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American Empress Cruise Review
4.5 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
83 Reviews

Leisurely River Cruise

American Empress Cruise Review by Bonsai9

3 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Apr 2018
  • Destination: North America River

We arrived at the Historic Davenport hotel in Spokane a day early (as is our custom). One night in this wonderful period hotel is included with the cruise. The hotel has an enormous two-story atrium that is quite impressive with much of the same décor as when it was built in the early 1900s. It has a restaurant called the Palm Court, a pub called the Peacock Lounge and a Starbuck’s. Our room was very nice but we needed a step stool (not provided) to get in and out of the ridiculously high bed. There is a multistory shopping center a few blocks away for a diversion.

Checking in for the boat in the hotel was simple and fast. We enjoyed a nice brunch with the other passengers on the day of embarkation. Bags are picked up from your hotel room and you don’t see them again until they are delivered to your cabin. The American Empress buses took us on the two-and-a-half hour ride to the boat in Clarkston. These same buses and drivers follow the boat for the entire cruise and provide the convenient hop on hop off service and bus tours in each port.

As with most cruises, they adjust the cruising to make the schedule. This is a little more obvious on a river cruise. For example, we boarded the boat in Clarkston, cruised a little that evening and the next morning we were in our same stop, Clarkston. Of course it was no problem, just a little weird.

The boat has two restaurants. The main restaurant has table service for three meals a day with two dinner seatings. The Grill has buffet style breakfast and lunch supplemented by a short order cook doing a few specific items. In the evening, it turns into their specialty restaurant requiring reservations.

The food in both restaurants was generally good, but sometimes the portions were very small. House wines were included with dinner.

The scenery was nice though a little odd at first. We went through a section of territory where rainfall is very limited. It is so limited that there are no trees, just some sort of low grass or shrub. But as we progressed down the river, there were more trees and cliffs that we had expected.

We did not go to any of the shows.

We liked to walk around the ports for some exercise and a little shopping. We did not take any of the tours or the hop on hop off buses.

The riverlorian was knowledgeable and pleasant. Trouble is that most of his talks were scheduled for 8:00 or 8:30 in the morning. That’s a bit early for people on vacation who like breakfast before they do anything. In the northwest, Lewis and Clark are the primary historical figures. So naturally, they were a big part of his talks.

We found the service to be good and the staff friendly and helpful. The overall passenger demographic was somewhat older than we have previously encountered.

The old-style paddle-wheel boat is decorated with a number of historical pictures and prints of things like Russian princes and Native Americans adding to its historical feel.

The cruise ended in Vancouver Washington.

Overall, it was a good cruise for those interested in a leisurely cruise through historic small town America. 

Bonsai9's Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Cabin Luxury Suite 301

Our owner’s suite included a sitting room with wet bar and a bank of windows looking out over a public part of the deck and the bow of the boat. It was nice to see where we were going but the view was somewhat obstructed by the rigging. The furnishings were what I call Victorian keeping with the period style. The sitting room included a small couch, coffee table, two Victorian chairs and a small table. Our private balcony on the side of the cabin was nice and had two doors for access from the cabin. The bedroom was nice and included a small writing table, a chest of drawers and a closet. The bathroom with shower was extremely small. The suite included the Commodore services like a butler, free laundry, and dinner with the Captain and other suite guests.

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

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