The American Queen, the world’s largest paddlewheel steamboat, makes a much anticipated return to river cruising after several, post hurricane Katrina years at rest.
This revitalized river boat boasting a $6 million overhaul will offer 3- to 10-night journeys through America’s heartland from Memphis, its home port, New Orleans, St. Louis, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Louisville and Chattanooga with stops at historic towns and cities. Part of its programming features specialized themed voyages like ‘Music of the 1950,’ ‘Kentucky Derby’ and ‘4th of July Celebration.’ A variety of premium tours is also available and includes such adventures as a ride through alligator-filled swamp or a visit to the once-notorious Louisiana State Penitentiary.
“It’s all about culture and history,” says Tim Rubacky, senior vp of sales, marketing & product development. “This is the most opulent steamboat in the world and the goal here is consistency in the superior experience from start to finish.”
Although filled with today’s modern amenities, the 208-stateroom ship displays all the opulence of the American Victorian era and includes regal staircases and ornate chandeliers. The Grand Saloon, with the dark wooden dance floor, theater-style balconies and large stage, hosts rousing musical shows and a Mark Twain look-alike spinning tales of life on the Mississippi.
The four-course meals in an antebellum-style 200-pax dining room are overseen by Chef Regina Charboneau. Expect comfort foods, American classics and unexpected twists such as brulee French toast or bananas foster French toast for breakfast.
There are plenty of public areas that include a library, game room and a small conference room, most showcasing floor-to-ceiling windows for unforgettable river views.