Queen Of The West
Queen of the West
American Cruise Lines
Currently the only old-style paddle-wheeler with overnight cruises in the United States, Queen of the West combines the charm and history of the classic river vessels with some of the comforts and amenities of a newer ship.
Typical Per Diems: $615+
Queen of the West sails the Columbia & Snake Rivers from Portland, OR, and Clarkston, WA (spring, summer, fall).
Treading the line between modern and old-fashioned, Queen of the West feels authentically antique while being more spacious than you may think when you see it from shore. Its public rooms evoke a bygone era, and the long bow-landing ramp allows the vessel to cozy up to shore so passengers can walk easily on and off, even in secluded spots that lack docking facilities.
Built for American West Steamboat Company in 1995, the vessel was taken over by now-defunct Majestic America Line as part of its scheme to rule the North American river-cruise market. Instead, it collapsed spectacularly just a few years later, leaving most of its fleet in limbo and, among other things, depriving the United States of any overnight cruise presence on its greatest river, the Mississippi. Queen of the West, always intended for sailing the Pacific Northwest, was scooped up in 2009 by American Cruise Lines as part of its gradual expansion. At press time, the vessel was scheduled to be refurbished, reconfigured to have fewer (and larger) cabins, and launched in August 2010 on spring, summer, and fall cruises on the Columbia and Snake rivers. All details in this review are based on the vessel's time in service with American West and Majestic America, plus what's known about American Cruise Lines' plans for her.
At 155 to 390 square feet, Queen of the West's cabins are smaller than the extralarge digs on American Cruise Lines' East Coast ships, though the vast majority of them have private balconies. Each is outfitted with a large picture window, satellite TV with DVD player, and a writing desk, and decor runs to "cozy bedroom" aesthetic, with dark-wood tones, flowery bedspreads, and lace curtains. All cabins open onto interior public corridors, as on larger cruise ships.
Two cabins are wheelchair accessible.
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are all served in the ship's main dining room.
In keeping with the ship's 19th-century aesthetic, Queen of the West's public areas are done up in pressed-metal ceilings, chandeliers, balloon-back chairs, and other period touches. Our favorite room is definitely the Paddlewheel Lounge, where you can sip a cocktail to the thrum of the huge propulsion wheel, visible through the room-wide window at the back. Snacks and drinks are served here before dinner, and there's entertainment at night. The vessel also has an old-fashioned, one-level show lounge with a dance floor and a small bandstand/stage.
Pool, Fitness & Spa Facilities
None. Most passengers get their exercise by going ashore and walking the port towns.