According to president and COO Ted Sykes, the company is coming off an 'incredible year as we expanded our fleet and showcased the beauty of America's heartland and the Pacific Northwest to more guests than ever before.' Another record-breaking season is forecast in 2018.
Embarking on a seventh season Feb. 19, the American Queen steamboat will explore the Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee and Cumberland rivers. Sailings focus on themes like the antebellum South, music of the 1950s and '60s, and the Civil War. Forty-two departures are offered, with highlights that include pre-cruise hotel stays in New Orleans and tracing the footsteps of Mark Twain in Hannibal, Missouri.
New family suites aboard Ameriican Queen offer an open veranda and private sitting area for river-watching. The company said these spacious, single-room suites accommodate a variety of travel needs and are ideal for families and friends vacationing together.
American Duchess, introduced last year as the first all-suite paddlewheeler on the US rivers, features some double-deck loft suites along with single-seating dining and entertainment venues. With 49 sailings in 2018, the vessel will cover the heartland, with stops and overnights at ports including Nashville and Chicago.
New American Duchess itineraries on the Ohio, Tennessee and Cumberland rivers as well as on the Upper Mississippi and Illinois River include a nine-day Kentucky Derby-focused cruise from Louisville to Cincinnati. Other new routes include Cincinnati to Memphis, Louisville to Pittsburgh and vice versa, and Nashville to Chattanooga and vice versa.
In the Pacific Northwest, American Empress's soft adventure activities on July cruises are designed to appeal to all ages, making an ideal summer family vacation. For example, shore options include a tandem ride in a kayak and zip-lining through towering trees. This will be the vessel's fifth season along the Columbia and Snake rivers.
The American Empress season opens March 17 and offers 39 cruises between Vancouver, Washington (directly across the river from Portland, Oregon), and Clarkston, Washington. Five-day round-trip Vancouver sailings bookend the 2018 season.
Nine-day cruises on American Queen are priced starting at $1,999, American Empress fares begin at $2,399 and American Duchess fares at $2,699. All nine-day journeys include a one-night pre-voyage hotel stay, shore tours in all ports and wine and beer with dinner.