New Line Buying Columbia Queen

Sale of riverboat done with an eye to resuming cruises out of Portland, Oregon

The Columbia Queen, a 161-passenger riverboat that formerly cruised in the Pacific Northwest, is being bought by a new Seattle-based cruise line, the investors announced.

The new company, American Rivers Cruise Line, hopes to finalize the purchase early this month with an eye toward resuming cruising from Portland, Ore., sometime next year.

The ship has been out of service since October 2001 when its former owner, American Classic Voyages, ceased operations. It failed to sell at a 2001 bankruptcy auction that sold off some of American Classic’s other assets, most notably the Delta Queen Steamboat Co. The Columbia Queen has remained in the hands of the U.S. Maritime Administration since then.

The principal investors behind American Rivers are Doug Toms and Don Simplot, who also recently participated in the purchase of Glacier Bay Cruise Line with Bob Brennan.

President and COO of American Rivers will be Michael Lomax, formerly president of Society Expeditions.

Lomax said the fledgling line recently conducted an extensive mechanical survey of the vessel and operated it in sea trials.

“The vessel is in excellent condition,” Lomax said.

The company hopes to once again operate seven-day voyages on the Columbia, Snake and Willamette rivers.