River cruising 'Antebellum' style on the Mississippi & Tennessee Rivers

blog250px Mississippi SteamboatThe 436 passenger American Queen was re-christened at the Beale Street Landing in Memphis on April 27 by her godmother, Priscilla Presley. The American Queen is now travelling out of her home port of Memphis, along the great Mississippi and its tributaries to cities such as Vicksburg, Louisville, St. Louis, New Orleans and Pittsburgh.Riverboats on the Mississippi represent a storied chapter in American history and folklore, harking back to the 19th century and the writings of Mark Twain. Great American purchased the vessel from the government last year and then completely refurbished it.

The American Queen river cruise experience is a hybrid between what one would expect of a larger ocean cruise ship experience and that of a smaller rivership experience in Europe with the warm ambiance of a floating antebellum mansion. Her historical details, southern antique furnishings, southern influenced cuisine, mostly Memphian crew and regional entertainment offer the embodiment of the history and heritage of the Mississippi River system. There are two dining venues: the main J.M. White Dining Room and the River Grill, an outdoor venue on the fifth deck, which serves casual lunch and dinner and is a new concept in this incarnation of the vessel.

The enclosed patio and outdoor area at the bow of the ship, called the Front Porch of America, has self-service coffee, juices and snacks throughout the day, and there is an afternoon tea service with sweet and savory treats in the Ladies Lounge. Every Sunday there is a jazz brunch.
Menu offerings are southern specialities such as crab cake Benedict and shrimp and grits, or brisket po'boy at brunch at the River Grill. Each day there is a program of lectures and performances in the Grand Saloon theatre. Other daytime offerings include talks about river culture and history provided by 'riverlorians", or experts on the Mississippi River System. By early evening, music acts strike up in the two bars onboard in addition to the main evening acts in the Grand Saloon, with Swing Band, Country music, New Orleans traditional Jazz and Delta Blues along with a Mark Twain impersonator.

We are very excited that we have an escorted group travelling (from Kingston) on board the American Queen. We fly into New Orleans to board the American Queen and travel up the Mississippi through Natchez, Vicksburg, Helena and Memphis and on to Paducah then along the Tennessee River visiting Savannah, Shiloh and Decatur to finish up in Chattanooga. There a many included features that make this exciting trip excellent value from all included sightseeing excursions in the cities along the way to complimentary wines / beer with dinner, to shipboard gratuities.

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