AMERICAN QUEEN
Cruise Review
< GUIDED TOUR >
Boat:
American Queen
Cruise Line:
Majestic America Line
Date:
08/15/2007 - 08/22/2007
Cruise Length:
7 nights
Theme:
--
Cabin:
535 (Promenade Deck, Category B Triple Outside)
Itinerary:
Pittsburgh, PA - Louisville, KY (Wheeling, WV - Marietta, OH - Point Pleasant, WV - Maysville, KY - Cincinnati, OH - Madison, IN
River
Ohio River
Review by:
Carmen Winkler
Overall Cruise Experience
This is our ninth cruise on one of the steamboats since 1995. We´ve cruised the Delta Queen five times and the Mississippi Queen three times. But this is our first cruise on the American Queen and our first cruise under the ownership of Majestic America Line. We´re a married couple in our late 30ies/ early 40ies and we´re travelling with our 7 year old daughter who is on her 7th steamboat cruise. Besides the steamboats we´ve cruised the Columbia Queen (then Great American River Journeys) and the Empress of the North in Alaska (then American West Steamboat Company). Both ships are owned by Majestic America Line now. We´ve also made two European river cruises with Peter Deilmann on the Danube River and the Elbe River and one ocean cruise on Royal Caribbean´s Grandeur of the Seas.

This is also our second cruise out of Pittsburgh, PA. We started river cruising in the US in 1995 aboard the Delta Queen. This was a 5 nighter from Pittsburgh, PA, to Cincinnati, OH. So we´re quite familiar with this stretch of the river.

There were only 238 passengers aboard, 112 of them were repeat passengers. So we had quite a small crowd. Therefore some adjustments to the daily program were made. There were still two dinner seatings but only one show inbetween the two seatings. Because of the show the main (late) seating was 15 min later than ususal (see exact times in the daily description).

Majestic America Line bought the Delta Queen Steamboat Company in April 2006. Anyway the boats were still operated by the former owner, Delaware North, until the end of the 2006 season. Majestic America Line did take over control in 2007. So this is their first season fully operating the boats. A lot of changes had been made during the one year lay-up of the American Queen. All cabins have been upgraded with new bedding, TV sets and DVD players, alarm clocks with weather stations, robes, new towels, new bathroom amenities, make-up mirrors and more (see stateroom description). The menu has changed and other stuff too. We have visited the boat shortly after the beginning of the season in April 2007 in New Orleans. We´ve read a lot of comments from new and from repeat passengers. Some of the changes Majesitic America Line introduced in the beginning of the season have been gone already and changed back to the previous. All in all we can say that the quality of food, which had gone down over the last few years, improoved a lot. Majestic America Line tired out a fleetwide menu but on the request of the passengers a lot of the Southern dishes are back again. Service in the dining room has also improoved a lot. We talked to the Maitre ´d, Adam Spicer, whom we know for a couple of years now. They are trying to adjust the dining room service to the wishes and needs of the passengers. As an example - we´ve been on the early seating - on the first night we were finished with our dinner within 45 min and had a chance to watch the departure from Pittsburgh. Our table mates told our waiter that they want to see the departure and will leave after the salad. They came back and their entrée was on the table within instances while we stayed and went out after we´ve finished. So if you´re in a hurry just let your waiter know about it. We never had a problem to get to the 7 pm show even on nights we had guests at our table and our dinner got lengthend by our conversation.

The daily onboard entertainment which had been cut down by the beginning of the season is back. Not everything (like the kite flying), but there´s a lot to do even on port days (except for the mornings where usually the offered shore tours are taking place).

The Boat
The American Queen has 6 passenger decks. On the Main Deck there´s the Engine Room Viewing Area (access through the Engine Room Bar on the Cabin Deck), the Grand Saloon, the Main Deck Lounge with the Captain´s Bar and the J.M. White Dining Room. The Cabin Deck is featuring the Engine Room Bar with its two porches next to the paddlewheel, the upper level of the Grand Saloon, the Purser´s Lobby with the Shore Excursion Desk, the Purser´s Office, the American Queen Emporium (gift shop, don´t forget to check the lucky cabin number each day and receive a little gift, 10% discount for past passengers, 10% discount when you´ve been on a tour the same day), the Mark Twain Gallery (including a library, DVDs for your in room DVD player, newspapers) and the Ladies´ Parlor and the Gents´ Card Room. Cabins beginning with 2 are located on the Cabin Deck. The Texas Deck is holding the cabins starting with 3, the movie theatre and the Front Porch of America which is one of my favourite places. There´s a bookcase in the Front Porch which holds a variety of board games for all ages, some kids´ jig saw puzzles, some big building blocks and playing cards. The outside deck has comfortable rockers and two swinging benches. The Observation Deck is holding cabins starting with 4. Next to the staircase and elevators there´s the guest loundry with two washers and two dryers (detergent is provided, no charge). The Chart Room is located towards the bow featuring a large steering wheel, river charts and a GPS system where you can follow the boats position. In the book cases you can find lots of valuable river books which are available for reading (ask the Discovery Guide). In case you forgot your binoculars you can get some from the Discovery Guide. The Chart Room is my preferred place to watch the river during the night (and stay away from any bugs). The Promenade Deck is holding the cabins starting with 5. The Calliope Bar is right forward of the paddlewheel. Here´s the place to watch your Perfessor play the calliope. Don´t forget earplugs as it´s really loud. From the Calliope Bar you can access the Sun Deck which is featuring sun beds and the small pool. Behind the pool there´s the athletic club with a stepper and two treadmills and some weights for some exercise after all the food.

Food and Beverages
Let´s start with breakfast. There´s a Continental Breakfast available in the Front Porch usually from 6 - 10 am. A Leisure Full Service a la Carte Breakfast is served in the J.M. White Dining Room usually from 7 - 9:15 am. This is partly a buffet and you can order additional meals or items from the kitchen. The menue does not change throughout the cruise but don´t forget to ask about the daily special.

From 11 am to 4 pm hot dogs and fixings are available at the Calliope Bar. Ice cream and cookies are available in the Front Porch from 11 am to 6 pm. The Front Porch also has a small fridge which is filled with several items like yoghurt, yoghurt smoothies, milk, chocolate milk, sandwiches and salads 24/7. Available drinks include cranberry juice, fruit punch, orange juice, root beer, water, lemonade, ice tea, diet coke and coke (other sodas are available at each bar for free). A soft serve ice cream machine serves vanilla and chocolate ice cream (or swirl). Toppings like sprinkles, nuts, chocolate and fruit / chocolate syrup are available. A coffee machine serves espresso, latte, cappuccino and Americano (also decaf). Top your coffee with syrups (almond, vanilla, hazelnut...) and nutmeg, vanilla or chocolate. Hot water for tea or hot chocolate is also available. A fruit basket is filled with apples, oranges and bananas. A tray with cookies is replaced frequently.

You can find additional coffee machines serving coffee, decaf and hot water for tea or hot chocolate in the Mark Twain Gallery, the Grand Saloon and the J.M. White Dining Room (at lunch and dinner).

There are two choices for lunch: A la carte in the J.M. White Dining room (usually 11:30 am - 1:15 pm, Open Seating A la Carte Luncheon) with a choice of starters, entrées and desserts or the Chef´s Light Lunch Bistro in the Grand Saloon (usually 11:15 am - 1 pm) with sandwiches, salads, a choice of two soups and some hot stuff (usually two different entrées, hot station) off the buffet. Brownies and cookies are available for dessert.

On some days an Afternoon Tea is served in the Ladies´ Parlor (usually at 3:30 pm). During Happy Hour (4:30 - 6 pm) hors d´oeuvres are available in the Engine Room Bar.

Dinner is five courses with a choice of two starters, two soups, two salads (one the daily Majestic American Queen Salad) and five entrées (including a vegetarian option) followed by dessert (usually three or more choices including a sugar free option, don´t forget to ask for the bread pudding). Half portions of the entrées are usually available (and half portion was usually more than enough for us).

There are three bars, the Captain´s Bar in the Main Deck Lounge, the Engine Room Bar and the Calliope Bar. The later is usually open from 11 am to 4 pm. The Captain´s Bar opens at 11 am to 2 pm and 4 pm til closing. The Engine Room Bar usually opens at 3 pm, Happy Hour from 4:30 - 6 pm with hors d´oeuvres. Daily specials are advertised in the Compass Points starting at $ 3.50 (Bloody Marys, Screwdrivers and Mimosas from 9 am to 1 pm as an example). Drinks and cocktails in the bar are reasonable priced, for example a Hurricane is $ 5.75 plus 15% gratuity which is added automatically. Signature drinks start at $ 4.50, spirits $ 5, beers $ 3 or $ 4.

As mentioned sodas are free and available at each bar. There´s plenty of bottled water available in the stateroom. In the afternoon (2 - 4 pm) the bar stewards are touring the boat with the "Majestic Flyer" offering your favourite beverages on wheels (you don´t even have to go down to the bar to get a beer!).

The dinner menu includes a wine list with a good variety of local wines which (California and Washington) are available by glass or bottle. Prices per glass are ranging from $ 6 - $ 11.

Entertainment
The main entertainment on a river cruise is the changing scenery and the shore stops along the rivers. But of course the boats do also offer onboard entertainment. An onboard newspaper - Compass Points - providing information about the shore stops and the daily onboard program can be found in your stateroom each night.

The A.M. Miler Club meets at 9 am each morning for a one mile walk on the Observation Deck ( 7 laps equal a mile). Card Players can sign up at 9 am to meet others. Usually two or three tables in the Front Porch were used by people playing cards or board games. The Discovery Guide is giving daily talks and is available for questions in the Chart Room twice a day for an hour. Besides that he´s also guiding the pilot house tours (only when the boat is docked). A nightly talk (Nighttime Navigation) is offered once a cruise.

Musical entertainment is available in the Engine Room Bar in the afternoons and each night starting at 9 pm. There´s a daily 45 min show (post dinner for Early Seating, pre dinner for Main Dinner). As the boat wasn´t filled up on our cruise there was only one show but usually there are two, one for each seating. Therefore the Main Seating was 15 min later than usual at 8 pm (Early Seating at 5:15 pm).

Dance music is provided in the Grand Saloon each night after the show. Two social hosts are available for the ladies and for refreshing everyones dancing skills.

Various other activities are available throughout the cruise like bingo, napkin folding class, Calliope Capers (play the calliope you own). Don´t miss the Singing Porters´ Parade each night prior to dinner (this is not mentioned in your daily program).

The Calliope is played at each departure and during daytime lockings (usually not past 10 pm).

Due to an short time leave on the previous cruise an onboard photographer joined the boat somewhen during the cruise. Usually the photographer is available throughout the whole cruise starting taking pictures at embarkation.

The onboard movie theatre is showing several movies throughout the cruise (usually two per day and each twice).

Room
Our room was 535 Category B on the Promenade Deck. This is an outside room, the last room to the stern on the starboard side. As it is at the corner it is featuring three stained glass windows besides the French doors. Don´t worry it´s really quiet. The calliope bar closes by 4 pm and the calliope isn´t played during the night. The room has two single beds which can be moved together (we kept them as singles with a little nightstand in between). A small pullout sofa is serving as a third bed and is seating two during the daytime. Two comfy chairs one with a footrest invited for a rest. A nice cabinet with 4 large drawers and a mirror provided some storage space. Two smaller pieces of furniture, one serving as storage for the water bottles and the ice bucket plus glasses (no mini bar) completed the furniture. Back to the bathroom there´s a built in table with a stool and a mirror serving as writing or beauty desk. There´s some hanging space covered by a curtain with lots of hangers and a rack atop (good place to store the life vests). Two bathrobes were hanging in the hanging space. A small iron board and an iron can be found there too. Beds are high enough to store your suitcase underneath. A weather station with radio controlled clock also serves as alarm clock (make sure you turn off the alarm proir to disembarkation as I saw a couple of passengers asking at the Purser´s how to turn off the alarm at the first morning.). Ours did only show the inside temperature and humidity but had no connection to an outside sensor. A four channel built in radio is next to the beds. According to the information booklet there should be different styles of music on all channels and channel D should broadcast the Discovery Guides´ daily talk. But in our room there was only one channel available. There are several outlets in this room, two of them behind the nightstand between the beds.

The bathroom has a large sink with a glass rack, a bathtub and a marine toilet. A metal rack with four shelves easily holds you toiletries and bags. An ample supply of fluffy towels is available. A 1600 W hairdryer is provided. Majestic America Line is featuring H2O+ bathroom amenities (soap, sea salt body wash, sea marine shampoo, marine collagen conditioner, sea marine body lotion). There is one towel rail at the back side of the tub and one next to the toilet. There is only one hook. The inside of the door is covered with a floor to ceiling high mirror. The outside of the door has an oval mirror which is facing the one over the writing and beauty desk. A large magnifying mirror is mounted next to the sink. Remember do not throw anything into the marine toilet besides the provided toilet paper. Two outlets can be found next to the sink.

The room does not have a private balcony but opens to the deck. Two chairs and a small table like stool are available.

There´s a free WiFi connection all over the boat and also in the rooms but the signal can vary. As it´s a satellite connection it is not high speed most of the time. So don´t try any hughe downloads. In some towns hotels close to the river do offer free WiFi too and it is faster to use that connection. This worked out for us in Marietta and Maysville.

A flat screen TV is mounted on the wall next to the door plus a DVD player. DVDs are available in the Mark Twain Gallery. A telephone is atop of the nightstand. Wake up calls can be ordered at the Purser´s Office.

According to the information booklet you´re allowed to use your own electrical devices up to 1500 W.

Day 1 Pittsburgh, PA (departure 6 pm)
Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh Port Authority (Public Transportation)
Pittsburgh International Aiport

We spent two pre cruise nights in Pittsburgh to get over the jetlag and explore the town on our own staying at the Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Southside (www.hiexpress.com). The hotel is conveniently located at S 10th Street Bridge on the Monongahela river. Our room had a nice view to the downtown area and the Station Square complex ( www.stationsquare.com). The hotel offered a free shuttle bus which we used several times. As we are travelling with our daughter we went to the Childrens´ Museum as there was a special exhibit of Clifford the Big Red Dog (www.pittsburghkids.org). As there was some time left prior to the opening of the museum we used the hotel shuttle to Station Square and went up the Monongahela Incline ( www.portauthority.org/PAAC/ CustomerInfo/Inclines/ tabid/119/Default.aspx) to enjoy the view over the city. We used the lite rail system to downtown and a bus to the museum. We returned to Station Square for an one hour sightseeing cruise on the Gateway Liberty Belle (www.gatewayclipper.com). To get some exercise we walked back to the hotel after dinner (app. 0.4 mi).

The next morning we strolled over the bridge and discovered a bike and jogging path (River Trail) next to the river which we walked up and discovered an historical marker indication that Robert Fulton built his first steamboat New Orleans on this site. At 11 am we ordered the hotel shuttle to get us over to the landing at N Shore Riverfront Park next to the Heinz Field. Majestic America Line is offering a free shuttle from the airport. You will receive a form with your documents to let them know your arrival time. Up on the street the porters were taking our luggage and lined it up to carry it down to the river. Don´t worry about the check in time on your documents which are saying 1 pm. You can start to check in by 11 am anyway. Check in is easy. Let your credit card swipe for your onboard account. A photo will be taken with a webcam and you get your boarding pass. The boarding pass is for all your onboard purchases and for identification leaving or reboarding the boat throughout the cruise. Your room keyes (yes, real old fashioned keyes) can be found in your stateroom. A lite lunch buffet (sandwiches, salad, dessert) was waiting in the Grand Saloon for early birds like us. A wine tasting was held from noon to 3 pm in the Grand Saloon. The Maitre ´D is available at the entrance of the dining room in case you need to change your dinner arrangements. The shore excursion manager was available in the Main Deck Lounge from 1 to 4 pm giving information about the shore tours and handing out brochures of the various towns we are stopping throughout the cruise. The gift shop (AQ Emporium) opened at 1 pm (-8 pm). At 2:15 pm Bob Sunda´s American Queen Quartet entertained in the Grand Saloon (-3 pm) followed by a first Calliope Concert at 3 pm by Perfessor Steve Spracklen. The Engine Room Bar invited with music by Phil Westbrook and hors d´ouevres. The Fire and Boat Drill was held at 4:30 pm. It´s quite easy. Put on your live vest and step in front of your stateroom and get checked by one of the officers. Our daughter wanted to try out the pool and jumped in for half an hour. All repeat passengers were asked to sign up for the past passenger party (sign up started at 4:30 pm). We were assigned to the Early Seating Dinner at 5:15 pm (Main Seating 8 pm). So we redressed (dress code is casual or semi-formal, no shorts or tank tops). We asked our waiter to rush a little and made it through dessert by 6 pm to watch the departure from Pittsburgh and listen to the calliope. As there were only 238 passengers aboard there was only one show in the Grand Saloon at 7 pm. Steve Spracklen, our cruise director, first introduced Captain John Dugger, the entertainers and some of the officers followed by a show called "River of Song" featuring well known river songs like Old Man River, Waiting for the Robert E. Lee or Proud Mary (app. 45 min) with Traci Vaughn and Jim Braet. Bob Sunda´s American Queen Quartet stayed and continued with dance music. Two social hosts were available also giving dance lessons. Phil Westbrook entertained in the Engine Room Bar starting at 9 pm.

Day 2 Wheeling, WV (8 am - 5 pm)
Wheeling
Artisan Center
Centre Market

Glass, Grandeur and Grace ( Eckhart House and Oglebay Institute Glass Museum , Motorcoach, 3.5 h, $65 adult/$52 child)

We arrived in time at Wheeling after a night of thunderstorms and heavy rain. Continental Breakfast was available in the Front Porch of America (6 - 10 am) followed by the leisure full service breakfast in the J.M. White Dining Room (7 - 9:15 am) which is a combination of ordering from the menu and off the buffet. The tour started at 8:30 am this morning. At 9 am the A.M. Miler´s Club invited to 7 laps on the Observation Deck which equal one mile. Card players were invited at 9 am to sign up for meeting fellow players. Our Discovery Guide Mike Gillespie was available for questions in the Chart Room (10 - 11 am and 5 - 6 pm). We went out at 10 am to explore the town on our own. We met Phil Westbrook who told us about a bike and walking path right next to the boat (upriver to the bridges) with a big playground. After walking under the two bridges a lawn opened up and a couple of ground hogs were eating there. We went up to Main Street and headed back. We stopped at the Suspension Bridge for some photos of the boat. There´s a nice little Childrens´ Museum right at the crossing and we stepped in for about an hour (www.cmovkids.org). There are a lot of buildings along Main Street which are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. By the way, members of the Wheeling CVB were available at the landing and a shuttle bus which we didn´t use (for those with walking problems I´d advice to use the shuttle as the town is a bit uphill from the landing). We headed back for lunch after the museum and for the first talk of the Discovery Guide at 12:30 pm in the Grand Saloon ("Discover the River"). The Chef´s Light Lunch Bistro (buffet style) was available in the Grand Saloon (11:15 am - 1 pm) and an Open Seating A la Carte Luncheon in the J.M. White Dining Room (11:30 am - 1:15 pm). Singers Jim and Traci called for Bingo in the Grand Saloon at 2 pm. Discovery Guide Mike invited to a Pilot House Tour at 3 pm meeting in the Chart Room. The first tour at 9 pm had to be cancelled because of maintenance work in the pilot house. Tour manager Jesse Safe invited to his shore tour talk at 3:30 pm in the Grand Saloon followed by the Captain´s Welcome Aboard Party (dress code casual) in the Front Porch and outside deck at 4:15 pm with food, music and drink specials. The American Queen left Wheeling at 5 pm. Tonights show featured Lewis Hankins as Mark Twain in "Marking Twain" at 7 pm in the Grand Saloon. Make sure that you don´t miss this show! Every show is different as Lewis Hankins, a former entertainer on the steamboats, is inviting the audience to take part in his show asking him questions. Phil Westbrook entertained in the Engine Room Bar at 9 pm (Broadway on the River). The movie theatre is showing movies daily (today Spiderman 3 at 10 am and 3 pm and Blades of Glory at 12:30 pm and 9:30 pm). Carol, our cabin attendant, surprised our daughter by two towel elephants which joined her blue elephant. We were going through a lock at 9 pm and Phil Westbrook played some tunes on the calliope as there were many people at the lock watching the boat. By the way it´s sort of a tradition to throw beads, doubloons or candies (I shouldn´t say that because actually it is not allowed because of liability but the folks coming to the locks are waiting for it. So bring some stuff!).

Day 3 Marietta, OH (8 am - 5 pm)
Marietta

Discovering the Ohio Valley ( Campus Martius and Ohio River Museum, Fenton Art Glass Factory, Motorcoach, 4 h, $60 adult/$50 child)

We got up early this day and headed for breakfast shortly past 7 am. The American Queen had arrived in Marietta somewhen during the night. The tour started by 8:30 am. Some ladies from the CVB built up a tent at the landing and were available for information. Just in case you are leaving the boat hungry and are ready for some sweet treat, a Dairy Queen is located right next to the landing.We passed by the Lafayette Hotel and up Front Street which is running along the Muskingum river. Next to the old railway bridge which is now serving as a pedestrian bridge over to Harmar village there´s the old showboat Becky Thatcher. This used to be the Army Corps of Engineers paddlewheel steam towboat Mississippi III. Unfortunately the boat is currently closed and up for sale. Along Front Street you find a lot of small shops with souvenirs and antiques. Rossi Pasta which used to have its factory right at the landing has a shop there too. Starting at the old railway bridge there´s a bike path which is leading up to the museum in a park like area and out of downtown to a nice park including a public pool and a horse stable. Rental bikes are available at the beginning of the bike path. This is also quite convenient if you want to do some walking exercise. The Ohio River Museum is four blocks up Front Street right on the Muskingum river. The Ohio River Museum (www.ohiohistory.org/places/ohriver/) usually isn´t open on a Friday but they open up for the steamboats when they are in town at 9 am. We finally arrived at the museum and strolled through the exhibits. There´s also a 30 min video shown about the history of steamboating. The outside exhibits include the pilothouse and whistle of the steamer Tell City, a flatboat replica, a navigation light dedicated to Tom Greene of the Greene Line Steamers who once bought the steamer Delta Queen and brought her from California to Cincinnati. The main outside exhibit is the paddlewheel steam towboat W.P. Snyder Jr. which can be toured. Right next to the museum the sternwheeler Valley Gem is located which is making 90 min sightseeing cruises on the Muskingum river (www.valleygemsternwheeler.com). We returned shortly past 12:30 pm and headed for the Grand Saloon where Discovery Guide Mike has just started his daily talk about the Great Steamboat Race between the Natchez and the Robt. E. Lee. By the way the Discovery Guide is handing out information sheets, some are delivered to your stateroom, some can be picked up in the Chart Room. We had some lunch off the buffet. A napkin folding class was held by the dining room staff at 2 pm in the Main Deck Lounge followed by bingo at 2: 30 pm in the Grand Saloon. Discovery Guide Mike was available at 3 pm for another pilot house tour. At 3:30 pm Afternoon Tea was served in the Ladies´ Parlor. This afternoon a guest lecturer came aboard at 4 pm. Andy Verhoff of the Ohio River Museum gave a talk about Marietta and Ohio History in the Grand Saloon. The American Queen left at 5 pm with a calliope concert by Perfessor Steve Spracklen. Tonights show starring Traci Vaughn and Jim Braet was called "The Music Goes Round and Round". Phil Westbrook invited into the Engine Room Bar by 9 pm for "Oldies, Oldies, Oldies". Discovery Guide Mike was busy today as at 9:15 pm it was time for the Night Watch on the Oberservation Deck. Don´t miss to learn about nighttime navigation on the rivers. The movie theatre showed "Wild Hogs" and "In The Land of Women" today. A sheet was delivered to the stateroom this night for the departure transportation. The free shuttle is operating three locations, Louisville Airport, Car Rental Station at the airport and the Galt House Hotel. We were asked to return this travel information sheet by Sunday at the Purser´s Office.

Day 4 Point Pleasant, WV (8 am - 1 pm)
Point Pleasant

Life On The Farms (West Virginia State Farm Museum and Simon´s Old Town Farm, Motorcoach, 3.5 h, $55 adult/$39 child) Let´s Get To The Point ( Tu-Endi-Wei Battle Monument State Park and Point Pleasant River Museum, Walking, 2 h, $20 adult/$15 child)

Again we arrived during the night in Point Pleasant. The first tour started at 8:30 am, the walking tour at 9 am. A fuel barge came alongside and we took up fuel. During this process smoking is strictly forbidden on the outer decks. After breakfast we went ashore. The Point Pleasant CVB was available for information. A vintage car club offered free rides on its vintage cars like a Ford Model A. A tractor with a trolley offered free rides out to the Point Pleasant River Museum and the Tu-Endi-Wei State Park. The local stores are featuring a cabin number treasure hunt. So pass by and get a nice little gift. We opted to walk. You can go either up to Main Street or walk along the river. It´s just a 5 min walk. The Point Pleasant River Museum (www.pprivermuseum.com) usually does open at 11 am on Saturdays but when one of the boats is in the museum is opening earlier (in our case at 7 am). This is a recently opened facility with lots of hands on exhibits. You can play a calliope, blow a steam whistle or ring a bell. A pilot house replica in the upper floor is inviting you to feel like a river pilot. The museum also includes an excellent library of river books. One part of the museum is remembering the collapse of the Silver Bridge in 1967. We walked over to the adjacent Tu-Endi-Wei State Park (www.tu-endie-weistatepark.com) and leisurely strolled back to the boat. We opted to ride one of the historic cars which gave us a great trip around the little town and passed by the former location of the Silver Bridge (they stop on request for photos or if you love to have a closer look). There´s a River Trail right at the landing for those who want some running exercise (but it´s only partly pathed, partly gravel). In case anyone needs a grocery store there is a Foodland within walking distance of the landing. As this was a half day stop a pilot house tour was offered at 9 am this morning. Todays topic of the Mike´s Talk at 12:30 pm was "Who really invented the Steamboat". The American Queen left Point Pleasant at 1 pm with a calliope concert by Perfessor Phil. This was our first steamboating afternoon as all previous stops have been all day stops. At 1:15 pm all passengers were invited to play the calliope (Calliope Capers, you´ll receive a nice certificate later on the cruise). Bingo started at 2:30 pm with Jim and Traci in the Engine Room Bar followed by a trivia (Musical Match-Up) with Jim at 3:30 pm. All past passengers were invited to join the Past Passenger Reception at 3:30 pm in the Grand Saloon. Featured entertainer Bob Schad gave a sample of his banjo skills in the Engine Room Bar at 4:30 pm. Tonights´ Show was featuring our cruise director Steve Spracklen "Those Ragtime Years". Steve is a master of ragtime music. So don´t miss his show. Phil invited to a Country Western Night in the Engine Room Bar at 9 pm. Todays movies were "Lucky You" and "Shrek The Third".

This cruise started out without an onboard photographer as the previous had left for another job. John Adelmann joined the crew again and started today taking photos. All photos are displayed in front of the elevators on the Main Deck. Photos are $ 12 for a 5 * 7 in copy ($ 24 for one 5 * 7 and two 3 * 5, $ 35 for one 5 * 7, two 3 * 5 and four wallets, $ 35 for one 5 * 7 and eight wallets, $ 24 for one 8 * 10, all of the same image number, numbers can´t be mixed).

Day 5 Maysville, KY (8 am - 1 pm)
Maysville

The Freedom Trail (Harriet Beecher Stowe Slavery to Freedom Museum/Old Washington, John Rankin Home/Ripley, John P. Parker House/Ripley, Motorcoach, 3.5 h, $65 adult/$55 child)
Strolling in Maysville (Walking City Tour, Mason County Museum, Walking, 1.5 h, $20 adult/$15 child)

We arrived in Maysville by 6 am this morning. Some passengers on the starboard side might have had a rude awakening as the train tracks are right next to the landing. We´ve been up anyway by that time. The bus tour started at 8:30 am, the walking tour at 9 am. The local CVB set up some flags along the landing. Right after the floodwall which is nicely painted with murals by Robert Dafford (you will find his artwork all along the floodwalls on the rivers) the CVB set up a tent with brochures and folks were available for information too. One brochure is called "A Self-Guided Tour of Maysville´s Historic Districts" for those who want to explore the town on their own. We were met by a friend and spend the morning at her place. At 9 am there was another chance for a pilot house tour in case you´ve missed the previous ones. Today´s lunch was the famous Picnic Luncheon with ribs, fried chicken, fried catfish, marinated chicken, cornbread, muffins, corn on the cob, baked beans, salads, watermelon and great desserts with music provided by Bob Schad and Phil Westbrook. The American Queen left Maysville at 1 pm with another calliope concert by Perfessor Phil. As it was Sunday a Devotional Service was held by 1:30 pm in the Grand Saloon. Captain John Dugger held his Captain´s Navigational Seminar at 2 pm in the Grand Saloon. Now there was a tough choice coming up at 3 pm: Discovery Guide Mike talked about "Steamboat Travel in the 1800s" in the Grand Saloon while Executive Chef Barry Bannett invited to the galley tour. We opted for the galley tour for which you had to sign up in advance. Hotel Manager Wendy Messinger first provided a couple of facts and numbers about the galley and the food prepared during one cruise. You´ll be amazed how all that food can be prepared in such a tiny place. Just in case you need some food, Afternoon Tea was available by 3:30 pm in the Ladies´ Parlor. Traci and Jim invited to "He Said, She Said", a hysterical version of the Newlywed Game in the Grand Saloon at 4 pm. Phil Westbrook played in the Engine Room Bar at 4.30 pm. Tonights´ show was featuring Bob Schad and his banjo in "Riverboat Daze" followed by the usual dance music in the Grand Saloon. Another show I can highly recommend, Bob´s humor is not to be missed. Phil Westbrook invited to the "Night Owls Club" in the Engine Room Bar at 9 pm. Movies of the day were "Blades of Glory" and "Spiderman 3".

Day 6 Cincinnati, OH (8 am - 5 pm)
Cincinnati, OH
Cincinnati
Rare Book Collection
Showboat Majestic
Cincinnati Public Transportation

Covington, KY
Northern Kentucky Visitor Information
Northern Kentucky Riverwalk Statue Tour
Behringer-Crawford Museum
Mike Fink Restaurant
P.A. Denny
USS Nightmare
Mainstrasse
Northern Kentucky Public Transportation
Northern Kentucky International Airport

Newport, KY, Visitor Information
City of Newport
B&B Riverboats
Newport Aquarium

Cincinnati: Jewel of the West (City Sightseeing Tour, Fountain Square, Union Terminal, Mount Adams, Covington, Mainstrasse Village, Motorcoach, 3.5 h, $50 adult/$40 child)

We arrived early in Cincinnati actually the night before at 10 pm. We watched the arrival from the outside deck space. The American Queen docked right underneath the replica of her own paddlewheel (the National Steamboat Monument, walk up and have a look on the signs) and next to the historic showboat Majestic (www.cincinnatilandmarkproductions.com/sbm) at the Cincinnati Public Landing. The tour started at 8:30 am. After meeting with a friend we decided to walk over the bridge to Newport (use the big stairs leading up the US Bank Arena). In case you don´t want to walk over the bridge there´s also a bus (TANK) going over to the Newport side (bus stop is located at the first crossing at the end of the bridge, check for fares with www.tankbus.org). Right at the staircase leading up to the bridge there´s a sign in memory of Betty Blake Simcox, former president of the Delta Queen Steamboat Company. We opted to go to the Newport Aquarium (www.newportaquarium.com) with its great shark exhibits (have you ever pet a shark?, plan app. 2 hours). We just returned in time to get some lunch. For the first time we tried out the lunch in the J.M. White Dining Room as there was "Louisiana Two Step" on the menu today and it truly was worth it. The best I ever had, hot and spicy. Discovery Guide Mike talked about "Accursed Bridges" in the Grand Saloon at 12:30 pm. Bingo time followed at 2 pm in the Grand Saloon with Jim and Traci. Discovery Guide Mike was available for another pilot house tour in the Chart Room at 3 pm. At 4 pm another guest lecturer, author Chuck Parrish, talked about the Army Corps of Engineers and Ohio River Locks and Dams. Phil provided some music in the Engine Room Bar at 4:30 pm for the Happy Hour. The American Queen left Cincinnati at 5 pm with a calliope salute with Perfessor Rosalinda. This was Captain´s Dinner night and time to dress up. Tonights show was featuring Traci Vaughn and Jim Braet in "Come On Get Happy" in the Grand Saloon followed by dance music. Phil Westbrook invited to an Irish Night in the Engine Room Bar at 9 pm. Todays featured movies in the movie theatre were "Land of the Women" and "Wild Hogs".

A disembarkation sheet was available tonight so were the comment cards. Tipping is pooled ($15 per day per person, $105 for a 7 night cruise per person) and can be charged to your onboard account until 11 pm on the last day (you need to sign up at the Purser´s Office, no automatic charge to your onboard account). For those who opt to tip cash a box and envelopes are available at the Purser´s Office. Bags have to be out by midnight on the last night.

Day 7 Madison, IN (8 am - 5 pm)
Madison
Madison

All In the Family (Ben Schroeder Saddletree Factory Museum, Madison Vineyards and Betty Mundt Candy Store, Motorcoach, 3.5 h, $50 adult/$40 child) Historic Madison Walking Tour (Walking City Tour, Walking, 2.5 h, $26 adult/$20 child)

We landed in Madison at about 5:30 am. The bus tour started at 8:30 am, the walking tour at 9 am. The Madison Trolley was available for a guided ride of app. 15/20 min for $ 5 (all day pass, hop-on/hop-off). Madison is a great town to do some shopping and strolling around the town and its historic buildings. Colored luggage tags were delivered to the stateroom this morning. There was another chance for a pilot house tour at 9 am this morning. Discovery Guide Mike was talking about "Murphy´s Law on the River" (steamboat disasters) in the Grand Saloon at 12:30 pm. Jim and Traci called for bingo at 1:30 pm followed by the disembarkation talk at 2:30 pm (one member of your party should be present). Hotel Manager Wendy Messinger invited to a tour of the vessel with facts about the architecture, décor and history of the American Queen at 3 pm in the Engine Room Bar. Afternoon tea was available in the Ladies´ Parlor at 3:30 pm. At 4 pm guest lecturer Dan Back gave his talk about "Steamboats on the Western Waters" in the Grand Saloon. Phil played in the Engine Room Bar for Happy Hour starting at 4:30 pm. At 5 pm we departed from Madison with a calliope salute by Perfessor Steve. Tonights show was featuring Phil Westbrook in "Phil Westbrook by Request" followed by dance music. Phil switched over to the Engine Room Bar at 9 pm for his Night Owls Club. Todays featured movies were "Shrek the Third" and "Lucky You".

Bags had to be out by midnight today so we opted to pack in the evening instead of going to the bar.

Day 8 Louisville, KY (arrival 9 am)
Louisville
Steamboat Belle of Louisville
Cave Hill National Cemetary
Howard Steamboat Museum, Jeffersonville, IN
Louisville International Airport
Louisville Public Transportation (4th Street Trolley starting at the Galt House Hotel and Main & Market Street Trolley are 50c each ride)
Louisville Slugger Museum

For those having flights after 2 pm the following tour was offered starting at 8 am: Louisville City Tour (University of Louisville, Jefferson Square, Bakery Square, Kentucky Printing House for the Blind, Kentucky Fried Chicken World Headquarters, stops at Churchill Downs and tours the Louisville Slugger Museum, Motorcoach, 4 h, $33 adult)

Full service breakfast in the J.M. White Dining Room started at 6 am this morning (until 8 am, no continental breakfast in the Front Porch). The bill was delivered to the stateroom prior to 6 am and the Purser´s Office was available for questions by than. Busses for the airport and hotel started loading by 7:45 am. Just leave your keyes in your stateroom when you´re leaving. Those who opted to take the offered shuttle busses were called by their luggage tag color to board the busses. We met with a friend and traveled individually. When leaving the boat several crew members were available for good bye handshakes. This was the first time on all our steamboat cruises where also the disembarkation was leisure and nice although we had to leave.