Mary Lou Guthrie
Number of Cruises: n/a
Cruise Line: Delta Queen
Ship: American Queen
Sailing Date: 10/97
Itinerary: Ohio River
Previous cruises - Royal's Crown Odyssey (Mediterranean), Cunard's Sagafjord
(Alaska), American Hawaii's Independence (Hawaii), Princess' Golden Princess (Australia/New
Zealand), and Danube Star (Danube River Cruise)
As you can see, our cruising experience, though not extensive, is somewhat varied - but we both agreed that our Steamboatin' trip was the most enjoyable and relaxing trip we have taken. The American Queen is the newest addition to the Delta Queen Steamboat Company's trio of sternwheelers (the others being the Delta Queen and the Mississippi Queen). She came into service in the summer of 1995. She is 3,707 tons, 418 ft. long and 109 ft. 5 in high (with the stacks fully extended) and holds 436 passengers.
Our river cruise was along the Ohio River from Cincinnati, Ohio, to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Our trip was booked through our local AAA (Cleveland) and they drove us to Cincinnati via motor coach. When we arrived at the dock in Cincinnati, a representative from the Delta Queen Steamboat Company came aboard to check our tickets. After that we boarded the boat, walked up the entrance staircase (Cabin Deck-2), through the Mark Twain Gallery and to the lobby where we signed a credit card slip and were given our keys. They also took the usual "Welcome Aboard" photo. We then went to our cabin (419 on Observation Deck-4), a Category B outside cabin. By the time we got there, our luggage had already been delivered. It was a very quick process.
We quickly unpacked and then went to the dock to look for our "visitors". (Unlike the ocean liners, Delta Queen Steamboat Company allows passengers to bring guests aboard in every port.) My son lives in Cincinnati and my daughter in nearby Dayton, so we decided to all meet aboard the AQ to celebrate my son's birthday. We toured the boat and ended up with birthday drinks in the Engine Room Bar (Cabin Deck, aft). This bar has 6 portholes along the back wall and at night you can see the lighted paddlewheel churning through the windows. Also, if you want to hear some good banjo and piano music - this is the place!
Although this riverboat is only a little over two years old, the Victorian decor makes you feel as if you have been transferred back in time. The staterooms are decorated in beautiful antiques (or wonderful reproductions) and the floral wallpapers, coordinating bedspreads and lace curtains complete the picture. The telephone and modern bathroom facilities, however, remind you that this really is an up-to-date vessel.
Our cabin (419 - Observation Deck - 4) was a Category B - outside deluxe cabin. It was not large, but very comfortable. It had twin beds, 2 chairs, combination desk/dresser, radio (no TV) and a modern bath with tub/shower. Storage was adequate for our short 5-night trip but might not be for longer voyages. The lovely French-doors (with window shades for privacy and lace curtains) opened directly out to the deck. Although we were unable to reserve a balcony cabin, there were tables and chairs right outside our cabin for watching the sights along the river. We traveled with another couple who had the cabin next to us so we were able to get together right outside our cabins and plan our days and watch the other passengers walking by - something we couldn't do with a balcony.
The schedule aboard the riverboat is low key as compared to activities aboard the ocean liners. Every morning the "Riverlorian" (Clara Isenhour on our trip) gave a talk about different aspects of the river. I didn't think I would enjoy this but she was very interesting and we ended up going to every talk. (You could also hear these talks later in the day on the radio in your cabin.)
Other activities aboard the AQ were Calliope Concerts, Trivia, Bingo, Pumpkin Carving Contest, Fancy Hat Contest, Kite Flying, Pilot House Tour, Galley Tour and movies. There also was a small exercise room.
Actually, one of the best activities was just watching the sights along the river. We were always able to see land and we passed many industries and small towns along the way. The AQ coming up the river is a big event and all along the way people came out to greet us. This was especially true when we were going thru the locks (we went thru 12 locks on this trip). The lock observation decks were always full of people waiting to see this beautiful boat. After we were completely into the lock, the calliope would play as we waited for the water to raise the boat. The music made an already interesting event even more enjoyable.
The entertainment aboard the riverboat was not glitzy and high tech like the large ocean liners - but it was very enjoyable. There was a show each evening (before dinner for the Main Seating and after dinner for the Early Seating). The four singers/dancers (Paula Betlem, Fred Bishop, Jennifer Bryce and Chip Saporiti) put on excellent shows. Every night was better than the one before. Themes were "Showboat Spectacular", "Stage Door Canteen" and "Broadway Rhythm". The house band (The Steamboat Syncopators) performed for dancing after dinner every night and one evening they put on the main show - all Dixieland music. Fred Dodd (Banjo) and Steve Spracklen (Piano) played every night in the Engine Room Bar. They performed old time favorites and encouraged the audience to sing along. A fun place!
We had signed up for Main Seating Dining (7:45). The Early Seating was at 5:15. Our table (#43) was in the back of the dining room, a table for four. As we were traveling with our friends, this worked out great for us. All I can say about the food on this trip is that it all was delicious. There was not one meal that we were not pleased with. All the entrees were beautifully prepared and the desserts were absolutely fantastic!
Breakfast was open seating in the dining room (either serve yourself from the varied hot/cold buffet or order from the menu). Also, Continental Breakfast was available on the "Front Porch" (Texas Deck-3) - which really was at the front of the boat. Lunch in the dining room was ordered from the menu and at your assigned table. If you wanted something lighter - salads, soups, sandwiches, desserts - these were available on the "porch". The porch was also the place to find soft serve ice cream, cookies, lemonade and coffee throughout the afternoon.
Dinner was always in the J. M. White Dining Room (Main Deck-1). There were no other options. The menu was varied and the service was excellent. The servers were friendly, young, and knowledgeable. Our waitress was Amy and our busboy was Alan and they were both delightful.
There was also a "Moonlight" Buffet each night at 11:00 p.m. with a theme - Oriental, Seafood, Italian, Cajun/Creole, etc.
This boat is absolutely beautiful! The Cabin Deck (2) was where most of the public rooms were located. The Mark Twain Gallery is a large room with many comfortable chairs and couches for just relaxing, getting together with friends or enjoying a cup of coffee (the pot is always on here). There was also a lovely desk with AQ Stationery if you wanted to drop a line to friends back home.
Also on this deck you will find the Ladies Parlor and the Gentlemen's Card Room. The parlor is a beautifully appointed room with lovely antiques (including a pump organ, a victrola, and a bird cage - complete with live birds!) and was a great place to talk to friends or read. Across the hall from the parlor was the card room. In here you will find a real barber chair, a stuffed bear and on the wall -- a boar's head. (Look behind the boar's head and you'll find a TV!) Also in here is a nice couch and a large, heavy table which was used for puzzles and board games.
The Grand Saloon is where the evening shows, after dinner dancing, morning Riverlorian talks and other activities are held. All the seats are comfortable and have good sight lines, however, if you get a chance, try to watch the shows from the balcony or one of the six boxes. We were able to get a box (4-5 seats in each box) for almost all of the shows and it was a great experience.
Also on Cabin Deck you will find the Gift Shop, the Purser's Office, and The Engine Room Bar.
On Observation Deck (4) is where you will find the Chart Room. This room has charts (maps) of the river and other information. You can borrow binoculars to aid you in your river watching. Also, if you attend the morning Riverlorian talks, you will learn enough to be able to figure out where you are on the river at all times.
On Texas Deck (3), there is a small movie theater. They showed movies mostly with a river, riverboat or Southern theme like Gone with the Wind, Showboat, An American Legend - The Delta Queen, and Streetcar Named Desire.
We stopped in several small towns along the way. In Maysville, Kentucky, there were two shore tours offered: Maysville Walking Tour and the Covered Bridge Tour. We opted to get a map of historical buildings from the Shore Excursion Desk and do our own walking tour.
In Marietta, Ohio, (a town we have been to many times) we went to visit the Train Museum and our friends, who had never been here, took a Trolley sight-seeing tour Marietta has many museums (lots of river history here) and is close to the Fenton Glass Factory and also a Doll Factory. An interesting place.
In Wellsburg, West Virginia, our friends took the excursion offered to Oglebay Park (a lovely resort). We decided to just walk into town and look around. The people of Wellsburg put on a Craft and Car Show that day which added to the fun of the visit. As you can see, it is not the stops but the river experience that make this trip what it
We would definitely take another riverboat trip. The springtime trip on the Mississippi looks intriguing or maybe the summertime annual steamboat race between the Delta Queen and the Mississippi Queen.