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.
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.
Day 2: Vancouver, WA
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 six-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. Guests, 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 continuous truss bridge in the United States, 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.
The Flavel House
As one of the best-preserved examples of Queen Anne architecture in the Northwest, the Flavel House survives today as a landmark of local and national significance. The house was built as a retirement home in 1885 for Columbia River bar pilot, Captain George Flavel, and his family. The Flavel House has been restored and furnished to portray the elegance of the Victorian period and the history of the Flavel family. Its decorative exterior, with hipped roof, balconies, and verandas, is distinguished by a fourth-story cupola. The interior of the home features original Eastlake influenced woodwork, period furnishings, six exotic hardwood fireplace mantels, and fourteen-foot ceilings with plaster crown molding and medallions.
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 Atillilio Pusterla to model a piece inspired by Trajan’s Column in Rome, featuring hand-painted spiral frieze work, stretching over 500 feet if it were to be unwound. The Astor family, with the help of the Great Northern Railroad, generously donated the column to Astoria in July of 1926.
Astoria’s Old City Hall building, a neoclassical structure designed by prominent Portland architect Emil Schacht in 1904, is home to the Historical Society’s collection and archive. Clatsop County’s rich and exciting history is featured in the museum’s permanent and changing exhibit galleries. Objects on display include a 1,000-year-old hunting implement, finely crafted 19th-century Chinook and Clatsop Indian baskets, and a sea otter pelt and beaver hat which illuminate the early history of Astoria. Logging and fishing, the two economic mainstays since 1870, are represented in collections of tools, equipment, and photographs. The stories of the many diverse ethnic groups that settled in the area are depicted in the Emigrants Gallery. A recent addition to the Heritage Museum’s exhibits and located on the second floor, is “Vice and Virtue in Clatsop County: 1890 to Prohibition.” The gallery contains a partially reconstructed saloon and illustrates Astoria’s seedy past when the town was known along the West Coast for its infamous saloons and brothels.
Columbia River Maritime Museum
Here, guests can experience interactive displays, galleries and collections representing the history of the mighty Columbia River throughout time. 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! Trail Interactive exhibit! (Admission Additional)
Day 4: 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 5: The Dalles, OR
At the end of the overland Oregon Trail, The Dalles holds a unique place in history as a jumping-off spot for pioneers, soldiers, gold miners, adventurers, gun-slingers, floozies, and scallywags. Lewis and Clark camped at this location at Rock Fort Camp during their historic journey in 1805 and 1806. Fort Dalles was established in 1850. Oregon Trail pioneers ended their overland journey at The Dalles, forced to build rafts and take the “river road” west to Fort Vancouver, then into the Willamette River valley. Ten thousand years of Native American trading took place on the banks of the Columbia River, shaped by the Ice Age Missoula floods. The town was located at the foot of a series of dangerous rapids which the Hudson’s Bay Company fur traders called “The Dalles of the Columbia.”
INCLUDED SHORE EXCURSIONS
Columbia Gorge Discovery Center & Museum
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 shaped the gorge, the unique flora and fauna of the region, and 11,000 years of cultural history. In addition to touring the many fascinating exhibits, visitors can spend time viewing the museum’s incredible Raptor Program, with live birds of prey presented daily or take the pond walk and view the native plants.
Original Wasco County Courthouse Museum
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 began in 1858, 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, find a pharmacy, or do the most unique shopping. The friendly hosts will assist you in any way possible while informing you about their hometown.
Fort Dalles Museum
Located in the former fort’s Surgeon’s Quarters built in 1856, the Fort Dalles Museum opened in 1905, making it one of Oregon’s oldest history museums. Take a tour of the unique collection of pioneer and military artifacts at one of the old west’s most pivotal places in history. Enjoy walking on the grounds of this military fort and viewing the historic collection of wagons and antique vehicles. The collection holds over 30 wheeled vehicles, including a stage coach, road-building equipment, a covered wagon, two horse-drawn hearses, the Umatille House bus, and a surrey once owned by Oregon’s seventh governor, Zenas Ferry Moody. Explore the hand-hewn log buildings of the Anderson Homestead, including the pioneer house, granary, and barn.
Sunshine Mill 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 Copa 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 invite you to enjoy tasting or have a glass of wine in the courtyard. (Opens at 11:00 AM)
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 multitude of murals wrap around the city, depicting important moments in their history.
Day 6: The Dalles/Hood River Bus Tour
Take advantage of included morning and afternoon tours in The Dalles with a scenic bus tour along Hood River.
INCLUDED SHORE EXCURSIONS
Special Event: WAAAM/Hood River Tour
Embark on an exclusive tour to the Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum, also known as the WAAAM. Feel free to explore at the facility at your leisure, offering an extensive collection of over 130 antique cars and hangers full of meticulously restored aeroplanes dating as far back as 1917.
Then, available exclusively to American Empress guests, enjoy an included tour of the restoration work shop where these antique modes of transportation are brought back to life. The pilots take these tributes to America’s history to the air as often as they can and proudly maintain them in full working order. Discover their collection of Model Ts, Studebakers, the 1914 Detroit Electric, Harley Davidsons, and military vehicles before we enjoy a delicious catered buffet-styled lunch!
Our next stop, will bring us to Full Sail Brewing Company, a unique, employee-owned company focused on their award-winning hand-crafted beers, as well as their impact on the environment. Enjoy a guided tour of their production facility, Hood River Brewhouse, and discover this local business’ incredible history, beginning in 1987 when they purchased Diamond Fruit Cannery and converted it into a brewery and tracing through the years until the present. Samples of Full Sail’s crisp brews, made from hops and barley grown in local trusted farms, and water from a fresh spring on Mt. Hood will surely set them apart from other breweries!
Before continuing back to the American Empress, a final stop to Hood River Downtown District will be the perfect chance to explore the town’s local businesses and to pick out the perfect souvenir of this stunning and unique region!
Day 7: 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
This highly interactive museum is a favorite for many along the river. Enjoy a day of discovering the unique exhibits and artifacts that fill the museum. 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. One of the most popular exhibits is the large fish wheel located inside the premises and is a 37-foot replica of the McCord wheel built in 1882, equipped with baskets used to scoop fish as they swim through and six of them were created by Tiffany Studios in New York under the supervision of Louis Comfort Tiffany.
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 a navigation lock (raises and lowers river traffic 60 feet), Powerhouse 1 (completed in 1938), a spillway (moves excess water and provides for downstream migration of young fish), fish ladders (for upstream migrating adult fish), and Powerhouse 2 (completed in 1983). Bonneville Dam can produce 1,227,000 kilowatts of electricity when needed, and moving over 10 million tons of cargo through its lock annually. Visitors can experience first-hand the operation of two hydroelectric powerhouses and watch migrating fish travel upstream at the underwater viewing rooms next to the fish ladders. These ladders are necessary so adult fish can continue their journey upstream to their spawning grounds past the dam. Depending on the season, Pacific Salmon, Pacific Lamprey, American Shad, and Sturgeon can be seen. Bonneville Lock and Dam has several recreation areas offering fishing, hiking, boating, and wildlife viewing access. (Ranger-guided tours are run every 30 minutes)
Downtown Stevenson, Washington
Make a stop in 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!
Day 8: Portland, OR
The “City of Roses” is an eclectic blend of art galleries, coffee shops, museums and farm-to-table restaurants with a spirited vibe. Marvel at the beauty of more than 8,000 roses at the International Rose Test Garden. Or spend the day discovering nature’s boundless power at nearby Mount St. Helens.
INCLUDED SHORE EXCURSIONS
City Tour: Portland "The Rose City" Tour
Explore Portland, Oregon – Sister city to Vancouver, Washington. Embark on a narrated journey through this iconic Pacific Northwest Town dubbed “The Rose City.” Enjoy the scenic views of this beautiful town, lined with expansive decorative murals and flowers. Guests are welcomed by a view of the historic Willamette River which flows through the downtown area before crossing over one of ten bridges and into Old Town.
Today, Portland is known as a bustling commerce center, a Pacific Northwest travel destination and for its innovative culinary scene, but, in its early days, Portland was a center for the fur trade industry and held great military significance. Set peacefully against the backdrop of today’s modern city, Fort Vancouver is nestled on the banks of the river and flanked by towering pointed log fencing. Explore this meticulously reconstructed historical fort including historic buildings and an extensive fur trade outbuilding. Discover Vancouver’s link with the Hudson’s Bay Company and how it aided in the growth and success of Vancouver, Washington and Portland, Oregon.
From the rugged, primitive landscape of Fort Vancouver, continue through Portland for a more refined view of the city. At the International Rose Test Gardens, guests can stroll the meticulously pruned roses in more varieties than one can imagine. Here, in the warmer months, over ten thousand blooms create a colorful frame for a panoramic view of Portland.
We will continue to Downtown Portland where guests will be able to immerse themselves in the serenity of the tranquil Chinese Botanical Garden. This peaceful garden is a treasured site to many Portland visitors. Feel a sense of inspiration as you explore the 2,000-year-old art traditions, architecture, designs, and nature all in absolute harmony. The last leg of the tour passes through Portland State University and the riverfront where you can view life on the busy waterway and take a picturesque drive down Naito Avenue!
Day 9: Vancouver, 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 Vancouver at your leisure or consider a Post-Cruise Premium Shore Excursion with airport transfer.