American Queen Review

Editor Rating:  4.5
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Editor Rating
4.5
Cruiser Rating
Why Choose American Queen?
  • Pro: Small ship with big-ship amenities like spa services, a pool and main theater entertainment
  • Con: Culinary options for picky eaters or cruisers with special dietary needs are limited
  • Bottom Line: The perfect Mississippi cruise option for active travelers who appreciate dining and entertainment choices

American Queen Overview

By Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor in Chief, Updated by Dori Saltzman, Editor

Originally built in 1996 for the defunct Delta Queen Steamboat Company, the 436-passenger American Queen sat dormant between 2008 and 2012, after its owner went bust. But you just can't keep the world's largest steamboat down, particularly since this classic form of transportation on the Mighty Mississippi and its tributaries is seeing a continual rise in popularity.

Before relaunching in April 2012, American Queen received a $6.5 million spruce-up to make the Victorian decor -- chandeliers, upholstery, polished wood -- pop. Cabins got new bedding and flat-screen TVs, and a top-deck bar/snack venue (River Grill) was added. Six decks swathed in swirly white gingerbread trim received a fresh coat of paint. The result? The steamboat is delightful and feels much more like a small and historic boutique hotel than a riverboat. The upgrades continue on an annual basis when the ship’s laid up for six weeks or so during the height of winter; changes are made to public rooms, staterooms, and outdoor venues.

These days, there's not much that can obscure the ship's status as a true American original that celebrates the nation's river history, lore, traditions, music and food. Whether it's tying up in a little town like Madison, Indiana, navigating a river lock, or docking in New Orleans, it makes quite an impression. And where else in the States can you watch a boat lower its ornate black funnels so it can go under a bridge?

River cruisers will note that prices for this boat are higher than they are for mainstream ocean cruises. Keep in mind that rates on American Queen include a pre-cruise hotel stay; transfer to the boat; soft drinks, coffee and tea all day; beer and wine with dinner; a complimentary set of shore excursions; and use of bicycles during port calls. The line also pays American wages and offers benefits such as health insurance and 401K participation to its crew.

American Queen cruises the upper and lower Mississippi, as well as the Ohio and Tennessee rivers on five- to 14-night theme cruises. Cruises depart from New Orleans, Memphis, St. Louis, St. Paul, Louisville, Nashville and Cincinnati.

American Queen Fellow Passengers

American Queen passengers tend to be mature, and many have already experienced Mississippi River cruising in the past, as well as ocean cruises. Add in the fact that the boat is more lace-and-doily than neon-and-glitter and not geared in any way toward families, and its older demographic becomes clear. This is a particularly good cruise option for passengers with disabilities as, unlike those on many European riverboats, elevators go to all key decks.

Having said that, younger, more active travelers will find a lot to like about American Queen. It's a great option for a relaxing vacation. While Americans are the predominant audience, the cruise line is expanding its outreach to appeal to English-speaking travelers from Europe, the U.K., Australia and New Zealand.  

American Queen Dress Code

Casual, comfortable attire is encouraged both onboard and ashore. Shorts and T-shirts are discouraged during dinner in the J.M. White Dining Room, and passengers generally comply. Many exhibit a laidback elegance, with casual dresses and khakis prevalent in the evening. Comfortable walking shoes are a must for time off the boat and for merely strolling around the decks. At the captain's welcome and farewell receptions in the Mark Twain Gallery, blazers with collared shirts and nice dresses are common.

American Queen Gratuity

Tips are not included in the cruise fare; gratuities of $16.50 per person, per day, are added daily into onboard accounts. In addition, a 15 percent service charge is automatically added to all alcoholic drinks purchased onboard. Passengers are encouraged to tip guides on the Premium Choice Tours, but that is left to their discretion.

Next:  American Queen Cabins

By Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor in Chief, Updated by Dori Saltzman, Editor

121 American Queen Reviews from our Cruise Critic Community

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Bonnie R
Member Since 2016
1 review
0 forum posts
0 helpful votes
My river cruise on the American Queen was one of the best things I've ever done and that's saying a lot after a 35-year airline career! A Mississippi River paddlewheeler has been on my bucket list since the Delta Queen and Mississippi ... Read more
Judesterrev
Member Since 2016
1 review
0 forum posts
7 helpful votes
Sailed August 2016
Such a relaxing, layed back atmosphere. The crew are so pleasant and ready to help or assist in any way possible. There was an issue with one of the premium excursions and they were quick to listen and respond to feedback. The food is ... Read more
brenrnc1
Member Since 2016
1 review
0 forum posts
5 helpful votes
Sailed August 2016
I was looking for a cruise that would be stress free and relaxing. The American Queen fit the bill! Small ship cruising is my preference! All crew members were AWESOME. From the deck crew to the stateroom attendant (Theresa) to our ... Read more

American Queen Editor Ratings

  • Category
    Member
    Editor
  • Dining
    4.2
    5.0
  • Public Rooms
    4.6
    4.0
  • Cabins
    4.2
    4.0
  • Entertainment
    4.4
    4.0
  • Spa & Fitness
    3.5
    3.0
  • Family & Children
    1.0
    1.0
  • Shore Excursions
    4.2
    5.0
  • Enrichment
    4.3
    5.0
  • Service
    4.3
    4.0
  • Value-for-Money
    3.8
    4.0
Cruise Deals

832 Professional American Queen Photos

We spent almost a full week on board the American Queen with multiple photographers and took 832 pictures of the ship.  When you visit our new photo galleries you can be assured that what you see is what you get!

American Queen Steamboat Company Fleet

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