We have cruised the Mississippi and European Rivers for years. Generally cruising is our favorite kind of vacation, but we do prefer the smaller ships and usually end up on a river. This was our second cruise with American, and it was perfect - one of the best vacations of our life. We flew from New York to New Orleans where the cruise began. The cruise lines office had told us that the ship can be a little difficult to find and offered exact directions that we could use to help a taxi there. As it turned out our taxi driver knew exactly where the ship was, and had carried some of our fellow passengers earlier that day. As soon as we arrived the deck boys greeted us, unloaded the car, and brought our luggage directly to our stateroom. It was the easiest boarding process we have ever seen. Once on board we were thrilled. Our cabin was the largest we have ever had - and we normally buy good category cabins. It was also much larger than the last stateroom we had with American when we were on the Snake River cruise. It was a similar category and price, but a world of difference. New ships are the way to go. We normally do not buy a private balcony, in Europe we like the French balconies, but the Queen of the Mississippi does not have them. Rather than buy a low category we bought the private balcony and we were glad we did. It had a big glass door which made the whole room feel surreal, and the balcony was wonderful to sit on in the mornings before having to be social with other guests.
We have been to the Mississippi River before, so we knew what to expect. When you take a cruise on it, the service on board is the most important. The service was so helpful with everything that we couldn't find a way to complain. Each crew person spoke English clearly, smiled and worked hard. If we had anything in our hands, they always offered to carry it. Jokingly, when we saw them carrying things we started asking if they needed a hand.
There are lots of areas on the ship for people to enjoy one-anothers company, and there are even more quiet recluses where you can read a book in piece or put your feet up and watch the river. Each area is decorated differently. The paddle wheel lounge is designed to honor the old Delta Queen. The only thing that doesn't seem like the Delta Queen in that room is that the couches are actually comfortable, its funny the small things you remember from years ago. The other lounges get out of the stogy history and give you a really good feeling. The upper lounge was my favorite. It was decorated with light colors, had wicker furniture, and had large windows which let in lots of light.
The stops along the way are always the same when you cruise the Mississippi River. They were Oak Alley, Natchez, Vicksburg, and a few others. We love each town, but they are small and don't change, so you when you get there you know what to expect. Each time you cruise there, the tours are also pretty much the same. History doesn't change much. The cruise director handled the tours well and dealt with changes as they came. He was calmer and more organized than most cruise directors.
What else... the food of course. Perfect perfect perfect. I want to take the chef home. They know how to cook and they know how to portion. The only thing that wasn't perfect was that one morning I had dreadful bacon - it was way over cooked. I think the server knew it was no good, so after a few minutes she offered to bring more. The replacement was the way bacon should be.
The week went by fast and we bought another cruise with American before we left. Next spring we are going to take a southeastern cruise on one of their other ships.