seeking info for 1st time USA river cruise

American Queen Steamboat Company
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#1
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?
#2
Burbank, CA
158 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.
#3
CO
1,016 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.
#4
New Port Richey FL
560 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.
#5
Honolulu, HI
41 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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#6
Charleston, Charleston Made in Carolina
1,877 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!"
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#7
Midwest
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!
#9
Charleston, Charleston Made in Carolina
1,877 Posts
Joined Sep 2001
I don't think that would be a problem at all. Cheers!
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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
#10
Honolulu, HI
41 Posts
Joined Aug 2006
We’re on the AQ right now. Just left Cape Girardeau and are headed on to Chester and, eventually, St Louis. We are having a lovely time - nice cabin on deck 3, great dining room service and way too much good food.
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ms Ryndam Alaska 1998
ms Maasdam Baltic 2000
ms Amsterdam Alaska 2002
ms Volendam E. Caribbean 2005
ms Noordam W. Med 2006
ms Rotterdam E. Med 2008
Viking Century Sun China 2009
River Rhapsody Danube 2010
Pride of America Hawaiian Islands 2011
Viking Pride Seine 2012
Viking RV Saigon Pandaw Mekong 2013
ms Ryndam W. Caribbean 2013
P&O Ventura Med 2014
American Queen Lower Mississippi 2015
ms Zaandam South America and Antarctic 2015/16
ms Zuiderdam Fjords & Highlands 2016

ms Veendam Panama Canal 2017
Pride of America Hawaiian Islands 2017
American Queen Ohio River 2018

It's not the breaths we take -- it's the moments that take our breath away.
#12
Melbourne, Australia
41 Posts
Joined Jan 2014
I did the AQ in Feb 18. Amazing trip. The guests are mainly senior citizens but I found them all very friendly with lots of great stories to tell.

I read a lot of reviews on the restaurant staff/food. For my trip, I found the staff absolutely amazing! Engaging, fun and they constantly kept our glasses full. The food was awesome. I had an inside cabin for single. It was perfect (even being next to the laundry it was super quiet).
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2019, Sep - Ovation of the Seas
2018, Mar - American Queen
2017, Mar - Explorer of the Seas
2016, Feb - Legend of the Seas
2015, Mar - Voyager of the Seas
2014, Feb - Rhapsody of the Seas
#13
Honolulu, HI
41 Posts
Joined Aug 2006
Regarding bringing Bailey’s on board - we did the Makers Mark distillery tour out of Brandenburg KY and brought a couple of “souvenir” pints of 46 on board with no problems...same with the Apple Pie Moonshine we picked up in Paducah at the Moonshine Company (another great HOHO stop there.)
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ms Ryndam Alaska 1998
ms Maasdam Baltic 2000
ms Amsterdam Alaska 2002
ms Volendam E. Caribbean 2005
ms Noordam W. Med 2006
ms Rotterdam E. Med 2008
Viking Century Sun China 2009
River Rhapsody Danube 2010
Pride of America Hawaiian Islands 2011
Viking Pride Seine 2012
Viking RV Saigon Pandaw Mekong 2013
ms Ryndam W. Caribbean 2013
P&O Ventura Med 2014
American Queen Lower Mississippi 2015
ms Zaandam South America and Antarctic 2015/16
ms Zuiderdam Fjords & Highlands 2016

ms Veendam Panama Canal 2017
Pride of America Hawaiian Islands 2017
American Queen Ohio River 2018

It's not the breaths we take -- it's the moments that take our breath away.
#14
Michigan
35 Posts
Joined Feb 2006
Just off the American Queen 8-27 to 9-3, Memphis to St Louis. This was our first time on the river. Our Pre cruise hotel was the Sheraton Memphis. The trolley stopped outside the door. Great way to see them city and enjoy great ribs. The boat was beautiful. The entire crew was wonderful. Our cabin, 412, on deck was perfect. Food was good although we were hoping for more Cajun and Creole dishes. The dining room staff could not have been better. The Front Porch was a nice option. The Hop-on Hop-off bus were a big plus. Free ice cream, popcorn,cookies, Expresso and lattes were a nice feature. Free bottled water in your cabin each day. Entertainment was Broadway worthy. The star was the Mississippi River and the ever changing scenery. We have memories that will last forever.
#15
CO
1,016 Posts
Joined Jun 2017
Originally posted by hootmon
Just off the American Queen 8-27 to 9-3, Memphis to St Louis. This was our first time on the river. Our Pre cruise hotel was the Sheraton Memphis. The trolley stopped outside the door. Great way to see them city and enjoy great ribs. The boat was beautiful. The entire crew was wonderful. Our cabin, 412, on deck was perfect. Food was good although we were hoping for more Cajun and Creole dishes. The dining room staff could not have been better. The Front Porch was a nice option. The Hop-on Hop-off bus were a big plus. Free ice cream, popcorn,cookies, Expresso and lattes were a nice feature. Free bottled water in your cabin each day. Entertainment was Broadway worthy. The star was the Mississippi River and the ever changing scenery. We have memories that will last forever.
Great to hear, as we are on next August's cruise on AQ from Minneapolis to NOLA.