This is my second cruise in a month, as last month I sailed on the Mississippi River. I mentioned a few highlights of the cruise at the time, but I wanted to share my full report on the experience…
My Cruise Report from my Mississippi River Cruise, Part 1
At the end of July, I sailed the upper Mississippi River on the American Duchess, along with a few of my fabulous and fun client-friends. Back in late February I booked space for this cruise along with a Holiday sailing on the American Queen as one of the few travel experiences we could have confidence in operating this year. This is summary of the experience.
Inclusive Cruise Offering
One of the reasons I was attracted to this is the inclusive nature of the American Queen Steamboat Company (AQSC) cruises, along with some special pricing I was able to get for our group.
American Queen cruises include a pre-cruise hotel stay, which is the perfect way to start a cruise – arriving early so embarkation day is smooth and easy. They include a complementary transfer from the pre-cruise hotel to the ship. Onboard, there is an open bar concept, where almost all your drinks are included – there were a few premium liqueurs that had a $3 up charge, but for the most part, we could order any drink we wanted for no cost. Prime beef and lobster are offered each night at dinner. Internet and shore excursions are included also.
With our special group pricing, the port taxes and gratuities are included, rounding out the inclusive nature of the cruise.
American Duchess Boutique River Ship
The American Duchess is the smallest of the AQSC ships, with a maximum capacity of 188 people, with about 130-140 onboard our sailing.
This ship as a variety of stateroom options, with the veranda staterooms at 200 sq ft with private verandas. They have a two-story loft stateroom of 630 square feet, with the living room on the lower level and bedroom on the upper level.
Public areas include the grand lobby bar, right in the center of the ship, which is just outside the dining room and the show lounge, so it’s a natural place to gather. The Lincoln Library was a quiet spot for reading, and the location for a few crew talks and bingo.
Because of the private balconies, there wasn’t a deck that you could walk the perimeter, except the first deck only when we weren’t sailing. The Sun Deck at the top indicates a walking track, but not really, as they seldom have that deck set up for access since the ship has to go under bridges on a regular basis as they sail the river. After requesting the Sun Deck multiple times, they set it up for in-port days, and it was a lovely area to sit up high, enjoy the view over the town, and relax with a good book.
The included pre-cruise hotel night came in handy, not only to give us some time to see Minneapolis a bit, but to deal with my cousin Jane’s lost luggage. Her flight was delayed because – get this – they could not disconnect the jetway from the plane! For 2 ½ hours! So, she missed her connection, as did her luggage, so we had to visit the airport a few times to get accurate information on where the luggage was, and when we could get it. We did not want to trust the airline system to getting to her, as we needed to have it ready for pick up the morning of ship embarkation.
Jane’s flight and luggage difficulties are an example of why you never fly in on the same day as embarkation and sail away.
Grand Dining Room was the only place I ate. There is also the River Club & Terrace that has casual dining, with an inside space and outdoor terrace.
For breakfast and lunch there was a buffet supplemented with order-from-the-menu options. I’m not a big fan of buffets as I like to be served, but I found that when I went to the buffet, I tried a few items I normally wouldn’t order, and some were exceptionally good. I heard that the hamburgers were very good but never tried them. I have to say that they had the worst eggs benedict I’ve ever ordered. That is one of my favorites on vacation, and the eggs were hard and the hollandaise was an orange color. I wrote that one up on my comments. Other breakfast items were very good, and I ended up enjoying the mix of buffet and menu ordered options.
Dinner every night was excellent. Our server at dinner was outstanding and kept us well fed with extra tastes and courses. Many nights we had multiple appetizers, or an extra entrée side to share when we couldn’t decide. I mentioned that Prime Beef and lobster are available every night, and I had a lobster tail side added to my entree every single night! The lamb chops were perfect, and there was a good selection of options every night. Some were classic recipes and others were more inventive.
The bartenders were experts in their craft, and we tried a number of new cocktails.
I’ll continue with Part 2 next week…
I will be doing a Holiday Sailing on the lower Mississippi from New Orleans to Memphis the week after Thanksgiving, November 28 – December 6. I hope you’ll consider joining me – check it out at: https://www.recess4grownups.com/lower-mississippi-cruise/
We have a number of stateroom categories left, and even though I’m traveling, Darby can help you with the options; you can call 678-824-5030 or email Travel@Recess4Grownups.com