A real Steamboat On The Mississippi

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Review Details

Overall Rating:
Cruise Line:
American Queen Steamboat
Cruise Ship:
ms American Queen
Mississippi River

Review Profile

Times cruised before:
November 2017

Cruise Elements:

Quality of Food:
I was a little worried that the main dining room fare might consist of the over-sized portions of the southern states staple diet of fried chicken, steak and ribs. However my fears were unfounded. The food was varied and was definitely fine-dining. It was quite international in style, with American influences of course. The food was very consistent – every course, of every meal, was of a high quality. It was some of the most consistent food that I’ve enjoyed on-board any cruise. Beef, pork, lamb, lobster, crab and even L’escargot were featured, but no ribs and no fried chicken.
Live music and singing in abundance: Pop, Rock, Blues, Jazz and Country.
Shore Excursions:
Free hop-on-hop-off at every port or 'Premium' coach excursions. The latter were of good quality but over-priced, as usual.
Very good - the Cruise Director Alex Bernhardt was EXCELLENT.
Onboard Activities:
Quite port intensive - no rock walls on this boat!
There are eight grades of stateroom on offer, ranging from inside (from 132 sq ft), window, promenade deck suites and large/owners suites (360 sq ft, with 690 sq ft veranda). There are also some single cabins on offer. The staterooms are priced as: expensive, more expensive, very expensive and outrageously expensive, respectively. However there are even more expensive vessels on the Mississippi. Let’s not forget that paddle-wheelers, especially steam-powered ones, are a very limited breed. I was in 525, a ‘superior outside stateroom with open veranda’ (210 sq ft). The suite was not exceptionally large, but comfortable – it had extra space around the bed to allow freer movement for two people. It had space for two of chairs and a small table. There were double doors which opened onto a public promenade deck.
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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