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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2018
This was a 4-night "add-on" to the end of the normal cruise season. The price was irrestible, plus the convenience of being a round-trip cruise. We'd previously done the traditional 8-day, one-way trip up the Columbia on this ... Read More
This was a 4-night "add-on" to the end of the normal cruise season. The price was irrestible, plus the convenience of being a round-trip cruise. We'd previously done the traditional 8-day, one-way trip up the Columbia on this boat. Earlier this year, we did a lower Mississippi cruise on the American Queen. AQSC is a "class act", and we love the company. I hope they will expand to other rivers. There is hope, as AQSC just acquired another cruise line. It helps that AQSC's parent company is in the maritime business, so this isn't just another piece of a conglomerate empire. I am trying to not sound like a company shill, so am being nit-picky about my complaints. With most cruise lines, they would be "lost in the noise" of other issues. AQSC's cruises are not cheap. Their boats are built and registered in the U.S. That means that they must meet a higher standard of health and safety regulations than foreign-flagged vessels. Also, all crewmembers must be legal to work n the U.S. Their smaller vessels do not offer the economies of scale enjoyed by lines with larger ships (Carnival, NCL, Celebrity, etc.). The smaller size, and nature of operations, preclude ancillary income opportunities, such as spas, casinos, art galleries, tourist photos, and premium restaurants. Some cruise ships have more than 20 times as many passengers as the AE. Over the years, I've spoken to many AQSC employees. Uniformly, they seem to enjoy working for the company, and feel valued and well-treated. The boat's staff, including non-public folks, such as engineering and deck divisions, seem focused on a pleasant experience for the guests. I wish that I'd been as happy during my careers (military pilot, airline pilot, and aerospace engineering analyst). I have some very minor complaints, described in the "Cabin" section. Also, the Wi-Fi is very weak, and often so slow as to be unusable. Mostly, I used my cell's hotspot. However, the desktop computers in the Paddlewheel Lounge were okay. Considering that nearly every other cruise line charges exhorbitant fees for slow Internet access, it's not much of a complaint. I did find it interesting that, when my devices connected to the AE's Internet service, the internal clocks synchronized to Central Time (company's headquarters). Because of the nature of this add-on cruise, Portland was one of the ports. Rather than the usual Hop-On, Hop-Off cruise, the AE's buses were used for a "2-hour city tour". It was interesting and done well. The only odd part was a 1/2-hour visit to Washington Park. We weren't told that we would be leaving the bus. Not everyone was prepared for a walk in the rain. Otherwise, these HOHO bus excursions are an outstanding idea, and a signature perk for AQSC. Generally, we don't take the premium excursions, because the HOHO ones are so good, and I don't want to miss in-port activities on the boat. Since this cruise was very different from others on this boat, some of the guidance was more relevant to other cruises than this one. That caused a bit of confusion, but nothing major. Again, I'm trying hard to find fault with this cruise. "It ain't easy". For the size of the vessel, entertainment was outstanding. The Cruise Director, Greg, did "double-duty" as a singer. A few of the songs weren't a good match for his very talented voice, but I would assign him an "A" grade as a singer and "A+" as Cruise Director. Jordan Gonzalez is a new addition to the staff, and was spectacular. Besides assisting Greg in both roles, she is a talented singer with a very versatile voice. The house band's main job is to support the singers. They did that very well. It's difficult to describe Laurence Cotton, the "Riverlorian". He was on our first AE cruise. Columbia River and Northwest history aren't a job or a hobby for him -- they're a passion that is infectious. I attended every one of his events, even missing some other interesting ones. I dunno about his counterpart for other cruises, but I would definitely pick a cruise on which he's working. I can't say enough good about him!!! Overall, AQSC's cruises (we've also cruised on the American Queen) are very close to "all-inclusive". Bottled water is widely available. Unlimited Northwest beers and wines are available with dinner. Cocktails are reasonably-priced. There is no pressure to purchase cocktails in the bars. The servers are equally happy to provide you with alcohol or glasses of water. We often had water, after having enough wine with dinner to last the evening. My sense is that AQSC views alcoholic drinks as a service to their guests, rather than as a source of income. Ditto for the premium excursions -- there's no pressure to sign up for them. We (traveled with another couple) signed up for dinner in the River Grille on the first night, assuming that others wouldn't. We guessed correctly, as it was nearly vacant. It is the buffet dining area for breakfast and lunch, but the alternative (reservations required) dining venue for dinner. The menu is very appealing, but constant throughout the cruise. I enjoyed a mouth-watering dinner of lobster tail. Yummy! The rest of our party enjoyed their meals. We ate other dinners in the Astoria dining room. Service there ranged from good to excellent. The cuisine was great, with many menu choices available for each meal. The buffet breakfast was comparable to that in many hotels, but included made-to-order omelets. Lunch had many choices, and was as good as a buffet can be. Soft-serve ice cream is available at any time in the River Grille. Snacks are available in the Paddlewheel Lounge from 3 to 5. Popcorn is available for a few hours more. I felt that the popcorn was too salty, though some might disagree. Even so, I would have preferred that it be available from late morning until the evening entertainment ended. Probably because of the price, the size of the vessel, and the orientation of the amenities, this isn't a cruise for children or for young adults looking for excitement. Passengers who aren't eligible for Medicare will be in a minority, though they're unlikely to feel like misfits. The entertainment is generally done by 10pm, unlike cruise ships that appeal to younger folks. Events happen at the scheduled time, which I appreciate, coming from a military and airline background. I'm frustrated by live performances ashore that seem to start a minimum of 10 minutes late. I tried hard to have more complaints to share with you, but I failed. Read Less
Guest Experience Manager, Guest Experience Manager @AQSC has responded
Dear Smurfjet, Thank you for your very well thought out and detailed review! We can certainly tell that you are extremely knowledgeable when it comes to American Queen Steamboat Company cruises. We are thrilled that it was difficult for you to find fault with us! The wifi does present challenges while river cruising and seems to be a common theme in the cruise industry. What more can we say? You said it all and we are thrilled to have you as a loyal customer and sincerely appreciate your patronage. We look forward to welcoming you back on-board one of our vessels. If we can be of assistance to you, please feel free to contact me at guestrelations@aqsc.com. Wishing you and yours a safe and happy holiday season! Guest Experience Manager, American Queen Steamboat Company
Sail Date: November 2018
AQSC has river cruising figured out. The Duchess is an awesome vessel and continues the tradition of first class river cruising started by her mother, the American Queen. Our cruise from Nashville to Chattanooga on the Cumberland and ... Read More
AQSC has river cruising figured out. The Duchess is an awesome vessel and continues the tradition of first class river cruising started by her mother, the American Queen. Our cruise from Nashville to Chattanooga on the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers was very relaxing and historical and the scenery was beautiful. Even though the Duchess is not nearly as big as the Queen, she is very elegant and well laid out. Large cabins, sufficient public spaces, excellent dining, impeccable service and excellent entertainment are some of the attributes that make this a nearly perfect vessel to explore America's great rivers. Entertainment trio of Dustin, Courtney and Jeff did a fantastic job each night and are some of the hardest working entertainers we have witnessed. We appreciated that they performed music from the 50's and 60's. The riverlorian, Mike, gave daily informative, interesting and entertaining talks about the river history, lore, navigation and other subjects. Teresa did an awesome job with our daily shore excursions and hop on hop off itinerary. We love AQSC and always look forward to our next cruise on America's rivers on either the Queen, the Duchess and hopefully, the Empress. Read Less
Guest Experience Manager, Guest Experience Manager @AQSC has responded
Dear shrumster, Thank you so much for the great review! We love that you refer to our American Queen as the Duchess's mother! Your recognition of our entertainers and shore excursions representative is sincerely appreciated ! We are thrilled that you love AQSC ! AQSC loves their guests and we certainly hope to have the opportunity to welcome you back onboard again in the not so distant future! Kind Regards, Guest Experience Manager
Sail Date: November 2018
4 night cruise from New Orleans, enjoyed the ports very much, though not a lot of a variety of things to do at each one, to be expected on this itinerary. Visited a few very nice plantation houses, plus Baton Rouge. For those who have ... Read More
4 night cruise from New Orleans, enjoyed the ports very much, though not a lot of a variety of things to do at each one, to be expected on this itinerary. Visited a few very nice plantation houses, plus Baton Rouge. For those who have cruised on the larger ships, this cruise will come as a bit of a shock. The ambiance is very low key, no fancy décor, with basically no activities and nothing to do while on the ship. After dinner for 3 nights a banjo player performed for an hour, that was it for the evening entertainment. Seeing this once was fine, but it got old fast, and I didn't need to see it all 3 nights. Other than that, after dinner there was nothing to do, no schedule activities. The daily happy hour at 5:30 with tasty snacks and open bar was a nice touch, as well as the daily fresh baked cookies, and always available snacks and beverages. The ship staff and crew are friendly, dining room service was fine too. The boat is small, which means no crowds, no lines, getting on and off simple. My overall rating would actually be "good" if that was offered between very good and average. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
We got to New Orleans the day before our trip. Two members of our party spent the day at the WWII museum, which they thoroughly enjoyed. The rest of us took the trolley to shop at the French market and enjoy beignets. We were picked up ... Read More
We got to New Orleans the day before our trip. Two members of our party spent the day at the WWII museum, which they thoroughly enjoyed. The rest of us took the trolley to shop at the French market and enjoy beignets. We were picked up at the hotel by the cruise company. Our bags were loaded for us onto the bus. We rode to the ship, where we embarked for snacks at 11:00. Our bags were transferred to our room for us during the welcome aboard! The ship was beautiful, clean, and roomy. The food was FANTASTIC!! There was always a seafood, two different meats, and vegan option for each meal. Meal service was smooth with beautiful table settings. The excursions were interesting and informational about our history. We visited various plantations, and historic towns. The onboard activities featured a river laureate, jazz music, and a sweet and funny comedian. The crew met our every want and need with a smile. It was a spectacular time. We are making plans to travel with America Cruise Line again on a different river. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
We chose this in order to see the Southern states of USA .We are experienced cruisers .The moment we set foot on this boat we knew it was not going to be very good.The boat smells musty and damp .When we were shoen the cabin I wanted to ... Read More
We chose this in order to see the Southern states of USA .We are experienced cruisers .The moment we set foot on this boat we knew it was not going to be very good.The boat smells musty and damp .When we were shoen the cabin I wanted to leave .We had Suite 509 .It was shabby,depressing ,dark and poorly equipped .We tried to change but the boat was full . The experience in the dining room the first evening confirmed our thoughts .The maitred Oscar told us we had assigned seating on a big table when in fact we had booked a table for two .He insisted we hadn’t and said that there was nothing he could do and suggested we changed to early dinner to get a table for two .We went to the pursers desk,complained and amazingly a table for two appeared .The dining experience was poor .Poor quality food,poorly presented,always cold the worst we have experienced in 25 years of cruising on all kinds of boats and ships .Information on disembarking was incorrect and cost us 20 dollars for a transfer to a hotel we didn’t want when we were told there were no taxis allowed in the port on that day .This was utter rubbish as we saw lots of people getting taxis from the port .A very expensive,disappointing experience .We do not recommend it .Better to drive the route and stay in some of the amazing plantation houses . Read Less
Guest Experience Manager, Guest Experience Manager @AQSC has responded
Dear Mr. Barnet, It is extremely unusual to hear comments such as yours. At American Queen Steamboat Company, we strive to deliver a river cruise experience that exceeds all expectations. We sincerely apologize for your unmet expectations and would like to have the opportunity to discuss this with you. Please contact us at guestrelations@aqsc.com. Sincerely, Guest Relations Manager
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2018
From my first contact by phone with the cruise agent through the debarkation, everyone and everything was a most pleasant experience. I have been on several cruises and this ranks near the top of the list. First and foremost was the ... Read More
From my first contact by phone with the cruise agent through the debarkation, everyone and everything was a most pleasant experience. I have been on several cruises and this ranks near the top of the list. First and foremost was the attentiveness and attitude of the entire crew which was directed t making our trip pleasant and enjoyable. The fact that passenger count was small (at capacity) allowed for interaction between everyone which made for a most comfortable time and conversation with all. The ship provided ready access to every public area and was clean and well manned. Our cabin was large by cruise ship standards and dining was excellent. The entertainment was good and their was always something to do. All personnel were dedicated to providing first class service to all passengers. The ports were well chosen and provided good shore experiences. I would most assuredly use American Cruise Lines again. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2018
We had driven through the Columbia Gorge, but wanted to see it up close at a gentle pace. Our trip started in Spokane. One night at the Historic Davenport Hotel was included in the trip. We opted for an extra night and were glad about ... Read More
We had driven through the Columbia Gorge, but wanted to see it up close at a gentle pace. Our trip started in Spokane. One night at the Historic Davenport Hotel was included in the trip. We opted for an extra night and were glad about that. The Historic Davenport Hotel is a destination in its own right. Registration was at the hotel. The next day we went by bus to Clarkston, where we boarded the Empress. We had a "deluxe veranda stateroom" which was cozy but efficient. The dining was very good to excellent. This website's review expressed disappointment that regional wines were not served with dinner. Clearly, the parent company heard that, because we had wines from a different regional winery every night. The entertainment exceeded our expectations. On a ship this size the music team has to be small (seven in all, I think), but they did a great job. The "Rock and Roll Dance Party" on the next to last night sounded corny, but it was a blast. Many crew members joined passengers on the dance floor. The Hop-on Hop-off buses worked very well. We took three premium tours, which delivered what they promised. I must comment on the friendly staff. Everyone on the ship worked hard to make our trip memorable. We were taken by how many staffers learned and remembered our names. The entertainers were friendly and approachable. The Riverlorian's lectures were always interesting. After this trip, ask me anything about Lewis and Clark! (Honestly, if you aren't interested in learning about Lewis and Clark, take a different cruise. That expedition's history permeates every port of call.) Definitely not a cruise for children, unless they were teens who are fascinated by history. The WiFi was mostly a bust. After a bit, we decided that this would be a great week to drop out of the daily news cycle anyway. Would we go again? Yes. We could do all the same day trips and take in different sites everywhere. Read Less
Guest Experience Manager, Guest Experience Manager @AQSC has responded
Dear Treywash, Thank you for the five star review! At American Queen Steamboat Company, our staff work very hard to deliver a memorable river cruise experience that exceeds all expectations. Our Riverlorian and entertainers are top notch performers and we are thrilled to learn that you had such a fantastic experience! Thanks again for taking the time to let us know about your unforgettable experience. We sincerely hope that we will have the opportunity to welcome you back on-board one of our vessels in the very near future! Kind Regards, Guest Experience Manager
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2018
Love the small ship! We had 100 passengers, so got to know most folks on board. The ship perhaps needs to be updated, but it was clean and serviceable. There were many problems with our key cards not working, but any crew member was able ... Read More
Love the small ship! We had 100 passengers, so got to know most folks on board. The ship perhaps needs to be updated, but it was clean and serviceable. There were many problems with our key cards not working, but any crew member was able to open for us, and resetting the key was pretty quick. We were in 204, so just steps from the lounge. I didn't go to the nightly entertainment, but the cabin was quiet even while the entertainment was in progress. Balcony was great, loved the fresh air. The folks in the cabin next door started smoking on their balcony, and the crew quickly shut that down, which I really appreciated. The food was excellent! Really, everything was top quality, cooked perfectly, and enough variety that I always found something I liked.The tours were good. I wish they'd told us more about the tours, but the ones we went on were worthwhile. Would definitely go again. No big ships for me, I love the small river cruises! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2018
Our ship, the American Song, was brand new and had only been in service for two weeks before our cruise. Everything was sparkling clean and shipshape. It was a real treat to be onboard such a clean, beautiful ship. One very nice feature is ... Read More
Our ship, the American Song, was brand new and had only been in service for two weeks before our cruise. Everything was sparkling clean and shipshape. It was a real treat to be onboard such a clean, beautiful ship. One very nice feature is that our room heating/cooling system worked great. The cabin temperature controls were easy to use and the system performed well. The staff was unfailingly courteous and helpful. Most of the complimentary shore excursions were very interesting although a little slow-paced for my wife & me. We’re in our early-to-mid-60s and prefer a more active pace. Most of their tours range from an hour to three hours and involve little walking. But most of the passengers looked older than us so the tours probably fit American Cruise Lines’ demographic well. The onboard pilothouse tour given by the ship’s cabin was very interesting. (But I’m an old sailor so I have a bias toward anything nautical.) Riverboat historian Bill’s lectures were terrific. They focused on riverboat history, the Civil War and the Louisiana Purchase. We found them fascinating. He has a great delivery and infuses the subjects with humor. Bill’s wife & entertainment partner is singer Laura and her tribute to women singers was great. Her knowledge of the repertoire starting back in the early 20th century and continuing up to the current day was amazing. The food was very good but designed to appeal to the standard American palate. It’s centered around a large chunk of meat or fish and accompanied by a starch such as potatoes or white rice. Vegetables are an afterthought. I had a hard time getting veggies even when I ordered the vegan options. Salads were mostly lettuce with a very small dollop of dressing. At least, the lettuce was not iceberg. Some fruit was available on a buffet table at breakfast but some was unripe. Dessert was available at both lunch & dinner. Alcoholic beverages flow freely starting with complimentary beer & wine at lunch. Next is happy hour with the added option of free mixed drinks. Happy hour is followed by free beer/wine/mixed drinks at dinner. The WiFi was very slow, so slow as to be mostly unusable. I tried it in a few different locations throughout the ship. I found that I could get a faster connection by using my cellphone to set up a hotspot. We paid for a couple of the “signature” excursions. One was the Atchafalaya tour; we were very disappointed by this. On the day we went the swamp boat’s steering had apparently been worked on recently and put back together backwards; i.e., steering to port sent the boat to starboard and vice versa. Watching the skipper try to leave the dock with this mechanical disability did not inspire confidence. Once away from the dock we didn’t see much wildlife and the tour narration was lacking. On the way back we had a miserable lunch in a local hole-in-the-wall diner. I’ve had better meals at Denny’s. It sounded like the people who took the free tour that day had a better experience. To top it all off when we boarded the bus to return Rush Limbaugh was on the radio, not at all what a couple of lefties like us want to hear. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2018
This was my second cruise on the Independence and I have booked two more cruises for 2019 and 2020. We were able to take a New York City tour before sailing giving me a chance to visit the 911 Memorial, which was very important to me. ... Read More
This was my second cruise on the Independence and I have booked two more cruises for 2019 and 2020. We were able to take a New York City tour before sailing giving me a chance to visit the 911 Memorial, which was very important to me. Touring West Point was such a wonderful experience and the FDR Home and Library were a highlight of the trip as well. I could have spent a whole day there. I enjoy the atmosphere of the small ship and getting to know so many people. The age range of the passengers is more to my liking, closer to my age. And the fact that American Cruise Lines has staterooms designed for singles makes traveling a little less expensive for a single person. The food was wonderful and the variety at each meal was a real treat. The open seating at all meals made it so easy to get to know people. The service staff and management were exceptional. Looking forward to traveling with American Cruise Lines again. Read Less

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