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  #1  
Old April 21st, 2012, 06:05 PM
corycruiser corycruiser is offline
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Default On board now 4/19-4/27 NOLA->Memphis

I've started this thread to provide information and answer any questions you might have (just ask). We are currently aboard the American Queen, and she is only on her second voyage, so still in "shake down" mode. Following is what I have previously posted on this thread.

We are on board right now. Quickly, I will say that as this is only their second cruise, I am cutting them some slack, but ... Everything is VERY disorganized!

Our room is filthy and we seem unable to get it cleaned (at least to my satisfaction - Our room steward makes lots of excuses, and the purser's office says they will take care of it, however, our shoes continue to stick to the bathroom floor)! I have talked with other guests, and it seems to be "hit & miss" some rooms are well cleaned, others are like ours. Many people are unhappy with how cramped the rooms are, however ours (#343 Veranda Suite) size wise is small but okay, especially since we have the veranda.

The food on board is like everything else - Hit & Miss - In the dining room the food had been fine, although nothing special. It seems to depend on your wait staff, some people have had very poor (slow) service, while we have had good service (at dinner). Breakfast is a buffet. Lunch has again been buffet or very limited menu. The optional dining venues feature such fine offering as hot dogs, popcorn, and sandwiches (large rolls w/little meat) and bags of chips. Yum Yum !

Not much in the way of activites on board. Of course, it seems that most people are happy to just sit and read a book, or watch the river banks as we roll along. We have had two evening shows, one was boring, the other was slightly better. Same with the musicians, a couple are okay, others are ???

As I think of other things that might be of interest, I will let you know.
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Old April 21st, 2012, 06:25 PM
corycruiser corycruiser is offline
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Default Wi-Fi Internet Access

There is Wi-Fi Internet Access available on board (currently, no additional charge). There does not seem to be a enough band width for the number of people using it, so the connection most of the time is VERY slow, often to the point that you think that you have lost your connection.

Access seems to vary greatly depending upon where you are on the boat (according to several crew members). Yesterday there were three of us trying to use it in the Mark Twain Gallery (about mid-ship). Two of us were showing a full 4 bars, the other gentleman was only showing 1, although we were sitting within 10 feet of each other. Unfortunately, none of us could get a web page to load.

Conversly, I am currently using the system in my stateroom (#343), with no problem.
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  #3  
Old April 21st, 2012, 08:57 PM
GASCMemphis GASCMemphis is offline
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Default On Board now

I am with the Great American Steamboat Company and disembarked yesterday but was on the start of this voyage and wanted to address these comments straightaway as the staff aboard the riverboat are already doing. I realize that these folks have no doubt communicated to various crewmembers onboard with limited success which is, candidly, not acceptable to us and we are reviewing how the follow-through on this failed. As an aside, both the Hotel Manager and the CEO of the company Jeff Krida, who is aboard, are aware of this and the Hotel Manager is meeting with this couple tonight at 745pm to both apologize and to inform them of what immediate corrections have already been made. Additionally, Mr Krida, the CEO hopes to meet with them later tonight as well.

In roughly the same order as their concerns. . . .

-Obviously a dirty cabin is totally unacceptable and should be, at any time at any price. As I write this, a cleaning crew supervised by the Chief Housekeeper is cleaning their cabin from top to bottom. FWIW, under half a dozen people have had complaints about their cabins on this voyage.

-Dining and food enjoyment is, to some extent subjective but the previous voyage scored 8.93 out of 10 on dining satisfaction. Breakfast and lunch in the main dining room feature a buffet and a nice menu. The breakfast menu features a lovely menu of southern specialties and has garnered great praise on the last trip. The light meal venue, the Front Porch of America is intended only to offer light snack fare such as hot dogs, cookies, popcorn, etc. It also offers, unlike most cruise vessels complimentary soft drinks, capuccino, etc.

The included shore excursions we offer in every port have been widely praised as has the evening entertainment. It is always hard to know what people expect on any vessel in terms of entertainment since what is racy to someone may be boring to another but on the last voyage, our entertainment scored 9.25, again out of 10.

Lastly, 90% of the crew are new and American. We are proud, in this economy of creating over 200 jobs, with good benefits for our crew. Of course they will take some time to get into a routine and learn to work together. I have worked in countless hotels and restaurants where any new staff took awhile to 'gel' to come together. There is not a pool of American ship employees to find hundreds of trained workers at nowadays unfortunately. I do honestly believe that the vast majority of our guests have found our staff to be pleasant, caring and trying hard. We believe we have hired well and the comment forms for the last voyage support this.

I am biased, of course, but believe all of our management and indeed staff, care deeply and are proud of what we are attempting to do in what had been a moribund cruise niche. I would only gently ask that folks realize the enormous challenge of hiring and training over 200 well-intentioned employees at one time.
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  #4  
Old April 22nd, 2012, 09:01 PM
corycruiser corycruiser is offline
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[quote=GASCMemphis;33455821]I am with the Great American Steamboat Company and disembarked yesterday but was on the start of this voyage and wanted to address these comments straightaway as the staff aboard the riverboat are already doing. I realize that these folks have no doubt communicated to various crewmembers onboard with limited success which is, candidly, not acceptable to us and we are reviewing how the follow-through on this failed. As an aside, both the Hotel Manager and the CEO of the company Jeff Krida, who is aboard, are aware of this and the Hotel Manager is meeting with this couple tonight at 745pm to both apologize and to inform them of what immediate corrections have already been made. Additionally, Mr Krida, the CEO hopes to meet with them later tonight as well.
quote]

We did meet with the VP of Hotel Operations, last evening, and after dinner, we returned to a stateroom which was thoroughy cleaned. And we very much appreciated it.
We did not meet with the CEO of the company last night, although we did meet him on the day of our embarkation (another story which I may relate at another time).
Further, I totally agree that food and entertainment (as well as cleanliness) are subjective. I also assume that the reader is aware of this and they can make their judgements accordingly. I will post sample menus as well as pictures at a later date. As for the entertainment, I did not book this cruise because of the entertainment offered, and I can't imagine that people would (unless you were doing a "specialty" cruise). My comments (again subjective), are my impressions, as well as comments from other passengers I have talked with.
I cannot comment on the scores/ratings that were referred to. What questions were asked? How were they asked? What percentage of passengers responded? Etc.
Finally, I must say that most of the crew that we have dealt with, have been very friendly and helpful. The previous poster, seemed to imply that the problems we are experiencing are do to staff training. Does the staff need more training? That is up to the company.

Last edited by corycruiser; April 22nd, 2012 at 09:03 PM.
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  #5  
Old April 22nd, 2012, 11:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by corycruiser View Post
We did meet with the VP of Hotel Operations, last evening, and after dinner, we returned to a stateroom which was thoroughy cleaned. And we very much appreciated it.
Glad to hear you cabin was finally cleaned
You should not have to ask for this to be done

I am looking forward to your photos & menus when you are ready to post them

Enjoy the rest of your cruise
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Old April 23rd, 2012, 03:48 AM
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corycruiser,

I do know a lot of the entertainers onboard for years and I loved what they are doing. And sure I´m biased and would be more than happy to be onboard right now...

Sure entertainment is subjective so is food. But as for entertainment keep in mind that you can´t compare it to an ocean going vessel. You only have a pretty small stage with less technical stuff behind it. So no big scenery in the background, just limited light effects. You said that there are still 4 singers and dancers (and that´s what I´ve seen on the company photos too). That´s what they did before. They used to have a small live band. No one mentioned this yet. But even a 5 piece band is much more than most of the cruise ships have (most of them have taped music for their shows). So regarding the evening shows I usually was surprised what they´ve got together regarding the circumstances of such a small vessel.

Also entertainment in the bars is exactly what I did expect and wanted to have! Banjos, pianos, small band with Dixieland music, Jazz... the music you expect to have on a steamboat!! You do have the Engine Room Bar with the band playing and you do have the Captain´s bar with a piano and sometimes a banjo added.

Always keep in mind you´re on a small vessel with just 400 passengers and cramped areas. Have you ever been on a European river cruise? You won´t even find a theater onboard. Entertainment is mainly limited to the one and only lounge and a guy playing the keyboard (and trying to sing). Sometimes you find a small crew talent show. Sometimes the cruise company hires some folks for the evening like a string quartet. But that´s only possible when the ship is staying in town until after the "show" has ended.

Enjoy your cruise!!

steamboats
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Old April 23rd, 2012, 10:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steamboats View Post
corycruiser,

I do know a lot of the entertainers onboard for years and I loved what they are doing. And sure I´m biased and would be more than happy to be onboard right now...

Sure entertainment is subjective so is food. But as for entertainment keep in mind that you can´t compare it to an ocean going vessel. You only have a pretty small stage with less technical stuff behind it. So no big scenery in the background, just limited light effects. You said that there are still 4 singers and dancers (and that´s what I´ve seen on the company photos too). That´s what they did before. They used to have a small live band. No one mentioned this yet. But even a 5 piece band is much more than most of the cruise ships have (most of them have taped music for their shows). So regarding the evening shows I usually was surprised what they´ve got together regarding the circumstances of such a small vessel.

Also entertainment in the bars is exactly what I did expect and wanted to have! Banjos, pianos, small band with Dixieland music, Jazz... the music you expect to have on a steamboat!! You do have the Engine Room Bar with the band playing and you do have the Captain´s bar with a piano and sometimes a banjo added.

Always keep in mind you´re on a small vessel with just 400 passengers and cramped areas. Have you ever been on a European river cruise? You won´t even find a theater onboard. Entertainment is mainly limited to the one and only lounge and a guy playing the keyboard (and trying to sing). Sometimes you find a small crew talent show. Sometimes the cruise company hires some folks for the evening like a string quartet. But that´s only possible when the ship is staying in town until after the "show" has ended.

Enjoy your cruise!!

steamboats
Well said....couldn't have said it better....
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Old April 23rd, 2012, 01:35 PM
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Would realy be interested in the in port times. Thank you
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Old April 23rd, 2012, 03:12 PM
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Corycruiser has done GASC a great favour. The main office needs to know that there was, hopefully now it was and not still is, a problem with housekeeping. The problem should have been addressed by the room steward and not just by giving excuses. Then apparently there is a problem in the Purser's Office. It's inexcusable that Corycruiser did not get any satisfaction until they posted on a world wide computer cruise forum. Also I hope the po'boy sandwiches at the Front Porch of America are up to standard now. A few small slices of meat on a thick piece of bread is not acceptable as a po'boy in New Orleans less alone on a cruise where the lowest fare is over two thousand dollars for a week long voyage.

Recently there was a two night shakedown cruise out of New Orleans to introduce passengers to the new crew. GASC should have given more time to this. When the AMERICAN QUEEN came out in 1995 invited guests were supposed to be onboard for three weeks. The first passengers were on from New Orleans to Memphis. The second group was on for what was intended to be from Memphis to Cincinnati, but everyone was taken off at Troy, Indiana. The boat was stuck on a sandbar across from there for several days, so the invited guests that were supposed to ride from Cincinnati to Pittsburgh unfortunately had their voyage canceled.

Of course there will still be teething problems for several months. The crew will have to learn how to take care of these niggles right away. They will have to feel they have the autonomy to make quick decisions. If not there will be more postings here and at other computer cruise forums in the future. Even worse could happen; GASC could become synonamous with MAL.
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Old April 23rd, 2012, 04:36 PM
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NCL had major teething problems around Hawaii with the American Crew, but now things are going great and the ship is always sailing full. This is why I personally never want to be on the first several sailings of any ship.
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Old April 23rd, 2012, 05:06 PM
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Default I agree

Quote:
Originally Posted by Calliope View Post
Corycruiser has done GASC a great favour. The main office needs to know that there was, hopefully now it was and not still is, a problem with housekeeping. The problem should have been addressed by the room steward and not just by giving excuses.
The head house keeper should have inspected & rectified the problem as soon as it was reported
I know there will be teething problems but as you say they had to post here to get attention
You do not expect the cleaning of the cabin to be one of the problems
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Old April 23rd, 2012, 07:01 PM
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I was impressed that a member of management is paying attention to what their customers are posting about their product. At least they seem to be willing to address issues that come up and let us future customers know that they are on top of things. Some cruise lines would like you to just shut-up and pay-up. GASC seems to at least care.
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Old April 24th, 2012, 10:44 AM
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Default NCL & American Crews

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NCL had major teething problems around Hawaii with the American Crew, but now things are going great and the ship is always sailing full. This is why I personally never want to be on the first several sailings of any ship.
NCL no longer has an exclusively American crew but instead a diverse crew from all around the world similar to other large ocean cruises. Thus, things are going smoother now.
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Old April 24th, 2012, 12:09 PM
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floatn,

mikedw was talking about NCL America and the US flagged Hawaiian ships (now it´s only the Pride of America left) which has to have an US crew (not 100% but close). Due to the Passenger Vessel Services Act the ship has to be US flagged to be able to cruise around Hawaii.

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Old April 24th, 2012, 03:53 PM
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Thank you to have everyone that has weighed in here. To the comment by the couple currently aboard, as to whether or not the staff on the Steamboat need more training, I believe the answer is they need more experience and sadly, experience takes time in working together, whether one is opening a new restaurant, bar, ocean liner, dinner train, etc. One can train a good bit but until hundreds of people work together. . . a bit of patience with new young people trying their hardest to do a good job is welcome.

To Calliope's point, of course it is a favor to know what our guests think, good or bad. The CEO of the company was on this voyage for this very reason and on the voyage leaving Memphis on Friday, the CEO and the President are onboard and will hold daily meetings with passengers. The one I attended on the previous voyage had 54 guests show up to talk, 47 had praise for us reviving a great American tradition, 5 had good suggestions, most of which were implemented immediately and 2 had strong complaints, one over the lack of gambling onboard and one over her trip aboard Amtrak's Sunset Limited to New Orleans, something we have zero control over.

I can assure you that the senior management of this company are obsessed with steamboating and making it better than ever, all of whom have a long history with Steamboating, a different situation from previous management teams in the past.
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Old April 24th, 2012, 04:15 PM
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I get the favorable impression that the management of GASC is doing everything possible to make The American Queen a premiere experience for cruisers.

Undoubtedly, any early cruises will have problems in shakedowns and GASC, from its statements, are taking corrective measures.

People that expect AQ to be a riverboat gambling cruise don't seem to realize that there are a whole bunch of State laws that govern gambling in its waters. Louisiana allows riverboat gambling; Mississippi requires that the boats be anchored on shore; Tennessee, I believe does not allow gambling on its waters; Illinois requires a license and only a few are issued.
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Old April 24th, 2012, 08:57 PM
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At this point, I think it is best to hold further posting of comments/review of this cruise until we have disembarked. Management finally changed our room steward and I am happy to report that we do appreciate finally having a clean stateroom. (But no, it should not be necessary to complain on a message board on the internet, to get satisfaction). Anyway, we will be disembarking in a few days. I do have information that I will post regarding ammenities, menu's, entertainment, etc. Again, if anyone has any questions, or specific information they want me to check for them, just let me know, and I'll do my best.

Happy cruising.
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Old April 24th, 2012, 08:59 PM
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Do they give any cabin sizes (sq FT) in any of the documents onboard?

Looking forward to reading about the cruise & seeing your photos


Lyn
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Old April 25th, 2012, 03:42 PM
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Default Excursions?

Corycruiser, you have good reasons to wait until the cruise is completed to post your final evaluation. But I'm wondering how many of the included land excursions you've gone on, and what you've observed about them. I'll be on this cruise in June, and would love to have the benefit of your experience. Thanks!
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Old April 28th, 2012, 11:51 PM
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Default The Staterooms

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Originally Posted by LHT28 View Post
Do they give any cabin sizes (sq FT) in any of the documents onboard?

Looking forward to reading about the cruise & seeing your photos


Lyn
Lynn,
Sorry, I didn't have a way to measure our stateroom. (No, no one I talked to knew the measurements. The pursers office suggested I contact the company in Memphis).

We here in #343, which was an A catagory Deluxe Outside Stateroom with Veranda. It was of adequate size, although a bit smaller than the pictures implies. There was room for two single beds with 1 very small night table (just large enough for the telephone). The room also included a rattan chair and footstool as well as a small armoire. If you look closely in the brochure picture, you will see a chair next to the armoire (left) as well as a table next to the rattan chair (right). It would not be possible to have these two pieces of furnature in the room and be able to walk around the beds. When they push the beds together to make a queen bed, they do not have anything to keep the beds from coming apart in the middle, which tends to be a problem and uncomfortable. Also, no room for a second nightstand (a personal peeve, as I had no place to put my glasses or a glass of water when I went to bed).

The bathroom is also small, with no counter space around the pedistal sink. There was no non-skid in the bathtub (worn off), and a couple of times the water did not drain correctly, causing a very slippery (and dangerous) condition. There was no separate fan in the bathroom, so we had to hold the bathroom door open with the trash can while showering, or afterwards, to allow the steam to escape.

Luckily most of the cabins have verandas, which helps make the rooms feel larger when the doors are open, although they ask that "due to the humid conditions, please keep your verada door closed to enable the Boat's air conditioning system to run efficiently and effectively." (Note, that their picture shows the doors open).

The inside cabins are TINY!!! I saw many of them with a bunk on one side and a single on the other side of the room. Although I do not know the actual measurements, I would guess at maybe 8'x8'? The ones I saw did not look like the photo in the brochure.

Of note, the veranda area of the rooms on the back of the boat do get wet from the spray of the paddle wheel.

If you contact the company and ask for the room measurements, maybe they will tell you, and you could post the information.
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