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Sail Date: June 2018
We both wanted to see a part of the United States that we hadn't seen before and a steamboat tour seemed the best idea. Although we knew that the weather would be hot and humid, it wasn't that terrible and most of the places were air ... Read More
We both wanted to see a part of the United States that we hadn't seen before and a steamboat tour seemed the best idea. Although we knew that the weather would be hot and humid, it wasn't that terrible and most of the places were air conditioned. We spent an additional night in Memphis at the start of the cruise. Embarkation was smooth because of early check in the day before. We went on this cruise with long time friends who also thought this was one of the best cruises they had been on too. While the cabins are small, there is so much to do that you don't spend much time in your cabin. I can't say enough about the entertainment, especially the Ensemble. We went to see them each time and loved the way their voices blended together and they were in sync with their choreography. They seemed to really enjoy each other and what they were doing. Especially enjoyed watching Hannah interact with passengers. Liz in the dining room made the meals for us. She was so personable and remembered everything we told her about ourselves. We enjoyed all of our meals on the boat. While some of the ports seemed depressed, the sites that we saw on our hop on hop off buses were great. We went on the post cruise too in New Orleans and found it was well worth the money. We especially liked the World War II museum. I had not initially been planning on going there but was so glad I did. I think everyone should see this museum. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2018
We just finished cruising the Mississippi on the American Queen Riverboat. What a wonderful trip we had. The food was excellent and they have great selections. If you have special dietary needs they go out of the way to prepare them for ... Read More
We just finished cruising the Mississippi on the American Queen Riverboat. What a wonderful trip we had. The food was excellent and they have great selections. If you have special dietary needs they go out of the way to prepare them for you.The service is impeccable . Beer & wine is free with dinner. There are plenty of activities on the boat and free hop on/hop off excursions that are free in each river port you stop. There are also premium excursions that you buy. We did Angola Prison, A Plantation, and the Vicksburg Civil War Battlegrounds. All are excellent. The entertainment is above any other boat I have been on by far. They are shows nightly and one is better than the other. There was also a sock hop and karaoke nights which are a lot of fun. Music in the bar afterwards as well. And if you just want to relax, you can sit on the front porch in a nice rocking chair, spend some time in the Mark Twain library or just wander the beautiful boat. You just might run into Mark Twain. We will definitely book another trip soon. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2018
We have long wanted to visit New Orleans and explore towns along the lower Mississippi, so this itinerary was perfect. We opted for the add-on "City Stay" offered by the cruise line. Only one other couple chose this option...it ... Read More
We have long wanted to visit New Orleans and explore towns along the lower Mississippi, so this itinerary was perfect. We opted for the add-on "City Stay" offered by the cruise line. Only one other couple chose this option...it was pricey and did not really offer much more than the basic trip (One night hotel stay is included with the trip, so in effect, this choice only added on one more day.) There were vouchers for a dinner, and admission to some local attractions, as well as a hotel more centrally located and a New Orleans Highlights excursion before embarkation. Embarkation and disembarkation was perhaps the smoothest we've ever witnessed. The ship itself is wonderful, and the staff was extremely friendly and helpful. Service was top notch, as was the entertainment. It was interesting to visit the towns where we docked. We sometimes opted for the included "Hop on-Hop off" bus, and also purchased additional premium excursions at two of the ports, Nottoway and Vicksburg. You get a real feel for the way of life in these towns, and the residents were very friendly and accommodating. Having read some reviews that criticized the food on board, we were not sure what to expect in this regard. However, these fears were misplaced, because every meal was absolutely delicious...as good if not better than what we have experienced on other upscale cruises. Overall, we found this entire experience to be excellent, and are already looking into our next trip with American Queen Sreamboat Company. Read Less
AQSC Marketing, Consumer Marketing Mgr. - AQSC has responded
Hi BillNY, Thank you for taking the time to leave this review about your recent cruise with us. We are thrilled to hear that you enjoyed your voyage and are grateful for your comments. The Lower Mississippi is a magical place that we hope everyone gets to experience at least once! We look forward to hosting you onboard one of our vessels again in the future. All the best, American Queen Steamboat Company
Sail Date: May 2018
The following is a post I wrote for my travel blog: Welcome aboard American Queen Steamboat Company’s second paddlewheel riverboat, the 223-passenger (and 83 crew) American Empress. She’s a beauty with her traditional black ... Read More
The following is a post I wrote for my travel blog: Welcome aboard American Queen Steamboat Company’s second paddlewheel riverboat, the 223-passenger (and 83 crew) American Empress. She’s a beauty with her traditional black smoke stacks, red paddlewheel, ornate trim, and beautiful décor. Having been on the grand dame of the fleet, American Queen, and the newest addition, the upscale boutique hotel inspired American Duchess, we were curious to spend a week aboard the four-year-old American Empress and get a feel for their Washington-based riverboat. What makes this boat different from the others is that all of the staterooms are outside with balconies/ verandas. Although our stateroom was located on the walking deck, so the veranda wasn’t as private on the other decks, I loved having easy accessibility to get quickly around the boat when I wanted to check out the view from all angles for photography. It was also convenient for my deck walks (8-1/2 laps equaled a mile), since there wasn’t a gym available. As always when we cruise, we selected the least-expensive cabin, since we don’t need the extra space or spend much time inside our room. At 150 square feet, it was the same size as most inside cruise ship cabins, and it was appointed with a mini refrigerator, flat-screen TV, desk, safe, and plenty of closet space. A nice touch was the addition of a nice pair of binoculars. Just a short walk down the hall from us was the River Grill, the casual dining option for breakfast and lunch buffets, or reservation-only dinners. Although we didn’t dine there for dinner, we enjoyed all of our breakfasts and lunches either on the deck outside of the River Grill, or just inside with great views looking out. When the weather was nice, they would open the doors, so you could enjoy the comfortable temperatures inside, but still feel like you were dining alfresco. What made the convenient location dangerous for our waistlines was the 24-hour soft serve ice cream machine (with several toppings) and cookies. (Thankfully, I did so much walking during the week that I didn’t gain any weight!) The other dining option, the Astoria Dining Room was fabulous for dinner. Although we had second seating (7:45 PM), it wasn’t assigned seating, so you could choose to dine alone or share a table with other passengers. The dining room was never full for the later seating, because first seating was more in demand. The River Grill was also a popular option, so it took the pressure off the dining room. As a result, dining was relaxed, the service was excellent, the food was delicious, and we weren’t rushed out of the dining room at the end of the evening. Baja, the Maitre D’ also made sure the wine was always flowing. The highlight of our dining experience was being invited to have dinner with Captain Andrea Mickelson. As turned out, my previous three cruises (two with Bruce and one I took my mother on) totaled more cruising days with the company than any other passenger, so that is why we were invited! We were quite impressed with the captain’s eight-year rise in the ranks from housekeeper to earning her USCG Captains license in 2002. She has been on the rivers ever since, and her passion is evident. Thanks to Baja seating me next to Captain Andrea, I was able to ask her a lot of questions and get to know her a bit. Baja, along with Adam (bartender/ cocktail waiter), Evan (waiter), and Gail (Excursions Manager), were all working aboard the American Duchess when we were on in January, so it was fun seeing them again and getting to know them better. Adam remembered the dates we would be on, because it was his birthday during our cruise, and Baja scheduled us in his phone; so, we had a very warm welcome from them both on the first day! In between the show and dinner, and then again after dinner each evening, we made our way to the Paddlewheel Lounge to hear Frank play piano and sing. What a hoot! His quirky sense of humor added even more enjoyment to his wonderful singing and phenomenal piano playing. He had us thoroughly entertained! And, when he wasn’t playing, we enjoyed the great views of the scenery out the side windows and the turning red paddlewheel out the back. Off to the side, there was a small library with comfortable couches, and four computers to access the free WiFi. In the show lounge, Lawrence gave informative lectures during the day (We particularly enjoyed his two-part talk on Lewis & Clark). At night, there were excellent shows various combinations of the four talented staff singers accompanied by a fabulous four-piece band. Sammy and Daniel were so much fun and friendly, and they seemed to truly enjoy performing together. Greg (Cruise Director), and his wife, Lindy (Hotel Manager) reminded us so much of husband and wife team, Max and Darcy, the cruise director and assistant cruise director/ entertainers aboard the American Duchess. Not only did they all remember our names after the first time we met, but they were very personable, friendly, and amazingly talented. “Lindy on a High Note” was Lindy’s fantastic cabaret, which highlighted her operatic training while singing selections from Broadway musicals. Greg followed up with his own one-man show of Broadway musicals, complete with on-stage costume/character changes for each one. From Fiddler on the Roof to Don Quixote to Phantom of the Opera, we were totally captivated by his versatility and talent! The dining and entertainment on all three boats is truly top-notch quality, and the best we have experienced on the water, including the many ocean cruises we worked on as Arts & Crafts instructors with two major mid-level cruise lines. What makes American Queen Steamboat Company’s cruises unique, though, is the included hop on-hop off buses that follow the boat throughout the itinerary. They make frequent stops at several of each town’s highlight attractions, and admission to those attractions are included as well. Premium excursions are also available, and we scheduled our first one for this cruise. (More on that in a later post.) The most enjoyable aspect of each cruise we have taken with American Queen Steamboat Company, however, has been the staff, from the captain all the way down to our stateroom attendant. As personable and friendly as they are, it appears as if they wisely hire for personality and train the skills needed to perform the job. The company also does a great job promoting from within. Lindy was originally hired as an entertainer when the American Empress first started; however, she was asked by the owner of the company, John Waggoner, to become Hotel Manager. After initial protest by Lindy (I’m not a hotel manager; I’m an entertainer!), she agreed under the condition that she would still be able to perform her cabaret. Mr. Waggoner agreed, and she now pulls double duty and seems very happy. The staff also goes out of their way to make sure their guests are happy and having a good time. I witnessed one man at the River Grill looking at the selection of ice cream toppings and asking where the nuts were. Edward, the River Grill chef promised he would get some for him the next day. Sure enough, the next morning, he poured out a bag of mixed bar nuts on his workstation, so he could pick out the peanuts for this passenger’s ice cream. Then, he spent his work break going into town to buy a can of peanuts to keep this passenger happy the remainder of the cruise! That’s going above and beyond, don’t you think? Knowing I liked the chocolate chip cookies, Evan surprised me one night at dinner with a wrapped plate of the treats to take back to our cabin. I hadn’t asked for them, but he thought to do it anyway. In addition to seating me next to the captain, Baja brought us out lobster tails on the last night of the cruise, because he knew how much we had enjoyed them the night before. It is all of these reasons that we will continue cruising with American Queen Steamboat Company. We already have one booked for next summer! Read Less
AQSC Marketing, Consumer Marketing Mgr. - AQSC has responded
Hi CraftsOnCruises, What a wonderful review - thank you for sharing! Our American Empress crew continues to amaze us. We are thrilled to hear that you enjoyed your voyage with us and look forward to welcoming you onboard again next summer. All the best, American Queen Steamboat Company
Sail Date: May 2018
We have always wanted to cruise the Mississippi River and go on a small ship so this seemed perfect. Pro's Food was very good with a nice variety to choose from each night. Wait staff was excellant. Shows were the same 3 ... Read More
We have always wanted to cruise the Mississippi River and go on a small ship so this seemed perfect. Pro's Food was very good with a nice variety to choose from each night. Wait staff was excellant. Shows were the same 3 people each night but they were very good and gave us quite a variety. Hop on hop off bus and drivers were great. Used those at every port as they were included in price of cruise. All ports but Greenville were interesting. Con's Ship very small and not much to do. Room was at back of ship near the paddlewheel and was very noisy! The port of Greenville was a total waste of time-there has to be some place else they could stop. Only thing there was a very small casino. To give you an idea-one of the stops on the hop on hop off bus was the Dollar Store! I don't really feel this cruise was worth the price we paid, but it was something different than the othere cruises we normally go on. Read Less
AQSC Marketing, Consumer Marketing Mgr. - AQSC has responded
Hi djayne, Thank you for taking the time to submit this review. All feedback is taken very seriously and used as a reference as we are continuously striving to improve our guest experience. We sincerely apologize for any disappointment on your American Duchess cruise and it's value. We are proud to say that since start-up, we have seen a constant increase in guest ratings and have worked very diligently to improve our service each week. It is unfortunate that you did not get to experience our crew at their best, but hope that you may reconsider a cruise with us in the future. Again, thank you for this review. Our best, American Queen Steamboat Company
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 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
AQSC Marketing, Consumer Marketing Mgr. - AQSC has responded
Hi djett, Thank you for leaving this compelling review about your recent American Empress voyage. We are thrilled to hear you enjoyed your trip (despite the unfortunate high water deviation) and that your group was well-accommodated. Our American Empress crew continues to amaze us! We hope to welcome you and your friends onboard one of our vessels again soon. Best, American Queen Steamboat Company
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 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, ... 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
AQSC Marketing, Consumer Marketing Mgr. - AQSC has responded
Hi Smilingvillager, Thank you so much for taking the time to provide your honest and open feedback about your recent American Queen voyage. We are happy to hear that you enjoyed your time with us and sincerely appreciate your business. We hope to have the pleasure of welcoming you onboard one of our vessels again. All our best, American Queen Steamboat Company
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
We had a great time on this trip, although there were a few, ahem, unexpected features. We traveled on the American Queen Steamboat Company’s American Empress, from Clarkston, Washington to Vancouver (Portland), westbound per ... Read More
We had a great time on this trip, although there were a few, ahem, unexpected features. We traveled on the American Queen Steamboat Company’s American Empress, from Clarkston, Washington to Vancouver (Portland), westbound per Lewis and Clark. This was the last week of April 2018, and almost none of the forecast rain materialized. A lovely time on the river and uncharacteristically green, even in the East, with sunny days and cool nights. This was our first river cruise ever so, with nothing to compare it to, I will venture to write a review. We flew into Spokane and paid way too much for a taxi to the hotel. Should have taken the shuttle for $25 a couple. The Historic Davenport Hotel clings to its glorious past, and it is charming and elegant, with stunning public spaces. Our corner room was large and welcoming. The Spokane River passes through town just a couple blocks away, and it is definitely worth a visit to see the rushing rapids. The neighborhood is not the best, and even in broad daylight, I found myself looking over my shoulder and clutching my purse. The elegant hotel is an oasis from the surrounding streets, but it seems somehow out of place and time. We had an excellent dinner at Wild Sage Bistro on 2nd Avenue in Spokane. Bus ride to Clarkston the next day was long and unremarkable. THE GOOD Our stateroom. We were on the Vista Deck, which means people could stroll by and chat. We found this charming and did not worry at all about lack of privacy. (That’s what window shades are for.) Our Category A suite was large and comfortable with a coffee maker, a loveseat and two chairs, and plenty of storage space. Housekeeping visited twice a day and did a great job. A side note about Vista Deck. The Empress has no gym on board, but a number of regular walkers made their rounds past our veranda every day. We cheered them on and joined them from time to time. (8 1/2 laps = 1 mile.) Dining. Overall: outstanding! Many choices, different every day, attentive service. We ate mostly in the dining room, with waited tables. Our Maître D “Baja” ensured that the wine was flowing freely at each evening meal. We always joined other diners, and these moments were some of the most memorable of the trip. The buffet in the Grill was also available for breakfast and lunch, with ice cream and snacks throughout the day. At night, the Grill becomes the premium restaurant, reservations required. Lobster is to die for. Room service is always available as well. On our “sea day” we enjoyed lunch on our veranda as we watched the scenery glide by. Entertainment. There were two nights with guest entertainers, Will Keifer with Banjomania, and Kevin Neil, a very funny cowboy guitar player. Both were really excellent. The Empress Quartet, consisting of piano, sax, bass, and drums, was entertaining as well. Excursions. Red Mountain Wine and Spirits tour was very enjoyable. Interesting presentations, nice scenery, and good wines. Bonneville Dam was a pleasant surprise. We had a guided tour into the vast turbine room where the electricity is generated (walked across an actual spinning turbine), then to the viewing windows to watch fish climbing the fish ladders. Unique experience! Jet Boat on Hell’s Canyon was a little disappointing. At 5 hours, it was too long and, although it was pretty country, it was really just a slow boat up and back the Snake River Canyon. Didn’t see any wildlife. THE BAD We’d heard the stateroom walls were thin. This was true. We never heard our neighbor on one side, but on the other side (as the sound came right through our pillows!) we heard their TV turned to cable news at all hours of the day and night, even in the pre-dawn hours. We could hear every word and even identify the guests being interviewed. AQSC needs to get a handle on this, either with soundproofing (unlikely) or cutting off the satellite feed in the wee small hours. WiFi was “free,” but it was also pretty much non-existent for most of the cruise. Also, for much of the same time, we were out of cell phone range. (On reflection, maybe not such a bad thing.) Mary, the “Riverlorian,” was like that annoying sixth grade teacher you still remember, but not fondly. She talked down to us like we were stupid. And please spare me the political jokes - we’re on vacation. We left ten minutes into the first session and never went back. This was a big disappointment for me, because I was really looking forward to following the history as we traveled the route of Lewis and Clark down the Columbia River. Sadly, a missed opportunity. And where was Frank, the fabled piano player in the Paddlewheel Lounge? His substitute was uninspiring. THE UNEXPECTED Veterans Meet & Greet in the Paddlewheel Lounge. Each veteran was invited to share a brief account about his or her service. There were probably forty veterans and their family members. The greatest percentage were veterans of the Korean War, which was a fair reflection of the average age of the passengers. A good experience and a nice idea. Locks. As we traveled downstream, we went through a series of locks, four on the Snake and four more on the Columbia. It was fascinating to watch our Captain as she skillfully steered our big boat through those small locks, sometimes with inches to spare! Now this was weird. Certain of the young, male dining staff habitually hugged the guests, male and female, with much squealing and clapping of hands. They would come around the desk and ambush you on arrival, and intercept you again on departure. Some of the other guests seemed to enjoy this. Not me - it creeped me out. In this day and age, you just have to wonder. IN SUMMARY No vacation would be complete without a few surprises, and overall, we had a great time. The best part, of course, was all the interesting people we shared our cruise with. A different kind of trip for us and a lasting memory. Read Less
AQSC Marketing, Consumer Marketing Mgr. - AQSC has responded
Hi Frncie, Thank you so much for taking the time to provide your honest and open feedback about your recent American Empress voyage. Our team works diligently to continually improve our service and product with consideration from guest reviews such as this. We are happy to hear that you enjoyed your time with us and sincerely appreciate your business. We hope to have the pleasure of welcoming you onboard one of our vessels again. All our best, American Queen Steamboat Company
1 Helpful Vote
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
AQSC Marketing, Consumer Marketing Mgr. - AQSC has responded
Hi Bonsai9, Thank you for taking the time to leave this review of your recent American Empress cruise. We are thrilled to hear that you enjoyed your time with us and hope to be able to welcome you onboard again soon. All our best, American Queen Steamboat Company
2 Helpful Votes
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
AQSC Marketing, Consumer Marketing Mgr. - AQSC has responded
Hi gradydude, Thank you for taking the time to leave this review. We are thrilled to hear that you enjoyed your vacation with us and hope to welcome you onboard again soon. All our best, American Queen Steamboat Company
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