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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2018
We decided to take a maiden, winter cruise aboard the American Duchess from Memphis to New Orleans. We found the newly refurbished boat to be beautifully yet simply appointed with lots of eye appeal. The Duchess is small, able to carry ... Read More
We decided to take a maiden, winter cruise aboard the American Duchess from Memphis to New Orleans. We found the newly refurbished boat to be beautifully yet simply appointed with lots of eye appeal. The Duchess is small, able to carry 160 passengers and that adds to the intimacy that this lovely vessel affords. Our weather was not terribly accommodating with ice, snow and low double digit record temperatures but that didn't dampen the spirits aboard the boat. We took no premium excursions and chose to use the complimentary hop on hop off buses and the sites that were provided with each stop’s location. I don’t believe we missed much when talking to other passengers. Food, though not gourmet, was definitely well above the average, plated beautifully and delicious. Executive Chef Jeff Warner's careful menu planning insured that there was something to suit every palate. If not, they were ALWAYS able to accommodate requests. We chose to eat in the Grand Dining Room for dinner and in the River Terrace buffet for several breakfasts, especially if we had to leave early for excursions. Alcohol was extremely expensive, however dinner came with complimentary house wine and one's glass was never empty due to the attentive wait staff. A red and white was made available each evening. Happy hour each evening shaved a dollar or two off each drink and that together with the complimentary wine at dinner would be adequate for us without breaking the bank. A beverage package runs approximately $250.00 per cabin and with an "auto gratuity" of $50.00 tacked on your drink package is an easy $300.00--definitely overboard for the quality of wine offered. Most bottles on the open market run less than $12.00 yet bottle prices began in the $32.00 range on up. Skip the package, save the money, use happy hour and drink wine at dinner. The true gem in this company's tiara is its staff, which in my opinion is 5 STARS! They are highly attentive, yet not intrusive, knowledgeable, professional, and ever present with a wonderful sense of humor. The boat, though lovely, pales in comparison to this All American staff and it is my hope that the management of this company recognizes the value in what they have. We found officers, the Executive chef, managers and even Crystal, the Hotel Manager, waiting tables when the dining room was full. There doesn't appear to be a visible hierarchy, except for shoulder epaulets and the entire staff seems to work like one big, well-oiled machine focused solely on client satisfaction, accommodation and comfort. A special mention of Serena W, a Purser on board the Duchess is essential. We found her to have exceptional skills with an ability to listen, hear, assess, intervene and problem solve on every occasion. She is truly outstanding in every way. It is the staff and their genuine, earnest desire to serve that would bring this TripAdvisor reviewer back to this company. This All American staff gets a standing ovation from this passenger indeed. Side Note: The company’s literature states that the included, pre-board evening would be spent in the Peabody Hotel in downtown Memphis. That is not the case. We were housed in the Sheraton, a huge, modern hotel that unlike the iconic Peabody is located away from most of the attractions. An upper level staff member at the Peabody told us that the company has been doing that for some time, so this type of seemingly deliberate deception is simply not acceptable as is the advertising of state room “suites.” Read Less
AQSC Marketing, Consumer Marketing Mgr. - AQSC has responded
Hi PAAbee, Thank you for taking the time to leave this review. We are so pleased to hear that you had a great time and hope that you will come back to cruise with us soon. We agree that our crew is our most valuable asset, and are thrilled that our guests also recognize their talent. I will pass these kind words along to our management team onboard and shoreside. In regards to your sidenote: We apologize for any confusion or disappointment. We made a few adjustments to our advertising after the start-up of the American Duchess in August to better fit the experience. Because of the lead time for the printed materials, the hotel change and all-suite terms were likely not updated at the time that you were viewing, but we are always working diligently to portray the cruise and vessel as accurately as possible, both online and in print, with several revisions and updates. Again, we greatly appreciate your feedback and hope to host you onboard again in the future. Our best, American Queen Steamboat Company
Sail Date: January 2018
Created from a 1995 hull, 340 foot-long paddlewheeler, American Duchess, features four decks and employs 80 American crew to run the boat and manage its 80 suites—the first all-suite paddlewheeler to cruise U.S. rivers. The maximum ... Read More
Created from a 1995 hull, 340 foot-long paddlewheeler, American Duchess, features four decks and employs 80 American crew to run the boat and manage its 80 suites—the first all-suite paddlewheeler to cruise U.S. rivers. The maximum passengers she will sail with is only 166, so the crew-to-passenger ratio is quite high. Our cruise was sold out; however, the boat never felt crowded at any time, even in the show lounge where there were always plenty of seats. (There were 165 seats available, including the chairs that line each wall.) One of the reasons there was always so much space to roam was the fact that the suites range in size from 180 square feet (for an interior cabin like ours) to 550 square feet for a two-story loft suite featuring 19-foot ceilings. Those suites (and the Owner’s Suite) had their own “River Butler” to spoil them rotten, so I’m guessing those passengers spent a lot of time in their cabins! For those passengers who had the “Commodore Services” included with their suite and had a butler, he was available for them throughout the ship. We saw him everywhere, and he made sure his passengers knew it. Have you heard of helicopter parents? Well, he was a helicopter butler. Although the décor of the boat wasn’t to my taste, the abundance of blown and fused glass artwork was. Bruce and I absolutely loved it, especially since Bruce is a glass artist and glass is our favorite art medium. The American Duchess had a modern boutique hotel feel to it, rather than a traditional riverboat ambiance. In all honesty, we preferred the 1800’s motif of the American Queen, built and decorated to replicate the paddlewheelers of their heyday. Most notably, the Duchess lacks a promenade deck, a must for open air enjoyment of the views, especially for a sunset stroll. Of course, Winter Storm Inga didn’t allow for much of that; however, I would have sorely missed a promenade deck had the weather been better. (The Duchess does have a large sun deck; however, it just doesn’t have the appeal of the top deck space on the American Queen.) Sadly, the Duchess also lacked a calliope, a charming feature I enjoyed so much on the American Queen. The most impressive area of the Duchess was the bar, dining room, and stairs leading up to the Lincoln Library. The dining room layout was similar to the American Queen in that it had tall ceilings on each side with a lower ceiling in the center. Without a doubt, the dining room on the Duchess was nicer, though, because even though the boat was sold out (like it was when we were on the Queen), there was much more room in between the tables. In addition, there was only one seating; however, you could be seated any time within the open hours (5:30 – 8:00 PM for dinner) and dine either alone or with others. There was no assigned seating, and they accepted reservations for parties of six or more. Since the American Queen Steamboat Company has an executive chef who creates the menus for all three of their boats, the menus were similar to what we enjoyed on the Queen, and the food was similar—fabulous on both boats. The service on the Duchess was better, though, and much more relaxed. (By the way, we had the same Maitre D’ on both cruises! Oscar boarded the Duchess the same day we did.) The desserts (at least the chocolate ones!) were better on the Duchess, though. Rachel did a great job! I especially liked the creative little birthday dessert that was left in my cabin along with a card. I also received an incredible piece of chocolate ganache cake in the dining room for dessert! In addition to the dining room, the River Club and Terrace was a more casual option for meals. Breakfast and lunch were buffets, whereas dinners were table service. We enjoyed a lobster tail there on our first night aboard, when we joined the other Steamboat Society of America members (repeat cruisers with the company) for an invitation-only dinner. The final option for food was in Perks, a little café with a self-serve cappuccino machine, juice dispenser, popcorn maker, and windows to sit and watch the river. Those were all well and good; however, it was the fresh-baked chocolate chunk cookies I was after. Yeah, there were other varieties, too, but it was always extra special when I could nab my favorite! (In the morning, they had pastries, and fresh fruit was always available.) Entertainment included “Riverlorian” talks during the day, as well as the usual bingo, Name That Tune, trivia, etc. What we enjoyed the most, however, were the lounge shows each evening. Max (also the cruise director), his wife, Darcy, and Matt were three talented and personable singers who performed each night backed by a top-notch band. We had a few chats with Scott, the bass player, and it turned out we new several of the same San Diego-based jazz musicians! By far, the best feature of the American Duchess was its crew, from the captain on down. They bent over backwards to make every passengers’ experience a memorable one—especially when we were hit with snow and temperatures that averaged twenty degrees below normal. The day after the blizzard, Captain Joe McKey was out on the River Club Terrace scraping snow off the deck and cleaning things up. (Yes, you read that right; the captain!) In the dining room, Executive Chef Jeff Warner constantly came out to the “front of the house” (in restaurant speak) to help serve or pick up plates. He was very personable and made sure all his passengers were happy. Read the book Waiter Rant, and you will soon learn that is not typical. I know, because I worked in the restaurant/ hospitality business for several years, most notably at the University Club in San Diego for my last seven years. Unless it was to take a bow at an event or receive kudos from a requesting club member, the chef never left his comfortable domain of the kitchen. One thing that brought a smile to my face one late evening in the Lincoln Library was seeing one of the bartenders playing Monopoly with a young passenger who had nobody her age to pal around with on board. At another table, the Riverlorian was playing a card game with some other passengers. Whether that was permitted by the hotel manager or not, I don’t know; but, I sure hope they didn’t get reprimanded. As a matter of fact, I hope they will be encouraged in the future to do more of the same! It is an example of the congenial atmosphere that is evident between the crew and passengers, and it was, in a word, special. I hope they always keep the magic they have created. American Queen Steamboat Company has a winning formula down to every detail. The success they have had and the awards they have won are well-deserved. It is my hope they can sustain it and never cut back or cut anything out like what has happened with several of the large cruise ship lines. Ask any of the long-time cruisers with Princess Cruises or Royal Caribbean Cruise Line what I mean, and they will tell you. As a former guest lecturer with both companies, I speak from experience. When you start cutting back, people notice, and you will lose your most loyal customers. More importantly, word gets around. American Queen Steamboat Company, you have a great thing going. May it always stay that way!" Read Less
Sail Date: December 2017
The American Duchess Brochure promises 'classic elegance and modern luxury' as I would expect at the Four Seasons and delivered a Holiday Inn Express but at more than 10 times the price. The menu choices were very good and the food ... Read More
The American Duchess Brochure promises 'classic elegance and modern luxury' as I would expect at the Four Seasons and delivered a Holiday Inn Express but at more than 10 times the price. The menu choices were very good and the food quality acceptable. The dining room staff was chronically short-handed with Officers pitching in to bus tables. The suggested dress was country club casual but I never saw sweat pants worn to Christmas dinner at a Country Club. The entertainment was every good and delivered as a clever and well-delivered show every night. We have cruised with Tauck Tours on the Rhone River and on the "Windstar" from Istanbul to Athens ...and 5 day cruise in Patagonia to Cape Horn on the Stella Aurelius so we know luxury/adventure cruising when we see it. The American Duchess is not a luxury cruise. I do not believe the American Duchess delivers a "new world of class and sophistication" as advertised. Certainly not $22,000 worth for 8 days.... a far higher price than any of the above noted cruising experiences. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2017
My wife and I have done 29 cruises, mostly ocean but several European river cruises. My wife likes new ships so we decided to do the American Duchess. Overall, the ship is fine but we seemed to notice that dinning room service was ... Read More
My wife and I have done 29 cruises, mostly ocean but several European river cruises. My wife likes new ships so we decided to do the American Duchess. Overall, the ship is fine but we seemed to notice that dinning room service was lacking. We couldn’t quite determine the problem. Not sure if the dinning room was poorly designed in that the tables were too far from the kitchen or maybe they were under staffed or even poorly trained. It didn’t matter which meal it was all the same. For breakfast it took for ever to get that first cup of coffee and a refill later was sparse. We had to ask for juice always. The waiters seemed to be very busy despite the dinning room being less that half full. In fact some of them walked very fast back and forth from some where but nothing seemed to get done. The waiters were very kind and friendly and apologized often for late food, etc. I have one suggestion, and that would be to hire a helper or two for the waiter staff just to fill coffee, water glasses, rolls, juice, and bus some dirty tables. Some tables were left cluttered the whole time we were in there. The buffets were not any better, sometimes there were no plates or bowls or they were out of soup or salad item,etc. Overall dinning seemed to be very disorganized and at best I would have to rate it 2star. Other guests we talked to concurred. At times my wife and I would bet each other on whether we would get that dinner roll or that second cup of coffee,etc.. Overall, the ship is in good shape, the cabins are large for a river boat, and the staff is very friendly. It is just the dinning experience is not any thing close to 5star. These cruises are expensive, and when paying over $1000 per day per cabin plus tips you should expect good dinning service. In short, we did not find this good value for the money. I think we will stick to European rivers and the Ocean. Read Less
AQSC Marketing, Consumer Marketing Mgr. - AQSC has responded
Hi scottfree, 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
Sail Date: December 2017
My Wif on the wanted to do a River Boat cruise. We did one in 1986 on the Mississippi Queen. She was the sister boat to the American Queen and Delta Queen. We had a great time but the average age was at least 70 plus. But we still had a ... Read More
My Wif on the wanted to do a River Boat cruise. We did one in 1986 on the Mississippi Queen. She was the sister boat to the American Queen and Delta Queen. We had a great time but the average age was at least 70 plus. But we still had a great time. We are now retired so we fit right in with all the senior citizen. The cruise started in Memphis and you could start your day with a tour of Graceland and other Memphis Stops. We were dropped off at 3 to board. We went to our cabin which was a suite on the 5th deck and our Luggage was on our bed. We unpacked and headed down for our departure party. The next morning we approached Greenville Tenn. It was very foggy and rainy, the captain navigated the narrow channel and got us landed, However the fog and drizzle was getting worse. he announced we were leaving early and had cancelled the days tour, Most all stayed aboard to meet new friends and explore the boat, Meals are served in either the main dining room with 2 seatings. The other restaurant was the Front Porch up front on Deck 3. The Main dining room is deck one as well as the theatre. The Pursers desk, gift shop, the Mark Twain lounge, the Men's parlour and the Ladies parlour are on deck 2. Cabins are on decks 2 - 5., We also s Very highly topped in Natches and Vicksburg. a tour of the battle ground was offered. We also stopped at a plantation called Nottoway.very heavily decorated for Christmas. We saw a dance demo then had dancing for the passengers, As we left to go back to the boat, they lit a bonfire on the levy. We were a day early. we saw more bonfires on the levees Christmas Eve. We spent the night and left the next afternoon, We arrived in New Orleans on Christmas Day about 1, They had a great Christmas Day buffet. They had a church Service Sunday morning and Christmas morning, There was lots to do, Talks about the river, tours of the pilot house and engine room. You were right down with the engines. The engineer on duty would come over and answer questions and you could watch the engines turn the paddle wheel. The entertainment was very good with lots of music provided, The crew was very friendly and all would speak as they passed, the entertainers did likewise and mingled with the passengers. At the end of the cruise we had a tour of New Orleans and saw everything from Bourbon and Royal and Canal Street. Also saw the Trolleys that we had passes to ride. We spent two nights at the Intercontinental Hotel. Very up scale we got vouchers for one of the Brennan's Restaurants and breakfast vouchers, Some guests stayed at the main Hilton. The cruise is slow paced. we traveled at about 15 mph as we were going down stream. There were a few passengers younger than 40 but not many. Most are 70 plus. They had golf carts to take people up the levee to the tour buses that follow the boat, If you haven't tried a river boat cruise, try the American Queen. Read Less
AQSC Marketing, Consumer Marketing Mgr. - AQSC has responded
Hi Sonofbill, Thank you very much for taking the time to leave this review! We are thrilled to hear that you and your wife enjoyed your voyage and hope that we will be able to host you again onboard soon. Our best, American Queen Steamboat Company
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
On October 24th we took an American Cruise Line (ACL) trip on their America from St. Paul to New Orleans. Then on December 4th, we took the American Queen Steamboat Company (AQSC) cruise on their American Duchess, roundtrip, ... Read More
On October 24th we took an American Cruise Line (ACL) trip on their America from St. Paul to New Orleans. Then on December 4th, we took the American Queen Steamboat Company (AQSC) cruise on their American Duchess, roundtrip, Nashville-to-Nashville. Though both these paddle-wheelers are similar in many ways, we also found numerous differences. (The comments below apply to the AQSC American Duchess, unless otherwise indicated.) Food: All meals were A+, with many selections available. Most tables were configured for 4 people; a few would seat 2. We could come to a meal at any time of our choosing; the staff would ask if we would mind sharing a table. If we said "no," we would be seated with another couple, or seated at a new table and another couple would later join us. (By comparison, ACL required everyone to arrive at the same time, but allowed us to sit anywhere. Most of their tables were configured for 6 persons or more.) Drink: No free alcohol for lunch. For dinner, one white and one red wine were provided, of mediocre quality. Higher-quality wines were available at steep prices. After we had consumed about half our glass, the staff would appear and refill the glass. After that, no further servings were volunteered, but if we asked for more, it was willingly brought. (With ACL, drinks were provided at lunch, at an hour-long happy hour before dinner, and readily throughout dinner.) Drink prices: Wine was between $8 and $10 a glass, to which a 15% surcharge was added. Beer was slightly less. (ACL charged between $6 and $8 a glass, with no surcharge; similar quality wines.) Dining room: The outer 2/3 was an impressive two stories high, with very large windows. The middle 1/3 was only one story high, as the upper story was taken up by the Lincoln Library mezzanine. Our cruise was at about 70%; we were always seated on the outer sides, with the middle tables set but unused. (The ACL cruise was at about 50% capacity; they had some place out of sight to store the unused tables, so the dining room seemed very spacious despite being only one story high.) The Duchess has a second dining room, with a much smaller seating capacity, and reservations here were required. With no carpeting, it was much noisier, but the tables were farther apart. It opens to an outside dining area, but was closed on our cruise due to cold weather. Dress: Not formal. A few folks wore jeans, and did not seem out of place. Several wore sport coats and ties, and also did not seem out of place. The overwhelming majority wore casual wear. (Similar for ACL.) Cabins: Our AQSC cabin was the "IS" (inside cabin) category, on the 2nd deck. The cabin seemed a little clastrophobic, but not overly so. The bathroom was fine, but oddly situated 10" above the cabin floor. Not so hard stepping up, but very awkward stepping back down. The temperature controls worked OK, and the shower had plenty of hot water. (On ACL, our cabin, also the cheapest, was an outside cabin with a balcony -- definitely better.) Entertainment: The Duchess has a small house band and a 3-person troupe of professional entertainers. They perform in a theater-style lounge with an elaborate lighting and sound system. They were very versatile -- shows ran the gamut from Broadway to Country & Western to 50's Rock & Roll. Their performances were consistently excellent. (ACL entertainers were local groups from each stop, performing in the main lounge. Some groups were excellent, some not so much.) Tours: We were initially a bit skeptical about the AQSC "Hop-On/Hop-Off" system, but it worked great. Three buses ran a continuous route covering several stops. Each one had a local tour guide in addition to the driver. The guide would explain the first stop, then let those who wanted to do that stop get off (that was usually most of the bus). Then the guide would explain the second stop to those remaining, and so on. Having three buses and only a few stops meant that no-one had to wait very long for the next bus. Very explicit maps were provided for the tours, and each stop was marked with a prominent placard -- very hard to get lost. There are a staggered start times and a kiosk reservation system so that the entire ship isn't out there waiting for the first bus to leave. (With ACL, there is only one tour starting time, and all the buses leave the ship at the same time, and everyone returns at the same time. The AQSC system is much more flexible.) Comfort: Our biggest gripe with the Duchess was...it was SO DARNED COLD! The two dining rooms, the Lincoln Library, and the theater were OK, but all the common areas averaged around 60 degrees F (my estimate). The "Perks" snack bar was frigid, as were all the hallways and common areas. The only places to sit when not eating or attending a stage show were in these cold common areas. Viewing the scenery: Our biggest gripe with the Duchess was that there was virtually no place where one could sit and watch the scenery glide by (other than at mealtimes). None of the common area seating had windows. Outside, there were only a few rocking chairs, without cushions - of course, on our cruise, it was too cold to go out there. The top deck was closed, and the outside part of the second restaurant was too, most of the time. Yes, those with balconies could see out, but only a narrow slice of view straight to the side. (On the ACL America, there are three well-appointed lounges -- one facing forward, two facing aft --featuring 270-degree views of the outside in each lounge.) Riverlorians: Duchess had one full-time Riverlorian, who also performed as a musician, plus one Riverlorian-in-training. For the most part, the lectures were excellent. (ACL had several Riverlorians -- two were also theatrical performers, and one was the great-grandson of Jefferson Davis.) Glitches: Initial Duchess reviewers reported numerous problems in ship operations. We saw no problems; apparently the "shake down" bugs have been eliminated. Overall: The spaciousness and quality decor of the Duchess is impressive. And had the ship been at 100% capacity, I think it would not have seemed crowded. But if ACL's America had been at 100% capacity, I think it would have seemed very crowded. Still, considering the excellence of the ACL lectures and the overall "comfortability" of the ship, I would have to give the (slight) edge to ACL's America. Read Less
AQSC Marketing, Consumer Marketing Mgr. - AQSC has responded
Hi DaveinCharlotte, Thank you for taking the time to leave this compelling review. We are constantly making adjustments based on reviews such as this, and greatly value your input. Our crew on the American Duchess has improved greatly since start-up. Each week we are seeing even higher guest ratings, and now the American Duchess is on par with the outstanding ratings we receive on our other vessels. It is unfortunate that you did not get to experience our crew at its best, but we are confident that if we get the pleasure of hosting you onboard again soon, you will be very pleased. We are grateful for your honest feedback and will be using it as we strive to make our guest experience the best in the industry. Our best, American Queen Steamboat Company
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2017
lots of fun on this cruise! although the ports don't look like there is much there, if you take time to explore they are very interesting! service is fine-not exceptional, but adequate. Ship is not luxurious, but fine. Food is great! ... Read More
lots of fun on this cruise! although the ports don't look like there is much there, if you take time to explore they are very interesting! service is fine-not exceptional, but adequate. Ship is not luxurious, but fine. Food is great! really a very fun week! Hop-on bus system is great, although you can also walk into and around these ports. Entertainment is fun! Fairly relaxing-can venture out and return whenever you like. Really enjoyed exploring this area of our country. paid excursions were good although not necessary. Really enjoyed excursion to angola prison-very enlightening. Ship is very nice. Some parts a little dated, but in general nice. Crew is very helpful. Enjoyed dining at The Front Porch. Dining room is okay, although service is slow. Huge variety of items offered each evening. Definitely an older crowd, but we took our 17 year old daughter and she was fine. There is a nice pool kept very warm-like a hot tub almost. Overall a fun week! Read Less
AQSC Marketing, Consumer Marketing Mgr. - AQSC has responded
Hi grznuts, Thank you for taking the time to review your trip on the American Queen! We are delighted to hear that you and your family enjoyed the voyage. We agree - the small towns along the Mississippi are charming when you get to explore them. We hope to be able to host you onboard again soon. Our best, American Queen Steamboat Company
Sail Date: November 2017
First, I want to say that the Duchess is a lovely boat and the AQSC does everything possible to make journeys enjoyable. Of course, there are occasional glitches but none that should deter anyone from taking a cruise on the Duchess. ... Read More
First, I want to say that the Duchess is a lovely boat and the AQSC does everything possible to make journeys enjoyable. Of course, there are occasional glitches but none that should deter anyone from taking a cruise on the Duchess. Accommodations: We had booked one of the deluxe suites which are located near the rear of the boat. There is a living area with a dining table and four chairs, a bedroom area, a double-sized balcony, and a bath and a half. All are tastefully decorated and there is also a refrigerator and coffee maker in the living area. There are two TVs and that provided one of the few glitches in that changing the channels on the TV in the living room, turned on the TV in the bedroom area. Once we learned to close the doors between the two areas, that was no longer a problem. The only real negative to the room was the bath/shower combination which was difficult to step in and out of. In addition, the shower curtain was so long that one had to stand on it while showering. Dining: The real highlight of the cruise was the exceptional dining. We ate most often in the grand dining room which was elegant. Breakfast was served there with about seven or eight selections that changed daily. The dinner menu in the grand dining room typically involved four courses -- Appetizer, Soup or salad, entree, and dessert. There were always three appetizers listed, about five or six choices of soup or salad, seven or eight entrees, and about half a dozen desserts. Like the breakfasts, the dinner menu changed daily. The one exception to the timing involved the “Thanksgiving Feast” that was served mid-day with “leftovers” available in the evening. The appetizers were elaborate including such things as fried artichokes, mushroom tart, and olive bruschetta. Soups were memorable with entries like lobster bisque, crab and corn chowder. Among our main course entrees were lamb chops, lobster tail, a variety of fish dishes, pastas, and strip steak. The presentation of the entrees always included sauces and vegetable accompaniments. The kitchen was very accommodating in deleting any items from the presentation that one did not want. And, complimentary wine was included with dinner with a choice of either a red or white wine. We also had one dinner (reservations required) and several breakfasts in the River Grill and Bar, a far more informal space. Both breakfast and lunch there are served buffet style and the breakfast buffet seemed to include the same selections each day. No matter the restaurant or the time of day, a highlight of all meals involved the baked goods – breads and pastries were especially delicious. Room service was also available, but we used it just once on a day when my stomach rebelled at all of the rich food. I ordered a grilled cheese sandwich. Excursions: One of the reasons we chose the AQSC cruise was the opportunity to view the ports via a HOHO bus. Our ages preclude long walks and standing for a long time listening to a tour guide. Instead the HOHO busses that followed the ship allowed one to see each community and get off according to one’s interests. The cruise line had prepaid admission to the key attractions in each community and one could hop off to see anything that appealed and get back on when a later bus arrived. (The busses circulated on a 15 or 20 minute schedule.) There was a guide on each bus who described special features of the port. The evening prior to the port stop, one was provided with the route of the bus with stops indicated. In addition, the map included information about the main attractions like museums, shopping stops, restaurants, restrooms, and almost anything else one might want to know. I should add that there are also premium (extra-cost) excursions which many people selected. Getting to and from the boat was easy as a golf cart would shuttle you up and down the often steep banks of the river. AQSC should also be commended for its relationships with the major attractions as many were willing to open to accommodate those on the HOHO busses at times when they would normally be closed such as early in the morning or on Thanksgiving Day. Entertainment: Each day there was a talk by the Riverlorean and a show in the evening. The Riverlorean talks lasted anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes and covered such topics as terminology about the boat, characteristics of the Mississippi river, major floods on the river, and common phrases that originated from the old river boats such as “hitting rock bottom.” All of these lectures were quite interesting. The evening shows varied with two caberet style performances, an evening of jazz, another of country music, and one focusing on Broadway showtunes. The American Duchess showband of four or five musicians accompanied all performers. They were quite versatile and also provided music at occasional receptions and/or special programs. There were also games scheduled throughout the day though we did not participate in any. Service: Without exception, the staff were hard-working and very pleasant. By the end of the week you felt like they were new friends. Embarkation and Disembarkation: We flew to New Orleans and spent two nights there before boarding the boat. One of the nights was at the Hotel Roosevelt, the hotel used by the cruise line. We took a tour of New Orleans during the day of embarkation which began at the hotel and ended at the boat. Disembarkation involved taking a tour of Memphis before being dropped off at the airport. Both embarkation and disembarkation went relatively smoothly. Clientele: The average age of those on the cruise would be late 60's. The boat was about 2/3rds full and thus it was very easy to get seating in the dining rooms and space on the HOHO busses. It appeared that many cruisers came with families or travel groups-- far fewer couples than we have experienced on ocean cruises. 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AQSC Marketing, Consumer Marketing Mgr. - AQSC has responded
Hi Vlinbin, Thank you very much for the kind words and review of your trip on the American Duchess! We are very grateful for all of your honest feedback, so that we can continue to make improvements on all of our journeys. It was a pleasure having you join us, and we hope to get the opportunity to host you onboard again in the future. Best, American Queen Steamboat Company
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
We are an active couple in our mid-late 60's, and this was our first river boat cruise in the US. We wanted to do another European river cruise, but decided to stay in the US this year and had never been to the Pacific NW. We picked ... Read More
We are an active couple in our mid-late 60's, and this was our first river boat cruise in the US. We wanted to do another European river cruise, but decided to stay in the US this year and had never been to the Pacific NW. We picked October because the price dropped at that point, plus we hoped to see fall colors. Boy, did we luck out on the weather! Absolutely gorgeous the entire week, bright sunshine, mid-high 60's. Very rare to have no rain at that time of year. We were younger than most folks on board, who tended to be at least in their 70's. Most were well travelled retirees. We decided on the east to west route for several reasons, but mainly we wanted to do the 2 hour bus ride at the beginning of the week when we could enjoy it, rather than at the end when we were tired. We flew into Spokane and had reserved the hotel shuttle to the Historic Davenport ($25/room, booked online in advance, very nice shuttle van). At check in we were told the cruise line had arranged for a 1pm checkout instead of the usual noon check out time, which was nice. We had a corner room on the 10th floor, probably the nicest hotel room we've ever had! I could have spent the entire week there! The bathroom was just gorgeous, with a soaking tub and a HUGE glassed in shower. There's a history of the Historic Davenport on one of the TV channels that was fascinating. We immediately headed to the lounge for happy hour and were disappointed to be told they had discontinued the half price happy hour appetizers (even though it was advertised on the folder we received at check in). Cruise check in was on the second floor of the hotel, and was disorganized in my opinion. First we checked in at a table in the hallway, then went into a room to finish up. Apparently they were supposed to take our photos there, issue bus transfers and get our credit card info. But the guy who did ours only took my photo and told us we were good to go. Found out the next morning from fellow passengers that we should have bus transfers, so we had to return to check in for those (of course we were on the last bus by that time). Then when we got to the boat, we were flagged to go to the Pursor's Office because hubby's photo wasn't on record, as well as our credit card info. But it was easily resolved. Breakfast at the hotel was a buffet in a private room, nice but nothing spectacular. We got a walking map of downtown Spokane from the concierge, as well as the self-guided tour of the hotel. The hotel tour is a must-do. We also walked an easy 2 blocks to the overlook of the Spokane River Falls. Bonus: There's a short cut to the Falls through a high end, multi level shopping mall. Just one block from the hotel was a great New York style deli, Domini's, where we got a delicious sandwich for lunch. Highly recommend. The worst part of the day was having to wait about an hour in the ball room for our bus transfer. Had a great driver for the 2 hour ride to the boat, learned a lot about the region and saw some beautiful scenery. FOOD Overall we were impressed with the food, although there were some misses. We ate most of our breakfasts and lunches in the River Grill, which was just steps away from our cabin. The entry to the River Grill is quite awkward and I always felt like I was coming in the back door. You are allowed two dinner reservations for the River Grill, and we picked Thursday (the cruising day with no port stop) and Sunday (the last night). Booking is done in the Show Lounge as soon as you board the ship. The menu in the River Grill is the same for the entire week, but it includes lobster. Lobster was also served in the dining room on Saturday, so if you plan it right you can have 3 lobster dinners! Each night we had a choice of regional red and white wines. All were very good. Refills are included, and you can carry out a full glass to the lounge or show when you leave. We chose regular dining (7:45) so we wouldn't have to rush back from a day out to get ready for dinner, but I would choose early dining next time since it was always well after 9 before we left the dining room. The entrees varied each evening, and always included at least one vegetarian selection. Hubby couldn't decide between the sea scallops and the braised ribs one night, so our waiter brought him both! The show for regular dining was at 6:30 and always ended about 20 minutes before the dining room doors opened, so the hall outside the dining room was always clogged with people waiting for the dining room doors to open. One night we sat at a table with two other couples we had met, and we were apparently overlooked – it was a good 30 minutes before we were served any wine and had orders taken, and that was after we flagged down the Head Waiter. There is a Happy Hour each day from 2-4 when beer is $1 off, and wine/cocktails $2 off. There's a 15% gratuity automatically added to each bar bill. ENTERTAINMENT We were pleasantly surprised at the quality of the onboard entertainment. There are two shows each evening so that everyone gets to see the show depending on their dinner time. Jordan and Isaac were quite talented as the onboard singing/dancing team. Lindy (hotel manager) and her husband Greg (cruise director) are also professional singers and put on two fantastic shows as well. They are all accompanied by a 4 piece quartet. Additionally, Frank Chase provided daily piano entertainment in the Paddlewheel Lounge. While he's great to listen to during his afternoon session, he is not to be missed in the evenings. So talented, and absolutely hilarious! Mary the Riverlorian is a wealth of knowledge about Lewis and Clark, as well as history of the area in general. EXCURSIONS, PORTS AND ACTIVITIES Each evening at turndown, a copy of the next day's activities as well as the Hop On Hop Off map is left in each cabin. Bus tickets are required for the first few morning buses only, and there is a kiosk next to the pursor's office where they can be printed. There were several excellent museums included during the week, all free as admission had been pre-arranged through AQSC. Lots of other interesting and historic stops as well, but we found shopping opportunities to be sparse. Astoria probably had the most shops and all were in walking distance of the boat, but it was Sunday and many were closed. If you are interested in purchasing native or local crafts, your best opportunities are the museum gift shops. We only took one premium excursion, the Wine and Spirits on Red Mountain winery tour. Our other excursion to Multnomah Falls was cancelled due to the fires in the area. I was really looking forward to seeing the Falls, at least from the boat, but then our departure was delayed due to another boat ahead of us in the lock, so we didn't pass the Falls until after dark. But the captain announced that she would try to find it and shine the ship's spotlight on it – what a treat! We also went through a number of locks, all different and interesting. While we read before leaving that bicycles were available for use in the ports, we never saw any and it was never mentioned. There are daily onboard activities as well, including zumba, bingo, trivia, crafts, etc. Wifi was very spotty and we also went through several dead zones, no cell or internet services at all. The best place to connect was the Paddlewheel Lounge, but connections were very, very slow. Disembarkation talks begin several days before the end of the cruise. We were going straight to the Portland airport to head back home, and rather than pay the $25 each for a seat on the bus, we used Uber for less than half of that. It's a very early day, as everyone has to be out of their room by 8am, and off the boat by 9am. Overall, this was a great cruise despite several glitches. The staff were fantastic, met lots of nice people, and saw gorgeous scenery as well as historic sites. We did feel like we had too much 'down time', and would have liked a few more activities geared towards more active lifestyles. American Queen knows its target market, and they provide a great experience. Read Less
AQSC Marketing, Consumer Marketing Mgr. - AQSC has responded
Hi K9pal, Thank you for submitting this review about your recent voyage on the American Empress. We are so pleased that you enjoyed your cruise, and that you have been so honest with your feedback. Our company strives to provide excellent service and a memorable experience for each of our guests. Without valuable comments such as these, we would not be where we are today. We hope to host you onboard again one day. Sincerely, American Queen Steamboat Company
Sail Date: October 2017
Several members of my mom's family took a cruise on the American Duchess, from Memphis to New Orleans, Oct. 16-23. There was a pre-cruise hotel included in Memphis, the Peabody Hotel on the 15th. First, about the Hotel, we had 2 ... Read More
Several members of my mom's family took a cruise on the American Duchess, from Memphis to New Orleans, Oct. 16-23. There was a pre-cruise hotel included in Memphis, the Peabody Hotel on the 15th. First, about the Hotel, we had 2 rooms on different floors. Both had not been vacuumed, there was debris on both of the room floors from previous occupant(s). The food was good, but the prices were high. On the American Duchess, both cabins had not been dusted or vacuumed from probably the first sailing of the vessel a few weeks before our sailing. On other cruise lines, the rooms would be vacuumed, dusted, towels changed, and beds made every day. On this boat, you had to put out a placard on the front of your door to even have the room steward change your towels. Both rooms were never dusted or vacuumed our whole trip. On the matter of being wheelchair friendly, which the cruise line publicized about this boat, you had to have a strong helper to help lift the front of the wheelchair to get out/into the cabin, from the hallway to another area, from the inside to the outside deck. There was a raised barrier to get to each area, include the dining room, Perks, the 24hr. snack room, and even the gift shop. On five other different cruise lines, I could propel myself throughout the ships with no help from anyone. Most of the Premium optional tours were not made for people with wheelchairs. I had booked a Premium tour in each port, and wasn't told until we were already on the boat, that I couldn't go on those tours. The hop on hop off bus tours, included in the price of the tour, were wheelchair friendly and they had a golf cart that was utilized to get you from the boat to the bus, which was very nice. All of the food on the boat was very good except the breakfast buffet, which had cold food, including items which should have been warm or hot. The entertainment, which were the same group of musicians and singers/dancers the entirety of our journey, were very good(four musicians, and three singers/dancers). Also, for a cruise on the Duchess that was to be for the more affluent, it didn't past muster. Read Less
AQSC Marketing, Consumer Marketing Mgr. - AQSC has responded
Hi KeithPettersen, We sincerely appreciate the feedback you have provided here and value every comment. We have contacted the Peabody Hotel regarding the issues there so that they may be able to address with their staff. Since its inaugural launch in mid-August, we have worked very hard to correct, and continue to correct, a few American Duchess start-up issues. We are now happy to report that we are receiving strong customer survey scores on all of our late October and early November cruises. We are sorry to learn that you did not have the top-notch experience that we strive to provide for each guest on our journeys. We would appreciate the opportunity to see if there is something that we can do for you. Please contact us at info@aqsc.com and someone from our team will respond shortly. Our best, American Queen Steamboat Company
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