
Decks with cabins4
Last Refurbishment2019
Former namesEmpress of the North (Majestic America Line)
Christened byClaudette Waggoner

Current position of American Empress

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.

riverboat American Empress cruise ship

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.

Ship's surroundings 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 staterooms are decorated and furnished with Victorian-style antiques and reproductions. All accommodations as decoration feature polished wood, Victorian-era wallpaper patterns, framed paintings. Beds are comfortable, with ample underbed storrage space, luxury bedding sets. Handicap / wheelchair-accessible cabins (for disabled passengers) are only 3. The ship has no connecting or family cabins. The number of all cabin categories is 7. Most staterooms are with private balconies. Each cabin balcony is equipped with 2 wicker chairs and 1 cocktail table.

Next are listed the standard (complimentary) amenities, furniture and services offered in each of the riverboat's cabins.

  • All staterooms have individually controlled air-conditioning, flat TV (satellite reception)), darkwood wardrobe, dressers with ample drawer space, mini-bar /fridge, personal safe, phone, alarm clock, Keurig brewer (tea/coffee machine), binocular, luxury bath amenities (toiletries by Clarins, terry robes, hairdryer), plenty of outlets and lighting.
  • Smoking inside the cabin and on the balcony is forbidden. The only smoking-allowed area on the ship is the sun deck.
  • Complimentary soft drinks and bottled water are offered throughout the cruise.
  • Complimentary wines and beers are offered at dinner only.
  • Complimentary 24-hour available room service (menu has standard for breakfasts fare, plus sandwiches, burgers, macaroni & cheese, fresh salmon, desserts).
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi Internet.

SUITES (categories LS and A) and SUPERIOR STATEROOMS (category B) are with either queen bed or 2 twin beds, private bathroom (WC, tub, shower), separate seating area with couch/sofa bed, cocktail table and chairs, wet bar, Bose sound system, iHome speakers, standard floor-ceiling glass doors opening onto private balcony. Suite balconies are furnished with padded chairs.

VERANDA CABINS (category E) are with semi-private balcony. Each of the OUTSIDE CABINS (category D) has a large non-opening window. SINGLE OUTSIDE BALCONY ROOMS (category CS) have the same features as the Deluxe Verandas (cat C), but are smaller in size and offered with single occupancy rates (cheaper for solo travellers).

riverboat American Empress cruise ship

Riverboat's deck plan shows a total of 112 staterooms (for 223 passengers) served by 83 crew/staff (all-American), 4 passenger decks (all with cabins, interconnected via 2 lifts/elevators), 3 lounges, 2 restaurants, plenty of open deck (promenade) areas.

American Queen Steamboat Company cruise deals

Operated with all-inclusive cruise packages, American Empress cruisetour deals are inclusive of:

  • all shore excursions (“Steamcoach Tours” by luxury motorcoaches)
  • 1-night pre-cruise hotel package
  • soft drinks and bottled water (offered throughout the voyage)
  • wines and beers (offered at dinner only)
  • 24-hour room service (menu has standard for breakfasts fare, plus sandwiches, burgers, macaroni & cheese, fresh salmon, desserts)
  • Wi-Fi Internet
  • Pilot House tour (of the ship's Navigation Bridge).
  • Smoking inside the cabin and on the balcony is forbidden. The only smoking-allowed area on the ship is the sun deck.

"Commodore Services" are the company's set of exclusive services reserved for American Countess cruise passengers booking categories LFS-Loft and OS-Owner suites. The list of bonus perks (price-inclusive / complimentary privileges) includes:

  • gifts (upon arrival) - fruit basket and a bottle of wine
  • suite tour (upon arrival)
  • priority boarding and dining arrangements
  • reserved balcony seating in "The Auditorium" (boat's theater / show lounge), with personal escort to the reserved seats
  • private reception party with the ship's Captain and Senior Officers
  • personal River Butler
  • unpacking, hanging the clothes in the closet, packing, laundry, pressing service, shoeshine (conditioning)
  • in-cabin dining - Afternoon Tea service, Breakfast and Dinner service (on the suite's balcony, upon request), pre-dinner canapes, post-dinner sweets).

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American Empress Wiki

American Empress riverboat was built in the US and christened in Portland Oregon 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 paddlewheel.

riverboat American Empress cruise ship

The vessel is the largest overnight river cruise boat west of Mississippi. The ship's home port is in the US - Vancouver WA (Portland metro 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 furnished with Victorian-style reproductions and antiques. All cruise cabins also feature Victorian-era wallpaper patterns, polished wood, traditional paintings.

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.

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