I was very excited to take a trip with the American Duchess as I have been on other river cruises in the past, but mostly in Europe or other parts of the world. I knew this cruise would be different being in America, but I pleasantly surprised with all there was to see and do in this part of the country. We started in Memphis and ended up in Nashville, TN.
On board my guest cabin was very typical of a standard hotel room, clean and nice. All of the common spaces were comfortable, although times I felt like I was the only one on the boat, even as the boat was full. The entertainment at night was great and they did their best to incorporate the Christmas theme. They were a great group of kids.
What surprised me most was the amount of tours that were actually included with the cruise. I'm so used to being nickel and dimed to see every tourist destination around the world, that this was a lovely chance of pace. I actually wanted to get off and explore every day.
They have what's called a 'hop on and off' tour, which sounded confusing but I got the hang of the first day. You 'hop' on a large bus (which were all very nice) and have a tour guide tell you about each town you're in. You can 'hop' off at museums, shopping areas, art galleries, etc...where they all had included admission with your cruise ticket. I got to see a lot this way, more than I would have otherwise. The buses are clearly decorated with the cruise line's name and logo so you always know what bus to get on too, which was comforting.
Now you can buy what they call "Premium Excursions." At first I thought I didn't need any of them because of the hop on tour, but let me tell you for a relatively small price I had one of the highlights of my trip with the 'Chitlin' Trail' excursion in Paducah, KY. This was something special. They take a small group into a hotel which was once a safe haven for African American musicians and you feel like you're back in 1950. The guides were in character and sang so well I really thought it was really was Billie Holiday. That was really worth it and I highly recommend it.
We had a few days in Nashville which I was excited to see. The Grand Ole Opry Show was an included tour on this trip and wow, it was a bucket list item for me. I'm not even a country music fan but that was a good show. I enjoyed learning about Elvis and Dolly Parton too while on the city tour there. And the tour specialist on board helped me find some great BBQ downtown to try out.
When it was time to leave they took me directly to the airport. They really were organized and getting off the boat was as smooth as the whole trip (I guess I didn't need my sea sickness patches after all)
I'm planning to bring a friend with me next time to try a different segment of the river. She didn't think there was much to see in the middle of America, but after telling her about my trip she can't wait to go with me. She doesn't like to travel overseas either so this will be a good trip for her.
I'll be back American Duchess!
Not a country music fan, but I thoroughly enjoyed Nashville. We got to see the Grand Ole Opry show and learn about Elvis on music row. Great city.