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190 American Queen Steamboat Company North America River Cruise Reviews

This was our second AQSC cruise. We chose the "Mark Twain Experience" on the American Queen from St. Louis to Minneapolis with stops in between along the Upper Mississippi. Unfortunately, we received an email the night before ... Read More
This was our second AQSC cruise. We chose the "Mark Twain Experience" on the American Queen from St. Louis to Minneapolis with stops in between along the Upper Mississippi. Unfortunately, we received an email the night before our flight that there will be a "slight deviation" in the itinerary due to high water in the upper Mississippi and the boat's inability to pass under those bridges. We had been so excited to see these American cities which we had never been before. What to do? We flew to St. Louis out of desperation since we could not get any information from the Cruise line ahead of time. Once in St. Louis, there were cruise representatives on our second day there. They were totally sympathetic but unable to offer us anything in the way of refund or exchange (read the fine print). We decided to embark anyway and make the best of it along with 398 other dismayed passengers. The itinerary continued to change from day to day depending on the river. It wasn't until the last day of the cruise that the company offered each passenger a 10% of their payment credit towards future cruise within the next 18 months. They also paid our airline change fees. The itinerary was pretty sad - basically circling St. Louis for 7 days with some stops at places we would have never chosen to visit. And it was so hot! We expected to be out of the heat on the third day as we sailed north, but that never happened. The only original stop was Hannibal, where we were able to absorb the Mark Twain experience at the many museums and exhibits. However, I cannot say enough about the ship, the crew, the food, and the entertainment. Our Cabin was 455, over the paddlewheel. It was the largest cabin we've had on any ship or boat...there were 6 mirrors including a full length one in the bathroom: vanity outside of the bathroom with mirror and a second sink - unheard of in a cabin except on Disney; desk with mirror; closet with mirror; bureau with mirror. There was plenty of storage space. We had 2 major cabin complaints - not the paddlewheel noise or vibration, but the deck above was the pool bar and for some reason after midnight each night they were dragging chairs around the bar area. There's no way there were passengers at the bar at that hour... we called the front desk 3 nights in a row and begged them not to move the chairs around after midnight. Best beds, but worst sleep ever on a cruise. Other complaint was that the walls, even though metal, seemed paper thin and we could hear the TV and conversation from the next cabins. Fortunately, those passengers tended to turn in early so late night was no bother. The only reason I would not rate the cabin "excellent" was that the wood furniture and countertops were in need of a good refinishing. The food was excellent and they tried their best to accommodate my food allergies each night. The entertainment was top notch in a gorgeous theater. It varied from night to night, but never disappointed us. The common areas were beautiful, in an 1890's way, as was the entire boat. Overall, these cruises are a bit expensive, but remember that it is an all-American crew and must pay American wages plus overtime. I rated "Value for Money" and "Shore Excursions" as poor due to the odd places we visited due to the "diversion". We will definitely cruise again. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
I always wanted to travel on a paddlewheeler and chose going on upper Mississippi since I was very familiar with all the ports on other cruises offered. Unfortunately rains had caused very high water and the itinerary was changed ... Read More
I always wanted to travel on a paddlewheeler and chose going on upper Mississippi since I was very familiar with all the ports on other cruises offered. Unfortunately rains had caused very high water and the itinerary was changed completely. This would not have been a problem but the company seemed very ill-prepared to make quick alternative plans. In Chester, IL there were only 4 stops with only 2 being of interest. It was obvious some of the local guides were not prepared for our visit. One read from a script and couldn't even tell us the population of the city. I had requested early dining because of medication that I take when I booked the cruise almost a year in advance, but was told I would have to be on a wait list but because it was medical I would be changed. When I received the documents I was still assigned late dining and called immediately, was told I had to change on the boat, but that was not successful nor was there any attempt to accommodate my request. We tried the buffet a couple of nights then tried going 15 minutes after early seating to get any seats open. That worked fairly well. Cabin was very nice, but a small refrigerator would have made it perfect. Entertainment was sensational for such a small cast. They were very professional, talented, and had something to appeal to a variety of musical tastes. The boat was beautiful and the furnishings transported us back in time. The Twain lectures were excellent and so informative. I learned so much from the Riverlorian, too. All but two wait staff were superb and really made the meals special. The cruise was enjoyable, but the company's response to the change was extremely disappointing. The quick change in our departure city resulted in a huge drain from our Southwest points. It remains to be seen what AQSC will compensate. I felt the modest voucher provided for another cruise was almost like a slap in the face as a customer. My husband and I each received $369.90!! This is after spending almost $8,000 a year in advance, then visiting only 1 original itinerary port. Really....90¢! We weren't even worth a 10¢ round up to $370! When one chooses to river cruise whether it be in the U.S. or Europe one must be prepared for changes. Mother Nature can't be controlled. However, for a company using rivers for its livelihood AQSC does not seem to have alternate plans in place, nor do they seem to appreciate the inconvenience, disappointment, and additional costs that customers must experience. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
We chose a destination with cool weather and new scenery. North Texas summers are hot, oppressively hot. We had not traveled often enough in Washington and Oregon. This cruise not only gave an opportunity to see these states but also ... Read More
We chose a destination with cool weather and new scenery. North Texas summers are hot, oppressively hot. We had not traveled often enough in Washington and Oregon. This cruise not only gave an opportunity to see these states but also the beautiful Columbia River Gorge and the scenic mountains; Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helens, and Mt. Adams. The river is a vista of ever-changing mountainous scenery. We went thru 8 or 9 locks (from sea leve to about 800 feet elevation at Lewiston, Idaho.) Our first day in Astoria, Oregon, was cool enough that I was concerned with not bringing enough warm clothing. The entire trip the morning weather was excellent and as we got further from the coast the afternoon weather got warmer. So if you are looking for a morning shiver with your cup of coffee during July and August, here is the trip. The food, the service, the accommodations, the entertainment, the crowd (over 70) was great. No kids, no drunks, just plain ordinary seniors, dignified, mostly well-traveled and polite. The staff & crew were well trained, very professional and would go out of their way to be friendly. Our first cruise was on the 'old Delta Queen' many years ago and this riverboat cruise was just as memorable as our first. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
We chose this Cruise based upon our satisfaction with the Columbia River Cruise we took last year. The service was superior as was the whole crew. They were all veryfriendly. So we decided to book another cruise with AQ with the main ... Read More
We chose this Cruise based upon our satisfaction with the Columbia River Cruise we took last year. The service was superior as was the whole crew. They were all veryfriendly. So we decided to book another cruise with AQ with the main purpose of goingto Paducah Kentucky to see the Quilt Museum. We were disappointed with the other ports of call as there was not much to do and very little to see, with a few exceptions. Louisville and St Louis. The excursion people did not seem very knowledgable about what wasin the ports. Some of the staff seemed like it was a summer job for them. On the whole, the crew was not very friendly with a few exceptions. No smiles or hello's. Alex the Cruise Director was outstanding and always had a smile. The evening shows entertainment were great with the band and cruise staff. The outside entertainmentthat came on board one of the last evenings was awful and too loud. We only went to the dining room 3 nights. We were at table 70 and the main waitresswas not friendly and rarely cracked a smile. Also the food was only fair. We preferred to go to the buffet where everyone had a smile and was pleasant. The chef who made the omlets was outstanding, not only a good cook but very personable. Kim was also adelight. There were a few others who worked in the same area who were friendly. I just do not know their names. We never met our cabin steward and the room was never made up before 1pm We will not take another American River Cruise nor recommend it to our friends. Personally, my late husband and I took an American Queen trip in 2003 and itwas so much more superior to the won I just took Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
EXCELLENT!!! I LOVE river cruising!!!! We visited the Pacific Northwest, from Spokane to Portland, down the Snake and Columbia Rivers. The American Empress is clean, the service has been superb, all the staff provide super service, the ... Read More
EXCELLENT!!! I LOVE river cruising!!!! We visited the Pacific Northwest, from Spokane to Portland, down the Snake and Columbia Rivers. The American Empress is clean, the service has been superb, all the staff provide super service, the food is good, and the scenery is beautiful. The shore excursions so far have been excellent and very informative. Have enjoyed the Hop On Hop Off bus so I can explore each stop at my own pace. We have encountered a rare glitch....a railroad bridge that is out of order for 48 hours and the boat can't get under it. The cruise staff has done an extraordinary job of arranging alternative activities for us...and even opened up the bar! Fortunately we are stuck in a beautiful and very appealing location...and the boat can be restocked. I like having the open seating for dinner and have consequently met nice people from all over the country. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
Not our favorite cruise, yet, this week's expedition offered rest and beautiful country in Washington, Idaho, and Oregon. The staff bombarded us with picky details and scheduling, more than was necessary. The boat was noisy and the ... Read More
Not our favorite cruise, yet, this week's expedition offered rest and beautiful country in Washington, Idaho, and Oregon. The staff bombarded us with picky details and scheduling, more than was necessary. The boat was noisy and the companionways too chilly. Not many places to retreat and read. Too small for lounge chairs. Food was well prepared—caesar salad, fruit compote, pork roast, burgers, cheesecake—except for the clam chowder, which was malodorous. The riverlorian, Laurence Cotton, gave excellent guidance to Lewis and Clark history and to the background of significant figures. He also answered difficult questions about major events and post-expedition influence. Library contained quality choices of biographical, native American, and pleasure reading. Bar service was friendly and prompt with afternoon snacks—cookies, popcorn, guacamole, chips and dip—but pianist was a self-important clown who drowned out conversation with his "improvisations." Nighttime shows destroyed the serenity. Bus tours offered some excellent commentary and some pointless chatter, occasionally inaccurate. The cruise line does not compare with Voyages to Antiquity. An appealing evening entertainment would take passengers to a casino. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
Everything was wonderful! The embarkation and disembarkation at all ports was great--the crew was helpful (my husband is wheelchair-bound)--but we don't get to use the Grand Staircase (duh!) we had to go around the Dining Room ... Read More
Everything was wonderful! The embarkation and disembarkation at all ports was great--the crew was helpful (my husband is wheelchair-bound)--but we don't get to use the Grand Staircase (duh!) we had to go around the Dining Room through coiled ropes, storage lockers, etc to get to the front of the ship, but even that was interesting to see what they have. The food was delicious! I ate a lot of fish and tried to keep desserts to sorbet (I am maintaining a 60 pound weight loss) so I always added the fresh vegetables, which were different every night (yippee!) We ordered lunch to go when we were on long excursions and they were really nice sandwiches, etc. with carrots and celery when I remembered to request them. The desserts were delicious and a real challenge to eat the whole thing. Yummy! The entertainments was nice--a bit country for my taste, but enjoyable nonetheless. I did one of the games early in the cruise and made several friends that I kept running into, so that was nice. There is a self-service laundry (free) so I didn't have to pack so much and could just do a load when I needed to, nor did I have to pack dirty laundry to take home. I really enjoyed watching the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers as we floated by. It was really lovely! And relaxing. And going through the locks was quite interesting! I also enjoyed reading in the Ladies Lounge--very light and comfortable chairs to sit in. Hint--Don't try to use the computers onboard if you want service. It is really spotty, but I knew that before. I also enjoyed walking around the Promenade Deck each day. People were very nice to cheer me on and I got to see both sides of the ship while I walked. I didn't really use the gym--why a treadmill when the view is fantastic?? HINT--take a sweater or sweatshirt to wear to the Dining Room, Show Room and some of the other public rooms. They are kept at Arctic temperatures!! I wore the provided bathrobe more in public rooms than in my cabin. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
Traveled with friends. Crew was exceptional, from the housekeepers all the way to the captain and everyone inbetween. They made a point of learning names and making sure that we all had a great time. The Cruise directors, Kevin and ... Read More
Traveled with friends. Crew was exceptional, from the housekeepers all the way to the captain and everyone inbetween. They made a point of learning names and making sure that we all had a great time. The Cruise directors, Kevin and Mel were terrific. Our waiter, Bob and his helper, Sarah, were attentive and accommodating. The piano lounge entertainer, Frank Chase was very entertaining. What a talent. The dance party was out of this world, it was especially fun because so many of the crew joined us on the dance floor. The hop-on/hop-off busses were convenient. We will definitely recommend this trip to friends in the future. We hope that this will not be our last riverboat cruise with the American Queen company. We travel with the same friends mostly, and I do believe that we all enjoyed the cruise. It was peaceful and relaxing, offering enough to do without us feeling rushed at all. We were especially pleased that we were not being "sold" on buying stuff all the time the way some ocean going ships do. We were also so pleasantly surprised at the lack of "tourist traps." Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
1. For future clients, please ask them which dinner sitting they want - early (5:15) or late(7:45). I was defaulted to the late but, because I was by myself, I was able to talk to the maitre d' and get my seating changed. 2. Be ... Read More
1. For future clients, please ask them which dinner sitting they want - early (5:15) or late(7:45). I was defaulted to the late but, because I was by myself, I was able to talk to the maitre d' and get my seating changed. 2. Be aware that this is more like an ocean cruise in feeling than a river cruise, even though it is obviously on a river. Several dinner seatings, large (but lovely!) boat, lots of people - about 450. 3. The Hop on and Hop off bus is not necessarily for everyone, especially when waits can be 15-30 minutes out in the very hot and humid South. 4. Memphis trolleys are not working (even though we got a free trolley pass for three days). http://www.downtownmemphis.com/getting-around/downtown-trolley-shuttles/ 5. In order to make my plane reservations back home, I asked if there were any events scheduled for the last day, Wednesday, July 5, I was told no. In fact, it was suggested that we attend the Civil Rights Museum on Wednesday. I couldn't because I had a flight back home. Sending a copy of the itinerary to the participants would be helpful for making travel plans. 6. Although the Sheraton was a truly lovely hotel, it was about as far away from Beale Street and the rest of the downtown area of Memphis. Because the trolleys were not working and cabs were VERY hard to find, those of us who were out on July 4 had to walk back to the hotel in a huge lightening and thunder storm. The hotel is in a very sketchy part of Memphis - lots of homeless - not a good experience. Other than the hotel, there were no restaurants in the area. 7. It would be nice if the cruise company could negotiate rates with the New Orleans hotel for those who would like to go early for a few days. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
Wamted to see USA - usually cruise im Europe. Great Ship - great scenery and the food was good; Loved the entertainment. The only negative was the tour bus. The headrests were too high and viewing out the windows was not good. There ... Read More
Wamted to see USA - usually cruise im Europe. Great Ship - great scenery and the food was good; Loved the entertainment. The only negative was the tour bus. The headrests were too high and viewing out the windows was not good. There was only one entrance and exit on the bus. The guides were all terrific. Staff on board very accomodating. I asked for and ironing board and iron to be brought to my room and it was there immediately; Service was outstanding throughout the whole cruise. People on the cruise were fun to be with. Our cruise had only one child. We have been on over 75 cruises - Europe - Asia - - 6 continents. This was exceptionally good and a joy to be on. I would recommend to anyone wanting a scenic cruise and good accommodations and very friendly and helpful service. We lucked out with fabulous weather. All good. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
Husband and I have enjoyed 32 cruises prior to this one. We’ve been on 30 “ocean”, from Carnival on up to Crystal, which is now our favorite. Celebrity is our second favorite, of course knowing that the two products are quite ... Read More
Husband and I have enjoyed 32 cruises prior to this one. We’ve been on 30 “ocean”, from Carnival on up to Crystal, which is now our favorite. Celebrity is our second favorite, of course knowing that the two products are quite different, so our expectations change from one line to the other. The two European river cruises we’ve taken were both on AmaWaterways and we did love almost everything about them. When a friend asked us to consider cruising the Snake and Columbia Rivers on American Empress, I was hesitant, b/c of the high price tag. I did as much research as I could and decided it sounded like we’d be happy, and luckily that was an accurate assessment. We went east to west, just as Lewis and Clark did on their exploration towards the Pacific Ocean. We flew to Spokane and booked one night prior to the night included by American Queen Steamboat Company. The Historic Davenport is a lovely property and the front desk is very adept at coordinating the night we booked on our own with the night AQSC books for us. Husband had researched restaurants and sightseeing, so we had a great breakfast at Frank’s Diner, walked some of Centennial Trail, saw the waterfalls, saw the Gonzaga campus, and visited the Rose Garden at Manito Park. Dinner at Wild Sage was really great, and a short walk from the Historic Davenport. Check-in for the Empress was easy, in the Davenport the day prior to embarkation, and we found we had been upgraded from Deck Four (with semi-private veranda) to Deck Three with private veranda and 30 extra square feet in the stateroom. Cue ominous music here, but that will wait until embarkation day. A buffet breakfast at the Davenport is included on embarkation day. It was mostly acceptable (although not as nice as the hotel itself) but with one glitch. Breakfast went from 7:30 to 9:30 am. We arrived at 8:30 and the dregs of a big fruit platter were offered. Husband informed a server that the fruit needed to be replenished; the server answered that the entire amount of fruit that had been ordered had already been put out and consumed. What? Either AQSC didn’t do a good job of ordering (they do it every other week, so this would be strange), or the kitchen was being inappropriately parsimonious. Soon, though, a server came over to tell us a new fruit platter was out. Just miscommunication? We’ll never know. We finished up our wandering around in Spokane, shared a sandwich for lunch and endured the wait in the ballroom before our bus was ready for us. The ride from Spokane to Clarkston features some unusual scenery, and there’s a short rest stop during the two-hour ride. The Empress looks lovely waiting there for us and we happily climb the stairs to our newly assigned stateroom, only to find that the two twin beds “cannot” be converted to a queen. It’s very evident from the AQSC web site that some staterooms do indeed have twins that can’t be put together; but I had carefully avoided any of those when booking. Who would’ve thought they’d put an anniversary couple into two twin beds? Eventually it got rectified, but it was an unsettling beginning and we rushed to see the welcome show and unpack before dinner. Thank goodness after that, all went really well, with much that exceeded our expectations. Highlights of this cruise were the staff and crew; dinners; HOHO bus sightseeing. The Cruise Directors were Kevin and Melissa (Mel), a married couple, both of whom are great singers and entertainers and cordial hosts. Hotel Manager Lindy was also a charming hostess and singer/entertainer. There’s a four piece band that does a wonderful job accompanying the shows and playing dance music. One night featured Lindy’s husband Greg as a guest performer. He was my favorite, doing a wide variety of Broadway show tunes along with his own clever costume changes. I cried tears of joy when he finished his show, that’s how great I thought it was. The welcome show is a half hour, while the rest are 45 minutes, but for late dining, the show ends half an hour before dinner, which I found to be a kind of a clumsy timing, when guests tended to flood the lobby area between the dining room and the show lounge. Besides the show theatre, there’s a lounge where a clever pianist, Frank Chase, performs on a nice schedule. That lounge has snacks from 3-5 pm daily, very helpful for those of us with late dining (7:45). Early dining at 5:30 is more popular, but we were very happy with our late dining. Mary the Riverlorian gave fun talks, including a few that competed with sightseeing, and she led a walk to a Lewis and Clark site at one “port”. Mel led a Zumba Gold class (the one that’s good for us old folk) and also a strenuous hike up to the Astoria Column. THANK YOU AQSC AND MEL for the Zumba Gold. There were even two movies shown on board, as well as trivia several times. Truly something for everybody, I thought. Wi-fi plus guest computers were available most of the time but why are the guest computers so excruciatingly slow? (No exercise room on board, but eight walks around the Deck Four outer perimeter equal a mile.) HOHO bus really works nicely, with a local guide giving information and bus drivers who are with us all week (and who share in the required $16.50/person/day gratuity added to your onboard account). The guides may not be consistently great, as I had been told on my bus that entry into the Maritime Museum in Astoria was not included, while my friend on another bus did not hear that same announcement. Otherwise, all entry fees for the stops along the HOHO routes are included. There’s even a local guide up at the Astoria Column to answer questions and to give anybody climbing to the top of the column a balsa wood airplane to send off the top, which AQSC had pre-purchased. Nice attention to detail, AQSC! One private home, I believe in Lewiston, Idaho, is not open to the public, only to AQSC guests. The sightseeing is quite varied and educational. My favorites were the Hanford Reach Interpretive Center and Bonneville Dam; but there were truly many other great sightseeing sites, as well. I could’ve used way more time in every single port, and I needed more time on my premium shore excursion. One day, we came back on the last morning shuttle, having rushed through the two stops we chose, despite having started on the earliest HOHO. We got back at 12:55 pm and Carmen the maître d’ closed the door to the main dining room in our faces (lunchtime until 1 pm). Wouldn’t you know? That day had two things we love on the lunch menu, never to be heard from again. It’s Wednesday, if you’re curious and want to make sure you don’t miss lunch in the main dining room, which was fried oysters or a Reuben. Upstairs in the River Grill (open for lunch later than the main dining room) we had nice soup, salad and entrees, but neither the oysters nor the Reuben were on offer there. Dinners were quite delicious, with many choices. We found a favorite waitress, Sandra, and her assistant, Sarah; Carmen the maître d’ accommodated us every evening by giving us one of Sandra’s tables. Included wines were ok. Soft drinks and bottled water, cappuccino and etc. are also included throughout the cruise. All servers were very good and personable, sometimes with a quiet personality, sometimes with a happily boisterous one. Every guest is entitled to two dinners at the alternative dining venue with a fixed menu nightly. The lobster was great but they RAN OUT OF BOTH DESSERTS the night we went. We cancelled our second reservation when we saw that the main dining room’s menu was quite appealing to us. Breakfast and lunch were more disappointing. Although we usually like to eat al fresco, it was sometimes a bit warm outside, plus the burger couldn’t be cooked any temperature less than medium well. While the soup and the salad were nice, we preferred the main dining room lunch, where the soups were piping hot even though sometimes fries weren’t. Breakfast was more frustrating, with poached eggs and even scrambled eggs (requested to be cooked gently) coming from the kitchen quite overcooked, and toast and potatoes were always cold. Our four friends all enjoyed breakfast and lunch at the River Grill, with one mentioning the made-to-order omelettes, and one choosing to take the meal back to their Deck Four semi-private veranda, which happened to be shadier than the aft outside tables, much of the time. Comparing AQSC’s Empress to our two AmaWaterways experiences, we give Ama better marks for dining, especially breakfast and lunch, and we give Empress better marks for entertainment and the included sightseeing, which really works nicely. We had used Lyft from Spokane airport to the hotel (less than half the cost of the hotel’s $25 transfer) and we also used it at debarkation to go pick up our rental car at a hotel not far from the highway from Vancouver, WA, into Portland. It worked great. Then we headed out to Crater Lake where half the road was closed because they’d had 10% more snow than usual this winter (usually they get 43 FEET!). We dined in the lodge where one of the five entrees was “sold out” and so was the bread!! I guess it isn’t easy, running a restaurant? Back in Portland the next day, we loved the rose garden in Washington Park and visited the very moving Oregon Holocaust Memorial, and our dinner at Le Pigeon was as pleasing as Wild Sage had been nine nights before. We stayed at a Fairfield by Marriott near the Portland airport, and it was a lovely property we’d recommend to anybody. Portland Airport is fun, with great shops and food. Although the price tag is high, American Empress delivers a very classy product with a steady diet of fascinating sightseeing and five superb hosts/entertainers who add much to the week onboard. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
I have dreamed of cruising onboard the Delta Queen/Mississippi Queen/American Queen since the 1970s when I first saw the Delta Queen on the Ohio River. For me, this was a bucket list item and, once I booked my trip, I spent many hours ... Read More
I have dreamed of cruising onboard the Delta Queen/Mississippi Queen/American Queen since the 1970s when I first saw the Delta Queen on the Ohio River. For me, this was a bucket list item and, once I booked my trip, I spent many hours pouring over everything I could find about the boat so I wouldn't miss anything once onboard. I really thought I had over-hyped myself and that it couldn't possibly live up to my dreams but it did. The boat was beautiful, the bed was comfortable, the food was delicious and the service was something special. To top it off, the weather was beautiful. The Steamboat Syncopators and American Queen performing ensemble were so talented and, when they started into their Dixieland piece, I teared up for being so excited. We cruised from Memphis to New Orleans and the ports were wonderful. The hop-on, hop-off bus really makes it easy to enjoy the site seeing. The only drawback to the trip had nothing to do with the boat and her team, it was some ungrateful people who seemed bent on complaining about everything. I found a way after day one to avoid them. I, for one, am so grateful to the staff of the American Queen for making my time with them a dream come true. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
This was our first American river boat cruise. We have done Europe and Russia. We were very pleased with the boat and the cruise overall. We left from Spokane where we did a pre-cruise tour of the city and then went by bus to Richland ... Read More
This was our first American river boat cruise. We have done Europe and Russia. We were very pleased with the boat and the cruise overall. We left from Spokane where we did a pre-cruise tour of the city and then went by bus to Richland where we embarked. The cruise was to be from the Snake River to the Columbia River ending in Vancouver, WA. However, due to excessive rains and flooding, the Snake River portion was not possible, so we started in Richland, WA. Despite this disappointment, it was a wonderful cruise. The very pleasant and attentive staff, comfortable and clean cabin and excellent meals made it a thoroughly enjoyable experience. THe entertainment was top-notch for such a small boat. We had a large cabin with a private verandah, which was so pleasant. We would highly recommend this cruise and this company. In fact, we just booked a future cruise while on board. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
I was expecting a hot steamy average cruise. But I was wrong, dead wrong. This cruise was as classy and as pleasing as the major cruise lines can offer on a medium size boat. The food was American fare and it was just to our liking. ... Read More
I was expecting a hot steamy average cruise. But I was wrong, dead wrong. This cruise was as classy and as pleasing as the major cruise lines can offer on a medium size boat. The food was American fare and it was just to our liking. Nothing European fancy and nothing exotic it was just what Americans like. The cabins are small, but the newer ships are squeezing the cabins smaller and smaller. So we enjoyed the size of the cabin. The size of the bathroom was bigger than on some cruise ships. The amenities were generous and the cabin steward was the best we have experienced. All of the staff actually seemed to enjoy working there. Frank Delreo of NCL says "Happy employees make happy customers". He is one hundred percent right. The American Queen's employees really seemed to like their job working on the cruise ship and the customers really enjoyed the cruise. It makes a lot of sense. Our cabin steward, Jesse of section 4.1 was outstanding. I never found her without a smile on her face. Remember the cabin walls are thin so bring ear plugs. Cruising down the Mississippi is calm and smooth. So there will never be any concern about rough seas. It is like a smooth highway of water. The entertainment was very good. The musicians and singers were excellent. There were two main seating's for dinner and then two main shows every night to accommodate. Most of the cruisers were sixty to eighty years, but there were several young couples. It looked like most everyone enjoyed the situation. My wife wanted to see as many plantations as we could see so we opted for all of the plantation tours. My favorite was at Natchez when we were most graciously received into the home of Ginger Hyland. We were shown around a huge home and then invited to a fabulous southern cooked dinner. Excellent. We highly recommend the American Queen Steamboat cruise down the lower Mississippi. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
We have family in the Pacific Northwest and wanted to both see them and tour the region. We are in our seventies and found most of the passengers just around our age bracket. The boat is easy to both board and get around. The hotel ... Read More
We have family in the Pacific Northwest and wanted to both see them and tour the region. We are in our seventies and found most of the passengers just around our age bracket. The boat is easy to both board and get around. The hotel accommodations before the cruise were quite good. Clean quiet room. The check-in procedure went well. The boat was close enough to the hotel that we could walk to it. The most outstanding feature that I remember about the boat is that it had the loudest flushing toilets I have ever heard. I've been on other cruises and have used the facilities. But this was a roaring beast! As to the ports of call, I realize that weather is a contributing factor in allowing the rivers to be navigable. I find that usually some adjustment has to be made as to itinerary. The company knows this as it happens often. Yet the American Empress seems to be caught off guard by it. On our next to the last day we were to cruise up the Snake River. This couldn't happen and we were left at a industrial dock. The speed boat trip down the Snake became a bus trip to Walla Walla. The company could have accommodated the boat trip, but told the speed boat company that they had something else planned for its passengers. As for the food, there is certainly enough of it and, as cruises go, it is good. But practically every traveler on this cruise was hovering ten years on either side of sixty. Food was entirely too salty for this clientele. Also, desserts were never printed on the menu. I suspect this was because they ran out of certain offerings. The scenery was absolutely breath-taking and the riverlorian a highlight of the cruise. He knew both his geography and history. But, all in all, it was a mediocre cruise at best. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
This river cruise is quiet and enjoyable. Due to the vegetation and the dykes, there is very little to see unless you get off the boat each day. Pro - The American Queen is a clean, well groomed boat. Our cabin was on the 5th deck and ... Read More
This river cruise is quiet and enjoyable. Due to the vegetation and the dykes, there is very little to see unless you get off the boat each day. Pro - The American Queen is a clean, well groomed boat. Our cabin was on the 5th deck and it was everything you could want on a 7 day cruise. The crew is well trained, attentive to the needs of the passengers and seemed to really enjoy their jobs. I would strongly recommend this cruse for individuals who enjoy a resort environment vacation and have little interest in leaving the boat. Con - For those individuals who will be using the boat as a moving luxury hotel and enjoy taking shore excursions, you might want to reconsider taking this cruise. We signed up for 8 premium tours, cancelled one and had problems on 3 of the other 7. 1. The King of Memphis Tour - We left the hotel at 10 AM for a boat sponsored Graceland tour. Upon arriving at Graceland our guide told us we were on a tight schedule and needed to back on the bus no later than 1 PM. He also inferred he would leave anyone who was late. (This sounded good to us.) Upon arriving at approximately 1015 AM, we first viewed a short move and then stood in line for approximately 80 minutes before boarding the shuttle to Elvis's house. Upon arriving at the house, we were held on the shuttle for another 20 minutes (1210 PM). Most of us realized we would not be able to visit his house, wait in line for another shuttle and get back to the bus by 1 PM. For this reason we stayed on the shuttle and returned to the bus early (A WASTED DAY) Upon telling an American Queen Excursion member of the problem, it took them 4 days to finally agree to refund our money for the tour. The decision came in the form of a letter from a VP which suggest the individuals on board the boat have little if any authority when making decisions regarding excursions. Suggestion - Arrive a day early in Memphis and book your own VIP tour of Graceland. 2. Redemption and Rehabilitation at Angola Prison - St. Francisvlle, La. When we arrived at St. Francisville the Mississippi River was very high and we were forced to dock on the other side of the river. This should not have created much of a problem for shore excursion since the buses used by them follow the boat from site to site. While the excursion to Angola Prison was interesting and worth taking, the problems occurred upon returning to St. Francisville. Since passengers were being ferried further than normal, there were longer waits between the various on and off sites. Because of this an individual from excursion asked our driver to drive by each of the 8 sites, before returning to the ship. The driver refused her request. For this reason, not wishing to being stranded up to 45 minutes at each drop off site, we decided not to see St. Francisville and to stay on the bus and return to the boat. Again this is an example of how little authority the Excursion Staff has. 3. Grand Southern Plantation Tour - Baton Rouge, La. Our tour arrived at the Houmas House early and we waited 75 minutes for our tour to begin. Since there were 49 of us, we were divided into two groups. After the first group of 25 left, the second group waited over 30 minutes for the next tour to begin (a total of 105 minutes.) By then outside individuals were joining our private group. Since the rooms in Houmas House are small, groups exceeding 40 have difficulties seeing, hearing, etc. While the American Queen Excursion member supervising this tour saw what was happening, nothing was done to correct the problem. Again, it was hard to tell if this was lack of interest or lack of authority. Upon returning to the boat we were told by a staff member of the American Queen, the excursion staff worked for another company (the American Queen sublet all shore excursion functions to this company.) This is very misleading since shore excursion individuals wear the same uniforms, have a booth on the ship, the buses are decorated with American Cruise ship art, etc. After this last experience, we begin to realize how important cruises with well run shore excursions are to us. For this reason we cancelled our up coming Columbia/Snake River cruise. This is a real shame since river cruising the USA could be a great vacation experience with opportunities to see various areas not normally visited. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
This cruise line makes all kinds of promises and then backs out once they have your money. We paid out almost $30,000 for 3 suites and got bupkes. The bathrooms were so small as to be laughable. You could not turn around in the shower. ... Read More
This cruise line makes all kinds of promises and then backs out once they have your money. We paid out almost $30,000 for 3 suites and got bupkes. The bathrooms were so small as to be laughable. You could not turn around in the shower. The maître D was the most ignorant and unpleasant we have ever encountered. We have taken many cruises including ocean and river cruises in Europe and river cruises in U.S. This line is beyond description. SAVE YOUR MONEY Take another cruise line. River cruising is really great fun and very relaxing when cruise line knows what it's doing We also had to walk several blocks from the hotel to the dock for our embarkation. The so-called riverlorian was a little old lady who read from notes and obviously did not know her subject or the river very well. The so-called entertainment was a young husband and wife who sang and tried to entertain but fell miserably short. They did however lead several exercise walks in several ports of call. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
We choose this because we wanted a River cruise after having many ocean cruises. We have never been to Washington or Oregon. It is for older individuals with no children on board. Cabin was adequate size. Extras- robes with slippers, ... Read More
We choose this because we wanted a River cruise after having many ocean cruises. We have never been to Washington or Oregon. It is for older individuals with no children on board. Cabin was adequate size. Extras- robes with slippers, fridge, tv, audio speaker of 1 music station and a flip switch to B to hear Riverlorian when speaking about history or places to visit. The ship, is very clean. The dining really tasty food with a good selection of choice. The entertainment- is small cosy and of fine quality. Lindy, Mel and Kevin do a variety of small scale well done performances along with the quality 4pc band.Activities on board Frank is a talented piano bar player, small scale games and activities, Dance nite was nice, Champain toast to the crew- no one made a toast!, most off boat, varied selection, adaptions per safe water travel. Pendelton coulda had 2 days Wool city,underground city subway+more,Keith Madison our local tour guide was the best, lots of museums and National parks to see at different stops. If you go make sure to look for the great local art galleries right off the boat that they don't mention, good stuff and great gifts. They have a hoponhopoff bus situation with safe drivers.So much to see in constrict of time, you do get a taste of everything to leave you wanting more. You get a daily map/list of activities-only ask percer for info- crew clueless. Even so they missed a variety of things. Astoria has a wonderful trolley(we didnt get on). Some crew were amazing. Want to eat in the Grill (2 nights only) contact Lisa Head waiter, have issues- as we did, requesting to be seated WITH people, contact Carman Head Matradee.Angie was the 1 server in the bar. She works hard. Valerie also on excursions. More to do than meets the eye. So why not 5 stars-there are some areas lacking. They do not have radios or phones to contact crew/staff when needed. A simple but important fix. Twice I had genuine valid upsetting issues trying to catch up with scheduled events where a simple phone/radio connection (COMMUNICATON) would have solved the problems quickly and efficiently. Instead of making me upset to a point of outburst anger and not feeling well for a good 1/2 hour after. The highlite for me was going thru the LOCKS-1 was 113 feet with a guilotine opening at 3 am. Very cool though, smooth sailing on river waters no sea sickness. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
I chose this cruise for two reasons 1) I had traveled on the American Queen and had a great time and 2) the Snake and Columbia Rivers were places I wanted to explore. That being said, one must be philosophical about river travel. This ... Read More
I chose this cruise for two reasons 1) I had traveled on the American Queen and had a great time and 2) the Snake and Columbia Rivers were places I wanted to explore. That being said, one must be philosophical about river travel. This spring the water in the Snake has been too high for some weeks. Unfortunately, mine was one of those weeks. So two of the reasons I signed up for the tour, the Snake River and the Dalles were cancelled. However, this cruise still gets 5 stars because everything that is the control of the on board staff and crew is perfect! The food, the service, the boat, the entertainment cannot be topped. Our Riverlorian, Laurence, was outstanding. The entertainment crew was top notch. In the evenings when I should have been watching the river go by, I was enjoying the entertainment at both ends of the boat. There are not enough superlative words to describe the level of talent on the Empress. The size of the boat is perfect.It is smaller than the AQ but so intimate. After two or three days the crew knows your name, and you have made friends with folks from all over. A few tips:1) If you are traveling with a friend and sharing a room, see if you can get a room where the beds are perpendicular to each other. If I had known this was option I would have requested it as the rooms are very small for two people to move around in. 2) For those of us mechanically challenged, a card in near the shower with instructions as to how to operate it would have been very helpful. 3) Get to know the deck crew. I was lucky to have met Terry. From him I learned that to see one of the best river lock/dam systems anywhere in the world, the John Day, I would need to be at the bow of the boat at 3am. He arranged a wake up call and I was there with a few other hearty folks. It was amazing! 4) Get a bike at the ports where you can bike along the river. 5) On a rainy day, get the art brochure from the pursers office and take yourself on a tour of the art on the boat. It is really nice stuff. Shore Excursions and Ports of Call: One suggestion for the AQ company, is for more time in Astoria. One day was not nearly enough. We spent two days in a smaller port where there was much less to see. Would I go again? YES but only if I could be sure that I would be able to be on the Snake River and see the Dalles. Time of year might make a difference and I would check on that before I booked. I embarked in Spokane a lovely city, with a fine book store with craft shop attached. Loved the Davenport Hotel. I disembarked in Portland. Both processes went smoothly. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
I chose this US waterways cruise because 1) I had never done a river cruise before, 2) it is fully in the USA so no worries about difficulty returning to my homeland, and 3) a steamboat is intriguing. The American Empress is an intimate ... Read More
I chose this US waterways cruise because 1) I had never done a river cruise before, 2) it is fully in the USA so no worries about difficulty returning to my homeland, and 3) a steamboat is intriguing. The American Empress is an intimate boat with a capacity of approximately 220 passengers. It offers beautifully appointed cabins with private verandas. Housekeeping is personalized and the same attendant serves you all week. Embarkation is as easy as can be with luggage awaiting your arrival in the cabin. Once aboard, a presentation is offered to acquaint the travelers to the location of key venues and to meet the staff serving you during the cruise. The ship is easy to navigate, elevators and stairways easily visible, clean environment, and comfortable areas to meet or have conversations. Dining is spectacular with a more upscale dining room as well as a casual lounge. Both serve a variety of menu items and the food is very well prepared. Delicious! The staff obviously enjoy their jobs and interact with all passengers in a friendly, playful yet professional manner. Absolutely delightful. Ports of call are interesting, based in history of the area, and shore excursions deepen one's knowledge of the area. The on board Riverlorian also details what you are seeing as the cruise follows the Columbia River. This is not a cruise for youngsters (one must be 18 to be on board). It is definitely primarily an informational cruise. The on board entertainment is twice nightly, delightful, fun, and engaging. I would, and will, go again! A fabulous trip, fun and enjoyable. LOVED it all! Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
Exciting itinerary that should have been the hi light of our music route tour of the southern states but proved anything but. Chose an A grade cabin which was tired and very small - thank heavens we had our own balcony. Clean and well ... Read More
Exciting itinerary that should have been the hi light of our music route tour of the southern states but proved anything but. Chose an A grade cabin which was tired and very small - thank heavens we had our own balcony. Clean and well tended by our cabin steward who was delightful. Entertainment was good if a little narrow in scope relying on a good band and song and dance group. The Mark Twain evening however was particularly poor. The dining experience was particularly poor. Some off the worst service experienced anywhere. Dirty cutlery, table for 4 with 3 chairs, (we sorted it), teapot with no lid just placed on table with no explanation, not all but most waiting staff rude and disinterested, food quality very occasional good, generally very average and sometimes downright poor. Finally one of the worst value for money experiences we have had - big mistake. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
. We particularly enjoyed the entertainment and felt that the actors and musicians were superior to nearly all the acts we have experienced on many cruise ships. The service, from the all American Staff, was mostly very good and the ... Read More
. We particularly enjoyed the entertainment and felt that the actors and musicians were superior to nearly all the acts we have experienced on many cruise ships. The service, from the all American Staff, was mostly very good and the food was plentiful and good, without being outstanding with the exception of the cookies to die for. The front porch cafe was often busy at peak times but we were always able to find somewhere to sit and there were plenty of places where you could sit and watch the Mississippi go by. The hop on hop off bus run by the ship in every port of call was well organised and very good: it gave us flexibility and an idea of the places worth a visit. In short we had a most enjoyable trip: any issues, and there were a few, were dealt with quickly and effectively with the minimum of fuss. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
Our American Queen voyage from New Orleans to Memphis and back was something we anticipated for close to five months. I read every thing about the trip on Cruise Critic and agree with pretty much all the positive comments. We were ... Read More
Our American Queen voyage from New Orleans to Memphis and back was something we anticipated for close to five months. I read every thing about the trip on Cruise Critic and agree with pretty much all the positive comments. We were extremely fortunate to have Shedrik as our steward! Twice he took the time to make animals out of our bath towels and he shared his knowledge and observations on the river freely. He truly was a joy to talk with. Rather than repeat what others have already written, I’d like to offer some advice I wish I’d had when preparing for the trip. The side of the boat you are on determines your cruising views. If you want to look at the shoreline and be on the city side of most stops, then you want to be on the right side the boat, facing forward. If you’d enjoy looking at other river traffic, then go for the left side. Either way, take binoculars so you can actually “see” things. (They do not sell them in the gift shop and I had no luck trying to buy a pair in the stops we made. A staff member kindly lent us his pair on the return.) Bring a small flashlight as staterooms are very, very dark at night and you’ll need one to keep from stubbing your toes if you get up during the night. Also a clock if you’re used to having one. (Amenities are fabulous and include conditioner and a good hair dryer.) You’ll also want ear plugs for sleeping. Television and other sounds carry through the walls. If you have trouble with the safe, ask for help. The safe man is nice, knows what he’s doing and will give you a lesson. If you love shopping and shore excursions, take the downriver cruises where you’ll have several hours at each stop. If you want to watch the river and little else, then go upriver where stops are limited to around four hours because the boat is going against the current. There’s a free, onboard laundry with washers and dryers and soap is provided. The best wi-fi is on the tour buses. The onboard computers are painful to deal with, frustrating, sadly outdated and there's only four of them. The one unpleasant experience we had, and it came close to ruining the entire trip, came our first night. I’d requested the later seating and after looking at the brochures and peeking down into the J.M. White dining room from the Mark Twain Gallery, I was excited about our first evening meal. My husband wore a sport coat and tie and I wore a black dress with jacket and we went down to check in. Staff came up, looked at our ID numbers, checked the list and then say, “Oh, you need to wait for the maitre ‘d.” This happened three times, which made me wonder what our problem was. The maitre ‘d appeared and ushered us away from the White dining room to the further most corner of the adjacent lounge to a table set for eight. I was so upset I was on the verge of tears — what had we done to merit this banishment? We booked our trip some five months in advance, in the higher price range and we were dressed more nicely than the majority of the other passengers, some in shorts, being ushered to tables in the main dining room. Fortunately, a ship’s officer on duty noticed my distress and said something to the maitre ‘d, who came back and said he had found seating for us in the dining room after all. It was a table for two by a window. The view was obstructed by deck machinery and adjacent to the serving station, but we didn’t care. I was relieved to be in the elegant dining room and we found our servers to be fabulous. Not wanting to repeat our unfortunate experience on the return trip, my husband spoke to the maitre ‘d and asked if we could have the same table on our return trip. He said, “I can make that happen.” The next night, he was there to greet us and my husband slipped him a $20., and we were ushered to our same table Unfortunately, I’d filled out the guest questionnaire on the first leg of the trip recounting our initial experience and obviously, my comment had been shared with the maitre ‘d. On the second to last night of our return trip we walked into the dining room to find our table given to another couple. Our servers rushed over and said they had assured their boss that we made every dinner and would be coming, but he insisted on giving the table to others. He glared at us and finally someone found us another table. Our final night we made it a point to be there when the doors opened so we would have our table. This experience was so much the opposite of everything and everyone else on the American Queen. Had it not been for that unpleasant beginning, I’d say this was my favorite vacation ever. However, it cast a shadow over the trip and still mars my memories. If it happens to you, you might consider being ready with a tip to see if the maitre ‘d can do better. There were available seats inside the dining room at the large tables every single night, so there is always space, especially if you don’t mind meeting new people. In fact, we had expected to share a table -- just not in the lounge. Other advice I would offer is: In Vicksburg, stop by Wellingham’s for great women's clothing selection in all sizes and affordable jewelry and the Coca Cola Museum memorabilia is fun. The Old Courthouse Museum is an amazing collection of collections and worth the time. In Natchez visit all the big houses. There’s time even going upriver. Have lunch at the King’s Tavern and pop into The Towers gift shop for some unusual offerings. If you love antiques, definitely visit Mrs. Holder’s Antiques — some of the jewelry is museum quality and Mrs. Holder and her staff couldn’t be more gracious and kind. In St. Francisville visit the Myrtles Plantation first and then go back to the shops, as it wasn’t open in the afternoons on our trips. Grandmother’s Buttons is a definite must and the art and antiques mall had some real finds on both my visits. In Baton Rouge the Capitol Park Museum is worth the time, especially the Mardi Gras area. Premium excursions we took included one to Laura Plantation, which was well worth it. The Swamp Tour was a bit disappointing, perhaps because we have plenty of raccoons in our own neighborhood and all the alligators were small. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
The cruise was wonderful...Our hotel accomadations at embarkation were very nice, and very comfortable. The ship docked right outside the lobby for easy access. Once onboard, the experience was better than expected... The crew were very ... Read More
The cruise was wonderful...Our hotel accomadations at embarkation were very nice, and very comfortable. The ship docked right outside the lobby for easy access. Once onboard, the experience was better than expected... The crew were very friendly and helpful. We could not have asked for a better experience... And oh yeah.. The food was fabulous!. Our servers in the main dining hall could not have been more accomadating. And did I mention the FOOD WAS FABULOUS! Our cabin steward was very helpful, and was able to help with most of our questions regarding the ship. The evening entertainment was varied, and although not all of it appealed to me, there was no doubting the talent of the musicians and entertainers. Very classy... I would definitely do another American Queen cruise of the Mississippi and would I would highly recommend the cruise to anyone looking for an alternative to an ocean cruise. Fantastic! Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
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