American Cruise Lines will dock three mostly empty river cruise ships in Astoria beginning Thursday to wait out coronavirus restrictions.

The American Song will tie up at the 17th Street Dock, where American Cruise Lines has a lease with the city to manage berths. Two other company vessels, the American Pride and Queen of the West, will dock at North Tongue Point.

American Song

American Cruise Lines’ ship American Song, launched in 2018, is scheduled to arrive Thursday at the 17th Street Dock in Astoria, albeit without passengers.

The ships will carry minimal crew and no passengers.

Global cruise ship traffic has been largely shuttered since March because of the pandemic.

But American Cruise Lines, with ships that fall beneath the threshold of a federal no-sail order for vessels carrying more than 250 passengers, had negotiated with state and local stakeholders to resume cruises on the Columbia River with the American Song late last month.

Gov. Kate Brown had initially allowed such outings under a second phase of reopening from virus restrictions. The American Song’s arrival was canceled just days before the first trip, however, after the state pivoted to prohibit all passenger-carrying cruise ships from state ports through late July because of virus concerns.

The Port of Astoria has canceled all but three of the more than 30 large, oceangoing cruise ships that planned to stop locally this year on their way up and down the West Coast.

Local officials in May prevented the Port from hosting two mostly empty oceangoing cruise ships and their crews after an outbreak of the virus at Bornstein Seafoods in Astoria.

Laying up the ships while idle could have made the Port around $15,000 a day, according to Will Isom, the agency’s executive director.

Isom reported to the Port Commission on Tuesday that the agency narrowly lost out on another opportunity to lay up the Regatta, an Oceania Cruises ship that had been scheduled to arrive Tuesday from Oakland, California.

The Port heard a couple of weeks ago that the ship had technical difficulties and instead went to Los Angeles, Isom said.

“They don’t think the vessel will be ready to move here for the next few weeks,” he said.

Edward Stratton is a reporter for The Astorian. Contact him at 971-704-1719 or estratton@dailyastorian.com.

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