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The Most Luxurious Columbia River Cruises

Emily Becker

Senior Contributor

The Columbia River Valley in the northwest United States is 2000 kilometres of stunning scenery made to be explored and enjoyed. With beautiful waterfalls and awe-inspiring views from the cliffs that line the edge of the river, the area is one of the most scenic in America. Give yourself time to fully soak up all the region’s beauty by booking a river cruise that also gives you the chance to relax in luxury along the way. Spend the days hiking or kayaking and then enjoying local artisanal foods and wines at night for a taste of truly the best the Columbia River Valley has to offer.

Columbia and Snake River Wine Cruise - American Queen Steamboat Company

Clarkston, Wa to Vancouver, Wa.

Duration: 9 Days

The complex and unique bioclimate of the Pacific Northwest makes it a perfect area for growing wine grapes - and also helps make this river cruise the perfect trip for wine experts and amateurs alike. Learn from two onboard sommeliers and a certified wine expert as you travel from Clarkston to Vancouver and visit some of the best boutique wineries along the way. In between tastings and libations, there’s still plenty of time to explore the breathtaking scenery with day trips planned to the Lewis River Valley and Sacajawea State Park, or book a tour of the Red Mountain Viticulture Area and visit a local family-run winery to enjoy a little bit of both.

Just make sure you’re back on board in time for the sommelier-guided paired dinners and the dessert-wine pairings. For some serious luxury, make sure you book the Commodore Services, which include packing and unpacking your luggage, in-suite afternoon tea, and special after-dinner treats in your suite, aka the sweetest way to end each day of your trip. 

Journey on the Columbia and Snake Rivers - National Geographic & Lindblad Expeditions

Portland, Ore to Clarkston, Wa.

Duration: 7 Days

This seven-day cruise is all about celebrating the landscape, history and food and wine of the Pacific Northwest. You’ll have the chance to follow in the footsteps of the explorers, Lewis and Clark, although in a much more adrenaline-inducing fashion. Day trips include boat and kayak rides on the Palouse River and the option of adding a half-day whitewater rafting adventure on the White Salmon River to your trip.

Onboard, you’ll be treated to local foods and wines, roof decks and a fully-stocked library for those days when you want to relax in the scenery of the area. Each cruise also includes the opportunity to hear from naturalists, historians, and geologists familiar with the region as well as National Geographic photography experts who can help you snap some seriously amazing vacation photos. Complete your trip with a wine tour of the Willamette Valley, which is just outside Portland and boasts almost 400 wineries, or a tour of the art, culture and breweries in the city of Portland itself. 

Rivers of Adventure - UnCruise Adventures

Portland, Ore to Clarkston, Wa.

Duration: 8 Days

This cruise is perfect for those who are looking for a little bit of adventure in addition to relaxing nights spent on board. Get ready to bike your way through the Hood River Valley - with stops at shops, art galleries, and boutique wineries, of course - or hike your way through the forest to a secluded waterfall in the heart of the Columbia Gorge. If that’s not enough for you, a whitewater rafting trip on the Deschutes River, complete with a picnic lunch provided by the ship’s chef, a jet boat ride into Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, and a day spent kayaking and swimming in Palouse Falls State Park will also help invigorate your sense of adventure.

There’s also plenty of time to relax on board also. Treat yourself to cocktails and a dip in the hot tub or a special tasting at the wine bar after a full day of unforgettable experiences. 

Highlights of the Columbia River - American Cruise Lines

Portland to Portland

Duration: 5 Days

Experience the best this region has to offer, even if you don’t have time to book a longer cruise. Starting and ending in Portland, this cruise includes stops along the Columbia River in Astoria, Stevenson and a special day trip to Mount St. Helens, where you’ll learn about the effects of the volcano’s eruption in 1980 while taking in the incredible views from the observatory on a bluff near the crater. No trip to the area is complete without a walk along the Benson Bridge to Multnomah Falls, one of North America’s tallest waterfalls. Onboard features include a putting green, cocktail hour each evening, and locally sourced, fine dining, including fresh seafood.

For the best views, book the Grand Suite, which features 270 degrees of floor-to-ceiling glass windows. Enjoy breakfast or a cocktail as you watch the sunset from your private wraparound balcony, and with a separate living room area, you’ll have plenty of room to sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. 

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