River Cruise Sprucing up paddlewheelers during the winter By Michelle Baran / January 20, 2016 Share 1 The American Queen undergoing repairs and upgrades this winter. -- As the American Queen Steamboat Company (AQSC) placed its two paddlewheelers, the American Queen and American Empress, into winter drydock, the company announced details of its lay-up plans in preparation for the 2016 sailing season. Each year, both vessels have a scheduled lay-up period, which consists of cleaning, repairing and updating the ships. This year, the 436-passenger American Queen, which sails the Mississippi River, will be docked for five weeks in Gretna, La.; and the 223-passenger American Empress, which sails the Columbia and Snake rivers in the Pacific Northwest, will be docked for four months in Troutdale, Ore.This year, the lay-up repairs and improvements include: new carpeting and upholstery in the public areas and select staterooms; sanding and repainting deck door frames and doors; replacement of wall coverings in select state rooms; painting the hotel interior including the dining room; and installation of mahogany deck rails. “The off-season is actually quite bustling and a time of rapid change for the vessels,” AQSC said in a statement. There is a dedicated crew, intricate schedule, budget guidelines and a list of priority items to accomplish during the lay-up, the company noted.