I've wanted to sail on the Mississippi River for years. Having been on 22 ocean cruises, I was anxiously looking forward to this trip. We boarded the America in New Orleans and sailed up to Memphis with 4 stops in between.
I've been in the transportation field my entire working career, and found all of the shipping and industry on the Lower Mississippi fascinating. Our first stop was Oak Alley Plantation. Beautiful place with the largest Oak trees I've ever seen. Second stop Baton Rouge. Third stop Natchez, MS. Beautiful historical city. Last stop before Memphis was Vicksburg, Ms. Lots of history there as well ... great battlefield tour also. I went to Graceland and Sun Studios in Memphis, but the ship had tours to Graceland and around Memphis. There were "included" tours in each of the stops. Side note: DON'T MISS the National WWII Museum in New Orleans. It is absolutely terrific. Spent and entire day there and could have done more (this before our river cruise).
The America is new this year and a very pretty ship. There are beautiful lounges well stocked with non alcoholic drinks and snacks. They have a daily newspaper for passengers that I really enjoyed. The acoustics engineer must have been on vacation when they designed the ship. The dining room is the loudest dining room I remember pretty much anywhere. It is hard to hear folks talk when it is full or nearly full. The meal hours are somewhat restrictive (unlike ocean cruises). Breakfast usually 7:30 to 9:00 although there is early coffee and muffins in a lounge at 6:30 AM. Lunch 12:30 to 1:30 and dinner 6:30 to 7:30. There is a happy hour with drinks and hors d'oeuvres from 5:30 to 6:30 before dinner ... really enjoyed that! I would rate the food as comparable to ocean cruises although not as much selection. The alcohol on board (included) was fine FOR ME ... I'm a glass of wine guy. One could have wine or beer with lunch or dinner or at the show Mixed drinks at happy hour. Some folks mentioned that high end alcohol was not to be found.
The young folks working the dining room also clean the rooms. It works pretty well, but having dedicated staff for each (may not be possible with small ships) as on an ocean cruise might add to the experience. As I stated, they do a nice job overall. All of the crew were VERY nice and helpful ... all service was very good. Definitely added to the experience.
There is a riverlorian who talks about the history, stops and takes passengers (who want to go) on walks in the various ports. I really enjoyed his perspective. Entertainment is on a small scale, but I really enjoyed it. The first night they had the Victory Belles (from the National WWII Museum). Other nights they had small group entertainment that I really enjoyed. This usually ended around 9:30 PM. If you're looking to drink and carry on at a bar into the wee hours, this is not the trip for you.
The crowd is mostly 70's and 80's but everyone seemed nice. I'm fit and 67 but had no issues ... wanted to do the trip and didn't care who the other passengers were. For anyone concerned with getting motion sick, I couldn't tell we were on water. It is a very smooth sail on the Mississippi. My wife echoed the same (she is prone to motion sickness on ocean cruises).
Our cabin #320 had a king size bed (quite comfortable) and was larger than most ocean cruise rooms. The bathroom was adequate also. I totally enjoyed going out on the room balcony and watching the river, day and night. The small ship is really easy to navigate. One can be most anywhere very quickly. There is an elevator and stairs to get around. There is some exercise equipment and a sun deck for those who want it.
Our price per person per day was $830. VERY expensive compared to ANY ocean cruise we've been on. This ship only has about 185 passengers, however versus LOTS more on an ocean cruise (that we've been on). It was a 'bargain' for me as I absolutely loved it! It was a bucket list trip that did not disappoint ... really glad I went!!
King size bed, larger than ocean cruise rooms we've had. Nice balcony attached. Bathroom adequate too.