Claudette Waggoner Chosen as Godmother of the American Empress

The American Queen Steamboat Company announced christening ceremony details for the U.S riverboat owner and operator’s second vessel. The 223-guest American Empress, the largest riverboat west of the Mississippi, will officially join the fleet with the American Queen on April 5, 2014. Claudette Waggoner, wife of Chairman and CEO John Waggoner, will serve as godmother and officially name the vessel as part of the festivities in downtown Portland, Ore.

Former secretary of transportation Ray LaHood has been announced as the ceremony’s keynote speaker. Highlights of the festivities will include performances by local musicians, a blessing of the boat by Chinook Tribal elders and a bottle of local wine crashing against the American Empress bow. Additional participating dignitaries include the 13th Coast Guard district commander Rear Admiral Richard T. Gromlich and acting maritime administrator Paul “Chip” Jaenichen.

The American Queen Steamboat Company entered into a purchase agreement of the 223-guest riverboat with the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) in May 2013 and has had a team onboard preparing for her April 2014 launch on the Columbia and Snake Rivers. Formerly the Empress of the North, the American Empress will serve as the largest overnight riverboat west of the Mississippi River. 

A U.S.-flagged vessel, the American Empress measures 360 feet with five decks and accommodates 223 guests in seven stateroom categories. She is currently undergoing final preparations for her inaugural season and sea trials with the U.S. Coast Guard are scheduled for later this month.

The American Empress will begin service April 5 after a christening ceremony in Portland, Ore. Her maiden voyage will be a nine-day journey immersing guests in the Columbia and Snake Rivers, including stops at ports including Astoria, Ore.; Stevenson, Wash.; The Dalles, Ore.; Sacajawea State Park, Wash., and Clarkston, Wash. Complimentary shore excursions will be available in every port and include the cultural and historical landmarks that signify the living legacy of the region’s first settlers.  Travelers with specific interests are encouraged to enjoy the variety of Premium Experience Excursions such as the Walla Walla Wine Trail or the Western Antique Aeroplane & Automobile Museum. Daily lectures will also be provided by the Riverlorian, an onboard history and culture expert.

The American Empress was built in 2003 and operated by Majestic America Line from 2003 to 2008, sailing Alaska’s Inside Passage and the Pacific Northwest.

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