seeking info for 1st time USA river cruise

American Queen Steamboat Company
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84 Posts
Joined Nov 2006
Will love info to start research for a cruise on a USA river. (Done many ocean cruise! Time for a little change.)
Best Riverboat cruise lines and itinerary?
Casinos on riverboats?
Best time of year for a USA riverboat ravel?
Burbank, CA
150 Posts
Joined Aug 2008
We've taken two cruises (Upper Mississippi and Nashville to Memphis) and will be taking our third (Columbia River) with American Queen Steamboat Company. They have been wonderful with excellent service, food and excursions. Casinos are not allowed on U.S. river ships. Time of year depends on where your cruise is taking place. Keep in mind that river cruises are more expensive than ocean voyages. Ships are crewed by Americans and ships are U.S. built.
723 Posts
Joined Jun 2017
Originally posted by roupa
Will love info to start research for a cruise on a USA river. (Done many ocean cruise! Time for a little change.)
Best Riverboat cruise lines and itinerary?
Casinos on riverboats?
Best time of year for a USA riverboat ravel?
My best advice would be to go on the AQSC website and request their brochure. It gives a good description of their itineraries, information about each port - including good descriptions of included excursions and extra cost excursions, ship layouts, shipboard life, etc. I was really impressed by how complete it was. I ended up booking the 16 day cruise from Minneapolis to New Orleans, next (2019) summer.
New Port Richey FL
556 Posts
Joined Jan 2003
I too recommend AQSC. We've taken 5 trips and have the 23 day Mississippi scheduled for next year. No casino, but in several of the ports there are riverside casinos. I think Natchez was one of them.
Honolulu, HI
35 Posts
Joined Aug 2006
We thoroughly enjoyed our cruise on the American Queen from Memphis to New Orleans — I kind of grew up in that part of the country, but my husband had never been to any of the places we covered. It was an excellent itinerary. Took the premium excursions to the battlefield at Vicksburg and Angola Prison - both well worth the extra. Accommodations, food and entertainment were all excellent. We’re headed off on the Ohio River cruise later this summer. Covering new ground for both of us.
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Charleston, Charleston Made in Carolina
1,868 Posts
Joined Sep 2001
Hands down the paddlewheel steamboat AMERICAN QUEEN is the best way to experience the Mississippi River System. My favorite trips with the most lovely scenery, friendly river towns, and locks and dams to go through are the upper Ohio between Cincinnati and Pittsburgh or the upper Mississippi River between the Saints.... St. Louis and St. Paul. The M/V AMERICAN EMPRESS on the Columbia and Snake Rivers is the way to go on those two beautiful rivers.
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"When we presently got under way and went poking down the broad Ohio, I became a new being and the subject of my own admiration. I was a traveler!"
Mark Twain
2 Posts
Joined Jun 2018
My wife and I just returned from a 7-Day Memphis to New Orleans (Lower Mississippi) Cruise. We traveled with a bunch family members. We've been fortunate enough to cruise all over the world with our family. Anyway, this was our first riverboat cruise. Our other cruises have been on the much larger ships (Princess, New Holland, Royal Caribbean).

I've read many reviews of the Lower Mississippi cruise we just returned from on the American Queen, and I have to say, I was less than impressed. The ship itself was outdated (built in 1995). We had several days of rain, and every night our family members on the 5th deck, including my wife and I, had water in our rooms. The carpet was wet about 2 foot into our room. The deck crew was in our room (and others) with wet/dry vacs and large blowers to try and dry it out. Needless to say this happened several days in a row. It all lead to a very musty smell for the remainder of the trip.

I also thought the restaurant staff was unprofessional. Most seemed like they'd never worked in the food service industry. Although I found out that many had been working in it for at least 5+ years. They were openly fighting with each other, the Matrie D' and in general were not very good. When serving drinks they were spilling wine and water all over the glass, table cloth and even in my lap once. No, "I apologize" or any acknowledgement that it even happened. Also, if you ran out of water or any other beverage (other than alcohol) they often never came back to fill it up. There were at least 2 dinners and 2 breakfasts where my water or coffee glass were empty and I never got a refill. I'm not a complainer (this post not withstanding) and so I kindly asked for a refill. I found that, if I didn't ask for a refill, I wasn't going to get one.

Now that I've been critical of the restaurant staff I will say that we had a wonderful experience with the Head Chef and few Sous Chef's. The Matrie D's were also most helpful. Heck, even our head waiter was helpful, just not refined like I would have expected. I think the issue is that AQSC doesn't have very good training in place and maybe the restaurant is understaffed. This can be a bad combination, and make it very difficult for the existing staff to do well or even improve over time. I guess my overall impression is that they mean well, and are trying hard, but just don't have the leadership in place to really show the the ropes. I don't really know, but I felt bad for them. Most of them seemed miserable.

I've read reviews about the American Queen on this forum, and I have to say, I'm surprised there aren't more complaints. Most people giving glowing reviews. I just don't see how it's possible.

The family wants to use the AQSC for another cruise next year, but I am skeptical any of the other boats would be much better.

That just my 2 cents as you make your travel plans. Good luck!