American Queen Cruise Review by VikingExplorer: American Queen St. Paul MN round trip
American Queen St. Paul MN round trip
I'm an active mature solo traveler, and experience with 36 cruises. I took Amtrak to the embarkation port of St. Paul, MN, and the train was better than the cruise. This cruise was a three-night round-trip Mississippi River cruise from St. Paul, MN to two ports, Wabasha and Red Wing, MN.
Embarkation was a scrambled logistical nightmare with a grouch for a bus driver. Confusing printed and inaccuarate boarding information.
The boat is visually stunning and beautiful in its reproduced glory as an 1850s riverboat. However, renovations are ongoing, and there are a lot of broken, damaged, or worn-out items needing attention.
While a few of the crew gave superior outstanding service, the majority were learning on the job at the passenger's expense. Terrible service in the dining room, with a sullen, angry, depressed, nearly silent unsmiling server at my table. Food was usually lukewarm or cold, and took forever to be delivered to the table. Big black flies More swarmed all over the food, tables, dishes, and this was prevalent all over the eating venues on the boat. Between the flies and food, there is a huge potential for health risks on board. Many of the crew were suffering from obvious severe upper respiratory infections, too, which may have contributed to their sour dispositions - but it also exposed the food and passengers to a lot of germs while these sick people coughed and sneezed all over the food, tables, and other people.
The two ports, Wabasha and Red Wing, MN were delightful small town Americana preserved from the 1800s, with warmly welcoming nice people and plenty to see on foot or on the tour buses which go with the boat. I toured independently on foot, and was royally treated and entertained the entire day at each port.
This is not a cruise experience for children, between the lavishly decorated public spaces and antiques, and lack of any special activities for them. There did not seem to be anything aimed at keeping children entertained.
Entertainment was good, with a live orchestra and four young crew who put on two good musical review shows appropriate to river lore, and other entertainment throughout the day and boat. Some of the historian offerings and other indoor activities took place during the day while I was in port exploring, so I missed out on them.
The itinerary changed on short notice, and deprived us of seeing anything of the Mississippi River during a daylight cruise - all the sailing was done at night, in heavy fog.
Adequate cabin with sparse furniture, but comfortable. Twin beds converted to king kept separating, with nice but noisy linens. Thin cabin walls let noise in constantly. French doors to the outside open veranda deck let in air, light, noise, and water due to a hole between the doors, which was reported but never fixed - same with the broken door lock and noisy plumbing Nothing was ever fixed. Not much privacy, either, with the inadequate skimpy curtains over the glass windows in the two French doors. Safe in closet is too high to reach on a top shelf. Bathroom was nice, with all the amenities. Toilet did not flush one day, but this happened all over the boat. Towels did not dry due to overuse of fabric softener. There were several noticeable tears and rips in the clashing, dark, and mismatched wallpaper.
Plastic boarding cards are issued and used for purchases and security accounting, but don't open the cabin - one has to lug around a heavy big metal key at all times.
The passenger majority were mature, well-to-do and well-traveled experienced people who were not shy about voicing negative opinions about the various problems on board. We all enjoyed each other's company, however, as socializing was the main activity and appropriate to the age group on board this short cruise. Most said they couldn't wait to get off the boat and go home due to the terrible food and service.
Internet service was slow and spotty at best in the public lounge area, but not in my cabin, at least, or in other cabins, from what some passengers said.
The midnight to dawn luggage collection on the last night of the cruise sounded like a herd of elephants on the metal decks, and kept me awake most of the night. Luggage was placed out in the open on the public landing dock in St. Paul, and it was raining or drizzling while the luggage sat there without any kind of cover or shelter.
Disembarkation repeated the logistical scrambled nightmare at the beginning of the cruise, with delays and inaccurate printed and verbal instructions and confusion, resulting in my taking an expensive cab ride after getting my rain-soaked luggage, rather than waiting on the boat for an additional three hours until the free bus service from the boat to Minneapolis finally got going.
This start-up company had a good idea with its unique and beautiful river boat, but doesn't follow through on what their website and literature promises and advertises. Training crew on the job is terribly unfair to people who pay a lot of money for a cruise, and who end up as guinea pigs in an experiment instead of receiving quality service in a professional manner. I was extremely disappointed and felt that most of the trip was a total waste of money. I would not recommend this company to anybody, and I would not cruise with them again even if the cruise were free. Less
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Cabin review: C
Cabin had an era-specific decor, of the riverboat era of the mid-1800s. Authentic antiques and lighting fixtures prevailed. Dark, mismatched wallpaper and dark wood make the small space seem even more gloomy and depressing. Good bed linens on extremely comfortable mattress, but twins don't stay together as a king. Just one chair, and not a lot of flat space to work on or eat from or put things on. Good vanity/dressing area with good mirrors in room, bath, vanity area. Adequate closet with enough hangers, but safe up on a top closet shelf and nearly impossible to reach. French doors to public outside veranda metal deck allowed noise and light to come in, and skimpy curtains don't aid in privacy. Locks are old-fashioned on the door, with a big metal key to carry around. The light fixtures were reproductions of gas lights, with corresponding very dim bulbs and not much light except in the vanity and bathroom areas. Thin walls allowed noise to seep through from adjoining cabins. Chairs and table outside were nice to enjoy while viewing scenery and talking to other passengers, but with no daylight sailing, they did not get used very much. Enough space to move around and be comfortable in. Carpeted floor did not look very clean.