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American Countess, May 16; New Orleans to Memphis


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You’re welcome, gardenbunny!

 

Boat traffic can pass under the bridge, at least for now. 
 

The Vicksburg tour was very good, and it’s now an included tour. It used to be a premium tour.

 

You can find the premium tours  on their website, and they send you a package of information about three weeks before your cruise with that information too. We booked one on line and they just charge your account when you disembark. We booked another one on board. 
 

New Orleans is wonderful and Memphis is good too! 

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1 hour ago, CruiserFromMaine said:

You’re welcome, gardenbunny!

 

Boat traffic can pass under the bridge, at least for now. 
 

The Vicksburg tour was very good, and it’s now an included tour. It used to be a premium tour.

 

You can find the premium tours  on their website, and they send you a package of information about three weeks before your cruise with that information too. We booked one on line and they just charge your account when you disembark. We booked another one on board.
 

New Orleans is wonderful and Memphis is good too! 

The Vicksburg tour including the battlefield is an included tour in May and June, since they are not offering the Hop-on Hop-off tours during that time. However, they are planning to start the Hop-on Hop-off tours in July. After that the Vicksburg battlefield tour will be a premium tour again. DW and I did a B2B, so we did the battlefield tour in one direction and the Hop-on Hop-off in the other direction.

 

You can find the excursions planned for your specific voyage on their website under YOUR VOYAGE, Book Shore Excursions. Under the heading PREMIUM SHORE EXCURSIONS, select BOOK TODAY. Then select which of their four ships you are sailing on and confirm that selection. You will then see a list of all of the cruises scheduled for that ship. Click on SEE DETAILS! for the specific date of your cruise.

 

If your cruise is more than 180 days in the future, you will see a set of descriptions marked INFO ONLY without times or prices. At approximately 180 days prior to the cruise, this will be replaced with the scheduled time and price information. (Personal experience: The excursion details for my 15 November 2021 cruise recently became available.)

 

This listing only lists the premium excursions - not the included ones. To get a complete list of all planned excursions (both premium and included), you need to select PRINT PAGE at the upper left corner of the excursion list for your date. Wait a while and you will see a PDF file to download. This PDF file is more complete than the web listing, since it also shows the included excursions.

 

By checking various dates for both the American Countess and the American Empress, I saw that they are currently planning to restart the Hop-on Hop-off excursions in July. So any notes on included excursions from May or June cruises may not be relevant to those of us sailing in July or later.

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Thank you NavyVeteran for where to find the PDF for both included and premium excursions; I was looking all over the website for the information.  We’re sailing on the Countess the end of October on the Tennessee River.  This is a rollover from the cancelled 2020 trip.  

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Great information from both!  Thanks.  I found the premium tours.  I feel sure we will want to book the Vicksburg Battle field.  I did not see much else that would appeal to us.  But I will download the included excursions.   I have been looking at the HOHO Natchez but found a guide on-line to the walking tours which I think we will do.

 

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On 5/24/2021 at 8:52 PM, NavyVeteran said:

The Vicksburg tour including the battlefield is an included tour in May and June, since they are not offering the Hop-on Hop-off tours during that time. However, they are planning to start the Hop-on Hop-off tours in July. After that the Vicksburg battlefield tour will be a premium tour again. DW and I did a B2B, so we did the battlefield tour in one direction and the Hop-on Hop-off in the other direction.

 

You can find the excursions planned for your specific voyage on their website under YOUR VOYAGE, Book Shore Excursions. Under the heading PREMIUM SHORE EXCURSIONS, select BOOK TODAY. Then select which of their four ships you are sailing on and confirm that selection. You will then see a list of all of the cruises scheduled for that ship. Click on SEE DETAILS! for the specific date of your cruise.

 

If your cruise is more than 180 days in the future, you will see a set of descriptions marked INFO ONLY without times or prices. At approximately 180 days prior to the cruise, this will be replaced with the scheduled time and price information. (Personal experience: The excursion details for my 15 November 2021 cruise recently became available.)

 

This listing only lists the premium excursions - not the included ones. To get a complete list of all planned excursions (both premium and included), you need to select PRINT PAGE at the upper left corner of the excursion list for your date. Wait a while and you will see a PDF file to download. This PDF file is more complete than the web listing, since it also shows the included excursions.

 

By checking various dates for both the American Countess and the American Empress, I saw that they are currently planning to restart the Hop-on Hop-off excursions in July. So any notes on included excursions from May or June cruises may not be relevant to those of us sailing in July or later.

Thank you for this step-by-step guide to printing the complete list of shore excursions. Very handy, and it worked exactly as you described. 
 

We will be on the American Queen in September 2021, New Orleans to Memphis. We had already booked the Swamp tour and the Vicksburg Civil War tour. There are also a few other non-premiums that look interesting, including a couple HOHOs. Is it necessary to book those in advance, or are they always available?

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1 hour ago, Frncie said:

Thank you for this step-by-step guide to printing the complete list of shore excursions. Very handy, and it worked exactly as you described. 
 

We will be on the American Queen in September 2021, New Orleans to Memphis. We had already booked the Swamp tour and the Vicksburg Civil War tour. There are also a few other non-premiums that look interesting, including a couple HOHOs. Is it necessary to book those in advance, or are they always available?

You do not book the included tours in advance. They will have enough space for everyone, but not necessarily at the exact time you would prefer to go.

 

Pre-pandemic, you obtained a ticket with a specific departure time using a machine at the shore excursions desk available the prior evening. The ticket was only needed for the initial departures from the boat. Tickets were not needed for departures later in the day or for rejoining the hop-on hop-off bus at later stops.

 

If you got off on the first stop and wanted to get on the next bus (15 or 20 minutes later), there may not have been room if the bus left the boat full and no one got off at that stop. This was not a problem later on.

 

These comments are pre-pandemic. There may be more of a problem with full buses now, since they are limiting the number of people allowed on the bus.

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There were no HOHO buses on our cruise. AQ said it was part of their agreement with the CDC. Hopefully that can be revised soon. 
 

The Angola Prison premium tour was quite different from any other tour and we enjoyed it. The Story of Cotton was ok but not great. 

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My final thoughts…

 

The big questions are, did I like the cruise and would I sail with American Queen again? I liked the cruise. It was a new itinerary for us, the food very good and the entertainment is excellent. Those all outweighed the service, technology, and WiFi issues.

 

But based on just this one cruise, I would not go again on AQ and risk having the same negatives again. They were a detraction. However—they are just getting back on line after Covid and I think they are still getting up to speed. I’ve certainly read reviews where people would avoid an entire line after one cruise on one ship and that’s unfair. If I go again, it will be at least a year from now and on a different itinerary.

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Thank you so much for all of the information you included.  We're on the first cruise requiring all passengers to be vaccinated.  Would be so glad if no masks required. 

 

We will consider the Vicksburg tour even though it will be premium when we're on the first week of July.  Also, hadn't considered the later dinner time.  Sounds like we'll try it based on your recommendations. 

 

Thanks again for such a great overview of your cruise.

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1 hour ago, denamo said:

Thanks again for such a great overview of your cruise.

You’re welcome—have a great cruise!

 

If you’ve got any interest in history, I’d recommend the Vicksburg tour. Plus. I don’t know what else you’d do. 

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 5/29/2021 at 2:50 PM, CruiserFromMaine said:

You’re welcome—have a great cruise!

 

If you’ve got any interest in history, I’d recommend the Vicksburg tour. Plus. I don’t know what else you’d do. 

Is their enough time in port to arrange a private tour - say one with Viator?  Did the ship dock & leave close to schedule?

We will be on the Duchess Sept 10th.

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Comment on HOHO and may not having seats on the next bus after you get off….I know there are a lot of people who like HOHO, but I find that to be a common issue so we typically avoid using it unless you just want to go to one place only - and not stop and go at a lot of sights.  Just my opinion.

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Thank you for all the helpful info you shared.  We will be on the Countess leaving Sunday from Memphis.  Like you, we have the late dinner seating.  Could I ask how you arranged to have a cheese and meet tray delivered to you in the bar area?  Since we won’t be eating until 8 pm I’m thinking that would be a brilliant solution.  Thank you!

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On 6/17/2021 at 7:12 PM, Kaitlyn2 said:

Is their enough time in port to arrange a private tour - say one with Viator?  Did the ship dock & leave close to schedule?


We arrived and left on time except we missed a port due to an equipment  issue which kept us  late at one port. We added another port to make up (Helena, Ark.). We missed Greeneville. 

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5 hours ago, skenny5 said:

Could I ask how you arranged to have a cheese and meet tray delivered to you in the bar area?


We coordinated through Michael, who I think was the food and beverage manager. We found him in the dining room after the 5:30 folks were seated. 

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On 5/29/2021 at 4:50 PM, CruiserFromMaine said:

You’re welcome—have a great cruise!

 

If you’ve got any interest in history, I’d recommend the Vicksburg tour. Plus. I don’t know what else you’d do. 

I did call AQSC.  The person I spoke with said the HOHO buses would be running, but not as typical.  The bus would take a group on a bus to designated places, wait, and then everyone would get back on as a group.  Not sure if this is accurate info, but it's what I was told. Guess we'll see.

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On 5/17/2021 at 10:24 AM, CruiserFromMaine said:

The Hilton Riverside is a typical large convention hotel that’s had a lot of use, and it shows. It’s OK but a smaller hotel would be more in keeping with the onboard experience. 
 

Since AQSC knew everyone tested negative they didn’t ask for our test results in the morning. Which makes sense too because the test results page just shows date and result with no name so it’s easily copied and shared. Breakfast at the hotel was disappointing. 
 

The staff seemed to have problems getting people checked in and then they said they were having IT issues. Our boarding cards have no logo but someone added handwritten names and cabin numbers to our otherwise blank cards. The shore excursion sign up was largely manual too.

 

Otherwise, checkin and embarkation was easy. The shuttle to the port from the hotel was right on time and took five minutes. We were welcomed on board with a glass of bubbly. 
 

The ship looks great! I’ve got some photos to post later. We have the second seating for dinner so went to the show at 6:00. The enter staff and cruise director are great! My wife and I are both very impressed; these folks would fit right in on a much larger ocean cruise ship. 
 

I would say 75% of the pax signed up for early seating. We had the dining room to ourselves, it seemed. The theater too. Service in the dining room was good with a couple hiccups and the food was quite goo. 
 

Many people I talked with wished for a 7pm dinner time rather than the choices of 5:30 and 8:00. We feel the same way. Given the distribution of pax I’m glad we picked the later time though since I suspect we got better service.

 

Do you know how strict they are with these times. DW and I are considering a cruise with them in the future, but 8 is way too late for us and 5:30 is way too early for DW and somewhat too early for me. Do you know if they allow early diners to mosey in at say between 6 and 6:30?

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After years of travel including two World Cruises, my motto has always been - be flexible!  So I am totally looking forward to being back on board a ship on The Countess August 1!!  And with Covid hopefully starting to be in the rear view mirror, flexibility will be tested like never before with all the new protocols.  This will not be the time to ask “why are we having to do that - we didn’t have to before….”.  BC - Before Covid 😁!  So just put on a happy face, be glad and thankful travel is starting again and enjoy!

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1 hour ago, LewiLewi said:

We have a question about dressing codes. Did people dress up for dinner or are we okay with casual short sleeved shirts for men and slacks and blouses for women?

Thank you.

Brief mention of attire is mentioned in the "Essential Travel Guide". You should be ok; we are going to stay pretty casual on our cruise. 

https://www.americanqueensteamboatcompany.com/your-voyage/essential-travel-guide/

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5 hours ago, ontheweb said:

Do you know if they allow early diners to mosey in at say between 6 and 6:30?

 They weren’t allowing that on our cruise. Maybe 5:45 since it takes awhile to get the 5:30 crowd all seated. But coming after that creates problems for the crew to get the first seating wrapped up and ready for the next seating. 

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4 hours ago, LewiLewi said:

Did people dress up for dinner or are we okay with casual short sleeved shirts for men and slacks and blouses for women?

You would be fine as described in your question. We saw a few men in blazers at dinner. I don’t recall anyone in jeans. The first night is “come as you are’” then it’s the regular dress code. 

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24 minutes ago, CruiserFromMaine said:

 They weren’t allowing that on our cruise. Maybe 5:45 since it takes awhile to get the 5:30 crowd all seated. But coming after that creates problems for the crew to get the first seating wrapped up and ready for the next seating. 

Thanks for the response, though it was not the one I was hoping for. I did sort of expect it. 

 

There is a buffet alternative, right? 

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