MARCH 15, 2014 – American Queen Steamboat Company, Memphis, TN, will christen its second vessel, the 223-passenger American Empress, on April 5 in Portland, OR. Claudette Waggoner, wife of American Queen Steamboat Chairman and CEO John Waggoner, will serve as the riverboat’s godmother.
Former Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood will serve as the keynote speaker at the christening ceremonies. Secretary LaHood is expected to discuss the importance of river cruising and its impact on local economies.
In maritime tradition, Ms. Waggoner will break a bottle of local wine on the bow to christen the vessel “American Empress.” The festivities will also be highlighted by performances from local musicians and a blessing of the boat by Chinook Tribal elders. Other notable dignitaries in attendance will include the 13th Coast Guard District Commander Rear Admiral Richard T. Gromlich and Acting Maritime Administrator Paul “Chip” Jaenichen.
“It is a true honor serving as the American Empress godmother and I look forward to sharing this majestic vessel with the world for the first time on April 5, 2014,” says Ms. Waggoner. “As I have listened to guests share their many discoveries aboard the American Queen sailing the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers, I can’t help but be excited for them to now explore the Pacific Northwest in American Queen Steamboat Company style.”
The American Queen Steamboat Company entered into a purchase agreement of the 223-guest riverboat with the U.S. Maritime Administration (MarAd) in May 2013 and has had a team onboard preparing for its April 2014 launch on the Columbia and Snake Rivers. Formerly the Empress of the North, the American Empress will deliver opulence on a grand scale, following in the pedigree of the line’s namesake riverboat American Queen, and proudly serve as the largest overnight riverboat west of the Mississippi River.
A U.S.-flagged vessel, the American Empress measures 360 ft. with five towering decks and accommodates 223 guests in seven stateroom categories. She is currently undergoing final preparations for her inaugural season and sea trials with the U.S. Coast Guard are scheduled for later this month.
The American Empress will begin service April 5 after a christening ceremony in Portland, OR. Its maiden voyage will be a nine-day journey immersing guests in the splendor of the Columbia and Snake Rivers featuring stops at some of the region’s most celebrated ports including Astoria, OR.; Stevenson, WA; The Dalles, OR.; Sacajawea State Park, WA, and finally Clarkston, WA. Complimentary shore excursions will be available in every port and include the cultural and historical landmarks that signify the living legacy of the region’s first settlers.
The American Empress was built in 2003 and operated by Majestic America Line from 2003 to 2008, sailing Alaska’s Inside Passage and the Pacific Northwest. Just as the American Queen brought luxury and grandeur to river cruising America’s heartland, the American Empress will do the same for the Pacific Northwest.