My wife and I were on the June 28th sailing of the American Queen from Memphis to St Louis. We were in cabin 401, a beautiful cabin and a great location on the boat -- forward Starboard.
The American Queen is a beautiful vessel with a great crew and the pace of the cruise is very relaxing. The average age of the passengers on our cruise was 76. At 7 miles an hour, there is no movement, nor noise of the boat in the forward cabins and lounges. One may experience noise, toward the aft of the boat, from the engine room and paddle wheel. They do not skimp on bathroom amenities. The wi-fi is very weak and spotty.
There are 3 bars onboard and one may order the same drink at each of the bars and receive a completely different version of the drink from each bar. There was no consistency whatsoever in drink making. During one unfortunate incident in the lounge adjacent to the main dining room, my wife's cranberry based cocktail was launched off of our server's tray and splattered us both. To my surprise they replaced the drink and still gave us the bill for it. Not one manager, and there were many around, approached us to ask if we were alright or if our clothes were damaged. The concern was directed at the table and stemware and when it was discovered that neither suffered damage everyone went back to their business. Our server was left to clean up the mess on her own.
The food is very good, however the service is horrible. We informed the American Queen Steamboat Co. three weeks prior to sailing that my wife is on a gluten free diet. The way the staff responded to this news was to tell my wife everything that she could not have on the menu. There was no effort whatsoever to accommodate her dietary needs. Her only choice for dessert each night was sorbet so we would always go to the Front Porch for ice cream. Sadly they did run out of ice cream one night -- so much for 24/7.
During breakfast you are given a choice of buffet with an omelet station or you may order off of the menu in the main dining room. I ordered an omelet from our server instead of waiting for the buffet cook who was only given a 1 burner cook top with which to make eggs. Twenty minutes later, after watching 8 people step up and get their eggs on the buffet line I gave up on the kitchen and stood in line myself. This isn't a busy area in the morning for the kitchen. How can an order for eggs take more than 20 minutes in the kitchen? The kitchen eggs beat my buffet eggs by 2 minutes. Go figure.
The biggest disappointment of the cruise came in the dining room where the silverware and stemware were filthy, disgustingly so. Coffee cups with lipstick and coffee stains were the norm. The wine glasses were spotted and dirty, every night. One night at dinner I glanced at my wife's plate and the charger was full of breadcrumbs. I mean full of breadcrumbs. I thought to myself "that's strange, Amy Jo doesn't eat bread" so I asked her about it. She told me that the charger was full of crumbs and goo when we sat down and that she had just turned the charger so she didn't have to look at the mess anymore. Folks, someone had to set our table with that charger full of crumbs and there were an awful lot of crumbs on it, far too many to not have been noticed by the staff. They simply serve food on dirty dishes.
Whenever there was a buffet being served in the main dining room invariably a woman manager would suddenly open both sides of the buffet even though there were no serving utensils for the back side and uncomfortable "grabbing" and chaos ensued.
On the last night of our cruise there was an outdoor BBQ buffet at the outdoor bar and grill at the aft of the boat. I put my food down as soon as I realized that the pork was a bit cooler than the ambient air temperature. The food was not being properly temped. I also saw the cook use an ungloved hand to push corn on the cob into the chaffing-dish as he resupplied it. My wife unfortunately decided to eat her meal. The poor gal was up all night retching in the bathroom -food poisoning.
It is a great shame that this company is running such a beautiful boat into the ground. The crew is grateful and hard working but they are not getting the leadership that they need from management. If just one manager would walk through the dining room before it open s for dinner and hold up a few glasses and look over the silverware they would see in an instant that things are not being done correctly and they could correct the situation. But as the spilled drink incident showed, management just doesn't care to get involved.
You will read plenty of reviews of this boat since it began operating again this past April. You will read that many of the same concerns that were mentioned in the early reviews are still surfacing 3 months later. Folks, it doesn't take 3 months to turn around a careless dining room. It takes management that cares and from what I saw, and experienced first-hand, this company simply does not.
This cruise up the mighty Mississippi was a trip of a lifetime. However, the experience is not worth $500 per person per day.
This Queen is dead. Long live the Queen.