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Seven-night cruises will be offered starting next year on the Columbia and Snake rivers in Washington and Oregon, the American Queen Steamboat Company said Tuesday.

It will be the first time the Pacific Northwest river cruises have been offered since 2008, when the previous operator, Majestic America, ceased operations. The new operator, the American Queen Steamboat Company, made the announcement from its Memphis headquarters.

The company purchased the same boat that previously sailed the rivers, the Empress of the North, from the U.S. Maritime Administration which has been maintaining the vessel.

The boat, which was built in 2002, will be renamed the American Empress. At 360 feet in length, with five decks and a capacity of 223 passengers, it will be the largest riverboat in service west of the Mississippi.

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The American Empress will homeport in Portland and will sail along the Columbia and Snake rivers to Clarkston, Wash., with stops in The Dalles and other riverside ports. The ship also will head west to the historic port of Astoria, Ore.

Trips will begin in April 2014 with the season ending in November.

More than 32,000 people have sailed on the nostalgic Mississippi River cruises since the company’s American Queen steamboat resumed service there last year for the first time since 2008.

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