Climb aboard an American Queen steamboat and you’ll truly feel as if you’ve stepped back in time. The cruise line’s iconic trio of paddlewheelers — American Queen (the world’s largest riverboat), American Empress, and American Duchess (the fleet’s newest vessel) — are a throwback to a more elegant era, replete with Victorian-period flourishes like fine filigree, scrolling woodwork, and sumptuous upholstery (the service is also a throwback: genteel in the Southern tradition, and unabashedly All-American).
But for all the nostalgia it evokes, American Queen Steamboat is decidedly forward-looking, too; passengers will find several modern touches tucked away onboard including free Wi-Fi and free specialty dining (virtually unheard of aboard a cruise ship), complimentary room service ‘round the clock (also rare, especially aboard riverboats), and Broadway-caliber live entertainment.
American Queen plies the Mississippi, Ohio, and Tennessee rivers, and American Empress sails the Columbia and Snake rivers in the Pacific Northwest.
Lovers of Americana, older couples and groups looking to see domestic sights in comfort and with ease.
Adventurous, independent types or families traveling with children.
American Queen's grand dining room Photo by American Queen Steamboat Co.
Regional cuisine (Southeastern and Midwestern on American Queen; Pacific Northwest on American Empress) impresses with local dishes and sourcing, focusing on seasonal highlights.
Onboard both ships you’ll find Pacific Northwest wines and beers. On American Queen, you can taste the best bourbon collection on any vessel; on American Empress, you can sample the handiwork from the local artisan distillery movement in Portland.
Both paddle wheelers have bicycles — complete with helmets and locks — that passengers can borrow at no extra charge to explore on their own.
Hop-on, hop-off buses run loops through town each morning, giving passengers an opportunity to customize their day. Admission to many museums and historic sites is also included.
American Queen's Onboard historians, called “riverlorians,” answer questions and add depth to dialogues about local history.
Rocking chairs on deck give passengers a chance to sip bourbon and watch the South go by on the Mississippi, or toast with local pinot noir and search the river for sea lions in the Pacific Northwest.
We Could Live Without:
Onboard entertainment in the show lounge can be dated, such as “Take my wife … please!”-style comedians and musical acts in old-fashioned costumes belting out medleys of hits from the ’50s and ’60s.
Because of the older age of much of American Queen's clientele, even shore excursions through some of the country’s most beautiful national parks don’t include hiking, and more active adventures need to be arranged on your own.
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