There’s no more unique way to enjoy a Mississippi river cruise and experience the history, heritage and culture of America’s heartland than a voyage aboard a genuine steamboat like the American Queen. Melody and Darlene from our office escorted a group of 45 from the Ventura County area.
American Queen Steamboat Company was the perfect host! Our late arrival to the boat (weather in New York delayed our flight) was greeted with a round of applause and wine. The purser’s desk checked-in our group of 43 within a blink of an eye (the wine helped) and escorted couples to their desired dining venue choice of either the casual but still delicious, Front Porch, or the more traditional, J.M White Dining Room. Darlene and I opted for the Front Porch and enjoyed peppered chicken and tomato soup. Our cabin, Suite 505, was spacious and cozy. There was enough storage in the antique
dressers and enough space in front of the mirrors for two ladies to get ready in the evenings. We had a sitting area and table on the shared Promenade Deck where we enjoyed coffee in the mornings and French doors that you could latch open to let the southern breezes in.
Darlene and I attended every single show on the cruise. I particularly enjoyed the Tribute to The 40s with a musical salute to each branch of the military. The cast was small, usually three performers and the band, but very engaging and entertaining. There was piano music and crooners or rock music and dancing every night in the various onboard lounges. There was even a magician who taught card tricks and Texas Hold ’em. We agreed that the food was spectacular (the best bite I had was the Herb saint chicken with
fried oysters, sautéed spinach with anise hollandaise) and the staff, endearing. The shore excursions ranged from a swamp tour to an evening at Regina Charbonneau’s, the chef de cuisine onboard, beautiful Antebellum home. Regina is the epitome of “Southern hospitality”, opening her home to the passengers of the American Queen and offering canapés with cocktails while we roamed the grounds. I was lucky enough to celebrate my 30th birthday on this day and will treasure the memory. The Hop On/Off buses provided a quick tour of the small but culturally rich American towns.
Our two day post-cruise in New Orleans went by too quickly. The weather was not in our favor (cold and windy) but a lesson at the New Orleans School of Cooking warmed up our group with gumbo and authentic Southern recipes. On our last day we had brunch at the historic Court of Two Sisters in the French Quarter (Crab Eggs Benedict and Shrimp Étouffée), where a variety of street performers were set up on the street in front of the restaurant. Our last stop was a tour at Mardi Gras World, where the world’s leading maker of floats’ artists sculpture and make props for the fantastic parades. This was the conclusion of our wonderful trip before catching our flight home, which was on time.