A few days into an American Queen cruise, I realize that the social hub of the ship isn’t the ship’s stunning Mark Twain Gallery. It’s actually the Front Porch of America, a front porch for the entire ship that’s filled with people from very early morning and well into the night.
On the surface, it’s similar to the alternative indoor/outdoor buffet restaurants at sea. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served, and specialty coffees and teas are available at all times. But that’s where the resemblance ends. This is a true front porch: a gathering place for people chatting, reading, playing cards, taking pictures, sipping specialty coffees and cold drinks and eating all day long.
When American Queen launched, the Front Porch served just snacks and light fare, but it has developed into a full restaurant with hot and cold dishes at mealtimes and cold cuts, chips and dips, soups, salads and more between meals. Passengers learn quickly to arrive early in the morning in order to stake out a table and Adirondack rocker or glider, and then they remain there for hours. Leisurely conversations about the virtues of stouts and other beer enliven the small bar, and friendships are formed easily under the slowly rotating fans. Plus, the outdoor space is sheltered, so it takes a serious rain to drive occupants indoors.
The porch encapsulates the American Queen experience: Life in a mellow world without pressure and with storybook feasts, wonderful live music and opulent, colorful surroundings. As one passenger who was reading Mark Twain remarked to his table: “Why just read about it when you can live it?”