American Queen advice

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11 Posts
Joined Aug 2008
I am seriously considering booking either the northbound or southbound upper Mississippi cruise in October,2008, for me, my brother, my elderly mother(85) and uncle(87). My mother and uncle each have mobility issues but only my mother will be in a wheelchair and walker during the cruise. I have several questions relating to that issue.
The AA cabins will work for me and my mom as all the others with french doors are booked. Has anyone booked or even seen the handicapped cabin #520 on the American Queen? What makes it ADA accessible...the bathroom or does the cabin have any changes(less furniture??). Cabin #520 appears to be next to the elevator and across from the stairwell. Normally, I would avoid both of those. We are private people who would not appreciate fellow passengers constantly walking in front of our french door deck space where we hope to be sitting?
The second issue is whether cabin J is too small for one person. Would two "Norwegian" bachelors be better off in their own J cabins?
Last, but not least, should I have any concern about booking with the Majestic America line given that the company is up for sale?
606 Posts
Joined Jul 2004
We were just on the American Queen in June doing the lower Mississippi. My mom has mobility issues and took her scooter. The boat has elevators and we found it easy to maneuver with the scooter around the boat. Shore excursion buses had wheelchair lifts.

We had three BB aft cabins on Texas deck. They were roomy and comfortable. The verandas were pretty private, but got sprayed with water from the paddlewheel. The AA cabins one deck above probably don't have that problem.

Since we didn't have an assessible cabin, I can't tell you about those. Perhaps a roll-in shower? I would call Majestic America directly and ask.

I can tell you that you'll have no privacy with any cabin having french doors opening onto a public promenade. If you want more privacy, book a BB cabin with private verandah. Even then, you can see the people on the next verandah. The AA forward cabins may be your best bet, but they may not be wheelchair assessible. It looks like they open onto a promenade but fewer people likely will be going by.

We actually enjoyed walking along the promenade and stopping to chat with people out in their chairs near their french doors. We usually stick to ourselves on the megaliners, but enjoyed getting to know our fellow passengers on AQ.

I posted something of a review a week or so ago on one of the other threads on this board. I don't know how to link but if you check the top 5-6 threads you'll find it.

We absolutely loved our AQ cruise. The staff was welcoming and wonderful, the service very personalized and our fellow passengers a delight. Previously, we've always done the mass market megaliners and we're very spoiled now. We would love to book AQ again.

I had some concerns because she was put up for sale shortly after we made final payment. But, we didn't see any differences because of this, other than some employees we got to know quite well expressed some concern over their futures -- which is understandable.

The passengers tended to be older with a mix of problems -- walking, oxygen, etc. So, with mom having mobility issues, we fit right in.

We loved the lower Mississippi shore excursions -- we booked something every day. The upper Miss. may have fewer excursion opportunities, but we found the shore excursions excellent and reasonably priced. We were very surprised at an excursion we took on Sunday in Helena, Arkansas. It turned out to be the best one we've ever done on any trip.

Sorry, I can't be of more help on 520 specifically. You will have people passing by regularly since the elevator and stairway are right there. But, you may actually like meeting your fellow passengers. We did, which was a pleasant surprise.

Also, I can't tell you much about the J cabins. We walked by the ones that were near our aft cabins on Texas deck and they looked quite comfortable. Two single beds with a couple of chairs. I didn't have a chance to see the J's that are more forward on Texas deck. They look smaller from the deck plan. I think some cabins have two bunks -- so make sure you speak directly with Majestic America to find out what you're actually booking. We saw the AAA cabins and they are gorgeous -- very roomy and elegant.

We want to book AQ again as soon as possible -- and hope she keeps operating. If not, we're glad we had a trip on her. If she is mothballed, along with DQ (MQ already is, I think), luxury steamboating on the Miss. may be a thing of the past. That's one reason to book now.

If you book, I hope you have as wonderful a time as we did!
Santa Barbara, CA
308 Posts
Joined Jul 2002

Thank you so much for your response. We had been on the AQ a few years ago from Memphis to New Orleans and loved every minute. We signed up again a few months ago for St. Paul - St. Louis leaving this Friday with an overnight at the Minneapolis Westin Hotel before boarding on Saturday. I was somewhat concerned when I heard that they will be suspending all trips after November 08 and hoping service, food etc. would not be deteriorating with November just down the road. You relieved some fears. I too am sad that this era of relaxing cruising on the river with such great accommodations will be coming to an end.

I did call headquarters and ask about the condition of the river and if will affect our trip. I was told instead of leaving from St. Paul we will be bussed to Red Wing and depart from there. I hope the other ports will stay intact.

Looking forward to this Friday's departure.
11 Posts
Joined Aug 2008
I am taking a family group on the St. Louis-St. Paul cruise in mid-October. Since you recently took the same cruise, could you comment on the on-shore experiences. I don't plan to sign up for the planned excursions but I would like to get off and walk(if possible) or arrange private transportation to some of the sights. Does that sound feasible to do with two elderly in a wheelchair? Also, we were assigned the second dinner seating and it seems rather late. What was your experience? Any other good advice? thanks.
Santa Barbara, CA
308 Posts
Joined Jul 2002
The trip was wonderful! The weather excellent as it only became humid at the Hannibal area and that was after a thunderstorm. Then the mosquitos were prevalent. Do take Skin so Soft or something else that will ward them off.

First, late seating, which we had is late, 8:00 p.m. During our trip they had put mostly everyone in the early sitting and only 60 of us in the late. What I liked about the late is the more personable service from our waiter and our assistant. It was not rushed but timely. We also asked for half portions so we wouldn't leave stuffed! The show is at 7:00 p.m. thus giving one time to amble down to dinner and enjoy the rest of the evening. Prior to the show we relaxed, set outside, enjoyed a drink and prepared leisurely for the evening entertainment. Thinking back, I would probably still do late as you would otherwise eat too early.

Most of the stops were morning stops. Because I love to walk, and my husband doesn't, I would head out in the morning and walk along the river paths. I think it was La Crosse that I loved the meandering trail along the river different streams. Also, in my morning walks I went into town to see what I should come back to see.

We never did take any shore excursions but did things on our own. In La Crosse, be sure you take the trolley ride around town to see the various sites. Very informative. In Dubuque be sure to go to the Museum. It is outstanding! We spent all morning there and was not rushed through it as those on the tour. It is doable from the ship if someone is in a wheelchair.
Slightly uphill but not bad and just pass the Casino, a stone's throw from the ship. Davenport was probably my least exciting place (sorry Davenportians) There you may want to consider a tour depending on what it is. Hannibal is charming and great to see the Mark Twain sites. I know there was a tour to them. We did it on our own. Do not do the cave tour. One must bend over and it is dark plus unsure footing.

The one thing I regret is Red Wing. We had the overnight stay at the Westin which was wonderful and a tour of Minn./St. Paul, which was excellent too, before boarding the boat. Because of various reasons, we all board at Red Wing and not St. Paul. This happens on the majority of the cruises leaving and going to St. Paul. After the tour we were driven to Red Wing for departure. It takes about 1 and half hours to get there. Embarkation goes fairly smoothly. Because it was late afternoon, we unpacked and did nothing. I so wished I had walked up to Red Wing and spent some time looking around. It was a charming town as we drove through it plus it is very close to the ship. Because of late seating I could have easily done this.

As you know the ship is up for sale and all Majestic cruise line departures will end in November. Please be assured services have not changed because of this. The trip was super and I am so happy we were able to this journey. You will love the scenery, the towns, and the local people. They are so nice, pleasant and welcoming.

Of our five U.S. river trips, this was one of my most favorites.
Enjoy and don't hesitate to ask if you have any further questions.
13,190 Posts
Joined Oct 2004

We´ve just returned from the upbound trip (Aug 30th - Sep 6th). All cruises now turnover in Red Wing due to the narrow and low water conditions in the St. Paul area.

I can´t tell you anything about 520 but I wouldn´t worry about the elevators or stairs. It´s not pretty noisy. As for the J a single person won´t have any problems with it. Actually we´ve been booked on a J (we = 2 adults, 1 8 y old). For 3 people it´s a bit cramped. We unpacked our stuff and were able to store it in the drawers. Suitcases fit under the beds. Anyway we didn´t stay but were upgraded to a B outside on the Observation Deck when they realized we´re three people.

The J inside had a large shower (curtain). The B outside has a tub (curtain). I think all B´s and up have tubs.

As for the shore tours it´s pretty much the same as it was two years ago. Check my review of our Mississippi Queen cruise linked in my signature. We usually do not take any shore tours (anyway it was our third cruise from St. Louis to St. Paul - been there done that). You will also find some suggestions of what to do on your own in my review. You´ll also find lots of links in my review.

In Alton there´s not much to see at the landing and in the downtown area (it was Sunday, Labor Day Weekend, and except of one all shops were closed). Cabs were available and the people from the visitor center handed out maps and free water bottles. I can highly recommend the Mississippi River Center at the lock. Nice museum and great tour over the dam (not sure if this is wheelchair accessible). Take a cab as I think the bus tour is overpriced. Museum and lock tour are free (tips accepted).

In Hannibal the Mark Twain Boyhood Museum is within two blocks from the landing (slightly uphill). It´s not worth doing the tour. The tour includes a sightseeing train ride (which can also be done on your own, starting on Main Street - 1 block from the landing - first tour at 10 am). There´s also a horse drawn carriage (featuring Barney the horse and Glen the driver). $4 per person, funny narrated ride.

The upriver cruise doesn´t stop at Davenport. The landing there is far away from anything.

At Dubuque I also highly recommend the Mississippi River Museum. Walking into downtown is quite a walk. But a trolley is offering rides.

At LaCrosse there´s a nice riverpark. At the upriver end you´ll find the visitor center and a nice little river museum. You can also walk into the downtown area. The boat is usually welcomed by a nice crowd dressed in historic costumes.

Red Wing: not much to do there maybe except for the shopping area close to the river. Not one of my preferred stops. We were lucky. Having generator problems in LaCrosse we left late. Then we were shut down by fog. So we enjoyed a whole day cruising to Red Wing (arriving at 6 pm). My first time to see Lake Pepin on daylight. Unfortunately we missed the eagle presentation by the Wabasha Eagle Center (they come aboard in Red Wing). They were pretty nice and line up at the shore presenting two eagles when we passed by.

I didn´t take the shore tour information with me so I can´t tell you anything about the prices.

Dinner seating: early seating is at 5:15 pm, late seating at 8 pm. We only had one show at 7 pm (app. 240 passengers on our cruise). Late seating was lasting up to 10 pm on some nights. The dining room was pretty crowded for early seating and nearly empty for late seating on our cruise.

Don´t worry about the fact Majestic is selling the boats. Majestic has shortened the season but will operate the boats until the end of the season.

If you have any further questions don´t hesitate to ask.