Cruise-line company with stop in North Idaho shuts down, laying off 500-plus

A cruise line that brought tourists to the Richland waterfront has shut down and canceled all future cruises.

American Queen Voyages, aka American Queen Steamboat Co., announced that it made the “difficult decision” to end its North American river, ocean and lake cruises, citing the ongoing fall out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the Pacific Northwest, American Queen operated the American Empress, a 233-passenger diesel-powered steamboat that cruised between Vancouver, Wash., and Lewiston, Idaho.

The announcement coincided with a bankruptcy filing by its parent, American Queen Holdco LLC. The company sought protection from creditors under Chapter 11 in U.S. Bankrutpcy Court for the Southern District of Texas.

It listed assets between $500 million and $1 billion, and liabilities between $1 billion and $10 billion.

The shutdown will lead to job losses for 508 employees, including 16 in Washington, according to notice filed under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification system.

“The overnight cruise industry was especially affected by changes in travel preferences and, as a result, (American Queen Voyages) has become financially unsustainable,” the company said in a statement posted to its website.

The American Queen stopped regularly at the Howard Amon dock in Richland. Passengers regularly disembarked at the cruise dock and toured Tri-Cities tourist destinations via motor coach.

April 25, 2015 - A deck hand on the 360-foot diesel-powered paddle wheeler American Empress walks past the ship’s propulsion assembly while performing work on the vessel moored at the Lee Boulevard dock in Richland. The American Queen Steamboat Company operates the river cruise ship, billed on its website as the largest overnight riverboat west of the Mississippi River, on the Snake and Columbia rivers between Clarkston and Astoria. The company website says the ship is headed to Clarkston to begin a nine-day excursion that concludes May 3 in the Portland area. Tri-City Herald

Customers who have booked trips on the line are advised to seek full refunds at The site was not operational Wednesday afternoon. The phone number for passengers in the U.S. and Canada is 888-202-5784.

The phone number for vendors in the U.S. and Canada is 888-504-8055.

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