We decided on the American Queen's upper Mississippi voyage (St. Louis to St. Paul) described as "Treasurers of Summer and Colors of Fall." The colors of fall did not pan out because the weather was not yet cool enough to change the leaves, but in spite of this, The American Queen paddleboat exceeded our expectations!
Our American Queen voyage becan in St. Louisand ended in St. Paul. We enjoyed all the ports along the was, including Hannibal, Burlington, and Dubuque. One of my favorites was Hannibal, MO. Here, the life of Samuel Clemens / Mark Twain comes to life in the restored area depicting the life of Tom Sawyer. There's even a sign pointing out the board fence which Tom Sawyer persuaded his friends to pay him for the privilegeof whitewashing. ) Photos of all destination ports are linked at the bottom of this page.)
Our cruise on the American Queen was like stepping into a history book and seeing America the way it used to be. The way it should be. The American Queenis designed with just that in mind.
The American Queen St. Louis to St. Paul - Food and Restaurant Review
All the food was very good to excellent. We arte some breakfasts and all dinners in the stately J.M.White Dining Room. If you visit this dining room for the buffet breakfast, you'll enjoy the huge buffet, or you can order some specialities from the breakfast menu. At the bottom of this page you'll find a gallery of food photos along with a picture of our table mates. We were always with the dinner meun selections as well as the quality of the food and the beautiful prsentatins. Here are our tablematees Chris and Marti, our Food and Beverage Dervice Manager, Andy Reeder, and our Head Waiter Galvyn Hill (Best Smile on the American Queen!) Every evening Andy and Galvyn did their best tomake sure our entire table of 6 was happy with our dinner choices and going out of their way to make us feel at home. Wine was included with the dinners, and were pleasantly surprised to learn we were not limited to one glass.
When we weren't eating in the formal dining room you could usually find us at the Front Porch Restaurant, located on Deck 3. The Front Porch restaurant offers rocking chairs, hanging swings and a terrific view of the Mississippi River from the bow. The restaurant provides a full breakfast and lunch, made-to-order omelets, waffles, pastries, bacon, sausage and the biggest, fattest fresh blackberries and raspberries I've ever seen. (From the Heartland of America!) The luncheswere also very good, and the From Porch Restaurant featured a variety of homemade cookies, several concoctions for your bowl or cone of ice cream, and even old-fashioned popcorn. These items are available all day long. The only problem with the Front Porch is that it gets very crowded, especially when we experienced rain and could not eat outside. It is unfortunate that the indoor seating area cannot be covered and expanded to accommodate more passengers.
We enjoyed visiting the Chart Room on Deck 4, just above the Front Porch. You'll find book shelves full of books with a nautical theme, and it's a great place to view the scheduole of the day, talk with the Riverlorian, and get answers to any questions you maty have about the American Queen's journey on the Mississippi River.
On a rainy day we discovered the Gentlemen's Card Room and the Ladies' Parlor. Both these rooms are reminiscent of the Victorian age, beautifully furnished and decorated, even offering window-sill seating . I settled down in the Parlor to read a book where I enjoyed the ambiance of times past.
Grand Saloon Review - American Queen St. Louis to St. Paul voyage
One delightful surprise was the Grand Saloon, the theater where live shows take place every evening. This theater is beautifully decorated in gold and red, with dark wood and box seats. I was told that the design was based on Washington's Ford's Theater, and it even has a replica of the box in which Lincoln sat on that fateful evening. The shows each night are entertaining and professionally executed. The group of musicians who performed ,usic backup for the nightly shows were absolutely terrific. We looked forward to Showtime each evening. Please view my gallery below - evening entertainment and bars.
Bars Review - American Queen St. Louis to St. Paul:
If you're not inclined to call it a night after dinner, you will find Phil Westbrookin the main deck. He'll take requests, entertain his audience with his delightful command of the piano, even recruiting voyagers from their seats to "help" act out certain songs.
But our favorite bar for late evening entertainment and music was the Engine Room Bar where the very talented and beautiful Jackie Bankston performed nightly. how in the world she remembered all four of our names and the states we were from totally amazed all of us. But remember us she did, calling out as we entered the Engine Room Bar. (I can almost hear some of my friends thinking "Well, if you didn't hang out at that bar every night....." But bless her heart, Jackie even managed to find us in the Grand Saloon on our final evening, just to chat for a few minutes.
Amenities Review American Queen St. Louis to St. Paul:
Do you like to ride a bike? While in port, the American Queen offers bicycles for you to use at no additional cost.
There's a swimming pool as well as a cardio room, plus an onboard Riverlorian who will answer your questions and help you with books you may want to check out.
We loved being able to order coffee room service in the morning before we got ready for breakfast. And of course it arrived hot in a lovelyold fashioned silver coffee pot with matching cream server.
The American Queen also offers several Spa Treatments (additional fee) Two in our group opted for the Queen's Massage and gave it good reviews.
American Queen "Hop On Hop Off" Busses Review
The American Queen offers several "hop on hop off" busses at each port. This is included in the cost of your voyage. The busses travel a pre-assigned route, stopping at all points of interest in the various towns and cities. You can pick up a daily schedule on The American Queen each day or the night before. It includes a good map as well as places where you can "hop on or off" the bus. If we were not ready to leave a particular stop when the bus was going to leave, we seldom had to wait more than 15 minutes for another to come along. The busses were large and comfortable.
The only weakness in the string of amenities offered on the American Queen was the wi-fi service. There were only two days when I could get a connection to the Internet, and that was the first day in port, and a day near the end of the steamboat cruise when I carried my laptop to the Front Porch Restaurant where I was able to log on for about 30 minutes. At least I was not paying for this service as I have on other cruises or vacations.
We had a surprise stop in Clinton, Iowa. As it turned out, Clinton us the hometown of Capt. Willits. As you will see in the American Queen photo gallery below, many of the city's residence media were on hand to greet him.
Mississippi high waters
The American Queen passed through locks and under many bridges. Because the river was so high on this Paddleboat voyage, there were a few times when Captain Willits and his crew became very concerned. Judy, Paula, Karen and I spent some time talking with him on one of the last full days of the American Queen adventure. "Some people asked me if the concern was just theatrics." he said. "I assure you it was not." He pulled his iPhone from his pocket and asked us to look at the texts between he and his boss. These texts took place around 3 AM and indicated concern, worries and possible alternate plans.
On passing under one particular bridge, the Captain correctly estimated between 4" and 5" for the American Queen to clear the bridge. Another day the boat took an alternate channel....one that had not been traversed in 40+ years. This certainly added to the excitement of the American Queen passengers, but I'm sure it it was an unwanted experience for the Captain and his crew. Due to the problems of high water, we did not port in La Crosse, WI, which made RedWing our final stop before arriving in St. Paul the following day.
All the cities and towns we visited are listed at the bottom of this page, along with photo galleries of each port.
American Queen, First stop, St. Louis:
Please view my photo gallery (below) of this city. We stayed at the Hilton Ballpark Hotel which was included in the cost of the American Queen Steamboat journey. As you can see from the photos below, we were within walking distance of the Busch Stadium and the Gateway Arch. We walked around the area and found our way to the Hilton's 360 bar atop the hotel. It was a fantastic way to spend the evening before boarding The American Queen.
American Queen, Hannibal, MO
What a wonderful slice of Americana! please view my photo gallery. This community is best known as the boyhood home of Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens) and as the setting of his 'The Adventures of Tom Sawyer' and 'Adventures of Huckleberry Finn', with numerous historical sites related to Mark Twain and sites depicted in his fiction. The small town of Hannibal draws both American and international tourists. The Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum marked its 100th anniversary in 2012 and has hosted visitors from 50 states and 60 countries. Most Hannibal residents enjoy the visitors, and the town at large benefits from tourism revenue.
American Queen, Burlington, IA
Burlington is the county seat of Des Moines County, Iowa. It is the center of a small metropolitan area including West Burlington, Iowa and Middletown, Iowa and Gulfport, Illinois. Burlington is the home of Snake Alley, once labeled the most crooked alley in the world. Please see my photos of Burlington.
American Queen, Dubuque, IA
is located along the Mississippi River. In 2013, its population was 58,253, making it the tenth-largest city in the state. The city lies at the junction of three states: Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin, a region locally known as the Tri-State Area. One of the few large cities in Iowa with hills, it is a major tourist destination, attracted to the city's unique architecture and river location. But to me, it is the city where my dear friends, Pat and Mary live. Wally and I met them at a Sandals Resort in Jamaica in 2003, and we have remained close ever since. We've visited other Sandals Resorts together, they have been to Myrtle Beach, and we have stayed with them at their beautiful winter home in FL. Now I can say they met me when The American Queen docked in their hometown of Dubuque. Please view my photos of Dubuque!
American Queen, Red Wing, MN The home of the Red Wing Boots!
This city was named after the Sioux chief, Red Wing. He was one of a succession of Mdewakanton Dakota chiefs whose name "Red Wing" came from their use of a dyed swan's wing as their symbol of rank. His Sioux name was Hupahuduta ("Wing of the Wild Swan Dyed Red"). Paula. Karen, Judy and I enjoyed this town as we hopped on and hopped off the American Queen busses. Please view my photos of Red Wing
American Queen, St. Paul Minneapolis
We opted to stay two additional nights in Minneapolis after leaving the American Queen, and that turned out to be an excellent decision. We took a city tour and stopped at the beautiful Gunthrie Theater. While we were there, we decided to take in a play: 'The Heidi Chronicles'. We each bought a glass of wine in the lobby, proceeded to our excellent seats, and the play was a delight! We also spent a part of the first and second day at the Mall of America. Our hotel, The Best Western Plus was located close to the Mall of America and provided free transportation shuttles to and from the Mall as well as nearby restaurants. The rooms were perfect, and a big thanks goes out to Judy who did all the research and booked all 4 of us at this location. Thanks, too, to my friend (and Myrtle Beach fan) Ashley who lives and works in Minneapolis. Not only did she send me lots of information about the city before our arrival, she talked her husband into babysitting one night so she could have dinner with us! as you can see in the photos below, we packed as many activities as possible into our two day stay in this beautiful city.
The American Queen is a good value for the money and fantastic employees. I would not hesitate to recommend it to others. Would I do it again? Sure would!
* Photo Albums of The American Queen, plus all the ports where we docked. Photos are set to change every 5 seconds. Clicking any individual photo will stop the rotation.
* See my YouTube of the paddleboat
Photo Gallery of the American Queen
Photo Gallery of the American Queen Live Entertainment, Bars, Music, Martini Class and History
Photo Gallery of FOOD! (plus Andy, Galvyn, and our table partners, Marti and Chris!
Photo Gallery of the American Queen port in St. Louis,MO (First night in the Hilton Ballpark Hotel)
Photo Gallery of the American Queen port in Hannibal, MO
Photo Gallery of the American Queen port in Burlington, Iowa
Photo Gallery of the American Queen Dubuque, IA
Photo Gallery of the American Queen port in Red Wing, MN
Photo Galley of our Two Add-on Days in Minneapolis, MN
Please feel free to contact me if you have questions
St. Louis tp St. Paul - Minneapolis
*All photos are at the bottom of this page Contact Me: Patricia Blackstock