23 January 2005
Great American River Journeys Re-Launches
The Columbia Queen

New cruise line readies luxurious riverboat for 2005 inaugural season

SEATTLE - Under the new ownership of Great American River Journeys (GARJ), a Seattle-based cruise line, the luxurious 161-passenger riverboat Columbia Queen will return to operation on the Columbia, Snake, and Willamette rivers following a three-year hiatus.

The Columbia Queen is currently in Portland, Ore., undergoing an enhancement project, primarily in the public areas, to prepare for the beginning of its inaugural season in April 2005. The riverboat was originally built for approximately $43 million and launched in 2000 as a re-creation of an early 20th-century riverboat by the original Delta Queen Steamboat Company, which ceased operations in late 2001.

Cruise industry veteran Michael Lomax, president and COO of newly-formed GARJ, left his position as president of expedition cruise line Society Expeditions more than a year ago to pursue investor interest in acquiring the Columbia Queen. Lomax has recruited a highly-experienced management team with backgrounds in the small-ship and river cruise vacation industry to lead GARJ, including key staff and executives from the Columbia Queen's original operation as well as competitor American West Steamboat Company.

"In many ways this is a re-start of a previously highly successful U.S. river cruise vacation operation," said Lomax. "We've taken a beautifully appointed, $43 million riverboat and developed unique and, in many cases, exclusive shore excursions, onboard amenities and passenger comfort features to create a premier Pacific Northwest cruise vacation experience."

Great American River Journeys, a Seattle-based cruise line, offers eight-night cruise vacations on the Columbia, Snake and Willamette rivers aboard the luxurious 161-passenger riverboat, Columbia Queen. Built in early 20th century riverboat-style, the Columbia Queen features a unique blend of Victorian and Pacific Northwest decor, five-star dining and a diverse range of entertainment. All-included, escorted daily shore excursions to scenic and historic destinations are complemented by on-board programming from historians, naturalists and cultural interpreters. Excursions, delivered via the ship's exclusive European-style touring coaches, will include interpretive centers depicting the journey of early settlers along the Oregon Trail, native cultures and Lewis & Clark's Corp of Discovery. For reservations or information, call 1-800-901-9152 or visit the Web site at greatamericanjourneys.com.

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