Queen of the Mississippi Paddlewheel Lounge // © 2012 American Cruise Lines
At the end of August, American Cruise Lines christened its new 150-passenger paddlewheeler, Queen of the Mississippi in Nashville, Tenn. Phyllis Dale, a nationally recognized travel agent and small-ship cruising expert, christened the vessel -- the first new authentic sternwheeler built for the Mississippi in 17 years. Following the ceremony, Queen of the Mississippi churned away at full capacity on an eight-day cruise from Nashville to St. Louis.
“The christening of Queen of the Mississippi is a meaningful way to celebrate the official launch of American Cruise Lines service on the Mississippi River,” said Charles A. Robertson, president and CEO of American Cruise Lines. “Guests now have access to the industry’s best amenities onboard an authentic paddlewheeler with a historic appearance.”
The company kept the feel of the traditional Victorian wedding cake riverboat design, but since this is a new vessel, they were able to include features catering to the taste of modern cruisers, with staterooms ranging in size from 268 to 460 square feet. A dozen of these have windows, and the other 66 have private balconies and are large enough to accommodate full breakfast service. The best accommodations are the corner suites, which are 460-plus square feet in size and feature sliding-glass doors for a great view of the river and the shore as well as wraparound balconies that allow a broader view. The hotel-style bathrooms, in-room phones and Wi-Fi, however, belong totally to the modern era, as do the engines, which provide greater speed and allow for more flexibility of itinerary planning.
“There’s a reason I’ve booked hundreds of clients with American Cruise Lines,” said Dale. “They simply love the intimacy, history and pure nostalgia of leisurely cruising our country’s smaller waterways. After boarding this beautiful vessel, it’s clear Queen of the Mississippi offers the finest of amenities, ambience and decor. This, combined with outstanding pampered service from a personable crew creates a recipe that will bring passengers back to enjoy all of the Queen's itineraries."
Queen of the Mississippi’s dining salon, with traditional rich woods and crystal chandeliers, accommodates open seating, and passengers need not be concerned about missing anything at meals, as they are surrounded by panoramic views of the river. Complimentary beer and wines are served at dinner and the cuisine is traditional American with a strong regional accent: Creole and Southern dishes from seafood gumbo to Bananas Foster. With a similar atmosphere, the Paddlewheel Lounge is a favorite place to gather and relax.
Like other vessels in the American Cruise Lines fleet, Queen of the Mississippi’s itineraries are very port-intensive, with a robust enrichment program centered on local history and culture. She will sail the Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee and Cumberland rivers year round except during February. As the sixth vessel in the American Cruise Lines fleet, she is part of the recent expansion of the line, which was previously focused on the East Coast.
Although this is the first venture into the Mississippi, the line dates back to the late 1970s. It specializes in American-built ships sailing sheltered waterways, mostly on the East Coast but has now branched out onto rivers in the Pacific Northwest, the Midwest and Alaska. The response to American Cruise Lines’ Midwest cruising has been so strong that the line has announced another new riverboat scheduled to debut in 2014.