American West on Columbia River Cruise

Follow the Rugged Lewis and Clark Trail Aboard American Cruise Lines Queen of the West.

Note:  Queen of the West has been renamed, American West. In 2022, American West had a total refurbishment.

Soft adventure and breathtaking scenery. Add regional wine and local craft beer and I couldn’t resist.

Without hesitation (and a four-day Amtrak train journey from Florida) I hopped aboard American Cruise Lines paddlewheeler, the Queen of the West in Portland, Oregon for a 7-night Columbia and Snake River cruise.

First cruise for me on an American river.

The staff and crew were wonderful, the small paddlewheeler was charming and the scenery…astounding. I brushed up on a little Lewis and Clark history and learned so much more about the Pacific Northwest as we slowly cruised towards Idaho and the Snake River.

Here’s my photo tour of the American West, interspersed with snapshots of scenery that you have to experience to believe. I had no idea what to expect in this part of our country.

Aboard American Cruise Lines Queen of the West and an ever-changing view from my window, along the Columbia River.
Queen of the West with and an ever-changing view from my window, along the Columbia River.
Double stateroom on American Cruise Lines Queen of the West
Typical double stateroom – the door leads to private balcony.
Queen of the West in Stevenson, Washington.
After the rain, in Stevenson, Washington.
Bow Ramp on Queen of the West
The bow ramp in use somewhere in Oregon…still not sure where we were!
Sunset on the Columbia River aboard American Cruise Lines Queen of the West.
Who says all the beautiful sunsets are on the ocean?
Queen of the West Activities
Bulletin board with the day’s activities. Note: No karaoke or laser light shows.
Multnomah Falls, 611' foot roaring waterfall, 30 miles east of Portland.
Multnomah Falls, 611′ foot roaring waterfall, 30 miles east of Portland.
Queen of the West passengers at 3,800' elevation, take in the view of Mt. Saint Helens.
Queen of the West passengers at 3,800′ elevation, take in the view of Mt. Saint Helens.
Beer in Oregon
One of my favorite things – regional food and drinks. Oregon specialties are sooo good!
Banjo man
Down-home entertainment included this one-man band banjo player. Toe-tapping fun for sure.
On the Columbia River
Sunset on the Columbia River.
Balcony on Queen of the West
Cozy private balcony. Great weather to sit outside and watch the shore.
Dining Room Queen of the West
Queen of the West’s very traditional and lovely dining room.
salmon dinner
Salmon, salmon and more salmon…if you wanted it. All from the Pacific Northwest.
Queen of the West bar
Beautiful dark wood bar…and my new friend, Joyce. She’s 92 and traveling solo.
Queen of the West Lounge
Queen of the West Paddlewheel Lounge.
Library Queen of the West
The Library. One of the best spots on the ship for wifi.
Queen of the West sundeck
On the top deck, next to the enclosed Caliope Lounge.
Queen of the West buffet
There’s Joyce again, at the Oregon region cheese and preserves tasting.
sheltered deck Queen of the West
The weather-proof Calliope Lounge and “Fitness Center.” I had the elliptical machine all to myself.
Queen of the West putting
Yes, there’s even a putt-putt course.
Queen of the West Paddlewheel
Docked for the day. Notice the two horizontal smoke stacks? They can go up and down to fit under bridges.
Bridge tour
Our Captain explains the workings of the wheelhouse and navigation on the river.
Queen of the West passes Mt Hood in Oregon.
The Captain announced when we’d pass Mt. Hood so of course everyone was on deck with their cameras. The weather cooperated, too.
Snake river jet boat
Boarding our jet boat for a day excursion on the Snake River.
Buffalo Eddy petroglyph
As close as our jet boat could get to the petroglyph rock. The photo below is the close-up.
Close-up of the Buffalo Eddy petroglyph, dates back about 4,500 years.
Close-up of the Buffalo Eddy petroglyph; dates back about 4,500 years.

Eventually all good things must end and so it was time to leave the Queen of the West and head north to Spokane, Washington and catch my Amtrak train home.

Wheelhouse Queen of the West
It was a fabulous and incredibly interesting cruise aboard the Queen of the West. And yes, I did sit in several of the rocking chairs.

For more information about this cruise on the Columbia River, visit: American Cruise Lines.
Disclosure:  I was a guest of American Cruise Lines aboard the Queen of the West, but all opinions are my own.
Photo credit:  Sherry Laskin


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  1. Hi Lois,
    Thank you very much for taking the time to read my article. I love the Columbia river and all the shore excursions. Have a wonderful cruise and thanks again for your comment.

  2. Hi Sherry! Thanks so much for your enlightening insures on your Queen of the West ship tour. We’re going on the America. Empress in November and really excited. Sounds like this trip is just up our alley!

  3. Hi Peri,
    Thank you so much for letting me know about that docking place. I’ll correct it asap.

  4. The photo where the ship is docked nose first where you didn’t remember where you were was at Kalama, WA where you catch the bus to Mount St. Helens.

  5. Hi Sylvia,

    You should love the itinerary. But definitely bring a light jacket that you can layer underneath if needed. While the days in the high desert can be hot, nights cool down quite a bit. And as you’ll also cruise through a rain forest, temps can get cool as you near Astoria and the Pacific. Have a wonderful cruise!


  6. Hi Sherry. My sister and I will be on the Queen of the West in late June. Do you think we would need a light jacket for that time of the year on the river?

  7. Hi Mark, it looks like you know this area very well and I agree…it’s just beautiful in the Pacific Northwest. Sherry

  8. That looks like an amazing experience. I love the Pacific Northwest and a cruise like would take you through so many different parts of the region. The jet boat excursion sounds pretty awesome.

  9. Hi Lauri,

    Thanks for your comment. It’s almost like apples and oranges. Europe river ships are all modern and similar to each other in many ways but the paddle wheelers here are a throwback to another era. Even the smaller ships on the Inland Passage or Intercoastal are more like yachts than the lengthy river ships in Europe. It’s a slightly older demographic on our rivers too, I think.


  10. Yes, there was snow in April up in the mountains in Washington State. Thanks for reading the article. Hope you’ll try an American river cruise soon!

  11. Was that really snow in April? This looks like so much fun and the ship looks lovely. Thank you for sharing. The idea of a river cruise is very appealing.

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