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Crown Cruise Vacations | June 23, 2024

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Cruise on Columbia & Snake Rivers Perfect for Locks & Dams Lovers                            

Cruise on Columbia & Snake Rivers Perfect for Locks & Dams Lovers                            
Jackie Sheckler Finch

Whenever our cruise ship approached a lock or dam, we all seemed to head for a great viewing point. Just like little kids, we were excited to watch the magic of river locks.

For cruisers who would like to see and learn more about locks and dams, the Columbus and Snake Rivers are a wonderful place. And American Cruise Lines offers some terrific cruises for an up-close experience.

The Columbus & Snake rivers have served as a source of power, transportation and commerce, an American Cruise Lines news release notes. Ships traveling along these rivers once struggled to navigate the rapid currents caused by the dramatic slopes of the rivers.

The first act of taming the Columbia & Snake rivers began in 1933 as a Works Era Project. Completed under the Roosevelt administration in 1937, the Bonneville Dam, the first dam on the Columbia River, created hydroelectric power for the power grid of the Pacific Northwest

At the site, engineers installed locks to help level off the water flow, much like a staircase helps gain or descend in elevation, allowing vessels to navigate what were once treacherous waters.

Over the next five decades, seven additional locks and dams were constructed along the Columbia and Snake rivers. Today, these rivers are a part of the nation’s “Marine Highway,” designated and managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

How Locks Work

When heading upstream, the ship enters the lock at the lower level. The lock gates and lower drains close, making the lock chamber watertight. Then, the upper drains are opened, allowing  water to enter the lock by gravity and raise the boat.

When the water level in the lock is the same as that in the upstream portion of the canal, the upper gates are opened, and the boat continues its journey, the news release says.

For ships heading downstream, the ship enters the lock at the higher level. The upper lock gates and drains are closed to make the lock chamber watertight. The lower drains are then opened, allowing the water to flow out.

When the water level is the same on both sides of the lower gates, they are opened, and the ship continues its way downstream.

As American Cruise Lines ships cruise the Columbia & Snake rivers, the ships encounter four locks on each river, creating experiences guests continually rave about.

Photos by Jackie Sheckler Finch

  • The American Harmony offers cruises on the Snake and Columbia rivers. (cover photo)
  • Entering a lock is always fascinating.
  • A fish ladder allows fish to travel upstream past a dam to spawn.
  • Cruisers watch the Dalles Dam work its magic.

Ed. Note: Please contact us for more information and to book a cruise Crown Cruise Vacations | Cruise Getaways You Can Afford!

Celebrity Cruises recognized the company’s top partners with its 2022 Top Travel Agency Advisor Awards. The 2022 travel partner award winners include:

  • Online Partner of the Year: Crown Cruise Vacations

Since 2008, Crown Cruise Vacations has had a singular focus: Provide excellent value and excellent service on Cruises, Tours and all forms of Vacation Travel. Based in Princeton, New Jersey, and a proud member of Ensemble Travel Group, we have been able to offer the benefits of working with the largest agencies while maintaining a family atmosphere. We’ve won many different awards including the 2011 World Travel Award for Leading North American Cruise Agent, and 2018 Partner of the Year for Royal Caribbean. We use our agency connections, relationships and influence to provide you and your family the best values and offers in the travel industry led by travel counselors with hundreds of years of combined travel experience.

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