Photologue and Five Factoids About AQSC's American Countess

Travel Agent just completed a five-night “preview cruise” on American Countess, American Queen Steamboat Company’s (AQSC) newly christened riverboat, which now sails the Mississippi River between Memphis and New Orleans.

Check out our slide show above with 25 photos taken onboard. Review our separate photologue published last week showcasing No. 251 Deluxe Outside Stateroom with Private Balcony, an accessible stateroom. 

In addition, here are "Five Top Factoids" for advisors to know about American Countess. 

1. Stretched and Gorgeous 

Built from a former casino boat, the Kanesville Queen, this ship was split in half in a Houma, LA, shipyard and a new 60-foot section (which added more cabins) inserted. It was then renovated and "reimagined" top to bottom.

Bottom line? It looks brand-new. Passengers sailing on the riverboat are likely to feel that they’re on a new vessel. While some public spaces (such as The Library or Game Room) feature dark woods or cabinetry, overall the interior exudes a light, open and spacious feeling, thanks to soft hues, attractive carpeting and modern (yet, not stark) furniture.

Simply put, this riverboat is "easy on the eyes." 

2. A Grand Space That Delivers the "Wow" 

Hands down, the Grand Lobby & Bar is the “absolute wow” on this riverboat. Stretching along the starboard side of the vessel, it offers an incredible, 80-foot wall of glass along the seating areas, so guests have stellar river views.

This space includes the purser’s desk, shore excursion desk, a small gift shop, an impressive (long) bar and many guest seating areas, which are a mix of couches and chairs. Orchid plants grace the table tops. Nestled at one end of the Grand Lobby & Bar is a grand piano and, behind that, a curved stairway that leads up to 200-level cabins. Restrooms and an elevator are nearby, as well as the entrances to The Theater and the Grand Dining Room. 

Fielding a high ceiling, this grand space has several stunning chandeliers, delivering a bit of opulence. Yet, the space, while elegant, seems warm and welcoming.

During our cruise, guests migrated here repeatedly to relax, read a book, enjoy a glass of wine, brew or cocktail, and talk about their day with friends or family members. The bartending staff was professional and friendly.

Tip? When the "live" music begins, if guests desire conversation rather than just listening to the music, they should sit closer to the shore excursion and purser's desks. It's a bit quieter at that end of the Grand Lobby & Bar. 

3. Tastes that Please

The line upgraded its menus this year and added such options as USDA Prime meats. The sheer number of choices on each menu was a bit above average, too. From the reaction of those in our group and others traveling on this voyage, the cuisine was deemed quite tasty. Choices are decidedly American in style but creative at times, too, with a bit of international flair here and there. 

If you see fried chicken of any type on the menu, and you like that, be sure to order it. Two people in our party felt one friend chicken dish they had at dinner was the best thing they'd ever had. Separately, one of our favorite entrees for lunch was the Natchez Hot Chicken, a fried masterpiece—spicy, tasty and crispy. 

Breakfast and lunch menus offer two options, “Express” choices as well as "Specials." It's important to make this point: The line is still working through how the above two options are explained to guests. The menus we had did not explain it.

Good to know: It's possible for guests who desire to not get up from the table to order everything through their server. So, it's full-service if desired; however, some guests do like to look at what they’re considering. But because this year’s pandemic shut down the buffet bar for self-service, the line is offering those Express options. That means guests have the ability—if they so choose—to walk up to the buffet bar and tell the dining room crew members or chef behind the bar what they’d like or point to "this and that."  But there is "no touching" nor breathing close to the food. 

Sample menu? At lunch one day, the Express choices include Hearty Chicken Soup, Pumpkin Black Bean Chili, Steamboat Salad, Tomato and Artichoke Salad, Classic Caesar Salad with Garlic Seared Shrimp, BBQ Pulled Pork Topped with Southern Slaw, Buffalo Bleu Cheese Chicken Wrap, Mexican Quinoa Salad and Garlic Studded Roast Prime Striplets. Sides included Roasted Asparagus, Loaded Baked Potato Casserole and Honey Glazed Carrots. The food is then either handed to the guest or delivered by the waiter to the table.

For those who want to order a Lunch Special, that's ordered at the table and delivered by wait staff. One day's Lunch Specials included Pan-Seared Salmon, Fried Shrimp Po’ Boy, Black and Bleu Bacon Cheese Burger and Black Bean Burger.

As for breakfast, one popular Breakfast Special was the Strawberry Pancakes and a side order of the Berry Bowl (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries). Again, there were plenty of breakfast choices.

4. Crew are Ecstatic to Be Back 

Many of the American Countess’ onboard crew and entertainers gained their experience on other AQSC river vessels. They've been "off" the rivers for a year. Some were unemployed throughout the year, others doing other non-river jobs. 

We observed visible joy from the crew about returning to the rivers once again. Everyone from our cabin stewardess to the laundry folks, from entertainers to the purser’s office and dining room crew members seemed happy to be back on the Mississippi and sailing once again.

5. Delivering a Look and Style All Its Own

American Countess isn’t a clone of American Queen nor American Duchess, the line’s two other Mississippi River vessels.

The differences? American Queen reflects that Mark Twain-style aura with traditional décor and furnishings, while American Duchess is modern, boutique in style and has lovely two-level suites. In contrast, American Countess is somewhere in between, perhaps a tad more toward the American Duchess side of the equation, although it does not have big suites. While exuding a contemporary, boutique feel, American Countess seems a bit more laid-back in style than American Duchess. It's interior aura seems comfortable in style, not stark.

Guests will likely appreciate the few “steamboating” touches, such as riverboat artwork in corridors or on stairway landings, or the art/photography focused on such river cities as Louisville or Minneapolis.

Also, this former gaming boat did not have a paddlewheel, but AQSC added a new red one that provides some of the vessel's propulsion and a positive "steamboating" feel. It's fun to watch from the open-air top deck and see the water spray as the paddles turn.

Stay tuned for our final story from this preview cruise, our one-on-one interview with John Waggoner, the river line's founder and CEO. 

For more information on this river line, visit The line's health and safety protocols include a pre-sailing health questionnaire, COVID-19 vaccination requirement (for departures on and after July 1, 2021), pre-boarding COVID-19 PCR testing, temperature checks at boarding or when returning to the riverboat from touring ashore and more. 

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