Steaming Down the River on the American Queen

Welcome aboard the American Queen, the largest steamboat ever built. Photo by Michael Reiss

If Mark Twain could have, he would have explored the Mississippi on this quintessentially American Steamboat Cruise Line.

With over 52 itineraries to choose from–including many specialty themed voyages–it’s just a matter of carving out the time to ply the river. Guests on the American Queen run the gamut from first time cruisers to world travelers, with honeymooners and millennials sprinkled in among seasoned individuals.

Here is a beautiful sunset aboard the American Queen. Photo by Michael Reiss

Boarding this unique steam-powered paddle wheeler–complete with calliope steam organ–puts you back to a place and time where life on the river takes precedence over tweets and posts. Every day is a new port with new discoveries. Every day, the river’s twists and turns offer opportunities to contemplate nature’s wonders and man’s attempts to tame its power.

On board the American Queen, a passionate and knowledgeable “Rivertarian” schedules talks and informal chats to enrich the experience. On land, the American Queen’s own fleet of tour buses, which follow the boat along the river, provides commentary with local guides in a “Hop On, Hop Off” format that enables you to customize your visit to suit your tastes, preferences and pace.

Photo by Michael Reiss

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Back on board the vessel, there is always a meal or snack waiting to tempt your taste buds. The cuisine takes full advantage of the regional specialties and offers a broad array of popular favorites. On our cruise, these local specialties included gumbos, jambalaya, seafood including shrimp, crab, oysters, scallops and lobster, barbeque, and plenty of carnivore delights. Cookies, ice cream, popcorn, specialty coffees and teas are always .

Relax on your veranda, enjoy a swing or rocking chair, play bridge, cards, board games, read, check email if you must, chat, hit the gym or swimming pool, or just chill and watch life on the river.

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The entertainment on board is top notch. On our “Big Band Cruise,” a 12-piece orchestra played day and night for passengers who not only listened, but cut the rug dancing and enjoyed lessons and demos from a couple of dance experts invited on board to enhance the experience. The pre and post dinner entertainment options, as well as the nightly featured performances were of exceptional quality and well received by the audience.

Overall, this is a cruise line that appeals to passengers who appreciate the finest, are willing to pay the price and are often repeat passengers because they know it will be a journey that enhances the quality of their lives. Stay tuned for the newest addition, the American Duchess, an all- suite steamer, that will make Mark Twain rise again.

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If you spend any time in New Orleans pre or post cruise, there is one fine dining establishment that takes the King Cake. It’s called Upperline Restaurant where Restaurateur JoAnn Clevenger, a multiple time James Beard nominee, will welcome you into her converted home and treat you like family.

JoAnn’s warm greeting and escorted seating–in one of the many intimate dining areas of Upperline Restaurant is a treat unto itself. Then there is her eclectic art that stimulates all your senses before you ever taste a bite.

Once seated there is her “must order”- seven course “Taste of New Orleans Favorites Menu” that will have you swooning. All the classics are done to perfection in just the right amounts to have you wishing there were more, but anticipating what is to come next.  The “Fried Green Tomatoes with Shrimp Remoulade,” “Duck Etoufee,” and “Slow Roasted Duck” are just some of the quintessential dishes that celebrate the essence of what the Big Easy is all about. Don’t leave New Orleans without a visit to Upperline Restaurant.

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By Diane Sukiennik and Michael Reiss Courtesy www.foodandwineaccess.com “Photos by Michael Reiss”

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