We were on board the American Queen Steamboat from 04 Jun to 09 June 2012. Left and returned to New Orleans. It was a very nice experience and we were pleased. Only two things we found negative, which are the dinner plate executions left a lot to desire. And the dining room personnel needs a lot more service training. Everyone is very pleasant, but they are lacking in the right way to serve in a formal dining room.
The pre cruise hotel reservation worked very well and the checking process at the Westin worked pretty well. The check in personnel was there early to set up and started on time. The boarding process was a breeze, but of course, there are only 436 passengers, not thousands. We did not use the transfers to the dock , so cannot comment.
Our cabin was comfortable in size, as well as the bathroom, which was bigger than any we've had in mega ships. The toiletries are of excellent quality and big size. Two people cannot use it all in one week. It would be a shame if they toss it. The towels and bathrobes are plush and of very good quality. Slippers are also provided for your stay. Direct TV service satellite reception worked fine most of the time. The reception was lost during a storm only once, for maybe 10 or 15 minutes.
The American Steamboat is the only boat we have been on with free Wi-Fi (good signal all the time from anywhere, even inside your cabin), no extra fee for fancy coffees (cappuccino, espressos, mocha, etcetera), no extra charge for shore excursions, house wines (white & red) are also included and bottled water at all times.
The bus system they use in the different cities, works pretty well and the guides are friendly and knowledgeable. The access to the plantations and guided tours are also included, and there is no need to pre reserve, except the ones with the extra charge. Opposite to the mega ships, all is done in a relaxing, southern hospitality style. There is no "rush, rush, and then wait, wait". This is refreshing.
The buffet lunches had excellent food selection and were prepared and presented very nicely. We are surprised that the dinner food did not meet the same standards. The continental breakfast, snacks, cookies and ice cream options at the "Front Porch of America" were superb. This place is open 24 hours and there is always something light to eat. It is no midnight buffet by any standards. But you could find something "to hit the spot" if you needed something to eat. The afternoon tea time, looked a bit scarce to me, when we went to take a peek. We are coffee drinkers, but were just curious to see what they offer.
The best shows were the musicals by the ensemble. They had modest costumes and there was no scenography or props, but their voices were all they needed. The next best show was the Jug band performance. The Mark Twain act was difficult to follow and was a bit heavy with the accent and a bit of diction problem. The actor should get some props and/or slides to help grasp the audience's attention. Being a monologue, it can become a bit heavy and difficult to keep everyone alert.
In general, our trip was both entertaining and educational. Due to an unusual low water level we could not visit St. Francisville. The rest of the ports were met and proved very interesting and full of history of the South. We are glad we went, will recommend the trip and will do it again, visiting other city ports. Europeam river cruises are way out of our budget.
Feel free to contact me for additional iformation, if you wish.