American Queen, the largest paddlewheeler afloat, began its second season of operations on the Mississippi River and other heartland waterways in late February.
What's new? The 436-passenger vessel of Memphis-based American Queen Steamboat Company (www.americanqueensteamboatcompany.com) received $500,000 in renovations and upgrades earlier this year at the Bollinger Shipyard in New Orleans.
Throughout American Queen, new woodwork and interior paint provide a richer decorative look. All furniture in both public areas and staterooms has been either reupholstered or replaced.
When entering their accommodations, guests now will discover new Mahogany plantation shutters, designed to improve both privacy and southern ambience. New river scenes by artist Michael Blaser adorn stateroom walls.
Travel Agent obtained new photos of the onboard accommodations; they're presented on this page.
As cruisers head to the J.M. White Dining Saloon, they’ll see a new marble and granite entryway. Adjacent to the entry is a wine wall showcasing a collection of vintages from both popular and lesser-known wineries.
The dining room has new empire-style dining chairs, as well as new wallpaper and carpeting. The two-sided buffet has been improved to provide easier guest access and the ability to offer more dining choices.
The casual Front Porch of America now has a new Front Porch Café, now a more comprehensive alternative dining option for breakfast, lunch and dinner. A new small preparation kitchen was added on site.
Guests who sailed last year and now venture to the Front Porch of America will also notice new furniture, both inside and outside.
Early Sailing Feedback
Phyllis Dale, co-owner/travel specialist, Great Escapes Travel (www.phyllisdale.com), Lake Mary, FL, is a top producer of river boat bookings within North America.
Dale's clients, Richard and Suzanne Martinez from Tavares, FL, just returned from the Feb. 23 sailing of American Queen. The couple sailed on the ship last year as well; they're experienced steamboaters.
What did they think of the American Queen's renovations and other updates? Overall, they were pleased. Here is their first-hand feedback to Dale:
• “The crew and officers seem to have a complete turn-around. They seemed so much happier [this year]."
• "The Front Porch now has Mahogany cabinetry and a carving station."
• "Elevators have been refurbished."
• "Service and food items have been improved 300%. The buffet station in the dining room has been greatly improved."
• "Entertainment was fantastic."
• "Wallpaper was replaced in all the common areas. Many areas have reupholstered furniture."
• “The past passenger program, PSSOA is back. A party is held every cruise and pins are given out."
• "We can't wait to return in September."
Have your clients booked an American river cruise last fall or for this year? If so, on what line and what's been the feedback? Are you planning to promote North American river voyages to your clients this year?