American Queen Steamboat River Cruises

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American Queen Steamboat Company
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American Queen Steamboat Company 

Take a step back in time to an era where steamboats were queen of the river. While they were once a vital transportation method, these grandeur riverboats now offer a unique river cruising experience, with romance, elegance and American legacy coming as part of the package. 
Since President Ted Sykes was appointed in early 2013, the American Queen Steamboat Company has continued to provide extra-special river cruises along the Mississippi, as well as broadening its horizons to cover the Snake and Columbia rivers as well (since 2014). Sail through some of the iconic areas of the Heartland and be transported back to Mark Twain’s era, or follow in the footsteps of Lewis & Clark as you float through the Pacific Northwest USA and enjoy a ride on one of the largest paddlewheel riverboats in the world. 


The American Queen Steamboat Company boasts two impressive and luxurious steamboats. It may not be the largest fleet in the world, but it continues to delight guests on every single voyage. From the top notch US service and sophisticated décor to upbeat entertainment and enriching onboard experiences, a river cruise on the American Queen or American Empress should tick all the boxes. 

The American Empress, originally known as the Empress of the North, was refitted, rebranded and refurbished in 2014, and took the charm of the American Queen away from the Heartland and into the Pacific Northwest. The normal route follows the Columbia and Snake Rivers between Oregon and Washington. Both the Empress and the Queen have been designed to celebrate the rich heritage of the area, offering guests an unforgettable look at America’s history, while also ensuring you stay in the 21st century with all of the luxurious mod-cons that you could need
The American Queen is the largest steamboat in the world, and has the capacity to carry 436 passengers. The American Empress is smaller, with a 223 capacity. Guests can expect an approximately 1:2.5 staff: passenger ratio. 


All staff and crew are well trained and all American and English speaking. As such, the cruises are marketed towards English-speaking countries, particularly the USA, as well as the UK and Canada. Guests can expect to share the voyage with other well-travelled, affluent passengers who love history, culture and the charm of the Victorian era – most of them will likely be mature guests over the age of 50.


Menus on both ships reflect the regional cuisine; think Southern comfort food on the Queen, and decadent, fresh seafood and artisan cheeses on the Empress. The Queen boasts the talents of acclaimed chef Regina Charboneau.
Dining venues on the Queen include the opulent JM White Dining Saloon and the Front Porch Café, which serves up American classics, day and night. Meanwhile, the Empress has the main Astoria dining room, plus the River Grill & Bar for more casual fare. There are also alfresco areas to use when the weather allows, at no extra cost. From 5-course meals to the 24-hour room service, there’s plenty of choice available. 
Complimentary wine and local beer are offered with dinner, and bottled water, coffees and soft drinks are available throughout the voyage. There is no formal dress code, not even for the evening meal. Smart, casual and comfortable is the way forward. 


Onboard the Queen, guests will be able to enjoy nightly entertainment in the Grand Saloon – a palatial and ornate two-tier venue. Whether it’s a musical revue or an energetic cabaret, the entertainment programme will provide guests with plenty to keep their evenings busy. Alternatively, head to the Engine Room Bar for a swing dance, or relax in the main deck lounge with the sounds of the piano echoing around the room. 
Music and cabaret can be found in the Show Lounge onboard the Empress, while the Paddlewheel Lounge is where guests will find soft piano music and smooth solo performances – perfect for cocktails before dancing the night away. 


There is ‘Riverlorian’ on both steamboats, who can share some knowledge, history and lore of the river and its surroundings, at every stage of the voyage. From the Lewis & Clark expeditions on the Empress to the Heartland heritage on the Queen, there’s plenty to hear if guests wish to educate themselves in American history. Guest historians and noted speakers will also be part of the enrichment programme. 

As with most river cruises, voyages on either of the vessels are port intensive, and so free time that isn’t taken up with shore excursions can be minimal. However, guests can curl up with a book – fiction or nonfiction – in the onboard library that can be found on both vessels, and complimentary internet access is also available. 
You can also make use of the onboard bicycles that are available when you arrive in port, to explore the area independently. 


There are a variety of staterooms and suites available on both vessels, all decorated beautifully with period details – even the smallest, interior staterooms. The charm of the Victorian era radiates from every façade, with carefully chosen antiques scattered around public areas. Accommodation offers ample shelving and storage space. Larger staterooms and suites have French doors opening onto verandas with sweeping views, as well as sitting areas, lavish beds, bathtubs and the finest linens. 
There are no interior cabins on the Empress. All staterooms feature a balcony or picture window to provide stunning views to all. 


There are no spa or gym facilities available on the Empress, but leisurely strolls around the top deck are possible, if guests can bear to leave the beautiful white wooden rocking chairs.  The American Queen boasts the AQ Spa by Pevonia, for guests in need of a little pampering. Various treatments are available, including shea butter wraps, scrubs and massages (fee applicable). Active types will enjoy the onboard gym, with weight and resistance training, and versatile Kinesis One apparatus available. There are also treadmills, a static bike and a pool. 


Most itineraries are between 9 and 23 days long. Choose from Upper & Lower Mississippi cruises, Ohio & Tennessee cruises and Snake & Columbia River cruises (Empress). 
Themed voyages, focusing on elements including the Civil War, big band swing, New Year’s celebrations and old fashioned holidays are also available, as are city stay packages to enable guests to make the most of their American adventure. 

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