How do clients sail the Mississippi River in style? Travel Agent did just that over the past few days, sailing on American Queen Steamboat Company's 166-passenger American Duchess on a four-night cruise between Natchez, MS, and Memphis, TN.
Outside, this river boat – launched in 2017 -- looks traditional with a steamboat-style design that’s recognizable for its large red paddlewheel, two tall black smoke stacks, crisp white paint and gingerbread-styling.
Yet inside American Duchess, you won’t find the traditional Victorian styling, historic Americana aura and Mark Twain décor that characterize the line’s other two vessels, American Queen and American Empress.
Instead, American Duchess embodies a more modern, contemporary approach to furnishings and décor. We felt the vessel was comfortable, spacious, quiet and akin to a boutique hotel.
The river boat has soft neutral color schemes, modern artwork (although some steamboat paintings hang along guest corridors), sparkling chandeliers, contemporary carpet patterns and modern sofas and chairs of many styles – some fanciful ones with high backs.
We’ll provide a complete review of American Duchess (accommodations, public spaces, shore options, onboard service, cuisine and onboard activities) in an upcoming Travel Agent print edition, but here’s a teaser peek at the Loft Suites (Category LG).
Travel Agent stayed in #206 on Deck 2 forward.
A Lofty Experience
Stepping inside #206, one of four Loft Suites on American Duchess, guests will immediately sense an abundance of both interior space and natural light.
Spacewise, the lower level entryway is exceptionally large; it offers plenty of room for storing a scooter, wheelchair, or roll-away bed if needed. That space flows into a dining space with a glass table and four chairs.
Along one wall is a long entertainment bar with a small refrigerator (stocked with sodas and bottled water), an ice bucket and a Keurig coffee maker with several blends of coffee. We liked the ample storage below, perfect for storing purchases made ashore.
The living area is just beyond, with a large flatscreen TV, couch (convertible to a full double bed sofa), and large chair decked out in fabric that matches the curtains.
What’s nice is that in the area with the couch and chair, the ceiling cuts away from the loft above and guests can look up two stories – providing a sense of grandeur and openness.
As for the light, this suite essentially has a two-story high wall of glass – on one side are large double sliding glass floor-to-ceiling doors, and on the other side of a dividing structural pillar is a narrower elongated panel of glass.
Both of these extend upward, with small wood horizontal bars in between at points, and then more panes of glass. The result? Guests will have magnificent river views both from the living area and the upstairs loft bedroom.
Drapes soaring at least 20 feet in height are easily operated by a white push button remote control. It opens and shuts both sheers and regular curtains. Outside is a full exterior private balcony with two chairs and a small table.
An added plus on the first level is a full marble bathroom with walk-in shower, toilet and vanity with one sink. Bathroom amenities include a hair dryer, tissues and large tubes of Float bath amenities (body lotion, shampoo, conditioner).
Guests sleeping downstairs on the sofa bed could easily feel comfortable here and have their own facilities. On both sides of the sink is plenty of vanity space for personal items. In addition, three small square open shelves are above on both sides of the sink.
The walls of this Loft Suite (both upper and lower levels) are adorned with colorful framed photos of city and rural river scenes. Our suite had a dramatic elongated photo of St. Louis’ Gateway Arch, plus photo art also featured stunning river landscapes and New Orleans’ and other city skylines.
Heading up the stairs, guests can grasp a sturdy railing with glass panels underneath. Carpeted stairs have a lesser height between them (compared to many staircases), so they are easy to navigate.
Ascending the staircase, guests will reach a semi-private bedroom surrounded on two sides by glass panels that allow guests to see out and sunlight to stream in. Guests also can peer down into a portion of the living area.
The bedroom itself has two twin beds that the housekeeping steward will – upon request – put together into a queen sized bed; this can also be arranged in advance.
We found the bedding soft, plush and high-quality, with a good mattress. Two nightstands have table lights and one has a large clock, easily readable from the bed.
A large flatscreen TV faces the bed, and below, its cabinetry has two long, narrow drawers and a door that opens to two shelves. Two small blue side chairs are on either side of the TV cabinetry.
The second full, marble-lined bathroom on this loft bedroom level has a soaking tub/shower combination and one large sink with vanity space on either side.
Guests also will find a hair dryer and three small elevated shelves on both sides of the sink for placing personal items.
At the top of the stairs, the main bedroom’s closet includes sliding doors, a safe, a chest of four drawers and a hanging bar that can accommodate both shirt blouses and longer clothes.
Fluffy robes for guest use while onboard are hanging in the closet. Slippers are there too. One surprise was the closet’s full-size iron and small ironing board for guest use.
Guests staying in the Owner’s Suites (OS) and Loft Suites (LFS) will receive Commodore Services, including the attention of a River Butler, pre-boarding privileges, a bottle of wine and fruit basket upon arrival, preferred dining room seating in the Grand Dining Room, reserved seating in the Show Lounge and an invitation to dine with senior officers one night.
Butler service includes a tour of the suite, unpacking/hanging clothes assistance, preparing and packing luggage prior to departure, laundry and pressing services, shoe shining, afternoon tea served in the suite, breakfast and dinner served on the guest’s private balcony upon request, pre-dinner canapes, post-dinner sweets, and a personal escort to the Show Lounge.
Again, look for our full-bodied review of American Duchess in an upcoming print issue of Travel Agent magazine.