In December of 2019, I had been fortunate to have an absolutely amazing trip aboard the American Duchess. We had sailed from Memphis to New Orleans, and although there were only 100 people or so on board, everything felt lively and populated, but not overly populated like on an ocean-going cruise ship.
The boat had Christmas theming since it was the holidays, and everything felt warm and inviting, and everyone really enjoyed the decorations and caroling as well. The entertainment during each evening also had holiday theming and plenty of guests (including myself) ended up singing along in some cases and having a wonderful time!
We thoroughly enjoyed the dining options, with the main dining room being our preference since it was sit-down dining and quite nice with attentive staff and delicious food from the area. We did get to enjoy some meals at the River Grille at the back of the boat, which were nice when needing something quicker than the main dining room. That being said, sometimes the River Grille was a bit louder than the main dining room despite having fewer people, likely since it is a more enclosed space.
As for the tours, there are two types, a hop on hop off, and a premium tour. The hop on hop off type is similar to ones you would find in a large city, where the bus will drive around a set route and drop off and pick up people at selected stops along the way. The nice thing about this is that the stops were always clearly labeled on where to meet, and even better, they are free! Some towns definitely are nicer than others, but there were explanations as to why, with Helena in particular showing the history of the town and how it is up and coming after economic hardships that happened before the boats came to town. The hop on hop off is included with the cruise so nothing out of pocket on these, regardless of the port.
On the other side, there are the premium tours, which do have a cost tied to them, but they are optional and more focused on a particular topic. Some are very grounded in history like the battlefield tour in Vicksburg, but others are not specifically set for a theme other than showing off the port itself, like the tour of the swamp at the end of the week. Overall, I feel all of the excursions we went on were great, and worth every penny! All of the tours had a wonderful local guide, though sometimes during the hop on hop off tour the guides were hard to hear at times, and since you can get off at any stop, the information can sometimes feel disjointed but that usually wasn’t a problem, just once or twice.
Towards the end of the week, I was ready get home and show our pictures to friends and family the things we got to see, but the time we had was amazing and we are so happy to have gone! I definitely want to go again, and maybe on another boat like the one in the pacific northwest.