Blog Archives

S.S. Legacy Re-positioned to Columbia River Year-round for 2015

Un-Cruise Adventure’s S.S.Legacy, the replica coastal steamer, will be re-positioned from Alaska to its new home on the Columbia River in 2015.

As river cruising continues to grow, cruise lines are adapting. The S.S. Legacy is scheduled for 34 departures on the Columbia, Snake and Willamette Rivers from April-November 2015. The line is also offering a savings on fall 2014 river cruises, with $400/couple savings offered for bookings made by June 20, 2014. The savings is applicable for river cruises departing August-November 2014.

Read the rest of this entry

American Queen Steamboat Company Finalizes Purchase of American Empress

American EmpressAmerican Queen Steamboat Company today finalized its purchase of the American Empress. The 223-passenger riverboat, formerly known as Empress of the North, will begin operating Columbia and Snake river cruises between Portland, Oregon and Clarkston, Washington on April 5, 2014. View itinerary details.

Read the rest of this entry

Former Empress of the North to Sail the Columbia and Snake Rivers

American Empress, former Empress of the North

American Empress, former Empress of the North

The American Queen Steamboat Company has purchased a steamboat to explore the Columbia River and Snake River.

The former Empress of the North, built for and operated by the now defunct American West Steamboat Company / Majestic America Line, will be renamed American Empress, and begin sailing the Columbia River and Snake River starting April 2014, offering seven-day trips between Portland and Clarkston, Wash. Ports of call include Astoria, Wash.; Stevenson, Wash.; The Dalles, Ore.; Umatilla, Ore.; and Richland, Wash.

Read the rest of this entry

Lindblad Expeditions Offers New Culinary Program & Columbia River Itinerary

The Columbia River

Lindblad Expeditions is set to launch a new culinary program associated with a new Columbia River itinerary in 2012.

The new onboard dining program features a menu dominated by local and sustainable foods in addition to a selection of wines and craft beers that have gained the region international acclaim. At the same time, Lindblad Expeditions will launch their new Columbia & Snake Rivers Journey: Harvests, History and Landscapes itinerary.

Scheduled to launch next September aboard the 62‐passenger National Geographic Sea Bird and
National Geographic Sea Lion, this natural, cultural and culinary 7‐day/6‐ night adventure will unveil a spectacular landscape millions of years in the making and a vibrant patchwork that encompasses high art, fine foods, award‐winning wines along some of the route Lewis & Clark followed on their Corps of Discovery Expedition.
Read the rest of this entry

5 Reasons to Cruise the Columbia & Snake Rivers with American Cruise Lines

Ever consider cruising the Columbia & Snake Rivers? Never consider it? Well, here’s five reasons why you should consider cruising the Columbia & Snake Rivers this coming Spring 2012, specifically aboard American Cruise Lines Queen of the West.

View details of American Cruise Lines Columbia & Snake Rivers itinerary…

Read the rest of this entry

Cruise Report: Great Western River Cruise

Aboard the Queen of the West, Sept 25 – Oct 2, 2010

If you want a cruise steeped in history, this is for you. We had watched the Ken Burns video prior to going, and it was immensely helpful in understanding the magnitude of the Lewis & Clark 4000 mile exploration in 1804-1806. Traveling up the Columbia River while hearing an on-board narration by a local historian gave us a vivid sense of the trials they experienced, and of the historic discoveries they made (over 200 species of animals and plants never before seen). To hear about their survival while undergoing extreme weather conditions, lack of food from time to time, successful travel through unknown territory controlled by many different Indian nations (some hostile), and terrain most difficult and inhospitable gave us an appreciation of modern luxuries. These Indian nations lived, hunted, and traded for more than 10,000 years in The Dalles area near the Bonneville Dam (erected 135 years later). Read the rest of this entry

February 2010 Desktop Wallpaper Now Available

We just posted our latest desktop wallpaper for February 2010. It features a view of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Grab your FREE copy now. Then dream about, and plan your trip along the Columbia River with Sunstone Tours & Cruises.

FREE February 2010 Desktop Wallpaper

American Cruise Lines Announces New Columbia River Itineraries

As we reported back in September, the authentic paddlewheel Queen of the West was purchased by American Cruise Lines. The ship had last sailed the Columbia River in 2008 for the now defunct Majestic America Line.

The only paddlewheel sailing American waters, the Queen of the West is due to sail three itineraries on the Columbia River departing from Portland, Oregon and Clarkston, Washington starting August 2010. Stops along the route will include the Columbia River Gorge, Multonomah Falls, Mt. St. Helen’s, The Dalles, Hells Canyon and Astoria. Passengers can look forward to a few modifications to the ship including a number of even larger staterooms and a decrease in passenger capacity, allowing for an even higher level of personal service from the all-American crew.

Passengers who have had the pleasure of cruising on Queen of the West in the past can expect the same unparalleled experience they had aboard this grand ship. But now they can discover the additional features, such as exceptional cuisine and the highest level of personalized service, for which American Cruise Lines is known.

Stay tuned for details on these unique itineraries.

American Safari Adds More in 2010

The soon to be released 2010 brochure for American Safari Cruises will detail new voyages on Alaska’s Glacier Bay, the Columbia and Snake rivers, Mexico’s Sea of Cortés and the Pacific Northwest.

Alaska Cruises

Important Fact

The National Park Service regulations call for a maximum of 12 passengers from any vessel on hikes at one time. With the small guest contingents on these yachts, American Safari Cruises can easily operate within this proviso, so all guests are able to get on shore to explore on foot. They’re the only cruise line that can do this. It doesn’t work for large cruise ships with thousands of passengers or even for smaller cruise ships with 100-plus onboard.

In Alaska, American Safari Cruises will increase its seven-night sailings into Glacier Bay National Park by 100 percent over 2009. On similar itineraries roundtrip from Juneau, the company will operate three luxury yachts — the 36-guest Safari Explorer, the 22-guest Safari Quest, and the 12-guest Safari Spirit. Every departure of the April 30 to Sept. 10, 2010, season includes two consecutive days in Glacier Bay. American Safari Cruises guests are permitted to explore by sea kayak and shore boat, and to go ashore to hike and walk on glaciers.

In addition, guests can use onboard kayaks and shore boats to search for bear, moose, wolves, mountain goats, whales, seals and birdlife, including puffins. Other highlights include a visit to the fishing village of Elfin Cove, the humpback whale-viewing waters of Frederick Sound and Icy Strait, Endicott Arm and Admiralty Island. Prices begin at $4,895 per person double occupancy.

Columbia River Cruises

On its “Rivers of the West” itinerary, American Safari Cruises has scheduled 13 eight-night spring and fall departures on the Columbia and Snake rivers of Washington, Oregon and Idaho, including four sailings that will have a wine and food theme and visit wineries. The one-way cruises between Portland, Ore., and Lewiston, Idaho, take guests through locks on the Columbia and include a jet boat ride into Hells Canyon. Departures run in March, April, October and November. Prices begin at $3,995 per person, double occupancy. The wine and culinary cruises on April 3, Oct. 8 and Nov. 6 and 13 begin at $4,295.

Baja Mexico / Sea of Cortes

In response to past guests’ requests, the Safari Spirit is returning to the Sea of Cortés for 12 seven-night sailings Nov. 21 through March 20, roundtrip from La Paz, the capital of Baja California Sur. Prices begin at $6,995 per person double occupancy; the full charter rate is $89,995. Pacific Northwest cruises aboard the Safari Spirit depart in September and October roundtrip from Friday Harbor, Wash., and explore the San Juan Islands of Washington state, the Gulf Islands of British Columbia and the passages of Vancouver Island, including Desolation Sound and Princess Louisa Inlet. Included are visits to Victoria and Butchart Gardens, a state marine park, Roche Harbor and Vancouver. Prices begin at $6.095 per person double occupancy.

The Ships

All three yachts carry two-person sea kayaks, motorized shore boats, an on-deck hot tub, exercise equipment, salon with large-screen TV for viewing videos, staterooms with DVD players and private bathrooms, a library and a complimentary bar with premium spirits, fine wines and microbrews. Meals are served at a single sitting and feature cuisine prepared with fresh, local ingredients. The guest-to-crew ratio is 2 to 1. The flagship Safari Explorer also features a sauna and onboard masseuse who provides complimentary massages and yoga sessions.

Visit for more details on these itineraries. To request the aforementioned brochure, contact Sunstone Tours & Cruises at 1-888-815-5428.

Top 10 Reasons to Travel In the Wake of Lewis & Clark With Lindblad Expeditions

  1. Experience Matters. Lindblad Expeditions (LEX) has been operating voyages along the Columbia and Snake rivers for more than 15 years, longer than any other company.
  2. Ships ideally suited for river navigation. Carrying just 62 guests and with a shallow draft, our sister ships Sea Lion and Sea Bird take you almost 500 miles inland up the Columbia and Snake rivers, in the comfort of a large private yacht.
  3. The most knowledgeable and experienced team of Historians and Naturalists. Many of our Expedition Leaders, Naturalists and Historians have been accompanying our voyages along the Columbia and Snake rivers for a decade or more. Some are professors specializing in the history of Lewis and Clark. Others have extensively studied the botany and geology of the region. All are engaging, personable experts eager to share their knowledge and stories with you.
  4. Local experts. Along our route we engage local experts to expand on some of the themes introduced by our shipboard staff: the mountain crossing by the Corps of Discovery, the history of river navigation, the cataclysmic origins of the Columbia River Gorge.
  5. Kayaking. Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned kayaker you can enjoy the sense of personal discovery by exploring the lower reaches of the remote Palouse River, a tributary of
    the Snake River, with our fleet of kayaks.
  6. Native American cultures. You travel through the land of the Nez Perce, once led by the famous Chief Joseph. At the Nez Perce Center you’ll learn about the rich culture of the tribe, and how they aided the Corps of Discovery on their journey.
  7. The locks. Locking-in is one of the most fascinating aspects of your river journey. You’ll travel through a total of eight different locks that lift you some 700 feet in all – nearly ten
    times what transiting the Panama Canal entails.
  8. The deepest gorge in North America. You have an opportunity to travel by jet boat up the Snake River into Hells Canyon, a spectacularly beautiful gorge, the deepest in all of North
  9. Expedition technology. Video microscopes, plasma screens, Video Chroniclers, daily expedition reports; all of these tools add significant value to the experience of exploring the Columbia and Snake rivers. Our Video Chronicler records the experiences of each voyage and will have a copy available for you by the time you disembark.
  10. Our dedication to excellent expeditions is never at the cost of comfort. We offer comfortable cabins, fine cuisine that features fresh regional products, a menu of spa treatments, fitness equipment, guest email service, and seamless handling throughout your journey.

View these and other Columbia River itineraries…