Tuesday, May 15, 2007
The grounding of the Empress of the North cruise ship near Juneau is the fourth time the ship has hit something or run aground since it was built in 2002 at the Nichols Brothers shipyard on Whidbey Island. It was built for the American West Steamboat company of Seattle for $50 million and started operating in 2003. The company was combined with another company in June of last year under the name of the Majestic America Line, based in Seattle. The Empress of the North is one of six vessels in a fleet of river and coastal cruising ships.In October of 2003, it hit a navigation lock at the Ice Harbor dam on the Snake River. In November of 2003, it ran aground on the Oregon side of the Columbia River near The Dalles. In March of 2006, it grounded on a sand bar in the Columbia near Washougal. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the ship failed an inspection in February, and the agency is investigating what caused 26 passengers and seven crew members to get sick during a five-day Columbia River cruise in March.