A real Steamboat On The Mississippi
I am fortunate enough to have taken a number of ocean cruises and several river cruises, over the past few decades. However, this time I was looking for something a little different. I chose the American Queen for a seven night river cruise itinerary from Memphis to New Orleans. The theme of any Mississippi cruise is music. Memphis is the birthplace of rock and roll and the home of Elvis. New Orleans is the home of Jazz . In terms of political history, the Southern States and the Ol Man River (the Mississippi) are intrinsically linked with the Cotton trade, slavery and later the Civil Rights movement. The boat, the river and the local culture all offered a very different experience from ocean or European river cruising. The American Queen is one of the most attractive vessels that I have ever had the pleasure of cruising on. She feels like a real vintage paddle steamer. She successfully recreates the golden age of paddle steaming in the same way that Cunards Queen Mary 2 recreates the era of the great Ocean Liners. The American Queen carries more than twice as many passengers than most European river boats do. However she does not feel crowded. Her size gives her the space for a range of public rooms that you normally dont find on-board a river boat. Her fares are high, even for the cheapest inside cabin. However she was well worth it. She is a unique vessel and command top dollar, although there are more expensive Mississippi paddle-wheelers. The average age of the clientele was very high and mainly American. The food and service were excellent and the entertainment was exceptional. Live music was abundant. The European river cruise lines could learn a lot from this. The lower Mississippi is not particularly scenic. The boats public rooms are not as well-connected with the river as they on-board most European river boats, which have lounges mainly constructed of glass. However most cabins on-board the American Queen do offer a river view. You get to visit some incredibly scenic small towns on route, which shows a side of small-town America that I had only seen in Hollywood movies. The American Queen is a good option for those with mobility problems. River cruising has a reputation for being relaxing (possibly boring, for those than need a lot of stimulation) but the Queen had more activities and entertainment on on-board than most other river boats. If your bank balance is healthy, you are looking for something unique, enjoy American culture, good entertainment and nostalgia, Id thoroughly recommend the American Queen. Malcolm Oliver
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