My husband and I took this cruise in December and we were pleasantly surprised. The food in the dining room was good but not always as hot as I would prefer. The same is true in the Front Porch buffet. The servers and staff are very friendly and attentive and our housekeeper was always there for us. The entertainment is good, but the piano player was a little off key at times. The hop on hop off shore excursions are included in every port and operates like a well oiled machine. It really caters to everyone because you get off wherever you want and spend as much time as you like. There are guided tours of plantation homes and docents in most of the museums to walk you through if you want that. You can do all of this while knowing another bus will pick up every 15 minutes and we could not believe it was all included!
The premium tours (which are at an extra cost) are all customized for American Queen guests and there are extra special things included in these which makes the extra cost very much worth it! We were surpised and thrilled at the extra things that were thrown in that you cannot get on a regular tour. We did the inside the kitchen tour with celebrity chef Regina Charboneau who invites you into her private home. We actually made biscuits with her and at the end she gave us her recipe. She portrays exactly what you would expect true Southern Hospitality to look like. We also did the Mississippi Music tour which includes a jazz brunch onboard, then the musicians escorted us out with the traditional 2nd Line, where we then boarded the bus and went out to the Grammy Museum and the BB King Museum where BB is actually buried. Again, another surprise with special programs at each that other tours do not get. I highly recommend this.
The wrapped buses are clean and comfortable and the drivers are fun and always looking out for the guests. The two ladies who managed the shore excursions and ran the buses were phenomenal. We have taken many cruises all over the world and honestly this was the most well coordinated and flawless system we have ever seen!
We had a cabin on the 3rd deck which has open decks and so they are not private. This was really not an issue because we met some really great people and sat outside a lot just watching the river and seeing the sights, not to mention it is super convienent to the Front Porch where you can get 24/7 cookies, ice cream, tea and coffee. The cabins are spacious but we did peek inside one of the inside staterooms when we got onboard and they are tiny. Definitely steer away from these.
This was a great experience and now we are looking at the Columbia/Snake River cruise with this company to see if they deliver as well on that one!