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37 American Queen Steamboat Company North America River Cruise Reviews

We had been wanting to try a river cruise, especially after watching the size of ocean-going cruise ships balloon until some can carry more than 6,000 passengers. The American Empress beautifully accommodates just over 221, with an ... Read More
We had been wanting to try a river cruise, especially after watching the size of ocean-going cruise ships balloon until some can carry more than 6,000 passengers. The American Empress beautifully accommodates just over 221, with an attentive crew of 88. Our Category C cabin--212--was cozy, but well laid out so that we had plenty of closet space and storage, even in the bathroom. Yes, the shower is small, but it worked just fine for us. Ours was a late-season round trip from and to Vancouver, Washington, rather than the more common one-way trip from Vancouver to Lewiston, Idaho, or vice versa. We knew that there was a high probability of rainy/cloudy/foggy weather in the Pacific Northwest in November, and we were proved correct. We did have two sunny days, and only two really rainy days, so we were content. Our fellow cruisers were, in the main, like us--Baby Boomers and older. There were a few 40-50 somethings, but we were in the majority. I would not recommend this as a honeymoon cruise, unless your other passion is Lewis and Clark. As for the Empress herself, she is a delightful home away. The food was very good, particularly the fish entrees, and of those, particularly the salmon. The lobster was also quite good, and more moist--less chewy--than on many past ocean cruises. The River Grille, on the top deck (#4), offered buffet-style cuisine at breakfast and lunch, and becomes a stylish alternative (no extra cost) dinner house at night. I was captivated by the masses of fresh berries and bacon available for breakfast, along with made-to-order omelets and other breakfast fare. Lunch was equally tasty, with hamburgers cooked to order. The Grille also offered 24/7 access to coffee, sodas, soft-serve ice cream, and cookies. The cuisine was a big two thumps-up on the Empress. The ports consisted of Vancouver, WA, Astoria, OR, te Dalles, OR, Stevenson, WA, and Portland, OR. The Hop-on-Hop-off (HOHO) buses were a wonderful included extra in every port. We opted for two optional excursions--Fort Clatsop in Astoria and the Maryhill Art Museum outside of the Dalles. I recommend both. Back to the boat . . . The entertainment was passable, but we didn't take this cruise to be entertained. The "Riverlorian" was well-intentioned and knowledgeable, but a bit dry. The lounge singer provided guitar and vocals in the Paddlewheel Lounge, and was especially effective with James Taylor covers. The staff was unfailingly cordial, professional, and attentive. Bottom line: This was a great experience, and I recommend this cruise. The only negative was the lack of soundproofing between rooms. This was not a deal-breaker, but it could be improved. A definite plus was the binoculars, robe, and slippers provided (you get to keep the slippers!). It was such a positive experience that we are hoping to book a future cruise on the lower Mississippi with American Queen Steamship Company. Well done, AQSC! Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
What a wonderful week we had as we sailed down the Snake and Columbia Rivers aboard the American Empress! This was our first cruise with the American Steamboat Company and there was so much about the cruise that didn’t disappoint. We ... Read More
What a wonderful week we had as we sailed down the Snake and Columbia Rivers aboard the American Empress! This was our first cruise with the American Steamboat Company and there was so much about the cruise that didn’t disappoint. We have sailed many larger cruise ships but never a riverboat. The crew was the most friendly crew we have experienced. The Captain was visible and friendly too. The accommodations were excellent. Our room steward Gina was superb and quick to respond when we had questions or concerns. The ship was chilly and a large majority or passengers wore light jackets, sweatshirts or sweaters while on board. We did have two problems with our cabin while on board. On the second day our safe would not open. They responded quickly, opened our safe but were unable to fix it. However, later in the day the safe was removed and another safe was installed and it worked well for the remainder of the trip. At 2:30 am the next to last day of our cruises I saw a spark somewhere in the ceiling near our door. Smoke began to come out of the ceiling smelling like an electrical fire. When I called the main desk 3 people came to our cabin immediately, one with a fire extinguisher in hand. One of the crew opened a door in the ceiling where the air conditioner was located and began looking around. It was a bit dirty up there, which was noted by one of the crew. Smoke was still in the room. I asked if they cared if I opened the door to the outside. So I did. With the door to the hall open and the door to our balcony open the smoke began to filter out of the room. After a few minutes they determined that the motor of the air conditioner had burned out and said that it could not be replaced until morning. They said we should leave our 2 doors open to get the smoke out of our cabin and they left. We do wish the crew had checked to see if that was an option conducive to sleeping, since it was now after 3:00 am. The wind coming through the cabin sounded like a freight train coming through the cabin. So we closed the door to the hall and laid back down. Then the door to the deck was banging so it was impossible to sleep. We closed that door too, even though there was still some smoke in the room. By 4:00 am we were able to drift off to sleep. By 7:00 am we were leaving our cabin and met a crew member coming down the hall to replace the motor. He said he was leaving and needed to do that before he left. Good thing we were heading out for the day and didn’t get awakened again for the repair. When returning to our cabin after breakfast our cabin door was left open and no one was in the cabin which was a little unsettling. In the end our air conditioner was fixed and worked fine for the remainder of our trip. I still wonder what they can do to keep the area around the ac units cleaner. We were breathing that dust in our cabin and the dirt could have contributed to a fire. I thank the quick response of the crew. But I do wish that they had offered us a way to secure the balcony door so we could have left it open. And why was our cabin left unsecured? Even though we were a little tired that day we didn’t let that stop our tours and enjoyed the day and the remainder of our trip Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We wanted to experience the pacific northwest and travel with some good friends. The literature advertised this as upscale, all inclusive. We've taken many ocean cruises (15+) but never a river cruise anywhere. I'm not sure ... Read More
We wanted to experience the pacific northwest and travel with some good friends. The literature advertised this as upscale, all inclusive. We've taken many ocean cruises (15+) but never a river cruise anywhere. I'm not sure I'd say this is upscale, and I'm not convinced its worth the additional monies versus what you'd pay for a large vessel cruise. The Hop On/Hop Off bus is a nice feature, as is the wine and beer with dinner, but it's an expensive gimmick, not worth the extra money you pay. The cabins are nicely appointed but small, just like a larger ship. The intimate size (200+ passengers) was quite nice, but most were very elderly and the things to do were very limited. Food was good. Quantity was good, you could have extras. The number of menu selections were limited compared to a larger ship. The River Grill menu covers a wide range of items but it doesn't compare to a "for-fee" restaurant on a larger ship. The ambiance was not there. The guest performers were terrific. The on-board assistant cruise directors, who also performed, were not of the same caliber of talent. We all said we enjoyed this and we are very glad we did it. We just would not do another river cruise at this point. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
This cruise for for my 10th anniversary. We were the youngest couple on the boat (not a critique, just an observation). It was the first river boat experience for both of us. There was one port-of-call change that was made after we ... Read More
This cruise for for my 10th anniversary. We were the youngest couple on the boat (not a critique, just an observation). It was the first river boat experience for both of us. There was one port-of-call change that was made after we booked due to an event at on of the ports that seemed significant enough to have warranted more warning. The excursions we took: The LEWIS & CLARK EXPERIENCE THE ULTIMATE PACIFIC NORTHWEST EXPERIENCE The PENDLETON TOUR THE COMPLETE LEWIS-CLARK VALLEY WINE TOUR The Hits: The room and service was excellent as expected The food was amazing with a variety of changing options at every seating The scenery in transit was beautiful The "riverlorian" The Lewis-Clark Valley Wine Tour Most of the entertainment The Misses: Some of the excusrions. The example I'll give is The Ultimate Pacific Northwest Experience, but we had similar experiences on more than excursion. This tour attempts to pack in far too much in one day. We were on the bus traveling between locations far longer than we got to spend at any of them. "Enrichment" on this tour is simply not an option. For example, stopping at the magnificent Multnomah Falls, we were allotted less than an hour. Only the most active and spry of us made it to the bridge, wit barely enough time to walk the rest of the grounds. It was basically race the bridge, then back down to spend a few minutes in the gift shop before taking off to the next place. Lunch was great, but maybe a catered lunch at Timberline instead, with more time at that location (and the others) would have made this excursion better. Maybe it's just me, but I would prefer more detailed enrichment at fewer places than less at more locations and spending too much time travelling between locations. The Entertainment The quartet contains talented musicians and excelled at the small scale pieces tasked to play. It was perfect for the '50-60's night. For some of the bigger themed pieces, a quartet is just not big enough to simulate some of the "big band" or Broadway orchestra pieces that were presented. This band would be so much better served with just one more member, specifically a horn, either trumpet or even a trombone, and it would really round out the sound. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
As experienced ocean cruisers we chose this cruise up the Mississippi in late April to see some southern states before the summer heat. This year the heavy spring rains within the Mississippi watershed had created major upstream flooding; ... Read More
As experienced ocean cruisers we chose this cruise up the Mississippi in late April to see some southern states before the summer heat. This year the heavy spring rains within the Mississippi watershed had created major upstream flooding; however, the only impact to our cruise was two of our docks were damaged and unusable and one of our planned stops was canceled. Overall, the cruise was great and certainly met my expectations. The staff was great. The entertainment exceeded my expectations and the river historian dded a lot of knowledge to the cruise. The food was good and with great variety. Only complaint was a couple of servings on the lukewarm side. Also, serving sizes were noticeably smaller which did not impact me in the slightest. There certainly was plenty of food. Our cabin was good and very comfortable. The bathroom was good size with a great shower! The internet services were free and far superior to our ocean cruises. The highlight of the shore excursions was the visit to Chef Regina Charboneau's home in Natchez. She is absolutely delightful, a very entertaining guest, and we got a beautifully autographed copy of her latest cook book! Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
Although we are listing a bunch of issues that we encountered, we had a great time on our Memphis to New Orleans cruise. The cabin, dining, staff, hop on-off and premium excursions met and/or exceeded our expectations. The Peabody and ... Read More
Although we are listing a bunch of issues that we encountered, we had a great time on our Memphis to New Orleans cruise. The cabin, dining, staff, hop on-off and premium excursions met and/or exceeded our expectations. The Peabody and Intercontinental hotel selections were excellent choices. But, as a passenger with mobility issues, the following items are presented and if remedied would make the Duchess an ideal selection for those with physical impairments. American Duchess embark process was cumbersome - lengthy lines and 2 different stations to get through. We were on the 3rd deck and got a notice in the a.m. that balconies would be washed between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. - open balcony curtain at 8 a.m. and the crew was already washing our balcony. In the afternoon we went to stern, 2nd deck, to find that the dirt from the 3rd deck was washed onto 2nd deck rockers and chairs making them unusable. The rockers were never cleaned. The bow stacks, which are for decoration only, were up and down as required for clearance. The stern stacks were stuck in a down position which, when engines engaged, blew carbon flakes on our balcony (and us, when we were sitting there). Most of the guests were senior citizens like us and a few, including me, had mobility issues. The bow elevator was closed for maintenance during the entire cruise leaving guests to walk to middle of the boat to access the only working elevators. The rug on the sun deck had significant bumpy areas which present a dangerous trip hazard even during the daylight hours. The cabin maintenance staff left their vacuum cords unsecured when vacuums were in the hallway aisles. It was a pretty common experience where we had to step over these cords. When we were still in port in Memphis the Duchess was experiencing power issues - lights flickering, etc. A beaker finally blew when we ported in Natchez, requiring us to stay in port there for an extra day, missing out on our Baton Rouge stop. While the captain and cruise crew made the extra day as comfortable as possible we did miss on of our most-looked-for destinations and our all day Cajun experience. The open bar and adding a Natchez excursion helped but we were very disappointed in missing Baton Rouge. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
there was a credit of $800.00 from a previous sailing with the American Queen Steamboat company. We wanted to try the American Queen - the biggest of the 3 ships in the American Steamboat co. We were waiting for the last minute deal ... Read More
there was a credit of $800.00 from a previous sailing with the American Queen Steamboat company. We wanted to try the American Queen - the biggest of the 3 ships in the American Steamboat co. We were waiting for the last minute deal , we found this cruise in a very short notice of departure. the ship was built in 1995 - a paddle wheeler, the steamboat built back to the Victorian history of the 1900 -including the furniture in the cabin, the theatre, dining room, lounges. entertainment -done by the ship's own members -dancers & singers, world-class musicians - organized by the Steamboat Syncopators -playing trumpet ,bass, drums ,.piano,saxophone,clarinet , flute & trombone. and also outside guests performance - Dante Vaudeville -magic show,Lainie Gulliksen -Siren Songs celebrating the Sirens of Broadway,Pop, & Opera , also the ship's own musician entertainers During the day there were River Chat ,Movie Matinee ,Bingo dinner - on the J.M. White Dining Room -we were on the 5.15pm early seating food was good service were great there was a land tour -on the ship's Hop on Hop Off busesto visit many Plantation , resorts ,museum churches. there was hardly any children Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
we cruise in the Mississippi River starting from New Orleans Louisiana to Memphis TN withthe American Queen .Every day we stopped in 1 town, Nottoway Plantation in Nottoway,visting -the White castle completed in 1859 -64 rooms, then St. ... Read More
we cruise in the Mississippi River starting from New Orleans Louisiana to Memphis TN withthe American Queen .Every day we stopped in 1 town, Nottoway Plantation in Nottoway,visting -the White castle completed in 1859 -64 rooms, then St. Francisville ,St. Louisana-the plethora of beautiful & charming antebellum period homes & architecture.then Natchez,Mississippi -charming river town first inhibited by Natchez Indians & French explorers,Vicksburg,Mississippi -Jesse Brent Lower Mississippi River Museum,Greenville-HistoricDowntown Greenville Mississippi -Greenville History Museum, Hebrew Union Temple Museum,lastly in Memphis- Graceland-visiting Elvis Presley Mansion , airplane , gift shops& various museum - mostly using The American Queen Hop On & Hop Off buses. In the boat there is a life show every evening - musical band with the American Queen steamboat company, Steamboat Syncoptors -celebration of 50's - 80's pop music in a variety of styles,Memphis Soul & Blue Singer -Queen Ann Hines, Alaskan Boy -Alex Bernhardt sings his favourite songs, Southern Style starring Bobby DurhamDante -sleightof hand magic show, Lainie Gulliksen -Siren Songs -of broadway Pop & Opera etc.The food -lots of variety including Lobster tail - 7 ozs. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
Unique, beautiful itinerary and fabulous entertainment and service staff mostly wonderful (but inconsistent Pursers Desk courtesy) but some cautions for those with special needs, diets and health concerns. Most staff are incredibly ... Read More
Unique, beautiful itinerary and fabulous entertainment and service staff mostly wonderful (but inconsistent Pursers Desk courtesy) but some cautions for those with special needs, diets and health concerns. Most staff are incredibly good, polite and service excellent. The scenery was beautiful and unique. Entertainment was top notch. Cabin Steward did a great job. Mostly quite nice but older boat; almost 1/4 of a century old, so some parts not overly well maintained. Floors often uneven so watch your step. Also toilets don’t have enough water and we have to use and carry around a cup to fill them. EW!!! And elevators have closed on us a few times. Guest laundry not always working. And the heating/air conditioning system does not work properly. Cautions: the management is often inept at fixing or responding to problems. It is freezing on the boat in public areas especially dining room and show lounge; bring a very warm jacket; we had to go find a store and buy heavy flannel shirts. VERY limited outside areas to sit unless you have a private balcony, especially if you have mobility issues. Very careful if you have any dietary concerns; I am gluten free, and the menus are wrong about what contains and I was served gluten and got sick. Even head waiters don’t understand what has gluetin in it. Items on menus are often not available, crew does not know where to find things. If you have mobility issues, please know that we were told that boat accessible, but top two outside decks are not. Also, if cigarette smoke is a concern, be warned that the entire top-deck...”sun deck”, is available to smoke on, instead of the usual: just on the port or starboard side. Communication to guests and among departments is not the best. Wheelchairs and scooters are parked outside dining room in front of emergency fire equipment door!!!!Big safety issue to me. And, if you book another cruise while onboard (and you may, as overall, it really was wonderful), be sure to get the quote in writing, as what we were told and what was later sent to us at home, was different than what we were told onboard. But these issues, while troublesome, did not ruin a really wonderful time. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
My wife and I, along with four other couples, sailed the American Empress from Spokane to Portland on May 20, 2018. This was our third cruise with American Queen Steamboat Company. We had previously done the Upper Mississippi and Nashville ... Read More
My wife and I, along with four other couples, sailed the American Empress from Spokane to Portland on May 20, 2018. This was our third cruise with American Queen Steamboat Company. We had previously done the Upper Mississippi and Nashville to Memphis on the American Queen. DAY 1: American Queen provides your first night stay at the historic Davenport Hotel. The hotel shuttle which we had reserved thru the hotel ($25 per room) was waiting for us and quickly delivered us to the hotel. The hotel is beautiful and we enjoyed lunch in the Grill. The prime rib French dip sandwich was melt-in-your-mouth delicious. We completed our ship check-in, enjoyed dinner and walked a few blocks to see Spokane Falls. DAY 2: The next morning, following a buffet breakfast provided by American Queen, we took the Spokane City Tour Premium Excursion. We returned to the hotel around noon which gave us time to check out and eat lunch before boarding the bus for the two hour drive to Clarkston. If you choose not to take the extra-cost city tour, the morning is yours until it is time to board the bus to Clarkston. After boarding the boat, one member of our group went to make reservations for the River Grill “specialty” dining and another member went to the dining room to request a table for ten for the entire cruise. During dinner we had a short cruise on the river before returning to the dock. DAY 3: Still in Clarkston, following breakfast we did the hop-on, hop-off bus before returning for lunch on our veranda. Our group had four adjacent cabins on the Vista Deck. Outside each cabin were two chairs and a small table. A low railing separated the veranda from the walking deck and there was a metal partition between each veranda. At our request, the deck crew removed the metal partitions between our cabins so the area was open and we could all sit out and talk to each other. We went thru our first lock this afternoon which lowered us 100 feet. Following dinner we enjoyed the evening show and spent about 45 minutes chatting with the performers after the show. It’s great being on a small ship where the crew and entertainers know your names after the first day. The weather has been perfect although it’s been warmer than we expected. DAY 4: When we arrived in Richland, WA we weren’t able to dock due to the high water level of the river because of early snow melt run-off. The boat was positioned perpendicular to the shore and the bow gangway dropped. The premium excursions and hop-on, hop-off ran as usual. We left at 4:30 pm and were told that we were sailing to Umatilla, OR so the boat could take on water and fuel. We enjoyed another wonderful dinner and show. DAY 5: The regular dock in Umatilla was flooded so we’ve docked at an industrial dock. Unfortunately we spent most of the day here and the stink of diesel fuel was horrible. We should have spent the day cruising. This was the low point of the cruise. About 5 pm we reached the John Day Dam lock. Enjoyed another wonderful show this evening. DAY 6: Arrived in Stevenson, WA for an overnight stay. The weather and scenery has really changed. Much cooler, windy and forested. Beautiful scenery. We visited the Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum this morning, enjoyed dinner and the show. DAY 7: Visited Multnomah Falls, Vista House and Latourell Falls. Another delicious dinner followed by a great show. After the show we enjoyed a rock & roll dance party. DAY 8: Arrived in Astoria, OR to a beautiful sunny day. Everyone is telling us that this weather is unusually good for Astoria which is normally overcast and cloudy. We did the hop-on, hop-off bus this morning and following lunch we took the Lewis and Clark excursion. Enjoyed our last dinner and show and packed for the trip home. DINING We had requested and received early dining but a specific table is not assigned until you arrive for dinner. The dining room manager had us at two tables (6 and 4) the first night, but the rest of the cruise we had a table for ten with the same servers each night. The River Grill and Bar becomes a “specialty” dining venue with a fixed menu with several choices. Five or six seatings are offered each night. There is no extra cost to eat there but each guest is limited to two dinners per cruise. We had made reservations for two nights but after our first meal we cancelled our second reservation. We were not impressed. Several in our group had the steak and lobster and by the time the server got around to removing the lobster from the shell, it was cold and the steak for several people was cold upon arrival. The food was no better than that served in the dining room nor was the ambiance. For breakfast and lunch the River Grill has buffet offerings as well as cooked to order items such as eggs, hamburgers, etc. The soft serve ice cream machine and assorted toppings are located here. Several days later we were talking to the Dining Room Manager about our experience and how we felt it would be better to following the example of the American Queen and have the River Grill serve buffet style in the evening for those guests who would prefer a quicker, casual meal. He said that would be his preference also since he really doesn’t have the staff to do a proper job in the present set-up. The Dining Room offered varied menu items for breakfast and lunch, although we always ate breakfast and lunch in the River Grill. Dinner in the Dining Room offered a changing menu consisting of three starters, six soup/salads, eight entrees, several side items and five desert choices. There were several times when we ordered multiple entrees or extra servings which were happily provided. Overall the food was very good except for the pastry items which left much to be desired. They need a new pastry chef. ENTERTAINMENT The shipboard entertainment was excellent. Singers/dancers Sammi Sadicario and Daniel Lopez were both outstanding performers. Greg Pendzick sang and acted as the master of ceremonies and his wife Lindy Penzick sang and was the ship’s officer in charge of hospitality. Frank Chase played piano in the Paddlewheel Lounge. Kevin Neil captured the spirit of the wild west through his cowboy poetry and songs one evening. STAFF The staff was excellent. Everyone was extremely friendly and helpful. Our cabin attendant Olivia kept our cabin spotless and was a joy to work with. Dining room manager Baja arranged a special table for ten for our group and our servers Delonte and Lulu performed their duties in an excellent manner while making sure we had fun at dinner. A special thanks to Greg and Lindy Pendzick who handled their roles as entertainers and ship officers in a wonderful manner. They knew everyone’s name after the first day and went above and beyond to ensure that our cruise was wonderful. We never encountered a crew member who wasn’t helpful and more than willing to go out of their way to make our stay more comfortable. HOP-ON, HOP-OFF American Queen has their own fleet of four buses that follow the boat from stop to stop. At each town they provide a free hop-on, hop-off bus tour staffed by local historians that explain what you’re seeing and what’s at the different stops. The buses run in a continuous loop so you see what you want at your own pace. It’s a great system. In Clarkston we visited the Nez Perce National Historical Park and the Bridablik/Schroeder House. The House is a don’t miss attraction. It is a privately-owned residence that has been restored and filled with antiques. It is only open to American Empress guests and the owners take you on a wonderful tour followed by refreshments. Unfortunately they don’t allow any photography inside the house. In Astoria we visited Flavel House, a restored antique-filled house and the Astoria Column. PREMIUM SHORE EXCURSIONS We did several premium excursions which we felt were excellent and reasonably priced. The Spokane City Tour included Bing Crosby’s home, Manito Park and a ride on the historic 1909 Looff Carrousel. This tour fills your morning before being driven to the boat in Clarkston. Two members of our group went on the Hells Canyon Scenic Jet Boat Experience and enjoyed it. They said it was a smooth scenic ride. The High Octane Antiques: The Western Aeroplane and Automobile was wonderful. Over 325 airplanes, automobiles, motorcycles, jeeps and tractors are displayed. The Multnomah Falls & Vista House excursion included Multnomah Falls, Vista House and Latourell Falls, all beautiful locations. The Lewis and Clark Experience was very good. The Portland “The Rose City” Tour was also very good and delivered us to the Portland Airport by noon. Overall we had a wonderful cruise thru beautiful scenery. When comparing this cruise with our two previous trips on the American Queen, we preferred the American Queen. It is a larger ship which seemed to have more amenities. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
We chose this cruise because it was on my “bucket list,” and the safety of the United States. The boat is beautiful, but could use some maintenance, as far as paint, etc. We were in the Owner’s Suite with ample room, elevated ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it was on my “bucket list,” and the safety of the United States. The boat is beautiful, but could use some maintenance, as far as paint, etc. We were in the Owner’s Suite with ample room, elevated amenities, private veranda, special balcony seating during entertainment in theater. The mattress on the double bed was not comfortable. The butler was very attentive, personable, and efficient. Dining was good but not exceptional. Breakfast and lunch options were buffet or from menu in the main dining room. The dinners were top-notch. Buffet dining was always available at another venue. The bars were tended by very good mixologists. Entertainment was good, considering the size of the boat. Lectures and other activities, such as bingo, were interesting and enjoyable. Service was probably the best part, though some dining staff had some attitude problem. A statement in its brochure said that the boat had an all American staff, and that was a bit of a stretch. The staff was very personable and warm, for the most part. The stops at Nottoway Plantation, Natchez, and Vicksburg were very nice and interesting, but the lower Mississippi doesn’t offer a lot of choices. Perhaps Baton Rogue should be considered. The boat glides smoothly along, pushed by its paddle wheel. It’s very relaxing and calming. Would we do it again? Absolutely, but with lower expectations and a mid range cabin. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
We arrived at the Historic Davenport hotel in Spokane a day early (as is our custom). One night in this wonderful period hotel is included with the cruise. The hotel has an enormous two-story atrium that is quite impressive with much of ... Read More
We arrived at the Historic Davenport hotel in Spokane a day early (as is our custom). One night in this wonderful period hotel is included with the cruise. The hotel has an enormous two-story atrium that is quite impressive with much of the same décor as when it was built in the early 1900s. It has a restaurant called the Palm Court, a pub called the Peacock Lounge and a Starbuck’s. Our room was very nice but we needed a step stool (not provided) to get in and out of the ridiculously high bed. There is a multistory shopping center a few blocks away for a diversion. Checking in for the boat in the hotel was simple and fast. We enjoyed a nice brunch with the other passengers on the day of embarkation. Bags are picked up from your hotel room and you don’t see them again until they are delivered to your cabin. The American Empress buses took us on the two-and-a-half hour ride to the boat in Clarkston. These same buses and drivers follow the boat for the entire cruise and provide the convenient hop on hop off service and bus tours in each port. As with most cruises, they adjust the cruising to make the schedule. This is a little more obvious on a river cruise. For example, we boarded the boat in Clarkston, cruised a little that evening and the next morning we were in our same stop, Clarkston. Of course it was no problem, just a little weird. The boat has two restaurants. The main restaurant has table service for three meals a day with two dinner seatings. The Grill has buffet style breakfast and lunch supplemented by a short order cook doing a few specific items. In the evening, it turns into their specialty restaurant requiring reservations. The food in both restaurants was generally good, but sometimes the portions were very small. House wines were included with dinner. The scenery was nice though a little odd at first. We went through a section of territory where rainfall is very limited. It is so limited that there are no trees, just some sort of low grass or shrub. But as we progressed down the river, there were more trees and cliffs that we had expected. We did not go to any of the shows. We liked to walk around the ports for some exercise and a little shopping. We did not take any of the tours or the hop on hop off buses. The riverlorian was knowledgeable and pleasant. Trouble is that most of his talks were scheduled for 8:00 or 8:30 in the morning. That’s a bit early for people on vacation who like breakfast before they do anything. In the northwest, Lewis and Clark are the primary historical figures. So naturally, they were a big part of his talks. We found the service to be good and the staff friendly and helpful. The overall passenger demographic was somewhat older than we have previously encountered. The old-style paddle-wheel boat is decorated with a number of historical pictures and prints of things like Russian princes and Native Americans adding to its historical feel. The cruise ended in Vancouver Washington. Overall, it was a good cruise for those interested in a leisurely cruise through historic small town America.  Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
Our 9 day Lewis and Clark cruise included a night in Spokane at the Davenport Hotel. The sleep experience was lovely and the restaurant very good. We took the extra tour of Spokane and were glad we did, an interesting small city with a ... Read More
Our 9 day Lewis and Clark cruise included a night in Spokane at the Davenport Hotel. The sleep experience was lovely and the restaurant very good. We took the extra tour of Spokane and were glad we did, an interesting small city with a terrific botanical garden. The cruise could not have been more organized, very easy movement of people and luggage. There is a 2.5 hr bus ride to Lewiston. Embarkation a breeze. We were greeted by all the crew. Special shout out to Lindy who introduced herself and made it a point to remember our name. She is a fantastic entertainer and was an always cheerful presence. Gayle, who ran the excursions was efficient and patient. Romano in the dining room a treat every time we saw him, and the manager of the river grill excellent. We had early dining and met delightful dinner companions. There was a vairiety of menu options with at least 2 different fish every night as well as traditional fare and always vegetarian items. Local wine was always presented and explained at dinner. The piano player in the lounge very talented and funny. The drinks just so-so, we kept trying the cocktail of the day and it was more miss than hit. This cruise is interesting as the topography changes drastically, with many locks down the Columbia. The hop on hop off worked very well. If you are a bicycle rider, Richmond offered great paved trails right off the boat. The included Columbia River Discovery and Interpretive center are wonderful museums. Disocovery center brought out some raptors for us. The Hells canyon jet boat tour was well worth the extra expense, as well as WAAM. Our very favorite was the Lewis and Clark tour to Fort Clasop and Discovery Bay. Our fellow travelers were very friendly and cheerful. The evening entertainment showcased some very talented folks and was accompanied by a 4 piece band. Our riverlorian shed historical light on the voyage Lewis and Clark took as well as helping identify wildlife. We saw deer, wild swans and sheep, sea lions and white pelicans. The spring orchards for pear and apples were in full bloom. It was a very relaxing vacation. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
8 night 'big band' round trip from New Orleans to Vicksburg.Feb March 2018. If you like nostalgia and an unusual cruise, this is great. American Queen is quite new, so good plumbing, but all her features are 19th Century style. ... Read More
8 night 'big band' round trip from New Orleans to Vicksburg.Feb March 2018. If you like nostalgia and an unusual cruise, this is great. American Queen is quite new, so good plumbing, but all her features are 19th Century style. You can watch the river go by in peace and enjoy quality evening meals in the main restaurant. Not quite top menus. I find Southern Creole not to my taste. But there were other choices and the fish was always beautiful. Our dinner service was not great, otherwise 5*. Hop on-hop off bus was excellent and the planning was first class. Maps provided the night before and entrance fees included to a range of historical sites. Not world class sites but well delivered with lots of local enthusiasm. Very hospitable and English language (almost). A lot of 'antebellum' mansions to visit, so worth an evening prepping the US civil war. Little walking needed as the town was usually alongside-Baton Rouge, Natchez, Oak Alley Plantation, or the bus took you the short distance-St Francisville.. Entertainment was varied and good quality. The theatre is a joy, as are the lounges , with antiques (and wifi). I found a book autographed by Mark Twain on the shelves. We particularly liked the 'riverlorian' who gave daily talks on the river and its history. Other cruises go further north so you might get Memphis/Elvis if you wish. We would go again, probably further north next time. Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
We decided to take a maiden, winter cruise aboard the American Duchess from Memphis to New Orleans. We found the newly refurbished boat to be beautifully yet simply appointed with lots of eye appeal. The Duchess is small, able to carry ... Read More
We decided to take a maiden, winter cruise aboard the American Duchess from Memphis to New Orleans. We found the newly refurbished boat to be beautifully yet simply appointed with lots of eye appeal. The Duchess is small, able to carry 160 passengers and that adds to the intimacy that this lovely vessel affords. Our weather was not terribly accommodating with ice, snow and low double digit record temperatures but that didn't dampen the spirits aboard the boat. We took no premium excursions and chose to use the complimentary hop on hop off buses and the sites that were provided with each stop’s location. I don’t believe we missed much when talking to other passengers. Food, though not gourmet, was definitely well above the average, plated beautifully and delicious. Executive Chef Jeff Warner's careful menu planning insured that there was something to suit every palate. If not, they were ALWAYS able to accommodate requests. We chose to eat in the Grand Dining Room for dinner and in the River Terrace buffet for several breakfasts, especially if we had to leave early for excursions. Alcohol was extremely expensive, however dinner came with complimentary house wine and one's glass was never empty due to the attentive wait staff. A red and white was made available each evening. Happy hour each evening shaved a dollar or two off each drink and that together with the complimentary wine at dinner would be adequate for us without breaking the bank. A beverage package runs approximately $250.00 per cabin and with an "auto gratuity" of $50.00 tacked on your drink package is an easy $300.00--definitely overboard for the quality of wine offered. Most bottles on the open market run less than $12.00 yet bottle prices began in the $32.00 range on up. Skip the package, save the money, use happy hour and drink wine at dinner. The true gem in this company's tiara is its staff, which in my opinion is 5 STARS! They are highly attentive, yet not intrusive, knowledgeable, professional, and ever present with a wonderful sense of humor. The boat, though lovely, pales in comparison to this All American staff and it is my hope that the management of this company recognizes the value in what they have. We found officers, the Executive chef, managers and even Crystal, the Hotel Manager, waiting tables when the dining room was full. There doesn't appear to be a visible hierarchy, except for shoulder epaulets and the entire staff seems to work like one big, well-oiled machine focused solely on client satisfaction, accommodation and comfort. A special mention of Serena W, a Purser on board the Duchess is essential. We found her to have exceptional skills with an ability to listen, hear, assess, intervene and problem solve on every occasion. She is truly outstanding in every way. It is the staff and their genuine, earnest desire to serve that would bring this TripAdvisor reviewer back to this company. This All American staff gets a standing ovation from this passenger indeed. Side Note: The company’s literature states that the included, pre-board evening would be spent in the Peabody Hotel in downtown Memphis. That is not the case. We were housed in the Sheraton, a huge, modern hotel that unlike the iconic Peabody is located away from most of the attractions. An upper level staff member at the Peabody told us that the company has been doing that for some time, so this type of seemingly deliberate deception is simply not acceptable as is the advertising of state room “suites.” Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
On October 24th we took an American Cruise Line (ACL) trip on their America from St. Paul to New Orleans. Then on December 4th, we took the American Queen Steamboat Company (AQSC) cruise on their American Duchess, roundtrip, ... Read More
On October 24th we took an American Cruise Line (ACL) trip on their America from St. Paul to New Orleans. Then on December 4th, we took the American Queen Steamboat Company (AQSC) cruise on their American Duchess, roundtrip, Nashville-to-Nashville. Though both these paddle-wheelers are similar in many ways, we also found numerous differences. (The comments below apply to the AQSC American Duchess, unless otherwise indicated.) Food: All meals were A+, with many selections available. Most tables were configured for 4 people; a few would seat 2. We could come to a meal at any time of our choosing; the staff would ask if we would mind sharing a table. If we said "no," we would be seated with another couple, or seated at a new table and another couple would later join us. (By comparison, ACL required everyone to arrive at the same time, but allowed us to sit anywhere. Most of their tables were configured for 6 persons or more.) Drink: No free alcohol for lunch. For dinner, one white and one red wine were provided, of mediocre quality. Higher-quality wines were available at steep prices. After we had consumed about half our glass, the staff would appear and refill the glass. After that, no further servings were volunteered, but if we asked for more, it was willingly brought. (With ACL, drinks were provided at lunch, at an hour-long happy hour before dinner, and readily throughout dinner.) Drink prices: Wine was between $8 and $10 a glass, to which a 15% surcharge was added. Beer was slightly less. (ACL charged between $6 and $8 a glass, with no surcharge; similar quality wines.) Dining room: The outer 2/3 was an impressive two stories high, with very large windows. The middle 1/3 was only one story high, as the upper story was taken up by the Lincoln Library mezzanine. Our cruise was at about 70%; we were always seated on the outer sides, with the middle tables set but unused. (The ACL cruise was at about 50% capacity; they had some place out of sight to store the unused tables, so the dining room seemed very spacious despite being only one story high.) The Duchess has a second dining room, with a much smaller seating capacity, and reservations here were required. With no carpeting, it was much noisier, but the tables were farther apart. It opens to an outside dining area, but was closed on our cruise due to cold weather. Dress: Not formal. A few folks wore jeans, and did not seem out of place. Several wore sport coats and ties, and also did not seem out of place. The overwhelming majority wore casual wear. (Similar for ACL.) Cabins: Our AQSC cabin was the "IS" (inside cabin) category, on the 2nd deck. The cabin seemed a little clastrophobic, but not overly so. The bathroom was fine, but oddly situated 10" above the cabin floor. Not so hard stepping up, but very awkward stepping back down. The temperature controls worked OK, and the shower had plenty of hot water. (On ACL, our cabin, also the cheapest, was an outside cabin with a balcony -- definitely better.) Entertainment: The Duchess has a small house band and a 3-person troupe of professional entertainers. They perform in a theater-style lounge with an elaborate lighting and sound system. They were very versatile -- shows ran the gamut from Broadway to Country & Western to 50's Rock & Roll. Their performances were consistently excellent. (ACL entertainers were local groups from each stop, performing in the main lounge. Some groups were excellent, some not so much.) Tours: We were initially a bit skeptical about the AQSC "Hop-On/Hop-Off" system, but it worked great. Three buses ran a continuous route covering several stops. Each one had a local tour guide in addition to the driver. The guide would explain the first stop, then let those who wanted to do that stop get off (that was usually most of the bus). Then the guide would explain the second stop to those remaining, and so on. Having three buses and only a few stops meant that no-one had to wait very long for the next bus. Very explicit maps were provided for the tours, and each stop was marked with a prominent placard -- very hard to get lost. There are a staggered start times and a kiosk reservation system so that the entire ship isn't out there waiting for the first bus to leave. (With ACL, there is only one tour starting time, and all the buses leave the ship at the same time, and everyone returns at the same time. The AQSC system is much more flexible.) Comfort: Our biggest gripe with the Duchess was...it was SO DARNED COLD! The two dining rooms, the Lincoln Library, and the theater were OK, but all the common areas averaged around 60 degrees F (my estimate). The "Perks" snack bar was frigid, as were all the hallways and common areas. The only places to sit when not eating or attending a stage show were in these cold common areas. Viewing the scenery: Our biggest gripe with the Duchess was that there was virtually no place where one could sit and watch the scenery glide by (other than at mealtimes). None of the common area seating had windows. Outside, there were only a few rocking chairs, without cushions - of course, on our cruise, it was too cold to go out there. The top deck was closed, and the outside part of the second restaurant was too, most of the time. Yes, those with balconies could see out, but only a narrow slice of view straight to the side. (On the ACL America, there are three well-appointed lounges -- one facing forward, two facing aft --featuring 270-degree views of the outside in each lounge.) Riverlorians: Duchess had one full-time Riverlorian, who also performed as a musician, plus one Riverlorian-in-training. For the most part, the lectures were excellent. (ACL had several Riverlorians -- two were also theatrical performers, and one was the great-grandson of Jefferson Davis.) Glitches: Initial Duchess reviewers reported numerous problems in ship operations. We saw no problems; apparently the "shake down" bugs have been eliminated. Overall: The spaciousness and quality decor of the Duchess is impressive. And had the ship been at 100% capacity, I think it would not have seemed crowded. But if ACL's America had been at 100% capacity, I think it would have seemed very crowded. Still, considering the excellence of the ACL lectures and the overall "comfortability" of the ship, I would have to give the (slight) edge to ACL's America. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
We are an active couple in our mid-late 60's, and this was our first river boat cruise in the US. We wanted to do another European river cruise, but decided to stay in the US this year and had never been to the Pacific NW. We picked ... Read More
We are an active couple in our mid-late 60's, and this was our first river boat cruise in the US. We wanted to do another European river cruise, but decided to stay in the US this year and had never been to the Pacific NW. We picked October because the price dropped at that point, plus we hoped to see fall colors. Boy, did we luck out on the weather! Absolutely gorgeous the entire week, bright sunshine, mid-high 60's. Very rare to have no rain at that time of year. We were younger than most folks on board, who tended to be at least in their 70's. Most were well travelled retirees. We decided on the east to west route for several reasons, but mainly we wanted to do the 2 hour bus ride at the beginning of the week when we could enjoy it, rather than at the end when we were tired. We flew into Spokane and had reserved the hotel shuttle to the Historic Davenport ($25/room, booked online in advance, very nice shuttle van). At check in we were told the cruise line had arranged for a 1pm checkout instead of the usual noon check out time, which was nice. We had a corner room on the 10th floor, probably the nicest hotel room we've ever had! I could have spent the entire week there! The bathroom was just gorgeous, with a soaking tub and a HUGE glassed in shower. There's a history of the Historic Davenport on one of the TV channels that was fascinating. We immediately headed to the lounge for happy hour and were disappointed to be told they had discontinued the half price happy hour appetizers (even though it was advertised on the folder we received at check in). Cruise check in was on the second floor of the hotel, and was disorganized in my opinion. First we checked in at a table in the hallway, then went into a room to finish up. Apparently they were supposed to take our photos there, issue bus transfers and get our credit card info. But the guy who did ours only took my photo and told us we were good to go. Found out the next morning from fellow passengers that we should have bus transfers, so we had to return to check in for those (of course we were on the last bus by that time). Then when we got to the boat, we were flagged to go to the Pursor's Office because hubby's photo wasn't on record, as well as our credit card info. But it was easily resolved. Breakfast at the hotel was a buffet in a private room, nice but nothing spectacular. We got a walking map of downtown Spokane from the concierge, as well as the self-guided tour of the hotel. The hotel tour is a must-do. We also walked an easy 2 blocks to the overlook of the Spokane River Falls. Bonus: There's a short cut to the Falls through a high end, multi level shopping mall. Just one block from the hotel was a great New York style deli, Domini's, where we got a delicious sandwich for lunch. Highly recommend. The worst part of the day was having to wait about an hour in the ball room for our bus transfer. Had a great driver for the 2 hour ride to the boat, learned a lot about the region and saw some beautiful scenery. FOOD Overall we were impressed with the food, although there were some misses. We ate most of our breakfasts and lunches in the River Grill, which was just steps away from our cabin. The entry to the River Grill is quite awkward and I always felt like I was coming in the back door. You are allowed two dinner reservations for the River Grill, and we picked Thursday (the cruising day with no port stop) and Sunday (the last night). Booking is done in the Show Lounge as soon as you board the ship. The menu in the River Grill is the same for the entire week, but it includes lobster. Lobster was also served in the dining room on Saturday, so if you plan it right you can have 3 lobster dinners! Each night we had a choice of regional red and white wines. All were very good. Refills are included, and you can carry out a full glass to the lounge or show when you leave. We chose regular dining (7:45) so we wouldn't have to rush back from a day out to get ready for dinner, but I would choose early dining next time since it was always well after 9 before we left the dining room. The entrees varied each evening, and always included at least one vegetarian selection. Hubby couldn't decide between the sea scallops and the braised ribs one night, so our waiter brought him both! The show for regular dining was at 6:30 and always ended about 20 minutes before the dining room doors opened, so the hall outside the dining room was always clogged with people waiting for the dining room doors to open. One night we sat at a table with two other couples we had met, and we were apparently overlooked – it was a good 30 minutes before we were served any wine and had orders taken, and that was after we flagged down the Head Waiter. There is a Happy Hour each day from 2-4 when beer is $1 off, and wine/cocktails $2 off. There's a 15% gratuity automatically added to each bar bill. ENTERTAINMENT We were pleasantly surprised at the quality of the onboard entertainment. There are two shows each evening so that everyone gets to see the show depending on their dinner time. Jordan and Isaac were quite talented as the onboard singing/dancing team. Lindy (hotel manager) and her husband Greg (cruise director) are also professional singers and put on two fantastic shows as well. They are all accompanied by a 4 piece quartet. Additionally, Frank Chase provided daily piano entertainment in the Paddlewheel Lounge. While he's great to listen to during his afternoon session, he is not to be missed in the evenings. So talented, and absolutely hilarious! Mary the Riverlorian is a wealth of knowledge about Lewis and Clark, as well as history of the area in general. EXCURSIONS, PORTS AND ACTIVITIES Each evening at turndown, a copy of the next day's activities as well as the Hop On Hop Off map is left in each cabin. Bus tickets are required for the first few morning buses only, and there is a kiosk next to the pursor's office where they can be printed. There were several excellent museums included during the week, all free as admission had been pre-arranged through AQSC. Lots of other interesting and historic stops as well, but we found shopping opportunities to be sparse. Astoria probably had the most shops and all were in walking distance of the boat, but it was Sunday and many were closed. If you are interested in purchasing native or local crafts, your best opportunities are the museum gift shops. We only took one premium excursion, the Wine and Spirits on Red Mountain winery tour. Our other excursion to Multnomah Falls was cancelled due to the fires in the area. I was really looking forward to seeing the Falls, at least from the boat, but then our departure was delayed due to another boat ahead of us in the lock, so we didn't pass the Falls until after dark. But the captain announced that she would try to find it and shine the ship's spotlight on it – what a treat! We also went through a number of locks, all different and interesting. While we read before leaving that bicycles were available for use in the ports, we never saw any and it was never mentioned. There are daily onboard activities as well, including zumba, bingo, trivia, crafts, etc. Wifi was very spotty and we also went through several dead zones, no cell or internet services at all. The best place to connect was the Paddlewheel Lounge, but connections were very, very slow. Disembarkation talks begin several days before the end of the cruise. We were going straight to the Portland airport to head back home, and rather than pay the $25 each for a seat on the bus, we used Uber for less than half of that. It's a very early day, as everyone has to be out of their room by 8am, and off the boat by 9am. Overall, this was a great cruise despite several glitches. The staff were fantastic, met lots of nice people, and saw gorgeous scenery as well as historic sites. We did feel like we had too much 'down time', and would have liked a few more activities geared towards more active lifestyles. American Queen knows its target market, and they provide a great experience. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
We were a party of 8 and picked this cruise to see more of the USA after doing a lot of international travel...all very experienced travelers. It was a good itinerary and a unique experience to be on a steam paddle wheeler on the ... Read More
We were a party of 8 and picked this cruise to see more of the USA after doing a lot of international travel...all very experienced travelers. It was a good itinerary and a unique experience to be on a steam paddle wheeler on the Mississippi and it did not disappoint. Very friendly staff. Older cruiser crowd 70+ but they were all up and dancing to the rock and roll. Go figure! The boat is pretty well maintained, clean, and in the period for which is it duplicating. The entertainment all over the boat was truly excellent and far, far exceeded our expectations, especially the shows before or after dinner. The Hop on/Hop off bus shore excursion offering at each port was efficient and smooth and we did not feel the need to book premium excursions. Dining room dinner service left a lot to be desired: orders sometimes never delivered with no apology or offer of substitution, missing silverware and glassware, perfunctory menu explanations (with a let's move on attitude), sometimes coffee never offered with dessert. Food was OK but not excellent and sometimes way too salty. Three days into our trip we got a new wait staff which greatly improved things but still was not up to snuff in our opinion and we are not fine diners. Wine with dinner was poured freely and changed each night which was nice. It was nice to have 24 hour access to coffee, tea, soft drinks, cookies and soft service ice cream with full array of toppings. All and all a good trip and we would do it again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
This was our second AQSC cruise. We chose the "Mark Twain Experience" on the American Queen from St. Louis to Minneapolis with stops in between along the Upper Mississippi. Unfortunately, we received an email the night before ... Read More
This was our second AQSC cruise. We chose the "Mark Twain Experience" on the American Queen from St. Louis to Minneapolis with stops in between along the Upper Mississippi. Unfortunately, we received an email the night before our flight that there will be a "slight deviation" in the itinerary due to high water in the upper Mississippi and the boat's inability to pass under those bridges. We had been so excited to see these American cities which we had never been before. What to do? We flew to St. Louis out of desperation since we could not get any information from the Cruise line ahead of time. Once in St. Louis, there were cruise representatives on our second day there. They were totally sympathetic but unable to offer us anything in the way of refund or exchange (read the fine print). We decided to embark anyway and make the best of it along with 398 other dismayed passengers. The itinerary continued to change from day to day depending on the river. It wasn't until the last day of the cruise that the company offered each passenger a 10% of their payment credit towards future cruise within the next 18 months. They also paid our airline change fees. The itinerary was pretty sad - basically circling St. Louis for 7 days with some stops at places we would have never chosen to visit. And it was so hot! We expected to be out of the heat on the third day as we sailed north, but that never happened. The only original stop was Hannibal, where we were able to absorb the Mark Twain experience at the many museums and exhibits. However, I cannot say enough about the ship, the crew, the food, and the entertainment. Our Cabin was 455, over the paddlewheel. It was the largest cabin we've had on any ship or boat...there were 6 mirrors including a full length one in the bathroom: vanity outside of the bathroom with mirror and a second sink - unheard of in a cabin except on Disney; desk with mirror; closet with mirror; bureau with mirror. There was plenty of storage space. We had 2 major cabin complaints - not the paddlewheel noise or vibration, but the deck above was the pool bar and for some reason after midnight each night they were dragging chairs around the bar area. There's no way there were passengers at the bar at that hour... we called the front desk 3 nights in a row and begged them not to move the chairs around after midnight. Best beds, but worst sleep ever on a cruise. Other complaint was that the walls, even though metal, seemed paper thin and we could hear the TV and conversation from the next cabins. Fortunately, those passengers tended to turn in early so late night was no bother. The only reason I would not rate the cabin "excellent" was that the wood furniture and countertops were in need of a good refinishing. The food was excellent and they tried their best to accommodate my food allergies each night. The entertainment was top notch in a gorgeous theater. It varied from night to night, but never disappointed us. The common areas were beautiful, in an 1890's way, as was the entire boat. Overall, these cruises are a bit expensive, but remember that it is an all-American crew and must pay American wages plus overtime. I rated "Value for Money" and "Shore Excursions" as poor due to the odd places we visited due to the "diversion". We will definitely cruise again. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
Husband and I have enjoyed 32 cruises prior to this one. We’ve been on 30 “ocean”, from Carnival on up to Crystal, which is now our favorite. Celebrity is our second favorite, of course knowing that the two products are quite ... Read More
Husband and I have enjoyed 32 cruises prior to this one. We’ve been on 30 “ocean”, from Carnival on up to Crystal, which is now our favorite. Celebrity is our second favorite, of course knowing that the two products are quite different, so our expectations change from one line to the other. The two European river cruises we’ve taken were both on AmaWaterways and we did love almost everything about them. When a friend asked us to consider cruising the Snake and Columbia Rivers on American Empress, I was hesitant, b/c of the high price tag. I did as much research as I could and decided it sounded like we’d be happy, and luckily that was an accurate assessment. We went east to west, just as Lewis and Clark did on their exploration towards the Pacific Ocean. We flew to Spokane and booked one night prior to the night included by American Queen Steamboat Company. The Historic Davenport is a lovely property and the front desk is very adept at coordinating the night we booked on our own with the night AQSC books for us. Husband had researched restaurants and sightseeing, so we had a great breakfast at Frank’s Diner, walked some of Centennial Trail, saw the waterfalls, saw the Gonzaga campus, and visited the Rose Garden at Manito Park. Dinner at Wild Sage was really great, and a short walk from the Historic Davenport. Check-in for the Empress was easy, in the Davenport the day prior to embarkation, and we found we had been upgraded from Deck Four (with semi-private veranda) to Deck Three with private veranda and 30 extra square feet in the stateroom. Cue ominous music here, but that will wait until embarkation day. A buffet breakfast at the Davenport is included on embarkation day. It was mostly acceptable (although not as nice as the hotel itself) but with one glitch. Breakfast went from 7:30 to 9:30 am. We arrived at 8:30 and the dregs of a big fruit platter were offered. Husband informed a server that the fruit needed to be replenished; the server answered that the entire amount of fruit that had been ordered had already been put out and consumed. What? Either AQSC didn’t do a good job of ordering (they do it every other week, so this would be strange), or the kitchen was being inappropriately parsimonious. Soon, though, a server came over to tell us a new fruit platter was out. Just miscommunication? We’ll never know. We finished up our wandering around in Spokane, shared a sandwich for lunch and endured the wait in the ballroom before our bus was ready for us. The ride from Spokane to Clarkston features some unusual scenery, and there’s a short rest stop during the two-hour ride. The Empress looks lovely waiting there for us and we happily climb the stairs to our newly assigned stateroom, only to find that the two twin beds “cannot” be converted to a queen. It’s very evident from the AQSC web site that some staterooms do indeed have twins that can’t be put together; but I had carefully avoided any of those when booking. Who would’ve thought they’d put an anniversary couple into two twin beds? Eventually it got rectified, but it was an unsettling beginning and we rushed to see the welcome show and unpack before dinner. Thank goodness after that, all went really well, with much that exceeded our expectations. Highlights of this cruise were the staff and crew; dinners; HOHO bus sightseeing. The Cruise Directors were Kevin and Melissa (Mel), a married couple, both of whom are great singers and entertainers and cordial hosts. Hotel Manager Lindy was also a charming hostess and singer/entertainer. There’s a four piece band that does a wonderful job accompanying the shows and playing dance music. One night featured Lindy’s husband Greg as a guest performer. He was my favorite, doing a wide variety of Broadway show tunes along with his own clever costume changes. I cried tears of joy when he finished his show, that’s how great I thought it was. The welcome show is a half hour, while the rest are 45 minutes, but for late dining, the show ends half an hour before dinner, which I found to be a kind of a clumsy timing, when guests tended to flood the lobby area between the dining room and the show lounge. Besides the show theatre, there’s a lounge where a clever pianist, Frank Chase, performs on a nice schedule. That lounge has snacks from 3-5 pm daily, very helpful for those of us with late dining (7:45). Early dining at 5:30 is more popular, but we were very happy with our late dining. Mary the Riverlorian gave fun talks, including a few that competed with sightseeing, and she led a walk to a Lewis and Clark site at one “port”. Mel led a Zumba Gold class (the one that’s good for us old folk) and also a strenuous hike up to the Astoria Column. THANK YOU AQSC AND MEL for the Zumba Gold. There were even two movies shown on board, as well as trivia several times. Truly something for everybody, I thought. Wi-fi plus guest computers were available most of the time but why are the guest computers so excruciatingly slow? (No exercise room on board, but eight walks around the Deck Four outer perimeter equal a mile.) HOHO bus really works nicely, with a local guide giving information and bus drivers who are with us all week (and who share in the required $16.50/person/day gratuity added to your onboard account). The guides may not be consistently great, as I had been told on my bus that entry into the Maritime Museum in Astoria was not included, while my friend on another bus did not hear that same announcement. Otherwise, all entry fees for the stops along the HOHO routes are included. There’s even a local guide up at the Astoria Column to answer questions and to give anybody climbing to the top of the column a balsa wood airplane to send off the top, which AQSC had pre-purchased. Nice attention to detail, AQSC! One private home, I believe in Lewiston, Idaho, is not open to the public, only to AQSC guests. The sightseeing is quite varied and educational. My favorites were the Hanford Reach Interpretive Center and Bonneville Dam; but there were truly many other great sightseeing sites, as well. I could’ve used way more time in every single port, and I needed more time on my premium shore excursion. One day, we came back on the last morning shuttle, having rushed through the two stops we chose, despite having started on the earliest HOHO. We got back at 12:55 pm and Carmen the maître d’ closed the door to the main dining room in our faces (lunchtime until 1 pm). Wouldn’t you know? That day had two things we love on the lunch menu, never to be heard from again. It’s Wednesday, if you’re curious and want to make sure you don’t miss lunch in the main dining room, which was fried oysters or a Reuben. Upstairs in the River Grill (open for lunch later than the main dining room) we had nice soup, salad and entrees, but neither the oysters nor the Reuben were on offer there. Dinners were quite delicious, with many choices. We found a favorite waitress, Sandra, and her assistant, Sarah; Carmen the maître d’ accommodated us every evening by giving us one of Sandra’s tables. Included wines were ok. Soft drinks and bottled water, cappuccino and etc. are also included throughout the cruise. All servers were very good and personable, sometimes with a quiet personality, sometimes with a happily boisterous one. Every guest is entitled to two dinners at the alternative dining venue with a fixed menu nightly. The lobster was great but they RAN OUT OF BOTH DESSERTS the night we went. We cancelled our second reservation when we saw that the main dining room’s menu was quite appealing to us. Breakfast and lunch were more disappointing. Although we usually like to eat al fresco, it was sometimes a bit warm outside, plus the burger couldn’t be cooked any temperature less than medium well. While the soup and the salad were nice, we preferred the main dining room lunch, where the soups were piping hot even though sometimes fries weren’t. Breakfast was more frustrating, with poached eggs and even scrambled eggs (requested to be cooked gently) coming from the kitchen quite overcooked, and toast and potatoes were always cold. Our four friends all enjoyed breakfast and lunch at the River Grill, with one mentioning the made-to-order omelettes, and one choosing to take the meal back to their Deck Four semi-private veranda, which happened to be shadier than the aft outside tables, much of the time. Comparing AQSC’s Empress to our two AmaWaterways experiences, we give Ama better marks for dining, especially breakfast and lunch, and we give Empress better marks for entertainment and the included sightseeing, which really works nicely. We had used Lyft from Spokane airport to the hotel (less than half the cost of the hotel’s $25 transfer) and we also used it at debarkation to go pick up our rental car at a hotel not far from the highway from Vancouver, WA, into Portland. It worked great. Then we headed out to Crater Lake where half the road was closed because they’d had 10% more snow than usual this winter (usually they get 43 FEET!). We dined in the lodge where one of the five entrees was “sold out” and so was the bread!! I guess it isn’t easy, running a restaurant? Back in Portland the next day, we loved the rose garden in Washington Park and visited the very moving Oregon Holocaust Memorial, and our dinner at Le Pigeon was as pleasing as Wild Sage had been nine nights before. We stayed at a Fairfield by Marriott near the Portland airport, and it was a lovely property we’d recommend to anybody. Portland Airport is fun, with great shops and food. Although the price tag is high, American Empress delivers a very classy product with a steady diet of fascinating sightseeing and five superb hosts/entertainers who add much to the week onboard. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
We choose this because we wanted a River cruise after having many ocean cruises. We have never been to Washington or Oregon. It is for older individuals with no children on board. Cabin was adequate size. Extras- robes with slippers, ... Read More
We choose this because we wanted a River cruise after having many ocean cruises. We have never been to Washington or Oregon. It is for older individuals with no children on board. Cabin was adequate size. Extras- robes with slippers, fridge, tv, audio speaker of 1 music station and a flip switch to B to hear Riverlorian when speaking about history or places to visit. The ship, is very clean. The dining really tasty food with a good selection of choice. The entertainment- is small cosy and of fine quality. Lindy, Mel and Kevin do a variety of small scale well done performances along with the quality 4pc band.Activities on board Frank is a talented piano bar player, small scale games and activities, Dance nite was nice, Champain toast to the crew- no one made a toast!, most off boat, varied selection, adaptions per safe water travel. Pendelton coulda had 2 days Wool city,underground city subway+more,Keith Madison our local tour guide was the best, lots of museums and National parks to see at different stops. If you go make sure to look for the great local art galleries right off the boat that they don't mention, good stuff and great gifts. They have a hoponhopoff bus situation with safe drivers.So much to see in constrict of time, you do get a taste of everything to leave you wanting more. You get a daily map/list of activities-only ask percer for info- crew clueless. Even so they missed a variety of things. Astoria has a wonderful trolley(we didnt get on). Some crew were amazing. Want to eat in the Grill (2 nights only) contact Lisa Head waiter, have issues- as we did, requesting to be seated WITH people, contact Carman Head Matradee.Angie was the 1 server in the bar. She works hard. Valerie also on excursions. More to do than meets the eye. So why not 5 stars-there are some areas lacking. They do not have radios or phones to contact crew/staff when needed. A simple but important fix. Twice I had genuine valid upsetting issues trying to catch up with scheduled events where a simple phone/radio connection (COMMUNICATON) would have solved the problems quickly and efficiently. Instead of making me upset to a point of outburst anger and not feeling well for a good 1/2 hour after. The highlite for me was going thru the LOCKS-1 was 113 feet with a guilotine opening at 3 am. Very cool though, smooth sailing on river waters no sea sickness. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
. We particularly enjoyed the entertainment and felt that the actors and musicians were superior to nearly all the acts we have experienced on many cruise ships. The service, from the all American Staff, was mostly very good and the ... Read More
. We particularly enjoyed the entertainment and felt that the actors and musicians were superior to nearly all the acts we have experienced on many cruise ships. The service, from the all American Staff, was mostly very good and the food was plentiful and good, without being outstanding with the exception of the cookies to die for. The front porch cafe was often busy at peak times but we were always able to find somewhere to sit and there were plenty of places where you could sit and watch the Mississippi go by. The hop on hop off bus run by the ship in every port of call was well organised and very good: it gave us flexibility and an idea of the places worth a visit. In short we had a most enjoyable trip: any issues, and there were a few, were dealt with quickly and effectively with the minimum of fuss. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
Our American Queen voyage from New Orleans to Memphis and back was something we anticipated for close to five months. I read every thing about the trip on Cruise Critic and agree with pretty much all the positive comments. We were ... Read More
Our American Queen voyage from New Orleans to Memphis and back was something we anticipated for close to five months. I read every thing about the trip on Cruise Critic and agree with pretty much all the positive comments. We were extremely fortunate to have Shedrik as our steward! Twice he took the time to make animals out of our bath towels and he shared his knowledge and observations on the river freely. He truly was a joy to talk with. Rather than repeat what others have already written, I’d like to offer some advice I wish I’d had when preparing for the trip. The side of the boat you are on determines your cruising views. If you want to look at the shoreline and be on the city side of most stops, then you want to be on the right side the boat, facing forward. If you’d enjoy looking at other river traffic, then go for the left side. Either way, take binoculars so you can actually “see” things. (They do not sell them in the gift shop and I had no luck trying to buy a pair in the stops we made. A staff member kindly lent us his pair on the return.) Bring a small flashlight as staterooms are very, very dark at night and you’ll need one to keep from stubbing your toes if you get up during the night. Also a clock if you’re used to having one. (Amenities are fabulous and include conditioner and a good hair dryer.) You’ll also want ear plugs for sleeping. Television and other sounds carry through the walls. If you have trouble with the safe, ask for help. The safe man is nice, knows what he’s doing and will give you a lesson. If you love shopping and shore excursions, take the downriver cruises where you’ll have several hours at each stop. If you want to watch the river and little else, then go upriver where stops are limited to around four hours because the boat is going against the current. There’s a free, onboard laundry with washers and dryers and soap is provided. The best wi-fi is on the tour buses. The onboard computers are painful to deal with, frustrating, sadly outdated and there's only four of them. The one unpleasant experience we had, and it came close to ruining the entire trip, came our first night. I’d requested the later seating and after looking at the brochures and peeking down into the J.M. White dining room from the Mark Twain Gallery, I was excited about our first evening meal. My husband wore a sport coat and tie and I wore a black dress with jacket and we went down to check in. Staff came up, looked at our ID numbers, checked the list and then say, “Oh, you need to wait for the maitre ‘d.” This happened three times, which made me wonder what our problem was. The maitre ‘d appeared and ushered us away from the White dining room to the further most corner of the adjacent lounge to a table set for eight. I was so upset I was on the verge of tears — what had we done to merit this banishment? We booked our trip some five months in advance, in the higher price range and we were dressed more nicely than the majority of the other passengers, some in shorts, being ushered to tables in the main dining room. Fortunately, a ship’s officer on duty noticed my distress and said something to the maitre ‘d, who came back and said he had found seating for us in the dining room after all. It was a table for two by a window. The view was obstructed by deck machinery and adjacent to the serving station, but we didn’t care. I was relieved to be in the elegant dining room and we found our servers to be fabulous. Not wanting to repeat our unfortunate experience on the return trip, my husband spoke to the maitre ‘d and asked if we could have the same table on our return trip. He said, “I can make that happen.” The next night, he was there to greet us and my husband slipped him a $20., and we were ushered to our same table Unfortunately, I’d filled out the guest questionnaire on the first leg of the trip recounting our initial experience and obviously, my comment had been shared with the maitre ‘d. On the second to last night of our return trip we walked into the dining room to find our table given to another couple. Our servers rushed over and said they had assured their boss that we made every dinner and would be coming, but he insisted on giving the table to others. He glared at us and finally someone found us another table. Our final night we made it a point to be there when the doors opened so we would have our table. This experience was so much the opposite of everything and everyone else on the American Queen. Had it not been for that unpleasant beginning, I’d say this was my favorite vacation ever. However, it cast a shadow over the trip and still mars my memories. If it happens to you, you might consider being ready with a tip to see if the maitre ‘d can do better. There were available seats inside the dining room at the large tables every single night, so there is always space, especially if you don’t mind meeting new people. In fact, we had expected to share a table -- just not in the lounge. Other advice I would offer is: In Vicksburg, stop by Wellingham’s for great women's clothing selection in all sizes and affordable jewelry and the Coca Cola Museum memorabilia is fun. The Old Courthouse Museum is an amazing collection of collections and worth the time. In Natchez visit all the big houses. There’s time even going upriver. Have lunch at the King’s Tavern and pop into The Towers gift shop for some unusual offerings. If you love antiques, definitely visit Mrs. Holder’s Antiques — some of the jewelry is museum quality and Mrs. Holder and her staff couldn’t be more gracious and kind. In St. Francisville visit the Myrtles Plantation first and then go back to the shops, as it wasn’t open in the afternoons on our trips. Grandmother’s Buttons is a definite must and the art and antiques mall had some real finds on both my visits. In Baton Rouge the Capitol Park Museum is worth the time, especially the Mardi Gras area. Premium excursions we took included one to Laura Plantation, which was well worth it. The Swamp Tour was a bit disappointing, perhaps because we have plenty of raccoons in our own neighborhood and all the alligators were small. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
We picked this cruise because it had a swing dance band. The band members were each outstanding musicians and wonderful to listen to, but this was not a dancers band. Some songs went 8 minutes or were jazz pieces that were hard to dance ... Read More
We picked this cruise because it had a swing dance band. The band members were each outstanding musicians and wonderful to listen to, but this was not a dancers band. Some songs went 8 minutes or were jazz pieces that were hard to dance to. The floor was crowded for the one waltz played-but they never played another waltz that night. It was crowded for danceable swing numbers-but band played far too few. Far better to have a good DJ with a play list of popular dance tunes. What was good: The food-variety, quality, portions, presentations all excellent. The cafe is open 24/7 which is wonderful for early birds and night owls alike. The dining room is noisy. The entertainment was mixed. All musicians were excellent. Phil plays piano well, but has long stories that were largely uninteresting and a very poor voice. There was nothing opposite him-which was most unfortunate-but I state the scheduling was poor on this ship. The shipboard dancers and singers were outstanding. My favorite was the Broadway Show tunes and dances. Costuming stunning and amazing! Needed: More dance hosts. With an elderly crowd of 2 women who wanted to dance for every man, line dancing lessons should have been offered on a dance cruise. I am a college dance instructor-who offered to teach line dance for free. They gave me my choice of a poor floor or poor times at the show lounge-missing some shore time. The scheduling on this ship was rather poor and unresponsive to the passengers needs. My group of 13 wanted to dance every night. Dancing was put on from 9:30-10:30 pm. and only 2/3 (at first only 1/2) the dance floor was opened up for dancing. One man changed the concert venue to a dance floor-it took him a full hour to do this. If 5 organized men-could have been done in under 10 minutes with far more dance time-even if to canned music. This is a great cruise for those over 75 years old. At 64, I am sooooo glad I did not try to take this cruise earlier in my life-wished I waited another 10 years. Everything happens slowly in this part of the world. They talk slow, react slow, move slow, do everything slowly. Also Internet is not always available-was down 14 hours one day, and you must constantly reboot and start over. Too few activities, no fitness activities-with a fitness center that consists of a couple exercize bikes and weights. The pool is small, laundry room inadequate for needs-but it is free which is delightful. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
We chose this cruise because it was one high lighting Big Band music. We started out with an included night at the Riverside Hilton. Unfortunately, our stay coincided with Mardi Gras so the hotel was jammed with rowdy celebrants. The ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it was one high lighting Big Band music. We started out with an included night at the Riverside Hilton. Unfortunately, our stay coincided with Mardi Gras so the hotel was jammed with rowdy celebrants. The hotel is a generic chain hotel -- neither good nor bad, but breakfast (included) was chaotic due to crowds. We were able to walk to the boat the next afternoon and boarded immediately. We were in Commodore Class which allowed early boarding. We settled into our AAA cabin which was pretty small, with a queen bed. The bathroom had a pedestal sink, tub/shower combo and little storage. There was an additional sink in the bedroom. The "closet" was just a built in rack near the door. Drawers were in a Victorian bureau which was authentic enough to require 2 hands to open -- no drawer runners. Based on the few other cabins I was able to see, this level is the lowest I would choose. One door opened onto a public deck, with 2 chairs and a table outside each cabin. We had no problem with noise from walkers, and rather enjoyed sitting outside and watching the river. We had main dining (8PM) with a table for 2, which we did not request. We found that if we waited until most were seated, the head waiter would find us a table to share, which we preferred. Food offering consisted of a couple of soups, a salad and about 5 main dishes. Many had a Southern slant and while the food was good, it was far from gourmet. Service was sweet and willing, but not very accomplished. One day at lunch our waiter spilled a tray of wine, replaced it and again spilled it. The bartender in the Engine Room bar dropped a bottle of wine on the bar in front of me. Lunch consisted of one hot meat (pork roast, ribs, beef roast), several kinds of cold cuts for sandwiches and various items in hot pots such as veggies, fish, and potatoes. There was also a small menu where you could order things such as burgers, chicken and waffles, salads. The soups were uniformly terrific. Breakfast was an average buffet, again with a few items on the menu. I tried the eggs Benedict and found the eggs had been pre-poached so the yolk was hard. On some mornings I could get English Breakfast tea; on others I could not. There is a buffet dining venue called the Front Porch. I found the interior to be sparse and cafeteria-like, although the outside was appealing (it was too cold to use on our trip). The hop-on hop off bus concept is brilliant. The evening before you choose your departure time and get a ticket, then hop on the bus. All attractions where the bus stopped (plantation houses, museums, etc.) were included. We found no need for optional excursions. Be aware that the towns are part of decaying America with many boarded up stores, houses for sale and a general air of defeat. The age group on this cruise is elderly. I noted great care taken with infirm passengers (wheelchairs, golf buggies to take people up the levee to the hop-on bus and patience with slow movers). We flat out loved the entertainment. Since there are 2 seatings for dinner, there are 2 duplicate shows, and on this cruise the Big Band played every evening at 9:30, and sometimes they had an extra afternoon show. The onboard entertainment, including a girl singer and a young dance couple were a great treat. Overall, we enjoyed this cruise and would take another one with one caveat -- we would have to get a great sale. We paid $1999.00 per person for a cabin that normally case $4599.00 per person -- a ludicrous amount considering level of food/service/accommodations. I would not consider a lower level cabin due to tiny size. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
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