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Found 35 results

  1. This will be our first river cruise for my wife and I.We have been on a number of ocean cruises. We found it fun to chat with people prior to the cruise and then meet them on the boat/ So here goes. We are from Missouri and plan to fly out to Portland on the day before and maybe rent a car and drive up to Mt St. Helen and see the volanco:):):)
  2. Paddle wheeler first timer. Looking for fellow "paddlers" to communicate with prior to cruise. Lewis and Clark itinerary. Should we buy coonskin caps? Bop
  3. Hi: Husband and I are planning on a cruise July 14 or 28, 2019 Pacific Northwest on the Columbia and Snake Rivers; Clarkston to Vancouver. Looking at Cabin C Deluxe Veranda Stateroom. Would appreciate all feedback positive and negative regarding the cruise; excursions; premium excursions (worth the extra money?). Called AAA and they claim that they can provide more perks than going direct with AQSC as well as giving better service for pre-cruise advise. Anyone else go this route? I read Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose. Excellent history of the entire Lewis and Clark expedition. Looking forward to actually being there. Looking forward to all feedback and chatting with anyone who has/is going on this cruise. Joanne
  4. Hello, My wife,Melanie and I just signed up for the 7/1/18 cruise leaving Clarkston. Wonder how long till someone else joins and makes this a party of ??????? Later in Life, Mark
  5. Hello! We are Carol & Frank from Massachusetts and will be on this cruise. Anyone else? ~Carol
  6. I was wondering if anyone sailing soon can take photos of bathroom shower how much a step up it is ? the toilet and grab bars to see how they are and the shower part 413 and 415 are the rooms we will have ? WE can not get a handicapped room so we need to make sure this can accommodate my mom . Thank you .
  7. We have just booked a cruise westbound from Clarkston to Vancouver on the Snake and Columbia Rivers. Can hardly wait till next April! Our TA put us down for Early Dining which, I take it, means 5:30. The other choice, I believe, is the main seating at 7:45. One seems a bit too early, and the other a bit too late, but I guess those are the choices. What is everybody’s experience with these times? Pros and cons? How does it affect the cocktail hour and the shows?
  8. hello I want to take my mom on 4 night cruise on Empress. she can walk a about 50 feet at a time but mostly in wheelchair. The handicapped cabins are full. we are looking at cat E cabins on Deck 4 . Is there a little stepover at the door or can we push wheelchair into cabin? Bathroom its seems small step up? is the shower just a curtin or plastic/glass panels? Are there grab bars to help get up and down from toilet? Is the toilet sit up high or low? Did you see any body with electric scooters on board? I have been reading the boards for about 4 hours now but could only find 1 bathroom photo and not much info for handicapped . Thank you .
  9. Thinking of booking this cruise but not sure what time of year is best Is it too cold still in April /May? Over 50F works for me but not 80F ;) Anyone done this route in Spring? Lyn
  10. For our first ever river cruise, we took the June 8-15 westbound trip from Clarkston to Portland on the Empress. Because neither of us had ever been to Washington or Oregon, we also booked the post cruise package in Portland. To begin our trip, we flew into Spokane, WA for our overnight hotel stay at the Historic Davenport Hotel. What a fantastic start to the trip. We loved this hotel, its spacious rooms and Victorian decor, a trip back in time to a more elegant lifestyle. Think “Gone With the Wind,” but with electricity and modern plumbing! Our hotel check-in went smoothly, as did our transfer the next day to Clarkston which took us about two hours. At the dock we picked up our room keys and boarded. Our cabin was a nicely appointed “C” cabin midship on Discovery Deck with a private balcony which worked out well for us. We also thought the public rooms were pleasant and comfortable. I’m not going to do a day-by-day commentary because, quite frankly, the stops were in small towns and they kind of run together in my mind. Other posters have commented about the HOHOs, the hop-on, hop-off buses, which are well run and provide an excellent opportunity for getting a glimpse of the area. I was pleased to discover that each bus also has a local guide to provide commentary and answer questions, and they added greatly to our enjoyment. We also tried two of their premium excursions, the jet boat ride through Hell’s Canyon and the bus trip to Multnomah Falls. The river experience was even better than I had anticipated. I loved sitting on the deck in a big rocking chair overlooking the paddle wheel watching for wildlife and just enjoying the relaxing flow of the river. I always enjoy going through river or canal locks, and the eight locks we traversed were particularly interesting because of the fish ladders for the salmon and other migrating species. The first part of our trip was bright and sunny, and the scenery was starkly beautiful. Mid trip we began to experience climate changes, and the temperature dropped, the wind came up, and we had some rain. None of it stopped us from having a good time. We did not have a full ship on our trip which meant that we never had any problem being seated in the dining room or finding a seat for a show or event. The passengers were some of the nicest people we have met in a long time. We enjoyed pleasant conversations at meal times, on deck, and during excursions, something we have found lacking of late on ocean cruises, particularly those on larger ships. I can’t say enough good things about the staff onboard. We were greeted with smiles and a willingness to go the extra mile to please us, even when things were not going well, and there were a few rough patches. Food service had lost a couple of people the previous trip, and at times it was obvious that they were understaffed. It was also obvious that the people who were serving meals were making an extra effort, and for the most part, everything went well. The post-cruise package turned out to be a great deal. It was an extra $399/pp and began immediately upon disembarkation in Vancouver (port of arrival) with a sightseeing tour of Portland, lunch, and a trip to Mt. St. Helens. The second day we did a walking tour of downtown Portland. Our hotel was the Portland Marriott, small but nice. We also had two full-service breakfasts included and a transfer to the airport for our trip home. I thought the post-cruise stay was well done and probably the best value of the trip. While the trip itself was a great adventure, I have to say that our experience with the American Queen home office left much to be desired. We got caught up in a price change situation somewhat similar to that discussed in another thread on this board, only in our case, there was considerably more money involved. I won’t go into detail because we eventually got a resolution, but I think this company needs to take a serious look at their pricing model. They could also use some training for their customer service people. Enough said. I really don’t want to beat them up because they obviously are having problems right now filling the Empress and keeping the Queen on schedule. We sincerely hope they will get their act together and keep the boats afloat because we loved the trip and would like to do another. Something else that is very important to us is that this company proudly flies the American flag, and we want them to be successful. If anyone is still awake after reading this saga and has any questions, I'll be more than happy to answer them.
  11. DW and I just returned from the westbound Empress. I will not write a detailed, day by day account as do some of our more eloquent posters. I'll just give you our general impressions and you can ask questions if you want to. We arrived in Spokane and had prearranged with the cruise hotel Mirabeau, for shuttle transfer from the airport, 30 minutes, $30( per couple). They were prompt and courteous. The Mirabeau is a large convention hotel, about 250 rooms, and staff was very courteous. We requested a room on the ground floor close to the lobby/dining and got it. Since we did not have a car we did not want to be stuck out on the back of the property. Luggage moved from the shuttle to our room quickly. First surprise, dinner that night at the hotel dining room "MAX". It was fabulous, one of the best meals we have enjoyed anywhere. So, unless you crave a McDonalds, which is across the street and up one block, stick with the hotel. Boat registration was quick and easy, about 15 minutes. You also received a boarding number card for the bus transfer the next day Breakfast next morning (included) was buffet, set up just for Empress pax, and it was a little chaotic, given that most everyone descended on the room at the same time, but they never ran out of food and everyone was very jovial and excited about the trip. The 3 HOHOs plus two more generic coaches picked up everyone on time according to your boarding card number. Next surprise: it takes 3 1/2 hours to drive from Spokane down to Lewiston where the boat is docked! Pleasant enough, but we were not prepared for the long ride. Grab something at McDonalds before you get on the bus. If you are on an eastbound voyage, be aware that you will have a 3 1/2 hour bus ride back to Spokane after you disembark the boat. Arriving at the boat, we boarded quickly since all the registration and credit card stuff had been taken care of back at the hotel. We were handed our room key card, and....next surprise...the "upgrade fairy" struck. We had been moved from a cat C @ 180 sq ft to a cat B @ 225 sq ft, because "we could not accommodate your bedding request". All we asked for was a queen, but apparently they gave out in cat C, so we were bumped up. Food, generally was good to very good (always a very subjective issue, so I will say no more). The Empress has open seating in the main dining room and we never had to wait more than 15 minutes for a table, but most of the time it was instant seating, then we preferred to dine about 7-730pm. No complaint about the service or attitude, all DR staff were on top of their game. And they will keep pouring that wine. We dined twice in the Grill on the top deck. They ask that you limit visits to that number so that everyone has a chance to use it. Menu there does not change; lobster, lamb chops, steak, so twice was fine for us. Cabin was clean and neat, as was the entire boat. I did see a few signs of rust beginning to creep in, but you are on the water and that happens. They have a crewman who does nothing all day every day but go around touching up with white paint. I will admit to having some concerns about how the boat would look after being in storage for so long, but it looked really, really good, inside and out. Excursions, both included and premium, were first class and reasonable priced. We are 30 cruise veterans on salt water small ships, so we have a base of comparison. Those HOHOs are a stroke of genius. We enjoyed that you could do both an included (free) excursion using the buses in the morning and also a premium tour in the afternoon if you wanted. Entire staff was warm and accommodating, and always available, at least from our experience. I did understand that someone from "corporate Memphis" was on board, but do not know who. We caught a couple of the shows and enjoyed them very much. The only thing I really missed was not having a self serve washer/dryer on board, so we could pack lighter. But after seeing the boat, I don't know where they could put it, unless they took a small cabin out of service, and that is not a very sound financial idea. At one port, another boat had registered for dock space before us (I was told), but no problem. The Captain just nosed the boat up to a field, dropped the bow ramp and off we went. Even the HOHOs found us. We enjoyed seven beautiful days of perfect weather, only to disembark in the rain in Portland. I was not impressed with the port facility, as we appeared to be at a parking lot with a building next to it but the luggage was placed outside of the building, just under the eve. In other words, no covered protection for getting off the boat and transferring your luggage. This was our first experience on river paddle boating, and we enjoyed it. So much, that we are already planning on the Queen next year, probably upper Mississippi. I'll try to answer your questions. Jim Saint Simons Island Georgia
  12. I am booked on the Empress in late May. I put some specific questions to management, and this is the very prompt reply that I received: "The American Empress was in storage for the past several years and we are thankful that she was properly prepared for storage. With that being said, we have already started working on the systems onboard the boat and have they all up and operating. Seasoned staff is being hired to man the boat in all aspects of service. We will also be freshening up the Empress to shine! Our maiden voyage is scheduled for 4/6/2014 so IF there are any kinks they should be ironed out by your sailing." (end of response) Of course there will be kinks, but hopefully ASC can draw on experiences from the Queen and quickly correct them. I do hope the Empress will mirror the favorable comments I have been reading about the Queen. In my reply thanking them, I did ask if photos could be posted on the web site. Jim Saint Simons Island, Ga
  13. DH and I had the best time on the AE in 2014 in large part due to the Paddlewheel lounge performances of Frank Chase. I read somewhere that he is back on the Empress this summer. Anyone know if this is accurate? Also, word is that Frank will be performing on the Queen next winter. Anyone know?
  14. I'm thinking about a cruise on the American Empress next year and need some help figuring out cabins. It looks like from the deck plans that the category E cabins are on Deck 4 and have a veranda...but not a private balcony. Has anyone stayed in one of those cabins? How was it? Did you feel a lack of privacy because of the walkway beyond the veranda? Really looking forward to some information. I'm a long time HAL cruiser looking for something different.
  15. I'm booked on the Empress in cabin 321 which has the elevators right next to it. Has anyone stayed in or near this cabin. If so, is noise from the elevators a problem. Thanks
  16. Does anyone have any advice about which direction is the best. We plan to go in Sept or Oct 18? How is the weather in Oct? Do you use a TA or directly book? If you have used a TA, how do you find one? email me with any info mikedeb2506 at Comcast dot net Thanks for any help.
  17. Hello Anyone out there taking this Columbia River cruise on the American Empress from Clarkston to Portland, starting on August 15th? If so, let's talk! Regards Sheila and Herb:)
  18. We will be on the American Empress Vancouver WA to Vancouver WA 8 night cruise 11/15/15. This is our first experience with an river cruise. I have heard wonderful things about the hop on hop off bus excursions. There are a few premium excursions available. I was thinking of taking the Lewis & Clark Experience in Astoria or the Multnomah Falls in Stevenson. Any thoughts? Should we just stick with the included bus tours? Does the Bus go to Multnomah falls?
  19. Hi, am heading out next week on a 7 night cruise, Spokane to Portland, on American Empress. Have done river cruises all over Europe, but the one American cruise I've done -- on American Queen, a sister ship -- up the Mississippi River, was so fantastic, I'm excited to learn about a new part of the US. Riverwise, that is. I've been following the threads here, and there's so much good reportage. Is there anything you still want to know? I'm happy to report in while onboard. And will be posting photos and such on Cruise Critic's Facebook page, as well (facebook.com/cruisecritic). Let me know! Thanks. Carolyn Carolyn Spencer Brown Editor in Chief Cruise Critic
  20. For those that have done this cruise before a couple of questions please How much time do you get in port on average? Is there laundry machines onboard yet? I would like to do either route but finding the logistics of getting there from Toronto a bit of a nightmare I am wondering if it is better to rent a car from Clarkston & drive to Seattle & fly from there I would not mind seeing Seattle What have others done when ending the cruise in Clarkston? Thanks Lyn
  21. http://click.email.cruisecritic.com/?qs=54e617908cc2ec37d7fbf66d45d3c70d09df017721f67c375826aef04cb8b282352b63a93167a180a6aae197873d17c719d2f23c61e776a65553a5bf52483188 Clarkston to Vancouver, April 2018
  22. Found this live report from the Empress http://www.cruisecritic.com/blog/index.php/2014/04/03/live-from-american-empress-5-things-to-love/
  23. I am going to book a cruise on the Empress very soon and I am interested in the Deluxe Veranda Stateroom. Any recommendations on a stateroom to book or not to book? Is there a difference which side of the ship as far as scenery, when going west on the Snake & Columbia rivers? I am looking for a quite room, where you can't hear people walking by the room. Thanks so much! Carol
  24. In response to my question to management, I received this email response: "I do not believe the Empress is equipped with a self-serve washer and dryer." I replied that they had one on the Queen, so why not the Empress? In this day of lighter packing due to weight/size restrictions on luggage, I think a washer dryer is a necessity on a cruise vessel. I hope that management reconsiders this while the boat is in refit mode. If you agree, please jump in and maybe management will read it here. Thanks Jim St. Simons Island, Ga
  25. We booked the owner's suite last October and were not happy with the river trip. I sent a letter to the CEO which was acknowledged but never answered. A good example of their whole operation. Having the most expensive room on the boat we had the cheapest room in the nice old hotel in Spokane, not even a comfortable chair to set in to read the paper. I called the front desk and was told the hotel was full but I could upgrade to the governor's suite for $799. The next morning I talked to the computer guy that checked us in and told him how unhappy I was and he said he wold check into it and get back to me. This never happened. The room on the boat was nice but had a very small bathroom which was the same for all rooms. Food was surprisingly good but served luke warm with common slow service. Dinner could be 2 1/2 hours. We had one waiter who never remembered who ordered what and it always became pass the plate ordeal. We assumed he was new but learned he had been working there for six years. We thought the entertainment was good but difficult to make the shows because of the slow dinner service. Then to add insult to injury when I got home I discovered my credit card had been charged twice for the $906 bill and I had to call about that. I think my two unanswered complaints for one that had the most expensive room on the boat says a lot for their operation. American Empress has a lot of potential but it is not well organized and certainly did not meet our expectations. BEWARE!