Occupation:FAA Safety Inspector
Number of Cruises: 1
Cruise Line: Delta Queen
Ship: Mississippi Queen
Sailing Date: May 20, 2006
Itinerary: Mississippi River
May 29, 2006
Never having been on a cruise before but having read several comments from others I wanted to give some feedback to others who are considering a cruise on a river.
My apprehension was the age group of the patrons. The average age of people on the ship appeared to be about 66-70. I am 49 and my wife is 48. We were asked to go on this cruise with my in-laws and a group of their friends about 1 year prior to the departure date. The price seemed ok and we made the down payment.
We selected the Texas deck with a balcony and enjoyed the freedom to sit alone (somewhat) and view the river as we crept along at 7 knots. This was a civil war theme cruise and we had several speakers aboard who were quite knowledgeable about the war in the area of our cruise. Abe Lincoln even was aboard on the first two days.
We arrived at the ship from the Memphis airport and had porters load our baggage on a bus that we paid for as part of the package (I recommend that you do this.) We walked down the ramp at Mud Island where the Vessel was parked (they provided a ride if you wished since the ramp was steep). The Hotel manager was there to greet us and advise us that our bags would bed brought to our rooms. Once identification was checked and our carry on bags were inspected we were allowed to board the boat and look around. If we had arrive earlier a buffet lunch would have been available but we found a bar (paddlewheel) in the aft end of the boat and had some light snacks.
Our room was small and decorations were mixed in terms of matching styles. The twin beds were comfortable. The sheets could have been better. They were probably 200 thread count and notable used. We brought our own pillows and that made a big difference in better sleeping. The balcony was small and somewhat private because a metal partition was the only separation between staterooms. Sometimes I would look over the rail and forward or aft and see another person doing the same and they would retract into there own area especially since it was early morning. We used the in-room ironing board and it took up all the empty space between beds but worked adequately. It could have used a new pad on the board. We only brought one large suit case each and found that they would fit under each twin bed easily.
The cleanliness factor was good. I had to ask our cabin attendant to remove the insects that were accumulating on the window sill to be removed at day 3. The insects are a fact of life when you have a door with no screen on a river boat. The shower was small but very usable and water pressure was great as well as water temperature. I don’t know how a person who weighs over 280 pounds could maneuver in it but I guess it is just a bit tighter. The ladies I overheard said they had to lean against one side to shave their legs.
The toilet flushes very effectively with a lot of pressure.
I had not considered that this would actually be a working steam driven boat but because it is the vibration of the paddle wheel hitting the water make a gentle vibration upon your body while lying prone (sleeping). I got used to it because you are moving all night long to the next destination. Lets not forget about the thunderstorms that seem to always be present during this time of year(May - Sept). They provide a light show and audio sound that is spectacular.
Columbus Ky. First stop
I woke up early and went for a walk at 6 am a couple of times. There are always personnel that will allow you to leave the ship (bring your id card to get off and on). The planned sight seeing that I went on was interesting and fun. We stopped in Columbus and it is a very small town of 350 persons. A civil war cemetery and park were the attractions. It was fun for me to watch the crew procedures for arrival and departure at each stop.
First, I am not real hard to please. Each morning danishes, fresh fruit, juice and coffee were available at 0600. Coffee was good and strong. Buy 6:30 the buffet was set up in the grand salon and it was very good. By the looks of most patrons on the ship no one was missing a meal, nor planned to.
Options for food were many….lite, buffet or full service with the waiter.
The dinner was very good but everyone told me that on a real Cruise Ship it would be much better. The two seating for dinner were 5:15 and 7:45. The staff was really working hard to serve about 300 people total. The wait staff was understaffed. Our waiter had three tables of responsibility, about 24 people. The must have been prepared in advance because we did not wait long for the main course. This lead to some people having warm food (ie: steak or potato). I had Buffalo steak one night and it was very tasty. The waiter did not recommend it because it is somewhat tough. I told him it was supposed to be because of its lack of fat. I enjoyed all of the salads presented and all of the main dishes. The beef tenderloin was excellent. We were usually done by 0900 and I went to bed about 10 –11 each night. This is not a party boat, which was fine with me.
Nice little town with a lot of history. Went on a historical tour of the town and viewed the murals painted on the river barrier wall.
Cave In Rock, KY
We were supposed to be in Elisabeth, Ky. on the third day, but due to the company not having a clearance from homeland security to dock there we had to go to Cave In Rock, Ky. We had a surprise inspection by the coast guard on our 3rd day at Cave In Rock, which lead to a longer stay. We departed to Clarksville, Tn. at 3am and cruised all day until arriving at Clarksville early the next morning. Great town and our tour of the tobacco farm and winery were good.
The “Riverlorian” Bill was the best part of the trip. His knowledge of the river and the way he presented his knowledge were excellent. Purchase his CD on river knowledge.
I never got to see the pilot house because of the other distractions.
The crew are cleaning the chairs but the soot from the particles of smoke from the exhaust stacks gets on everything causing clothing to get soot spots on your back side. The onboard laundry (self service) on the lower deck was a nice touch.
I was surprised to find that the staff in on a 6 week rotation. That’s a lot to ask of people. They are all working very hard and put in long hours to please the guests. I was a bit surprised to see that every person of the wait staff was African American. I don’t know whether it is because of the hiring location or it’s the friends of friends hiring practice, but there was no diversity at all. It appeared that the cabin attendant staff was not very diverse also.
The experience…the river
I truly enjoyed the river experience. The scenery from the boat was spectacular and the people along the journey were reflective of what good people we have in America.
I recommend this company and believe that there is a lot of value in the journey.