After a multimillion-dollar renovation, the American Queen, the largest steamboat ever built, will set sail today on the waters it was made for; the mighty Mississippi River.
The 436-passenger ship will depart New Orleans today on a six-night roundtrip cruise. It will then continue it’s season of three- to 10-night voyages on the Mississippi, Ohio and Tennessee Rivers, out of a variety of southern and Midwest homeports, including New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Louisville, Cincinnati, St. Louis and Memphis.
The American Queen was built at the McDermott Shipyard in 1995 by the Delta Queen Steamboat Company at an approximate cost of $60 million. The third “Queen,” she was the six-deck recreation of a classic Mississippi riverboat. After six years of plying the waters of the Mississippi, and due to the bankruptcy of American Classical Voyages, the parent company of the Delta Queen Steamboat Co., the American Queen went out of service in October, 2001. Fortunately, the Delta Queen Steamboat Co. finally was bought by Delaware North Companies, Inc. and went back in service in January 2003. On April 2006, the American Queen was purchased by Majestic America Line and sailed the Mississippi River under that company’s brand until November 2008, when due to the failure of Majestic America Line, she was returned to the United States Maritime Administration (MARAD) who held her $30 million mortgage. In April 2011, The Great American Steamboat Company announced plans to return her to Mississippi River service from a port in Memphis, Tennessee. There, she will re-join her fellow sternwheeler steamboats Natchez, Chautauqua Belle, Minne-Ha-Ha, and the Belle of Louisville.
When the U.S. government repossessed the American Queen in 2008, the ship was in mint condition. However, when Great American Steamboat Company took possession, she was 12 years old and they wanted to make sure she was restored to brand new condition.
Renovations included an engine overhaul, new paint, new electrical systems, a new paddlewheel, upgraded furnishings and an upgrading of the back of house areas. The work was performed in Sulpher, La. and are now complete.
While the American Queen’s stern paddlewheel is indeed powered by steam, a secondary propulsion and maneuverability system originates from a set of diesel-electric propellers, known as Z-drives, on either side of the sternwheel. This will aid in improved handling at tight turns and maneuvering in ports.
- 436 guests
- 222 state rooms
- 160 crew members
- 418 feet long
- 89 feet wide
There are five stateroom categories onboard American Queen, from inside windowless cabins to suites with verandas. All staterooms provide private bathrooms with showers and abundant storage. Some larger inside staterooms have extra storage and a large dressing mirror. All offer gourmet coffee brewers and Starbucks coffee. They are adorned with all the opulence of the American Victorian era.
Outside staterooms offer large bay windows that provide sweeping views of America padding by, an inside entrance, two single beds and private bath tub and shower.
Deluxe Outside staterooms with verandas offer windowed French doors that provide stunning visuals and luxurious comfort. Category A staterooms open onto charming private verandas, while B, C and E staterooms grant a more social atmosphere, opening onto the deck. All offer a private bathroom with tub. and shower, and some offer either two single beds or a queen-size bed.
Superior Outside staterooms with verandas offer French doors opening onto a deck or veranda, varying room sizes, with two single beds and a private bathroom that includes a tub and shower.
The Suites with veranda offer spacious, elegantly furnished suites, a cozy sitting area sofa-bed and cocktail tables, soaking tub or shower, and antique double or queen beds.
The American Queen presents the warm and inviting ambiance of an antebellum mansion. Public rooms are decorated with Victorian charm and carefully selected antiques. While on board, you can select a volume from the vast collection in the Mark Twain Gallery, the boat’s library. Or enjoy a sing-along in the Main Deck Lounge, and then tap your toes to a lavish show in the two-deck-tall Grand Saloon, the most elegant showplace on the river. In keeping with old southern charm, the ship has two areas focused on men and women. Women can sip tea, chat with new-found friends, and play bridge. Men can retreat to the Gentleman’s Card Room for a ‘strategic’ game of poker. The ship also features a Athletic Club and pool for those wanting to stay in shape while onboard.
American Queen’s dining options will feature the acclaimed cuisine of famed American chef Regina Charboneau.
Even more astounding than the choices you will find on our menus are your daily choices of dining venues. The opulent J.M. White Dining Saloon is the centerpiece, serving breakfasts, lunches and dinners that are befittingly grand. The Front Porch of America offers a wide variety of classic American favorites and can satisfy any craving, at any time, as it is open 24 hours. The Calliope Grill serves up views as spectacular as the grilled fare and fresh salads and offers romantic, alfresco dining in the evenings. Should you be feeling peckish in the wee hours, you will find the Moonlight Supper in the Engine Room Bar offers surprising midnight delights.
Bottled water and soft drinks are complimentary throughout each cruise and complimentary wines and beers are available at dinner.
Night after magical night, top entertainers bring down the house in the American Queen’s majestic Grand Saloon. Two decks tall, the Grand Saloon is absolutely palatial, the most elegant showplace on the river.
Every evening, you’re treated to a different celebration of America’s best music, from Broadway hits to Dixieland Jazz, big band to bluegrass, ragtime to rock and roll. Showboat-style cabaret acts and old-fashioned radio shows add variety and charm to the evening lineup.
Throughout the season, American Queen will offer various theme sailings that accent the regions she sails.
- Civil War Vacations: During these Civil War Vacations, renowned historians will escort you in the footprints of the boys in blue and gray. As you visit the battlefields where so many gave their lives, you’ll learn of those poignant, tumultuous times that often found brother taking arms against brother.
- Epic Civil War: These special thirteen-day adventures provide the ultimate Civil War experience, complete with actors, impersonators, lecturers, balladeers, field trips and reenactments designed to entertain as well as increase understanding of this pivotal point in time. You’ll travel between two major Civil War sites, Vicksburg and Chattanooga.
- Springtime on the River: Enjoy the awakening of springtime on the river. Gliding along at a stately pace, your mind has time to wander—back to a time when life was slower and more genteel, when mighty rivers served as America’s natural highways and an elegant paddlewheel steamboat was the epitome of travel.
- Old Fashioned Holiday Vacations: Make a special holiday memory onboard a floating palace, decked out from stem to stern in Victorian holiday finery. View grand Souther plantation homes and townhouses in their traditional holiday dress. Lift your voice in carols and raise your glass of eggnog to toast Christmastime on the river. Spectacular bonfires along the levees light the way for Papa Noel in keeping with Cajun tradition.
- Southern Culture: Immerse yourself in the literature, music and culture of the South, as well as its traditions, history and cooking. Our Southern Culture Vacations carry you deep into the worlds of William Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor, Tennessee Williams and Harper Lee. You’ll visit the towns that inspired literary and musical greatness. Along the way, you’ll experience the sounds of the Delta blues.
- Thanksgiving: Savor the flavors of famed American Chef Regina Charboneau during our Southern-styled Thanksgiving Steamboating Adventure.
- Music of the 1950s: Join us on a nostalgic journey to the fun-loving, carefree days of the ’50s as we re-create the music, activities and events of this golden era. You’ll rock around the clock to the sounds of legendary artists like Chuck Berry, Fats Domino and Elvis. You’ll also meet recording stars, TV personalities, special guests and sports figures of the era.
- Music of the 1960s: If you were a child of the 60s, here’s a vacation voyage just for you. During this special tribute to the ’60s, you can dance to the sounds of Motown artists plus other R&B and rock favorites. You will also have the chance to meet and talk with well-known musicians, sports figures and other celebrities.
- Big Band: Get “in the mood” for our sensational Big Band Vacations, when special onboard guest orchestras play the tunes you know so well, all in the original arrangements that made them legendary. If you are a fan of the big bands, this is a sentimental journey you won’t want to miss.
- July 4th: Experience the 4th of July in St. Louis, Missouri — a city that truly knows how to celebrate this significant day in our nation’s history. In addition to taking in the spectacular fireworks and festivities in St. Louis, you will celebrate the holiday aboard the American Queen while taking an unforgettable voyage through the very heartland of America.
- Fall Colors Vacations: Fall Foliage Vacations salute nature’s rich palette of reds, oranges and golds as your steamboat traverses the Upper Mississippi, Ohio, Cumberland and Tennessee rivers in Autumn. You can shuffle through the leaves during shore excursions and learn from guest naturalists. At dinnertime, you’ll sample the bounties of Heartland America, from pumpkin pie to hot, spiced cider.
- Kentucky Derby: Our Kentucky Derby voyages celebrate one of the most prestigious events in the “sport of kings.” You’ll experience the Derby festivities in Louisville, then, mint julep in hand, have the opportunity to witness the Run for the Roses itself. General-admission Kentucky Derby tickets or special Derby Day party at the storied Seelbach Hotel are included in the price of your voyage.
- Steamboat Race: ore than a century ago, one of the biggest thrills in the heartland of America was watching a steamboat race. Now, you can experience the excitement firsthand on board the American Queen as she joins the Belle of Louisville to recreate this pre-Kentucky Derby traditional race. The adventure begins in Memphis and concludes in Cincinnati, with the traditional race itself held in Louisville.
Interested in sailing aboard the American Queen? Contact Sunstone Tours & Cruises toll-free at 1-888-815-5428 or visit our website at SunstoneTours.com.