Our main reason for travelling on the American Queen was to enjoy the on-board experience, reliving Mark Twain’s time. We travelled on the Mississippi River from New Orleans to Memphis. The river is relaxing and large, but it’s not like Europe where you drift past castles and villages and a variety of landscapes. It’s trees, then trees, then more of the same trees. There was a lot of interesting river traffic and at night a great number of oil refineries each lit up like a city.
They had excellent on-board entertainment and a little dancing. The boat is the largest and most opulent paddle steamer in the world, filled with antiques acquired from around the globe and authentic furnishings. There were about 420 guests and 160 staff. The catering was first class and we ate too much, again. They had various options from casual buffet to formal a la carte dining.
There was a stirring calliope recital each time we steamed out of a port.
The calliope is driven by steam sent through large whistles and was very loud, audible for miles. There is no way to vary tone or loudness. The only expression possible is the timing and duration of the notes. If you are like us you will recognise the Southern and other Tunes in this medley.
Some short videos:
Leaving New Orleans on board the American Queen (51 sec):
A Calliope Concert (2 min):