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River Cruise Questions

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This question isn't about ports so I hope this is the right place. We are about to embark on our first river cruise in March which is a lower Mississippi cruise on American Duchess.

 

Will my husband need a suit or can he get by in the dining room for dinner with nice slacks, a dress shirt, and maybe a tie? 

 

Will we need to wear our dinner dress for evening activities?

 

Are the cabins metal like on an Ocean cruise? We normally take some strong magnetic hooks we use for organization on ocean cruises.

 

I feel like there are questions we don't even know to ask about the differences between river cruising and ocean cruising. I just found out there is no buffet or alternative to the MDR for dinners on board the ship. Is there any item we'd never think of for an ocean cruise that is a must for river cruising?

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I did a lower Mississippi trip on the Duchess in Oct 2018 and loved that little boat!

 

Dinner is "country club casual", which as far as I can tell means no jeans and a collared shirt for men.  Women would be similar, nice pants and a nice top.  People were not super dressy on our trip.  I don't think the dinner dress code extended to other areas of the ship for the rest of the evening, but I don't remember.

 

The boat does have a second dining room that serves as a buffet for breakfast and lunch, then is a second dining room for dinner.  You do have to make reservations for dinner if you want to eat there.  We didn't bother, the main dining room was great.

 

I'm afraid I don't remember if the walls were metal.

 

My mom and I found the trip very relaxing.  It's very low key.  There is a place on the boat in the front, out on deck - maybe deck 2?  There were chairs and no railing right in front of you because it is where the stairs go down to the deck below.  I loved sitting there while we were cruising.  Other people found out about it, though, so you may have to share.  ;)

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The AQSC Essential Travel Guide provides the following Clothing Suggestions: "We suggest that you check a national weather source to plan what to pack for your voyage. Daytime dress is casual, and be sure to bring comfortable, non-slip walking shoes for ports of call and shore excursions. Slacks and shorts are acceptable in all public areas of the vessel and ashore. For evenings, we suggest country-club-casual attire: a dress, a dressy skirt and blouse or a pantsuit for ladies. Gentlemen may wish to wear a sport coat, but it is not required. We kindly request that guests do not wear shorts to dinner in the main dining room."

 

The AQSC Essential Travel Guide states that for Dinner: "An alternative dining venue is also available." But this apparantly has changed for the American Duchess.

 

According to the AQSC website, the buffet in the River Club & Terrace is only available for breakfast and luncheon. Dinner is served only in the Grand Dining Room. This also matches the information they sent me prior to my cruise next week. Although they may have had dinner service in the second dining room in 2018, it appears that they no longer do.

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On 1/22/2020 at 8:14 PM, NavyVeteran said:

The AQSC Essential Travel Guide provides the following Clothing Suggestions: "We suggest that you check a national weather source to plan what to pack for your voyage. Daytime dress is casual, and be sure to bring comfortable, non-slip walking shoes for ports of call and shore excursions. Slacks and shorts are acceptable in all public areas of the vessel and ashore. For evenings, we suggest country-club-casual attire: a dress, a dressy skirt and blouse or a pantsuit for ladies. Gentlemen may wish to wear a sport coat, but it is not required. We kindly request that guests do not wear shorts to dinner in the main dining room."

 

The AQSC Essential Travel Guide states that for Dinner: "An alternative dining venue is also available." But this apparantly has changed for the American Duchess.

 

According to the AQSC website, the buffet in the River Club & Terrace is only available for breakfast and luncheon. Dinner is served only in the Grand Dining Room. This also matches the information they sent me prior to my cruise next week. Although they may have had dinner service in the second dining room in 2018, it appears that they no longer do.

How was your cruise, NavyVeteran?

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1 hour ago, TravelinGert said:

How was your cruise, NavyVeteran?

I just returned from two weeks B2B on the American Duchess from Memphis to New Orleans and back to Memphis. The cruise was great. The service was very good. This was the first cruise I've been on a U. S. flag ship with a U. Sl. flag crew (if you don't count cruises on ships painted haze gray), and I didn't notice much difference between the service on this boat and that I received on ship flagged in other nations.

 

To answer some of the previous questions:

  • You definitely do not need a coat or tie for dinner any night.
  • There is no alternative dining room for dinner. The only choice for dinner is the main dining room. Most days you have a choice for breakfast and lunch between the main dining room and a buffet in the River Club.

The hop-on/hop-off tours were very well organized. They were particularly good for those with mobility issues. A guide on the bus provided information. You got off at the stops you wanted and stayed as long (or as short) as you wanted. No one had to hurry to keep up with a guide or wait for the rest of the group to show up before leaving.

 

I'm really glad we did the two-week B2B. The two weeks were much different. On the southbound cruise (downriver), we had ports every day with most of them full days in port, but we had no time to enjoy the river during daylight. On the northbound cruise (upriver), we had two river days and all but one of the port days were half days in port (not good if you were looking forward to the ports), but we had lots of time to enjoy the river during daylight.

 

The boat moves much faster downriver (with the current) than upriver (fighting the current). Also downriver vessels have the right-of-way, since they are less maneuverable. Several times on the upriver cruise, we had to pull to the side and stop to wait for a large tow moving downriver to get through a bend in the river.

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3 minutes ago, NavyVeteran said:

I just returned from two weeks B2B on the American Duchess from Memphis to New Orleans and back to Memphis. The cruise was great. The service was very good. This was the first cruise I've been on a U. S. flag ship with a U. Sl. flag crew (if you don't count cruises on ships painted haze gray), and I didn't notice much difference between the service on this boat and that I received on ship flagged in other nations.

 

To answer some of the previous questions:

  • You definitely do not need a coat or tie for dinner any night.
  • There is no alternative dining room for dinner. The only choice for dinner is the main dining room. Most days you have a choice for breakfast and lunch between the main dining room and a buffet in the River Club.

The hop-on/hop-off tours were very well organized. They were particularly good for those with mobility issues. A guide on the bus provided information. You got off at the stops you wanted and stayed as long (or as short) as you wanted. No one had to hurry to keep up with a guide or wait for the rest of the group to show up before leaving.

 

I'm really glad we did the two-week B2B. The two weeks were much different. On the southbound cruise (downriver), we had ports every day with most of them full days in port, but we had no time to enjoy the river during daylight. On the northbound cruise (upriver), we had two river days and all but one of the port days were half days in port (not good if you were looking forward to the ports), but we had lots of time to enjoy the river during daylight.

 

The boat moves much faster downriver (with the current) than upriver (fighting the current). Also downriver vessels have the right-of-way, since they are less maneuverable. Several times on the upriver cruise, we had to pull to the side and stop to wait for a large tow moving downriver to get through a bend in the river.

Glad you had such a good time! Thank you so much for kindly giving a detailed reply! Though we are experienced ocean cruisers this is our first river cruise and our first cruise with my mother-in-law. 

 

I am so glad to know they were good for those with mobility issues. My mother-in-law has a problem knee and will be having surgery on it later this year. She's fine walking around but standing and more than a few stairs is a bit challenging for her.

 

Being able to come and go as you please at the stops on the hop off / hop on bus sounds pretty awesome. Some of the days my mother-in-law will probably want to do different things than we do and that will probably make it much easier coordinating.

 

 

 

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3 hours ago, TravelinGert said:

Glad you had such a good time! Thank you so much for kindly giving a detailed reply! Though we are experienced ocean cruisers this is our first river cruise and our first cruise with my mother-in-law. 

 

I am so glad to know they were good for those with mobility issues. My mother-in-law has a problem knee and will be having surgery on it later this year. She's fine walking around but standing and more than a few stairs is a bit challenging for her.

 

Being able to come and go as you please at the stops on the hop off / hop on bus sounds pretty awesome. Some of the days my mother-in-law will probably want to do different things than we do and that will probably make it much easier coordinating.

 

 

 

 

If you are doing the lower Mississippi, are you going upriver or downriver? It makes a big difference as I said in my previous post.

 

If you are going downriver, you will have plenty of time in most of the ports to do several different things, including a half day premium excursion and a half day on the hop-on/hop-off included excursion. Also you could go with your MIL in the morning and visit the more excessible sites and then go back by yourself in the afternoon to visit some of the less excessible ones. That's what I did with my wife several times.

 

I would highly recommend the two premium excursions I took, but I would recommend only one of them for your MIL:

  • Front Lines of the Civil War in Vicksburg: This was very interesting if you are interested in the Civil War. It is a bus excursion that would be very easy for someone with mobility issues. There are places you can get off if you want, but you can stay on the bus if you don't want to get off.
  • Plantations of the Backroads in St. Francisville:: This was one of the best organized excursions I've had. The visit to the second plantation was hosted by a descendent of the original families of both plantations, and that plantation is still the house where she lives (not a museum). The guide on our bus was a family friend of that family for many years as well as an outstanding guide. However, this trip may not be a good idea for your MIL. None of the plantation houses were built with accessibiliy in mind, and they all require stairs and significant walking. If you are going downriver, you could do the hop-on/hop-off with your MIL in the morning and then do this premium excursion in the afternoon while she rests back on the boat. Upriver, you only have a half day, so you can't do both.

If your MIL is going on the hop-on/hop-off without you, there are some steps to get on and off the bus (since she would not be using the wheelchair lift iin the back of the bus). The coach captain would help her with the steps if needed. The local guide on the bus could tell her the accessibility issues at each stop to help her decide which ones to see and which ones to skip.

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On 2/20/2020 at 9:01 PM, NavyVeteran said:

 

If you are doing the lower Mississippi, are you going upriver or downriver? It makes a big difference as I said in my previous post.

 

If you are going downriver, you will have plenty of time in most of the ports to do several different things, including a half day premium excursion and a half day on the hop-on/hop-off included excursion. Also you could go with your MIL in the morning and visit the more excessible sites and then go back by yourself in the afternoon to visit some of the less excessible ones. That's what I did with my wife several times.

 

I would highly recommend the two premium excursions I took, but I would recommend only one of them for your MIL:

  • Front Lines of the Civil War in Vicksburg: This was very interesting if you are interested in the Civil War. It is a bus excursion that would be very easy for someone with mobility issues. There are places you can get off if you want, but you can stay on the bus if you don't want to get off.
  • Plantations of the Backroads in St. Francisville:: This was one of the best organized excursions I've had. The visit to the second plantation was hosted by a descendent of the original families of both plantations, and that plantation is still the house where she lives (not a museum). The guide on our bus was a family friend of that family for many years as well as an outstanding guide. However, this trip may not be a good idea for your MIL. None of the plantation houses were built with accessibiliy in mind, and they all require stairs and significant walking. If you are going downriver, you could do the hop-on/hop-off with your MIL in the morning and then do this premium excursion in the afternoon while she rests back on the boat. Upriver, you only have a half day, so you can't do both.

If your MIL is going on the hop-on/hop-off without you, there are some steps to get on and off the bus (since she would not be using the wheelchair lift iin the back of the bus). The coach captain would help her with the steps if needed. The local guide on the bus could tell her the accessibility issues at each stop to help her decide which ones to see and which ones to skip.

 

Thank you! We actually booked our own tour of the Vicksburg Civil War battleground via the Museum there. The woman I spoke to said the cruise tour gets their guide from them as well so it will be the same tour except we rented a car and will be able to tailor it so there is less standing for my Mother-in-law. With it being a party of three doing it privately ended up the same price as doing it with the ship's tour so that worked out nicely.

 

I told my Mother-in-law about the plantation tour you mentioned and she said she will think on it. I know she wants to do it but is afraid it will be too much for her. I'm mostly asking so many questions because I really want this to be a nice trip for her. I'm afraid I kind of hopped on CoolCruiser's thread so I hope they don't mind. Thank you again for providing so much information.

Edited by TravelinGert

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