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105 American Queen Steamboat Company North America River Cruise Reviews

After an interesting three days in New Orleans, it was time to join the American Queen – the largest steamboat ever built. Check in at the Hyatt Regency Hotel was a little cumbersome and whilst in theory a very good idea, in reality did ... Read More
After an interesting three days in New Orleans, it was time to join the American Queen – the largest steamboat ever built. Check in at the Hyatt Regency Hotel was a little cumbersome and whilst in theory a very good idea, in reality did not really work as planned. However, once on board the boat, my luggage was already in my cabin. My cabin was cosy and very comfortable. My private veranda was particularly atmospheric. The American Queen caters very well for older guests and surprisingly well for disabled guests, with wide walkways and two elevators. Although there are no children’s facilities, there are family suites and the children on my cruise seemed perfectly content. In terms of atmosphere, the multi national guests are served by an all-American staff who were utterly faultless – perhaps due to a generous off-and-on working pattern. This is perhaps best felt in the dining experience. There’s the outdoor River Grill, the delightfully relaxed buffets of the Front Porch Café or, for a more considered experience, the J.W. White Dining Room. This being America, expect only the most generous of portions. Meals are all washed down with complimentary wine and beer while teas, coffees, juices, soft drinks and bottled water are included throughout the cruise. In between stops, there’s a whole host of activities to keep you busy. A true standout is the palatial Grand Saloon; standing at two decks tall it mirrors the small-town opera houses of the 19th century with detail modelled after Washington DC’s famous Ford’s Theatre – the site of Lincoln’s assassination. Here, the entertainment is uniformly excellent with the six-piece band – ‘The Steamboat Syncopators’ – matched only by a superbly talented four-piece song and dance ensemble. In fact, you’ll be treated to performances throughout the ship’s bars and lounges with the live music of the Engine Room playing until the last person went to bed. There was plenty more during the day, including an on-board ‘riverlorian’ – Bobby Durham. A published author on the subject, his expert lectures, quizzes and tales bring to life Victorian river life on the Mississippi. When he’s not giving lectures, he can regularly be found in the Chart Room, poring over old maps and discussing stories with guests. For something more active, there’s a well-equipped gym, an outdoor heated pool and complimentary bicycles and helmets are available to borrow at each port of call. But the voyage is all about the easy life; the dress code is country club casual, the library loans out Mark Twain and the American Queen travels at a nap-inducing 14 miles per hour. The route Our first port of call was Oak Alley, Louisiana and one of the Deep South’s most impressive sugar plantations. Named for its quarter-mile walkway of 300-year-old oak trees that all but form a tunnel of pure green, Oak Alley is a truly evocative destination. It’s a chance to gain a full appreciation of the Deep South’s chequered past from the perspective of the slaves as well as the landed gentry, with visits to both the ‘Big House’ mansion and tours of the grounds. From here, we continued to St. Francisville – the oldest town in Louisiana’s Florida Parishes. Just two miles long by two miles wide, it’s an immersive collection of 19th-century antebellum architecture and felt for all the world like being part of a bygone era. While excursions at each port are included – and aided by hop-on and hop-off coaches – I chose to take the premium option here with a visit to Angola Prison. This turned into the most memorable and humbling part of my whole trip. Once America’s most dangerous penitentiary, today it’s known as a model facility that takes great pride on the faith-based rehabilitation of its inmates – most of whom are serving life sentences. We were taken behind the barbed wire for an up-close look at the prison and the chance to meet and hear stories from its ‘lifers’. It’s no exaggeration to say that this was an utterly inspirational experience. Our next stop – on Thanksgiving no less – was Natchez. Once one of the richest towns in America, its historic wealth – predicated on cotton farming – can still be seen in yet more grand, antebellum homes. It’s the ideal spot for a horse-and-carriage ride. It also presented some of the best landscapes of the trip, with bluff-top views stretching for 30 miles along the Mississippi. Further heritage can be found at next-door Vicksburg, its high bluffs forming typical Natchez Indian territory that overlook the river. Unsurprisingly, it was the battlefield for many an American Civil War skirmish – something brought to life by our guides. Our last stop before final disembarkation was Tunica. While Natchez counted its riches Tunica was once the state’s poorest county. Today, however, casinos have turned the city’s fortunes around and our stop afforded us the chance to witness American glam at its glitziest. It’s worth noting that this was an amended route, with low water levels turning us away from Helena, Arkansas. All in all, a wonderful and very unique cruise experience, which I cannot rate too highly. A perfect choice to allow non driving visitors to the Deep South to experience an interesting taste of 'small' town America. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
We had sailed on this ship in 2006, when she was the Empress of the North, owned by a now defunct company. American Queen Steamboat Company has truly done an EXCELLENT job of refurbishing her. We had also sailed on the American Queen R/T ... Read More
We had sailed on this ship in 2006, when she was the Empress of the North, owned by a now defunct company. American Queen Steamboat Company has truly done an EXCELLENT job of refurbishing her. We had also sailed on the American Queen R/T from New Orleans in 2014 so wanted to compare the two ships. They are quite different. The Astoria Dining Room has been redone and is quite elegant now and the River Grill is a nice change from the 'parlor' style eatery that was there before. The downside is that because the walls are made of glass panels that can be completely opened in nice weather, it still allows the cold weather to permeate the windows during cold weather (which we had in November). Service was excellent in both. Food in River Grill was set menu and limited to 2 dining experiences per cabin. Food in Astoria Dining Room changed nightly and was excellent - made to order and nice options. We had lunch in both dining room and buffet and both were good. River Grill buffet is a little weird in that the entrance door splits the room and the buffet line, so there can be some interesting 'traffic jams' between guests entering the room and guests going from one side of the line to the other, but not really an issue. Fresh fruit available 24/7 as was coffee and specialty drinks and soft ice cream (and the ice cream machine only broke down once during our cruise!) Hop On Hop Off Excursions were excellent - drivers VERY pleasant and cheery, local guides were very informative, but as always, they're all different, but all of them were knowledgeable, just differently. We only did one premium excursion - the pre-cruise tour of Portland and they just tried to do too much in 3 hours, so we really didn't get to see much of anything, so a little disappointing. The pre-night at the Hilton was a nice touch and made embarkation VERY smooth. The Riverlorian, Laurence, was VERY passionate about the river and had some excellent talks on Lewis and Clark and the area. Lindy and Craig, the cruise directors/entertainers were just AMAZINGLY talented. They did routines most nights and then each did a solo night, showcasing their individual talents - WOW! Eight laps around the top deck equaled a mile, so there were a number of guests up there getting in their mile(s). For us, just walking up the stairs was sufficient! haha The lounge was a little weird and difficult to avoid getting behind a pole and just with barrel backed chairs set up on a dance floor/carpeted area. They even had Kaliber, an alcohol removed beer by Guiness as well as O'Douls, but since we don't drink having Kaliber was an EXCELLENT non-alcoholic beer (O'Douls is just awful, so it's SOOO nice that they have a decent non-alcoholic option) They even had non-alcoholic wine too! Turns out this was a wine cruise, so there were additional wine tastings, but again, since we didn't drink, did not partake. The Paddlewheel lounge was the best public space for just kicking back. Comfy chairs and couches with lots of puzzles, games and reading materials available and a bartender available all day and night. Popcorn available all day also. Small gift shop with a nice selection of items. Age group was 60+ Most were well traveled and many had been on river cruises in Europe but wanting something close to home as their health was a bit challenged, but they were still going, so that was good. The captain's wife and 7 year old joined us the last two nights, so that was cute to watch them. VERY family oriented crew - you could tell they liked each other and worked as a team. Overall, an excellent cruise. Nothing really stands out as extra good or extra bad, but the weather cooperated and we didn't see rain at all until the last day. The service in the dining as well as our FABULOUS cabin steward were excellent (we joked with her daily so that was fun bantering back and forth). Everyone involved truly DID work as a team so everything ran smoothly. Even when things were a bit off, they covered it well and no-one missed out. I would recommend for older, more subdued guests as nightlife was rather tame, but still good. I would definitely go again! Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
Over a year ago, I was invited by friends to join them on this cruise. They have done many excursions of one kind or another, but not I. We chose the Memphis to New Orleans because of the cities and length of the cruise. We spent time in ... Read More
Over a year ago, I was invited by friends to join them on this cruise. They have done many excursions of one kind or another, but not I. We chose the Memphis to New Orleans because of the cities and length of the cruise. We spent time in both cities, making our vacation about 2 weeks. AQ provides clear succinct instructions and information both ahead of your cruise and every day. Even a shy novice would have no problem understanding directions or finding their way. When I asked questions, I received pleasant easy answers. The boat is immaculate, beautifully decorated, and contains many antiques and historical information regarding the Mississippi and steamboats. The food was marvelous, the cabin cozy and clean, the excursions diverse and well planned, and the entertainment fantastic--great choreography. I particularly liked the second deck and all the quiet areas to relax and muse. I would jump at the chance to go again! Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
A wonderful look at America's heartland on a beautiful steamboat! Food is excellent - the grilled salmon was moist, and the bread pudding with whiskey sauce a real treat! The cabins are clean, and chocolates on one's bedtime ... Read More
A wonderful look at America's heartland on a beautiful steamboat! Food is excellent - the grilled salmon was moist, and the bread pudding with whiskey sauce a real treat! The cabins are clean, and chocolates on one's bedtime pillow is a sweet touch. The Hop-on, Hop-off busses transport passengers to amazing historic towns and villages. Tours of historic homes and museums, along with access to local businesses, make each stop a desirable destination. Daily talks by the Riverlorian provide local history and geography; access to a lending library, binoculars, and bicycles provide additional activities. The staff offers top-notch customer service - it is especially helpful that housekeeping, wait staff, and the boat crew are willing to stop and answer questions regarding any aspect of steamboating. Whether socializing on the Front Porch, watching superb talent in the Grand Saloon, or enjoying quiet moments on the deck watching the river and the ever-changing scenery, it's a cruise that creates fun moments and very happy memories. This is my fourth cruise on the American Queen & I wouldn't change a thing!! Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
The brochure promised a week on the upper Mississippi in some comfort on a genuine stern-wheel riverboat with evening entertainment from the 50s-60s big band era. It didn't disappoint. Food and service were excellent and our top deck ... Read More
The brochure promised a week on the upper Mississippi in some comfort on a genuine stern-wheel riverboat with evening entertainment from the 50s-60s big band era. It didn't disappoint. Food and service were excellent and our top deck cabin spacious and comfortable. The evening entertainment was of a surprisingly high standard - a group of four talented singers and dancers who featured in shows of a West End/Broadway standard. The promised big band was an eleven piece live band of musicians playing Glen Miller / Duke Ellington style arrangements for dancing or just listening to. They were first class. We cruised from Memphis to St Louis: the river is wide and there is not a lot to see on the banks, but for us the experience of being there was enough. The hop-on hop-off bus service at the riverside towns was efficient and for those with a genuine interest in American history a great help in getting to museums and places of local interest. This a not a trip for those who want to spend time shopping as most of the shopping in the US is now done at 'out of town shopping centres' and the Main Streets are quiet, populated by hairdressers, cafes, second-hand shops etc. We were two Brits doing a trip designed for a mainly American clientel. We didn't enjoy the day trip to Graceland (from Memphis) which we thought had become a tourist theme park - too crowded, expensive and a bit tacky, We complained about having to put hot buffet breakfast food on cold plates - but this seems common in the US and was a small issue. It was a great week and a unique experience. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
The cruise was great. The food was excellent. I can not say enough about the entertainment. The best I have ever seen on a cruise. Phil, the piano player knows just about any song you could ever think of. If he doesn't know it, hum ... Read More
The cruise was great. The food was excellent. I can not say enough about the entertainment. The best I have ever seen on a cruise. Phil, the piano player knows just about any song you could ever think of. If he doesn't know it, hum a few bars and he will take it from there. All of his shows were a lot of fun and extremely entertaining. The entertainment at night with four siners and a band was also great. My only complaint is that the shore excursions were so short. We generally had to be back onb board by 12:30 pm. I was told that it was because going up river takes so much longer than going down and they would not bbe able to keep up with the schedule otherwise. I would recommend taking the boat from north to south for that reason. You get to stay on shore longer. Otherwise, an excellent cruise. All the crew on board were very friendly and helpful. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
We wanted to see the northern fall colors along the Mississippi River. Even though the cruise itinerary was changed due to weather conditions, the modified excursion was relaxing and very enjoyable. The wait staff in the dining room, Ky ... Read More
We wanted to see the northern fall colors along the Mississippi River. Even though the cruise itinerary was changed due to weather conditions, the modified excursion was relaxing and very enjoyable. The wait staff in the dining room, Ky and Cornel, were fabulous. The stay in port the night before the cruise was helpful to get ready for a great cruise and a way to experience the culture of the departing port. We felt as though we were cruising with Mark Twain with all the memorabilia on board! All the staff on the ship were exceptional and friendly. Any problem we had with keys, tours, etc were taken care of immediately by the staff. We couldn't ask for a better experience in cruising. I am planning to book the Columbia River cruise and hope it is equal or better than the Mississippi Queen experience. Thank you for a wonderful vacation and a Happy 90th Birthday celebration for my mother. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
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 ... Read More
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 Queen (predecessors to the American Queen) had been plying the same waters. The pre-departure day in St. Louis afforded me the opportunity to go up in the Gateway Arch, another check-off on my bucket list, so I was already happy before I even boarded the beautiful American Queen the next afternoon. The AQSC has thought through all of the details and logistics which were carried out without a hitch from bus transfers to and from the boat on both ends to the Hop-on-Hop-off buses which followed us on the road as we cruised the river overnight and were waiting for us each morning at the next port-of-call to take us on the city tour, narrated by knowledgeable locals. The steamboat is beautifully appointed yet comfortable and homey. The bed was one of the most comfortable I've slept in away from home and the full-sized bathroom fixtures were a welcome surprise. My favorite place to eat was the Front Porch Cafe. Looked forward to the oversized cookies and a Coke after my city tours and soft-serve iced cream quickly became a bedtime snack. The meals were delicious and the staff friendly and attentive. In fact, staff throughout the boat was professional, friendly and helpful. Can't wait to plan my next itinerary on another portion of the river with AQSC...soon! Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
We were on the American Empess on the Columbia and Snake River. This is an excellent cruise. The staff is the best, and the food is out of this world. They do everything so well from the hop on hop off tours to the premiun tours. It ... Read More
We were on the American Empess on the Columbia and Snake River. This is an excellent cruise. The staff is the best, and the food is out of this world. They do everything so well from the hop on hop off tours to the premiun tours. It was a ery stress free trip. I heartily recommend it. The Riverlorian, Mary, gave rxcellent , informative talks about the journey of Lewis and Clark to fi a passage across the United States. Greg and Lindey gave so much of thereselves to make this cruise a fun time for all the passengers, On the days we were not touring, we played bingo, trivia, name that tune, and there was always something going on in the lounge. We have sailed on the American Queen and also loved that ship and would reommend either boats to anyone wanting to have a relaxing, fun, and great food trip. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
We joined another couple on this riverboat cruise without much planning. Although we were unable to get a stateroom in our preferred category, the one we had was satisfactory. Should we travel with American Queen again getting the larger ... Read More
We joined another couple on this riverboat cruise without much planning. Although we were unable to get a stateroom in our preferred category, the one we had was satisfactory. Should we travel with American Queen again getting the larger stateroom would be important to us. The rooms were very clean, nicely appointed and had adequate storage and organization features. The service was quick and thorough with at least twice daily service which included tidying the room as well as fresh towels. The embarkation process for this category(AAA) was easy and smooth. The main complaint I had about the boat was the public rooms were a little dark, so it was difficult to find a good place to do needlework or read. The dining was well done and had good choices for every meal. Again here, the waitstaff was very accommodating and friendly. The bars were friendly and had a nice atmosphere including live music. The shows were very enjoyable and the talent of the performers was impressive. Generally we have not particularly had an interest in attending shows on large cruise ships, but there was something particularly enjoyable about the shows on this boat. Additionally the talks about the river and its history were fascinating. Something we had not thought about was the fact there is nothing to see as you navigate the river. It makes sense as much of it is a flood plain, but it just hadn't occurred to us. The ports were purely small town America. Nothing momentous, but interesting to see how every place has something about their town in which they have pride. Made you feel good about the country. My only complaint is not a solvable one and that is the bugs. There were plenty of mosquitos and no-see-ums, so you needed to either douse yourself with repellant or be bitten. All in all it was a great trip and I would definitely go again particularly to another section of the grand old Mississippi River. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
Best trip of our lives! The quality was superb! The staff was of the highest quality as was the food and entertainment. I was shocked by the excellence of everything. From the songs of Michaelyn Obry to Kris who let us off the boat in ... Read More
Best trip of our lives! The quality was superb! The staff was of the highest quality as was the food and entertainment. I was shocked by the excellence of everything. From the songs of Michaelyn Obry to Kris who let us off the boat in such a chipper manner every day, there was no hiccup. Everything was fabulous. American Steamboat has a Hop on Hop off bus meet you at each port to ensure you see the sites. I cannot recommend this company enough! THEY ARE OUTSTANDING! They provided a stay at the Sheraton in Memphis that did not have our rooms ready. To apologize, the steamboat company gave us each $150 shipboard credit. They are a class act. There is nothing more pleasant than lying in an air-conditioned stateroom , watching the shoreline float by. This was our first Steamboat, but now we want to do ALL OFF THEM and use American Steamboat! OUTSTANDING! Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
We are from Oz and had sailed twice before on the American Queen, so this was our third sailing with a back to back from New Orleans to Memphis and then on to St Louis. We once again would rate the fourteen days as excellent, with a ... Read More
We are from Oz and had sailed twice before on the American Queen, so this was our third sailing with a back to back from New Orleans to Memphis and then on to St Louis. We once again would rate the fourteen days as excellent, with a noticeable improvement with the boats WIFI. Our pre boat cruise was at the New Orleans Hyatt Regency, which included a substantial quality breakfast. As we had stayed a week in New Orleans within the past eighteen months we did not avail ourselves with a pre cruise tour. The embarkation went without a hitch and would settle back and watch our departure from New Orleans on the Mississippi River. To gain the most on our cruise we had paid for Premium Tours at most ports. Two, which I must mention were the Angola Prison Tour at the Port of Saint Francisville and at Helena, the Mississippi Delta Gospel and the Birthplace of Blues Tour. I would personally recommend these two tours for the experience gained. Our arrival at Memphis seemed to arrive so quickly and then we continued on our second leg to St Louis. A different group of guests on board, who we soon became acquainted with. The on-board life continued with the high service and the excellent meals which we had become accustomed to. On the surface the trip may appear expensive to the ocean going voyages, but I would recommend it for the uniqueness of it, so different to the European river cruises. We have already booked a further cruise on its sister boat, the American Empress next year. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
We had wanted to do a Mississippi river cruise for years and finally did it. I did quite a bit of research before we picked a cruise and I'm very glad we chose this one. I'm convinced it was/is the best. The embarkation ... Read More
We had wanted to do a Mississippi river cruise for years and finally did it. I did quite a bit of research before we picked a cruise and I'm very glad we chose this one. I'm convinced it was/is the best. The embarkation process was very well planned and ran smoothly. The American Queen was beautiful -- everything we imagined. The public spaces were very well appointed and comfortable. The dining room was quite elegant -- looked very much as we imagined it might have looked in the 1800s. The food was excellent and and menus quite varied. Nothing was repeated the entire week. The special meal events (such as the BBQ one day) were very good. In fact, after experiencing BBQ in Memphis (this trip and trips before) -- we found nothing in Memphis that could compare with the BBQ on board. The service everywhere on the boat was first rate. Our cabin stewardess, the restaurant staff, the bartenders, etc. were all top notch. And so friendly -- real, true Southern hospitality. One could tell it was genuine -- you can't fake that. The hop-on/hop-off bus system worked very well and all the local guides were excellent. You could tell they were proud of their towns and heritage and were happy to share with us. The add-on shore excursions were excellent. I do think they were overpriced. Next time we'll be much more discriminatory in choosing these. All-in-all we were very happy with the entire trip. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
Chose this cruise to get a unique view of the Columbia and Snake Rivers. Very happy to report that this was an exceptional cruise ... full of information, relaxation, education, entertainment, fine dining. The Hop on Hop off excursions ... Read More
Chose this cruise to get a unique view of the Columbia and Snake Rivers. Very happy to report that this was an exceptional cruise ... full of information, relaxation, education, entertainment, fine dining. The Hop on Hop off excursions were terrific, hidden 'jewels' of culture, history, and just pure fun were found in each town visited. The premium tours went farther and were more focused... The river locks were amazing. While the ship was flawless and very comfortable, the particular value was the staff and crew... every member of company went out of their way to ensure a once-in-a-lifetime, high-value vacation. By the second everyone (entertainers, room attendant, wait staff, tour director, rivertorian, etc) seemed to know passengers by name. Customer service was absolutely superb! Once facet I particularly appreciated was the no one was trying to sell me anything.....art, photographs, ;jewelry. The were no surprise extras that you had to pay for. Bottled water was available on board the ship, leaving ship for city excursions, and even on the tour buses.... for free. We went downriver, Clarkston to Portland... but are considering the upriver cruise as it differs on ports and places of visitation. The American Empress holds about 225 passengers, no public area was overcrowded and seating was always available. Free wine and beer at wonderfully prepared and tasty dinners too. Entertainment was first class, the very talented performers were outstanding and their shows were audience appropriate and connected positively with the audience. Whether in the theater or the lounge... entertainment was first class and top notch! Daily excursions were attended to in detail by the excursion director.... buses were on time, driven well, and explanations and expectations were clear. The premium excursions were worth the money....and were well chosen and added real value to the total personal experience of the entire cruise. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
Service and people are outstanding. Food is also outstanding. During our meals, the service was outstanding with a lot of personal attention. The offshore events were more interesting than I anticipated. Personal attention was around ... Read More
Service and people are outstanding. Food is also outstanding. During our meals, the service was outstanding with a lot of personal attention. The offshore events were more interesting than I anticipated. Personal attention was around the clock. The crew was very friendly and highly expert. No complaints. Will recommend this to anyone. The dining was outstanding with impacable service. Given that the purpose of the cruise is to experience what it was like 200 years ago, the passengers were on the older side. Met passengers from other parts of the world and throughout the United States. Wife got ill, and the service was outstading. Whenever we needed anyting, the crew provided it with a smile on their faces. They were very pleasent and eager to please. The scenery was highly interesting. We throughouly enjoyed the sights and outings. We would recommend this trip to anyone. This has been a very leasurely and pleasent experience. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
My husband and I sailed from New Orleans to Memphis with the American Queen. We loved the ship, with it's back in history approach to making the experience truly the way it would have been. The ship was filled with antiques, had ... Read More
My husband and I sailed from New Orleans to Memphis with the American Queen. We loved the ship, with it's back in history approach to making the experience truly the way it would have been. The ship was filled with antiques, had lovely small gathering rooms, and very well appointed staterooms although the bathrooms were very 50s. The verandas were wonderful whether you choose to have a private or public space. The shared verandas allowed for your own seating with visiting opportunities with passers-by. The food was well chosen, varied, excellently prepared and presented and tasty. The majority of the staff was very accommodating. The ports we visited included the most beautiful plantation I have ever visited, a town changing and recovering from big business' (Walmart) affects on the Mom and Pops and loss of employers, the music history of Memphis, and the pleasure of just "rolling on the river". We will certainly cruise with American Queen in the future. In fact, we're looking at sailing on the Columbia and Snake Rivers with the American Empress in 2017. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
My husband always wanted to cruise on the "Big Muddy", the Mississippi River, and we decided the American Queen Steamboat Company offered the nicest options. We followed their suggestions, arriving a day prior to embarkation and ... Read More
My husband always wanted to cruise on the "Big Muddy", the Mississippi River, and we decided the American Queen Steamboat Company offered the nicest options. We followed their suggestions, arriving a day prior to embarkation and spending the night in the Hyatt Regency New Orleans which they include in the cruise price. What a fabulous hotel this is, well situated and absolutely beautiful. Staff was very accommodating and quality of stay excellent. The next morning, we took a premium excursion and visited the National World War II Museum after a short motorcoach tour of the city. This museum was incredibly interesting and kept us busy until 3pm when they took us to the boat. This is a beautiful boat, the largest steamboat in the world, with, as we found out, the nicest crew in the world!!! All of their processes, boarding, disembarkation, shore excursions, are handled smoothly and professionally. There are very interesting hop-on, hop-off shore excursions included at each port, and at some ports there are more indepth excursions you can purchase. We found the included excursions to be most satisfactory. You really get the feel of being on a steamboat; very smooth sailing, and interesting views of the river banks as you cruise. I especially loved the food; best we have had on any cruise, even including Crystal Symphony. The wait staff was especially attentive and caring!!! The "Riverlorian", Bobby Durham, gave really interesting talks each day on various aspects of the Mississippi River, and also entertained us in the evenings with his wonderful blues musician skills!!! The entertainers kept us happy before dinner each night with their shows and the Steamboat Syncopators were so much fun to listen to at various times throughout the evening! Even Captain Brent Willets played a mean guitar in the Engine Room Bar after hours!!!! We would definitely go on another American Queen cruise and recommend this highly to anyone who would like to sample smaller boat cruising here in the USA!! Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
Came in two days before sailing to check out New Orleans. Drove from Jupiter, Florida. First few to board and get set-up. Crew went out of their way to make your happy. Excellent food in main dining and the Front Porch. Super wait staff ... Read More
Came in two days before sailing to check out New Orleans. Drove from Jupiter, Florida. First few to board and get set-up. Crew went out of their way to make your happy. Excellent food in main dining and the Front Porch. Super wait staff all around. Land tours were very good and you get to see and hear about much history of days gone bye. We were in room #208 and you have to expect the usual noises that ships make. When I visited the engine room after we were under way to see the two steam engines up close and personal, my first remark to one of the engineers was that how quiet they were as I stood between them both. Not even having to speak loudly, I was amazed. The engine room itself was the cleanest thing imaginable. No dust, dirt or grease anywhere, truly, not what I had expected. Having cruised dozens of times, this was a great one and our forth river cruise so far. Our first was down the Yangtze river in China, then two with Avalon in Amsterdam and Budapest. For an American crew I was truly amazed by the high level of service that they delivered. Ship was well maintained and clean all around Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
We did a "American Queen Steamboat Company" Cruise- New Orleans-New Orleans on 5/8/2016. The 8th included the Hyatt Hotel and on the 9th we boarded the Boat. We have been on many cruises both big ships and river cruises, in ... Read More
We did a "American Queen Steamboat Company" Cruise- New Orleans-New Orleans on 5/8/2016. The 8th included the Hyatt Hotel and on the 9th we boarded the Boat. We have been on many cruises both big ships and river cruises, in and out of the USA. This cruise is at the top of the list. The staff goes out of its way to please you. The food is fabulous. You have wine and beer included and they have food out 24/7. They have included tours everyday or you can pay for an upgraded tour. We didn't feel that was necessary for us to do. The boat is done in old Mississippi decor. The rooms are well done, just wish they had a clock in the room. We were in room E208 with a bay window. It was very comfortable and the bay window was big, so our view was always great. With hardly any traffic on the river we left our blinds open all day. I don't care for the balcony rooms on this type of boat because they actually open on the walkway with two chairs and a small table. People are always walking by, but that may not bother some people. As you do get the chance to say hello and meet a lot of passengers. The entertainment is excellent. I give them praise for a great job. Visited May 2016 https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g28939-d216633-r376136777-Mississippi_River-Louisiana.html# Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
This is an amazing cruise! The ports and shore excursions were excellent, the food very well presented and excellent, the staff was very warm and accommodating, the entertainment was outstanding and they had the best musicians.....we never ... Read More
This is an amazing cruise! The ports and shore excursions were excellent, the food very well presented and excellent, the staff was very warm and accommodating, the entertainment was outstanding and they had the best musicians.....we never danced more to the music and had more fun! It was so excellent that we are already booking another cruise with them and three other couples on the AMERICAN EMPRESS..... We began our cruise in Memphis Tennessee, where music abounds...we walked down Beale St and ate at BBKings....we toured the Rock and Soul Museum (so interesting !), and the National Civil Rights museum....The next day we took a Premium Shore Excursion to Graceland and saw landmarks like the Peabody hotel on a luxury motor coach !We either took the Premium excursions or toured each city with their HOP ON AND OFF BUSSES....which are so well organized. WE went to Greenville, Vicksburg ,Miss where we were on the Front lines of the Civil War , Natchez, St Francisville, La,Baton Rouge, La and then stayed three days in New Orleans. This trip offers the most relaxing and historical voyage!! I can"t say enough about it Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
All of my adult life, I have scoffed at the ads on TV and in the media touting cruises and cruise lines. The prospect of spending days on board a boat with 3000+ total strangers, many of whom are out to behave badly, while dodging rugrats ... Read More
All of my adult life, I have scoffed at the ads on TV and in the media touting cruises and cruise lines. The prospect of spending days on board a boat with 3000+ total strangers, many of whom are out to behave badly, while dodging rugrats and waiting in line for the buffet and stuffing yourself several times a day just doesn't appeal to me. I want a voyage where the destination is more important than the journey, where you get the opportunity to learn about the port of call, where the locals view you as a guest, not a mark, where you don't have to pay extra for an outside cabin, where you don't get nickeled-and-dimed to death every time you order a soft drink, and on and on. Do I sound like a curmudgeon? The good news is that I have found the perfect cruise that addresses all of my negatives, while accentuating the positives. The American Queen Steamboat Company's American Empress, which cruises the Columbia and Snake Rivers of the Pacific Northwest, delivers all that it promises and more. Some facts to support my argument: - The passenger capacity for the American Empress is 223. This is not a typo. - No provision is made for children; you can bring them, but there are no babysitters, video games or activities for them. - Terrific meals, using locally sourced ingredients whenever possible. - 24-hour room service at no charge. - Local wine and beer are included with dinner at no charge, and soft drinks, bottled water, coffee, tea, cappuccino, etc. are available at no charge at all times. - Free wi-fi throughout the ship. - No "at sea" days; you'll be at a port every day. - Shore excursions are included in each port, and premium excursions are available. - There are several dedicated motor coaches that drive a circular route through each port, so you can hop on or off where you like. - Every cabin has a window with a view, and all but seven of the cabins have their own veranda with a table and chairs. - Daily lectures covering the geology, history, etc. of the region are given by the in-house expert, the "Riverlorian." - Most of the typical add-ons that other cruise lines use to squeeze some more money from you are *not* available-- no casino, no spa, no exercise classes, no laundry or dry cleaning, no 'premium' restaurant for dinner (the Empress has a fine-dining restaurant called the River Grille, which passengers are entitled to dine in twice during the cruise, but there is no additional charge). - An experienced all-American crew and staff. Picture this: you wake up, take a shower (Clarins bath products included), put on a warm bathrobe and slippers (included), make yourself a cup of coffee or tea (A Keurig coffeemaker and pods are included), step out onto your veranda, sit down and relax while sipping your drink and watching the shore scenery go by. Bliss. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
This is second trip on Empress. We were doing it to relive route of Lewis and Clark. Our previous trip on the boat had been very nice. So we did it from the opposite direction. Some of crew was the same and others we had met on American ... Read More
This is second trip on Empress. We were doing it to relive route of Lewis and Clark. Our previous trip on the boat had been very nice. So we did it from the opposite direction. Some of crew was the same and others we had met on American Queen. I cannot say enough good things about the Boat the Hop on Hop off tours but mostly the friendliness and professionalism of the crew. The young entertainers are great, the Dining room staff superb. The food variety and quality was wonderful. The Riverlorian who lectures on the boats theme does a great job. You cannot be bored on this Boat. Something to do from breakfast till late night. The Band four man combo is as professional as they get had a great evening jam session after normal show. Late night dancing in the Paddlewheel lounge great fun a great Pianist entertainer. On a scale of 10 this crew and boat are a fifteen. The Boat accommodations are wonderful. Rooms are quite generous in size. Appointments enhance it. On this Boat you always have interesting scenery in view as you cruise on the Columbia and Snake rivers so if you just want to relax on your porch you have something to enjoy. I can not emphasize enough though how many great activities are available. If you like Broadway shows the two young entertainers put on will surprise you how talented they are. It does not matter which of the two sets they have they are both great as we have had the opportunity to watch both.. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
Wow, was I impressed with the amazing job they have done on refurbishing the American Queen. What an amazing vessel. I had taken a bunch of people with me and we all enjoyed the food for sure, loved the attitude of the dining room waiters ... Read More
Wow, was I impressed with the amazing job they have done on refurbishing the American Queen. What an amazing vessel. I had taken a bunch of people with me and we all enjoyed the food for sure, loved the attitude of the dining room waiters and staff, we loved the care everyone took to keeping the vessel's wood and paint looking like new. We liked the fact that there was the Front Porch dining if you wanted to eat more casual, but the food was outstanding there as well. The entertainment in the Grand Saloon was better than even many huge ocean liners. They had a great band to listen and dance to. And the song and dance group were quite talented and generally performed themes that a senior group could relate to. Though the Staterooms are not large, they were elegantly decorated. Our stateroom had plenty of space for us to unpack. We also loved the fact that when we went to breakfast in the morning the room stewardess would clean our room before our return. And the boat was full. We really enjoyed our room stewardess. We never heard sounds from adjoining rooms. And the warmth and vitality of the people in the purser's office to the room stewards made you feel like they cared about you enjoying this 7 days of paddle-wheeling. You could just imagine President Andrew Jackson toasting to a great journey south to New Orleans with all the lamp lights lite. We will definitely be back again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
This is my first cruise with American Queen Steamboat Company. Although it is only my 2nd day I have had many requests and they have all been fufilled. I have some food allergies and requests and they were all taken seriously, although it ... Read More
This is my first cruise with American Queen Steamboat Company. Although it is only my 2nd day I have had many requests and they have all been fufilled. I have some food allergies and requests and they were all taken seriously, although it limited my choices. There is a historian on board (Riverlorian as he is called) and love the talks. They are not always at a time when we can make it. I am relaxed and happy. This is a much better feeling than the other large cruise lines. I wish I still drank wine because that was really flowing last night.. all included. The entertainment is much better than I imagined. The post cries stay hotel in New Orleans is awesome. am looking to take the Colombia River Cruise next year. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
American Queen Steamboat Company (AQSC) Best For: • Guests who enjoy a first-rate, relaxed river cruise experience. • Couples, family & friends traveling together, and parents traveling with adult children. • The ... Read More
American Queen Steamboat Company (AQSC) Best For: • Guests who enjoy a first-rate, relaxed river cruise experience. • Couples, family & friends traveling together, and parents traveling with adult children. • The overall demographic is primarily 60-plus age range. As a FAM cruise, this lowered the overall age range. • Well-traveled history buffs looking for a luxury river cruise. • Domestic travelers, there are a very small percentage of international travelers. • Guests who have traveled on AQSC sister ship, the American Queen. • Cruisers who prefer to relax and enjoy the unfolding river views. • Guests who have motion sensitivity, as the river cruising is very calm. Itinerary/Port Experience: Saturday April 2nd: Pre-Hotel Stay – Portland Hotel Stay Guests of AQSC received a complimentary, one night deluxe hotel stay in Vancouver, Washington (Portland Airport-PDX-is the nearest airport). For this 2016 Launch season for the Columbia and Snake River Cruise, AQSC used the Hilton Vancouver Washington. This package included breakfast, taxes, porterage and transfers. The ship is close to the Vancouver Farmer’s market, the number one visitor attraction and home to over 200 vendors. Guest staying at this hotel received a morning overview of the American Empress, priority specialty dining reservations at the River Bar and Grill, and pre-cruise check-in. For FAM guests, the hotel is not complimentary. I opted to stay at Hotel Rose in Portland, Oregon. The hotel is pet friendly. This hotel lured me with it complimentary pineapple cupcakes, and coffee daily in the lobby. The hotel is approximately 25 minutes from PDX and equal distance to the dock in Vancouver, WA. Conveniently located walking distance to Portland’s famous Saturday Market, and the ooey gooey goodness of Voodoo Donuts. Hotel Rose provided complimentary bicycles, helmets and locks for guests to mix in with the local biking culture. I recommend including a few landmarks which are a short distance by bike: Powell’s Books (largest bookstore on the planet), St. Mary’s Cathedral, and Waterfront Park Trail along the Willamette River. Using transportation there are some great stops while in the city: International Rose Test Gardens, Portland Japanese Gardens, and The Grotto – National Sanctuary. Note: Portland is for foodies and has a very casual feel. “Keep Portland Weird” is the city’s motto. Save some time for people watching it is truly fascinating. There is a bounty of stellar food venues; many have got their start from the unending lines of food trucks adorning the city streets. I decided on cuisine from Kathmandu, Nepal, which was a solid choice. Portland is a utopia for vegans. I had my first, unbelievably good, burger made with beets and cashew cheese. The curry ketchup with home style fries was excellent. If you only have time to make one food stop, I highly recommend The Salt and Straw. Best fresh made ice cream (gelato included), I’ve ever experienced. The ice cream is made with all locally grown ingredients, and Zagat-rated. The 30 minute line was well worth it! I sampled the strawberry honey balsamic with black pepper; the honey lavender; and Arbequina olive oil. I landed on a scoop of the Arbequina olive oil. They do offer ice cream by mail. Sunday, April 3rd, Day 1: Vancouver, WA The ship departure at 6 p.m. allowed for some pre-cruise premium shore excursions (additional charge): Mount St. Helens Tour including Portland City Tour; and Portland City Tour – “The Rose City”. Both excursions included pick up at the Hilton in Vancouver and transfer to the ship. I arrived shortly before the 3 p.m. embarkation which allowed me to meet guests, which later turn out to be phenomenal new friends who I shared the journey with. Guests were greeted at embarkation with jazz music from the Empress Quartet and small treat from the dessert tray. My luggage was delivered within ten minutes of arriving in my stateroom. AQSC is touted as the largest, most elegant riverboat in the Pacific Northwest. AQSC has a dedicated fleet of motor coaches, which includes a fully narrated hop-on, hop-off (ho-ho) tours for each port town. The morning typically has three departure times from the boat (AQSC uses the term boat, not ship). Maps are provided every night in the staterooms outlining the various stops along the ho-ho route. Motor coaches pick up are every 15 minutes in the morning, and every hour in the afternoon for most days. The boat visits small towns so the ho-ho provides time to explore the local shops and museums. Some guests took the ho-ho tour for an overview of the town. Most full circuits requiring about 45 minutes. Most admission fees to museums and attractions are part of the tour, though you will still want to bring some spending monies as most have gift shops. AQSC started the journey with full-color, double-sided maps outlining our journey staterooms. Lewis and Clark’s expedition was the opposite direction of our itinerary. According to Laurence Cotton, our Riverlorian, traveling the same direction as the expedition, East to West, provides more daytime travel. The rivers passes through 7 ecosystems in 7 days! The West is close to a rainforest, receiving up to 80 or more inches of rainfall a year. The East is has desert conditions receiving less than 15 inches or less of rainfall a year. Monday, April 4th, Day 2: Astoria, OR This is the oldest American Settlement west of the Rocky Mountains. This area was inhabited by the Clatsop Indians for thousands of years. In 1805, Lewis and Clark’s expedition arrived here where they wintered at Fort Clatsop.   The battle of the premium shore excursions was shared by many guests. The tough decision between The Lewis & Clark Experience and Zip Lining Adventure ensued with much thought. The winner was the Zip Lining Adventure, which allowed me to face my fear of heights, head on. The day was a double victory as our small entourage of three guests zip lining was enhanced when our tour guide offered to take us through a fast-forward tour of the Lewis and Clark National Historical Park at Fort Clatsop. High Life Adventures provided a progressive series of an 8-course zip line. What a tremendous pleasure to share in the bucket-list-item for an 82 year-old from our ship as part of our zipping team. The afternoon of adrenalin culminated with The Zwing Extreme Zip Swing (additional charge, highly recommend). A surprise visit from Yeti at the end of one of the zip courses, added to the fear factor as he jumped from behind the trees. Note: Guests on The Lewis & Clark Experience received a complimentary book, In the Wake of Lewis and Clark: From the Mountains to the Sea by C. Mark Smith. Though I did not purchase this excursion, I did order my copy on Amazon and enjoyed the easy read. Bonus, C. Mark Smith was one of the tour guides on the ho-ho. Tuesday, April 5th, Day 3: The Dalles, OR The terrane has changed significantly from the lushness of Oregon’s west coast to the desert-like conditions of The Dalles of Oregon. There were no premium shore excursions in this area, though interestingly enough, our Lounge Entertainer, Ted Horwitz, hails from this small town. He entertained us each afternoon and evening in the Paddlewheel Lounge. The Dalles has many high tech companies residing there due to tax breaks, enhanced with the Columbia River Gorge Technology Alliance. Google invested 1.2 billion dollars in its data center. Apple and Amazon are investing in communities in Oregon, as well. Quite a few guests participated in the on shore hike emulating the Corps of Discovery on an easy ½ mile hike lead by Laurence to Lewis and Clark’s Rock Fort Camp. The crew and Riverlorian offered numerous on shore hikes ranging from ½ miles to 2 miles most days. The American Empress left port at 3 a.m. on day Day 3. New friends from aboard the boat came together after a yummy dinner to walk to a local karaoke dive. What fun times were had singing “We are Family” with some friendly folks from The Dalles! Wednesday, April 6th, Day 4: Stevenson, WA I choose the popular Multnomah Falls and Vista House premium excursion. This tour began on the Old Scenic Highway offering breathtaking views along America’s most scenic landscape. There were many vantage points and photo opportunities along the way: The Columbia River Gorge, Crown Point, Vista House, Multnomah Falls (Oregon’s highest waterfall), and much more. When I arrived back in my stateroom, AQSC surprised me with a picture memento of our day’s journey on the premium shore excursion. What a stellar gesture! Thursday, April 7th, Day 5: Cruising The Columbia River & Tri-Cities (Richland), WA (overnight) It was a relaxing morning paddling down The Columbia River with many onboard activities to choose from: Zumba Gold, Read Our Mind Game Show, Trivia, Riverlorian Presentation, Bridge Players Meet, Future Cruise Talk, and Disembarkation Talk. We arrived in Richland at 2 p.m. and the Ho-Ho ran every 30 minutes. Friday, April 8th, Day 6: Tri-Cities (Richland), WA My journey down The Columbia River to The Snake River was highlighted with the premium shore excursion Hells Canyon Scenic Jet Boat Experience. Hells Canyon is North America’s deepest gorge. The jet boats were very comfortable and covered. The bench seat in the back was even more exciting as daring guests were drenched with a combination of mist and waves. The views along the banks offered tremendous view. Our tour guide mentioned sometimes there are sighting of bear, Big Horn sheep, deer, and other native wildlife can be spotted. I spotted cattle, horses, deer, bald eagle, and various birds. At the farthest East end of the river, we stopped at the Idaho Garden Creek Preserve and enjoyed beverages and cookies. The views were gorgeous from the of river, orchard, and nature’s landscape. Note: The Jet boats were enclosed and contain onboard bathroom facilities. This was a scenic jet boat experience; there were no white water rapids. A week after I arrived home, my latest issue of Backpacking magazine featured an article boasting best views in America’s National Parks, and featuring Hells Canyon. What a fun way to showcase the end of my journey aboard AQSC! I did see many hikers along the river enjoying the gorgeous 80-degree weather and views. Highlights: What made AQSC memorable is the outstanding crew and friendliest guests on any cruise line I have journeyed! The overall feel of the ship was jovial, fun, and lasting friendships were forged. • The maîtres’ in each dining room decorated the dining table for a friend’s birthday. In the Astoria Dining Room, Carmen, head maîtres, gave her a small gift. I have never witnessed such a remarkable experience on any premium or luxury cruise line. On the last night of the cruise, Carmen gave everyone at our table a beautiful picture of Mount Hood, signed “We will miss you”! • The Riverlorian, Laurence Cotton was the most knowledgeable, engaging, and enjoyable lecturer I have had the pleasure of listening to. He is a true gem for AQSC! He gave daily lectures with a broad range: The Columbia River, “Our Journey Through Time and Place” introduction to the region and its history; “The Lewis & Clark and the Corps of Discovery: Onwards to the Pacific and Homeward Bound”; Kennewick Man and the Hanford Nuclear Site, “Frederick Law Olmsted: Designing America (his film produced for public TV); “Oregon Trail: In Their Own Words”; and Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce War (his own film). • I thoroughly enjoyed the Broadway style nightly entertainment in The Show Lounge. Each evening featured a fresh vibe, engaging audience interactions: Music of the Silver Screen, greatest pop & rock from 50’s-70’s, love songs, and Broadway songs. • Locks and Lox were featured in the River Grill as American Empress traveled through the Bonneville Dam, the first of many locks on the river journey. This was coupled with the $5 Bloody Mary or Mimosa bar with all the fixings, offered most mornings. Laurence indicated the eastbound itinerary featured more daytime cruising through the locks than the westbound itinerary. • Enrichment Presentation featuring the gifted guest speaker, storyteller, and Native American Tribal Member, J. R. Spencer sharing tales about the Nez Perce Indians. • Maryhill Wine Tasting with special guest presenter Rich Washburn for a complimentary tasting of local favorites. • “Dare to Dream” featured the history of steamboating in an interesting video showcasing the origins of the American Queen. • The good and the sad…welcome aboard and the Farewell Champagne reception. Stateroom Experience: My floating home away from home was a category C deluxe verandah stateroom #226 on the Frontier Deck. This was an ideal location being one door away from the stairwell and elevators. I enjoyed the view from the port side of the boat across the river as the boat headed eastbound. The stateroom was just down the corridor from the Paddlewheel Lounge where most activities were held. I could hear the music from my stateroom at night which was welcomed. AQSC was completely refurbished in spring 2014. Staterooms were stunning in the Victorian era with ornate furniture and elegant wallpaper. Many of the staterooms are configured for two twins with limited queen configurations. The AE-C categories are 180 sq. ft. with one picture window, and one door with window. There was ample storage in the two armoires. The stateroom was well accommodated with a flat screen TV, alarm clock, mini refrigerator, safe, Keurig coffee brewer, and binoculars. The bathroom was small though had a good design. The bath shower stall was quite small. There was a hairdryer, bathrobes, and slippers in the stateroom. Other features were an antique writing desk with chair, which I rotated for views from the picture window. There were two antique style chairs and fine artwork from the regions American Empress travels. Every evening, the River Times was left in each stateroom and offered a map of the ho-ho destinations, and newsletter for the follow day’s adventures. Note: The staterooms and on the Vista View Deck have the walking track surrounding them. There is a small railing, see below.  Dining Experience: • The cuisine above represents some of the regional Pacific Northwest cuisine, using locally sourced, fresh ingredients with a contemporary vibe. I highly recommend the grilled lobster, and espresso-rubbed tenderloin. • An all-American staff provided gracious service and warm hospitality. This was the friendliest service I have ever experienced. The head chef visited our table most every night. He even surprised our table with a specially made dessert. • The ship had a country club casual ambiance, no formal wear was required. • The Astoria Dining Room had fine the same fine service breakfast, lunch, and dinner. • The catch of the day was featured each evening in the Astoria Dining Room. • The drinks were overflowing with regional wines and beer in both dining venues during dinner. • The River Grill and Bar offered morning made-to-order omelet station, alternative grill options for lunch; including hamburgers, roast beef sandwiches, fajitas, and much more. Both breakfast and lunch buffet had varied daily options offering many choices of cold, hot, and dessert options. Afternoons you could find fruit and cookies to snack on. The drinks were self-service. There was alfresco dining or you could take in the rays from the floor to ceiling windows indoors. • Complimentary cappuccino, espresso, bottled water and soft drinks were available in The River Grill & Bar anytime. • Late afternoon snacks were offered in the Paddlewheel Lounge with a wide daily range: huge shrimp & cocktail sauce, cheese & crackers, veggies & dips, and so much more. The antique popcorn popper allowed for a salty and buttery option at any time. For my sweet tooth, I frequented the platter of different types of homemade cookies. • Room service was available with a special menu and I am told you could have cuisine from the dining room’s menu in your stateroom or for a romantic dinner on your verandah. Activities/Entertainment: • Happy hour in the Paddlewheel Lounge allowed guests to try the featured drink of the day, while tapping their feet to the sweet beat of Ted Horwitz, entertainer and pianist. Ted covered many decades and music varieties from American Folk Music; tunes from the Rat Pack; smooth sounds; to hosting a Rock ‘n Roll Dance Party. His friendly and fun banter with guests, kept the crowd engaged. After dinner, the Paddlewheel Lounge was filled with guests taking in a night cap or dancing to their favorite requests. • The Empress Quartet featured jazz some evenings. They were a talented group on guys from different parts of Missouri (shout out to where I grew up). • The gift shop was open when the boat was in port, which was handy. • A self-guided art tour was offered by way of a brochure in each stateroom/suite. The American Empress showcased fine historical artifacts and artwork of the Native Alaska, Russian, and Gold Rush throughout the corridors. • Onboard activities offered something for everyone: line dancing lessons, trivia, Independent Travelers Meet & Greet, Bingo, Veterans Meet & Greet, Bridge Players & Game Players, movie matinee, Blackjack Tournament, Pilot House tour, Engine Room Tour, crafts, Read Our Minds classic TV gameshow and The Match Game, and Liar’s Club Game. Insider’s Tips: • Complimentary bicycles were offered to guests on a first come, first serve basis to explore destinations on their own. • Be first to attend select lectures by Laurence the Riverlorian as he handed out full-size maps. The maps reflected in detail Lewis & Clarks’ expeditions, featuring the Columbia River and points of interest. • Take time slow down and take in the view. The rocking chairs on the public deck outside the River Grill & Bar invited a laid-back vibe, whilst overlooking the wake views and paddlewheel. • I recommend waiting to sign up for the optional tour once onboard, instead of advance for some special travel agent rates. • Before the cruise, sign up for some Premium Experience Excursions for a more in-depth and active options while in port. The pricing is nominal and money well spent! Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
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