Warren C. Plauche
Age: 60 to 70
Occupation:Retired MD Teacher
Number of Cruises: 11 to 20 Cruises
Cruise Line: Delta Queen
Ship: Delta Queen
Sailing Date: July 21st, 2000
Itinerary: Three Rivers-Tennessee, Ohio, Miss.
The Boat (not ship): The Delta Queen is small. One hundred twenty-six passengers didn’t quite fill her staterooms on three decks to capacity. We occupied room (not cabin) 339, the Jan Peerce room, farthest aft on the uppermost Sun deck. This turned out not to be the perfect choice. We got a little engine motion, and paddlewheel noise at night and were right in front of the calliope. Usually there is little or no sensation of movement or engine activity on a steamboat. After a couple of nights, rather than annoying us, the paddlewheel lulled us to sleep
Cabin service was excellent, as good as on any cruise ship, but perhaps friendlier. The same for dining room service. The waitstaff was attentive, swift, friendly and accomodating. This is the best trained wait staff of the line, we thought, having experienced all three Delta Steamship Co paddlewheelers. And can they dance and lead a “second line!”
Food was copious and very good, sometimes even excellent. Breakfast and lunch are served buffet style in the Orleans Room, down a steep flight of stairs. One can always order from the menu, rather than do the buffet. Menus are displayed upstairs in the Forward Lounge prior to each meal. At dinner there were usually two appetizer choices, two soups, two salads, five entrees, and three or more desserts, not counting sherbets and ice creams. Entrees always included choices of meats, seafood, and vegetarian items. The wait staff was ingenious at creating sundaes from the ice creams and sauces available. We love the chocolate sauce and the warm rum sauce from the excellent bread pudding, ladeled over vanilla ice cream in a classic fluted sundae dish.
The riverboat cuisine is deeply rooted in New Orleans and Cajun cooking styles. Lots of gumbo, blackened this and that, frogs legs, crawfish etoufee, shrimp po-boys, red beans and rice, etc. Elements of international “Continental” cuisine appeared as escargot, rack of lamb, ragout of fruits (fantastic), swordfish in buerre blanc, etc. And lots of “American” items like Cesar salad, steak, prime rib, corn on the cob, baked potatoes, baked beans, etc. The executive chef was particularly generous with his time, cooking to order omelets at breakfast, pastas at lunch, and ragouts at dinner. Passengers particularly enjoyed a “picnic” lunch that featured barbecued fish, chicken and ribs with all the trimmings, served at a single seating, complete with country and western music.
Entertainment on the boat was stretched a little thin. We heard the band a lot (Lary Skinner and the Riverboat five). They were good and strived for variety, but one can only toot a trumpet so many ways. The girl singer (Annie LeBeau) was outstanding. Her repertory seemed endless and, indeed it needed to be. She sang and played piano at least two sets a day in the bar and did trivia and appeared in several nightly shows. Jazzou Jones played a mean ragtime piano, frequently. Banjo Bob played banjo and sang, frequently. A highlight of the cruise were the “Floozie” competition. I’ll leave it to your imagination to visualize that, but we had Grandma’s and psychiatrists strutting their stuff in turn of the century bordello wear. The usual bingo and steamboat races occurred regularly as we steamed along. We found that sitting on the “front porch” rockers and watching the river banks and river traffic the most fascinating and relaxing activity on board.