Sail Date: April 2012
When folks ask us why we booked American Cruise Lines Queen of the West, we reply that we did it to have the experience of traveling on the Snake and Columbia Rivers from Clarkston Washington to Portland Oregon. We wanted to travel on a ... Read More
When folks ask us why we booked American Cruise Lines Queen of the West, we reply that we did it to have the experience of traveling on the Snake and Columbia Rivers from Clarkston Washington to Portland Oregon. We wanted to travel on a paddle wheel river boat even though the paddle wheel is now just for looks and atmosphere. We wanted to view the scenery and nature, to learn about the history of the area and the Lewis and Clark Expedition and to have time away from work, telephones, television and noise. This is a very slow paced trip with few activities for young, active people. Nothing at all for children and teens. The bus tours (cost extra on most trips) are easy going with few physical demands. The passengers are generally very senior. Very! We were among the youngest passengers. A highlight of our trip was the on board historian Todd Weber who does a series on presentations on Lewis and Clark and the history and nature of the area, but he is not on every trip. If you want to hear and see him, verify before making your booking. The open seating meals are a good idea, but the times listed are not exactly as stated because you really need to get into the dining room at the opening time as the pacing of the meal service is slow. Even though we booked one of the more expensive rooms on the ship (mid-3 deck) it was a tight fit, especially the bathroom and closet. The balcony is tiny with very small chairs and cocktail table. Large suitcases do not fit under the bed so you have to live with them as furniture. We managed to get a 27 inch suitcase into the closet which is about 32 inches wide. The shower is small and water pressure varies but is never good. We had mostly hot water. Travel with at least a couple of friends (most people seemed to) so you will have company. The large groups didn't socialize outside the people they came on board with. Drinks at the cocktail hour are generous. The entertainment is very old fashioned. We gave up on it. Being on the great rivers is very interesting, but our first few days out of Clarkston, the scenery was dry, beige and vacant of wildlife. It all changes down the Columbia when suddenly the world becomes green and lush. As we passed Portland (to return the next day to overnight there) and went down to Astoria Oregon, we had a good idea of how big and busy the river is at that point. The overnight on the boat in Portland seemed like an expensive way to add a day to the trip with few benefits. Would we do this exact same trip again? No. Once is enough. When we return to that part of the US we will do our own driving. Would I pay that much money for a similar trip? No. It wasn't a good value for money although we were pleased to support an American owned and staffed cruise line. We needed a lot more activities and photo opportunities. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2014
My family of six (88, 61, 59, 29, 25, & 18 years old) took the two Owner's cabins, which each can hold three people and are located on the top deck, next to the captain's cabin. The captain was always at the helm or corner ... Read More
My family of six (88, 61, 59, 29, 25, & 18 years old) took the two Owner's cabins, which each can hold three people and are located on the top deck, next to the captain's cabin. The captain was always at the helm or corner pilots stations when we traversed locks or did anything tricky, and his mate was usually there, also. The captain was also very friendly, making a point to greet all the passengers and often welcoming us back to the ship. I would guess that the average age of passengers was upper 70's. There was only one other person in the younger age group at 45 years old. The age of passengers only mattered because it limited the activities on excursions significantly. Most excursions only allowed an hour and a half to do anything. We took a 4 hour round trip to the Mount St. Helen's observatory (too cloudy to see), but only had a little over an hour there because that was the most any passengers would have liked except our group. We were the only ones who went walking on the trails. This made for pretty dull sight seeing. Even at a museum, everyone (except us) was pretty pooped after an hour and wanted to go before the allotted time was up. This should be taken into consideration when considering this cruise. If you aren't pretty sedentary, you'll probably find the trip more relaxing than you'd want. The most enjoyable trips were Multnomah Falls and walking the trails at Mount St. Helens, although we had to walk quite fast since the visits were short. We also really enjoyed the Bonneville Dam visit. Going through the locks was quite memorable, and I think we traversed 8 of them. The staff are young and personable. Actually, they're the friendliest hospitality employees I've ever encountered. However, they are not competent. The food service was incredibly slow. We took to bringing water into the dining room at lunch when we would otherwise have to wait for drinks service because we would get too thirsty. The waits were interminable. The same people who served meals also cleaned the cabins. They were very poor at this. I don't know if the staff weren't trained well or if there were too few of them, but I would have expected better. The food itself was not good. It was generally bland. Fish like salmon and steelhead trout were overcooked, as was chicken. The only protein I had that was really well cooked was duck. We had lots of salads, and they had a couple of dressings that were very good. The worst dish was an entree they called deviled crab. It was a gratinee dish full of some creamy liquid and a few very tiny pieces of crab. We didn't really take much advantage of the available entertainment as it wasn't to our taste. That doesn't mean it might not have been done very well. I wouldn't take another American Cruise Lines trip. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2015
My wife and I took the Columbia/Snake River route from Portland to Clarkston. Staff very courteous and seemed anxious to please. Cabin person was new & couldn't seem to get the hang of fresh towels each day, but seemed to get it ... Read More
My wife and I took the Columbia/Snake River route from Portland to Clarkston. Staff very courteous and seemed anxious to please. Cabin person was new & couldn't seem to get the hang of fresh towels each day, but seemed to get it after I explained the problem to the Cruise Director.Physical accommodations were average, but not up to ocean cruises we have taken. On the other hand, the intimate size of the passenger list was very nice after being two of several thousand in sea cruises. Pricier than sea cruises, but probably related to small scale and all U.S.A. based. Only serious disappointment was that I comparison shopped cancellation insurance (after the fact- long story). Their offering was seriously overpriced. My own fault for not checking before rather than after. (My wife has had a stroke which makes long range planning dicey.) Read Less
37 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2015
Here's a rundown of the passengers! About 15% of the passengers on the Columbia/Snake River Cruise departing from Portland, Oct 10th, had significant physical disabilities, such as walking with a cane, walker or needing the ... Read More
Here's a rundown of the passengers! About 15% of the passengers on the Columbia/Snake River Cruise departing from Portland, Oct 10th, had significant physical disabilities, such as walking with a cane, walker or needing the supportive assistance of a spouse or adult child. About 50 % of the passengers, myself included were not physically fit enough to walk comfortably more than 2 miles on a flat surface, or less than 2 miles on an incline. Average age estimated to be about 73. For persons living an active lifestyle such as biking or vigorous hiking the activity level of the cruise will not be challenging enough in my opinion. I arrived at the boat in Portland by cab. The young man taking my bags at the pier did not welcome me onboard. He was sullen. When I got inside the boat, Jessica did welcome me but did not have a name tag for me. She said someone else had gotten it by mistake. The boat while charming on the exterior is actually run down and somewhat depressing on the interior. My cabin while it was clean enough was pretty pitiful considering what I paid for a single person. I have traveled with ACL to the Puget Sound & my cabin on that trip was considerably better. On this cruise I had a single bed which looked smaller than most single beds. More like a youth bed. The comforter was worn and limp and did not provide enough warmth. I had to pile some of my sweaters on the bed to sleep. The pillows were embarrassing. Maybe 2 inches thick and ready for the rag pile. Other passengers experienced similar pillows. It was great to have the little balcony however. Bring bug spray because you will need it for mosquitoes. The walls are so thin between cabins that just about everything is heard on the other side-coughing, conversations, nose blowing. Passengers are very considerate of each other in this regard. I did not feel that the crew addressed safety issues while the ship was in port. While in the port of Stevenson, an older passenger fell while negotiating her way into town from the dock by herself. But walking alone is not the only issue. There are 3 train tracks between the dock and the boat that must be crossed. Trains barrel around the bend very frequently and heaven forbid one of the passengers fell on these tracks and could not get up when a train is coming. Considering the frail nature of some of the passengers and that they may be hard of hearing it is a real possibility. It would be very helpful for the crew to have an informational talk regarding safety while in port. Passengers should travel together in groups at the very least. There were train tracks to be crossed also in the Dalles if one wanted to venture into town. Ian was on board, an Australian expert in all things Louis and Clark. He gave a couple of excellent talks about the Corps of Discovery. But the first afternoon out of Portland, Ian got on the microphone and was giving a blow by blow description of everything we passed by and such info as how to pronounce the town name of Kalama. Passengers in their individual cabins could not turn the sound down and some of us were very aggravated. Sometimes you just want to quietly meditate & watch the scenery go by without someone yelling incessantly. The first few days of the trip were beautiful while the last couple of days closer to Clarkston were not pleasant. In short, it stunk to high heavens! It was hard to figure out what smelled so bad but someone said it was a paper factory. However, the ship also began to smell like sewage in certain areas too. When I settled my account and left a generous tip, I was not even thanked. Great way to treat a passenger. I had also requested information on the Ohio River cruise-twice and never got it. I think an element of burnout was taking over with a couple of the staff. I fit right in with most of the passengers-age wise, interest wise, activity level. I feel comfortable at meals conversing with the other passengers. I enjoyed the excursions. But I will really weigh my options before going on another ACL trip. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
We wanted to experience an history filled adventure. The Captain and crew were just excellent. Very thoughtful, kind and interesting. We had excellent weather for 6 of the seven days too! We had no idea the cabins were so small ... Read More
We wanted to experience an history filled adventure. The Captain and crew were just excellent. Very thoughtful, kind and interesting. We had excellent weather for 6 of the seven days too! We had no idea the cabins were so small however. The dinning was excellent but there was limited choices. We informed the curse line when we booked of a shell fish allergy, yet had to repeat that at every meal. Also we filled out a questionnaire at breakfast for lunch and dinner complete with our names and cabin number yet there was really no need for names/cabin numbers because they only used them to get a read on how much to prepare not who wanted what. There were a few problems like the only elevator, which my husband needed, was not working well - the doors opened before elevator was level with the floor. One man fell and hurt his head and was hospitalized with a broken collar bone. Several people tripped. Two of the servers (and most were the very best) got into an argument during cocktail hour pushing and shoving each other and splashed alcohol all over a guest. There were no enrichment activities, and the shore excursions were not well thought out. One of things we longed to do was to shop for things at each stop but at one everything was closed because it was Sunday, at another the bus was there to pick us up long before the stores opened and the only option available was Walmart - we didn't spend this much on a trip to go to Walmart. Also there was nothing to buy on the boat - even a catalog with branded items would have been a good idea. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
I am 62 years old and went with my 89 year-old mother who is still very mobile. Parts of the cruise were interesting and others not. First of all, let me tell you that the accommodations were very nice. Unfortunately, we didn't pay ... Read More
I am 62 years old and went with my 89 year-old mother who is still very mobile. Parts of the cruise were interesting and others not. First of all, let me tell you that the accommodations were very nice. Unfortunately, we didn't pay for a balcony and so we were on the basement floor where many of the entertainers have their rooms and it can be noisy at night. We could hear the toilets flushing constantly from the floor above and the public bathroom outside in the hallway. The free wifi and even by cell service were often not working in the room and I had to go out into the hallway or up to the library on the second floor to use the free internet or even call my wife. There was a 24 hour period on the Snake River where there was no cell service or wifi at all. There were a few teens and young couples but very sparse. The cruise is for seniors.The entertainment was very boring for us, no exercise equipment, no pool, just a library and a piano bar...snooze!. Good for old timers who like old Broadway shows or music from the 40s. The excursions for the most part were decent The food was excellent, best part of the cruise. Even though we were given the late dinner time, we were able to change it to the later time by asking the matre d, Carmen. We were even able to get into the private dining area for than the 2 times normally allowed. In the private dining area, we were able to have lobster tail, which was pretty small...so we just asked for two of them. We liked some of the excursions, and some we didn't. The trip to see Fort Clatsop and the Snake River excursion (charge) were very good. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
The Queen of the West is an old paddle wheeler that should be retired. The crew was extremely friendly and helpful and the service was excellent. However the food choices were limited and my diabetic requests were never sent to the ship ... Read More
The Queen of the West is an old paddle wheeler that should be retired. The crew was extremely friendly and helpful and the service was excellent. However the food choices were limited and my diabetic requests were never sent to the ship from the home office. The cost of the cruise is very expensive for one can sail for two weeks in European Rivers for the price of this one week on the Snake and Columbia Rivers. What food was provided was excellent as well as the wait staff. The cabin is smaller than advertised however not a huge factor as one spends little time in the cabin. The ports of call were very worthwhile however more time could be spent in Portland at the end as we remained in Astoria until 4 am the night before. The shore excursions could have been briefed to us before the arrival and not a short blurp at the very beginning. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
The scenery on the Colombia River is outstanding. The sites were interesting but didn't get to stay long enough at Mt. St. Helen’s and the Rose Park in Portland. There was a lot to do in these two areas that warranted more time. ... Read More
The scenery on the Colombia River is outstanding. The sites were interesting but didn't get to stay long enough at Mt. St. Helen’s and the Rose Park in Portland. There was a lot to do in these two areas that warranted more time. The overall pace of the cruise is geared for seniors. Though I am one ( mid sixties and fortunately healthy, I would have preferred a bit more activity. Since most folks were in their 80’s I think the pace worked well for them. There was nightly entertainment starting at Happy Hour though nothing through out the day. Some afternoons there were lectures on Lewis and Clark that were quite infomative. Food was good and plentiful but don't expect gourmet. The ship itself was one of the older ones in American Cruise’s fleet. I was glad to hear that this trip was the last until refurbished. When traveling again, I would definitely opt for one of their newer ships that has updated furnishings and better accommodations. The Staff was very friendly especially the ship manager who went out of her way to be accommodating to your needs. Headquarters also was responsive to my concerns. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
Before I start, let me say that overall the cruise was OK for my wife and I. For my 87 year old mother who we brought, the cruise was better than OK and she enjoyed it a lot. Having never been on another river cruise, she had no real ... Read More
Before I start, let me say that overall the cruise was OK for my wife and I. For my 87 year old mother who we brought, the cruise was better than OK and she enjoyed it a lot. Having never been on another river cruise, she had no real expectations and so it was a great experience for her. For us, this was the first and probably last US based river cruise. All of our experience is on Viking which we knew going in was going to be hard to compare. As mentioned earlier, I am good with period décor and to some degree period accommodations. That said, when one pays for owner suite rooms, those rooms should at least be maintained/not dated. Suite 402 exhibited many squawks including several ceiling panels bent and one completely loose/hanging down at one end, carpet was stained, chairs were missing buttons and worn, chrome soap dish and toothbrush holder were loose, shower soap holder was chipped, outdoor candles on our balcony were all inop, back door handle was loose and back door had visible hinge wedge made out of balled up painters tape, all vertical blinds had at least one (if not several) bent vanes. These are ALL routine maintenance items that there is really no excuse for having not addressed either before or during the cruise - ESPECIALLY if one is paying extra for the owners suite. Last but not least, while I can almost rationalize the wine not being restocked daily in the owner suite, it is hard to imagine (other than lack of attention to detail) why the water and juice were not and why one of the days 1 used wine glass was taken but no new clean one left in its place. Beyond the room squawks, a suggestion I might have is to put a Suite Number sign on the outside of the back door (similar to the sign on the front door). SEVERAL times during the cruise people presumably exploring the ship either walked into our room or tried to walk in (learned after day 2 to keep door locked). A suite marker might help them understand it is not just a passage to the other side or that there is not an inside staircase down to the deck below. At the ship level, the paint has been reasonably maintained with no visible rust and/or staining noticeable - great. Upholstery throughout though was noticeably stained and worn giving a less than warm feeling about sitting on any of the furniture. This was the most noticeable in the dining room and thank heaven those chairs were completely replaced half way through the cruise. Prior to replacing them, honestly ACL, they were just plain disgusting. As for the carpet, it was mostly good except for when you come to the stairs. There were no less than three different carpet styles going from deck one to deck two and one really bad face seam going between another level. I get that it is less expensive to patch in like was done, but seriously, it LOOKS patched in and thus detracts from the sense that the ship is well maintained. Add to this the fact that there were missing and broken paddles on the paddle wheel and, well, again it detracts from the experience knowing that overall maintenance is a little lax and where done cuts corners - presumably for budget reasons. The crew does a great job of compensating for the maintenance deficiencies with helpful attitude and smiles so I give ACL credit for that. Overall however, I am sorry to say I will likely not use ACL again and would definitely not recommend the Queen of The West. I had really hoped for a better cruise experience but the maintenance and service distractions at the owner suite level were to say the least more than a little disappointing Read Less
Queen of the West Ratings
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