Around each bend of the river, I imagined Lewis & Clark paddling along in their rugged canoe taking in the beauty of the area. Surrounded by the high peaks dotted with pine trees or the grassy plains, there is plenty to see. Each area is a photographer’s dream.
My husband came along with me. Our cruise started with an overnight stay in Portland. From the balcony of our hotel room, we could see our ship docked ready to take us down the river for our adventure. The ship we cruised on was the American Song. This was her inaugural run since she was recently relocated from the Mississippi River. It was quite a feat to get her here. She had to hug the shoreline since she is not an ocean going vessel. Only the captain, one crew member, and cook were on board. She went through the Panama Canal and up the coast of the western United States. Before the American Song was able to enter the Columbia River, it had to wait a few days for suitable conditions. Even then, a window was still broken on the lowest level in the dining area from the force.
The American Song holds 184 guests at capacity. It is contemporary in style with no paddlewheel. The ship has a four-story atrium and the largest staterooms in the industry, each with a private balcony. Our room was located on Deck 4 (Starboard), which is the top deck for rooms, and was clean, spacious, and the décor was light. There were several lounges, for relaxing, on different levels of the ship. A large lounge (Aft) located next to our room was really inviting in its décor. Skylights brought the warmth of the sun into the room, which made it a nice gathering place. There was also the main lounge (Deck 4 – Forward) where our guest lecturer would speak and where a variety of entertainment would be provided in the evening. If you didn’t want to participate, you could watch from the television in your room. There was no pool or spa and the exercise room was very small. There was a small laundry room with a washer and dryer.
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner were served in the dining room area. There was an option to eat on Deck 4 (Aft) at the snack area where pizza, nachos, and hot dogs were served. Fresh products from the farms of the Pacific Northwest such as fruits and vegetables as well as beef, dairy, nuts, and the famous Tillamook cheese from Oregon, were served. Our food was delicious and eye-pleasing on the platter.
I had not realized until I did this cruise that where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean is one of the most dangerous waters in the world because of the force of the river meeting the ocean. There are also sand bars in this area. Freighters come from all around the world to load their cargo of wheat and lumber. A certified pilot has to guide the freighter in through the river.
After all the guests were on board, we left the City of Portland and cruised to the City of Astoria. This was the furthest city we could get to before the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean.
At each docking, shore excursions were complimentary, with the opportunity to upgrade to another shore excursion with a minimal cost per person.
Excursions we chose:
Astoria, Oregon – Fort Clatsop and the Astoria Shuttle Experience where we got off and went to the Maritime Museum, downtown area, and Astoria Column.
Kalama, Washington – Mount St. Helens Experience. We saw the mountain earlier on the boat and by the time we got to the park, it was covered in clouds.
Stevenson, Washington – Multnomah Falls in Oregon. I couldn’t wait to see these falls. I have seen pictures of the falls before. My husband climbed to the top of the falls and back just in time for the bus ride back.
Dalles, Oregon – Columbia Gorge Discovery Center
Richland, Washington – Day of leisure on the ship.
Clarkston, Washington – Not able to take the ship to this area due to high water and not enough clearance for the ship to go under the bridges.
Each of our shore excursions had so much to offer and it was fascinating to learn about the history of each area.
For those who did not want to get off the ship and do the shore excursions, there were other activities provided such as an art class, movies, and games. On some days prior to docking, there would be a lecture from the onboard historian, Ian Sampson. Topics included “Lewis and Clark”, culture, and the history of the area.
We were not able to complete the planned trip based on the itinerary. Because of the high level of water in the river, our ship stayed the last night in Richland, Washington. As a result, they had to bus us to the airport in Lewiston, Idaho for our return flight. Even though it was a long bus ride, it was through some beautiful country.
I felt that the crew of American Cruise Line bent over backwards to accommodate its’ guests. I would highly recommend a cruise with this company.
If I can help plan your next cruise vacation, please contact me!
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