American Queen Steamboat Company River Cruises Review: Cruise Ship Guide, Itineraries, Bookings & Deals

Step aboard an American Queen Steamboat Company vessel and be transported back in time to the romantic era of steamboat travel along America’s iconic rivers. With a fleet comprising the American Queen, the American Duchess, and the American Countess, this company has redefined luxury river cruising, offering guests a unique blend of nostalgia, elegance, and Southern hospitality. The American Queen, affectionately known as the “Grande Dame of the Mississippi,” is the largest steamboat ever built. Stepping onto her deck is like stepping back in time to the opulent days of Mark Twain and paddlewheel steamers. With her towering smokestacks, gleaming woodwork, and graceful lines, the American Queen exudes old-world charm from bow to stern. Guests are greeted by a warm and friendly crew dressed in period attire, setting the stage for an unforgettable journey.

In a Nutshell…

  1. Iconic Paddlewheelers: The cruise line operates three iconic paddlewheelers: the American Queen (the world’s largest riverboat), American Empress, and American Duchess. These vessels evoke a more elegant era, adorned with Victorian-period flourishes like fine filigree, scrolling woodwork, and sumptuous upholstery.
  2. Historic Heritage: Originally built in 1996 for the defunct Delta Queen Steamboat Company, the American Queen sat dormant between 2008 and 2012. However, it was revitalized and relaunched in April 2012 after receiving a $6.5 million spruce-up. The ship now exudes classic Victorian decor, making it feel like a small, historic boutique hotel on the water.
  3. Delightful Steamboat Experience: The American Queen celebrates America’s river history, lore, traditions, music, and food. Whether docking in New Orleans, navigating river locks, or tying up in charming towns, it leaves a lasting impression. Watching its ornate black funnels lower to pass under a bridge is a unique experience.
  4. Cruise Routes: The American Queen cruises the upper and lower Mississippi, as well as the Ohio and Tennessee rivers. It offers theme cruises ranging from five to 14 nights. Departure cities include New Orleans, Memphis, St. Louis, St. Paul, Louisville, Nashville, and Cincinnati.
  5. All-Inclusive Amenities: Passengers enjoy a pre-cruise hotel stay, transfers to the boat, soft drinks, coffee, tea, beer, wine with dinner, complimentary shore excursions, and access to bicycles during port calls. The crew receives American wages and benefits like health insurance and 401K participation.
  6. Small Ship, Big Amenities: The American Queen combines the intimacy of a small ship with big-ship amenities. Features include spa services, a pool, and main theater entertainment.
  7. Passenger Demographics: Fellow passengers tend to be mature, with many having prior experience in Mississippi River cruising and ocean cruises.
  8. Elegance and Tradition: The service aboard the paddlewheelers is genteel, reflecting Southern tradition and an unabashedly All-American spirit.
  9. Exceptional Value: The cruise line offers voyage lengths from three to ten nights, emphasizing convenience with little or no flying required.
  10. Legacy and Continuity: While American Queen Voyages ceased operations in 2024, the legacy of these paddlewheelers endures, connecting travelers to America’s rich river heritage.

History of the American Queen Steamboat Company River Cruises

The history of American Queen Steamboat Company cruise ships is a captivating journey that celebrates the nostalgia and elegance of steamboat travel along the iconic rivers of the United States. With a focus on preserving American history and heritage, the company has become synonymous with luxury river cruising, offering passengers a unique blend of timeless charm and modern comforts.

The roots of the American Queen Steamboat Company can be traced back to 1995 when the Delta Queen Steamboat Company was formed. The company acquired the historic Delta Queen, a steamboat that had been navigating the rivers since the 1920s. The Delta Queen became the flagship vessel and symbolized the company’s commitment to preserving the grandeur of steamboat travel.

In 2011, the company evolved and rebranded as the American Queen Steamboat Company. This marked a new era for the company, expanding its fleet and offerings to provide passengers with a variety of luxurious river cruise experiences. The fleet now includes the American Queen, the American Empress, and the American Duchess, each with its own unique character and charm.

The American Queen, the largest steamboat ever built, is a majestic vessel reminiscent of the 19th-century paddlewheelers. With its striking red paddlewheel, ornate decor, and spacious accommodations, the American Queen captures the essence of a bygone era. Passengers step on board and are transported back in time, immersing themselves in the opulence and grandeur of a bygone era.

The American Empress, launched in 2014, offers a different perspective, cruising along the majestic Columbia and Snake Rivers in the Pacific Northwest. This elegant steamboat showcases the beauty of the region, with its panoramic views, spacious decks, and luxurious amenities. The American Empress combines classic charm with modern conveniences, providing passengers with a comfortable and immersive experience as they explore the scenic wonders of the Pacific Northwest.

The American Duchess, introduced in 2017, is a modern paddlewheeler that offers a more intimate and boutique cruising experience. With its sleek design, contemporary furnishings, and spacious suites, the American Duchess provides a luxurious retreat for passengers to relax and unwind. This smaller vessel allows for more personalized service and a sense of exclusivity, while still capturing the essence of steamboat travel.

One of the highlights of American Queen Steamboat Company cruises is the exceptional onboard experience. The company takes pride in providing impeccable service, ensuring that every guest’s needs are met with warmth and attentiveness. The staff members are knowledgeable, friendly, and passionate about creating unforgettable moments for passengers. From the moment guests step on board, they are greeted with genuine hospitality and a dedication to exceeding their expectations.

The itineraries of American Queen Steamboat Company cruises are carefully curated to showcase the rich history, culture, and natural beauty of the regions visited. Passengers have the opportunity to explore charming towns, visit historic landmarks, and immerse themselves in the local traditions and flavors. Whether it’s cruising along the mighty Mississippi River, discovering the Pacific Northwest, or exploring the heartland of America, every voyage offers a unique and enriching experience.

In addition to the captivating destinations and exceptional service, American Queen Steamboat Company cruises offer a range of amenities and activities to enhance the onboard experience. Passengers can enjoy world-class dining, with gourmet meals prepared by talented chefs using fresh and locally sourced ingredients. The ships also feature entertainment venues, lounges, and theaters, where guests can enjoy live music, theatrical performances, and educational presentations.

In conclusion, the history of American Queen Steamboat Company cruise ships is a tribute to the elegance, charm, and nostalgia of steamboat travel in the United States. With its fleet of beautifully appointed vessels, exceptional service, and immersive itineraries, the company continues to capture the hearts of passengers, transporting them to a bygone era while providing all the modern comforts and conveniences. Whether it’s cruising along the mighty rivers of America or exploring the scenic wonders of the Pacific Northwest, a journey with American Queen Steamboat Company promises a truly unforgettable experience filled with history, beauty, and timeless memories.

Destinations of American Queen Steamboat Company River Cruises

  1. Upper Mississippi River:
    • The American Queen sails along the upper Mississippi River, meandering through picturesque landscapes. Passengers can explore charming towns like St. PaulSt. Louis, and Memphis. These cities resonate with history, from Mark Twain’s tales to the jazz rhythms of Beale Street.
    • The riverbanks reveal lush forests, rolling hills, and quaint riverfronts. Shore excursions take travelers to historic sites, museums, and local markets.
  1. Lower Mississippi River:
    • As the American Queen glides downstream, it unveils the soul of the South. Departing from New Orleans, it cruises through the heart of the Mississippi Delta. Antebellum mansions, cotton fields, and live oak trees line the riverbanks.
    • Stops in NatchezVicksburg, and Baton Rouge offer glimpses into the Civil War era and the vibrant Creole culture. Culinary delights await, from gumbo to beignets.
  1. Ohio River:
    • The American Queen also explores the Ohio River, connecting the Midwest to the South. Departures from cities like Cincinnati and Louisville lead passengers through rolling hills and river valleys.
    • Quaint river towns like Madison, Indiana, come alive with Victorian architecture, boutique shops, and friendly locals. The river locks add an element of adventure.
  1. Tennessee River:
    • The Tennessee River beckons with its musical heritage. Cruises departing from Nashville take guests to iconic sites like the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame.
    • Along the way, passengers can immerse themselves in the rhythm of blues, gospel, and rock ‘n’ roll. The riverbanks reveal scenic beauty and historic battlefields.
  1. Canada and the Great Lakes:
    • Beyond the heartland, the American Queen Voyages extends its reach to Canada and the Great Lakes. Passengers can explore cities like TorontoQuebec City, and Montreal.
    • The Great Lakes offer a different kind of majesty, with pristine waters, charming islands, and vibrant cultural scenes.
  1. New England and Eastern Seaboard:
    • From the rugged coastlines of Maine to the historic streets of Boston, the American Queen Voyages sail along the Eastern Seaboard. Fall foliage cruises are particularly enchanting.
    • Passengers can relish lobster feasts, visit lighthouses, and explore the rich maritime history of this region.
  1. Mexico and the Yucatán Peninsula:
    • For a tropical escape, the American Queen Voyages venture south to Mexico. Departing from New Orleans, the ships explore the Yucatán Peninsula.
    • Ancient Mayan ruins, turquoise waters, and vibrant markets await travelers. It’s a fusion of history, culture, and relaxation.


The American Duchess and the American Countess, the company’s other two vessels, offer similarly luxurious experiences along the rivers of America’s heartland. While smaller in size, these ships boast all the amenities and comforts of their larger sister, including spacious suites, gourmet dining options, and onboard entertainment. Each vessel is meticulously designed to evoke the elegance and romance of a bygone era, with tasteful decor, antique furnishings, and modern conveniences seamlessly integrated throughout.

One of the hallmarks of an American Queen Steamboat Company cruise is the exceptional service and hospitality provided by the crew. From the moment guests step aboard, they are treated like royalty, with attentive staff catering to their every need. Whether it’s a friendly smile from the cabin steward, a personalized recommendation from the sommelier, or a warm greeting from the captain himself, guests can expect to feel pampered and well cared for throughout their journey.

But it’s not just the service that sets American Queen Steamboat Company apart—it’s also the unique destinations and experiences offered on each cruise. From the mighty Mississippi to the scenic Columbia and Snake Rivers, these vessels traverse some of America’s most iconic waterways, stopping at charming towns, historic sites, and cultural landmarks along the way. Guests can explore antebellum mansions in the South, visit charming wineries in the Pacific Northwest, or immerse themselves in the vibrant music and cuisine of the Mississippi Delta.

Onboard entertainment is another highlight of an American Queen Steamboat Company cruise, with a variety of live performances, lectures, and activities to suit every taste. Guests can enjoy nightly shows featuring live music, dancing, and theatrical performances, as well as enrichment lectures on topics ranging from history and culture to wildlife and ecology. There are also plenty of opportunities for relaxation and recreation, whether it’s lounging by the pool, indulging in a spa treatment, or participating in a shore excursion.

In summary, the American Queen Steamboat Company offers a truly unique and unforgettable cruising experience, combining the nostalgia of steamboat travel with the luxury and amenities of a modern cruise ship. With its exceptional service, carefully curated itineraries, and dedication to preserving America’s river heritage, it’s no wonder that this company has become synonymous with the golden era of river cruising. Whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, or simply seeking a leisurely escape, an American Queen Steamboat Company cruise is sure to exceed your expectations and leave you with memories to last a lifetime.

– Reviewed by Contributing Author Silvester Thomson

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N.B. – The information on this review has been compiled by contributing author and Cruise Expert Silvester Thomson for and is provided “as is” for the convenience of online readers. The Sources come from personal opinions, online research on official and unofficial websites, and in some cases with the help of AI generated content. It should not be taken as fact, as it can be mistaken or altered by future ship modifications from the cruise line done after review. does not and cannot verify all information and should not be taken as granted fact. All readers must take measures to find reliable facts by their travel agent or from the official page of the cruise line to verify any doubts.

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