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110 American Queen Steamboat Company North America River Cruise Reviews

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
So delighted with our experience here on the American Queen that I am writing from our cabin before we disembark in a few hours! Really so much to say about this experience that words cannot measure up to our week spent on the American ... Read More
So delighted with our experience here on the American Queen that I am writing from our cabin before we disembark in a few hours! Really so much to say about this experience that words cannot measure up to our week spent on the American Queen. The history and scenes of some of the ports were fascinating and handled smoothly by the excursions staff. St Francisville could use a few more points of interest, but that is my only suggestion. Dining options are varied, but the JM White is where you must dine if you cruise here. The menu service along with buffet for lunch and breakfast make it a "can't miss" experience. Dinner is served expertly by a team of enthusiastic servers who ensure a proper experience. Activities were scattered throughout afternoons, but we didn't attend any because of their timing while we were on shore excursions. Gym and fitness options could vary more to include group recreation like line dancing or Richard Simmons style cardio activity. Pool is small and never saw anyone use it. It is clean though. Entertainment is what everyone raves about as repeat passengers and they were right. Even tonight's show in the main theater featured the four star theater performers in a fun popular hits type of show. They are all so very talented and all very versatile. One man sings as pure as gold and the other also sings and has spectacular dance moves and plays piano to boot! Two beautiful girls compliment the men... Both powerful voices... One does a solo jazz show that is unbelievable and the other is tall and did the most incredible Barbara Streisand rendition I've ever heard. There is a large band that plays for these shows and sounds like a Broadway orchestra. The lounge performers are also very good. The main lounge features sing a longs and Frank Sinatra type music, while the bar act is rock and soul and dance music. Even big ships don't offer the diversity this line does. All in all it was a great experience... We were treated so kindly by everyone we encountered and felt very comfortable early on knowing this was a week in which we would truly enjoy ourselves. Somethings I shared might be nitpicking but it shows that there is so much good happening on the vessel. Hope to try the Empress soon. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
Our first ever river cruise was on the American Queen from New Orleans to Memphis. This very unique journey on a genuine 400 passenger Mississippi River steamboat was fabulous in every way. The embarkation and disembarkation processes ... Read More
Our first ever river cruise was on the American Queen from New Orleans to Memphis. This very unique journey on a genuine 400 passenger Mississippi River steamboat was fabulous in every way. The embarkation and disembarkation processes were outstanding, as was the organization of the included hop-on/hop-off tours and the premium tours. The places visited were rich with history and architecture and there was always more to see than you had time for. The food and service were excellent, and the variety and quality of the entertainment was outstanding, especially on such a small boat. The captain even played with the musicians in the beautiful Engine Room bar. Gerry the Riverlorian was both informative and very entertaining. The décor was Victorian ostentation, and immersed you in the elegant heyday of the Mississippi steamboat era. Everything was so well organized that we experienced only one little glitch--we had dreamed of sipping a mint julep on the deck rocking chairs, but they never had any mint! The passenger loyalty is staggering--we met "Miss Ruth" on her 150th trip on this boat. The line thanked her back by upgrading her to a luxury suite. She said she hardly knew what to do with the butler, but the digs were wonderful. Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
This was a really great trip. To me the major attraction is the Mississippi River itself and I was able to spend hours on my veranda watching the river and watching middle America pass by at seven miles an hour. The food was ... Read More
This was a really great trip. To me the major attraction is the Mississippi River itself and I was able to spend hours on my veranda watching the river and watching middle America pass by at seven miles an hour. The food was exceptionally good from the continental breakfast that appeared in our cabin each morning to the well prepared and tasty dinners at night. Service was exceptional and many of the staff actually remembered my name from previous voyages. Entertainment was excellent and I particularly enjoyed Phil Westbrook who is the consummate lounge entertainer. The shore excursions fall into two categories: a hop-on hop-off bus tour of the port with local guides narrating the history and traditional type excursions. Both types were interesting and very well done. The social hostess, Suzanne, circulated around the boat throughout the trip answering questions and making everyone feel at home. She is a great addition to the crew. The one negative thing I have to say is not about the boat but about the included hotel the night before embarkation. The included breakfast at the Hyatt Regency was an absolute disaster. They constantly ran out of food, coffee and even hot water. Getting a fork was a real struggle. This cruise was the 21st I have taken on the steamboats and was one of the best. It was so good I signed up for two additional cruises while I was on board. Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
New Orleans and the Mississippi was our dream holiday and this cruise ticked all the boxes. We explored the town for 3 days using the sightseeing bus which stopped outside our hotel,the superb Hyatt Regency. We transfered with ease and ... Read More
New Orleans and the Mississippi was our dream holiday and this cruise ticked all the boxes. We explored the town for 3 days using the sightseeing bus which stopped outside our hotel,the superb Hyatt Regency. We transfered with ease and were transported back in time to luxury travel on the beautiful steamboat, the American Queen.We were treated so well by all members of staff and the food was amazing, such variety. Travel on the river was so relaxing and peaceful. The excursions were well organised and we experienced Oak Alley Plantation,a swamp visit, Frogmore Plantation, Vicksburg and Gospel and Blues.We were very impressed with the Hop On Hop Off buses available at each port of call. Our trip to Gracelands was amazing and changed our perception of Elvis for the better. Months on and we are still talking about our trip thanks to American Steamboat Company. Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
wow! We had a great 3 night cruise staying in both the best suite on the boat (501) and a room with no windows (541) Both rooms were perfect! 4 of us went (me, my husband, sister and 89 yr old mom- for her birthday!) The small room was ... Read More
wow! We had a great 3 night cruise staying in both the best suite on the boat (501) and a room with no windows (541) Both rooms were perfect! 4 of us went (me, my husband, sister and 89 yr old mom- for her birthday!) The small room was roomy enough with a good size bathroom and storage. TV, air/heat, radio (although it took me 3 days to realize the radio was on the wall in both rooms!) The staff made mom feel special the whole time and were always nice, with hugs, and a special birthday cake and singing at dinner. Champagne in room 501 was a nice touch, as were the cheese plates and Adams special touches to make the room neat and clean daily The boat was amazing! Clean, spacious, PLENTY OF FOOD AND ACTIVITIES if you wanted. We had incredible weather so we were able to enjoy the private deck that came with room 501. All the food we ate was terrific and they helped with dietary restrictions. This was a Big Band themed cruise, with a full brass band twice a night for all 3 nights, dancing in the theater was fun too! Our ports of call were nice (2 mansions) easy to get to and walk around. Bikes are available for the taking (just sign up!) I would recommend this cruise to people who are fun, easy going, and enjoy a good time, I only wish I were still on the boat right now! PS~ ask for Kim B, Kelvin, Kris or Adam because they were THE BEST! Pursers folks were super helpful too! xoxo Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
Any mention of the Mississippi brings to mind Mark Twain and stories of life on the river. Things have changed since that era but we found a way to recapture the history and atmosphere of those times. We did it by taking a trip on the ... Read More
Any mention of the Mississippi brings to mind Mark Twain and stories of life on the river. Things have changed since that era but we found a way to recapture the history and atmosphere of those times. We did it by taking a trip on the American Queen the largest, most opulent paddlewheel steamboat in the world. This boat is luxurious, elegant, historical and unlike any other boat we have ever seen. It was re-launched in 2012 after a $6.5 million renovation and is the only authentic steamboat in America. The staterooms are large and beautiful as are the many public rooms filled with antiques. The Mark Twain Gallery contains one of the most expansive collections of Tiffany glass in existence. It feels more like a stylish boutique hotel than a boat. The nightly five course dinners are great and in keeping with the atmosphere of southern charm. We particularly enjoyed the southern cuisine, big band jazz and relaxing in rocking chairs while we glided along the second longest river in North America. We took a short four day trip that involved excursions into the antebellum past and visits to several plantations and a swamp tour where I was handed a live alligator. Nottoway is the south’s largest mansion and dates back to 1859. The setting is magnificent. It has three floors and 22 white columns which has given rise to its nickname as the White Castle of Louisiana. It boasts an amazing 64 bedrooms and has 365 openings. Not to be outdone, the Oak Alley plantation is known as the Grande Dame of the Great River Road. Set on 25 acres, this Greek revival mansion has a quarter mile of 300 year old oak trees and reminded us of scenes from Gone With The Wind. The traditional mint Juleps and guides in period costumes may have helped. The 1830 St. Joseph plantation was a highlight as we were shown through by three charming ladies who were direct descendants of the original family. We came away with a far better understanding of this period of history and the devastation that resulted from the civil war. New Orleans has its own incomparable charms, interesting architecture, traditional jazz bands and wonderful restaurants and southern cuisine. Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
This 5 day cruise from New Orleans to New Orleans was a perfect introduction to cruising on the American Queen. I could not have imagined anything better. The weather was beautiful and everything was nearly perfect. Accommodations ... Read More
This 5 day cruise from New Orleans to New Orleans was a perfect introduction to cruising on the American Queen. I could not have imagined anything better. The weather was beautiful and everything was nearly perfect. Accommodations at the Hilton Riverside were very nice. It seems the AQ people block rooms in an adjacent building and not the tower. The only problem with that was the train that runs alongside the rooms that blew its' whistle before 4:00AM. Breakfast was your usual hotel buffet with the exception of freshly fried beignets. The AQ had a conference room set up to check in, request dinner seating and give your credit card info. You were given a small card with all your info on it that was to serve as your credit card on board. It had your table number on the back of it. This process went quickly and you have the rest of the day to tour or sightsee. Promptly at 3:00 they began the embarkation process. We just went out the back of the hotel and could see where a line was forming. If you have mobility issues, transportation to the boat was arranged during the check in process. I was very pleased with our accommodations which were the bay window cabins. There was more than adequate space for your belongings and the bathroom was nicely sized. The air conditioning works extremely well, it might even be too cold for some people. The public rooms are amazing, such attention to period detail. I had read some reviews of problems in the dining room but there were none on this cruise. The food was delicious and with Troy and Jerry, our waiters, dinner was an event. Breakfast and lunch were open seating buffet or you could order from an abbreviated menu. You could take your meals on the Front Porch but I don't know why you would - the dining room is beautiful, the food is delicious and the service was spot on. This was a Big Band cruise and the orchestra was very good. The guest vocalist Lynn Roberts was so good we attended the early and late show when she was performing. In fact, all the musical performers were good. We were very pleased with every aspect of this cruise and will sail again in the future. Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
We booked this New Year's river cruise about 6 weeks before embarkation. All of the information arrived timely. The Hilton Riverside was perfect as the pre-cruise hotel. The embarkation went smoothly. The luggage was transported ... Read More
We booked this New Year's river cruise about 6 weeks before embarkation. All of the information arrived timely. The Hilton Riverside was perfect as the pre-cruise hotel. The embarkation went smoothly. The luggage was transported from our hotel room to our stateroom without incident and delivered timely. The stateroom was a little dated but of adequate size and comfort. The bathroom was roomy, especially the shower. The room attendant was attentive. She was there mid morning and late afternoon with fresh towels The beds were comfortable enough, and the TV and closed circuit radio provided in room entertainment. The selection of channels was okay although they should have a business channel. Because we signed up so late, only late dining was available. It took some adjusting to eat dinner at 8. We were at a table for 6, but rarely did we have a full table. Our table mates utilized the buffet on the third deck forward on several occasions. On certain nights we dined alone and on others, stragglers from early dinner filled the table. It was somewhat annoying but don't know what can be done. We have had the same experience on ocean cruises with late seating. Notwithstanding, the food was good, the service provided by two young ladies was excellent, the wine cups kept full. We did not experience any of the concerns voiced by prior reviewers with surly staff and inadequate supplies. Some of the wait staff in the morning at open seating moved a little slow, but so do we. Now the best part. The entertainment. Each night they had a show in the Grand Saloon. The ensemble put on 3 live themed shows backed up by the stage band which was entertaining and professional. They brought two entertainers aboard for special shows and one of the ensemble did her own show on one night with a variety of music genres. There was dancing and jamming every night in the lounge. The New Year's Eve party was a hoot. During the day we attended all the riverlorian lectures on the history of the river. And then they had the normal fill-ins, trivia, bingo, etc. The included excursions were okay. Natchez and Vicksburg were worth the time. Too many plantations. The premium excursions to Angola Prison and the Vicksburg battlefield very informative and well done. Disembarkation was a snap. We picked up our suitcases on the pier, walked to our hotel and took early occupancy. Stayed overnight on Sunday because due to our late booking, we had trouble finding a suitable flight back on New Year's weekend. Nothing wrong with another day of beignets and oysters. We are looking forward to doing it again somewhere upriver. With respect to expense, we realize that American work rules do increase the cost, but overall, we feel we received value for our money. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
If your looking for a very laid back cruise with amazing food and outstanding service check out the American Queen. We went from New Orleans to Memphis. I hear running the river down stream gives you a little more time at the history ... Read More
If your looking for a very laid back cruise with amazing food and outstanding service check out the American Queen. We went from New Orleans to Memphis. I hear running the river down stream gives you a little more time at the history filled ports. If you are interested in the Civil War or Southern living this is the tour for you. The amzing staff from the Stewards like Adam, the porters like Kisha, the fantastic and fun staff of the front porch cafe, Kim, Gabby, Stefanie and others or the knowldgable and helpful pursers will treat you royaly. The hop off hop on tours give you a taste of each ports history and highlights with a little time to check out shops and museums. In the evenings there is wonderful entertainment with music, singing, storytelling, and more. Of course each afternoon you must check out the Riverlorian talk. In 2015 it is Jerry who tells great stories, is an accomplished author, and very knowledagable about US rivers (not just the MS). Food.....it becomes part of the entertainment. If you like dressing up and formal slow dinners try the dinning room for a more laid back (my favorite place on board by the way) check out the front porch cafe. Seafood, steak Dianne, chicken, key lime pie, cheese cake, coffee, or mixed drinks you'll find them here. Open 24 hrs for some drinks and lite snacks. Old or young the self serve icecream machine is a must. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
Every one of the crew is amazingly friendly. They all want you to have the absolute best cruise experience possible. Kris Kelso, deckhand, really made my cruise when he let me squeegee the deck. His friendly smile and accomodating ... Read More
Every one of the crew is amazingly friendly. They all want you to have the absolute best cruise experience possible. Kris Kelso, deckhand, really made my cruise when he let me squeegee the deck. His friendly smile and accomodating personality made us feel comfortable and welcome. Kim Breashears, waitress on The Front Porch, was such a hoot. Her sense of humor kept us entertained with every meal. She waited on us hand and foot. My husband and I came to prefer the Front Porch dining over the J.M. White Dining Hall. Sandra, our stateroom attendant, worked hard, often behind the scenes, to keep our cabin neat, clean, well supplied, and "ship-shape." Although much of her work was done while we were enjoying ourselves elsewhere, we could always tell when she had been in to spruce things up. Mary Sward, the Riverlorian, was an excellent speaker, presenting historical, educational information pertinent to the region and the river. The cruise director was and excellent host - personable and outgoing. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
We love the Queen! She is the most authentic paddle wheeler on the rivers! Great food, friendly crew and guests, wonderful entertainment and lectures. Furnishings are appropriate to the time of the glorious steam boats. You will relive ... Read More
We love the Queen! She is the most authentic paddle wheeler on the rivers! Great food, friendly crew and guests, wonderful entertainment and lectures. Furnishings are appropriate to the time of the glorious steam boats. You will relive that era. The staff is very accomadating to special diet needs. This was our 6th cruise aboard the Queen and will soon do our 7th. We boarded in Chattanooga TN and disembarked in Nashville. As I often say, "We feel like we are coming home." Sit and chat, or just rock and watch the river go by. Hop on , hop off buses follow the Queen to each port, with supplemental tours available. These cruises are geared to an adult traveler. Would choose her any time over the mega cruise ships! The only drawback for some travelers is the size of most of the staterooms , compared to those on board the huge cruise ships! So bear in mind this is a riverboat and you will enjoy every aspect of your experience! Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
My wife and I took an American Queen Steamboat Company Cruise on The American Empress Steamboat last week, traveling up the Columbia and Snake Rivers. We have been on 30 international large cruise ships, but this was our first United ... Read More
My wife and I took an American Queen Steamboat Company Cruise on The American Empress Steamboat last week, traveling up the Columbia and Snake Rivers. We have been on 30 international large cruise ships, but this was our first United States River Cruise. The total 10 day cruise started with a Bus tour of Vancouver, Washington and Portland, Oregon which was followed by and over night stay at the Hilton Vancouver Hotel. The next morning the steamboat embarked from Portland, Oregon, going up the Columbia River and stopping in Astoria, OR. The Dalles, WA. Stevenson, WA, Richland, WA. and Clarkson, WA. After leaving the steamboat in Clarkson, WA we took another bus tour up to Spokane, Washington where we toured the city, and then checked in at the luxurious Davenport Hotel for a two night stay. It was a great Cruise trip, as we experienced the same sense of excitement and wonder that Lewis and Clark had, as they explored the Columbia and Snake River areas of Oregon and Washington. We visited many historical, scenic and enjoyable sites on our voyage up the famous rivers. The American Empress is a beautiful steamboat and is the largest overnight riverboat west of the Mississippi River. The American Empress also has a vast collection of some of the finest historical artifacts, and artwork from the Native Alaskan, Russian, Gold Rush, and stern wheeler eras on board. The corridors of the American Empress hold nearly as much beauty and intrigue as the dramatic scenery unfolding on the river outside. Our state room with a balcony was beautiful, and the bed was so comfortable. All the Meals on the ship prepared by Executive Chef Bill Ballard and Staff, were very Delicious! Chef Ballard would walk around every night checking with all the guests on the ship making sure that everyone was totally satisfied. The up stairs more casual River Grill & Bar was fantastic every time we ate there, as Restaurant Manager Lisa was so friendly and professional, as she guided the River Grill servers every night to do a great job. Desiree and Rachel were outstanding as they served us several times.The down stairs more up scale Astoria Dining Room, was managed by Maitre D' Ann Gilbert along with the very nice Restaurant Manager Allan Baja. Derrick who served are table of four people multiple times was excellent, professional, and had a great personality. The Bar Manager Ed Jenkins was also so nice as he would hustle around the steamboat making sure his Bartenders were preparing the Beer, Wine, and Cocktails that every guest wanted. One of the most important people on the entire ship was the Riverlorian Laurence Cotton, who worked very hard everyday giving multiple historical lectures, about the Columbia and Snake Rives and the Lewis and Clark expeditions. Laurence has so much knowledge and presented it very well. My wife and I also went on a tour of the Bridge, and met the Master of the steamboat Captain Ron Gray. It was a great tour, and the Captain was so nice as he instructed us about the functions of the American Empress Steamboat. We also took another good tour of the engine department with Chief Engineer Noah Sheppard. During the day on our many ports of call, we would go on either the Hop On-Hop Off luxury Bus tour which were included in the price of the Cruise, or we picked a premium excursion tour to go on. All the tours were so educational and very well organized. At night after dinner, we would go see the nightly showtime entertainment in the show lounge. The two main headliners most of the nights were the two married Cruise Directors, Lindy and Gregory Pendzick. They were FANTASTIC! During the day the two Cruise Directors were hustling around the ship making sure they did everything to take care of all the guests on the steamboat. Lindy and Greg did a great job coordinating bingo, game shows, and craft sessions for all the guests. At Night they both put on an outstanding Singing, Dancing, and Broadway play performances, that delighted the entire audience. Both Lindy and Greg have an extended list of professional stage experiences, and did a great job every night, along with the American Empress Band. After the Showtime entertainment finish at night, most people would then go up to the Paddle wheel Lounge on Deck 2 to have a Drink which would be served by Angie, and to listen to Piano Player, Singer, and Comedian Frank Case. Everyone enjoyed the "Fun with Frank" nightly categories, where he would play everyone's favorite tunes and highlights, from all the famous singers in entertainment history. Frank Case has Phenomenal Talents! All and All, my wife and I had a great time on the Steamboat Cruise, and I was totally impressed with the way the cruise was executed by the entire staff. My wife and I would definitely go back on another American Queen Steamboat Company Cruise, maybe the Mississippi cruise would be next. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
we were on the Snake and Columbia rivers following their trail.. It is amazing to see this terrain and in awe on how they navigated it over 200 years ago with the rapids etc., The Mt St. Helens volcano extra trip was interesting . I did ... Read More
we were on the Snake and Columbia rivers following their trail.. It is amazing to see this terrain and in awe on how they navigated it over 200 years ago with the rapids etc., The Mt St. Helens volcano extra trip was interesting . I did not know that this was not the typical lava flow eruption. The hop on and off trips were enlightening with the on bus guides, and stops. The desert area was a surprise and the locks a nice experience. Seeing the Manhattan project site was an eye opener. the food was okay. one has to realize that unlike big cruise ships, food is only served at certain times so if you miss the meal times you can not get food otherwise on the boat. the entertainment was simple was but delightful even the ones they brought on board were entertaining, cowboy songs and illusionist. they try very hard to make you feel at home with learning the passengers names. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
We went from St. Louis to St. Paul up the Mississippi River. This was a new area for us to see...and we had a great time. It was fall foliage..but the leaves had not changed yet. We really enjoyed visiting the towns along the river. ... Read More
We went from St. Louis to St. Paul up the Mississippi River. This was a new area for us to see...and we had a great time. It was fall foliage..but the leaves had not changed yet. We really enjoyed visiting the towns along the river. We liked the hop on hop off trams in each city. We were not impressed with the Pre cruise St. Louis City Tour, but the Post cruise St. Paul Tour was a little better. We would not have done the St. Louis tour had we known how it would be. This is our 10th trip on a steamboat..so we do like this way of travel. Our cabin was great. The food and service were very good. The entertainment on board was excellent. We especially enjoyed the high energy shows. All performers were exceptionally good. I am sorry to say we did not take advantage of the fitness room. The food was very good as was the service in the dining room. The buffets were great..and the menu choices were varied. We were glad to see our friend Julius from the Delta Queen Steamboat. We did not take any of the extra premium shore excursions as we wanted to see the towns on our own. This cruise was a good value for us...as we got a good rate..and all was included. We like the cabins with an inside door...in case the weather is colder. We actually enjoyed the bingo and other on board activities. The Riverlorian,Jerry, was very good as usual. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
We just returned from a wonderful, scenic, relaxing cruise from Vancouver, WA to Clarkston, WA on the American Empress paddle wheeler up the Columbia and Snake Rivers. It was extremely enjoyable in every way. The age group of the ... Read More
We just returned from a wonderful, scenic, relaxing cruise from Vancouver, WA to Clarkston, WA on the American Empress paddle wheeler up the Columbia and Snake Rivers. It was extremely enjoyable in every way. The age group of the passengers ranged from the 40's to the 70's. Unlike ocean cruises, getting off the boat at various stops along the way was extremely easy for even the handicapped (elevators are the same as ocean cruise ships). They provide hop on/hop off busses at every stop along the way, making it pleasant and easy to see every sight. Everything is included with few add-ons. Wine and beer are included with dinner, but normal bar drinks are extra. I highly recommend taking the jet boat excursion in Clarkston. It's a trip for everyone to enjoy the spectacular Hell's Canyon in Idaho which is deeper than the Grand Canyon and a beautiful sight and experience. We saw more wildlife than we did in Alaska, including mountain goats and bighorn sheep. The towns along the way are quaint and historical. Another great excursion goes to Multnomah Falls and an overlook of the Columbia Gorge. The crew were outstanding and helpful in every way possible. We had a deluxe cabin with a large private veranda on level three and loved the decor, storage, TV, free wifi, and bedding. It had closets 8 feet wide with ample hanging and drawer space as well as drawers under the TV cabinet. The food menus were fabulous despite the fact that the chef had resigned just before our trip and was replaced by a new hire. The local salmon, filet mignon, and lobster were always available. They have two dining venues - The Astoria Dining Room and a grill on the top deck which also featured a beautiful outdoor patio with umbrellas. Oregon is known for its fruit and berries and we loved the huge helpings at breakfast along with the best apple smoked bacon (thick sliced on a skewer covered in maple syrup and baked to perfection). By far the BEST part of the cruise was the entertainment. We have been on countless european river cruises which had minimal evening entertainment and ocean cruises which ranged from poor to outstanding entertainment. We were so shocked to find wonderful talent at every venue on the boat. The theater had Broadway quality singers and dancers backed by a fabulous four piece band. The lounge had an unbelievably talented and witty pianist singer that kept us enthralled every evening. Especially noteworthy was the fact that there was always seating available in all areas. We were pleased to meet Europeans and New Zealanders who also loved the entire experience. We were all enthralled with the Native Americans setting their gill nets for the autumn run of Chinook salmon and steelheads. If you are seeking beautiful scenery, time to relax, nice people and quaint towns without the hassle of flying across the pond, this is a trip for you! Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
Our ship check-in was done at the DoubleTree St. Paul Downtown where we spent the night before the cruise. The process was efficient and since we were traveling with a group of twelve, our dining room tables had already been assigned. We ... Read More
Our ship check-in was done at the DoubleTree St. Paul Downtown where we spent the night before the cruise. The process was efficient and since we were traveling with a group of twelve, our dining room tables had already been assigned. We took the optional city tour, which was enjoyable, and delivered to the ship. We went straight to our cabin and unpacked. The ship is beautiful and the entire ship staff was friendly and helpful the entire trip. There are two eating areas, the Front Porch (located on the bow of the ship) and the main dining room. We ate dinner each night in the dining room and the food was delicious with generous portions. Our waiters Smooth and Butter did a wonderful job and handled whatever request we had. The provided wine was good and poured generously. Our breakfasts and lunches were eaten at the Front Porch where service was buffet-style. There was both indoor and outdoor seating at the Front Porch. Since we had wonderful weather, we ate most meals outdoors. Coffees, teas, popcorn and soft-serve ice cream was always available at the Front Porch. The ship had plenty of public areas where you could simply sit and relax. We went to the evening shows each night and enjoyed all of them. One of the highlights was an actor portraying Mark Twain. At each port we enjoyed the hop-on, hop-off bus tours. A local guide on the bus provided information about the city. You could get off at designated stops, see the attractions and get back on the bus as it completed the route about every 15 minutes. There were several optional paid excursions offered. We took the pre-cruise tour of St. Paul, the Hoover Presidential Library and the post-cruise St. Louis tour. Each one was enjoyable and worth the extra cost. We enjoyed this cruise so much that we booked a Nashville to Memphis cruise for 2016 while aboard ship. Everyone in our group had a wonderful time. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
This was my fourth cruise on American Queen in 15 months, all different itineraries. I am usually an Ocean and Expedition cruiser, but I have totally fallen in love with American Queen. Unlike most river cruise ships, that have the charm ... Read More
This was my fourth cruise on American Queen in 15 months, all different itineraries. I am usually an Ocean and Expedition cruiser, but I have totally fallen in love with American Queen. Unlike most river cruise ships, that have the charm of airport hotels, AQ is the real McCoy. It's a total immersion experience in River and Southern culture. As you board, you are welcomed with a Dixieland Jazz band playing on the front porch. You walk up a red carpet to the library, where you are offered an array of amazing hors d'oeuvres. The decor is incredible. It's like you walked into a plantation home. Wonderful antiques are everywhere. The staff at the Reception Desk welcome you and actually try to help you, whatever you need. After all the snubs you get on big cruise ships, this is so refreshing. Genuine Southern Hospitality rules the day. As a repeater, the hugs with crew members remembering me started at the check-in at the hotel and continued on board. You are one of the family. The cabins are great. They are decorated with period decor. Mine had a genuine dresser from a plantation home and a Tiffany style lamp. The beds are so comfortable, you sleep so well. The bathrooms are huge and also well appointed. The boat doesn't rock, you're on the river. The food is the best on any ship afloat, anywhere,any place. I've taken 76 cruises and I can't rave more about it. They feature southern and creole food, along with down home American favorites. You know you are in trouble when the first morning's special is Bananas Foster French Toast stuffed with cream cheese. Look for the Jambalaya, Maryland crab cakes, slow cooked brisket, short ribs and the desserts. The carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and white chocolate is incredible, but the bread pudding of the day, with a different liquor sauce every day, will have yours eyes rolling back in your head! The dining room is so elegant, with twin domed wings. I hardy ever went to the Front Porch Cafe, as the temptation is too great! The entertainment is fantastic too. I especially liked the local musicians, who came on for a show. The band is terrific. One night they had a 50s 60s sock hop and the crowd kept cheering for them to continue. The reviews were great too, with a cast of four singer/dancers. They did everything from Jazz to Blues to Pop to Broadway. On off nights, they came and sang at the piano bar, which is so popular, they drag chairs over from the dining room for everyone to enjoy. An informative Riverlorian has lectures to educate you on the history of the river. The company has a fleet of luxury motor coaches. Every day, they pull up to give included hop on hop off tours. They make multiple stops and include museums, historic homes and all kinds of fun places of interest, real Americana. I was worried I might be bored, but I find that I am scrambling to squeeze everything in. Hannibal is known for its Mark Twain sites, but the shopping was great too. The Native American store had wonderful belts and hand made sterling silver buckles. In Clinton, we went across to Fulton, to a windmill brought from Holland, and toured an amazing museum featuring models of every kind of windmill around. The town dressed in Dutch outfits to welcome us. From Red Wing, I took a premium tour to get face to beak with Bald Eagles. I didn't take the premium tour to "The Field of Dreams" and am sorry I didn't. They took you to the actual cornfield, talked with the Ghost Players from the movie, then people played baseball. Several 70+ year old ladies told me they went 2 for 4! The premium tours are inexpensive, compared to major ocean cruise lines, and are great value. They really think of everything on AQ. You never have anything to complain about. They don't skimp or cut back on food and service, as is common on big ships. How refreshing! They just ooze with Southern hospitality, great food and fun. I can't wait to return! Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
I sailed on the first Mark Twain theme cruise on the American Queen August 23rd. I suffer from vertigo which becomes massively worse if I lie down and turn my head. This means that I must sleep sitting up, usually in a recliner. I had ... Read More
I sailed on the first Mark Twain theme cruise on the American Queen August 23rd. I suffer from vertigo which becomes massively worse if I lie down and turn my head. This means that I must sleep sitting up, usually in a recliner. I had requested this, but was very nervous that the company might not have chair that worked well for me. When I boarded the boat and the staff came with a recliner for me, I was thrilled and happy. I was also very impressed with kind and attentive care the staff gave to the few passengers with severe disabilities. As a single woman, I did not feel like an odd duck on this cruise. I was once married and went on cruises with my husband. I noticed then that traveling as a single woman on many cruises is not a very good situation. This Riverboat cruise has an atmosphere that stresses the values I believe are important—-namely, American traditions and culture, an appreciation of the heartland with its' river system and diversity in the passengers. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
We chose this cruise as part of our bucket list. The hotel in St.Louis was excellent, all service people very good. The Urban City Park was the highlight. All connections were flawless. Boarding the boat was a very good experience, the ... Read More
We chose this cruise as part of our bucket list. The hotel in St.Louis was excellent, all service people very good. The Urban City Park was the highlight. All connections were flawless. Boarding the boat was a very good experience, the greeting we received in the lobby was very warm and gracious,as we entered our room, our bags were there and a very nice fruit bowl with bottle of wine, very very nice. The dining room servers were very professional and were well trained, we looked forward to seeing James and Taylor each night for dinner, all thou they were busy they seemed to be able to chat and make you feel very welcomed,. The excursions we booked were very educational especially the Metropolitan Hotel in Paducah, Kentucky. Kris, the meet and greet member was just the best, such a nice personality and always a warm smile, a great sense of humor. The Front Porch dining was an experience, the food was good, the wait staff could not have been better, Kim was the most happiest first thing in the morning, a great way to start your day. Our cabin was checked and cleaned every day by ADAM, he also greeted us every morning with coffee and a huge smile, always wanting to do more. He was excellent in his work and the way he presented himself, we just loved having him as our attendant. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
My wife and I sailed on the August 9 departure of the American Empress, a 7-night journey that began in Vancouver WA (across the river from Portland OR) and ended in Clarkston WA, about 2 hours south of Spokane. The cruise exceeded my ... Read More
My wife and I sailed on the August 9 departure of the American Empress, a 7-night journey that began in Vancouver WA (across the river from Portland OR) and ended in Clarkston WA, about 2 hours south of Spokane. The cruise exceeded my expectations and would be enjoyed by just about anyone above age 60 or perhaps younger people traveling with their family. For the record, we are a 65-year old retired couple from California. The ship carries about 200 passengers, most in cabins with a balcony. One quirk is that the more expensive cabins/suites are on deck 4, the promenade deck. These cabins have an outside seating area with a short "fence" cordoning it off from the promenade walkway so there is less privacy in these cabins. Those in window cabins can still enjoy the river views and there are several comfortable outdoor seating venues on different decks. Our category C balcony cabin on deck 2 was a bit small but completely adequate and comfortable. It included a refrigerator, flat screen TV and a safe. Wi-Fi generally worked well in our cabin. The speed was about what you would expect on an ocean cruise, faster than dial-up but far slower than on your home cable modem. The dining experience was very good to excellent. For breakfast and lunch there are two venues, a sit-down meal in the main dining room and a buffet on the top deck. In both cases the offerings were not as numerous as you would find on a sea cruise but there was enough variety to please me. We ate all of our breakfasts at the buffet; I was very impressed with the summertime fruit selection. A 'made to order' omelet station was also available. We ate most lunches in the sit-down venue. There were a few choices from a 2-course menu with optional dessert. Service was prompt. The buffet lunch also featured a grill offering hamburgers and hot dogs. For dinner the buffet area was converted to an alternative restaurant with tablecloths; advance reservations are required with a limit of 2 visits per voyage. The River Grill featured a fixed menu that included entrees like lamb chops, filet, and lobster. Service was attentive. Tables for 2 are very small so it is useful to share a table with others. Dinner in the main dining room offered open seating at two times, 5:30 and 7:45. The menu generally consisted of a choice of 2 appetizers, a soup, a salad and a choice of about 4 or 5 entrees, one being vegetarian. Wine is offered each evening with dinner, one white and one red. The reds were generally pretty good or better. However on two evenings the white wine offered was off-dry to sweet, not a good choice for dinner. Wine service was very attentive with generous pours. Many evenings I requested a final glass of wine to take to the show. I was pleasantly surprised by the on-board entertainment. Each evening there was a 45-minute show in the show lounge featuring a 4-piece band. The cruise directors, a husband and wife team, provided excellent singing and dancing most evenings. A guest banjo/guitarist, Will Kiefer, gave excellent performances on two evenings. The shows were augmented with a humorous piano-bar entertainer in the main bar. My only criticism of the entertainment was that the song selection was a bit stodgy, more "Lawrence Welk" than 'Woodstock". As I pointed out in my on-board ship review, those of us that are now 65 are part of the "Woodstock Generation" and we will begin to represent a greater portion of their passenger demographic. Another key aspect of the entertainment was a series of talks provided by the Riverlorian, Lawrence Cotton for this voyage. A highlight was his two-part depiction of the Lewis and Clark journey from the early 1800s. He managed to bring this adventure to life. He was also frequently on deck chatting with passengers. On occasion he would take to the PA system to narrate scenery or lock transits. Shore excursions were very well designed and executed. Each port featured a no-cost "Hop-on Hop-off" bus service that visited several attractions. A good map with the bus timetable was provided for each port. Generally you could also purchase a premium excursion for more in-depth exploration. The optional shore excursions were priced similar to sea cruise excursions. The full-day Columbia Gorge excursion was a highlight. We also very much enjoyed the half-day wine excursion. Of the Ho-Ho trips, we enjoyed Astoria the most. Suggestions: --Cruise direction of travel: I recommend the westbound itinerary for a few reasons. Eastern Washington is dry and dusty. I would have preferred to end the trip with the more lush scenery of the Columbia Gorge and western Oregon. Flights out of Spokane are more limited than from Portland; it is good to get the more difficult flight out of the way initially by flying into Spokane. --the no cost Ho-Ho bus tickets are required for the first few departures. This is to avoid crowding. The tickets and map are available the evening before; it is prudent to get them early so that you can secure your desired departure time. --Make reservations for the River Grill dinner shortly after embarking the boat. Try to pick evenings where the ship is traveling rather than docked; this provides better views while dining. And generally you can secure a third night if you also ask for dinner the night of boarding; this doesn't count against your two-night quota. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
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