American Queen - first season --- they try very hard !!!
The American Queen Steamboat Company has only been operating since April of this year (2012) and with a financial contractural mandate to staff the ship with at least 30% Memphis-residents, they definitely have a learning curve regarding service and consistency to overcome. However, having said that -- the only "negative" worthy of mention -- the crew had an amazing "can fix it" attitude and went out of their way to rectify issues and please the passengers. As a simple but poignant example, they serve 24/7 on the "front Porch" food, cookies, snacks, ice cream etc. While the cookies were great, there were not any chocolate chip ones -- my favorite. I ran into the chef and asked "why not" -- and, amazingly, 15 minutes later, he personally appeared on the deck holding a tray of hot fresh-out-of-the-oven delicious chocolate chip cookies -- and provided them every day for the rest of the cruise. The food, while on that subject, was uniformly delicious with beautiful variety and great presentations -- all cooked to order -- not the "mass production" of most cruise lines. The shore excursions, most of them included in the fare, were well organized, mostly interesting and exceedingly convenient and accessible, even for those with disabilities. There was plenty of outdoor deck seating and places to simply relax and unwind as well as nightly entertainment. The cruise we took had a "Civil War Theme" and there were associated informative lectures as well. We have cruised on many lines and to many places around the world but paddlewheeling on the Mississippi and associated rivers of mid-American proved to be one of the most relaxing experiences of our lives.