Day 1: Hotel Stay - Vancouver, WA
Welcome to Vancouver, Washington. The American Empress
’ dedicated staff is at your service, ready to help you make the most of your experience.
Day 2: Vancouver, WA
And if you don’t know where to start – a quick visit to the Hospitality Desk can help. The desk will be located in the official Pre-Cruise Hotel and open for your convenience between 3:00 PM and 7:00 PM. Here, an AQSC representative, with the help of a local Vancouver representative, will happily provide you with dining, entertainment, and sight-seeing suggestions to help you make the most of your time in Vancouver. While here, discover everything you need to know about your upcoming voyage. Our friendly staff can assist with everything from general questions to reserving shore excursions.
Departure 6:00 PM
Today is the big day! Spend a few hours before your departure exploring the beautiful city of Vancouver.
If you didn’t have a chance to check-in on the first night, the hospitality desk will be open today between 8:30 AM and 12:00 PM at the official Pre-Cruise hotel. During the easy check-in procedure, representatives will arrange your transfer to the vessel and answer questions regarding your upcoming voyage. The process is simple and will have you back to exploring or relaxing in no time. If you think of additional questions, the hospitality staff will be at your service until the transfers begin to take you to the American Empress.
Day 3: Astoria, OR
Astoria is known to be the oldest American Settlement west of the Rocky Mountains. For thousands of years, Clatsop Indians inhabited the lands that are now known as Astoria. In 1805, Lewis and Clark led their expedition through the town and spent the winter at Fort Clatsop. In 1813, a British warship sailed into the Columbia River, gaining possession of the city and holding control until 1818, when they finally agreed to a joint occupation of the land. The British did not fully leave Astoria until 1846. There is no doubting the rich history has deep roots grounded in this Columbia River town. When the history combines with the scenery, the harmony will surely bring you back for more!
Included Shore Excursions:
A four-mile paved walkway overlooking the beautiful Columbia River. In addition to the remarkable views, guests can explore the statues, shops, cafes, docks and historic canneries dotting the path. Guest who wish to can choose to board the riverfront trolley that runs along the banks for an extra fee. The Astoria Riverwalk, also known as the Astoria River Trail, stretches the entire length of the city's waterfront, connecting restaurants and breweries, museums, and dozens of other attractions. It passes under the Astoria-Megler Bridge, the largest truss bridge in the world, arcing out across the Columbia River toward the hazy hillsides of Washington State. The trail follows the route of the Astoria and Columbia River Railroad that was completed in 1898.
Flavel House and Carriage House Museum
The Flavel House stands proudly as a monument of national significance. As a perfectly preserved example of Queen Anne architecture, this historic abode was once the home of Captain George Flavel, one of Astoria’s most influential citizens in the late 1800s. Guests can tour this 11,000 square foot elegant mansion as well as the detached Carriage House Museum and Visitor’s Center. This home was owned by Captain George Flavel, a noted pilot on the Columbia River and a prominent businessman, in the late 1800’s. It was built in a Queen Anne style by German architect Carl W. Leick in 1886. The home remained in the family for 7 years until George and Mary’s granddaughter, Patricia gave the property to the city as a memorial to her family in 1934. From 1937 through WWII, the Public Welfare Commission, the Red Cross, and the local Welfare commission all had their offices in the home. Inside the 11,600 square foot home, there are two and a half stories. There are six unique fireplaces throughout and the ceilings reach 14 feet on the first floor. On the second floor, the ceilings are embellished with plaster medallions and crown molding.
Sits 600 feet above sea level and boasts an incredible 365-degree view. Guests who are up to the challenge can climb the 164-step spiral staircase to the top of this spire for a majestic observation point, or remain on the ground to examine the ornate murals depicting 14 significant events from Oregon’s history. This magnificent monument stands 600 feet above sea level and gives the perfect view to Young’s Bay, the Coast Range, the Columbia River, and in the distance, even the Pacific Ocean. Ralph Budd initiated the project to celebrate Astoria’s early settlers. He hired Italian immigrant and artist, Atillio Pusterla who donated the piece to Astoria in July of 1926. It was modeled after the columns in Rome and features hand-painted spiral frieze work that would stretch over 500 feet if it were to be unwound.
Learn the history and culture of Oregon through their permanent and alternating exhibit galleries that beautifully capsulate the exciting history and culture of Oregon and the Columbia River. Located within Astoria’s Old City Hall building, this neoclassical structure pays tribute to the hunters, loggers and fishermen that forged this new territory and depicts the history of this frontier town. This neoclassical structure was designed by Portland architect, Emil Schacht in 1904, originally intended to be Astoria’s City Hall building. Now it hosts both the Historical Society’s Archive and the Local History Museum. Inside, displays include a 1,000 year old hunting implement, fine 19th century Chinook and Clatsop Indian baskets, and a sea otter pelt and beaver hat. These artifacts, among many others, are used to help depict the history of this intensely interesting city.
Columbia River Maritime Museum
The museum was founded in 1962 when Rolf Klep returned to his birthplace after retiring from his art career on the East Coast. Klep was a long-time collector of maritime artifacts and he began to recruit his colleagues and friends to help establish a museum to present these collections. The museum was the first in Oregon to meet national accreditation standards and is designated the official maritime museum of Oregon. After a $6 million expansion, the museum now holds six galleries, the Great Hall, and the Lightship Columbia. Enjoy over 30,000 artifacts and 20,000 photos as you travel through this expansive maritime museum! (Admission additional)
Day 4: Stevenson, WA
On the banks of the scenic Columbia River, the city of Stevenson is your launch pad to the Washington side of the Gorge. A stroll along the Rock Cove pathway or the Columbia River waterfront is a great way to take in surroundings. Downtown Stevenson is home to unique shops, art galleries, and restaurants. Stevenson is in the heart of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Explore the eastern entrance to Mount St. Helens or the spectacular Lewis River Valley.
Included Shore Excursions:
Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center
Located in the heart of the Columbia River Gorge Scenic Area, the Interpretive Center brings life to human stories of natural history in our nation’s most compelling landscape. Here, guests can learn the local story of the geography and culture of the region and catch an under-water glimpse of spawning salmon passing through the fish ladders. Exhibits celebrate 15,000 years of history. The mission of the Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center Museum is to share the story of Skamania County and the Columbia River Gorge. Make sure to visit “First People,” an exhibit focusing on the history of native people of this area – the cascade chinook. Then stop over at the “Grand Gallery” which is the largest gallery in the museum that showcases how to harvest resources and focuses on the timber industries throughout the gorge. Enjoy the indoor waterfall and the many artifacts on display!
The Bonneville Dam, completed in 1938, is a hydroelectric generator for the surrounding cities. Guests can enjoy a self-guided tour of this powerhouse as they learn about its progression and improvements over time, the exhausting build project that encountered numerous obstacles due to the unique geology of the area and the unique way the dam assists spawning salmon pass through the dam. Witness the ingenious apparatus that allows the salmon population to thrive in the salmon ladder viewing area and learn about the importance of this invention. The Bonneville Dam is located 40 miles east of Portland, Oregon. It received its name from Captain Benjamin Bonneville – a soldier, trader, and explorer. It consists of two powerhouses, the first one began construction in 1933 and the second in 1974. Combined, the facilities cost about $752.4 million in total, but produce 1,227,000 Kilowatts. The walls of this massive dam rise to 2,000 feet above the lake. Visitors can experience firsthand the operation of two of the Nation’s largest hydroelectric powerhouse and watch migrating fish travel upstream at the underwater viewing rooms next to the fish ladders. These ladders are necessary so that adult fish can continue their journey’s upstream and return to their spawning grounds past the dam. Depending on the season, different fish will be found migrating upstream due to the separation of mating seasons. Bonneville Lock and Dam houses four recreational areas – a fishing area, fish hatchery, trails, and a visitor’s center.
Downtown Stevenson, Washington
Guests can hop off here and enjoy the various local specialty shops and boutiques lining the streets. Make a stop to Downtown Stevenson, where you can get a slice of what Stevenson is all about. Enjoy the many antique shops, historic buildings with vintage interiors, and beautiful, abundant gardens. Visit the boutiques and shops, restaurants, cafes, and convenience stores to treat yourself to a souvenir or a taste of the fine cuisine before heading to your next stop!
Skunk Brothers Spirits
Located just a short walk from the American Empress dock on the Columbia River waterfront, you will find Skunk Brothers Spirits. They make a variety of craft spirits using Washington-grown grain and fruit. Visit the distillery and tasting room for samples of their premium spirits and a tour of their facility!
Day 5: The Dalles, OR
Known as the end of the Oregon Trail, The Dalles has long been a destination point for pioneers and adventurers alike. Located on the south bank of the Columbia River between Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams, the city's rich history dates back thousands of years to the Native American trading which took place right on the banks of the river. Explore the history that weaves through the town at every stop, discover the art that lines each of the streets, and taste the culinary expertise at some of the town’s most popular cuisine restaurants!
Included Shore Excursions:
Columbia Gorge Discovery Center & Museum
A winner of the American Institute of Architects Honor Award for its beautiful design, the Columbia Gorge Discover Center offers a multimedia, interactive museum that will inspire a broad appreciation of natural and cultural treasures of the Gorge and beyond. Collections include hundreds of American Indian baskets, photo archives and breathtaking views of the surrounding flora and fauna of the surrounding landscape. Enjoy the beautiful, paved walking trails, a pond, and scenic overlooks. The Discovery Center is located in a beautiful and unique ecosystem native to the area. The multimedia, interactive museum inspires appreciation and stewardship of the natural and cultural treasures of the Gorge and Wasco County. Exhibits focus on the volcanic upheaval and raging floods that created the Gorge, the unique flora and fauna of the region, and eleven thousand years of cultural history. In addition to touring the many fascinating exhibits, visitors can spend time viewing films in the theater located on site as well as exploring the museum’s incredible Raptor Interpretive Program, where live raptor shows where live birds of prey are showcased daily.
Original Courthouse Museum
This historic building was built in 1859 and is known as the first courthouse of the Rocky Mountains. Here guests can experience exhibits showcasing the history and culture of the local region and explore the courthouse. In 1854 The Dalles was designated by the Territorial Legislature as the county seat of one of the largest counties ever formed in the United States. Wasco County extended from the crest of the Cascade Mountains to the Great Divide in the Rockies and encompassed 130,000 square miles. Construction begun in 1958, under the supervision of Judge Orlando Humason, who was the first county judge and also the chairman of the Board of Commissioners. This small courthouse was used as a public meeting place, church services, as well as the seat of law for the county.
The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce
Discover the history of this historic and beautiful city. Use this opportunity to learn about the many attractions and buildings, and get a listing of the best places to grab a bite to eat, get a fine glass of wine, or do the most unique shopping. The friendly hosts will assist you in any way possible while informing you about their hometown with different exhibits and models.
Fort Dalles Museum and Interpretive Center
An original military base built in the 1800’s. Guest can experience unique collections of military and pioneer artifacts as well as the historic wagons that brought early settlers to the Oregon Trail’s last stop. Located in a former Dalles’ Surgeon’s Quarters and is one of Oregon’s oldest history museums, it first opened its doors in 1905. Take a tour of the unique collection of pioneer and military artifacts and antique wagons at one of the old west’s most pivotal places in history. Enjoy the views of the exhibits and walking on the grounds of this military fort. Fort Dalles Museum houses a historic collection of wagons and antique vehicles. The collection holds over 30 wheeled vehicles, including a stage coach, buses, road-building equipment, a covered wagon, two horse-drawn hearses, and two surreys, one of which was owned by Oregon Governor, Zenas Moody.
The Dalles Fire Museum
Located in City Hall, this museum was completed in August of 2009. The museum was curated by the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center in cooperation with the Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue District in partnership with the city of The Dalles. Tour the facility to learn more about the history and see some incredible artifacts and photos.
Sunshine Mills Winery
The Sunshine Mill once milled wheat on this property for more than 130 years, and was the first building in The Dalles to have electricity, powered by a Thomas Edison Motor which can still be seen in The Mill. It is also the only designated skyscraper in The Columbia River Gorge. The Sunshine Biscuit Company once owned this property and the wheat milled here was used to make everyone's favorite cracker, the Cheez-It! Today, the abandoned wheat mill is now a state-of-the-art boutique winery and home of Capa Di Vino – a unique invention by entrepreneur and wine enthusiast, James Martin. Stroll across the grounds and discover The Sunshine Mill winery, where owners James and Molli have hand-crafted out of artifacts found here to share with you. Enjoy a tasting or have a glass of wine in the amphitheater.
The Dalles Commercial Historic District was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. Spend the day exploring this city’s extraordinary boutiques, exquisite cuisine, and beautiful historic structures. Walk the streets of this peaceful and quirky river-town and admire the intricate murals that line the walls and streets of The Dalles. A total of 15 murals wrap around the city, depicting important moments in their history – 13 of these murals include a “voice box” that allows visitors to hear the history of the city as they soak in the beauty of the artwork.
Day 6: Scenic River Cruising
Behold the beauty of nature as you enjoy a day of scenic river cruising. Picturesque canyon walls and fascinating volcanic formations will keep you guessing as to what lies around the next bend. As you wind through the dramatic mountains and forested ridges of the great Pacific Northwest, join our Riverlorian on-deck for insightful and entertaining narration.
Day 7: Tri-Cities (Richland), WA
Home to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's first national monument, Richland is a city dedicated to preserving its unique history, culture and landscape. At the Hanford Reach National Monument you will witness a diverse landscape of sweeping vistas and towering bluffs, blended with an abundance of wildlife. Although being dismantled, remnants of WWII and the Cold War such as plutonium reactors can still be seen dotted along the river.
Included Shore Excursions:
The Reach is an interpretive center whose goal is centered on becoming a reflection of the people of the region as well as the elements and geology of the Hanford Reach National Monument. Stop here to learn about the Native Americans, Lewis and Clark, the history of the area including the Northern Pacific Railroad and more! In the year 2000, President Clinton established the 196,000-acre Hanford Reach National Monument, recognizing the historical, ecological, and scientific importance of the last free-flowing section of the mighty Columbia River. Today, the REACH stands as a gateway to the National Monument and a unique gathering place celebrating the stories of the Columbia River basin and its people. Using indoor and outdoor exhibits, The REACH teaches many stories of this interesting region. Learn the history and culture of this interesting river town through personal accounts and artifacts highlighting how the top-secret Manhattan Project transformed the Mid-Columbia region during World War II. Discover how engineers at the Hanford Site raced to produce material for the nuclear weapons that ended the war, and see how Hanford’s nuclear legacy both threatens and helps protect this unique desert and river ecosystems today. Explore exhibits that display the giant lava flows and cataclysmic ice age floods that sculpted the river’s course. Spend the day exploring this 10,000 square-foot museum, enjoying the many permanent exhibits including The Land Takes Form, The Living Land, and Manhattan Project at Hanford: 1942-1947, Digital Planets, and more. Outdoor Exhibits include Community Garden, Native Plant Communities, Columbia Center Rotary Outdoor Theater, and Animals of The REACH Interpretive Trail!
Sacajawea State Park
Located at the confluence of the Columbia and Snake Rivers, The Sacajawea State Park marks a significant point in American History. Guests can explore the Interpretive Center on the Park grounds which feature the history of Lewis and Clark. The Interpretive Center highlights the history on this site and focuses on the Corps of Discovery’s voyage from modern-day Missouri to these grounds with the helpful guidance of their Native American interpreter, Sacajawea. Sacajawea State Park spans 284 acres across the city of Richland, located at the confluence of the Snake and Columbia rivers. It features 9,100 feet of freshwater shoreline. The area is in the perfect location to get a picture perfect image of the big sky and excellent views of the two rivers as they converge into one. The interpretive center features interactive displays that tell the story of the Lewis and Clark Expedition through the experiences of Sacajawea, the young Shoshone Indian woman who accompanied the expedition.
Franklin County Historical Society and Museum
The home of the Franklin County Historical Society, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of the county’s past. Their purpose is to collect artifacts and information explaining the history of the town and present their collections within a beautiful museum. The Museum was originally constructed in 1910 as part of Andrew Carnegie's worldwide library construction program. The high ceilings and dark wood trim create an authentic period-atmosphere for this collection of historic artifacts and information. A new library was built in 1962, after which the building served several different business concerns, ending in a period of abandonment and neglect. In 1980 the library made the decision to convert themselves into a museum to help preserve the history of their town. Between 1980 and 1982, the building was beautifully refurbished by volunteers.
Pasco Farmers Market
Established in 1988, the Pasco Farmers Market is located in the heart of downtown Pasco, Washington. From May to October, local vendors and businesses sell farm-fresh produce, hand-crafted products, prepared food, and beverages every Saturday from 8:00 AM - Noon. The market is also a place to celebrate the diversity of the local communities through live music, entertainment, and events. Expect to find fresh, locally-grown produce, beef, poultry, eggs, plants and flowers, honey, wine, bread, pastries, cookies, kettle corn, espresso, hand-crafted goods and more – all under covered pavilions for shopping in any weather!
Day 8: Clarkston, WA
Nestled at the union of the Snake and Clearwater Rivers in southeast Washington, Clarkston is the gateway to North America's deepest gorge, Hells Canyon. The picturesque vistas, year-round mild climates, and a deep history make this scenic inland port a more-than-desirable stop! Spend the day following the footsteps of the historic Lewis and Clark journey – where the city received its name. This incredible city is filled with artifacts and stories that depict the journeys of famous explorers. Clarkston has the ideal climate for visitors to enjoy countless activities including fishing, scenic walks along the trails, shopping, and exploring.
Included Shore Excursions:
Nez Perce National Historical Park
For countless generations, the Nimiipuu or Nez Perce have lived among the rivers, canyons, prairies, and mountains of the inland northwest. Since the beginning of time, the Nez Perce have called this place home. Nez Perce National Historical Park offers a unique perspective of the American west - not from the Mississippi River looking west, but from an ancient homeland looking out. A stop at the park Visitor Center offers demonstrations and insights into this native tribe. The park was established in 1965 to tell the story of the Nez Perce people. Capturing the history and culture of the Nez Perce, it is spread over four states. Discover how the people adapted and thrived allowing them to continue to prosper today. The park commemorates the admirable contributions the Nez Perce have made to preserve the sites, artifacts, and stories. Learn the full story and the role they played in shaping the future generations in culture and tradition. Explore the park’s many collections and the research center to hear more about this interesting and innovative group of people.
First Territorial Capitol Interpretive Center
Constructed in 2007 by a group of advocates, this building is used to provide historical and educational benefits to the county. Walk through and learn the history of the town and learn the legacies of the people who have lived here. In early 2007 a small group of devoted advocates for history, education and economics met at the Lewiston Chamber of Commerce and formed a plan to rebuild Idaho's First Territorial Capitol Building replica. The Territorial Capitol would be "a walk through" memorial commemorating the beginnings of Idaho’s gold-driven history. Board by board, piece by piece, Idaho’s First Capitol Building replica was reconstructed to be historically and aesthetically correct in every detail, using vintage, 150 year old wood. Carpentry methods included making vintage handmade windows and doors, using rough sawn lumber for walls, floor and ceiling. Visitors can view artifacts from President Abraham Lincoln’s memorabilia, historical maps, documents and photographs plus other unique displays are on exhibit for the viewing public. Cameras are welcomed!
Built in the “new bungalow style” in 1906 by local architect James Arnot, this Tudoresque-style home is perched on the brow of the hill overlooking Downtown Lewiston with a panoramic view of the Clearwater River. A guide adorned in 1910 garb will escort guests through the home and the landscaped grounds. Enjoy a complimentary wine tasting in the gardens after your tour. In 1906, local architect James Arnot, who also designed buildings on Lewiston's Main Street, drew the plans for this $6,000 Tudoresque home. Kjos, an early merchant, named his home "Bridablik," which loosely translates from Norwegian as "the house up high with a broad view." In 1910 Mr. Kjos moved to Spokane, Washington and sold this house to E.A. White. White made many upgrades to the home, including the addition of 5 bathrooms, a sleeping porch on the second story, and upgrading the house from coal to gas in 1924. The home was sold three more times until Larry and Kathry Schroeder purchased the home in 2006. They have fully restored the home and were awarded two City of Lewiston Historic Preservation Orchid Awards for their work.
Nez Perce Historical Society and Museum
Join us for a look at the history of the Nez Perce people, Lewis and Clark and a look into the society’s work to preserve the unique history of Nez Perce County. This museum building was occupied by the city’s first hotel – the Luna House, which was constructed in 1862. Ownership changed often and at one point the hotel sold for $500.00 and a pack of mules. During the 1880's, the hotel was used as the County court house, but was torn down in 1890. The property stood empty until 1937 when the current Art Deco building was constructed by the Works Progress Administration for use as government offices. In addition to preserving artifacts, the Society maintains a research library of local history and works with the public to provide educational information. An extensive photograph collection consists of early day citizens as well as historic scenes. Some of the incredible exhibits include, “Speeding up the U.S. Mail,” “Women through the Years,” “World War II Home Front,” and many more.
Lewis and Clark State College Center for Arts & History
Located in the heart of historic downtown Lewiston, Idaho, this 12,000 square foot building was built in 1884 as the Vollmer Great Bargain Store and is now on the National Register of Historic Places. Stop at this historic location to browse its permanent and rotating exhibits that showcase the region and culture of the Pacific Northwest.
Day 9: Clarkston, WA
Arrival 8:00 AM
Thank you for cruising with us! We hope that you had a memorable experience and look forward to welcoming you aboard in the future. Enjoy Clarkston at your leisure or consider a Post-Cruise Premium Shore Excursion with airport transfer.