River cruises have returned to the Pacific Northwest

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The American Song began a Columbia and Snake river cruise on Sunday.
The American Song began a Columbia and Snake river cruise on Sunday. Photo Credit: American Cruise Lines

U.S. river cruise operators, who have been sailing the Mississippi since March, are now returning to the Pacific Northwest, as well.

American Cruise Lines launched its first cruise with the American Song on the Columbia and Snake rivers in Oregon  Sunday. And its American Harmony is set for its first cruise in the region Wednesday.

And on Monday, the American Queen Steamboat Co. (AQSC) said it will resume river cruising in the Pacific Northwest June 14 with its American Empress.

The American Queen Steamboat Co. said it will commence Pacific Northwest sailings June 14 about the American Empress.
The American Queen Steamboat Co. said it will commence Pacific Northwest sailings June 14 about the American Empress.

Tighter state restrictions in Washington and Oregon delayed the start of the season there. And the early American Cruise Lines sailngs are limited to stops in Oregon until Washington state eases its rules.

Following anticipated new guidelines in Washington state, AQSC said that all guests and crew will have to be vaccinated for all sailings on the Empress beginning June 14.  That mandate goes into effect July 1 for the rest of the fleet. American Cruise Lines said it, too, would require guests to be vaccinated for its initial cruises in Washington.

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Company president Shawn Bierdz said he is pleased to get another boat on the water to meet what he called unprecedented demand. He said the current season is nearly sold out, and 2022 bookings are on the rise.

"Our domestic, close-to-home itineraries continue to resonate with travelers, many new to cruising all together, along with seasoned ocean cruisers and our most loyal paddlewheel guests," he said.

The company' largest boat, the American Queen, which holds more than 400, has been grounded, but the company said it hopes to resume sailing on that ship in July now that the CDC has relaxed its capacity rules, he said.

CLARIFICATION: This report has been updated to clarify that American Cruise Lines is currently only operating on rivers in Oregon.

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