Our Journey Comes To A Close
Sometimes, not all voyages go according to plan. That was the case this morning aboard American Queen Steamboat Company’s American Empress.
A letter slipped under our cabin doors – personally signed by the Captain – told guests that we’d suffered a mechanical problem during the evening that affected the ship’s propulsion system. As a result, we were docked not in Portland, Oregon, but 90 minutes away, in a small town called Longview, Washington.
Sure enough, we were tied up at a nondescript container port; a classically-styled paddlewheeler sandwiched in between two grubby looking cargo ships. A few guests joked with me. “You’ll really have something to write about now!” they chuckled. And it’s true – I would. But it wasn’t the accident. Instead, I want to write about how amazingly well the crew of the American Empress handled things.
The Crew of the American Empress Saves the Day
Truth be told, I honestly thought that, being the last day of our voyage, they’d just bus us to local area hotels and put us up for the night. But the crew of the American Empress (and the American Steamboat Company) had worked diligently through the night. They re-routed the coaches and woke the drivers up early in order to have them at the pier by 9:30 in the morning. They called the local guides and advised them there would be a change of plans. And they began making plans to get guests to Portland International Airport the next day, since it became clear we wouldn’t be sailing back to Vancouver, Washington.
I’ve seen some cruise lines really botch things up when everything doesn’t go according to plan; that wasn’t the case here.
Every step of the way, Captain Andrea Mickelson kept us appraised of what was going on, as did our shore excursion team. They spoke plainly and honestly about the mechanical issues affecting the vessel’s propulsion. They didn’t try to hide, or pretend it didn’t happen. Instead, they focused on actually ensuring that our cruise could go on as planned.
New daily activities were created on-the-fly for guests choosing to remain onboard. Tours were altered to accommodate our increased driving distance. The bar was opened for complimentary drinks – courtesy of American Queen Steamboat Company – for several hours this evening.
And an amazing thing happened: I didn’t see a single guest complain. Not one. Not even a hint of complaint. Guests took it in stride, joked with the crew, and had a fantastic time.
In the end, I got to do my wine tour of the Willamette Valley. It ended up being far too much driving for my liking (2.5 hours from Lonvgiew each direction), but I’m still glad I did it. However, the tour itself I feel was overshadowed by just how amazing the crew of the American Empress were.