Mike and Renée cruise the
Upper Mississippi River
Paddlewheel steamboat American Queen
August 2016

I

We had cruised on American Queen on the Lower Mississippi, so this time we went upstream from Saint Louis to Minneapolis/St Paul. This was the first cruise on which both of used mobility scooters, and it worked out very well.


The cruise includes an over night stay at the Ballpark Hilton. From our window we had a spectacular view of the Gateway Arch. We checked in for the cruise at the hotel so that was very easy.
We had been upgraded at the last minute to a AAA category suite on Deck 5. The cabin was large and well decorated, and French doors opened out onto the deck which was well equipped with chairs to lounge in. We even had a welcoming bottle of wine.
The “open balcony” outside our cabin (actually just access to the Promenade Deck) was a delightful place to sit and enjoy the scenery,whether in port or paddlewheeling down the river.
Hannibal was the first stop,and the first test of the mobility scooters in port. Renée rode her scooter ashore with a lot of assistance from the crew at the Gangway, and the bus driver popped it right into the luggage compartment so she enjoyed the Hop On Hop Off tour. Meanwhile I relaxed on the balcony and enjoyed the cool breeze.
The scooters took us all over the boat very easily. The River Grill at the back of the boat provided good views of the river.
The next day was a Steamboating day as we cruised lazily up the river. We passed through 27 locks and under uncounted bridges as we traversed the Upper Mississippi.

We choose breakfast at the Front Porch cafe, which had a very nice buffet and spectacular views of the Mississipi River passing by.

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Old Man River, that Old Man River, he just keeps rolling along! Watching the scenery go by and the muddy Mississippi passing was a frequent pastime. We were making 7 MPH upstream so it was a very leisurely occupation.
In every port the ship's buses offered Hop On Hop Off tours. The drivers were outstanding and willingly helped with the mobility scooters all the way.

Now, let's face it, Clinton,Dubuque and Lacrosse are not exactly world class tourist ports. But the trip was pleasant and the HOHO buses adequate.

The boat is absolutely beautiful throughout, with wonderful period decorations. It is said that she has the world's largest collection of Tiffany lamps. This is the beautiful Mark Twain Gallery in the middle of the boat.

Renée is somewhat more mobile than I am. She was able to walk some places, but I used the scooter everywhere. The only place I could not go was Deck 6, the sun deck and swimming pool.

The Grand Stair case leads down to the Captain's Bar and the Dining Room. Notice the wonderful carving on the pillar and the elaborate grill work on the bannisters. This is typical of decoration throughout the ship.
The dining room offered table service or buffet (or both) for breakfast and lunch. In the evening it was full service. Wine, beer and soft drinks are free with meals.

We found the service staff to be extremely friendly and eager to please all the time. Sometimes their lack of experience showed and slowed up service or got a plate put in the wrong place, but the Headwaiters were keeping a good eye on things.

Our upgrade to a suite included access to the private balcony in the Grand Saloon, shared with about 8 other suite. This was a nice little perk, including a server to pour wine or beer as we watched the show.
There was a great show every evening in the beautiful Grand Saloon, which is modeled after Ford's Theater. Although the ship's ensemble was only four people, they were all outstandingly talented and did a wonderful job.
The buffet at breakfast and lunch was beautiful and delicious. We found the baked goods, especially the biscuits, to be wonderful every day. The lunch menu was seldom exciting but sandwiches and salads from the buffet were great.
There were many Southern specialties on the menu. I especially delighted in the Andouille hash for breakfast!
In Lacrosse we disembarked into this lovely little park. The scooters were wonderful all through the trip and in most ports, unless there was a levee, it was easy to get off the boat. When there was a high levee, golf carts took us the long way around with the scooters on the back of the cart. This trip would not have been possible without the scooters, and everybody on the American Queen was totally helpful in any way they could.
In Lacrosse, our friends and previous cruisemates Jane and Jim met us for a tour of the boat and lunch aboard, a nice privilege for American Queen cruisers. Here we are in the beautiful Captain's Bar, just an example of the decoration of the boat. We look forward to cruising with them again.
Adam, our cabin steward,took great care of us throughout the week. Often he went way out of his way to do little services for us. On the last day he presented us with this wonderful bulldog made from towels!

We loved our cruise on the American Queen and thoroughly recommend her and her accommodating staff for any mobility limited passengers!

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