Posted May 6th, 2006, 02:19 AM
That´s a tough question
! All three boats are different and have their own charme. My first and all time love is the DQ (but travelling with a kid we would need two staterooms and that´s too expensive for us). The DQ is the smallest of the three boats with 174 passengers. There aren´t too many public spaces (Texas Bar, Forward Cabin Lounge, Betty Blake Lounge) but you soon will find some new friends (passengers and crew) and it´s more like a family like atmosphere. The DQ has the highest rate of repeat passengers (and some even stay on for a month or more). There´s no pool, no exercice room (there are one or two exercice bikes outside), no TV, no outside bar. All rooms open to the outside except on the Cabin Deck (although those rooms are a bit spacier I wouldn´t recommend them as you will be woken up by the cabin attendent on the Texas Deck pushing his cart along the deck early in the morning). My favorite deck is the Texas Deck (same deck as the bar
). You still have some shelter if it´s raining. On the Sun Deck it can be quite hot in summer.
The MQ is a great boat for groups and families. Both MQ and AQ have a bit more than 400 passengers. The atmosphere is a bit less family like. But there are more amenities like a small pool, outside bar, fitness room, cinema theater, beauty salon, washer/dryer, TV (only in public spaces) and some comfy places where you can watch the river (o.k. my favorites are still the rocking chairs). The Grand Saloon is a great place to listen to the Riverlorian (river historian) and my favorite place on the MQ is the Chart Room. The design of the boat is a bit ... o.k. it´s not steamboaty but 1970ies.
The AQ is the Grand Lady of the Rivers, the fullfillment of a steamboaters dream in design and decoration. Due to the schedule of the last years (3 and 4 night cruises out of New Orleans) the AQ might have the lowest repeat passenger rate. Unfortunately our cruise on the AQ this year has been cancelled so we´re back on the MQ again. Crew on the MQ told me that the dress code is a bit more formal on the AQ (not necessary but I assume that most of the first timers were not sure how to dress and packed a bit more formal).
Both, the MQ and AQ do have inside rooms. No problem at all, as you do not spend much time in your cabin.
You will find descriptions of the boats and fact sheets (including schedules) on our website www.rivers-rails.com
and we have lots of photos of all boats on our steamboat website www.steamboats.org
Itinerary: First, all boats do have a river historian, called Riverlorian, and you can learn lots about river history, steamboating history and river navigation on each cruise. There are some themed cruises dedicated to Civil War (mainly on the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers) which you might have seen on the DQSC´s website. A good combination of Civil War and - let´s say other interests - might be a cruise on the Lower Mississippi River (like our New Orleans roundtrip Thanksgiving 2004, see my MQ review linked in my signature) which takes you up to Vicksburg and Natchez. It´s a good combination of Civil War (Vicksburg battlefield) and Antebellum Homes.
Feel free to ask if you have further questions!