A few years ago, you might have seen one of these on the Columbia. Not anymore.

One of American Queen riverboats (American Queen Facebook)
One of American Queen riverboats (American Queen Facebook)

If you ever recall seeing a large paddlewheel river cruise boat plying its way through the Tri-Cities, it was most likely the American Queen. Now the nationwide company has closed.

  Riverboat company ceases operations

In 2011, the American Queen Steamboat Company began to offer river cruises, including some based out of Clarkston, WA on the Columbia River as well as Vancouver. In 2012, the company merged with Victory Cruise Lines, and became known as American Queen Voyages.

A WARN (Worker Adjustment Retraining Notification) issued February 21st by the WA State Employment Security Department indicates of the 508 jobs lost by the closing, 16 are in WA.  At the same time, the national announcement was made they were closing. 508 workers will go, including 16 based in WA.

The company posted a message on its website that read in part:

"Despite great efforts by our team, crew and partners, American Queen Voyages (AQV) unfortunately has been unable to rebound from the effects of the pandemic. The overnight cruise industry was especially affected by changes in travel preferences and, as a result, AQV has become financially unsustainable."

USA Today reports some clients in the Midwest began to cancel Mississippi cruises earlier this year because of financial woes with the company including some missed payments that caused service issues.

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They used to offer cruises from Portland up the river to Spokane, or reverse, by waterway. Sometimes their distinctive paddlewheel ship was seen making its way up and down the Columbia through the Tri-Cities. No word was released as to what will happen to their fleet of vintage-themed river cruisers.

Update: The fleet has now been sold to American Cruise Lines.

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Gallery Credit: Kery Wiginton

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