205 American Queen Steamboat Company American Queen Cruise Reviews

This was our second river cruise - the first was a few years ago down the Danube in August. The American Queen is a very special ship,not only because of the beautiful furnishings, collectibles and artwork which is abundant, but because ... Read More
This was our second river cruise - the first was a few years ago down the Danube in August. The American Queen is a very special ship,not only because of the beautiful furnishings, collectibles and artwork which is abundant, but because of the paddlewheel. Its power is ever present, and is mesmerizing. Visits to the engine room are encouraged. We cruised from New Orleans to Memphis. The printed material they distributed were clear and well-presented, from the daily newsletters to the material you receive pre-cruise. There were some discouraging reviews that I read prior to departing, so was ready for anything, but I found most everything about this cruise to be very satisfying and agreeable. Our room was excellent - well located, comfortable and beautifully decorated. The shower had good water pressure and plenty of hot water. The steward made up the room twice daily and left Godiva chocolate on the pillows nightly. The beds were very comfortable. The food - the menus were varied and changed daily - everything labeled with information for cruisers with allergies or other special diets. The food came out hot, if a bit too quickly. I often ate fish, and my husband beef, and no complaints about either. The staff looks a bit disheveled, but everyone was friendly and aimed to please. We sat at a table for 2 (this was not requested) so were a bit disappointed about that. When we asked to change, we were led to a table on the opposite side of the room which was above the engine room. DO NOT sit here (left side rear when walking in). We had one meal here and returned to our original table - it was so noisy that you had to strain to hear anyone speaking. We took breakfast and lunch on the Front Porch, which had excellent food even though it was a buffet. There were not an endless amount of choices, but enough and of good quality. The staff assigned to work there were helpful and kept everything very clean. I found the coffee to be just OK, including the self-serve cappuccino. The soft-serve ice cream deserves special mention - I am not a fan usually, but this was really good, available 24/7, toppings with it, and choice of cone or cup. Daily excursions - The hop on - hop off bus was an excellent way to get around and all pre-paid tours were indicated on the map of the town. There was more to do than we were able, even though we got off the boat early (it was also hovering at 100 degrees every day, so we could not move very fast!). Natchez was my favorite port while cruising. There were 8 hours of port time at each stop, except for St. Francisville. We couldn't stop at Greenville due to heavy traffic coming down river because of dredging. My husband did the optional excursion to Vicksburg battlefield, which he said was excellent. I was happy with the ones included. Entertainment - Without question, the best on any cruise. The shows each night were not to be missed. There were 4 performers which included the Cruise Director and Asst. Cruise Director (Ryan and Ashley), and all were very good to excellent. The back up band was excellent. There was nightly music in the Engine Room bar (rock and roll) and in the lounge pre-dinner for each seating. He had sing-a-longs booklets for all, played with a flourish, as well as being an engaging storyteller. All music on the ship was live. On-board activities - We spent 2 full days cruising instead of one because of the river traffic traveling south. The options are limited, but the staff does have some organized activities that were enjoyable. I like to read and there was a larger pool than anticipated, so was pleasantly surprised and kept cool in there. There was a small gym with 4 pieces of equipment (usually unoccupied) and mats for stretching. I do yoga, so found that to be ideal for me. There were many board games, puzzles, daily crosswords and sudoku, and tables for playing. The chart room was always open and you could borrow books about the river and history of the South. Jerry, the Riverlorian, gave daily talks, and was very knowledgeable and engaging. He also gave daily tours of the Control Room. I learned quite a bit about the river, the history of the Civil War, and the many nuances that we did not learn in school. Service - I was happy overall - service was good, not flawless.I am not a fan of mandating gratuities, and thought $18.50/day was high. Overall - This trip was on my bucket list and well worth doing. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and would recommend it for "older" clientele, even those with physical limitations. Also, they have you arrive one day prior to embarkation in New Orleans. I would recommend you spend at least an additional day there, as well as an additional day or 2 in Memphis. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
To the Cruise Reviewers…Here’s a Breaking News story….The American Steamboat Company’s American Queen is NOT A CARIBBEAN CRUISE FUN SHIP…..That’s the rewarding thing about this wonderful Steamboat…..So don’t disparage this ... Read More
To the Cruise Reviewers…Here’s a Breaking News story….The American Steamboat Company’s American Queen is NOT A CARIBBEAN CRUISE FUN SHIP…..That’s the rewarding thing about this wonderful Steamboat…..So don’t disparage this ‘Gem of the Mississippi ‘where you can slow down and take a leisurely cruise on America’s Premiere and Historical River. My wife and I booked the American Queen Steamboat cruise up the Mississippi for the first full week of September 2019 sailing from New Orleans up to Memphis. We’ve been fortunate to have cruised on ships of many sizes and many locations and have even cruised down the Danube River several years earlier but this time we were seeking a trip back through time and history on an authentic Steamboat that still travels the waters of the Mississippi here in the United States. The American Queen is a ship that fits the profile of a slower paced travel and the Mississippi presents a good travelogue of stories about ‘The Old Man River” and adventures in the deep south of the United States. This is not a trip for families with children but a trip for adults of many ages. Ship Features Built in 1995, The American Queen is the largest Steamboat ever constructed at 418 feet long and 89 feet wide with a draft of approximately 8 feet. She’s a true stern-wheeler with and array of modern improvements for navigation on the Mississippi. The beauty of steamboat travel is the slower pace of cruising on a river and how the passengers arrive at the towns on the cruise’s itinerary on the gangways stowed at the front of the steamboat. There’s a wonder steam calliope at the Top Deck River Grill & Bar played by the ship’s Master Pianist and Calliopist Phil Westbrook who hold court nightly at the Main Deck lounge with music and stories to entertain all. There’s a small pool on the top Sun Deck where travelers can also access the small Fitness Center. For late night, guest’s can be entertained at the Engine Room Bar with lively music and dancing, if one desires , lead by two of the ship’s versatile entertainment staff, Norman Bergen and Jim Schweikert. The main guest entertainment is held at the Grand Saloon Theater space, complete with balcony box seats and vaudeville styled main stage. There is also a smaller movie style theater on the Deck 3 – Texas Deck. With that said the ships company of performers and musicians all well versed in their art and provided great entertainment nightly. The Cruise Director, Ryan Faino and his Assistant Cruise Director, Ashley Edwards along with fellow performers Michaelyn Oby and Glenn Springs made evening entertainment a real pleasure for such a small troupe of performers and their equally talented band know as the Steamboat Syncopators. The J. M. White Dining area is a wonderful old world steamboat styled double story dining venue. There is one drawback experience in the dining room which is the ventilation noise that emanates from below deck and at window level due to the ship’s ventilation system on the port side forward of the dining, room. Our dining seating was on the opposite side of the dining room so our dining experience was not impacted by that noticeable mechanical noise. The Buffet dining area known as the Front Porch Café, is located on Deck 3 forward – Texas Deck with dining for guests inside and in a wrap around deck outside this eatery The real masterpieces of the Queen can be found on Deck 2 – Cabin Deck where guests find the Mark Twain Gallery & Lounge along with Men’s and Ladies Parlor Rooms. These spaces or well decorated with period pieces, artwork, photographs, river and steamboat artifact, charts and models an internet café area and a specialty coffee machine with a well stock fresh cookie cabinet. A more unique space in the ship is the areas above the Front Porch Café in a space know as The Chart Room, where Riverlorian, Jerry Hay, weaves the tales of the river and its historic ebb and flow that are an integral part of the heartland of America. Lastly, take some time to walk around all the decks of the ship to a catch a bit of the flavor of what river travel life might have been on some grand stern-wheeler of the 19th Century, like the American Queen, on the muddy water of the Mississippi. Food and Excursions Our food & dining experience on board the American Queen was wonderful. High tech has made its way into dining service in the J. M. White Dining Room with wait staff texting orders to the kitchen for prompt preparation and delivery to the dining guests. The food quality was very good, but don’t hesitate to bring to the attention of the dining room staff anything that is not up to what you, as the diner, might consider substandard. Service was tops and food was well prepared. Food up at the Front Porch Café buffet was also of the same quality and caliber except here’s where self serve ice cream could be found along with a full service bar and guest beverages area. Although the lower Mississippi river does not possess the charm of the enchanting river towns of the European river waterways, you will find the Antebellum South and Historic river towns of Natchez and Vicksburg on this cruise. Vicksburg battlefield is a must trek. The Steamboat Company provides well apportioned coaches that run like clockwork for travel around each the river towns where the ship stops. With regards to the other river town stops on this cruise (St. Francisville and Greenville) they are a look into typical river town life that that have survived the trials and tribulations of the Mighty Mississippi River. Conclusion The American Queen Steamboat cruise may not be a cruise for every traveler but this great ship and cruise does give its guests plenty of river time to slow down and unwind on this Great American River treasure or to pick up the pace to explore the finer elements of Southern Living. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
We so enjoyed our “Civil War” cruise on the Duchess that we booked this trip “In the Footsteps of Mark Twain”. Two days before departure we were told due to the high waters the trip was changed -every port was different except the ... Read More
We so enjoyed our “Civil War” cruise on the Duchess that we booked this trip “In the Footsteps of Mark Twain”. Two days before departure we were told due to the high waters the trip was changed -every port was different except the starting point of St Louis. The Queen is much larger and the room we had chosen #502 was in the front of the ship-nice & roomy but so noisy we could not stay. The smokestack was laying on the deck so the boat could clear the bridges. A gigantic noisy exhaust fan was constantly running all right by the bedroom window. We moved to a lovely room in the middle of the boat #514 and were given a refund as a voucher for use on a future cruise in addition to shipboard credit. The staff is wonderful and could not have been nicer to us. However, the itinerary is rather boring, not much to see. The dinners have been a disappointment-the buffets at breakfast and lunch are nice as are the Front Porch snack options-a soft serve machine with toppings, cookies, coffee machine and popcorn.There is a small pool and Fitness Center. We are enjoying the lectures and the music/entertainment staff are good. The boat is very cold so bring a warm jacket and long sleeves. If I travel again I will stay with the smaller ship. If on this boat remember to choose a room in the center not in the front or back as both are extremely noisy. Also be aware that dining times are assigned -either too early or too late for us-5:45 or 7:45. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We chose this cruise to get a lifetime experience on the Mississippi River. The advertising of the cruise was very effusive about the standard of the service and the experiences that were to be enjoyed. But, let me tell you what really was ... Read More
We chose this cruise to get a lifetime experience on the Mississippi River. The advertising of the cruise was very effusive about the standard of the service and the experiences that were to be enjoyed. But, let me tell you what really was experienced. Meals: The restaurant setting is comfortable but crowded. The furniture needs a good clean. The meals were presented in a haphazard style with little appeal to the presented food, it was just placed on the plate. The menu selection on some of the days was appalling. Rooms: Our room was comfortable but included basic furniture. The bed was too short ( I am 179 cm or 5'11") and my feet hung over the end of the bed. The linen was a good quality. Entertainment: This was the highlight of the cruise. Variety and energy were the keys to keeping us entertained. Very good standard of delivery was held throughout the cruise. Gym: A very basic and barely adequate gym and pool is on board. Service: This was the most disappointing aspect of the cruise. After paying $AUS1,000+ per day for a cabin leading onto the veranda, service delivery was very poor. We had to continually request shampoo, soap and other bathroom amenities be maintained. The service in the dining room was appalling. Food was plonked on the table without any of the normal etiquette processes, wine was sloshed into glasses, orders were forgotten, explanation of selections was very poor and there was no continual supervision of the table. Excursions: The complementary shuttle bus service was very welcome and appreciated. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
We wanted to do a paddleboat River Cruise and our friend that owns a travel agency suggested we try this ship. The ship and the crew were fantastic. However, we found no out that people that booked in the month before the sailing were ... Read More
We wanted to do a paddleboat River Cruise and our friend that owns a travel agency suggested we try this ship. The ship and the crew were fantastic. However, we found no out that people that booked in the month before the sailing were given room upgrades and up to $1000 credit. Apparently so many people cancelled due to the ports being closed because of high water levels that the line needed to fill rooms. We booked 6 months in advance and were not offered any upgrade. We took an interior room which we normally do on cruises as we are not in the room often. The room was so small my husband would shower and get dressed and leave and then I would do the same. The first port for the Oak Alley tour was closed due to high water. The Francisville and Greenville ports were a dud. We spent only 45 minutes in Greenville and Francisville was an hour. Nothing at all to see. Natchez and Vicksburg were amazing. We wish we would have had an entire day in Vicksburg as there was so much to see. We had wonderful table mates for dinner from California and Oregon. Ages 55-75. We all agreed that the terms used in the towns were racist. Tour guides pointed out where “ The Jews” settled. Not a Jewish community. Just kept saying “ The Jews” . I asked Clint our guide about seeing the Catholic Church on the list and he said don’t go on their because you will go blind. He was a native of Greenville and obviously didn’t care for Catholics. I know it wasn’t just us because it was the topic of conversation every night at our dinner table. We were all appalled and uncomfortable. The food was ok. Dinners had odd choices and was generally cold. You are better to eat on deck 3. We only ate in the dining room because we loved our table of cruisers. They were hysterical. We are happy we did the bucket list of a river cruise. But we would not suggest anyone of our friends take this particular southern route. Especially if you aren’t from the Deep South and are not used to terms such as colored, The Jews, those Catholics, etc. it was an eye opener for my family and our dinner table. Also do the reverse cruise from Memphis to New Orleans. Better ports Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
We selected this cruise as we were traveling with 2 other couples who live on our street. This is not the best of the ships in this line but selected as one couple needed a lower cost cruise. Rooms small and cramped and flooded during ... Read More
We selected this cruise as we were traveling with 2 other couples who live on our street. This is not the best of the ships in this line but selected as one couple needed a lower cost cruise. Rooms small and cramped and flooded during rains. Employees who work hard were up at 5am pushing rainwater off deck, but the problem, aside from the noise, was that water was pushed inside the cabin. Cabins not soundproof as next door phone conversations could be heard regularly. Awful fumes noticed inside cabin. The Hop On Hop Off buses do NOT have tour guides onboard in the afternoon so if you are not an early bird you are out of luck. Excursions booked through the cruise line were not as advertised,, and when a complaint was made to the excursion director, Alex, it was totally ignored. On the last day of the cruise, which disembarking the ship, we inquired about our concern and were told nothing would be done as it was not a cruise line excursion: BS! We booked with the ship. Forget the Elvis Graceland adventure through the ship and get a better deal with a local tour company. Our friends who had a problem with their swamp adventure were given a g=credit for the problems they had. Their excursion, like ours, was booked through the ship. Nothing is worse than being lied to by a ship representative. Room service on several occasions failed to deliver our order completely; this was for breakfast only. Dining room selection of food and service was excellent. All but one waiter (Kathisa) was fantastic. She was one who refused us a table for 2 at lunch when many tables were available and finally seated us at a table with no view---we declined it and asked for a different table. After a bit of attitude we were seated properly. Patio restaurant closes at 2 pm which is a problem when returning late from a morning excursion. You are left which a choice of hot dogs or hot dogs. Laundry machines broken at times and no hot water for showers on the last day. We had the beverage package and service varied a the different bars. Brian on deck 5 was excellent as was bartender outside the patio restaurant. The pre-cruise hotel,, The Sheriton in Memphis was less than satisfactory; air-conditioning problems and issues with door locks. We had to have a room change analog with one of our friends. Definitely not a 4 star hotel. Entertainers very enthusiastic and shows enjoyable. The band was great. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
In June 2019, my wife and I took the American Queen paddle wheeler on a one-week trip down the Mississippi River. Trip went from Memphis to New Orleans (the Deep South). I rate this trip as an overall 5 (on a scale of 5), based on its ... Read More
In June 2019, my wife and I took the American Queen paddle wheeler on a one-week trip down the Mississippi River. Trip went from Memphis to New Orleans (the Deep South). I rate this trip as an overall 5 (on a scale of 5), based on its distinctive niche for educational travel. The Mississippi River is America’s other “Route 66.” You can see it from shore by driving yourself along the Great River Road. Or you can see it from the water on a riverboat like the American Queen. Though this is the largest paddle wheeler ever built, it’s still small when compared to international cruise ships. It has six decks and carries a bit over 400 passengers. Travelers who never stop learning will be in heaven on the American Queen. It provides a comfortable level of overnight support for your daily “soft expeditions” ashore. The American Queen is a good fit for the same crowd that savors Elder Hostel (excuse me, Road Scholar), living museums, re-enactments, historic preservation, collecting national parks, and playing history detective. It’s also an alternative to those European river cruises -- both for Americans who want to stay home, and for Europeans who want to see a famous slice of America. Once you’ve left the airport, it’s like a prior era: a week of casually boarding and leaving the boat without TSA searches. But it’s not a good fit for passengers who only want a relaxing escape of doing nothing. And travel agents should use caution in booking customers who expect extensive pampering and privacy. The American Queen is heavily self-service, and for a similar price, they can get an ocean crossing with a more attentive level of luxury. SEE FOR YOURSELF Tips from travel agents will greatly help customers to make the most of this niche experience -- and to avoid the expectation gaps that keep popping up in Cruise Critic reviews. Needn’t be any surprises as to what it looks like aboard the American Queen. Last September, Gene Sloan did an exhaustive photo shoot (60+ images) that is published on USA Today’s travel website. Right down to the self-serve coffee machine. And, if you don’t consider it a spoiler, you can easily use the closeup views of Google Earth to scout the whole route in advance. You’ll quickly see that the river is less than a mile wide in most places. In other words, you’re unlikely to get seasick on this type of trip. NATURE CALLS THE SHOTS Days are spent on shore, and the boat paddles on in the evening. As with flightseeing tours, nature calls the shots here. Travelers may experience itinerary adjustments, big and small, based on the seasonal water level. The route may change if the water is low. In fact, the American Queen got stuck in the mud for a few days of its maiden voyage back in 1995 -- when the water on the Ohio suddenly got really low. And, like old aviators, they’ve been known to simply wait it out at a stop until conditions improve. If the water is high, the crew can adapt with little fanfare by cranking down the smokestacks and pilot house to get under a bridge. If you want to see this novelty, ask when you board as to where they expect it to happen. But if the water is really high, they may need to change your route to avoid a possible stranding between bridges. Last year, one of their trips addressed this by diverting over to the Illinois River (St. Louis to Chicago). Sounds like a good consolation prize, since the boat made quick arrangements for a lavishing of Lincoln lore. On our own June 2019 trip down the Mississippi from Memphis, flooding blocked us from one of the dockings planned in Louisiana. So the boat just went over to the other side of the river and tied up to the trees (like the old days). And there at the end of the gangplank were the buses in a state of readiness for the next activity. This little adjustment was certainly mild compared to some improvised landings in the 1800s. Back in the day, a riverboat could end up loading from the second story of a flooded building. Water conditions may also get the American Queen to a stop ahead of schedule. Maybe even a “bonus” overnight docking (as we got at Natchez). So pre-plan how you might use any extra evening ashore. There are often ghost, foodie, author, or pub tours available from the locals (not part of the American Queen). If nothing else, any overnight stop is a photo op to step ashore after dark and see the boat with all its lights. HOW THEY DO THE DAILY STOPS These guys do shore excursions right. The American Queen has its own fleet of comfortable buses that are well-maintained and well air-conditioned. They have their own crew of regular drivers, who follow along on shore and meet the boat every morning. Some buses take passengers on pre-reserved day trips (which cost extra). Other buses continuously shuttle you around town to sites that you can do at your pace. At these places, American Queen has prepaid any admission fee or expected donation. You just tell them that you’re off the American Queen and walk on in. American Queen publishes its own maps that show all the shuttle stops and prepaid attractions. These maps are more accurate, readable, and helpful than the crude port-stop leaflets I’ve seen on some international cruises. While river cruises can produce a traffic jam in Europe, passenger boats on the Mississippi are rare. Visits by the American Queen are a novelty, and the company seems to have cultivated a warm rapport with the locals at every stop. Often they’re volunteers. For instance, the boat’s shuttle bus dropped us off to see the Church of the Holy Trinity in Vicksburg. A parishioner in his 80s detailed the story of its six Tiffany stained-glass windows. The old Vicksburg depot is right by the dock and boasts a large collection of 250 ship models. They’re spread around the museum, and the friendly docent made sure that I knew where to find them. In contrast to the jaded herding of tourist-saturated Europe, I found the people of Memphis, Vicksburg, and Natchez to be among the most genuinely welcoming in the world. A MENU OF MANSIONS European river cruises have their palaces. On this route, the American Queen gives passengers their choice of 12 southern mansions built in the 1800s. A remarkable range of building styles and stories, often tragic. Some of these mansion visits come with extras like local cuisine, gardens, a costume museum, or a personal tour by the owner. For instance, the owner of Twin Oaks is quite the celebrity chef. She fed us well, told great stories, and gave us the run of her home. Shared her cooking secrets and left everyone with a copy of her colorful 200-page recipe book (Regina’s Kitchen tour). One of our all-time favorite shore excursions anywhere. The key here is pre-trip planning. Choose how to spend your day by studying the mansions’ websites. Even more online detail is available at the National Register of Historic Places. (www.nps.gov/subjects/nationalregister/database-research.htm ) One notable mansion was missing, though, and might be worth adding to the boat’s itinerary. While Hawaii had its well-known colony for leprosy at Molokai, the lesser-known mainland equivalent (the National Leprosarium) was at the old Indian Camp mansion on the Mississippi. Today there’s a driving tour of this former Carville colony. And a museum that tells how federal research at this site found the world a cure in the 1950s. Leprosy could now be treated with pills instead of exile for life. (www.hrsa.gov/hansens-disease/museum ) EVEN A CASTLE Like Europe’s rivers, there’s an old castle on the route: the former state capitol building in Baton Rouge. Just three blocks from the dock. Complete with towers and rooftop battlements. Interior like a gothic cathedral, with arches everywhere and a massive 2000-pane stained-glass dome. And, yes, this is the piece of medieval imitation that Mark Twain lampooned in “Life on the Mississippi.” With sharp language, he urged the state to demolish it and fund a replacement rather than a restoration. Interestingly, the outside looks a lot like the castle logo used by the Army Corps of Engineers. And the inside reminds me of the ornate Victorian decor found in the American Queen’s own Mark Twain Gallery. One wing of this castle now serves as a palatial venue for weddings. Another wing has the state’s Museum of Political History, with its candid look at the monarch-like reign of Governor Huey Long back in the 1930s. (https://exploresouthernhistory.com/louisianacapitol2.html ) The legislature debated Long’s impeachment in this castle. Long then built them an art deco skyscraper that remains the nation’s tallest state capitol building. There Long was shot to death, with some mystery remaining to this day. Historians contemplate how a Huey Long stint as President might have unfolded in the years surrounding World War II (instead of FDR). Long was already a U.S. senator when he was killed. THE 600-MILE ART WALK European river cruises have their art galleries. The American Queen’s version starts on the boat itself. Every public area of the boat is used to display a collection of 66 paintings that detail the history of American river travel. Paintings with a purpose, rather than mere decorations. Ask at the desk and they’ll give you their free booklet for the “Self-Guided Art Tour.” (There’s a “missing” painting, though. The boat needs a copy of Thomas Benton’s 1947 mural of “Achelous and Hercules,” which celebrates the efforts of the Corps of Engineers to tame the flooding Missouri. See https://americanart.si.edu/artwork/achelous-and-hercules-1910 ) Historic Hotels of America says this boat “has the largest private collection of Tiffany lamps in the United States.” And don’t forget to look upward. This is the Gilded Age, and there’s art in those ceilings. Like a sky mural above the Grand Staircase. When the boat docks at Vicksburg, you’re greeted by a series of 32 outdoor murals on the floodwall. (www.riverfrontmurals.com ) One of these murals depicts the deadliest maritime disaster in American history -- more killed than on the Titanic. In 1865, an overloaded troopship exploded near Memphis. The military man in charge was tried in the old courthouse that’s now a Vicksburg museum. After his conviction was reversed, he became a local judge and founded a suburb. Memory of the disaster was overshadowed by other events, that is, Lincoln’s death, Booth’s death, and the end of the Civil War. (Book: Jerry Potter, “The Sultana Tragedy”) Another Vicksburg mural recalls the deadly tornado of 1953 -- went right over the spot where we parked the boat. Locals wrongly assumed that the river protected them from tornados. This was a year before weather radar was invented, and the town’s paper got a Pulitzer for its continued coverage without utilities. (See www.weather.gov/jan/1953_vicksburgtornado ) In New Orleans, the most popular art forms are, of course, the floats and costumes for Mardi Gras. There are at least five museums about the event that are a reasonable distance from the dock. If, like us, your cruise ends upon reaching New Orleans, these are things for you to find, and pay for, on your own. About a mile south of the dock is our favorite: a factory that has built Mardi Gras floats since the 1940s. (www.mardigrasworld.com ) About a mile north of the dock is the Mardi Gras Museum. (www.themardigrasmuseum.com ) The state’s Presbytere museum in the French Quarter focuses on Mardi Gras. There’s also a lesser-known (and free) museum of “royalty” wear in the back of Arnaud’s restaurant -- if you know to ask for access. (www.arnaudsrestaurant.com ) And African American costumes are displayed at the Backstreet Cultural Museum, which is just west of the French Quarter. (www.backstreetmuseum.org ) My favorite commercial art galley (anywhere) is M.S. Rau, on Royal Street in the French Quarter. Many of the paintings and sculptures are found behind a door disguised as a bookcase (seriously). Those in the know can ask to tour that hidden collection. Parts of it are online in the store’s archived exhibition catalogs at www.rauantiques.com/catalogs. (Be sure to check out the one from their “Vice and Virtue” exhibition.) But let’s be candid here. If you can afford to do more than just admire the inventory at M.S. Rau, you probably have your own yacht and aren’t reading this review. MUSEUMS OF SOCIAL JUSTICE Obviously, old mansions along the Mississippi didn’t start out as tourist attractions. Nor were they built by volunteers. On this Deep South route of the American Queen, you’ll find nine museums that focus on slavery and civil rights. Here’s the list: (1) National Civil Rights Museum (Memphis); (2) Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum (Memphis); (3) Cotton Museum (Memphis); (4) Frogmore Plantation (Natchez); (5) Forks of the Road slave market (Natchez); (6) Afro-American Culture Museum (Natchez); (7) William Johnson House (Natchez); (8) Rosedown Plantation (St. Francisville); (9) Oak Alley Plantation (Nottoway). Two further stops have some related nuances if you know a bit of the background. In Vicksburg, the boat’s bus will drop you off at a museum that was the county’s courthouse during the Civil War. A small exhibit in the courtroom recounts an early war crimes trial by the Union army. Nine Union soldiers were hung for killing a plantation owner’s wife during a looting. All nine were black soldiers. (Book: Gordon Cotton [former curator], “The Murder of Minerva Cook”) At St. Francisville, the boat did a bus trip over to the nation’s largest hard-core prison. Known as Angola or “the farm,” it was the American version of Devil’s Island back in the day. Some cite the convict lease system as a covert continuation of slavery up until World War II. (Book: Douglas Blackmon, “Slavery by Another Name”) The media continue to report concerns about conditions at Angola. All agree that the majority of its current inmates are lifers and black. Once again, the key is to choose your stops of interest with some pre-trip surfing of museum websites. One lesser-known civil rights site might be worth adding to the American Queen’s itinerary. During World War II, Japanese Americans were confined at two “relocation centers” near the Mississippi River at McGehee, Arkansas. There were 10 of these wartime camps around the country. McGehee has a museum about the ones there. (http://rohwer.astate.edu ) Once you get to New Orleans, there are some further options that you can arrange on your own. There is the New Orleans self-guided Slave Trade Marker Tour, with its free downloadable app. (www.neworleansslavetrade.org) And at least one company offers a tour about the city’s civil rights movement. (http://toursbyjudy.com ) THE BOAT ITSELF Perhaps the most unusual structure of the trip is the American Queen itself –- the largest paddle wheeler ever made. Back in 1995, the original owner resurrected the Victorian decor of the most lavish riverboats and produced a composite out of modern (much safer) materials. Though the boat’s a replica, it’s still a transportation icon. The missing link between covered wagons and the railroads. Belongs right up there with the Spirit of St. Louis. Before the railroads took over, steamboats like this one took passengers as far west as Montana. There was even a brief effort at running steamboats from Baja up to present-day Las Vegas. The American Queen is indeed propelled by a genuine steam-driven paddle wheel. But two modern propeller pods are available for tight maneuvers and emergencies. Unlike international cruise ships, passenger visits to the bridge (pilot house) and engine room are encouraged rather than forbidden. Due to the noise, you may want to visit the engines during a port stop if you really want to talk with the engineer on duty. There’s a good “steamplant” handout with enough details of the system for most of us. Time aboard the boat feels like a very realistic stage set, or “Night at the Museum.” In fact, the onboard shows and lectures occur in a “Grand Saloon” modeled after Ford’s Theater. A bit smaller, but you can still sit in a balcony box like old Abe did. (The two most forward boxes are open to anyone who gets there first.) I started to search the various public databases for the ship’s listing as a historic property. Then I remembered that this is a replica less than half my age. When it gets older, it should make the cut for the nautical category of the Historic American Engineering Record. The dining room recreates that of a legendary steamboat (J.M. White) whose wreck in the 1800s formed the Maurice Towhead, an island we passed near St. Francisville. Each of the three passenger lounges is a museum in itself, with wall-to-wall antiques, exhibits, artwork, and books related to the period. For serious study of the route, passengers have access to a real chart room (no, it’s not a bar). You even get a chance to play the boat’s steam calliope. Every area of the boat is well air-conditioned. Those who chill easily will need to bring along a sweatshirt (though you can adjust the temperature in your room). SCENERY ALONG THE RIVER On the Mississippi north of St. Louis (not this trip), a boat will transit up to 29 locks (sort of an extended Panama Canal). But our route from Memphis down to New Orleans had no locks or dams. The river south of Memphis is mile after mile of tree-lined banks, often with high levees. With the boat being six decks high, you get the unique perspective of a helicopter flying low and slow above the water. Common traffic on the Mississippi consists of tugboats (towboats) pushing long strings of barges. If you’re curious about life aboard the towboats, the Corps of Engineers has a well-labeled one as a museum by the dock in Vicksburg. With some climbing, you can explore the inside from top to bottom at your own pace. (Don’t miss the exhibit in the engine room about the Army’s construction problems with the “Big Shaky.”) Since there are no locks or dams on this route, there’s usually little to see at night beyond lighted buoys, towboat spotlights, and the silhouette of trees on the banks. However, there was quite the magenta sunset on our last night. Another night had a half-hour show of cloud-to-cloud lightning that rivaled the aurora. New Orleans is the southern end of the line for the American Queen. After New Orleans, the Mississippi River extends through its delta and eventually reaches the ocean. To see this last 100 miles of the river, you’d have to book an international cruise that starts at New Orleans and heads on into the Gulf. STAR OF THE SHOW The river on this route can get pretty monotonous if you don’t know what’s hidden in plain sight. Like the monotony of an opera unless they give you a written translation for following along (libretto). Fortunately, the American Queen has an onboard historian (Jerry Hay) who has authored mile-by-mile guidebooks for every river the boat travels (and a few more). Though designed for boaters, they’re your libretto for appreciating all the local lore you’d otherwise miss. Lots of shipwrecks and military history buried out there. (To buy these books, see www.riverlorian.com.) But you still have to know where you are on the river. Bring along your GPS or smartphone equivalent. A key feature of the trip is the talks that Jerry Hay gives about the river, the boat, and the stops. Since you’re here for the history, he’s the voice of the American Queen, your emcee, and the star of the show. He does up to four talks a day at various spots around the boat, such as the pilot house, chart room, and Grand Saloon. Backwaters all have their backstories, and Jerry Hay sure knows a lot of them. Seems fitting that the American Queen was originally christened by Mr. and Mrs. Paul Harvey. The couple who broadcast “the rest of the story,” what we’d otherwise have missed. (There was a “re-christening” by Priscilla Presley about two decades later.) Despite all the efforts at flood control, the river still seems to get its way much of the time. The charts show abandoned channels, oxbow lakes, and even parts of one state exiled within another state. Congress sets the boundary; nature resets the Mississippi. (See www.semissourian.com/blogs/pavementends/entry/36305 ) The national research center for river control is the huge Corps of Engineers lab that dominates Vicksburg. Since the facility is generally not open to the public, any shore excursion that the American Queen could arrange would be an impressive addition to future itineraries. Taxpayers are often unaware of good things that the government has done with their money. (See www.erdc.usace.army.mil/About/ ) ONBOARD MUSIC Much of the music that we’ve heard on international cruises has musicians playing along to a soundtrack. On the American Queen, 100% of the music on stage was totally live (no soundtracks). Just like the old days. It’s a full onboard band of veteran session musicians from around the country. They do evening shows of American tunes from the last 150 years. Just as enjoyable as the onshore music of the French Quarter. MEALS Except for dinner, meals are self-serve buffets with several basic American entrees. Certainly enough to keep you going, but nothing like the pig-outs with endless variety that you find inside casinos or luxury liners. Self-serve machines are available for your basic soft drinks, coffee, tea, popcorn, and soft ice cream. Each deck has a water fountain (“hydration station”) to fill the sports bottle that they give you at the start of the cruise. If strong, branded coffees (Starbucks, Peets) are part of your life support system, you’ll have to bring you own survival kit from home. Same deal if you insist on bottled water. The boat simply doesn’t have these things. You’ll get free beer and wine with dinner, but alcohol beyond that gets added to your bill. On the other hand, there’s no onboard casino to take your money. Dinner is the only table-service type of meal. You get an assigned time and table for the trip’s duration, and everyone in the room gets every course on the same tight schedule (or you’ve waived that part of the meal). You can, of course, skip this regimen and just do another self-serve buffet for dinner (like breakfast and lunch). Dinner had creative, nicely-presented regional entrees that changed throughout the week. Service was fast, and the food always arrived hot. Our three American waiters were just as skilled, attentive, and charming as the European waiters touted on international cruises. There’s one serious caution for travel agents, though. Two tables in the dining room are positioned directly above machinery whose noise and vibration make it difficult to converse (probably a generator). Travel agents should insist that their customers not be assigned to these two tables –- make it a deal breaker. With the boat pointed forward, the two tables to avoid are found in the forward part of the left side of the dining room. On the deck plan for the dining room, you’ll see an H-shaped service area. Draw a line from (1) the left bottom corner of this H across to (2) the left-side window with a hull access tower outside. Though the dining room may be completely full, the American Queen simply shouldn’t space its tables near this line. Travel agents should alert customers that the American Queen will automatically add on a “gratuities” charge of $37 per day per couple. While we only did a one-week leg, the brochure advertises “epic 16 to 23-day voyages” of the full Mississippi. In other words, they’ll be tacking on roughly $550 to $800 for couples who do the whole river. And, no, you can’t use your onboard credit to pay this add-on noted in the fine print. Since the “gratuities” charge is not based on any individual’s actual performance, it’s just a way of adding payroll to the quoted base fare. Like the unbundled (fragmented) billing of airlines, hospitals, and “resort fee” hotels. Theoretically, the boat says you can get nasty and negotiate this extra charge downward if you feel it’s undeserved. However, if a passenger really feels that abused, the better route might be a travel agent’s post-trip request to the line’s headquarters. THE CABIN For this type of trip, the extra cost for a window or outside entrance wasn’t worth it to us. We picked the cheapest inside cabin they had (no window), and it met our needs. The cabin was just our sleeping room while the boat was moving on to the next day’s stop. Since this was summer in the Deep South, good air conditioning was more important to us than a window. Our room’s air conditioning was effective and adjustable to our liking. However, travel agents should alert customers to a few idiosyncrasies. For instance, our cabin was far from soundproof. We could hear coughs, coat hangars, and conversations in the adjacent cabins. Also, some Deck 3 interior cabins (like ours) are above the Grand Saloon. Choose accordingly if you want silence before the second show ends about 9 pm. And, per the past reviews by others, you may want to sleep away from the laundry room. The instructions on the old room safe are ambiguous and tricky. You may want to ask the desk to translate before you throw all your goodies in there. You have to use your metal key to lock the door when you leave your room. It doesn’t automatically lock like modern hotel doors. Minimal towels were provided in our bathroom. So plan for that contingency (maybe bring along a roll of paper towels). The room’s free wireless Internet worked well with our PC. But we didn’t have cell phone coverage unless we opened the door a little. Probably not an issue for the outside rooms with a window. BOTTOM LINE There are endless things to see and ponder along this route, if you know where to find them. If I had my cruising retirement to do over, I’d spend more time in my own country, do more pre-trip homework, and take more trips like this one. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
I was always looking at Mississippi River cruises, but they seemed too expensive. My husband and I usually cruise in the Carribean on ships that have a lot of attractions. Oasis,Allure) Then,Cruise Critic advertised this cruise The ... Read More
I was always looking at Mississippi River cruises, but they seemed too expensive. My husband and I usually cruise in the Carribean on ships that have a lot of attractions. Oasis,Allure) Then,Cruise Critic advertised this cruise The American Queen is small compared to large cruise ships (425 abt.) but all the luxuries were there. Great food in the dining room, the informal buffet at dinner time always had prime rib, and a great fish and chicken offerings The entertainment was superb. The troop may only had four people, but they were extremely talented. The ship had resident jazz band who played at the shows, and late nights sessions in one of the bars. The historian on board was also good We embarked in New Orleans, and the ship provided one night in a central hotel. When we got to a port, we were provided with a hop/on bus which brings you to the attractions, with the entry feee already paid. We could not get to all the attractions. The ship is decorated in high Victorian style Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
ATV outdoor shore excursion at Natchez was the highlight for us! Well done to David and the Team for putting this outdoor adventure together. Civil War battleground tour at Vickisburg was also excellent. Our particular thanks to the ... Read More
ATV outdoor shore excursion at Natchez was the highlight for us! Well done to David and the Team for putting this outdoor adventure together. Civil War battleground tour at Vickisburg was also excellent. Our particular thanks to the thoroughly informative speakers/guides - especially the gentleman who dressed and acted the part of a soldier of the day - he really made a difference! Plantations at St Francisville were amazing - such informative guides at Rosedown and host at Catalpa willing to share her home - such wonderful hospitality! The food and the service on board the American Queen has been second to none! All of the waiters & staff have gone out of their way to make us comfortable & have the most amazing honeymoon of a lifetime! We feel truly special that we've been able to join this cruise and spend it making friends for life! We will definitely take another cruise again! Thank you & a special mention to Ambrose & Brian - the most deserving of recognition out of a truly exceptional crew Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
My husband was interested in historic stops and I wanted to relax and be pampered. We both got what we wanted. I was able to stay on board while he went site seeing. Our cabin was small but had everything you could want. Our bed was ... Read More
My husband was interested in historic stops and I wanted to relax and be pampered. We both got what we wanted. I was able to stay on board while he went site seeing. Our cabin was small but had everything you could want. Our bed was very comfortable and the room was clean. Housekeeping stopped by twice a day to freshen up. Bathroom was larger than expected and plenty of hot water for showers. Any questions were answered thoroughly and quickly. The Hop On and Hop Off bus was just what we wanted. If we wanted more to see and do that was an option or we could just take a round trip and get back on board. Food was plentiful and delicious. Staff were very helpful and friendly. The boat is "small" so you got to meet lots of people since you would see the same people at meals or out walking. This encouraged friendliness. Truly delightful. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
I chose this cruise because a group of 18 of us wanted to cruise on a riverboat. This group cruises frequently but never a riverboat. Nothing about this cruise line is current. You can't even make online reservations. We had planned ... Read More
I chose this cruise because a group of 18 of us wanted to cruise on a riverboat. This group cruises frequently but never a riverboat. Nothing about this cruise line is current. You can't even make online reservations. We had planned and booked everything before boarding, premium excursions, private cocktail reception. After boarding no one at the customer service desk or tour desk seemed to know what they were doing. Everyday our group had to go to the desk about issues. We paid top price for a private reception before the cruise, they didn't have this booked onboard, even after we confirmed and went to the room for the reception, they still didn't know anything about it. The cabins are so tiny, dingy, lack of storage and not worth the price that we paid for this cruise. The dining room service was horrible, they simply didn't care. The towns that we stopped in are mostly small and not much to see. Glad we booked premium tours that actually went somewhere else. Disembarkation was very confusing, they really didn't tell you what to do, you just followed other cruisers that kind of knew what to do. The 'Local riveratarion' turned out to be the same man that does the lighting in the theater!! Nothing local about that, he shared his very political opinions, that were not always appropriate. Sorry American Queen our group won't be back. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
We had been recommended the American Queen by a close friend, who is quite choosy so we felt confident all would be prefect! Not quite! Disappointed with quality of some of entertainment. Particularly the lounge singer- we felt ... Read More
We had been recommended the American Queen by a close friend, who is quite choosy so we felt confident all would be prefect! Not quite! Disappointed with quality of some of entertainment. Particularly the lounge singer- we felt very poor, could have been much better. Sadly dinner service was lacking, although did improve so I guess someone at a neighbourung table may have said something? We were served wrong meals repeatedly, had to ask for drinks to be served and the attitude of some staff was very off hand. Front porch cafe- always great service and choice- both at breakfast and lunch. Top deck bar- likewise, always good. This isn't a cheap trip and expectations were so high and I have to admit we were disappointed with these areas! In other areas they excelled, organistaion around trips, both additional and standard were excellent- we did both. Ease on and off at ports was great- never been so easy! The 'Hop on/Hop off' bus service fab! In terms of value for money- depends on your point of view - I know some of my fellow dinner partners felt it wasn't. However if you use all the facilities, all the trips provided as part of package, along with buses it does feel like you know what you are paying for. I think the poor service at dinner and 'not so good' entertainment in places left it feeling wanting. We , for insatnce , seldom ate lunch- but suited ourselves and made a sandwich which we took with us when on shore for a trip. Had fruit etc to eat during the day so we gained in other ways. Satff in general really great, helpful, friendly. Staterooms as expected- really clean, comfortable and well serviced- we had a private verandah which was great. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
I always wanted to visit New Orleans and my companion had always wanted to go down/up the Missisipi River. This cruise offered the best of both worlds. Unfortunately i was disapointed to find that the food was not always of good quality ... Read More
I always wanted to visit New Orleans and my companion had always wanted to go down/up the Missisipi River. This cruise offered the best of both worlds. Unfortunately i was disapointed to find that the food was not always of good quality and did not cater well for vegetarians. Unfortunately there was also a lot of fried fish rather than fresh fish. There were also times when the boat ran out of basics such as English Breakfast tea and some herbal teas. Most of the staff however were very good, very helpful and friendly. The hop on and off tours were rather interesting however in some of the towns; Greenville especially there was not much to see, and what we did see while being of some interest had been covered earlier on in the tour some museums were random and disjointed in there collections. Perhaps if you stayed in one of the bigger towns for longer of even arrived earlier in Memphis. However i have had overall a good experience. The staff were especially welcoming and helpful. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
We (my wife, myself, my daughter and her spouse) had always wanted to try a US Cruise Ship on the Mississippi River, We started at New Orleans and traveled to Menmphis, the hotel the ship chose was a part of the pre trip was excellent ... Read More
We (my wife, myself, my daughter and her spouse) had always wanted to try a US Cruise Ship on the Mississippi River, We started at New Orleans and traveled to Menmphis, the hotel the ship chose was a part of the pre trip was excellent and we actually booked it via separate reservations a day early, The room on board was nice, however our steward was at best poor, in fact the ship changed him out after the 3rd night of almost no service. The staff, were all USA residents, and the lower staff, were often indifferent to most. They seemed to get better as the trip neared its end. Food, was at best, medium. On the first night I ordered a baked potato, it was cold and would not melt the butter. They brought me a second "15 minutes later", it was colder then the first, they then sent the assistant head waiter over, he went and found a 3rd baked potato, again this took "15 minutes", by then I had finished my meal. It never got better.... The value for $$$ was far below what I expected. The dining room chairs were broken and most had extremely stained seats. Not at all what I expected for a US cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
I was invited to join friends on this cruise. New Orleans is a great place to visit pre-cruise. Our hotel was within walking distance of many attractions. Cabin was small but compact, clean and orderly. The bathroom was good size and ... Read More
I was invited to join friends on this cruise. New Orleans is a great place to visit pre-cruise. Our hotel was within walking distance of many attractions. Cabin was small but compact, clean and orderly. The bathroom was good size and the walkin shower excellent. Amenities included were shampoo, lotion, shower gel, nice size bar of hand soap. The food was plentiful, many choices, and of excellent quality. For breakfast and lunch you could order from the menu or eat from the buffet. Dinner consisted of appetizer choice, soup and/or salad, choice of entrée and dessert. Wine, beer, soda, coffee, tea included with dinner. The included shore excursions were very interesting. There were enough places to visit in each town using the Hop-On Hop-Off tour buses that you didn't really need to pay for extra premium excursions. I did opt to purchase the Vicksburg, On The Front Lines of the Civil War, excursion. I felt that it was well worth the money. I was not impressed with the evening entertainment, but there were always other choices. The only downside was the fact that the Mississippi was the highest it has ever been. Consequently, we could not dock at several ports. However, we still visited most of the same towns, We could not get under the bridges leading to Memphis, so we had a long bus ride to the Memphis airport. We all made our flights on time. The staff of the cruise boat did a fine job of dealing with the swollen river and the problems it presented. Since I have visited Memphis many times, I did not stay over there. I would recommend doing so if you have not been there. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
After having taken three ocean cruises, the cruise aboard the American Queen was a very nice change. We enjoyed the more personal service that is possible with a maximum capacity of 430 passengers. We appreciated the helpfulness and ... Read More
After having taken three ocean cruises, the cruise aboard the American Queen was a very nice change. We enjoyed the more personal service that is possible with a maximum capacity of 430 passengers. We appreciated the helpfulness and pleasant demeanor of all the staff we encountered. The boat and its furnishings are very nice and seemed to be well maintained. The only equipment problem I noted was that one of the two treadmills in the gym was non-operational. That was not a problem for us as we never encountered anyone else in the gym when we were there. Our cabin #332 included a private veranda. Although we have stayed in larger suites before, we found this one to be quite comfortable and to meet all our needs. Unfortunately, we had a problem with cigarette and apparent pipe smoke being very noticeable from our veranda several times when we wanted to use it. On the second day I reported it to the Purser's office and they sent a security staff member to our cabin. He also smelled smoke but said he could not determine from where it was coming. I was later told by a different staff member that it was probably coming from the staff deck below. Sure enough, when I looked down at that deck from my veranda I saw several cigarette butts on the decking below our cabin. When I later mentioned that to the Purser's office I got the distinct impression that they were aware of the issue from prior experience but just chose not to take corrective action. I consider that to be very inconsiderate that they do not at least advise passengers where this problem might be encountered so they can make a good choice of cabin. We found the food to be of very good quality. We ate half of our dinners at the Front Porch Café because we enjoyed the more casual service style here. The staff there was excellent and quick to address any service requests. We did not take any of the premium excursions and found the hop-on hop-off bus system to be well organized and easy to use. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
We chose this in order to see the Southern states of USA .We are experienced cruisers .The moment we set foot on this boat we knew it was not going to be very good.The boat smells musty and damp .When we were shoen the cabin I wanted to ... Read More
We chose this in order to see the Southern states of USA .We are experienced cruisers .The moment we set foot on this boat we knew it was not going to be very good.The boat smells musty and damp .When we were shoen the cabin I wanted to leave .We had Suite 509 .It was shabby,depressing ,dark and poorly equipped .We tried to change but the boat was full . The experience in the dining room the first evening confirmed our thoughts .The maitred Oscar told us we had assigned seating on a big table when in fact we had booked a table for two .He insisted we hadn’t and said that there was nothing he could do and suggested we changed to early dinner to get a table for two .We went to the pursers desk,complained and amazingly a table for two appeared .The dining experience was poor .Poor quality food,poorly presented,always cold the worst we have experienced in 25 years of cruising on all kinds of boats and ships .Information on disembarking was incorrect and cost us 20 dollars for a transfer to a hotel we didn’t want when we were told there were no taxis allowed in the port on that day .This was utter rubbish as we saw lots of people getting taxis from the port .A very expensive,disappointing experience .We do not recommend it .Better to drive the route and stay in some of the amazing plantation houses . Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
Seeing the mighty Mississippi has been on our list, if only for the size and its place in history. We travelled from Australia to cruise on the American Queen for a 9 night Lower Mississippi New Orleans to Memphis itinerary. Cruise ... Read More
Seeing the mighty Mississippi has been on our list, if only for the size and its place in history. We travelled from Australia to cruise on the American Queen for a 9 night Lower Mississippi New Orleans to Memphis itinerary. Cruise included a first night stopover in New Orleans at the very convenient Riverfront Hilton, which had a pre-checkin facility, which was easy to do. We did our own exploring rather than used the optional premium tours. First view of the boat tied up was impressive, the Queen is certainly a big boat and certainly looks like a riverboat of bygone days. On boarding day we climbed aboard and went directly to our state room, Dining was a treat, the Dining room was well appointed and we had a set 2 person table for dinner, which was a mixed thing in that we did not mix with other guests much. Staff attention was good and the food very good to excellent, with nicely sized portions. All the bar staff were very good and the River Grill/Calliope Bar on deck 5 became a favourite, where you can view the large river and all on it and the mesmerizing rear paddle wheel. Ensure that you go down to the engine room to actually see the steam engines at work, again the duty staff were just too happy to answer questions. Dining options also include the more casual Front Porch with a nice open air and some inside dining tables which often was the lunch choice, to enjoy the outside weather and views of the river. On our trip we chose only a couple of the option excursions, both of which were quite good, with the Laura Plantation at the Nottoway stop being a standout. The Vicksburg Battlefield tour gave a great overview of the siege of 1863. Included Hop on Hop tours at the ports of call cover the stops quite nicely, but we chose to walk into most ports of call, but caution some of these are some distance so this method is not for everybody. We are a late 50's couple so the demographic of the cruisers on our trip was largely quite senior, which was largely within expectations, met some really nice folks from all over the US, Canada and fellow Antipodeans. Highly recommend the daily Riverlorian talks, Bobby Durham, the Riverlorian on our trip was terrific and very entertaining with his presentations on river history, geographics, commerce and folk lore. The entertainment was not quite our scene but the 4 performers and resident band were able to put on a good show for the presentations we attended, with the timings set so that both dinner sittings could partake if they desired. This type of cruise is a more laid back type, there are vast stretches of river where all you see is riverside forest with occasional industrial works and many, many working barges. The Mississippi is still largely a working river. There are not a lot of riverside towns, What was fascinating to watch the way that the often very large barges and their Tow navigate this winding river. Disembarkation appeared to be quite seamless, we chose the independent option, where our bags were moved to the Memphis terminal, we walked off and picked them up and proceeded off to our hotel, not choosing the post cruise options We feel we would quite possibly travel American Queen Steamboat again. Our expectation was to watch this river go by and get an appreciation for the part the Mississippi played in driving the US expansion and economy in the 1800's and indeed today. That is exactly what the cruise provided. Having a great room, great food and terrific staff was a bonus. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
We had dreamed for sometime of cruising the Mississippi and in August after 40 some cruises on the Ocean Ships we lived our dream. ASQC used the beautiful Sheraton Downtown Memphis for our pre cruise stay. Loved the city ! Rode the ... Read More
We had dreamed for sometime of cruising the Mississippi and in August after 40 some cruises on the Ocean Ships we lived our dream. ASQC used the beautiful Sheraton Downtown Memphis for our pre cruise stay. Loved the city ! Rode the Trolleys and had great ribs ant Central BBQ. When we first laid eyes on American Queen she was tied to a tree at Mud Landing (choking the stump) we later learned. Hey, where is the long line to board ? There wasn't any. We walked off the beautiful bus, down the hill and boarded. We walked up the red carpeted stairs and into a world we never expected. She was magnificent !. A Men's Card Room and Ladies Parlor , beautiful comfortable furniture. We headed for our cabin, 412, on deck 4. Another surprise. The cabin was beautiful and comfortable with French Doors that opened to our deck. We had a small table and two chairs which afforded us a chance to say good morning to the walkers. How they fit so much storage space in a small cabin remains a mystery. The food in the J.M. White ding room was excellent although we expected a little more Cajun/Creole flavors. If you did not like what was on the menu you could walk up to the buffet and serve yourself. The dining room staff was great. The other dining venue was the Front Porch which was buffet and you could sit outside and watch the river. Our ports of call were interesting. We rode the beautiful Hop on Hop Off busses doing the complete loop then getting off at points of interest. All our small town ports, Hickman KY Paducah KY, Cape Girardeau KY, Chester ILL were interesting and the people welcomed us and thanked us for visiting. St Louis was something special. We docked by the Arch and had a tour that would have been at least $79 on the big boats. We disembarked in Alton ILL early the next morning. A brief thought about the Entertainment. Broadway on a small stage. Excellent performers and an excellent piano player in the evening. The Engine Room Bar was the "hot" spot at night. Everything was free. Ice Cream , Pop Corn, Cookies Hot Dogs, all tours (except premium ones) and free bottled water delivered to your cabin each morning. The entire staff was friendly and always available to help. The star of the show was the magnificent Mississippi River. We spent hours sitting outside our cabins hypnotized bt the scenery and hundreds of barges passing by. We were not sure what to expect but Ole Man River and the AQSC delivered us memories that will last forever. We look forward to returning soon. Read Less
Sail Date August 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
This was probably the best cruise experience my wife and I ever had in over 16 years of cruising on a variety of cruise lines. The all-American crew provided first class service and did put some meaning to the idea of joining the AQSC ... Read More
This was probably the best cruise experience my wife and I ever had in over 16 years of cruising on a variety of cruise lines. The all-American crew provided first class service and did put some meaning to the idea of joining the AQSC family. American Queen was a true elegant Southern Belle affording us an experience closeted in sophisticated Southern Charm with true superior service. The entertainment was far better than we ever imagined with some class acts worthy of a place on Broadway. From the time of joining this steamboat at the included first night in the Hilton at the Ballpark in St. Louis until departure from the Premier Excursion at Minneapolis Airport, we never lacked the attention of the crew. Obtaining our boarding tickets for the included Hop-on / Hop-off tour busses was an easy nightly task that ensured we knew when we had to be at the gangway. Food was of the best and copious glasses of wine at dinner added to a very convivial atmosphere. We just cannot wait for the next publication of itineraries to select our 2020 return trip up the Ohio and Tennessee rivers on this beauty of a steamboat (or a sister). The only Premier excursions we purchased were the tours on Joining and departing the ship (with Airport Drop-off). All guides whether on the Hop-on / Hop-off or Premier excursions were of the highest calibre. Well done AQSC you have spoilt me, and now you've got me for life. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
I like river cruising. To make a comparison of the two United States based river cruise lines, I took a cruise on the American Queen from Louisville KY to St. Louis MO.(( A year ago I traveled on American Cruise Lines (the competitor) on ... Read More
I like river cruising. To make a comparison of the two United States based river cruise lines, I took a cruise on the American Queen from Louisville KY to St. Louis MO.(( A year ago I traveled on American Cruise Lines (the competitor) on their Columbia River cruise.)) Great pre-departure hotel in Louisville. The Brown Hotel. Location was good for walking to many tourist venues. Good organization for checking-in and transport to the ship..You are issued a boarding card that is needed to leave and return to the ship. It is like a credit card, which is scanned. Same card is used to charge gift shop items and alcoholic beverages to your room account. You do NOT have to wear an ID badge around your neck like some cruise lines. Food was excellent in the main dining room. Food was good at the self serve buffet at the Front Porch dining option. There are assigned tables and assigned guests in the main dining room. These are kept the same for the entire cruise. I was traveling solo and was seated with 5 other solo travelers. It does give shy people a way to get to know people on the ship, but I like to be able to sit with different people each night. So that is just a personal preference-not good, not bad. The common rooms on the ship are well appointed in the old Mississippi River boat ornate style. Well maintained. Crew and service people were excellent. Friendly, helpful. This ship has a nightly "broadway" type show with small live band and 4 singer/dancers. A very nice auditorium they call the Grand Saloon. Where there is drink service available. There are included excursions. Premium excursions are an extra charge. They have unique Hop On Hop Off bus that transports you to the different points of interest at each port for the included excursions. To control crowds you have to get a free ticket in the lobby to designate which bus you will take to start the excursion. This helps with organization. Once on the route, you can get on any bus that has room at the designated stops. Stops are clearly marked with signs. The cost of $69 for most of the Premium excursions seemed a little pricey. It was just a longer bus ride with a guide on the bus taking you to an attraction farther from the port. There are also a variety of activities on the ship: sometimes a movie, bingo, Historical lecture about the rive was daily, My cruise had a culinary focus so there was a food lecture, a cooking demo and a cooking competition between two staff members, similar to the show Chopped on The Food Network. The daily River Times newsletter left in the cabin each night if very helpful for planning the next days activities. Even with around 400 guests on the ship, there was enough room to move about and not feel like you were being crowded. I was impressed enough with this cruise that I booked another one. I did select another room!! Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
Excellent cruise. My husband and I wanted to do something different for our Anniversay. We had the best time. Our cabin was 509. Great cabin with a full bathroom, robes and slippers to use while on the boat. Our cabin steward, Sherrie ... Read More
Excellent cruise. My husband and I wanted to do something different for our Anniversay. We had the best time. Our cabin was 509. Great cabin with a full bathroom, robes and slippers to use while on the boat. Our cabin steward, Sherrie was wonderful. The Dining room was so classy. Our servers Deshawna and Deanshawna (hope I spelled it right) was great. After the first night, they had our drinks waiting for us. There is free wine and beer with dinner. All cokes, teas, coffee are free. Be sure to stop by the bar by the paddlewheel, they make a mean old fashioned!!! Don't pass the peach cobbler up. Yummy! Most the ports of call were made in small river town. So much history and loved the small town shopping. The American Queen had their own buses that took you to different location of interest. Hop on, hop off was included in the cruise. Love it. The boat also had a golf cart to take you to the buses. Calvin-you are the BEST , lovely smile and also so kind and helpful. I hope you stay with the American Queen and get a promotion!!! American Queen, I will be back. I will not go on an ocean cruise again. So much to see , right here in the USA!!! Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
American Queen Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 5.0 4.2
Entertainment 4.0 4.4
Public Rooms 4.0 4.5
Fitness Recreation 3.0 3.5
Family 1.0 3.5
Shore Excursion 5.0 4.2
Enrichment 5.0 4.2
Service 4.0 4.4
Value For Money 4.0 3.8
Rates 5.0 3.4

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