The American Queen Steamboat Company launched in 2012 with the largest steamboat in the world, American Queen, which they bought and refurbished to launch the company. In 2013, the cruise line bought Empress of the North from MARAD and renamed it American Empress, which now sails the Pacific Northwest. Launched in spring 2017, American Duchess is the first all-suite paddlewheel on a US river and will sail between New Orleans and St. Paul.
Their newest river ship, American Countess, debuted in 2020 and carries 245 passengers and cruises America’s heartland rivers.
How Many Passengers: 166-436
Personality: Luxurious, reminiscent of the history of river cruising in America and the Victorian era. Full of elegant woodwork, artwork, historical artifacts, and antiques.
Fellow Passengers: American Queen Steamboat Company is an American-owned company with all-American crew aboard their vessels. Most guests are older, seasoned travelers.
Cabins: 132 sq. ft. to 550 sq. ft. American Duchess features all suites, American Empress includes window cabins, verandas, and suites, and American Queen features all categories including interior cabins.
Dining Experience: The menu generally reflects the region in which the ship sails. For example, American Empress specializes in fresh seafood, and American Queen features New Orleans flavors and a southern comfort food-inspired array of choices. American Duchess also features The Grill in addition to the main dining room, which serves as a more casual dining alternative.
Amenities: Dancing and singing-based shows, historians called “Riverlorians” who offer insight on the regions you’re visiting, a piano lounge, spa, and fitness center.
Best For: Older couples, history buffs, English-speaking guests.
Included Alcohol: Wine and beer with dinner.
Gratuities: $16.50 per guest, per day added to onboard account automatically with the option to adjust at the end of the voyage.
Where They Go: Upper and lower Mississippi River, Ohio & Tennessee River, and the Columbia and Snake River.
Sarah Bretz, Contributor