Doing the Lewis and Clark riverboat Cruise has always been on our bucket list. This seemed to be a good time of the year.
Queen of the West is an older boat and is very intimate.
Bedroom very small but haven’t spent much time in it ... Read More
Doing the Lewis and Clark riverboat Cruise has always been on our bucket list. This seemed to be a good time of the year.
Queen of the West is an older boat and is very intimate.
Bedroom very small but haven’t spent much time in it but to sleep. Several places where you can sit, watch the scenery, read or visit with the new friends you meet daily.
Crew very attentive and Edgar to please.
First morning we boarded at 10:30 AM snakes and open bar has we were oriented to our boat.
Meals have been delicious! Who doesn’t like a root beer float or ice cream sundae at 8 PM??
As we travel we learn more about the history of the area we are in.
Loved Astoria’s quaint look. Houses on hills like San Francisco but then you seen a doe with her fawn meandering down the street or tucked under a 300 foot fir. Read Less
We choose this cruise along with another couple because we wanted to sail the Mississippi River. The cost was about $11,000 per couple for the AAM Room Category and for the price, we expected a first class experience. The boat, food and ... Read More
We choose this cruise along with another couple because we wanted to sail the Mississippi River. The cost was about $11,000 per couple for the AAM Room Category and for the price, we expected a first class experience. The boat, food and most tours were a big disappointment.
To start, according to the ACL brochure, the AAM category room is advertised as 326 sq. ft.. Having 20 lifetime cruises under my belt, I immediately knew this was incorrect.So I measured the room, #519, including the balcony and came up with 260 sq. ft. The other couples room, #513, advertised as the same AAM category was 240 sq.ft. This may seem like a minor complaint to some, but when you pay a premium price for a larger room you should not be deceived. There was mold behind the bathroom faucet and outside the shower area. The paint on the balcony floor was peeling and we looked at the same spider webs for 7 days on the table, outside chairs and railing. One day the maid knocked 3 quick times and just barged in for the evening turn down service. Well I just got out of the shower, so that encounter didn't go well.
The boat holds 185 guests which is nice. The four travelers in our group are in the mid 60's. When we first boarded the boat, we experienced a culture shock. The average age of the other travelers had to be 75 - 80 years old. A lot of canes and few wheelchairs. So my advise to future travelers is be aware of the age group that cruise ACL.
Food choices were few and not top shelf. The college age servers in the dining room are excellent. They were one of the few positives on this trip. No bar to purchase drinks. You have to wait for meals, cocktail hour and entertainment to get a drink, or bring your own!!!! I think for $11,000 a couple, there be a bar set up all day. The day of just cruising the river was boring as hell. Thank God it didn't rain. The entertainment was mediocre at best. We could not wait to disembark. Read Less
I was always looking at Mississippi River cruises, but they seemed too expensive. My husband and I usually cruise in the Carribean on ships that have a lot of attractions. Oasis,Allure) Then,Cruise Critic advertised this cruise
The ... Read More
I was always looking at Mississippi River cruises, but they seemed too expensive. My husband and I usually cruise in the Carribean on ships that have a lot of attractions. Oasis,Allure) Then,Cruise Critic advertised this cruise
The American Queen is small compared to large cruise ships (425 abt.) but all the luxuries were there. Great food in the dining room, the informal buffet at dinner time always had prime rib, and a great fish and chicken offerings
The entertainment was superb. The troop may only had four people, but they were extremely talented. The ship had resident jazz band who played at the shows, and late nights sessions in one of the bars. The historian on board was also good
We embarked in New Orleans, and the ship provided one night in a central hotel. When we got to a port, we were provided with a hop/on bus which brings you to the attractions, with the entry feee already paid. We could not get to all the attractions.
The ship is decorated in high Victorian style Read Less
The PreCruise package for Seattle included a bus tour of Seattle and a night’s lodging in a nice hotel as well as breakfast and transportation to the dock. Embarkation, as well as disembarkation, went quite smoothly. The crew is always ... Read More
The PreCruise package for Seattle included a bus tour of Seattle and a night’s lodging in a nice hotel as well as breakfast and transportation to the dock. Embarkation, as well as disembarkation, went quite smoothly. The crew is always very attentive and interesting as well as interested in the passengers. This was my third cruise with ACL and I’ve enjoyed them all. The cabins and the common areas are always clean and well cared for. The food is very good and the evening entertainment is always very good. Usually it is local talent from the different ports but they are all very talented. The ports and excursions are interesting and varied. I love the fact that the ships are all built in the USA and the staff is all American, mostly college graduates. I like the fact that everything, except some of the excursions, is included so you don’t have to worry about how much drinks cost or how much you should tip the staff. The price might be higher than some cruises, but adding the extra costs from additional expenses probably evens out in the long run. The biggest downside on this ship, the Spirit (built in 2005), is the fact that the WiFi was very poor, although it was fine on the other two ships I was on, the America and the Constitution. Would I go on another one? Absolutely! In fact I’m already scheduled a fourth trip in June/July 2020. Read Less
We explored Portland, OR for a couple of days prior to boarding the ship, which enriched our cruise experience, since the cruise did not include a shore excursion there. Embarkation was very easy, as the ship was docked right behind our ... Read More
We explored Portland, OR for a couple of days prior to boarding the ship, which enriched our cruise experience, since the cruise did not include a shore excursion there. Embarkation was very easy, as the ship was docked right behind our hotel. All our documents and information was well organized. The ship was new, clean and beautiful, less than a year old, and decorated very nicely. Our cabin was spacious and included a private balcony. We were favorably impressed with the size of the bathroom compared to the other cruise we had taken (on a different cruise line). The staff was friendly, helpful and efficient. Food was excellent with plenty of choices, including vegetarian. Our nightly entertainment included some very talented (and funny) people. We had numerous shore excursions to choose from, something to fit everyone's interests and fitness levels. We especially enjoyed Multnomah Falls and Cape Disappointment State Park. We definitely plan to travel with American Cruise Lines again! Read Less
This Cruise Line was recommended to us, We had studied their literature carefully. I use a cane and scooter and was with my husband. It all worked out very well for me. The crew assisted me with my scooter on and off the Riverboat. ... Read More
This Cruise Line was recommended to us, We had studied their literature carefully. I use a cane and scooter and was with my husband. It all worked out very well for me. The crew assisted me with my scooter on and off the Riverboat. This was quite helpful, so I did not miss a thing. We enjoyed meeting new people, many interesting and from all over the USA.
We found the group fun and stimulating having shared many of the same experiences in life.
The Riverboat,The American Song was new. The furnishing and lounges were quite nice with large windows. This was a Food and Wine Cruise so we raved about the Food Selections and Wines. My husband, in particular had seafood at each meal. I tried other menu selections. We found the lectures interesting and stimulating. We found two of the evenings of entertainment most enjoyable. The entire crew made our experience the Best!
The shore excursions were fabulous, the small towns in the Pacific Northwest, the Museums we visited, the magnificent Columbia and Snake Rivers were Wonderful to see.
The terrain and locks were so impressive to us having lived mostly in the East, Midwest and South.
We are from Atlanta, Georgia and signed on for the Alaska Cruise for next Summer in August 2020. Praises to the American Cruise Line. Read Less
The American Song is a newer ship, so everything was fresh and new. The staterooms are roomy, with a large bathroom. Plenty of storage, but not a lot of hanging space. The (very) young crew was very professional and tried hard to please ... Read More
The American Song is a newer ship, so everything was fresh and new. The staterooms are roomy, with a large bathroom. Plenty of storage, but not a lot of hanging space. The (very) young crew was very professional and tried hard to please everyone. The food was good, and drinks are included during happy hour, dining and with the evening entertainment. There os no assigned seating, so you can meet many other people this way. The entertainment was ok, two nights were excellent and other nights not so much. The bar closes right after the entertainment, so if you want drinks later that could be a problem. The excursions that were offered were good, and on this cruise along the Columbia and Snake Rivers the scenery was amazing! We went on the jet boat ride into Hell's Canyon, which was a lot of fun. This cruise Line caters to a senior crowd, and wouldn't be suitable for younger families. Read Less
American Cruise lines is reasonable efficient, and well organized. Ship was relatively new. Excursions were excellent. The entertainment was outstanding. On-board historian was fun to listen to and gave excellent previews/reviews of the ... Read More
American Cruise lines is reasonable efficient, and well organized. Ship was relatively new. Excursions were excellent. The entertainment was outstanding. On-board historian was fun to listen to and gave excellent previews/reviews of the places we would be. Great information (quite enlightening) on the Lewis and Clark expedition. The add on to the Snake River via jet boat was well worth the cost. The scenery on both the Snake and Columbia rivers was spectacular. The few excursions we added on (in addition to the free excursions in each port) were worth the money. Entertainment (the cowboy / sailor comedy singer, Liberace's arranger) were wonderful! The pre-cruise hotel in Lewiston, Idaho was a Quality Inn and lived up to the name. The rooms were excellent, the food wonderful, and the personnel quite helpful. The Indian evening with the Nez Perce Indians was a complete and wonderful surprise with excellent history, speakers, and dancers. This was not part of the cruise but we added it once we were at the hotel. Read Less
~~~April 25th – May 4th, 2019~~~
Yesterday’s flights from Orange County Airport, first to DFW and then on to Memphis, were surprisingly pleasant with little turbulence. Evidently, the flight to DFW was a day after a severe weather ... Read More
~~~April 25th – May 4th, 2019~~~
Yesterday’s flights from Orange County Airport, first to DFW and then on to Memphis, were surprisingly pleasant with little turbulence. Evidently, the flight to DFW was a day after a severe weather day there, and the late afternoon flight on into Memphis followed a morning of severe weather there. So, I lucked out! My flight from DFW to Memphis was delayed almost an hour which gave me sufficient time for a large, delicious Chicken Burrito at Pappasito’s Cantina, along with a Margarita, of course. I was set for the rest of the day.
~~~Memphis. Tennessee, April 25th~~~
Arrival in Memphis was at around 4:35 pm and my one piece of luggage was one of the first to arrive on the carrousel. Following the hotel’s instructions, I used the provided hotel reservation telephone to call the Guesthouse at Graceland for a shuttle from the airport. I was told to go out to the middle island of the parking structure where I immediately located the hotel’s shuttle and was soon on my way. A moderate rain was falling on departure from the airport, but it had stopped by the time we got to the hotel, only a short distance away.
Checking in at the hotel was easy since I was expected, a packet of information from American Cruise Lines awaiting me. My room is 625 in the North Tower of this rather large and new hotel, right next to Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley, and is very nice and large. The bath has a huge shower with multiple faucets provided a “rain” of water. Quite nice!
Being exhausted from my full day’s travel and early rising, I spent the evening in my room, enjoying the free wi-fi and large flat panel TV, before finally going to sleep at around 11 pm (9 pm PDT) in the large, comfortable king-sized bed. I slept until almost 7 am this morning.
After showering under the overhead and side faucets, I changed for my included buffet breakfast downstairs at Delta’s Kitchen. Being on Friday, I found breakfast to be quite crowded but easily served myself to my satisfaction. The fare was rather mundane except for delicious fresh fruit: honeydew, pineapple, cantaloupe as well as cheese-scrambled eggs, bacon and biscuits. Excellent coffee, by the way.
~~~Graceland VIP Tour, April 26th~~~
Meeting other members of Linda’s Group waiting in the lobby for our shuttle bus over to Graceland for the included VIP tour, we were quickly transported at 9:15 am across the Elvis Presley Blvd to the entrance to Graceland, a vast and extremely popular tourist attraction here in Memphis. We were checked in, showing our ID, given our tickets including one for lunch, as well as lanyards and wrist-bands, and then directed to other waiting shuttle busses for transfer back across Elvis Presley Blvd. to the Graceland Mansion.
Rather modest under today’s standards, the Mansion tour started first with a visit to the living room and adjoining music room, all protected behind ropes. Then it was a tight fit down a hallway to see one of the bedrooms. Elvis’ bedroom and other personal rooms upstairs are NOT available for viewing. Then it was through the dining room into the kitchen and down a narrow stairway to the basement where first we viewed a TV room containing several vintage TV sets showing period-specific TV shows. Then next door into an elaborate game room with a pool table and fabric-covered walls AND ceiling with dizzying colors and designs.
Another narrow stairway leads back upstairs and outside to the mansion’s rear with views of a lush paddock complete with grazing horses. Several other buildings were also visited including a handball court, Vernon’s office (Elvis’ father), and another containing a myriad of Elvis memorabilia. The final attraction was the Garden of Memories with the graves of Elvis and other family members around a spectacular pool with dancing fountains. This was adjacent to the swimming pool for the Mansion.
Although our tour could last all day, enough was enough, and we returned to the spot around the rear of the Mansion to which we had been delivered earlier for the return shuttle back across Elvis Presley Blvd. to the extensive complex there including a display of Elvis’ planes, one a converted Convair 880 named “Lisa Marie” after his daughter and the other, smaller Lockheed Jetstar named “Hound Dog II”. Other buildings housed collections of Elvis’ many luxury cars as well as motor cycles and other motor craft. There is certainly enough to see up to one’s personal endurance limits. Mine was easily achieved and I sought out one of the several eateries in which to use my $15 lunch voucher.
Glady’s Diner caught my eye and I entered to find many options available; my choice was for the Chicken Alfredo Pizza, receiving a huge quarter pizza for $7.89 along with a 20-ounce chocolate milkshake for $4.95. The pizza was delicious, and I ate every bit of it, enjoying the chocolate shake with it. My $15 meal voucher just paid for it, I was informed.
Finally, it was time to call it quits and return by shuttle bus back to the Guesthouse. Tonight, I have planned a trip downtown to the Rendezvous Restaurant for their famous barbecued ribs, taking a pre-paid shuttle at 6 pm provided by the hotel for $10 RT. They are NOT in business for the pleasure! On return to the hotel I purchased a glass of Sauvignon Blanc at a bar downstairs and was charged $15! They do have a captive audience here, but REALLY!
That’s all for now. More later on this evening’s dining experience.
~~~My Evening at the Rendezvous in Memphis, April 26th~~~
At 6 pm I took the hotel’s shuttle into the downtown district to the corner of 2nd & Beale Street, next to the Hard Rock Cafe, at the very entrance to the very active entertainment district on Beale Street. Two blocks are blocked off from vehicular traffic, allowing the throngs of merry-makers to roam the street at leisure. My destination was the Peabody Hotel, about three blocks down 2nd; the Rendezvous Restaurant is just down the alley from there.
With some difficulty locating the right alley, I finally found the Rendezvous about half way down the alley and entered to encounter stairs down to the basement location which seats over 700 diners. Quickly I was seated at a table for two and placed my order: half rack of ribs with beans and cold slaw, along with a local amber beer. It was incredibly delicious!
When finished, I walked back down 2nd to the Hard Rock Cafe, the pickup location to return to the hotel; the next shuttle would not come until 8:30 pm so I went inside the Hard Rock for a beer.
At 8:30 pm on the dot the hotel shuttle arrived and soon we were on our way back to the hotel near Graceland. On arrival I returned to my room to repack for our departure the following morning, requiring our luggage to be placed just inside the door to my room, before 7 am the next morning. Then it was to bed.
~~~Embarkation Day, April 27th~~~
The next morning, after a big breakfast at Delta’s Kitchen, I met with others in Linda’s Group in the lobby, awaiting our departure, first for a city tour of Memphis, followed by the trip to the riverboat.
Getting on our bus I was surprised and delighted to be recognized by Lily, Cruise Manager for American Cruise Lines, whom I knew from last July’s Grand New England cruise; she was checking the passenger list for boarding. We departed The Guesthouse at Graceland at 9 am.
The highlight of our city tour of Memphis was our stop at the Peabody Hotel where we were treated to the 11 am parade of the ducks, down the elevator from the roof - their home – waddling down a red carpet to the fountain in the lobby where they would remain during the day until 5 pm when they would ceremoniously return back to the elevator on the red carpet and back to the roof. There were 6 or 7 ducks who noisily made their entrance, much to the delight of the crowds of onlookers; I went up to the mezzanine for a better view of the events. Then it was back on the bus, and on to the riverboat.
At about noon we arrived at the docking location for the America, our riverboat home for the next week, different from the usual location due to high level of the River which had flooded the Beale Street Landing. Instead we found the riverboat docked at a landing on Mud Island, just across from downtown Memphis.
Walking down the rather steep ramp to the extended gangway, we all went onboard, crowding the area near the elevators; I chose to bypass them and go directly into the dining room where lunch was being served. I would worry about finding my room and checking in until afterwards. Lunch was delicious along with a glass of cold Sauvignon Blanc wine. Then it was time to find my room, #414 on Deck 4.
The crowds around the elevators had disappeared by this time and I quickly found my single room, first door aft of the elevator. The door was open and inside I found my luggage along with a folder of information as well as two door keycards. I then took my boarding pass down to the Office on Deck 2. Security seems almost nonexistent!
The riverboat departed Memphis right on schedule at 1 pm, next stop Vicksburg, Mississippi.
~~~Gliding Along the Mississippi River, April 27th~~~
During the afternoon after departing Memphis we glided along the Mississippi River under brilliantly blue skies, enjoying the peace and tranquility of the passing scenery. Occasionally we encountered long barges with several units in tow, plowing their way up or down the River. I found it amazing the length of these barges, some pushing up to 5 or 6 units! How could they negotiate the many bends and turns along the River?
At 2:15 pm there was an Excursion Briefing in the Magnolia Lounge where Hotel Officers explained the many different shore excursions offered during our 7-day cruise, most being complimentary with only a few being for a fee. We were given a schedule of all shore excursions and asked to indicate our choices, keeping a copy for our personal reference. Then it was time to unpack!
I leisurely did my unpacking and organizing my spacious single balcony stateroom, using only a small part of the very ample storage provided. Being only a week-long cruise, I had packed very sparingly and only used my carryon sized luggage.
Soon I was finished and ready to go to the one Happy Hour located in the Sky Lounge, just down the passageway from my room, Aft on Deck 4; another Happy Hour location was in the Magnolia Lounge down on Deck 2 Forward. The Magnolia Lounge is a large room used for many gatherings including the evening’s entertainment. Happy Hours feature open bars with complimentary cocktails of choice besides a large selection of wines, beers, and appetizers; one of the benefits of this rather expensive cruise. Being an American-flagged riverboat, the crew is all American which requires American-level wages, also contributing to the high cost of the cruise.
After a couple glasses of my favorite Sauvignon Blanc white wine, it was time to go down to the Dining Room on Deck 1 for dinner. Open seating allows one a choice of places to sit and mine was at a table of several of Linda’s Group, a group of 17. Dinner was excellent with an appetizer or salad followed by an entree, topped off with a delectable dessert. Although there was a banjo player entertaining in the Magnolia Lounge, it was time for bed for me after enjoying two or more glasses of wine.
Returning to my stateroom I found my bed turned down and the drapes pulled. There is twice-a-day room servicing aboard. First, I opened up the drapes revealing the passing scenery and then turned on the flat-panel TV to MSNBC, volume turned low, and got into my twin sized bed, and very soon fell asleep.
~~~Vicksburg, Mississippi - April 28th~~~
Although our scheduled arrival time was 12 noon, we actually docked in Vicksburg at around 7 am. Shore excursions would not begin until 2 pm, my choice being the one to the Vicksburg National Military Park.
Breakfast is served in the Dining Room from 7:30 am until 9 am and my arrival around 8 am found the Room already fairly full. I had showered in my rather small sized shower stall and then discovered that my Old Spice stick deodorant was almost completely depleted! I had not checked it during my packing. Also, the single purpose razors I had packed must have been quite old as they were almost ineffectual. Some onshore shopping was in order.
Back to breakfast, my typical order was a Western Omelet with a side of bacon, along with a toasted English muffin, preceded by glasses of cranberry and orange juices; and delicious coffee, of course! Afterwards it was back to my stateroom to relax before my afternoon tour. My room had already been serviced by then.
After lunch, which included my Sauvignon Blanc, it was soon time for our 3-hour tour of the Vicksburg National Military Park, at 2 pm. Being one of the complimentary shore excursions, there were two busloads of us which loaded and departed from alongside the dock and traveled for about 30 minutes through the town of Vicksburg and out to the Park.
The countryside was hilly and forested except for the main battlefield where the Confederates had cut down all of the trees on the slopes, placing the trees pointed downhill with barbed wire strung among them as defense against the Union forces. This tactic apparently worked because after repeated attempts, the Union forces failed to prevail.
The Union commander, Ulysses S. Grant, then changed his tactic to one of siege, encircling the Confederate forces and attempting to starve them out. It worked and eventually the Confederate commander, John C. Pemberton, surrendered and Vicksburg fell to the Union forces.
Our tour was all around these battlegrounds where many monuments are located; northern states’ forces were commemorated: Illinois, Ohio, Maine, Michigan, etc.; as well as southern states’ forces: Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, etc. Vicksburg, sitting on a high hill on a bend of the Mississippi River was of crucial importance to both the North and South; it dominated traffic along the River. Abraham Lincoln was quoted as saying, “Vicksburg is the key! The war can never be brought to a close until that key is in our pocket.”
Our tour included a stop at the U.S.S. Cairo Museum where is located the partially reconstructed Union ironclad warship, sunk in the Mississippi River north of Vicksburg by two Confederate electrically detonated torpedoes (mines). It lay submerged until 1956 when it was rediscovered and, with great effort, recovered and partially rebuilt and is now on display, protected beneath a large canopy.
The conclusion of our tour was in the Visitor Center that contains many artifacts of the war. Our return to our riverboat was right at 5 pm, just in time for Happy Hour! That first glass of Sauvignon Blanc sure tasted good!
~~~Vicksburg, Mississippi - April 29th~~~
After spending the night at dock at Vicksburg, breakfast had to be completed early in preparation of our 9 am tours. My usual order was delivered quickly, and I finished in plenty of time to return to my stateroom briefly.
At 9 am I went down to catch the shuttle bus up the very steep hill into downtown Vicksburg but evidently got on the wrong bus, the Historic Vicksburg Comes to Life, a two-hour guided walking tour.
It did turn out to be a very interesting and informative walk although my poor feet and legs were certainly complaining by its conclusion. We saw many classic homes of the antebellum style, trudged up and down the brick streets, and observed the many churches. The tour ended on a downtown street where is located the original store selling Coca Cola.
I easily found a pharmacy where I was able to buy deodorant and another razor and then caught one of the shuttles back down the hill to the docks and our riverboat.
It was a relief to return to my room and give my legs and feet some well-needed rest. Lunch would be at 12 noon, just before the America departed Vicksburg at 1 pm.
Next stop, Natchez, Mississippi!
~~~Gliding Again Along the Mississippi River, April 29th~~~
Having departed Vicksburg during lunchtime, at 1 pm, we were again gliding down the Mississippi River under brilliantly blue skies. We have been so VERY fortunate with our excellent weather since first arriving in Memphis last Thursday when we encountered a brief shower on the way from the airport to the hotel. Since then it has been absolutely clear and beautiful!
During the afternoon in the Magnolia Lounge, members of the staff presented a special presentation of future cruises, both on American Cruise Lines as well as on Pearl Seas Cruises, the sister company of ACL. Future cruises could be booked with a 15% discount plus forgiveness of the port fees and taxes, a considerable savings!
Since I had previously booked the 15-day “Canadian Maritimes & St. Lawrence Seaway” Cruise with Pearl Cruises, I was interested in possibly rebooking in order to take advantage of the onboard booking savings.
At first, I was told that - once booked, it was not possible to rebook. However, in my discussion with Keaton Jamerson, Guest Services Advisor, he suggested it might be possible to cancel my existing booking, pay the cancellation charge, and then immediately rebook onboard with the above-mentioned savings. He was on the telephone several times with Pearl Seas discussing my situation. There was the possibility that, once cancelled, my coveted choice of Single Stateroom 512 might not be available for my rebooking, and there were no other such single staterooms available.
Long story short, Keaton was successful in rebooking that stateroom 512 on the Pearl Mist for me, after I had emailed my cancellation request to Pearl Cruises, and with the 15% discount + port fees and taxes! I saved over $2600! Happy Hour afterwards was especially happy!
We arrived at Natchez at 6:30 pm, during dinner, but docked across the River in Vidalia, Louisiana, due the high waters flooding the Natchez docks. At the very base of the large bridge crossing the River, we pulled up to a pretty riverside park area, and let down the gangway for disembarkation, tying up to nearby trees. This was the second time that the high-water level of the River had affected our docking location.
After finally getting to sleep, fighting the traffic noise from the nearby bridge, I slept until the morning’s traffic resumption awakened me around 6 am. For such small towns of Natchez and Vidalia, the volume of bridge traffic connecting them was surprisingly heavy.
~~~Natchez, Mississippi and Vidalia, Louisiana - April 30th~~~
Breakfast was my usual Western omelet with bacon, and I had to rush things a bit in order to get to my 9 am shore excursion to the Frogmore Plantation. It was a short bus ride into Louisiana from the park area next to our riverboat’s docking to this very interesting and thorough tour of a working a cotton plantation:
During a visit to this historical plantation, visitors will gain an understanding of the complete antebellum lifestyle. This tour compares and contrasts a working cotton plantation from 1790 through today. Visitors learn about slave culture, sharecropping, and modern technology. During this narrated tour, explore the plantation’s buildings, including a rare antique steam gin and the only completely computerized gin in the nation.
At the conclusion of the tour, we were all seated on benches facing the porch of one of the buildings, forming a stage of sorts, and were presented with a narration of the history of the plantation, interspersed with a cappella singing by two very accomplished singers, one an elderly white man in period dress, the other a black lady dressed also in period costume. They were excellent! A perfect ending to a memorable experience.
Back at the America, it was time for lunch when we returned. There would be a second shore excursion across the River in Natchez at 2 pm. Lunches were always delicious with unique salads, using a lot of spinach leaves, accompanied by sandwiches, pasta dishes, or HUGE hamburgers. Dessert for me became my usual mint-chocolate chip ice cream. AND, of course, my Sauvignon Blanc wine!
The afternoon shore excursion was to an antebellum house in the Historic District in central Natchez, the Joseph Newman Stone House, over 140 years in the same family:
"Rare antique maps adorn the walls of this unique property, outstanding for its antebellum origins as a private billiard hall built in the style of a Greek temple, as well as for its rare pocket doors with ornamental glasswork. The builder was David Stanton, whose brother built world-famous Stanton Hall, also located in the Downtown Historic District. Acquired in 1877 by Joseph Newman Stone, it has remained in the Stone family for 140 years, now operating as a bed & breakfast, featuring family portraits and antiques.
Each fall the house is open to the public during the Natchez Pilgrimage. Additionally, it has won the Historic Natchez Foundation's 2003 Restoration Award as well as TripAdvisor's Travelers' Choice Awards in 2012 & 2013 for the top 25 bed & breakfast inns in the United States.
Bed & breakfast accommodations are offered in the Master Bedroom or the Cottage. A full Southern breakfast is served in The Dining Room on antique Limoges china. Guests who stay a minimum of two nights are invited to a 'Soirée Musicale' featuring live piano entertainment with complimentary wine in The Antebellum Music Room, while The Antebellum Billiard Hall showcases a fine antique billiard table.
Stone House Musical B & B is found in the Downtown Historic District, an easy walk to many tour houses, antique shops, fine restaurants, other B & B inns or hotels, as well as the famous 200-foot bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River, making it an ideal destination for any vacation on the Great River Road or Natchez Trace."
Upon entering we were all seated in the front parlor facing a grand piano in front of large pocket doors containing beautiful glass panels. The owner and great grandson of the original owner, Joseph Britton Stone, greeted us and proceeded to pleasure us with his musical mastery, presenting a concert of four selections of classical music on the 1903 Steinway Parlor Grand Piano. We were all mesmerized by his talent and the ambiance of the setting.
We were then given a tour of the several rooms of the house, all spectacularly adorned with family photos and artifacts as well as exquisite furnishings and chandeliers. There was the dining room, with the table set with formal tableware including Limoges china, the billiard room with its antique billiards table, the kitchen, and one of the bedrooms, papered with unusual wall coverings and presenting a high canopied bed. All absolutely gorgeous!
Then the owner offered us all our choice of champagne or a select liqueur, served in beautiful crystal glassware. A real unexpected treat!
All during our visit, the house puppy, “Precious”, a rare Tibetan Spaniel, mingled and sniffed us all, a very friendly “cohost” of the house. As we departed this treasure of a home, Joseph Stone stood at the door with Precious in arm, bidding us all adieu. It had been a most special visit!
By the time we again crossed the River using the bridge back to our riverboat on the Vidalia side, it was almost time for Happy Hour! This company surely does not spare the expense as far as alcohol! The Sky Lounge on Deck 4 was my favorite, preferred over the larger Magnolia Lounge, although it did become quite crowded at times. There was an outside seating area just back of the Sky Lounge where comfortable chairs provided a pleasant place to sit and view the surroundings and our spectacular weather.
After dinner this was my one time to stay up late and go to the Magnolia Lounge for the entertainment with tonight’s feature, Judy Davis, a large black lady who was EXCELLENT! Her material was nonstop hilarious, interspersed with vocal selections, also quite good. Her comedy was most enjoyable, and I didn’t regret my choice over another early night to bed.
Our riverboat departed our docking at 11:30 pm, next stop Baton Rouge, tomorrow, May 1st. Our time is passing much too rapidly!
~~~Baton Rouge, Louisiana - May 1st & 2nd~~~
Traveling overnight from Natchez, Mississippi, we arrived in Baton Rouge, Louisiana early in the morning of May 1st where, after some expert manipulation in the fast-moving waters of the Mississippi River, our riverboat tied up to a new pier near downtown Baton Rouge. Our location was adjacent to the permanent home of the USS Kidd which is open to the public:
"Known as the “Pirate of the Pacific,” this Fletcher-class destroyer is a memorial to the men and women that served in the American armed forces. Take a step back in time on this self-guided tour to see artifacts and aircraft from World War II. This is an experience that will leave you speechless."
Our original schedule called for our docking at St. Francisville for our shore excursion to the Rosedown Plantation, but the high-water level of the River had flooded the docks there, requiring our early docking in Baton Rouge and a bus trip back up the River to St. Francisville and the Plantation. This would happen at 2 pm in the afternoon.
Breakfast was leisurely with no time pressure, just sitting in the dining room, enjoying my Western omelet with bacon, cranberry and orange juices with coffee and an English muffin, looking out the large windows at the bright clear morning and the stunning skyline of downtown Baton Rouge. The historic Old State Capitol Building was very close, and the tall tower of the new State Capitol Building could be seen in the distance. The rest of the morning was spent in my stateroom relaxing and getting ready for the afternoon’s tour.
Soon after lunch was over, at 1:30 pm, we exited the America and walked to the end of the pier, crossed a railroad track, to get to our busses. This being one of the complimentary shore excursions, almost everyone onboard was going, requiring 4 busses; I was on bus #1.
It was a scenic ride of one hour back up the River passing through lush green forests and fields. Our arrival at the antebellum Rosedown Plantation then required a short walk from the parking lot up to the main house where our bus group assembled on the large porch, awaiting entry.
The lady guide, dressed in a period costume, explained the history of the Plantation and then ushered us inside to the parlor and then past the stairway into the front bedroom. Furnished with authentic items, the feeling of being in the past was overwhelming. We then went up the long stairway to the second floor to other bedrooms and then down the back stairway into the kitchen. Then it was back outside where we encountered the second bus group awaiting their turn. Quite a bunch of visitors to accommodate all at once, but well-handled if I do say so.
The exterior of the mansion was fronted by tall white columns, so prevalent in the architecture of the period. The surrounding grounds were carefully manicured gardens with interwinding paths. Then it was time to return to our bus for the short trip into the small town of St. Francisville.
We traveled up and down several streets in this small picturesque town, at one point seeing the road down to the flooded docks, until we stopped at a store where we were allowed a shopping break. The place was huge with a wide array of merchandise, mostly very eclectic. Fresh lemonade was freely offered, which tasted fantastic! Bathroom facilities were also available. Then it was back on the bus, back to Baton Rouge and our floating home by 5 pm, just in time for Happy Hour!
Many passengers chose to walk off the riverboat and walk into town for shopping, sightseeing and dining, but I chose to stay aboard for the night. Tomorrow we would once again be docked in Baton Rouge with a city tour scheduled for 2 pm.
~~~Baton Rouge, Louisiana - May 2nd~~~
Knowing about my upcoming visit to Baton Rouge, I had previously contacted my friends, Bob and Virginia Bogan, who live here, and invited them to join me aboard the America for cocktails and dinner, an advertised benefit offered to passengers. Virginia had also expressed a desire to join me on the afternoon city tour and, with approval of the manager, this is what happened. There were two different times for the city tour: 9 am and 2 pm, and we had decided on the later.
I had given details about the Bogan’s to the staff to facilitate their coming onboard and shortly before 1:30 pm Virginia showed up in Magnolia Lounge where I had been waiting. Virginia is the sister of Jim Innerarity, my dear friend who passed away three years ago; we had spent time together on several occasions while Jim was alive, so I know her well.
We went back up to my stateroom for a brief bathroom visit and then back down and off the boat, walking to the end of the pier to the waiting bus.
Traveling around the downtown area we passed by the Old State Capitol Building, and later the “New” State Capitol Building, built in the 30’s by Governor Huey P. Long of Louisiana’s notorious fame. We also passed by his “new” Governor’s Mansion which strongly resembled the White House in Washington, D.C. Huey had presidential aspirations also! But he was assassinated before he could pursue that.
Further driving around the downtown area brought us to the Capitol Park Museum where we allowed to spend an hour viewing the extensive displays and exhibits portraying the history of Louisiana. It would have taken much longer than one hour to fully investigate this vast collection!
By the time we returned to the riverboat it was almost time for Happy Hour and, after a quick trip back to my stateroom, Virginia and I went to the Sky Lounge on Deck 4 to partake of a beverage. Bob and their daughter Jennifer would be joining us shortly for dinner. In fact, just after we sat down, Virginia called Bob on her cellphone and, immediately Bob and Jennifer walked into the Lounge! They had gone to my stateroom and heard the noise down the hall from the nearby Sky Lounge. We all ordered drinks and enjoyed visiting for a while before going down to dinner.
Since several of the passengers had chosen to dine ashore, the dining room wasn’t very full and the four of us easily found a nice table by the window. The Bogan’s were all impressed by the menu and, at my suggestion, ordered the Beef Tenderloin (fillet mignon, really); my order was for the Rack of Lamb. Desserts were also enjoyed by all and then it was time for a brief tour of the America before my guests had to depart.
Going up to the top deck, we just caught the fading sunset, but the clear evening provided a fantastic view of the skyline of Baton Rouge. They were all very impressed. Then it was time for our goodbyes and the departure of the Bogan Family. It had been a VERY enjoyable and meaningful reunion.
Next stop: New Orleans!
~~~New Orleans, Louisiana - "Oak Alley", May 3rd~~~
Traveling the short distance from Baton Rouge, having departed at 11:30 pm, our arrival at the Port of New Orleans was early on the morning of Friday, May 3rd. Today would be the last of our wonderful cruise and the one task remaining was the settling of our onboard accounts, easily done by verifying our charges and authorizing credit card payment. Mine was only $75 for the two shore excursions that were not complimentary.
Breakfast was as usual with views of the modern Port of New Orleans Building outside the dining room windows, under sunny blue skies. My order was a Western omelet with bacon, juices, muffin and coffee. It would be hard to say goodbye to our very talented servers, most of whom were college students; they had been most friendly, cheerful and efficient performing their excellent service.
There was an early lunch at 11:30 am because of the early departure of the afternoon’s excursion at 1:30 pm to Oak Alley, a magnificent plantation mansion:
"The Plantation has been called “The Grande Dame of the Great River Road.” Enjoy the 1/4-mile canopy of 300-year-old live oaks as you make your way to the Greek Revival antebellum home. Take a tour of the Big House, led by guides in period clothing and then spend some time exploring the magnificent grounds on your own. For the full southern experience, don’t forget to take time for a mint julep."
So after enjoying one more lunch in the dining room, with time for a quick trip back to my stateroom for a bathroom call, it was off the America and a short walk over to the busses (4) to begin our hour-long drive back up the River to Oak Alley which is located just on the other side of a large River levee.
The drive out of New Orleans was enjoyable with views of the downtown high-rise buildings along with the Superdome, so famous from the Katrina disaster. We were on Interstate 10 with heavy traffic for the first part of the journey.
Out of the city, the freeway became a series of bridges over a swampy landscape, some classified as being a bayou. No place to have car trouble! Most of us took quick naps during the drive awakening only as we departed the Interstate for a smaller highway that followed along the large levee of the Mississippi River.
Finally arriving at Oak Alley, we drove past the legendary entrance walkway through the canopy (alley) of huge old oak trees, but didn’t stop until reaching the large parking lot, provided for the hordes of visitors to this popular tourist attraction. It was then quite a walk from the parking lot into the grounds of Oak Alley, entrance requiring tickets provided by our own guide.
We were guided to the front of the Mansion where a cue formed, awaiting limited entrance inside; only a certain number were admitted at a time. When our turn came, we were escorted into the main parlor that was furnished with authentic period furniture and many other items of historic nature. Our guide was a young black girl who spoke clearly and informatively, well versed on the history of Oak Alley.
Then we were ushered into the dining room where we found a large dining table all set with china and tableware. Over the table was a large fan-type panel which would have been swung back and forth using a rope by a slave child to provide air flow for the diners. We had seen such apparatus in other dining rooms in other antebellum homes.
We were then directed up the long stairway to the second level; “long” because of the very high ceilings of the first floor. Upstairs we toured through several bedrooms complete with high canopied beds; the beds seem to be set quite high off the floor, I thought. In one of the bedrooms we observed a baby’s crib.
Our exit was onto the wide second floor balcony that surrounded the entire house with a stunning view down the “alley of oaks” in front, a most impressive view! Then it was back down that long, steep stairway and out of the rear door where we were presented with the wide expanse of shaded park-like setting with many benches for resting.
On the other side of this park area was the commercial side of things: a gift shop and the “Spirits” Bar. It was to the bar that I went for my complimentary mint julep! Not waiting very long to be served, I received my drink and then selected a table outside under an umbrella at which to sit and enjoy my first mint julep! It was GOOD! Surprisingly strong with bourbon - for a free drink, l found it to be quite tasty and refreshing.
By the time I had finished my drink it was time to start the long walk back to the parking lot and our bus for the long trip back to New Orleans and our riverboat. Needless to say, our ride back saw most passengers dozing. The weather had been phenomenal as I commented to our guide upon leaving the mansion. She responded that it was not always so, as I was later to learn.
Arrival back at the America was right at 5:30 pm, just in time for Happy Hour! Funny how this has happened so frequently! My tall glass of cold Sauvignon Blanc tasted good as ever. Several of Linda’s Group were in attendance and eventually we all wandered down to the dining room for our last dinner aboard.
And what a dinner it was! “Surf and Turf” consisting of a lobster tail stuffed with crab meat accompanied by a small beef tenderloin (filet mignon). What a finale to an outstanding cruise! The wine also flowed freely, and our goodbyes were given to the crew. It was with great reluctance that I excused myself to return to my stateroom to pack; our luggage was requested to be placed outside our doors before retiring.
My packing didn’t take very long; dirty shirts don’t have to be carefully folded! About this time the storm hit with lightning and thunder. Good timing as far as our cruise was concerned, but not too good timing for those of us flying home the next day. Sleep came with difficulty.
~~~New Orleans, Louisiana, Departure Day - May 4th~~~
The storm continued through the night and the next morning was dark and cloudy and rainy. Early breakfast began at 6:30 am and we were requested to vacate our staterooms by 8 am, so with my luggage now gone all I had to carry was my Princess bag contains paperwork and my iPad.
I had gotten Keaton of Guest Services to print my AA boarding pass the previous day, not being able to get it done on my own. I had checked in with American Airlines successfully on my iPad, requesting my boarding pass to be emailed to me as a PDF, but when I went to the AA website using the computer onboard, the option to PRINT was not available on the AA website, and I cannot print from my iPad! So, I forwarded the AA email to Keaton and he graciously printed the attached PDF boarding pass for me. Thank you, Keaton!
I did order my usual Western omelet with bacon and the other items and finished my breakfast with plenty of time to return to my stateroom to retrieve my Princess bag and then go to the Magnolia Lounge to await our call for the shuttle bus to the airport, scheduled for 8:30 am.
Shortly after 8 am the rain had let up briefly and we were called to disembark and proceed to the busses, thankfully parked nearby the riverboat. After quickly identifying my piece of luggage, and watching it being loaded aboard, I boarded the bus just before the rain began again. When all were loaded aboard, our bus pulled out of the parking lot and proceeded to leave for the airport, using the same route out of town that had been used the day before for our drive to Oak Alley. (We had passed the airport on the way to Oak Alley.)
The rain continued all the way to the airport although the Saturday morning traffic was mercifully light making our drive uncomplicated. We arrived at the New Orleans International Airport a few minutes after 9 am. Getting off the bus right in front of American Airlines Terminal, I retrieved my one piece of luggage and soon had checked it with the AA Skycap, tipping him, of course. He directed me inside the terminal and to the left towards the Security Checkpoint. Having TSA Pre-check, I quickly proceeded through with no delay and was soon on my way to the appropriate gate for my 11:19 am departure to DFW.
It was quite a walk to Gate C12, but I had plenty of time. The storm was still raging outside with frequent flashes of lightning and accompanying thunder so it became increasingly clear that my flight would be delayed.
After a while, once a gate agent had arrived and started taking questions, I thought it best to join the line to inquire about my connecting flight in DFW. The line moved painfully slowly but at last it was my time. The agent agreed that I would NOT be able to make my connecting flight in DFW and proceeded to rebook me on a later flight from DFW on to SNA (Orange County); it would arrive at 6 pm, only two hours later than my original flight’s arrival of 4 pm. She even got my seat assignment almost the same as originally booked: 8D instead of 8C! You can’t ask for better service than that!
With the projected departure time now delayed until 1 pm, and my rebooking done, I decided it was time for a cold glass of Sauvignon Blanc, and there was a wine bar just down from my Gate C12. The wine I got was superb! I learned that it was from New Zealand, the place known for their excellent Sauvignon Blanc. Then I got the check: $15! Wines are expensive in the South! I enjoyed it never the less.
Shortly after 1 pm our flight was called for boarding; the flight had originated in DFW and been held up from departing until the weather had cleared in New Orleans. I boarded - almost 3 hours late, found my Main Cabin Extra Seat 8C, and settled down to an otherwise uneventful one-hour flight to DFW.
Once in DFW I had a few hours before my rescheduled flight so, once I had found out my departure gate and trudged the considerable distance to it, I still had enough time to enjoy a delicious BBQ Chicken Sandwich at a nearby Friday’s with delicious onion rings and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc wine, of course.
My AA flight 2779 left DFW on time and the 3-hour flight went uneventfully, with my consuming two little bottles of white wine (complimentary), and we landed in Orange County Airport shortly after 6 pm. My luggage had successfully been rerouted and arrived on the carrousel soon afterwards.
Then it was out of the airport and over to SuperShuttle where I had prepaid transportation home. The agent told me that it would be 30-45 minutes before he had a van for me and suggested just cancelling my $20.50 SuperShuttle ride for a refund and take a taxi, which is what I did, costing only $23.00 + tip, but I was home!
So ends my Lower Mississippi River Adventure, a wonderful experience despite its ending! Read Less
We actually started in Lewiston and went to Portland and it was good trip. Boat is great and food was very good. Would have like a few more "low calorie" options. Entertainment left a lot to be desired. Also the shore ... Read More
We actually started in Lewiston and went to Portland and it was good trip. Boat is great and food was very good. Would have like a few more "low calorie" options. Entertainment left a lot to be desired. Also the shore excursions need a little work on the timing so you do not spend so much time on the bus and at one stop most of the stores were closed as it was a Sunday. In my mind, it was an important stop. Historian was great and had so m much information about the area and both the Oregon Trial and Lewis and Clark Expedition that was not in most books you read. We would have liked to have arrived in Portland earlier, and that was doable and been able to see Fort Vancouver. I have suggested that to them.
Washer was perfect, but can not guarentee that fore everyone and very windy so bring clothes for that. Read Less
As experienced ocean cruisers we chose this cruise up the Mississippi in late April to see some southern states before the summer heat. This year the heavy spring rains within the Mississippi watershed had created major upstream flooding; ... Read More
As experienced ocean cruisers we chose this cruise up the Mississippi in late April to see some southern states before the summer heat. This year the heavy spring rains within the Mississippi watershed had created major upstream flooding; however, the only impact to our cruise was two of our docks were damaged and unusable and one of our planned stops was canceled.
Overall, the cruise was great and certainly met my expectations. The staff was great. The entertainment exceeded my expectations and the river historian dded a lot of knowledge to the cruise. The food was good and with great variety. Only complaint was a couple of servings on the lukewarm side. Also, serving sizes were noticeably smaller which did not impact me in the slightest. There certainly was plenty of food. Our cabin was good and very comfortable. The bathroom was good size with a great shower! The internet services were free and far superior to our ocean cruises. The highlight of the shore excursions was the visit to Chef Regina Charboneau's home in Natchez. She is absolutely delightful, a very entertaining guest, and we got a beautifully autographed copy of her latest cook book! Read Less
My husband and I took this cruise as a celebration of our 25th anniversary. We cruised from New Orleans to Memphis.
Pros: excellent food and wait staff. large variety of entrees and dietary needs met.
clean staterooms, ... Read More
My husband and I took this cruise as a celebration of our 25th anniversary. We cruised from New Orleans to Memphis.
Pros: excellent food and wait staff. large variety of entrees and dietary needs met.
clean staterooms, common areas (except the sticky laminate flooring)
variety of hourly activities
variety of Premium Excursions
Cons: Only one location for dinner, even though alternate venue was advertised
average age of cruisers on our cruise looked to be 75
activities geared more to the older crowd, including musical shows in evening
cost of Premium Excursions
included excursions need to be updated. Several stops had little to see
18.5% per person per day gratutites added at end of voyage(not included in cost)
Hotel in New Orleans (included) was filthy
This was our first cruise and didn’t know what to expect. There was a lot of “hurry up” then wait, especially since there were so many cruisers with mobility issues.We will not return. Read Less
We were a little hesitant to sail on the Queen of the West after reading some reviews here on cruise critic and other sites. We spent the night at the Red Lion Inn in Jantzen Beach. Hotel was very nice and the restaurant was as well. ... Read More
We were a little hesitant to sail on the Queen of the West after reading some reviews here on cruise critic and other sites. We spent the night at the Red Lion Inn in Jantzen Beach. Hotel was very nice and the restaurant was as well. The ship was docked within walking distance of the hotel. The crew was so well organized and had our luggage in our cabin by 9:00. We had cabin suite 402. There are only two owners suites on this deck. The cabin was spacious. A Keurig coffee machine is in these suites only. Bring your robe as they do not supply one. Cabin was awesome with views on both Starboard and Portside. There are doors on either side. My advice is to keep your cabin door locked even while you are occupying. We had at least 4 different passengers walk in thinking our cabin was a lounge or the pilot station.??? There is a sign that indicates St. Helen's suite 402. My guess is they were looki loos, not to mention a passenger who used our patio deck as her personal chair. The crew was wonderful. Can't say enough about them. Food is subjective. Some days it was good and some days not so good. This was the first cruise on the Columbia River for the season. The ship had been completely remodeled. It was refreshing to sit on new furniture and duvets. Closet space is ample. They provide umbrellas if needed. Cocktail hour has just about anything you would want and the hordeurves were exceptional. Captain was friendly and mingled with the passengers. My only complaint was there was a lack of communication from the Cruise Director and/or Captain when there were delays. We were delayed twice which shortened our excursions. Entertainment during cocktail hour was loud which prevented us to talk with other passengers. Most of us are 60+ so hearing is impaired somewhat. Lecturer Bill on this cruise was outstanding. Read Less
I always wanted to visit New Orleans and my companion had always wanted to go down/up the Missisipi River. This cruise offered the best of both worlds. Unfortunately i was disapointed to find that the food was not always of good quality ... Read More
I always wanted to visit New Orleans and my companion had always wanted to go down/up the Missisipi River. This cruise offered the best of both worlds. Unfortunately i was disapointed to find that the food was not always of good quality and did not cater well for vegetarians. Unfortunately there was also a lot of fried fish rather than fresh fish. There were also times when the boat ran out of basics such as English Breakfast tea and some herbal teas.
Most of the staff however were very good, very helpful and friendly. The hop on and off tours were rather interesting however in some of the towns; Greenville especially there was not much to see, and what we did see while being of some interest had been covered earlier on in the tour some museums were random and disjointed in there collections. Perhaps if you stayed in one of the bigger towns for longer of even arrived earlier in Memphis. However i have had overall a good experience. The staff were especially welcoming and helpful. Read Less
We selected this cruise because it was completing a bucket list item for us - seeing all 50 states of the United States. This cruise exceeded our expectations in most every area. The staff was warm and knowledgeable. They made every ... Read More
We selected this cruise because it was completing a bucket list item for us - seeing all 50 states of the United States. This cruise exceeded our expectations in most every area. The staff was warm and knowledgeable. They made every effort to accommodate our requests. The food was outstanding with regional specialties. We enjoyed the opportunity to order half-portions but think we still added a couple of extra pounds. The on-board historian and musician, Tom Hook, added depth and enjoyment to each day. A pleasant surprise was the series of Watercolor Painting classes with Linda Curtis. To have such a high caliber instructor available each day in entertaining and informative classes, was a real plus. The weather was springtime stormy with the Mississippi River well above flood stage. The ship never even rocked! Unless it was with music. The entertainment was fun and all of the acts were top-notch. We are not Jazz and Blues fans, but thoroughly enjoyed the presentations. The stars encouraged audience participation and there were many laughs and smiles. There were a few minor changes in itinerary due to tornados and thunder storms but the staff reorganized quickly and we still enjoyed all of the excursions. There was a personal touch from the Cruise Director and the many step-on guides at each destination. We enjoyed this American Cruise Lines trip so much that we are already confirmed for a new trip next spring! Read Less
This was a new Small River Cruise ship with a small number of passengers who received constant exceptional service from an awesome welcoming crew (ratio was approximately 1 crew member to 2 passengers). ALL meals, also including terrific ... Read More
This was a new Small River Cruise ship with a small number of passengers who received constant exceptional service from an awesome welcoming crew (ratio was approximately 1 crew member to 2 passengers). ALL meals, also including terrific Happy Hour each day, were exceptional!! Wine, beer an liquors were available at Happy Hours and meals. Another great element of the trip was that there was NO tipping to anyone and this was made clear to all passengers as it was included in the price of the trip. It was nice not to have to worry about that, along with not worrying about your bar bill at the end of the cruise as all that was complimentary. This River Cruise Ship was less than a year old and was up to date with the latest technology, including FREE Wi-Fi for the total trip, and was so clean and well taken care of. The on board professional who has studied Lewis and Clark for 35 years was a fantastic wealth of information and provided a great historical perspective of the total Lewis and Clark expedition from St. Louis, MO to Astoria, OR. It included shore excursions along the route to provide an opportunity to learn many details about The Corps of Discovery expedition. Tried to add some pictures, but could not get them loaded in to the survey app. Bottom Line is very simple...It was an awesome trip...and we are signed up for another one with American Cruise Lines next year! Read Less
Our first voyage with American Cruise Lines. Top marks for friendliness and helpfulness of "above and beyond" staff, especially Courtney, Amber and Sally. Ship captain gave an informative tour of the pilot house and kept things ... Read More
Our first voyage with American Cruise Lines. Top marks for friendliness and helpfulness of "above and beyond" staff, especially Courtney, Amber and Sally. Ship captain gave an informative tour of the pilot house and kept things running on time and smoothly.
The American Song was built in 2018 specifically for the Snake and Columbia River. The smaller ship provided for smooth passage through the locks and dams. Enjoyed the smaller guest capacity of 184, as it provided a more friendly, relaxed atmosphere.
Friendships were made and stories exchanged!
My father and I enjoyed learning of the history of the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery with the remarkable Todd Weber, dressed in period clothing, weaving the stories to create a living history.
The daily excursions were amazing. Highlights were the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center (amazing raptor program with live birds of prey), Fort Dalles (wonderful guide interpreting the surgeon quarters), the Multnomah Falls (the second highest year-round waterfall in the nation of 620 feet), Lewis and Clark National Historical Park at Fort Clatsop (refurbished layout of the fort the Corps of Discovery wintered 1805-1806), and Cape Disappointment State Park (furthest point westward of the Lewis and Clark expedition with a view of the lighthouse built in 1856).
Dining - food was excellent. A few more tables would have provided more seating options for smaller groups with a desire to dine together. More buffet style lunches and dinners would have reduced dependency on wait staff. Vinyl or easy to clean dining room chairs, may improve unfortunate odor.
Cabin - very comfortable, plenty of drawer space, and lovely balcony.
Wonderful adventure creating memories for a lifetime. Read Less
Cruised before on the American Queen. Loved the service and staff. 5 stars. Thought the Empress might be similar and it was just as good, maybe considering the scenery, better. First, the cabin. Knowing that the cabins on these boats ... Read More
Cruised before on the American Queen. Loved the service and staff. 5 stars. Thought the Empress might be similar and it was just as good, maybe considering the scenery, better. First, the cabin. Knowing that the cabins on these boats tend toward being a bit smaller and knowing that the weather would be cold and rainey, we opted for one of the biggest cabins onboard, 704. Cabin was large and comfortable, well decorated, lots of storage. Yes, you've heard that the bathrooms are small - they are, but certainly not the big deal that some reviewers thought. Not an issue for us in the least. Yes, the walls are thin and you can hear next door's TV and the toilets flush. Again, not a biggie, and not bothersome for us. You know these things going into this cruise and if you think it is a problem (it is not), well it just comes with the territory. Some of the TV bleed through could be avioded if the speakers were not inside the TV cabinet, against the wall where they would use the wall as a sounding board. But again, it did not impact upon this 5-star cruise.
Food was mostly excellant. Never had a meal that was less than a 9+, and most were a "10." Had lobster 3 nights (two in the River Grill). Steaks were supurb. Wines were very good, although I thought the house red could have been better. That said, we had the drink package and had the upgraded wine list to choose from. I'm nit picking here, but if you were on the drink package and wanted the better wines, it took the staff forever to get it to our table. Again, this is nit picking.
Service: It simply does not get any better. We have been on 40+ cruises, mostly on upscale lines, and American Queen and Empress are the best. Never saw anything but smiles, and they were real. Staff seemed to enjoy themselves as much as the guests. Their simply was nothing that they could not do to make your cruise even better. As an example, American Airlines as usual lost our luggage for a couple of days. The hotel manager (purser's office) actually drove back from Clarkston to Spokane in the middle of the night (a four-hour round trip) to retrieve our luggage. We actually had a similar experience on the "Queen" several years back that sold us on this company.
On board entertainment was certainly not Broadway (you will need RCCL large ships for that), but considering the venue, the singers and band - supurb. If you like 50s, 60s, and 70s music, this is for you. Throughly enjoyed every evening's entertainment.
Tours: First, the scenery is absolutely spectacular throughout the entire trip. Jet boat to Hell's Canyon had great staff, lovely scenery and commentary, but I though it was an hour or so too long. Still, well worth while. The trip to the nuclear plant was again great, although the guides explanation was a bit too technical for me, and I was a physics major, The lunch boxes are made in China would you believe. The Falls: again some of the most beautiful scenery I've ever viewed. Well worth while. The HOHO bus tours: The first couple of towns were really small, not much for us to see and do. Astoria, however, was well worth walking the downtown area.
I've given Fitness and recreation only one star, but that really is not fair, as I knew going into this that there was not gym (thankfully). It is really as "n/a."
Would I do this again? In a heartbeat! Thank you AQSSC. Frank. Read Less
The high point was the personable & prompt staff, the shore excursions & on board entertainment were disappointing. As I'm typing I can hear "Little Deuce Coupe" out my window on Clearwater Beach, don't expect ... Read More
The high point was the personable & prompt staff, the shore excursions & on board entertainment were disappointing. As I'm typing I can hear "Little Deuce Coupe" out my window on Clearwater Beach, don't expect anything like that, lol. It was our 1st time w/this cruise line & we didn't realize they evidentially target an older audience. No Beach Boys or Eagles, just Sinatra & Sammy. No Jeopardy or Trivial Pursuit, just cards.
The tours needed more prior overviews or direction/explanation, then the final at Annapolis was too rushed, yikes.
The rooms were lovely, great decor, verrry small showers tho. Food was fine too & since alcohol was included lounges often crowded. Since we don't drink, but went for the history, the over 7k per person for cheapest balcony room was a first. Internet was included but no reception to speak of, had to borrow the phone of great hotel mgr Mike, to get reception.
So in the dining room Logan, Ali, Anna were tops. On deck Josh & Tess always smiled & waved. On tender Kevin, Manolo & Willie, & Shay in housekeeping helped. Crew, u were the keepers! Read Less
Oregon was on my bucket list, so for a retirement gift, I took this tour on the Columbia and Snake Rivers. American Cruise Lines has their ships made in America, and their staff booked my trip flawlessly, always able to answer my ... Read More
Oregon was on my bucket list, so for a retirement gift, I took this tour on the Columbia and Snake Rivers. American Cruise Lines has their ships made in America, and their staff booked my trip flawlessly, always able to answer my questions, and sending me information and luggage tags, etc way ahead of time. They provide a complimentary precruise package, which is a night at the Red Lion Hotel on the River, a deliciouis breakfast, and the boat docks by the hotel, so very convenient. You schedule your own transportation to Portland, and sadly there is no shuttle from airport to hotel ($50 taxi for many); I have suggested the hotel supply a shuttle. The ship itself is new and lovely, small and friendly. Four levels and very fast elevators, much faster than large ships. Although I had a single room, I had plenty of room and all rooms have a balcony. The bathroom was stocked with lots of extra amenities under the sink, so I had everything I needed; there is a shower and water is plenty hot. There is a flat screen TV in the room, but it is apparently on Direct TV and it it lost signal quite often while I was watching the Final Four, so I was anxious and hope they solve that issue. The Hotel Manager Nico, and the Cruise Directors as well as every single person on that staff are helpful, pleasant, and bend over backwards to help you. Twice daily at 10am and 3pm they serve warm cookies, and they had turtle, snickerdoodle, oatmeal raisin, sugar cookies and others alternating...yum! There are enough seats in the large dining room for everyone apparently, and meals are whenever you come down: Breakfast 730-9 (early riser 630); lunch 12-130, and dinner 530-730, with cocktails/hors d'oeuvres 530-7 and Back Porch Cafe 11-230p and 4-8p.In the dining room you get a menu to choose from about 5 entrees, some usually local fare, and the soups are always great. The hot bread was great, in fact everything was great. There is free wine/beer beginning at lunch, with cocktails later on through evening. During the evening entainment, usually a singer or duo with funny/song singing, the servers bring popcorn, ice cream sodas, ice cream sundaes. There are sodas and snacks left all night in the lounge such as chips, nuts, granola bars.
There is no infirmary or casino or pool/hot tub. There is a small workout area with machines, bottled water, but I didnot use it. There is a library with TV and two PCs and printer. There is a complimentary laundry room with free Tide Pods and dryer sheets. You get a lanyard with your name and an RFI card to open your room, etc, and since there is no tipping, it is cashless. There are a few simple activities like art class with a water color artist providing supplies so we could learn to paint, some scrabble and cardgames, trivia. There is a daily movie playing in the rooms pertaining to the area we cruised through, like a movie about Mt St Helens or Fort Clatsop. There were excursions included at every stop, but some premium signature excursions that cost more. The trip was relaxing, with smooth river sailing, so bumps or rocking. Some of the seniors had jazzies and walkers and canes, but they all were able to navigate this small ship well. If the ship ends in Lewiston/Clarkson, there are arrangements to the airports or taxis. I cannot emphasize how very wonderful everyone on the ship was. If I wanted something, when they stopped at every port to get fresh produce, etc, they told me they would pick up anything I wanted. I was glad I got to learn so much about Oregon, saw the Multnomah Falls, and so much history and I recommend this cruise line. :) Read Less
This cruise was chosen by a neighbor in my community, Sun City Palm Desert California, who organizes group trips. I was fortunate to be invited to join the group, and because I was cruising without my husband (who stayed at home with our ... Read More
This cruise was chosen by a neighbor in my community, Sun City Palm Desert California, who organizes group trips. I was fortunate to be invited to join the group, and because I was cruising without my husband (who stayed at home with our dog), I was paired with a roommate who is also a neighbor in our community. There were 34 people in our group.
The cruise we were on is the Lower Mississippi departing from Memphis and terminating in New Orleans with stops in Helena, Arkansas; Vicksburg, and Natchez, Mississippi; Baton Rouge, St. Francisville, and Nottoway Plantation, Louisiana. However, because the Mississippi is flooding at this time, our itinerary was altered extensively. There were no complaints about this that I heard, and myself and everyone I talked to enjoyed every day.
We spent the first night in Memphis at the Peabody Hotel; this overnight is part of the cruise package. The hotel is old, charming, and delightful especially if you are able to see the ducks paraded through the lobby and into the fountain. They stay all day and then are paraded back to their quarters on the roof of the hotel in the evening.
The next morning, we were bused to Graceland for the Elvis Experience. This is an additional “Premium Tour” offered by the American Queen Steamboat Company. I highly recommend doing this tour; it is a must for anyone who ever enjoyed an Elvis song.
Due to the flooding, our boat could not dock and depart from Memphis, so we were bused to Greenville, Mississippi, for our departure. This was about a two-hour bus ride. That evening, we boarded our boat, American Duchesse, and enjoyed dinner in the main dining room. The menu there is extensive, dining is leisurely and the food is delicious.
Alternatives to the main dining room are a buffet for breakfast and lunch serviced in a bar called the River Club at the rear of the boat, and snacks and beverages available 24/7 in a little room called Perks at the front of the boat. Room service is also offered, but I didn’t have a need for it. The buffet meals in the River Club are outstanding and are perfect when you want a quick meal. Also, you can eat outside on the rear deck if you eat at the River Club. Fruit, soft serve ice cream, popcorn, sandwiches, cookies, pastries and all kinds of beverages are offered in Perks. You literally cannot go hungry on this boat, and the food is wonderful.
Actually, we spent two nights in Greenville, then Vicksburg, Mississippi; Vidalia, Baton Rouge, New Roads, Louisiana; and the last day of our cruise was spent cruising the Mississippi between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
Buses meet the boat at every stop offering what is called Hop On Hop Off tours of that particular area’s highlights. This service is included in the cost of the cruise. There are Premium Tours offered at every stop that seemed to range between $79-$129. These are exceptional tours and well worth the additional cost. Some are half-day and some are full-day.
My roommate and I had a veranda room which I took full advantage of. Nothing beats sitting on the veranda and watching the world go by. There are areas for doing this all over the boat in the front, in the back and on the very top of the boat called the sun roof.
Highlights of this cruise for me were the meals, the historian who offered talks everyday about the Mississippi, the Mark Twain impersonator who performed twice, the visit to Graceland, the visit to BB King’s Museum and Bar, many beautiful sights offered by the Hop On Hop Off buses tours, and especially the Premium Tour to Angola Louisiana State Penitentiary. This last item may sound strange, but be assured it is an uplifting and eye-opening experience.
Most of all, though, I enjoyed just being on the boat. The cruise staff are friendly, helpful, outgoing and accommodating. That includes the Captain, officers, pursers, performers, tour guides, bus drivers, dining staff and cleaning staff. We all got to be family for the brief week that we were together. You could do this cruise all by yourself and not be alone, or you can have all the privacy you want.
The bottom line, I guess, is would I do this or any cruise on the American Queen Steamboat again; you bet I would. Read Less
We sailed the Columbia/Snake River cruise. The American Song is a beautiful ship with spacious staterooms and very comfortable design and furnishings. The public deck areas are exceptionally nice with probably the most comfortable deck ... Read More
We sailed the Columbia/Snake River cruise. The American Song is a beautiful ship with spacious staterooms and very comfortable design and furnishings. The public deck areas are exceptionally nice with probably the most comfortable deck furniture I have experienced on a cruise ship. The crew was very personable, friendly and accomodating. The hotel director went above and beyond to ensure guests needs were met. The onboard historian brought the river alive with storytelling that made you appreciate what your were seeing and experiencing. It was more than just a cruise, it was an educational experience. The other passengers were very compatible and friendly and it made for a very pleasant journey. The itinerary was very good with a good selection of shore excursions that made it interesting and enjoyable. Going through the locks at each of the Dams was fascinating and interesting. Overall, I give American very high marks. We would definitely cruise with them again. Read Less
I almost didn't write this review as I feel that we were not the demographic that this cruise caters to and comparing it to our other cruises might be unfair. However, if we had known a few things upfront, we could have made a better ... Read More
I almost didn't write this review as I feel that we were not the demographic that this cruise caters to and comparing it to our other cruises might be unfair. However, if we had known a few things upfront, we could have made a better decision or been more prepared for what we got.
The boat is very cute. The rooms are adequate in size but furnished in a drab and cheap-looking style. Bathrooms were very small in comparison but were functional. The closet is small, there are several drawers for storage, and there is no safe in the room. There is no refrigerator or water provided in the room but you can go to one of the lounges to get water at any hour. The outside seating areas are nice when sailing although I think more comfortable seating vs. the numerous rocking chairs would have been better. There are three lounges which were used for various activities such as bingo, river talks, evening entertainment, happy hour, etc. and were open all the time. The snack selection was not very good in the lounges as there were soft drinks and packaged snacks such as cheese crackers, fig newtons, and sun chips. Water and coffee were available but no iced tea and no healthy snacks. The cookies that were brought around twice a day were good and a nice touch.
Most of the crew (interior staff) were college kids who were very enthusiastic and helpful but had little to no training. They would try to do anything that was asked of them but did not have the training to provide high-level service without being prompted--not their fault but don't expect much. They were super-nice people and we enjoyed meeting many of the crew members.
What needs to be clearly stated here is that when the website states "Open seating dining allows you to dine where and when you want," what it really means is that every single passenger goes to the dining room at the same time since there is a short window of service and is squeezed into a room with tables that seat large groups of people with no option to sit as a couple. The way it was done is that passengers who came first might be on dessert and passengers who came a few minutes later would be forced to join them if there were empty seats. This was obvious chaos and didn't make a nice dining experience for everyone. Some folks probably really enjoy dining with strangers and that is fine but this could have been much better organized with options for passengers who aren't comfortable joining an already-in-progress table. I have to mention the food quality although this is a tricky subject. As someone who travels in search of the best restaurants and chefs, I feel qualified to say that the quality of the food was sadly very disappointing. It may not have been for some passengers but we found it to be uninspired and bland and some dishes seemed like an experiment of things that don't go together. Maybe the cooks were students in training also. Take that for what it's worth to you as I realize that everyone has different tastes and requirements for food and this may not be the opinion of some. Breakfast was probably the better meal and our room service (only offered at breakfast) was delivered promptly each morning. Dinner is at 5:30 pm and is over by 7:30.
Happy hour was also disorganized with a long line for drinks and staff who were doing double duty and weren't really bartenders. Only a few knew how to properly mix drinks. They could have made it easier by having waitstaff take orders or having two lines and having the staff who didn't know how to make the drinks just pour wine and beer and soft drinks. But again, they were willing to try and were very polite and friendly.
The evening entertainment that was provided was very enjoyable. It began at 8:15 and lasted about an hour. The first two nights were a musical and comedy show from the Riverlorians on board that gave educational talks in the afternoon and sang in the evenings. They were lovely people and were good singers and a lot of fun. We liked them a lot. The third night was a wonderful jazz duo with a piano player and a trumpet player. Both were amazing and we loved that they played songs we all knew as well as gave us tidbits of education about the music and the writers and famous performers of it. The last night was a cute show with the Victory Belles, three ladies who were performers based at the WWII museum in New Orleans and they did appropriate music for the time period and were very entertaining. Drinks, popcorn, and root beer floats were served. Daytime entertainment consisted of river talks, bingo, and such but that was fine for the size of the boat and the relaxing pace.
Excursions and the cruise:
One thing to know is that river cruises can change with the conditions of the river and excursions are sometimes changed or cancelled. The Mississippi is very high right now which prevented docking at some of our predetermined stops. This means we missed Oak Alley plantation but Rosedown Plantation was substituted in its place. It also meant that we docked for two nights at Baton Rouge and were bussed out to Houmas House on a longer drive than we would have been. I wish we would have been sailing at night instead of docked but I think that was largely beyond the control of the captain and crew. Both plantations were very nice with Houmas House being our favorite. Our guide there was wonderful and the owner was greeting guests on site which was nice. The grounds are spectacular. There wasn't any communication about these changes beforehand and I think there should have been but they did try to do as much as possible with the situation.
As others have stated, most passengers are in the over 60-plus category with several over 80. We were younger but always enjoy meeting nice people and everyone was very nice. There is nothing for kids to do and excursions will not interest kids if they have no understanding of the history of the area. Read Less
Even though the weather the beginning of March was not optimum, we enjoyed this cruise. Unusual cold front and towns we visited had temperatures only in low to mid 50's. Certainly not American cruise lines fault. A little rain and ... Read More
Even though the weather the beginning of March was not optimum, we enjoyed this cruise. Unusual cold front and towns we visited had temperatures only in low to mid 50's. Certainly not American cruise lines fault. A little rain and overcast. But it was a sightseeing cruise not a beach one. Weather didn't cancel anything (except a little too chilly to sit on balcony). Pre-cruise night was spent on ship instead of hotel. It was Mardi Gras time in New Orleans. Hotel didn't want to put ships passengers up. We got an extra day on ship with meals and entertainment. Food was good. Variety on menu adequate. It was suggested we preorder lunch and dinner at breakfast. We never did this. Always had room service breakfast. Never a problem for us at lunch or dinner not preordering. Wait staff was excellent as were everyone else who worked on the ship. Top rate. Can't praise them high enough. Cabin was a nice size as was the bathroom. It was clean. Only problem was the balcony, there were a few balconies with drains (if I knew i would have requested one). Because of all the rain a few days before the cruise, the balcony had at least an inch of water on it. Maintenance came twice to sweep it out. But as I stated previously, it was a little too cold to sit out on the balcony anyway. Entertainment was good. Beer, wine, soft drinks included with lunch and dinner. Open bar and cocktail hour with appetizers at 5:30 p.m. in lounge before diner. Open bar again at 8:00 p.m. before entertainment in lounge that continued till about 10:00 p.m. Then everyone (including us) went with last drink in hand to cabins. You weren't chased out of lounge. Could have stayed there. People just didn't. As for the age group of the passengers. We are both retired in our 70's, mobil without use of cane or walker. I would say the majority of the passengers were like us. Our dinner table was comprised of six people. Youngest was 63. Oldest was 83. Other four 70ish. So passengers were seniors, but a dancing bunch (had bands with dancing two nights) who also wanted to enjoy themselves and not sit home and vegetate. The few with walkers (I think I saw two wheelchairs) were at the cocktail hours and entertainment. There were very interesting lectures about the civil war and the Mississippi River. Art classes, card games. A small fitness room. Ellipticals, bikes, other exercise equipment. It was lacking a treadmill. On the review I gave to the cruise line, i told them my one complaint was no treadmill. one was needed. Actually it is my only complaint. Read Less
civil war history cruise
lectures were excellent.. info on Mississippi history, civil war history, US history
entertainment was in a smaller venue... smaller groups... the comedian "Judy" was excellent... the singer Laura ... Read More
civil war history cruise
lectures were excellent.. info on Mississippi history, civil war history, US history
entertainment was in a smaller venue... smaller groups... the comedian "Judy" was excellent... the singer Laura was also... we had a small area for dancing... wish it had been more
closer relationship with crew and other passengers
new technology class was excellent... it would be worthwhile to take the cruise just for this
lots of info regarding I phone shortcuts etc ...
regarding the cabin... we got a deluxe cabin... was nice ... but ... some other cruise lines give "VIP" service to cabin upgrades.. the service was generally exceptional but was not different based on the room type... if you can get adequate room without this much upgrade you might save some bucks
we will certainly cruise again with American... It is a relaxed, more social, in depth cruise experience .. likely the Columbia next Read Less