Do you miss cruising but are not ready to take a trip overseas yet? Have you dreamed about enjoying a river cruise in Europe? Then, how about cruising closer to home on American rivers?
Did you know that you can cruise the Mississippi (lower & upper rivers), Ohio, Tennessee, Cumberland & the Columbia/Snake rivers all on a paddlewheel riverboat, which move you forward in relaxation and backward in time? Soak up the view as the wonders of the rivers gently slide by. Enjoy the admiration of bystanders who gather to appreciate the beauty of your riverboat’s design. Explore your vessel’s stunning art collection throughout the boat. Share your experience with fellow guests who, like you, have come not only to see, but to experience these magnificent rivers.
I recently returned from a “bourbon themed” cruise on the American Queen Steamboat Company’s American Duchess. We sailed from Memphis to Louisville. The ship holds 160 guests on a regular basis. We had 120 guests on board for our cruise. It was fun sailing on a themed cruise with fellow bourbon enthusiasts. We visited distilleries, enjoyed bourbon menu items in the Grand Dining Room and delicious specialty bourbon drinks each day as we sailed up the Mississippi. We had a bourbon specialist on board, Michael Veach, who wrote the book Kentucky Bourbon Whisky: An American Heritage. He conducted various lectures and bourbon tastings on board throughout the cruise.
We enjoyed a pre-cruise stay at the famous “Peabody Hotel” in Memphis (included in the cruise) where everyone received a Covid test before being allowed to board the next day. Covid vaccinations were mandatory for guests and crew. What a safe environment! The march of the ducks is a sight not to be missed at the Peabody for sure. It happens at 11am and 5pm. The ducks enter the lobby from the elevator, walk down the red carpet and enter the lobby fountain where they stay until 5pm when they “march” back to the elevator and back to their “Duck Palace” on the rooftop. This is all supervised by the “Duckmaster” of ceremonies.
The ship is beautiful and cabins and suites are spacious. A unique feature of this ship is that you are encouraged to iron in your room. Anyone who knows, irons are strictly prohibited on cruise ships. This line places an iron and small ironing board in each stateroom (which I used to press my shirts each evening). A Keurig coffee maker (with several types of coffee) is located in your room as well as twin, or double beds (as per your request) and a sofa (some can convert to sofa beds. The bathroom is quite large with a shower and no tub in the inside and veranda rooms. The suites do have a bathtub and a shower (2 bathrooms). Ample sockets and USB ports are provided at the desk and next to the bed.
There are no plastic bottles used on board, instead there are logo metal water bottles in the room and a water dispenser located in the hallway to fill these bottles. This was a great feature and very environmentally friendly.
Food was plentiful and delicious. Room service is available as well as the Grand Dining Room for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. A more casual meal can be enjoyed for breakfast and lunch at the River Terrace, located at the back of the ship. Lobster tail is available every second day as well as USDA Prime Beef which is served on board. There is popcorn, fruit, cookies, misc snacks as well as a specialty coffee machine and beverages available 24 hours a day.
Many shore excursions are included in the price of the cruise. There are also “premium” excursions, available for purchase. On this particular cruise we enjoyed the “Elvis Experience” in Memphis where we visited Graceland (a MUST do!) We Visited the Discovery Park Museum in Columbus, KY. We “checked-in along the Chitlin Trail” in Paducah (fantastic tour). In Henderson we enjoyed the hop on, hop off bus tour. In Owensboro we visited the “Green River Distillery” and started the day with a bourbon tasting. In Brandenburg we visited the birthplace of Lincoln, visited the Lincoln Museum and the Lincoln National Park and Monument. Post cruise tours were available to Churchill Downs.
The staff are “All American”. They were very friendly and personable throughout the cruise.
Wi-Fi and phone service is available BUT the service is intermittent, at best, and needs to be improved. I was told they are working on upgrading their capability.
American Queen Steamboat Company offers Bourbon, Music, Culinary & Wine themed cruises as well as Thanksgiving, Country or Cajun Christmas cruises, and even a Kentucky Derby cruise.
Cruise Planners/Martindale Travel & Tours is escorting several groups with The American Queen Steamboat Company in 2022.
May 8th, 2022 – Memphis to Louisville with a famous Southern Chef (details coming soon); Bourbon Themed Cruise on August 21st, 2022 from Louisville to Memphis; and a Wine Theme Cruise on November 13th from Spokane, WA to Vancouver, WA.