Many Tri-Citians who spend time at Howard Amon Park in Richland have been pleasantly surprised to see one of the American Cruise Lines ships pull up to the dock at the park’s roundabout. It’s unique to see the majestic paddlewheel ships port along the banks of the Columbia that separates our cities.

American Cruise Lines has five ships: the American Harmony, the American Jazz, the American Pride, the American Song, and the American West. While these ships offer several different itineraries along the Columbia River, cruisers who choose the Columbia and Snake Rivers Cruise will spend day 6 in our region. When they leave their ship, they have several excursion choices. They can pay to visit the REACH Museum, take a full-day trip to Pendleton, or chose the complimentary excursion that takes them to the Sacajawea Interpretive Center. Many visitors decide to enjoy what Richland has to offer within walking distance…excellent food choices, a local brewery, boutique shops, an ice cream shop, water sport rentals, bike rentals, or even an art gallery. The ships frequently port on a summer Thursday and its passengers can walk to the free Live @5 concert series at John Dam Plaza.

Departure ports on the itinerary that visits Richland are either Portland, Oregon or Clarkston, Washington. They are one-way trips that run from April through September of every year. Whichever port is chosen to depart from will determine where the cruise will end. In all, there are eight ports of call that offer a historic view into the Pacific Northwest, particularly the explorations of Lewis and Clark. If starting in Portland, passengers will be there for the first day and then on to Astoria, Oregon at the mouth of the Columbia on day two. Day three will be spend in Kalama, Washington, and day four at Stevenson, Washington. Day five will be spent aboard as passengers cruise the Columbia River Gorge and then as mentioned above, day six the ship ports in Richland. On day seven and eight, the ship is ported in Clarkston, Washington. Each port will offer a variety of excursions from which to choose.

The American Harmony is a ship that takes part this specific itinerary. It carries 180 passengers, has 102 rooms, and 11 common areas on six decks. The first departure of this year will leave Portland on April 6th, with four more sailings throughout the month. Depending on the date, the prices vary. The lowest price is $4,125.00 and the most $5,650.00 for the lowest priced cabins.

For those interested in a longer trip, the Northwest Pioneers Cruise itinerary offers a 10-night trip from Portland, Oregon to Clarkston, Washington. It is similar to the other cruise described, but adds a day in Hood River, Oregon, a day in The Dalles, Oregon, and a day in Pendleton, Oregon. Prices for this cruise, in basic cabins, range from $6,520.00 to $8,125.00.

The river cruises are unique in that they offer small ships with less than 200 passengers. The service is excellent, and they boast onboard experts who share their knowledge of the history and geography of the ports of call with the passengers. This can be a more intimate experience with other passengers in the lounges and sundecks of the ships as they cruise along with majestic Columbia.

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