30 November 2014

The American Queen

One of my readers has asked me for details on the American Queen. Since we are now in New Orleans in a B&B with fast internet access, I can do that.

The American Queen is said to be the largest river steamboat ever built. She was built in 1995 and is a six-deck recreation of a classic Mississippi riverboat. She has 222 cabins for a capacity of 436 guests and a crew of 160. She is 127m long and 27m wide. The American Queen offers guests a gym and spa. The Front Porch Cafe is open 24 hours a day. The River Grill & Bar, Grand Saloon for evening entertainment and the J.M. White Dining Salon, where guests dine nightly in a two-sittings arrangement.

Compared to other river cruises we have taken, namely Amsterdam to Budapest and a river cruise through the Burgundy wine region in France, this one has some limitations.

The cabins are not sound proofed and you hear just about every conversation in the rooms next door including the television shows the neighbours are watching nightly. With the passenger age well above 50, hearing limitations require them to have the telly on at full volume. A set of earplugs, however fixed our night sleep.

Internet service, although advertised as 'free', was non existent except for the occasional text only email.

But the food was exceptional and plentiful. The service staff are fabulous and very helpful. Nothing is any trouble for them. One night I ordered snapper for dinner and when I came across a few bones, our waiter was right there offering me a steak or any other dish instead. It only took us a day to teach the service staff that to make a proper cup of tea you need the teabag in the cup first and then pour boiling water over it. In America, they usually give you  cup of hot water and then fetch a teabag that has little chance to really infuse the tea. But on the American Queen, the staff now know how to serve tea to Aussies, Kiwis and Poms.

The night time in the Grand Saloon was very good with a great band and great entertainers. There is also a cinema but we never went there.

The American Queen at Vicksburg
The Smoke Stacks
Diane, Kathy and Rob visited a nearby mansion one morning which gave me a chance to visit the Pilot House to find out how the boat is operated, it was fascinating. We also visited the engine room on another occasion.

The Pilot House
The Wheel is in the Chart Room
Some more Pics
The cruise started in Memphis Tn and first stopped at Vicksburg, where we were taken to the Civil War Battlefield. Next stop was another little town called Natchez Ms, for another tour of the town.  Next day we arrived at St Francisville La, where we were taken through the small town on a short tour in the morning and in the afternoon we did a tour of the Angola Luisiana State Penitentiary.

Then we sailed through the night  past Baton Rouge the State Capitol of Luisiana. We didn't stop there, instead tied up at the Nottoway Plantation. It was Thanksgiving Day which is an American Tradition, including more food, especially turkey. Wine on the boat was flowing freely that night. After dark, the plantation lit a huge bonfire, another American tradition. We stayed there overnight and the following morning, the buses took us to Baton Rouge and a tour of the USS Kidd moored at the Naval Museum.

Finally, the following morning we sailed our last leg to New Orleans, where the weather for the first time since we left Los Angeles is in double figures. AND THE INTERNET WORKS.

Question is was the trip good value for money? Compared with river cruises in Europe or even on the Murray River in South Australia, answer is, not really. But I'm not sorry we did it.