How would I rate our overall experience aboard the American Queen? In one word: Excellent!
One of my favorite things about this cruise was the friendly and efficient hop-on/hop-off bus service at each port. American Queen Steamboat Company owns four tour buses that look like our ship on wheels; very cute! And, they are driven by four of the friendliest and helpful bus drivers I have ever met. The buses followed us the entire way, driving on to the next port while we cruised during the night. The drivers would stay at hotels and meet us the next morning.
Abe and Mark, pictured below, were my favorite staff members of all the AQ staff I encountered.
The bus system was very efficient. The night before our port, we could pick up color-coded boarding passes that were in 15 minute increments. And, the wheels on our designated bus would roll at exactly that time. This arrangement meant not having to wait in any lines- nice!
We were also given maps with the stops labeled, including attractions that we could visit that were pre-paid by the ship. Other points of interest were also labeled, as well as banks, pharmacies, and our bus stops. It was so easy and efficient, making it very relaxing and stress-free at each port. The buses would even do final sweeps around the circuit if people were missing at the designated all-aboard time. Nobody was ever left behind.
At sail away from each port, the captain would blow the steam whistle, followed by the pianist playing a calliope concert on the aft deck.
During one of the concerts, I noticed one of the steam pipes wasn’t working too well, so an otherwise perfectly sounding song medley was punctuated with weak/sour notes every once in a while. It was good for a lot of laughs from everybody on deck! And, there was something quite charming about that experience that I will always remember.
Another advantage of being on a riverboat rather than a huge cruise ship is the opportunity to learn about how the boat works. The engine room was open for viewing and there was always somebody available to answer questions. They even had an information sheet explaining how it all worked.
The Riverlorian also conducted tours of the pilot house each day, so we learned about the navigational system, as well.
The entertainment on board was also terrific. The staff orchestra and singers produced cruise ship quality shows and the guest entertainers were wonderful. We heard a jug band from Louisville, Kentucky, as well as a Blues Brothers tribute band and a New Orleans jazz band. It was a great variety of good ol’ Southern music. And, we especially enjoyed one of those shows by bringing our complimentary bottle of Champagne with us.
So, what about that good ol’ Southern cooking? Fabulous! Our waiter was quite good about explaining the dishes in detail and making recommendations; all which were spot-on. But, I really couldn’t imagine anything being bad, because it all looked and tasted so good! Even the assortment of rolls at dinner was too good to pass up; especially the pretzel rolls. And, don’t even get me started on dessert…
I will include a picture of one of our dinner menus, but you will need to click on it to see it enlarged. It’s worth a read; it will make your mouth water…
The service was friendly and efficient; especially the complimentary wine service. Those gals came around with wine constantly, so our glasses were never allowed to run dry. In my opinion, the dining room experience was a cut above most of the cruise ships I had previously sailed on.
Overall, the staff on board the American Queen was very friendly and accommodating. It was a nice surprise, given the fact it is an all-American staff that works 14-15 hour days; something most Americans are not used to doing.
Would I recommend the American Queen to my family and friends? Most definitely!
As always, I love reading your travel blog and feel as if I am right there with you.
Thanks Ann Marie! It’s great to hear from you!
Thank you so much for this blog! We are arriving in Memphis on April 26 for the same cruise so we are now very excited! Something I have been asking around but no answers yet is about the wine. We are from California and so very interested in wine. Can you tell me what kind of wine was served with dinner? Like where it is from and winery names? Did I hear that they also offer winetasting on the cruise? We are still waiting for details about our cruise which has been rather slow in coming. Thanks!!
You are welcome!
If I remember correctly, you also posted on Cruise Critic asking about the wine. If so, I posted about the wine there and mentioned that I did not write down the names of the wineries. There were several different ones, but I kept forgetting to bring paper and a pen to dinner! The varietals served were different each night. The whites included pinot grigio, sauvignon blanc, and chardonnay. Other than merlot, I did not notice the reds they were serving, as I opted for whites with all the seafood I was ordering for each course! But, the wine was plentiful; they came around often to refill glasses.
There was not a winetasting on our cruise. As for your documents, they should be coming shortly. I received mine a couple of weeks before, if I remember correctly.
By the way, although I live in Georgia now, I am a California native and lived most of my life in San Diego. And, I also appreciate California wines and worked in fine dining, serving top-quality wines.
Thanks again!! I’m sorry I missed your reply on Cruse Critic – they don’t send me notifications when people reply and I have posted on several threads, so I don’t know when there is an answer. I did start a roll call for our cruise though, so I hope people will sign up. We live in northern CA in the hert of wine country!
Elaine – were some of them from California? I read somewhere that they served all foreign wines – like Chile and Australia.
Yes, I remember there were some from Chile and Australia. And, no, I don’t remember them having any from California. Sorry! By the way, you live in a beautiful part of California!
What a great sounding experience,! Loved the photos and stories, the riverboat cruise sounds right up my alley, intimate, informative and not so crowded. Dave and I will have to plan a trip when he can actually have a “real” vacation! Those buses sound great too. Thanks for sharing !
That menu! Your photos did indeed make my mouth water!
Reblogged this on Jackie’s Travel Blog and commented:
I couldn’t have said it better myself!
Thanks, Jackie! I’m glad you enjoyed your experience as well.
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