GASC Cruise New Orleans to Memphis 4/19-4/26: American Queen Cruise Review by corycruiser
Overall Member Rating
GASC Cruise New Orleans to Memphis 4/19-4/26
Embarkation: New Orleans
Television: Satellite TV with ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox News, CNN, Discovery Channel, TNT. No weather channel.
Hair Dryer and Magnification Mirror in bath. Shampoo, Conditioner, Shower Gel, Lotion provided upon request.
They do not have a clock (alarm or otherwise) in the staterooms, although they do offer "wake up" service.
Slippers & robes may be provided. Some people had them in their rooms upon check-in, others had to request them. They did not seem to have enough for each guest, so if you don't get one, request it right away.
They advertise that "All staterooms feature gourmet coffee brewers and Starbucks coffee", however this is incorrect, as no staterooms have this.
River Times: Is the daily schedule of events and locations, which is (supposed to) delivered to your stateroom each evening along with turn-down service & a small chocolate. There are many errors in this publication, as it is basically just a re-print from the More last cruise. They forget to change the date, weather, location and times of events often. So anything that you want to do, make sure and double check the time and place.
Athletic Club: There are 2 treadmills, 1 elliptical and 1 multi-function weight machine.
Swimming Pool: There is a small pool, however there is no water in it. I was told that there was an "engineering" problem and until addressed, they would not have water in the pool. I was told that there definitely would not be any water in the pool during our cruise, however, on the next to last day, there was (cold water). The pool is more like a spa tub, as it is very small, not deep and is jetted. There are several lounge chairs around the pool.
Mark Twain Gallery: This is basically the "library". A very nicely appointed room for quite activities (similar to the ladies parlor and the gentlemens card rooms). Contains a VERY limited selection of books. All seem to be about the river, the civil war, or the local area. They do have current local newspapers also. No paperbacks or "current" titles (at this time). It looks like people are starting to drop off magazines that they have purchased and read, for others to enjoy.
Wi-Fi: They do have wi-fi on board although very limited band width.
Photography Services: They advertise professional on-board photographers, but I have not seen any. (Probably most people appreciate not being harassed by photographers).
Included Shore Excursions: They have a Hop On/Hop Off bus system, which included the admission to many attractions. Each bus had a "tour guide", however, they often had nothing to say. The company would be well suited to give these guides a script to follow, giving riders information about the town/areas they are visiting.
Riverlorians: The "riverlorians" on our cruise were Travis Vasconcelos and Mary Charlton, with a "guest lecture" by Toots Maloy. There was a "talk" almost each day about the river and steamboating/steamboats. The riverlorians were also available a couple hours each day (an hour in the morning and again an hour in the afternoon) to meet with and ask questions, borrow binoculars (which was a nice "extra"), etc.
Entertainment: There was a Mark Twain impersonator. The Steamboat Syncopators, the 6 piece orchestra. A 4 person ensemble of Singers/Dancers who were very good. Also 5 other musicians who played (and attempted to sing- only Brian could you listen to for very long) in the various bars. On the last night of the cruise the entertainment was the Harry James Orchestra.
Contrary to their advertisement, there is not any "room service", so if you wish to "relax in bed with a cheerful breakfast tray" (as advertised), you will have to go to either the Front Porch or the Dining Room and carry the food back to your room. However, I saw no evidence of any trays available so that you could do this.
J. M. White Dining Room - Breakfast (buffet and a la carte menu options) 6:30am-9:00am, Lunch (buffet and a la carte menu options) 11:30am-1:30pm, Dinner First Seating 5:15 & Second Seating 8:00pm
Front Porch of America - Breakfast 6am-10am offers cold cereals, fresh fruit and muffins/sweet rolls. Lunch 11:30am-1:30pm finger sandwiches, hot dogs, bagged chips, popcorn. They advertise that this is where "light snacks and sweets will be available all day". These are hot dogs, popcorn, soft serve ice cream and cookies. This is where you go to get coffee, tea, soft drinks, juices throughout the day.
River Grill - Lunch 11am-3pm (weather permitting). They serve hamburgers or hoagies/po'boys (on alternate days), chips and salads (potato or coleslaw). Dinner 5:30pm-9pm *Reservations are required. They offer airline chicken breast, beef tenderloin, or one additional option each evening, along with baked potato, a vegetable and green salad. None of these items are cooked fresh to order, but made in advance in the kitchens and then re-heated at the bar.
Tea Time - A small selection of "nibbles" and sweets, along with tea (bags & water) or coffee are offered between 4pm-4:30pm.
Engine Room Bar - Late night hors d'oeurvres served from 10:30pm-11:30pm
There are no "Pre-dinner canapes and hors d'oeuvres" as listed in their brochure.
It is VERY loud in the dining room, making it difficult to carry on a conversation.
The food was just okay ... nothing special. They did some odd things, like serving prime rib but not offering horseradish. Serving corned beef and offered sauerkraut, but not mustard. Served lobster but did not offer drawn butter or lemon. They also one night served a shrimp appetizer, but the shrimp had not been cleaned or deveined! That was totally unacceptable. On the other hand, there were two nights (out of the 8 that we were on board) that I would rate the food as "very good". The night that they had the beef tenderloin, it was served exactly as ordered (medium rare), and the last night when we had the "Inaugural Gala Buffet", which included lobster, shrimp (this time cleaned and deveined), scallops, beef tenderloin, etc. (I don't know if this will be a regular occurrence as this was the night before their christening and all the "big wigs" were on board.)
At all meals, they way overcooked the vegetables, turning them to slimy mush. Their Jazz Brunch, was horrible (it was NOT the menu that is in the brochure), up to and including the skinned baby pig (with it's side carved out) that was on the buffet - causing anyone with an appetite to lose it!
The "complimentary" red wine that they served at dinner was acceptable. I did not try the white wine.
The dining room service needs much improvement. We ate at same table or at least in the same section (same wait staff) for almost every meal (b-l-d). They never did learn to bring us coffee at breakfast (had to ask), offer fresh cracked pepper for our salads/soup. Although I had red wine each evening, they couldn't seem to remember whether I drank red or white, and several times poured a different label of wine into my glass while I still had wine in it.
The drinks generally ranged from $6-$9. A bloody mary was $8, but offered everyday at happy hour for half price. They use Zing Zang bloody mary mix, which I was not familiar with, but is very good! Jack Daniels was $6 and Baileys Irish Cream was $9.
Our problems began before we even embarked. We made the reservations in December, 2011 and were asked to call them back the middle of January to make our train travel arrangements from Memphis back to New Orleans. Long story, but they never did send us any information (tickets to get on the boat, our train tickets back to New Orleans, a voucher for our hotel stay in New Orleans, nothing)! We ended up spending part of our day in Memphis trying to get out train tickets straightened out.
Our room was filthy for the first few days of our cruise. Finally after, getting no satisfaction, I posted a message on the cruise critic bulletin board and we finally got our room cleaned. Of course, the next day, our room was not cleaned nor even our bed made by 6pm, so finally (after blowing my top), they changed our room steward(ess), and from that point on we had no problems with our room.
The public rooms are well decorated although they really should address problems like the peeling wallpaper. Also, it became a running joke watching the flowers wilt in the main entryway. They did not change the flowers until the last day when Pricilla Presley came aboard for the official christening.
All of the staff that we had contact with was very nice (personable). There just didn't seem to be much training or direction given to them, and I blame management for that. I met with both Jeff Kreda, the CEO and David Kelley, the VP of Hotel Operations, and they used had many excuses (which they continue to use), but with the exception of changing our room stewardess, I saw absolutely no difference in service.
We did receive a letter on the night before we disembarked stating that beginning on April 27 (the day after we disembarked), that whey were making "substantial changes." I hope that they do, otherwise I fear they won't be in business very long. Less
Cabin review: BB343
#343 - Deluxe Outside Stateroom with Veranda. It was of adequate size, although a bit smaller than the pictures implies. There was room for two single beds with 1 very small night table (just large enough for the telephone). The room also included a rattan chair and footstool as well as a small armoire. If you look closely in the brochure picture, you will see a chair next to the armoire (left) as well as a table next to the rattan chair (right). It would not be possible to have these two pieces of furnature in the room and be able to walk around the beds. When they push the beds together to make a queen bed, they do not have anything to keep the beds from coming apart in the middle, which tends to be a problem and uncomfortable. Also, no room for a second nightstand (a personal peeve, as I had no place to put my glasses or a glass of water when I went to bed). The bathroom is also small, with no counter space around the pedistal sink. There was no non-skid in the bathtub (worn off), and a couple of times the water did not drain correctly, causing a very slippery (and dangerous) condition. There was no separate fan in the bathroom, so we had to hold the bathroom door open with the trash can while showering, or afterwards, to allow the steam to escape. Luckily most of the cabins have verandas, which helps make the rooms feel larger when the doors are open, although they ask that "due to the humid conditions, please keep your verada door closed to enable the Boat's air conditioning system to run efficiently and effectively." (Note, that their picture shows the doors open). The inside cabins are TINY!!! I saw many of them with a bunk on one side and a single on the other side of the room. Although I do not know the actual measurements, I would guess at maybe 8'x8'? The ones I saw did not look like the photo in the brochure. Of note, the veranda area of the rooms on the back of the boat do get wet from the spray of the paddle wheel.