American Queen Cruise Review by gold1959
- Sail Date: March 2016
- Destination: USA
Taking the Civil War paddle-wheel cruise down the Mississippi has been my US Army Ret. history-buff husband's dream (and mine) for many years- his father actually did a "Huck Finn" thing as a young man, shoveling coal on a Mississippi steamboat! This was a very expensive but wonderful cruise, and I highly recommend it for people interested in American history and literature, and for those who really want to see the USA from a totally different perspective than you will see it by driving or flying. We had been to several of the ports on this cruise, but arriving by paddle-wheel steamboat makes for a Totally unique way to see and enjoy them. The American Queen herself is extraordinary- she was built around a real 1926 steam engine, and the charming crew is (justly) proud of her, and will give you an in-depth tour of her! The bright red paddle-wheel is fabulous in and of itself- I still have Tina Turner singing "Proud Mary" going through my head!- and yes, one of the ship's entertainers DID sing it on this cruise! We especially loved the bar that's right by the paddle-wheel, where they had live (and excellent) music every evening, and we LOVED the real steam calliope, which the pianist played as we left port in the late afternoon! The entertainment was excellent- both the nightly musicals and the "period" Civil War entertainment, which included live music, and talks by both an historian, and AQ's "Riverlorian", and my husband and I danced more on this cruise than on any other cruise we've taken! The ship is beautifully appointed in period style, with original Tiffany glass, books, antiques, and reproductions, and the public rooms are truly gorgeous. The towns we visited as we cruised slowly down the Mississippi from Memphis to New Orleans were very interesting and fun to visit, and we got to see some fabulous things, including original Tiffany Glass church windows, a number of interesting museums, and historic sites. We took a variety of AQ's excursions, to Vicksburg, the Frogmore Cotton Plantation, the Louisiana "Swamp Tour", etc., and used AQ's free "hop on-hop off" bus, as well, and were pleased with both. Natchez was especially fun, with many things to see and do, including the Charboneau Distillery, and historic Kings Tavern next door where we had a delicious lunch (and bought their rum, of course!), and the fun & historic "Natchez Under-The-Hill Saloon", which was right where the boat was docked! The service aboard the ship was excellent (as it needs to be with an older clientele), our stateroom was very tiny but also very lovely (we booked a cabin on the "public" balcony), wine with dinner was complimentary, unlimited, and Very nice, and the food was excellent- even better than the very good food we've enjoyed on Celebrity cruises. Searching high and low I managed to find one (wonderful) travel agent who was able to get us several hundred dollars in on board credit- as AQ gives nothing, I Definitely suggest you look for a travel agent when you are ready to book an AQ cruise! It is an "older person's" sort of cruise- while there is a lovely little pool, there are no water slides or games or things for active children to do, and the average age was over 60. I am 57 and my husband is 69, and there were WWII Veterans on our cruise who were over 90, which was very cool! I will say that the cruise was made up of a VERY active & intrepid group of seniors- we all tromped through the rain and mud around the Frogmore Plantation, and through pouring rain Baton Rouge, as well! As we are in the hospitality business- we have an inn in West Virginia, and I have a travel/food blog- I blogged about the cruise- and the Civil War history/"foodie" road trip we did through Tennessee to get to Memphis for the cruise, and then New Orleans at the end of the cruise- extensively on my "We Live In The Country!" blog with lots of photos and links to all the many things we did and enjoyed.
gold1959’s Full Rating Summary
The cabin was very small (smaller than Celebrity, for example), but very lovely and beautifully appointed, with a drop-leaf desk, closet, fine linens, etc. We had a cabin on the "public" balcony, which was fun- we had a little table and 2 chairs right outside our stateroom, and it was lovely to have coffee or wine there, especially in the evening, and watch the Mississippi and the towns along her go by...
Port & Shore Excursion Reviews
A truly great city with tons to do and marvelous food! Although American Queen included one night at a hotel prior to boarding, we spent 4 nights in Memphis- 2 at The Peabody, Memphis' grand historic hotel, which is fabulous- got to see the famous Peabody Ducks, and enjoy a wonderful gourmet dinner in their French restaurant. Live music on Beale Street was great- we walked there every night and went music-bar hopping until the wee hours, and felt totally safe. We also took a Great BBQ tour with "Tastin' Round Town" and got to eat (and learn about) 6 different (delicious) kinds of Memphis BBQ, including the totally fabulous BBQ at "Cozy Corner"! Got to drink with the goats at Silky O'Sullivan's too! We enjoyed the Fire Dept. Museum and the Cotton Exchange, but the Belz Museum of Judaic and Asian art was THE "hidden gem" of a museum in Memphis- really fabulous!
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