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24 American Queen Steamboat Company Memphis Cruise Reviews

Over the recent Christmas holiday, we had the privilege of cruising on the Grand American Queen Steamboat. We cannot say enough about how much we enjoyed the experience. The staff and crew went out of their way to provide an absolutely ... Read More
Over the recent Christmas holiday, we had the privilege of cruising on the Grand American Queen Steamboat. We cannot say enough about how much we enjoyed the experience. The staff and crew went out of their way to provide an absolutely wonderful experience. There was some minor improvements necessary in some areas, but what holiday would be complete if everything was perfect. Ship – They call them boats on the river. We decided on an authentic paddlewheel boat as compared to some other more “modern looking” riverboats that seem to be copying the design of some European riverboats that we have sailed upon. The boat was of grand stature. The woodwork and the antiques aboard make it a floating museum. All was in good maintenance and the rooms were of good size. Some of the furniture has that Victorian era feel to it. We liked it, although the carpets in the rooms could have been a bit brighter. The wrap around veranda was so much more enjoyable than the individual private balconies we have experienced on ocean liners. We are a bit social and enjoyed finding out where people came from and their backstories. Food - The food was well done. Probably on the level of ocean liners. Service was not robotic like we get on big cruise ships, but rather very social and kind by an All-American crew. It was nice to support their jobs. They seemed to appreciate our conversation with them. The only problem is that the early seating is too early and the later seating is too late. I can’t believe they could not tighten up their service times. Entertainment - Comparable or better than most other ships. It blows the European River cruise entertainment out of the water. It was very energetic with excellent live musicians and wonderful singers. They even performed at a Christmas Gala at Nottoway Plantation off the boat one night. It was real treat. More on that later. Shore Excursions – By far this was the best part of the cruise. We took the cruise because of the area of the river and because they were offering Christmas markets. The Hop On – Hop Off Included Tour is the best system we have seen in our over 40 cruises. The organization that runs these buses and guides need to be acknowledged. They included admissions to just about EVERY attraction in the towns. The buses, (they call them River Coaches) came to each stop every 15 minutes (30 minutes in the afternoon when most guests were enjoying the other tours or taking a nap) and delivered us safely and with great narration by local guides. We were highly impressed. They also offered optional tours (Premium Excursions) that were spot on with descriptions and provided very unique experiences that we could not have booked on our own. We even went inside of a maximum security prison and had a one on one talk with an inmate serving a life sentence. VERY powerful. Christmas Markets - The cruise line provided local craftspeople at “Plantation Markets”. We had been on a European Christmas markets cruise previously and had an idea of what we might expect. We were wrong. These markets were much more personal, with locally sourced American products, and provided a great experience. It was an Americanized version of a European tradition. It was extremely well done and we met the young lady who arranged it for the cruise line. She was lovely and was working very hard and hands on to make certain we were all pleased with the shopping. Overall, we would highly recommend this cruise lines. We heard some confusion over the names of the companies providing cruises on the Mississippi. Both have American in their name, but this “Queen” lived up to her royal stature. We plan on now heading to the Upper Mississippi next with a cruise from Red Wing to St. Louis. We might try one of their other boats. Seems they are newer and have some other amenities. They do offer the Ohio and Tennessee river cruises, but they really don’t excite us. We want to see some fall foliage from the river side next! Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
In June 2019, my wife and I took the American Queen paddle wheeler on a one-week trip down the Mississippi River. Trip went from Memphis to New Orleans (the Deep South). I rate this trip as an overall 5 (on a scale of 5), based on its ... Read More
In June 2019, my wife and I took the American Queen paddle wheeler on a one-week trip down the Mississippi River. Trip went from Memphis to New Orleans (the Deep South). I rate this trip as an overall 5 (on a scale of 5), based on its distinctive niche for educational travel. The Mississippi River is America’s other “Route 66.” You can see it from shore by driving yourself along the Great River Road. Or you can see it from the water on a riverboat like the American Queen. Though this is the largest paddle wheeler ever built, it’s still small when compared to international cruise ships. It has six decks and carries a bit over 400 passengers. Travelers who never stop learning will be in heaven on the American Queen. It provides a comfortable level of overnight support for your daily “soft expeditions” ashore. The American Queen is a good fit for the same crowd that savors Elder Hostel (excuse me, Road Scholar), living museums, re-enactments, historic preservation, collecting national parks, and playing history detective. It’s also an alternative to those European river cruises -- both for Americans who want to stay home, and for Europeans who want to see a famous slice of America. Once you’ve left the airport, it’s like a prior era: a week of casually boarding and leaving the boat without TSA searches. But it’s not a good fit for passengers who only want a relaxing escape of doing nothing. And travel agents should use caution in booking customers who expect extensive pampering and privacy. The American Queen is heavily self-service, and for a similar price, they can get an ocean crossing with a more attentive level of luxury. SEE FOR YOURSELF Tips from travel agents will greatly help customers to make the most of this niche experience -- and to avoid the expectation gaps that keep popping up in Cruise Critic reviews. Needn’t be any surprises as to what it looks like aboard the American Queen. Last September, Gene Sloan did an exhaustive photo shoot (60+ images) that is published on USA Today’s travel website. Right down to the self-serve coffee machine. And, if you don’t consider it a spoiler, you can easily use the closeup views of Google Earth to scout the whole route in advance. You’ll quickly see that the river is less than a mile wide in most places. In other words, you’re unlikely to get seasick on this type of trip. NATURE CALLS THE SHOTS Days are spent on shore, and the boat paddles on in the evening. As with flightseeing tours, nature calls the shots here. Travelers may experience itinerary adjustments, big and small, based on the seasonal water level. The route may change if the water is low. In fact, the American Queen got stuck in the mud for a few days of its maiden voyage back in 1995 -- when the water on the Ohio suddenly got really low. And, like old aviators, they’ve been known to simply wait it out at a stop until conditions improve. If the water is high, the crew can adapt with little fanfare by cranking down the smokestacks and pilot house to get under a bridge. If you want to see this novelty, ask when you board as to where they expect it to happen. But if the water is really high, they may need to change your route to avoid a possible stranding between bridges. Last year, one of their trips addressed this by diverting over to the Illinois River (St. Louis to Chicago). Sounds like a good consolation prize, since the boat made quick arrangements for a lavishing of Lincoln lore. On our own June 2019 trip down the Mississippi from Memphis, flooding blocked us from one of the dockings planned in Louisiana. So the boat just went over to the other side of the river and tied up to the trees (like the old days). And there at the end of the gangplank were the buses in a state of readiness for the next activity. This little adjustment was certainly mild compared to some improvised landings in the 1800s. Back in the day, a riverboat could end up loading from the second story of a flooded building. Water conditions may also get the American Queen to a stop ahead of schedule. Maybe even a “bonus” overnight docking (as we got at Natchez). So pre-plan how you might use any extra evening ashore. There are often ghost, foodie, author, or pub tours available from the locals (not part of the American Queen). If nothing else, any overnight stop is a photo op to step ashore after dark and see the boat with all its lights. HOW THEY DO THE DAILY STOPS These guys do shore excursions right. The American Queen has its own fleet of comfortable buses that are well-maintained and well air-conditioned. They have their own crew of regular drivers, who follow along on shore and meet the boat every morning. Some buses take passengers on pre-reserved day trips (which cost extra). Other buses continuously shuttle you around town to sites that you can do at your pace. At these places, American Queen has prepaid any admission fee or expected donation. You just tell them that you’re off the American Queen and walk on in. American Queen publishes its own maps that show all the shuttle stops and prepaid attractions. These maps are more accurate, readable, and helpful than the crude port-stop leaflets I’ve seen on some international cruises. While river cruises can produce a traffic jam in Europe, passenger boats on the Mississippi are rare. Visits by the American Queen are a novelty, and the company seems to have cultivated a warm rapport with the locals at every stop. Often they’re volunteers. For instance, the boat’s shuttle bus dropped us off to see the Church of the Holy Trinity in Vicksburg. A parishioner in his 80s detailed the story of its six Tiffany stained-glass windows. The old Vicksburg depot is right by the dock and boasts a large collection of 250 ship models. They’re spread around the museum, and the friendly docent made sure that I knew where to find them. In contrast to the jaded herding of tourist-saturated Europe, I found the people of Memphis, Vicksburg, and Natchez to be among the most genuinely welcoming in the world. A MENU OF MANSIONS European river cruises have their palaces. On this route, the American Queen gives passengers their choice of 12 southern mansions built in the 1800s. A remarkable range of building styles and stories, often tragic. Some of these mansion visits come with extras like local cuisine, gardens, a costume museum, or a personal tour by the owner. For instance, the owner of Twin Oaks is quite the celebrity chef. She fed us well, told great stories, and gave us the run of her home. Shared her cooking secrets and left everyone with a copy of her colorful 200-page recipe book (Regina’s Kitchen tour). One of our all-time favorite shore excursions anywhere. The key here is pre-trip planning. Choose how to spend your day by studying the mansions’ websites. Even more online detail is available at the National Register of Historic Places. (www.nps.gov/subjects/nationalregister/database-research.htm ) One notable mansion was missing, though, and might be worth adding to the boat’s itinerary. While Hawaii had its well-known colony for leprosy at Molokai, the lesser-known mainland equivalent (the National Leprosarium) was at the old Indian Camp mansion on the Mississippi. Today there’s a driving tour of this former Carville colony. And a museum that tells how federal research at this site found the world a cure in the 1950s. Leprosy could now be treated with pills instead of exile for life. (www.hrsa.gov/hansens-disease/museum ) EVEN A CASTLE Like Europe’s rivers, there’s an old castle on the route: the former state capitol building in Baton Rouge. Just three blocks from the dock. Complete with towers and rooftop battlements. Interior like a gothic cathedral, with arches everywhere and a massive 2000-pane stained-glass dome. And, yes, this is the piece of medieval imitation that Mark Twain lampooned in “Life on the Mississippi.” With sharp language, he urged the state to demolish it and fund a replacement rather than a restoration. Interestingly, the outside looks a lot like the castle logo used by the Army Corps of Engineers. And the inside reminds me of the ornate Victorian decor found in the American Queen’s own Mark Twain Gallery. One wing of this castle now serves as a palatial venue for weddings. Another wing has the state’s Museum of Political History, with its candid look at the monarch-like reign of Governor Huey Long back in the 1930s. (https://exploresouthernhistory.com/louisianacapitol2.html ) The legislature debated Long’s impeachment in this castle. Long then built them an art deco skyscraper that remains the nation’s tallest state capitol building. There Long was shot to death, with some mystery remaining to this day. Historians contemplate how a Huey Long stint as President might have unfolded in the years surrounding World War II (instead of FDR). Long was already a U.S. senator when he was killed. THE 600-MILE ART WALK European river cruises have their art galleries. The American Queen’s version starts on the boat itself. Every public area of the boat is used to display a collection of 66 paintings that detail the history of American river travel. Paintings with a purpose, rather than mere decorations. Ask at the desk and they’ll give you their free booklet for the “Self-Guided Art Tour.” (There’s a “missing” painting, though. The boat needs a copy of Thomas Benton’s 1947 mural of “Achelous and Hercules,” which celebrates the efforts of the Corps of Engineers to tame the flooding Missouri. See https://americanart.si.edu/artwork/achelous-and-hercules-1910 ) Historic Hotels of America says this boat “has the largest private collection of Tiffany lamps in the United States.” And don’t forget to look upward. This is the Gilded Age, and there’s art in those ceilings. Like a sky mural above the Grand Staircase. When the boat docks at Vicksburg, you’re greeted by a series of 32 outdoor murals on the floodwall. (www.riverfrontmurals.com ) One of these murals depicts the deadliest maritime disaster in American history -- more killed than on the Titanic. In 1865, an overloaded troopship exploded near Memphis. The military man in charge was tried in the old courthouse that’s now a Vicksburg museum. After his conviction was reversed, he became a local judge and founded a suburb. Memory of the disaster was overshadowed by other events, that is, Lincoln’s death, Booth’s death, and the end of the Civil War. (Book: Jerry Potter, “The Sultana Tragedy”) Another Vicksburg mural recalls the deadly tornado of 1953 -- went right over the spot where we parked the boat. Locals wrongly assumed that the river protected them from tornados. This was a year before weather radar was invented, and the town’s paper got a Pulitzer for its continued coverage without utilities. (See www.weather.gov/jan/1953_vicksburgtornado ) In New Orleans, the most popular art forms are, of course, the floats and costumes for Mardi Gras. There are at least five museums about the event that are a reasonable distance from the dock. If, like us, your cruise ends upon reaching New Orleans, these are things for you to find, and pay for, on your own. About a mile south of the dock is our favorite: a factory that has built Mardi Gras floats since the 1940s. (www.mardigrasworld.com ) About a mile north of the dock is the Mardi Gras Museum. (www.themardigrasmuseum.com ) The state’s Presbytere museum in the French Quarter focuses on Mardi Gras. There’s also a lesser-known (and free) museum of “royalty” wear in the back of Arnaud’s restaurant -- if you know to ask for access. (www.arnaudsrestaurant.com ) And African American costumes are displayed at the Backstreet Cultural Museum, which is just west of the French Quarter. (www.backstreetmuseum.org ) My favorite commercial art galley (anywhere) is M.S. Rau, on Royal Street in the French Quarter. Many of the paintings and sculptures are found behind a door disguised as a bookcase (seriously). Those in the know can ask to tour that hidden collection. Parts of it are online in the store’s archived exhibition catalogs at www.rauantiques.com/catalogs. (Be sure to check out the one from their “Vice and Virtue” exhibition.) But let’s be candid here. If you can afford to do more than just admire the inventory at M.S. Rau, you probably have your own yacht and aren’t reading this review. MUSEUMS OF SOCIAL JUSTICE Obviously, old mansions along the Mississippi didn’t start out as tourist attractions. Nor were they built by volunteers. On this Deep South route of the American Queen, you’ll find nine museums that focus on slavery and civil rights. Here’s the list: (1) National Civil Rights Museum (Memphis); (2) Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum (Memphis); (3) Cotton Museum (Memphis); (4) Frogmore Plantation (Natchez); (5) Forks of the Road slave market (Natchez); (6) Afro-American Culture Museum (Natchez); (7) William Johnson House (Natchez); (8) Rosedown Plantation (St. Francisville); (9) Oak Alley Plantation (Nottoway). Two further stops have some related nuances if you know a bit of the background. In Vicksburg, the boat’s bus will drop you off at a museum that was the county’s courthouse during the Civil War. A small exhibit in the courtroom recounts an early war crimes trial by the Union army. Nine Union soldiers were hung for killing a plantation owner’s wife during a looting. All nine were black soldiers. (Book: Gordon Cotton [former curator], “The Murder of Minerva Cook”) At St. Francisville, the boat did a bus trip over to the nation’s largest hard-core prison. Known as Angola or “the farm,” it was the American version of Devil’s Island back in the day. Some cite the convict lease system as a covert continuation of slavery up until World War II. (Book: Douglas Blackmon, “Slavery by Another Name”) The media continue to report concerns about conditions at Angola. All agree that the majority of its current inmates are lifers and black. Once again, the key is to choose your stops of interest with some pre-trip surfing of museum websites. One lesser-known civil rights site might be worth adding to the American Queen’s itinerary. During World War II, Japanese Americans were confined at two “relocation centers” near the Mississippi River at McGehee, Arkansas. There were 10 of these wartime camps around the country. McGehee has a museum about the ones there. (http://rohwer.astate.edu ) Once you get to New Orleans, there are some further options that you can arrange on your own. There is the New Orleans self-guided Slave Trade Marker Tour, with its free downloadable app. (www.neworleansslavetrade.org) And at least one company offers a tour about the city’s civil rights movement. (http://toursbyjudy.com ) THE BOAT ITSELF Perhaps the most unusual structure of the trip is the American Queen itself –- the largest paddle wheeler ever made. Back in 1995, the original owner resurrected the Victorian decor of the most lavish riverboats and produced a composite out of modern (much safer) materials. Though the boat’s a replica, it’s still a transportation icon. The missing link between covered wagons and the railroads. Belongs right up there with the Spirit of St. Louis. Before the railroads took over, steamboats like this one took passengers as far west as Montana. There was even a brief effort at running steamboats from Baja up to present-day Las Vegas. The American Queen is indeed propelled by a genuine steam-driven paddle wheel. But two modern propeller pods are available for tight maneuvers and emergencies. Unlike international cruise ships, passenger visits to the bridge (pilot house) and engine room are encouraged rather than forbidden. Due to the noise, you may want to visit the engines during a port stop if you really want to talk with the engineer on duty. There’s a good “steamplant” handout with enough details of the system for most of us. Time aboard the boat feels like a very realistic stage set, or “Night at the Museum.” In fact, the onboard shows and lectures occur in a “Grand Saloon” modeled after Ford’s Theater. A bit smaller, but you can still sit in a balcony box like old Abe did. (The two most forward boxes are open to anyone who gets there first.) I started to search the various public databases for the ship’s listing as a historic property. Then I remembered that this is a replica less than half my age. When it gets older, it should make the cut for the nautical category of the Historic American Engineering Record. The dining room recreates that of a legendary steamboat (J.M. White) whose wreck in the 1800s formed the Maurice Towhead, an island we passed near St. Francisville. Each of the three passenger lounges is a museum in itself, with wall-to-wall antiques, exhibits, artwork, and books related to the period. For serious study of the route, passengers have access to a real chart room (no, it’s not a bar). You even get a chance to play the boat’s steam calliope. Every area of the boat is well air-conditioned. Those who chill easily will need to bring along a sweatshirt (though you can adjust the temperature in your room). SCENERY ALONG THE RIVER On the Mississippi north of St. Louis (not this trip), a boat will transit up to 29 locks (sort of an extended Panama Canal). But our route from Memphis down to New Orleans had no locks or dams. The river south of Memphis is mile after mile of tree-lined banks, often with high levees. With the boat being six decks high, you get the unique perspective of a helicopter flying low and slow above the water. Common traffic on the Mississippi consists of tugboats (towboats) pushing long strings of barges. If you’re curious about life aboard the towboats, the Corps of Engineers has a well-labeled one as a museum by the dock in Vicksburg. With some climbing, you can explore the inside from top to bottom at your own pace. (Don’t miss the exhibit in the engine room about the Army’s construction problems with the “Big Shaky.”) Since there are no locks or dams on this route, there’s usually little to see at night beyond lighted buoys, towboat spotlights, and the silhouette of trees on the banks. However, there was quite the magenta sunset on our last night. Another night had a half-hour show of cloud-to-cloud lightning that rivaled the aurora. New Orleans is the southern end of the line for the American Queen. After New Orleans, the Mississippi River extends through its delta and eventually reaches the ocean. To see this last 100 miles of the river, you’d have to book an international cruise that starts at New Orleans and heads on into the Gulf. STAR OF THE SHOW The river on this route can get pretty monotonous if you don’t know what’s hidden in plain sight. Like the monotony of an opera unless they give you a written translation for following along (libretto). Fortunately, the American Queen has an onboard historian (Jerry Hay) who has authored mile-by-mile guidebooks for every river the boat travels (and a few more). Though designed for boaters, they’re your libretto for appreciating all the local lore you’d otherwise miss. Lots of shipwrecks and military history buried out there. (To buy these books, see www.riverlorian.com.) But you still have to know where you are on the river. Bring along your GPS or smartphone equivalent. A key feature of the trip is the talks that Jerry Hay gives about the river, the boat, and the stops. Since you’re here for the history, he’s the voice of the American Queen, your emcee, and the star of the show. He does up to four talks a day at various spots around the boat, such as the pilot house, chart room, and Grand Saloon. Backwaters all have their backstories, and Jerry Hay sure knows a lot of them. Seems fitting that the American Queen was originally christened by Mr. and Mrs. Paul Harvey. The couple who broadcast “the rest of the story,” what we’d otherwise have missed. (There was a “re-christening” by Priscilla Presley about two decades later.) Despite all the efforts at flood control, the river still seems to get its way much of the time. The charts show abandoned channels, oxbow lakes, and even parts of one state exiled within another state. Congress sets the boundary; nature resets the Mississippi. (See www.semissourian.com/blogs/pavementends/entry/36305 ) The national research center for river control is the huge Corps of Engineers lab that dominates Vicksburg. Since the facility is generally not open to the public, any shore excursion that the American Queen could arrange would be an impressive addition to future itineraries. Taxpayers are often unaware of good things that the government has done with their money. (See www.erdc.usace.army.mil/About/ ) ONBOARD MUSIC Much of the music that we’ve heard on international cruises has musicians playing along to a soundtrack. On the American Queen, 100% of the music on stage was totally live (no soundtracks). Just like the old days. It’s a full onboard band of veteran session musicians from around the country. They do evening shows of American tunes from the last 150 years. Just as enjoyable as the onshore music of the French Quarter. MEALS Except for dinner, meals are self-serve buffets with several basic American entrees. Certainly enough to keep you going, but nothing like the pig-outs with endless variety that you find inside casinos or luxury liners. Self-serve machines are available for your basic soft drinks, coffee, tea, popcorn, and soft ice cream. Each deck has a water fountain (“hydration station”) to fill the sports bottle that they give you at the start of the cruise. If strong, branded coffees (Starbucks, Peets) are part of your life support system, you’ll have to bring you own survival kit from home. Same deal if you insist on bottled water. The boat simply doesn’t have these things. You’ll get free beer and wine with dinner, but alcohol beyond that gets added to your bill. On the other hand, there’s no onboard casino to take your money. Dinner is the only table-service type of meal. You get an assigned time and table for the trip’s duration, and everyone in the room gets every course on the same tight schedule (or you’ve waived that part of the meal). You can, of course, skip this regimen and just do another self-serve buffet for dinner (like breakfast and lunch). Dinner had creative, nicely-presented regional entrees that changed throughout the week. Service was fast, and the food always arrived hot. Our three American waiters were just as skilled, attentive, and charming as the European waiters touted on international cruises. There’s one serious caution for travel agents, though. Two tables in the dining room are positioned directly above machinery whose noise and vibration make it difficult to converse (probably a generator). Travel agents should insist that their customers not be assigned to these two tables –- make it a deal breaker. With the boat pointed forward, the two tables to avoid are found in the forward part of the left side of the dining room. On the deck plan for the dining room, you’ll see an H-shaped service area. Draw a line from (1) the left bottom corner of this H across to (2) the left-side window with a hull access tower outside. Though the dining room may be completely full, the American Queen simply shouldn’t space its tables near this line. Travel agents should alert customers that the American Queen will automatically add on a “gratuities” charge of $37 per day per couple. While we only did a one-week leg, the brochure advertises “epic 16 to 23-day voyages” of the full Mississippi. In other words, they’ll be tacking on roughly $550 to $800 for couples who do the whole river. And, no, you can’t use your onboard credit to pay this add-on noted in the fine print. Since the “gratuities” charge is not based on any individual’s actual performance, it’s just a way of adding payroll to the quoted base fare. Like the unbundled (fragmented) billing of airlines, hospitals, and “resort fee” hotels. Theoretically, the boat says you can get nasty and negotiate this extra charge downward if you feel it’s undeserved. However, if a passenger really feels that abused, the better route might be a travel agent’s post-trip request to the line’s headquarters. THE CABIN For this type of trip, the extra cost for a window or outside entrance wasn’t worth it to us. We picked the cheapest inside cabin they had (no window), and it met our needs. The cabin was just our sleeping room while the boat was moving on to the next day’s stop. Since this was summer in the Deep South, good air conditioning was more important to us than a window. Our room’s air conditioning was effective and adjustable to our liking. However, travel agents should alert customers to a few idiosyncrasies. For instance, our cabin was far from soundproof. We could hear coughs, coat hangars, and conversations in the adjacent cabins. Also, some Deck 3 interior cabins (like ours) are above the Grand Saloon. Choose accordingly if you want silence before the second show ends about 9 pm. And, per the past reviews by others, you may want to sleep away from the laundry room. The instructions on the old room safe are ambiguous and tricky. You may want to ask the desk to translate before you throw all your goodies in there. You have to use your metal key to lock the door when you leave your room. It doesn’t automatically lock like modern hotel doors. Minimal towels were provided in our bathroom. So plan for that contingency (maybe bring along a roll of paper towels). The room’s free wireless Internet worked well with our PC. But we didn’t have cell phone coverage unless we opened the door a little. Probably not an issue for the outside rooms with a window. BOTTOM LINE There are endless things to see and ponder along this route, if you know where to find them. If I had my cruising retirement to do over, I’d spend more time in my own country, do more pre-trip homework, and take more trips like this one. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
ATV outdoor shore excursion at Natchez was the highlight for us! Well done to David and the Team for putting this outdoor adventure together. Civil War battleground tour at Vickisburg was also excellent. Our particular thanks to the ... Read More
ATV outdoor shore excursion at Natchez was the highlight for us! Well done to David and the Team for putting this outdoor adventure together. Civil War battleground tour at Vickisburg was also excellent. Our particular thanks to the thoroughly informative speakers/guides - especially the gentleman who dressed and acted the part of a soldier of the day - he really made a difference! Plantations at St Francisville were amazing - such informative guides at Rosedown and host at Catalpa willing to share her home - such wonderful hospitality! The food and the service on board the American Queen has been second to none! All of the waiters & staff have gone out of their way to make us comfortable & have the most amazing honeymoon of a lifetime! We feel truly special that we've been able to join this cruise and spend it making friends for life! We will definitely take another cruise again! Thank you & a special mention to Ambrose & Brian - the most deserving of recognition out of a truly exceptional crew Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
My husband was interested in historic stops and I wanted to relax and be pampered. We both got what we wanted. I was able to stay on board while he went site seeing. Our cabin was small but had everything you could want. Our bed was ... Read More
My husband was interested in historic stops and I wanted to relax and be pampered. We both got what we wanted. I was able to stay on board while he went site seeing. Our cabin was small but had everything you could want. Our bed was very comfortable and the room was clean. Housekeeping stopped by twice a day to freshen up. Bathroom was larger than expected and plenty of hot water for showers. Any questions were answered thoroughly and quickly. The Hop On and Hop Off bus was just what we wanted. If we wanted more to see and do that was an option or we could just take a round trip and get back on board. Food was plentiful and delicious. Staff were very helpful and friendly. The boat is "small" so you got to meet lots of people since you would see the same people at meals or out walking. This encouraged friendliness. Truly delightful. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
The wait staff was superb, extremely accommodating. The cleaning crew did a superb job. Kristen, the EMT, and Kashawna, the Purser, went above and beyond to arrange an oxygen concentrator when "Special Needs" failed to provide a ... Read More
The wait staff was superb, extremely accommodating. The cleaning crew did a superb job. Kristen, the EMT, and Kashawna, the Purser, went above and beyond to arrange an oxygen concentrator when "Special Needs" failed to provide a working concentrator. I am extremely thankful and forever in their debt. Without their service, I might have been unable to complete the voyage. Two days without oxygen was challenging for me since I have a very severe case of Sleep Apnea that requires an oxygen concentrator and a CPAP machine. I am forever in their debt for the extraordinary service they provided for me. Their extreme care made this a successful vacation. It is heartwarming to know that the cruise line was here to accommodate my every need, but these two workers were unabelievably accommocating. I am so grateful for their care. They successfully arranged a concentrator and a backup to be delivered after we had already set sail. After two days without oxygen I was beginning to wonder if I would have to discontinue my cruise. Thankfully, they rectified the problem. I look forward to taking another excursion on the American Queen Steamboat Company,. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
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
Sail Date April 2019
We both wanted to see a part of the United States that we hadn't seen before and a steamboat tour seemed the best idea. Although we knew that the weather would be hot and humid, it wasn't that terrible and most of the places were ... Read More
We both wanted to see a part of the United States that we hadn't seen before and a steamboat tour seemed the best idea. Although we knew that the weather would be hot and humid, it wasn't that terrible and most of the places were air conditioned. We spent an additional night in Memphis at the start of the cruise. Embarkation was smooth because of early check in the day before. We went on this cruise with long time friends who also thought this was one of the best cruises they had been on too. While the cabins are small, there is so much to do that you don't spend much time in your cabin. I can't say enough about the entertainment, especially the Ensemble. We went to see them each time and loved the way their voices blended together and they were in sync with their choreography. They seemed to really enjoy each other and what they were doing. Especially enjoyed watching Hannah interact with passengers. Liz in the dining room made the meals for us. She was so personable and remembered everything we told her about ourselves. We enjoyed all of our meals on the boat. While some of the ports seemed depressed, the sites that we saw on our hop on hop off buses were great. We went on the post cruise too in New Orleans and found it was well worth the money. We especially liked the World War II museum. I had not initially been planning on going there but was so glad I did. I think everyone should see this museum. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
We just finished cruising the Mississippi on the American Queen Riverboat. What a wonderful trip we had. The food was excellent and they have great selections. If you have special dietary needs they go out of the way to prepare them for ... Read More
We just finished cruising the Mississippi on the American Queen Riverboat. What a wonderful trip we had. The food was excellent and they have great selections. If you have special dietary needs they go out of the way to prepare them for you.The service is impeccable . Beer & wine is free with dinner. There are plenty of activities on the boat and free hop on/hop off excursions that are free in each river port you stop. There are also premium excursions that you buy. We did Angola Prison, A Plantation, and the Vicksburg Civil War Battlegrounds. All are excellent. The entertainment is above any other boat I have been on by far. They are shows nightly and one is better than the other. There was also a sock hop and karaoke nights which are a lot of fun. Music in the bar afterwards as well. And if you just want to relax, you can sit on the front porch in a nice rocking chair, spend some time in the Mark Twain library or just wander the beautiful boat. You just might run into Mark Twain. We will definitely book another trip soon. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
Created from a 1995 hull, 340 foot-long paddlewheeler, American Duchess, features four decks and employs 80 American crew to run the boat and manage its 80 suites—the first all-suite paddlewheeler to cruise U.S. rivers. The maximum ... Read More
Created from a 1995 hull, 340 foot-long paddlewheeler, American Duchess, features four decks and employs 80 American crew to run the boat and manage its 80 suites—the first all-suite paddlewheeler to cruise U.S. rivers. The maximum passengers she will sail with is only 166, so the crew-to-passenger ratio is quite high. Our cruise was sold out; however, the boat never felt crowded at any time, even in the show lounge where there were always plenty of seats. (There were 165 seats available, including the chairs that line each wall.) One of the reasons there was always so much space to roam was the fact that the suites range in size from 180 square feet (for an interior cabin like ours) to 550 square feet for a two-story loft suite featuring 19-foot ceilings. Those suites (and the Owner’s Suite) had their own “River Butler” to spoil them rotten, so I’m guessing those passengers spent a lot of time in their cabins! For those passengers who had the “Commodore Services” included with their suite and had a butler, he was available for them throughout the ship. We saw him everywhere, and he made sure his passengers knew it. Have you heard of helicopter parents? Well, he was a helicopter butler. Although the décor of the boat wasn’t to my taste, the abundance of blown and fused glass artwork was. Bruce and I absolutely loved it, especially since Bruce is a glass artist and glass is our favorite art medium. The American Duchess had a modern boutique hotel feel to it, rather than a traditional riverboat ambiance. In all honesty, we preferred the 1800’s motif of the American Queen, built and decorated to replicate the paddlewheelers of their heyday. Most notably, the Duchess lacks a promenade deck, a must for open air enjoyment of the views, especially for a sunset stroll. Of course, Winter Storm Inga didn’t allow for much of that; however, I would have sorely missed a promenade deck had the weather been better. (The Duchess does have a large sun deck; however, it just doesn’t have the appeal of the top deck space on the American Queen.) Sadly, the Duchess also lacked a calliope, a charming feature I enjoyed so much on the American Queen. The most impressive area of the Duchess was the bar, dining room, and stairs leading up to the Lincoln Library. The dining room layout was similar to the American Queen in that it had tall ceilings on each side with a lower ceiling in the center. Without a doubt, the dining room on the Duchess was nicer, though, because even though the boat was sold out (like it was when we were on the Queen), there was much more room in between the tables. In addition, there was only one seating; however, you could be seated any time within the open hours (5:30 – 8:00 PM for dinner) and dine either alone or with others. There was no assigned seating, and they accepted reservations for parties of six or more. Since the American Queen Steamboat Company has an executive chef who creates the menus for all three of their boats, the menus were similar to what we enjoyed on the Queen, and the food was similar—fabulous on both boats. The service on the Duchess was better, though, and much more relaxed. (By the way, we had the same Maitre D’ on both cruises! Oscar boarded the Duchess the same day we did.) The desserts (at least the chocolate ones!) were better on the Duchess, though. Rachel did a great job! I especially liked the creative little birthday dessert that was left in my cabin along with a card. I also received an incredible piece of chocolate ganache cake in the dining room for dessert! In addition to the dining room, the River Club and Terrace was a more casual option for meals. Breakfast and lunch were buffets, whereas dinners were table service. We enjoyed a lobster tail there on our first night aboard, when we joined the other Steamboat Society of America members (repeat cruisers with the company) for an invitation-only dinner. The final option for food was in Perks, a little café with a self-serve cappuccino machine, juice dispenser, popcorn maker, and windows to sit and watch the river. Those were all well and good; however, it was the fresh-baked chocolate chunk cookies I was after. Yeah, there were other varieties, too, but it was always extra special when I could nab my favorite! (In the morning, they had pastries, and fresh fruit was always available.) Entertainment included “Riverlorian” talks during the day, as well as the usual bingo, Name That Tune, trivia, etc. What we enjoyed the most, however, were the lounge shows each evening. Max (also the cruise director), his wife, Darcy, and Matt were three talented and personable singers who performed each night backed by a top-notch band. We had a few chats with Scott, the bass player, and it turned out we new several of the same San Diego-based jazz musicians! By far, the best feature of the American Duchess was its crew, from the captain on down. They bent over backwards to make every passengers’ experience a memorable one—especially when we were hit with snow and temperatures that averaged twenty degrees below normal. The day after the blizzard, Captain Joe McKey was out on the River Club Terrace scraping snow off the deck and cleaning things up. (Yes, you read that right; the captain!) In the dining room, Executive Chef Jeff Warner constantly came out to the “front of the house” (in restaurant speak) to help serve or pick up plates. He was very personable and made sure all his passengers were happy. Read the book Waiter Rant, and you will soon learn that is not typical. I know, because I worked in the restaurant/ hospitality business for several years, most notably at the University Club in San Diego for my last seven years. Unless it was to take a bow at an event or receive kudos from a requesting club member, the chef never left his comfortable domain of the kitchen. One thing that brought a smile to my face one late evening in the Lincoln Library was seeing one of the bartenders playing Monopoly with a young passenger who had nobody her age to pal around with on board. At another table, the Riverlorian was playing a card game with some other passengers. Whether that was permitted by the hotel manager or not, I don’t know; but, I sure hope they didn’t get reprimanded. As a matter of fact, I hope they will be encouraged in the future to do more of the same! It is an example of the congenial atmosphere that is evident between the crew and passengers, and it was, in a word, special. I hope they always keep the magic they have created. American Queen Steamboat Company has a winning formula down to every detail. The success they have had and the awards they have won are well-deserved. It is my hope they can sustain it and never cut back or cut anything out like what has happened with several of the large cruise ship lines. Ask any of the long-time cruisers with Princess Cruises or Royal Caribbean Cruise Line what I mean, and they will tell you. As a former guest lecturer with both companies, I speak from experience. When you start cutting back, people notice, and you will lose your most loyal customers. More importantly, word gets around. American Queen Steamboat Company, you have a great thing going. May it always stay that way!" Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
My Wif on the wanted to do a River Boat cruise. We did one in 1986 on the Mississippi Queen. She was the sister boat to the American Queen and Delta Queen. We had a great time but the average age was at least 70 plus. But we still had a ... Read More
My Wif on the wanted to do a River Boat cruise. We did one in 1986 on the Mississippi Queen. She was the sister boat to the American Queen and Delta Queen. We had a great time but the average age was at least 70 plus. But we still had a great time. We are now retired so we fit right in with all the senior citizen. The cruise started in Memphis and you could start your day with a tour of Graceland and other Memphis Stops. We were dropped off at 3 to board. We went to our cabin which was a suite on the 5th deck and our Luggage was on our bed. We unpacked and headed down for our departure party. The next morning we approached Greenville Tenn. It was very foggy and rainy, the captain navigated the narrow channel and got us landed, However the fog and drizzle was getting worse. he announced we were leaving early and had cancelled the days tour, Most all stayed aboard to meet new friends and explore the boat, Meals are served in either the main dining room with 2 seatings. The other restaurant was the Front Porch up front on Deck 3. The Main dining room is deck one as well as the theatre. The Pursers desk, gift shop, the Mark Twain lounge, the Men's parlour and the Ladies parlour are on deck 2. Cabins are on decks 2 - 5., We also s Very highly topped in Natches and Vicksburg. a tour of the battle ground was offered. We also stopped at a plantation called Nottoway.very heavily decorated for Christmas. We saw a dance demo then had dancing for the passengers, As we left to go back to the boat, they lit a bonfire on the levy. We were a day early. we saw more bonfires on the levees Christmas Eve. We spent the night and left the next afternoon, We arrived in New Orleans on Christmas Day about 1, They had a great Christmas Day buffet. They had a church Service Sunday morning and Christmas morning, There was lots to do, Talks about the river, tours of the pilot house and engine room. You were right down with the engines. The engineer on duty would come over and answer questions and you could watch the engines turn the paddle wheel. The entertainment was very good with lots of music provided, The crew was very friendly and all would speak as they passed, the entertainers did likewise and mingled with the passengers. At the end of the cruise we had a tour of New Orleans and saw everything from Bourbon and Royal and Canal Street. Also saw the Trolleys that we had passes to ride. We spent two nights at the Intercontinental Hotel. Very up scale we got vouchers for one of the Brennan's Restaurants and breakfast vouchers, Some guests stayed at the main Hilton. The cruise is slow paced. we traveled at about 15 mph as we were going down stream. There were a few passengers younger than 40 but not many. Most are 70 plus. They had golf carts to take people up the levee to the tour buses that follow the boat, If you haven't tried a river boat cruise, try the American Queen. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
lots of fun on this cruise! although the ports don't look like there is much there, if you take time to explore they are very interesting! service is fine-not exceptional, but adequate. Ship is not luxurious, but fine. Food is great! ... Read More
lots of fun on this cruise! although the ports don't look like there is much there, if you take time to explore they are very interesting! service is fine-not exceptional, but adequate. Ship is not luxurious, but fine. Food is great! really a very fun week! Hop-on bus system is great, although you can also walk into and around these ports. Entertainment is fun! Fairly relaxing-can venture out and return whenever you like. Really enjoyed exploring this area of our country. paid excursions were good although not necessary. Really enjoyed excursion to angola prison-very enlightening. Ship is very nice. Some parts a little dated, but in general nice. Crew is very helpful. Enjoyed dining at The Front Porch. Dining room is okay, although service is slow. Huge variety of items offered each evening. Definitely an older crowd, but we took our 17 year old daughter and she was fine. There is a nice pool kept very warm-like a hot tub almost. Overall a fun week! Read Less
Sail Date November 2017
Going down the Mississippi on a paddle boat has always been on my bucket list. We were put up at the Sheridan in Memphis. Good choice. Easy five minute trolley from and to Beale St.Went to Sun Studios and Beale Street. Excellent breakfast ... Read More
Going down the Mississippi on a paddle boat has always been on my bucket list. We were put up at the Sheridan in Memphis. Good choice. Easy five minute trolley from and to Beale St.Went to Sun Studios and Beale Street. Excellent breakfast included. Loved the food and music on Beale St. From embarkation to disembarkation on the American Queen, everything went smoothly. The great majority of our shipmates were in their seventies as were we. Everyone very friendly and easy to get to know. Our outside cabin was of good size. Large bathroom with a super shower. Food was excellent. Entertainment was better than outstanding. The shore excursions each day were very informative with very knowledgeable guides. Staff was friendly, helpful and seem to take pride in their work. I would rate the American Queen 10 out of 10 stars and would and have recommend everything about the experience. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
Everything was wonderful! The embarkation and disembarkation at all ports was great--the crew was helpful (my husband is wheelchair-bound)--but we don't get to use the Grand Staircase (duh!) we had to go around the Dining Room ... Read More
Everything was wonderful! The embarkation and disembarkation at all ports was great--the crew was helpful (my husband is wheelchair-bound)--but we don't get to use the Grand Staircase (duh!) we had to go around the Dining Room through coiled ropes, storage lockers, etc to get to the front of the ship, but even that was interesting to see what they have. The food was delicious! I ate a lot of fish and tried to keep desserts to sorbet (I am maintaining a 60 pound weight loss) so I always added the fresh vegetables, which were different every night (yippee!) We ordered lunch to go when we were on long excursions and they were really nice sandwiches, etc. with carrots and celery when I remembered to request them. The desserts were delicious and a real challenge to eat the whole thing. Yummy! The entertainments was nice--a bit country for my taste, but enjoyable nonetheless. I did one of the games early in the cruise and made several friends that I kept running into, so that was nice. There is a self-service laundry (free) so I didn't have to pack so much and could just do a load when I needed to, nor did I have to pack dirty laundry to take home. I really enjoyed watching the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers as we floated by. It was really lovely! And relaxing. And going through the locks was quite interesting! I also enjoyed reading in the Ladies Lounge--very light and comfortable chairs to sit in. Hint--Don't try to use the computers onboard if you want service. It is really spotty, but I knew that before. I also enjoyed walking around the Promenade Deck each day. People were very nice to cheer me on and I got to see both sides of the ship while I walked. I didn't really use the gym--why a treadmill when the view is fantastic?? HINT--take a sweater or sweatshirt to wear to the Dining Room, Show Room and some of the other public rooms. They are kept at Arctic temperatures!! I wore the provided bathrobe more in public rooms than in my cabin. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
I have dreamed of cruising onboard the Delta Queen/Mississippi Queen/American Queen since the 1970s when I first saw the Delta Queen on the Ohio River. For me, this was a bucket list item and, once I booked my trip, I spent many hours ... Read More
I have dreamed of cruising onboard the Delta Queen/Mississippi Queen/American Queen since the 1970s when I first saw the Delta Queen on the Ohio River. For me, this was a bucket list item and, once I booked my trip, I spent many hours pouring over everything I could find about the boat so I wouldn't miss anything once onboard. I really thought I had over-hyped myself and that it couldn't possibly live up to my dreams but it did. The boat was beautiful, the bed was comfortable, the food was delicious and the service was something special. To top it off, the weather was beautiful. The Steamboat Syncopators and American Queen performing ensemble were so talented and, when they started into their Dixieland piece, I teared up for being so excited. We cruised from Memphis to New Orleans and the ports were wonderful. The hop-on, hop-off bus really makes it easy to enjoy the site seeing. The only drawback to the trip had nothing to do with the boat and her team, it was some ungrateful people who seemed bent on complaining about everything. I found a way after day one to avoid them. I, for one, am so grateful to the staff of the American Queen for making my time with them a dream come true. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
I was expecting a hot steamy average cruise. But I was wrong, dead wrong. This cruise was as classy and as pleasing as the major cruise lines can offer on a medium size boat. The food was American fare and it was just to our liking. ... Read More
I was expecting a hot steamy average cruise. But I was wrong, dead wrong. This cruise was as classy and as pleasing as the major cruise lines can offer on a medium size boat. The food was American fare and it was just to our liking. Nothing European fancy and nothing exotic it was just what Americans like. The cabins are small, but the newer ships are squeezing the cabins smaller and smaller. So we enjoyed the size of the cabin. The size of the bathroom was bigger than on some cruise ships. The amenities were generous and the cabin steward was the best we have experienced. All of the staff actually seemed to enjoy working there. Frank Delreo of NCL says "Happy employees make happy customers". He is one hundred percent right. The American Queen's employees really seemed to like their job working on the cruise ship and the customers really enjoyed the cruise. It makes a lot of sense. Our cabin steward, Jesse of section 4.1 was outstanding. I never found her without a smile on her face. Remember the cabin walls are thin so bring ear plugs. Cruising down the Mississippi is calm and smooth. So there will never be any concern about rough seas. It is like a smooth highway of water. The entertainment was very good. The musicians and singers were excellent. There were two main seating's for dinner and then two main shows every night to accommodate. Most of the cruisers were sixty to eighty years, but there were several young couples. It looked like most everyone enjoyed the situation. My wife wanted to see as many plantations as we could see so we opted for all of the plantation tours. My favorite was at Natchez when we were most graciously received into the home of Ginger Hyland. We were shown around a huge home and then invited to a fabulous southern cooked dinner. Excellent. We highly recommend the American Queen Steamboat cruise down the lower Mississippi. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
The brochure promised a week on the upper Mississippi in some comfort on a genuine stern-wheel riverboat with evening entertainment from the 50s-60s big band era. It didn't disappoint. Food and service were excellent and our top deck ... Read More
The brochure promised a week on the upper Mississippi in some comfort on a genuine stern-wheel riverboat with evening entertainment from the 50s-60s big band era. It didn't disappoint. Food and service were excellent and our top deck cabin spacious and comfortable. The evening entertainment was of a surprisingly high standard - a group of four talented singers and dancers who featured in shows of a West End/Broadway standard. The promised big band was an eleven piece live band of musicians playing Glen Miller / Duke Ellington style arrangements for dancing or just listening to. They were first class. We cruised from Memphis to St Louis: the river is wide and there is not a lot to see on the banks, but for us the experience of being there was enough. The hop-on hop-off bus service at the riverside towns was efficient and for those with a genuine interest in American history a great help in getting to museums and places of local interest. This a not a trip for those who want to spend time shopping as most of the shopping in the US is now done at 'out of town shopping centres' and the Main Streets are quiet, populated by hairdressers, cafes, second-hand shops etc. We were two Brits doing a trip designed for a mainly American clientel. We didn't enjoy the day trip to Graceland (from Memphis) which we thought had become a tourist theme park - too crowded, expensive and a bit tacky, We complained about having to put hot buffet breakfast food on cold plates - but this seems common in the US and was a small issue. It was a great week and a unique experience. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
We joined another couple on this riverboat cruise without much planning. Although we were unable to get a stateroom in our preferred category, the one we had was satisfactory. Should we travel with American Queen again getting the larger ... Read More
We joined another couple on this riverboat cruise without much planning. Although we were unable to get a stateroom in our preferred category, the one we had was satisfactory. Should we travel with American Queen again getting the larger stateroom would be important to us. The rooms were very clean, nicely appointed and had adequate storage and organization features. The service was quick and thorough with at least twice daily service which included tidying the room as well as fresh towels. The embarkation process for this category(AAA) was easy and smooth. The main complaint I had about the boat was the public rooms were a little dark, so it was difficult to find a good place to do needlework or read. The dining was well done and had good choices for every meal. Again here, the waitstaff was very accommodating and friendly. The bars were friendly and had a nice atmosphere including live music. The shows were very enjoyable and the talent of the performers was impressive. Generally we have not particularly had an interest in attending shows on large cruise ships, but there was something particularly enjoyable about the shows on this boat. Additionally the talks about the river and its history were fascinating. Something we had not thought about was the fact there is nothing to see as you navigate the river. It makes sense as much of it is a flood plain, but it just hadn't occurred to us. The ports were purely small town America. Nothing momentous, but interesting to see how every place has something about their town in which they have pride. Made you feel good about the country. My only complaint is not a solvable one and that is the bugs. There were plenty of mosquitos and no-see-ums, so you needed to either douse yourself with repellant or be bitten. All in all it was a great trip and I would definitely go again particularly to another section of the grand old Mississippi River. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
Best trip of our lives! The quality was superb! The staff was of the highest quality as was the food and entertainment. I was shocked by the excellence of everything. From the songs of Michaelyn Obry to Kris who let us off the boat in ... Read More
Best trip of our lives! The quality was superb! The staff was of the highest quality as was the food and entertainment. I was shocked by the excellence of everything. From the songs of Michaelyn Obry to Kris who let us off the boat in such a chipper manner every day, there was no hiccup. Everything was fabulous. American Steamboat has a Hop on Hop off bus meet you at each port to ensure you see the sites. I cannot recommend this company enough! THEY ARE OUTSTANDING! They provided a stay at the Sheraton in Memphis that did not have our rooms ready. To apologize, the steamboat company gave us each $150 shipboard credit. They are a class act. There is nothing more pleasant than lying in an air-conditioned stateroom , watching the shoreline float by. This was our first Steamboat, but now we want to do ALL OFF THEM and use American Steamboat! OUTSTANDING! Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
This is our second cruise with The American Steamboat Company, the first was on the Amercian Empress, now this one of the American Queen. These are the best cruises I have ever been on as far as food quality, relaxation, attitude of staff ... Read More
This is our second cruise with The American Steamboat Company, the first was on the Amercian Empress, now this one of the American Queen. These are the best cruises I have ever been on as far as food quality, relaxation, attitude of staff and surroundings. Bioth are small vessels... the American Queen holsd around 400 passengers and the American Empress around 300. We stayed in a cabin with a private balcony, which had a bathtub/shower combo. The beds were some of the most comfortable I have ever slept on with nice quality linens. We requested coffee service every mornig at 7:30 and were never once disappointed. I would not reallu recommend this trip for chiuldre, teenagers or hyper people who must keep busy, as that is not what this trip is about. My husband and I are in our early 60's and we were the "youngins'". I highly recommend this cruise! The only negative I have was the hotel we stayed in prior to the cruise, The Downtown Sheradin, was horrendous!!! If required to stay there before another cruise, I would not go..... Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
We had wanted to do a Mississippi river cruise for years and finally did it. I did quite a bit of research before we picked a cruise and I'm very glad we chose this one. I'm convinced it was/is the best. The embarkation ... Read More
We had wanted to do a Mississippi river cruise for years and finally did it. I did quite a bit of research before we picked a cruise and I'm very glad we chose this one. I'm convinced it was/is the best. The embarkation process was very well planned and ran smoothly. The American Queen was beautiful -- everything we imagined. The public spaces were very well appointed and comfortable. The dining room was quite elegant -- looked very much as we imagined it might have looked in the 1800s. The food was excellent and and menus quite varied. Nothing was repeated the entire week. The special meal events (such as the BBQ one day) were very good. In fact, after experiencing BBQ in Memphis (this trip and trips before) -- we found nothing in Memphis that could compare with the BBQ on board. The service everywhere on the boat was first rate. Our cabin stewardess, the restaurant staff, the bartenders, etc. were all top notch. And so friendly -- real, true Southern hospitality. One could tell it was genuine -- you can't fake that. The hop-on/hop-off bus system worked very well and all the local guides were excellent. You could tell they were proud of their towns and heritage and were happy to share with us. The add-on shore excursions were excellent. I do think they were overpriced. Next time we'll be much more discriminatory in choosing these. All-in-all we were very happy with the entire trip. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
This is an amazing cruise! The ports and shore excursions were excellent, the food very well presented and excellent, the staff was very warm and accommodating, the entertainment was outstanding and they had the best musicians.....we never ... Read More
This is an amazing cruise! The ports and shore excursions were excellent, the food very well presented and excellent, the staff was very warm and accommodating, the entertainment was outstanding and they had the best musicians.....we never danced more to the music and had more fun! It was so excellent that we are already booking another cruise with them and three other couples on the AMERICAN EMPRESS..... We began our cruise in Memphis Tennessee, where music abounds...we walked down Beale St and ate at BBKings....we toured the Rock and Soul Museum (so interesting !), and the National Civil Rights museum....The next day we took a Premium Shore Excursion to Graceland and saw landmarks like the Peabody hotel on a luxury motor coach !We either took the Premium excursions or toured each city with their HOP ON AND OFF BUSSES....which are so well organized. WE went to Greenville, Vicksburg ,Miss where we were on the Front lines of the Civil War , Natchez, St Francisville, La,Baton Rouge, La and then stayed three days in New Orleans. This trip offers the most relaxing and historical voyage!! I can"t say enough about it Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
Wow, was I impressed with the amazing job they have done on refurbishing the American Queen. What an amazing vessel. I had taken a bunch of people with me and we all enjoyed the food for sure, loved the attitude of the dining room waiters ... Read More
Wow, was I impressed with the amazing job they have done on refurbishing the American Queen. What an amazing vessel. I had taken a bunch of people with me and we all enjoyed the food for sure, loved the attitude of the dining room waiters and staff, we loved the care everyone took to keeping the vessel's wood and paint looking like new. We liked the fact that there was the Front Porch dining if you wanted to eat more casual, but the food was outstanding there as well. The entertainment in the Grand Saloon was better than even many huge ocean liners. They had a great band to listen and dance to. And the song and dance group were quite talented and generally performed themes that a senior group could relate to. Though the Staterooms are not large, they were elegantly decorated. Our stateroom had plenty of space for us to unpack. We also loved the fact that when we went to breakfast in the morning the room stewardess would clean our room before our return. And the boat was full. We really enjoyed our room stewardess. We never heard sounds from adjoining rooms. And the warmth and vitality of the people in the purser's office to the room stewards made you feel like they cared about you enjoying this 7 days of paddle-wheeling. You could just imagine President Andrew Jackson toasting to a great journey south to New Orleans with all the lamp lights lite. We will definitely be back again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
This is my first cruise with American Queen Steamboat Company. Although it is only my 2nd day I have had many requests and they have all been fufilled. I have some food allergies and requests and they were all taken seriously, although it ... Read More
This is my first cruise with American Queen Steamboat Company. Although it is only my 2nd day I have had many requests and they have all been fufilled. I have some food allergies and requests and they were all taken seriously, although it limited my choices. There is a historian on board (Riverlorian as he is called) and love the talks. They are not always at a time when we can make it. I am relaxed and happy. This is a much better feeling than the other large cruise lines. I wish I still drank wine because that was really flowing last night.. all included. The entertainment is much better than I imagined. The post cries stay hotel in New Orleans is awesome. am looking to take the Colombia River Cruise next year. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
Taking the Civil War paddle-wheel cruise down the Mississippi has been my US Army Ret. history-buff husband's dream (and mine) for many years- his father actually did a "Huck Finn" thing as a young man, shoveling coal on a ... Read More
Taking the Civil War paddle-wheel cruise down the Mississippi has been my US Army Ret. history-buff husband's dream (and mine) for many years- his father actually did a "Huck Finn" thing as a young man, shoveling coal on a Mississippi steamboat! This was a very expensive but wonderful cruise, and I highly recommend it for people interested in American history and literature, and for those who really want to see the USA from a totally different perspective than you will see it by driving or flying. We had been to several of the ports on this cruise, but arriving by paddle-wheel steamboat makes for a Totally unique way to see and enjoy them. The American Queen herself is extraordinary- she was built around a real 1926 steam engine, and the charming crew is (justly) proud of her, and will give you an in-depth tour of her! The bright red paddle-wheel is fabulous in and of itself- I still have Tina Turner singing "Proud Mary" going through my head!- and yes, one of the ship's entertainers DID sing it on this cruise! We especially loved the bar that's right by the paddle-wheel, where they had live (and excellent) music every evening, and we LOVED the real steam calliope, which the pianist played as we left port in the late afternoon! The entertainment was excellent- both the nightly musicals and the "period" Civil War entertainment, which included live music, and talks by both an historian, and AQ's "Riverlorian", and my husband and I danced more on this cruise than on any other cruise we've taken! The ship is beautifully appointed in period style, with original Tiffany glass, books, antiques, and reproductions, and the public rooms are truly gorgeous. The towns we visited as we cruised slowly down the Mississippi from Memphis to New Orleans were very interesting and fun to visit, and we got to see some fabulous things, including original Tiffany Glass church windows, a number of interesting museums, and historic sites. We took a variety of AQ's excursions, to Vicksburg, the Frogmore Cotton Plantation, the Louisiana "Swamp Tour", etc., and used AQ's free "hop on-hop off" bus, as well, and were pleased with both. Natchez was especially fun, with many things to see and do, including the Charboneau Distillery, and historic Kings Tavern next door where we had a delicious lunch (and bought their rum, of course!), and the fun & historic "Natchez Under-The-Hill Saloon", which was right where the boat was docked! The service aboard the ship was excellent (as it needs to be with an older clientele), our stateroom was very tiny but also very lovely (we booked a cabin on the "public" balcony), wine with dinner was complimentary, unlimited, and Very nice, and the food was excellent- even better than the very good food we've enjoyed on Celebrity cruises. Searching high and low I managed to find one (wonderful) travel agent who was able to get us several hundred dollars in on board credit- as AQ gives nothing, I Definitely suggest you look for a travel agent when you are ready to book an AQ cruise! It is an "older person's" sort of cruise- while there is a lovely little pool, there are no water slides or games or things for active children to do, and the average age was over 60. I am 57 and my husband is 69, and there were WWII Veterans on our cruise who were over 90, which was very cool! I will say that the cruise was made up of a VERY active & intrepid group of seniors- we all tromped through the rain and mud around the Frogmore Plantation, and through pouring rain Baton Rouge, as well! As we are in the hospitality business- we have an inn in West Virginia, and I have a travel/food blog- I blogged about the cruise- and the Civil War history/"foodie" road trip we did through Tennessee to get to Memphis for the cruise, and then New Orleans at the end of the cruise- extensively on my "We Live In The Country!" blog with lots of photos and links to all the many things we did and enjoyed. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
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