Jan and I decided it was time for us to have a more extended vacation than the weekend trips we’ve been doing so far this year. After some searching we came across the American Queen river boat from the Great American Steamboat Company.
This looked like it had everything we wanted. Departure and arrivals not too far from home, a relatively small ship, quality accommodations and a relaxing itinerary. We booked it almost on the spur-of-the-moment. It turned out to be a wonderful choice for a number of reasons.
Click (double click?) the video above to play (about 53 seconds long).
This trip report is organized a little differently than the usual reverse-chronological blog order. I hope it works. You should click on the links below to step through the sections on that particular subject. This will open a new window or tab and when you close that you should return here.1. Entertainment & Activities 2. Food & Drink 3. Stops & River Sights 4. Air Shows 5. Fireworks Please let me know about any errors, important omissions, or other problems. Either post a comment after this section or email me at:
Opinions & Conclusions
Most of all, this trip was the best we’ve taken for several years and it had a great therapeutic effect on me. I came back feeling the best I have since Spring of 2011. My oncologist was quite amazed!
The food was great, even though we felt the selection was limited at breakfast and lunch if you ordered off the menu. The evening meal (not a buffet) had a variety of choices and staff were quite willing to accommodate changes and substitutions.
The overall atmosphere was one of relaxation with the crew members very “laid back”. They enjoyed talking and laughing with the passengers who were open to that and properly reserved for those who were not.
The music and entertainment was fitting for a Riverboat cruise. We really enjoyed all we saw. Not lavish “Las Vegas” sorts of productions but good performances by talented musicians.
The “Hop-On Hop-Off” tours worked well with no congestion or confusion.
You could tell this was an inaugural season with some disorganization in specific areas. For example, some staff clearly needed additional training. For four days we had to contact housekeeping to get the necessary number of towels and washcloths. Also, we never learned the name of the person who dealt with cleaning and stocking our cabin.
There were schedule changes which were not communicated very well to passengers. Mostly these were due to river conditions but it made planning the next day a problem sometimes. Jan and I were a little disjointed by the amount of steamboating we did, we had expected more time on the river than we got.
Though not the fault of the American Queen, the hot weather was a deterrent to many outside activities. Temperatures of 104 degrees with humidity kept us inside a lot. We did suggest that strategic placement of fans and ‘misters’ around the open decks would have helped a lot.
As you might expect, the passengers tended to be more affluent, retired people but there was a smattering of younger people too. We only encountered a few who were not Americans, and the rest were mostly from the South or East coast. Overall passengers were friendly but there were some groups who tended to stay with themselves.
Dress was casual. I only saw a few men in sports coats though the women tended to dress up a little more. I got mixed reactions to my usual daytime “weird T-shirt” wardrobe and some people seemed confused or offended by the one that read “Not Dead Yet.”
We liked this cruise enough that we have booked another in October from St. Louis to St. Paul. With luck this will be in the Fall Color season and should be a lot cooler.
Many thanks to my long-time friend Mike Apsey for editing the video and for help with creating these blog posts.