This was my fourth cruise on American Queen in 15 months, all different itineraries. I am usually an Ocean and Expedition cruiser, but I have totally fallen in love with American Queen. Unlike most river cruise ships, that have the charm of airport hotels, AQ is the real McCoy. It's a total immersion experience in River and Southern culture. As you board, you are welcomed with a Dixieland Jazz band playing on the front porch. You walk up a red carpet to the library, where you are offered an array of amazing hors d'oeuvres. The decor is incredible. It's like you walked into a plantation home. Wonderful antiques are everywhere. The staff at the Reception Desk welcome you and actually try to help you, whatever you need. After all the snubs you get on big cruise ships, this is so refreshing. Genuine Southern Hospitality rules the day. As a repeater, the hugs with crew members remembering me started at the check-in at the hotel and continued on board. You are one of the family. The cabins are great. They are decorated with period decor. Mine had a genuine dresser from a plantation home and a Tiffany style lamp. The beds are so comfortable, you sleep so well. The bathrooms are huge and also well appointed. The boat doesn't rock, you're on the river. The food is the best on any ship afloat, anywhere,any place. I've taken 76 cruises and I can't rave more about it. They feature southern and creole food, along with down home American favorites. You know you are in trouble when the first morning's special is Bananas Foster French Toast stuffed with cream cheese. Look for the Jambalaya, Maryland crab cakes, slow cooked brisket, short ribs and the desserts. The carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and white chocolate is incredible, but the bread pudding of the day, with a different liquor sauce every day, will have yours eyes rolling back in your head! The dining room is so elegant, with twin domed wings. I hardy ever went to the Front Porch Cafe, as the temptation is too great! The entertainment is fantastic too. I especially liked the local musicians, who came on for a show. The band is terrific. One night they had a 50s 60s sock hop and the crowd kept cheering for them to continue. The reviews were great too, with a cast of four singer/dancers. They did everything from Jazz to Blues to Pop to Broadway. On off nights, they came and sang at the piano bar, which is so popular, they drag chairs over from the dining room for everyone to enjoy. An informative Riverlorian has lectures to educate you on the history of the river. The company has a fleet of luxury motor coaches. Every day, they pull up to give included hop on hop off tours. They make multiple stops and include museums, historic homes and all kinds of fun places of interest, real Americana. I was worried I might be bored, but I find that I am scrambling to squeeze everything in. Hannibal is known for its Mark Twain sites, but the shopping was great too. The Native American store had wonderful belts and hand made sterling silver buckles. In Clinton, we went across to Fulton, to a windmill brought from Holland, and toured an amazing museum featuring models of every kind of windmill around. The town dressed in Dutch outfits to welcome us. From Red Wing, I took a premium tour to get face to beak with Bald Eagles. I didn't take the premium tour to "The Field of Dreams" and am sorry I didn't. They took you to the actual cornfield, talked with the Ghost Players from the movie, then people played baseball. Several 70+ year old ladies told me they went 2 for 4! The premium tours are inexpensive, compared to major ocean cruise lines, and are great value. They really think of everything on AQ. You never have anything to complain about. They don't skimp or cut back on food and service, as is common on big ships. How refreshing! They just ooze with Southern hospitality, great food and fun. I can't wait to return!