American Queen Riverboat Cruise – June/July 2012

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.

Passenger Demographics

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.”

Final Note

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.

3 comments on “American Queen Riverboat Cruise – June/July 2012

  1. Thank you for telling about your trip in such detail! Your dinner group sounds nice and a good introduction to people on-board – on the only cruise Allan and I have (yet) taken, they grouped us by nationality, so we were alone for a couple days until a half-table of Brits found us and invited us to join them.

    Have fun with your cables today, and we will talk next week!

    Oh yeah, I have a new-ish blog myself (linked above). I wasn’t going to publicize it until I was updating regularly (which you will notice I’m not), but without any readers there is little inspiration to either …

  2. Of all things…. Tom, we’ve bumped into each other from time to time on SFFNet. I read Esther Friesner’s topic, saw your post there, and came over to look at this. The thing is, I have a folder on my hard drive for information about this cruise company and this boat — my mother’s 75th birthday is coming up in early 2014 and we’re researching cruises to celebrate. 🙂 Thank you *so* much for a wonderful bit of input. I just forwarded a link to this page to Mom, who will doubtless be over to read it sometime in the next couple of months when she next logs on and finds the email. 😉

  3. Great to see you here Ariel. Be sure to give your Mom the permalink. As you probably know the top post will change as I add new content.

    Not knowing your Mom, I can only guess, but I expect she would really love this Riverboat. Especially with a family group.