Great American Steamboat Company: American Queen river cruise review

Great American Steamboat Company American Queen

Photo Credit: Susan J. Young, Travel Agent Central

Travel Agent Central has posted a review of the new American Queen.  Read the full article here: Grand Lady: Impressions of American Queen.

Contact Island Time Travel for a quote!

Related: River Cruising is Booming
Related: Love to cruise but hate to fly?
Related: River Cruising in the Heartland of America


American Cruise Lines Building Third New Riverboat

American Cruise Lines Queen of the MississipiAmerican Cruise Lines, the leader in small ship cruising, recently announced that it will be building another brand new riverboat due to the high demand for its U.S. river cruises.  A contract has been signed and construction has already begun.  The new riverboat will be slightly larger but similar in many respects to the 150-passenger Queen of the Mississippi, which is nearing completion at Chesapeake Shipbuilding in Salisbury, MD.

“We recognize a considerable strength in river cruising and have observed an increased interest in our U.S. river cruises over the last several years,” said Charles A. Robertson, CEO of American Cruise Lines.  “We look forward to introducing yet another new authentic paddlewheel riverboat to meet this demand.”  Robertson attributes the success of the company’s river cruise business to its “newer, low-density vessels, each built to meet the highest industry standards in comfort, safety and technology.”

American Cruise Lines’ third new riverboat will feature a similar capacity to that of the Queen of the Mississippi and will also boast the most spacious staterooms in the industry, entirely private balconies – all with sliding glass doors, a center atrium with a grand staircase, various lounges and numerous amenities including:

  • Fully-functioning authentic paddlewheel
  • 300+ square foot staterooms
  • Private balconies with sliding glass doors
  • Various unique lounges, libraries, and cafés
  • Fine hotel-style bathrooms
  • Room Service
  • Wi-Fi in all staterooms
  • Satellite TV and DVD player in all staterooms
  • Single sitting, open seating dining
  • Complimentary cocktail hour

As of yet, no decision has been made as to where the new riverboat will operate other than on U.S. rivers.  Additional details and information will be announced in the coming months.

American Cruise Lines offers more than 35 unique itineraries on inland waterways and rivers across the United States.  Over the last several years, American Cruise Lines has continued to add new itineraries and ships to accommodate demand.  Its newest river itineraries are offered on two authentic paddlewheelers – the 120-passenger Queen of the West operating on the Columbia and Snake Rivers of the Pacific Northwest, and Queen of the Mississippi, American Cruise Lines’ brand new authentic paddlewheeler.  With a capacity of 150 guests and offering numerous never-before-available amenities, the authentic paddlewheeler is set to debut on the Mississippi River this coming August and is the first new riverboat built for the Mississippi River in nearly 20 years.

Source/Credit: American Cruise Lines, Britt Rabinovici

Contact Island Time Travel for more information.  Send us an email and we’ll send you a quote.

Related: Love to cruise but hate to fly?
Also see: River Cruising in the Heartland of America
Also see: Steamboating Through America’s Heartland is Back on the American Queen

Great American Steamboat Kentucky Derby Voyage

American Queen

The Great American Steamboat Company is offering a 4-night voyage, roundtrip from Cincinnati, that includes admission to the Kentucky Derby.  The cruise departs May 4, 2012, and stops in Louisville and Madison.  Fares begin at $1,395 per guest–be sure to take note of all the inclusions listed below.  Entertainment provided by the Juggernaut Jug Band.

“Our Kentucky Derby river voyage celebrates one of the most prestigious events in the ‘sport of kings.’  You’ll experience the Derby parades and festivities in Louisville, then have the opportunity to witness the Kentucky Derby itself.  General admission Kentucky Derby tickets and a special Derby Day party at the storied Seelbach Hotel are included in the price of your voyage.  Of course, there’ll be plenty of mint juleps available to put everyone in just the right spirit for the ‘Run for the Roses.’  Grandstand seating for the Derby is available starting at $799 per guest, but availability is limited.”

Fares from just $1,395 per guest include:

  • Free one night luxury hotel stay in Cincinnati
  • Free shore excursions
  • Complimentary wine and beer with dinner, free bottled water, soft drinks, specialty coffees, cappuccino, and espresso throughout your voyage and much more!
  • General admission Kentucky Derby tickets
  • Gourmet cuisine by celebrated American Chef Regina Charboneau
  • Multiple specialty dining options, all at no additional charge
  • Professional showboat-style entertainment and dancing nightly

Contact Island Time Travel for more information.  Send us an email and we’ll send you a quote.

Related: River Cruising in the Heartland of America
Related: Steamboating Through America’s Heartland is Back on the American Queen
Related: Love to cruise but hate to fly?

Update,  January 18, 2012 – The Great American Steamboat Company has also announced three Epic Civil War voyages for 2012These 8-10 night cruises (“Themeboating Adventures”) onboard the most opulent steamboat ever built will bring the history books to life.  Highlights will include visits to legendary battlefields and onboard entertainment including actors, impersonators, leading lecturers, balladeers and reenactments to increase understanding of this pivotal moment in U.S. history.

The three departures are designed to explore the footprints of the Blue and Gray traveling between New Orleans, La.; Vicksburg, Miss.; Chattanooga, Tenn.; and Louisville, Ky.  These cruises start at $2,295 per guest based on double occupancy, but remember that includes a pre- or post-cruise luxury hotel stay, all bottled water and soft drinks, wine and beer at dinner, and complimentary shore adventures in each port of call.

American Experience and Artful Travelers present the Epic Civil War Journey – August 10-20, 2012: 10-night voyage between New Orleans, La.; Vicksburg, Miss.; and Chattanooga, Tenn.  Ports include Helena, Miss.; Memphis, Tenn.; Paducah, Ky.; Savannah, Tenn. (Shiloh National Military Park); and Decatur, Ala.

Epic Civil War – August 20-30, 2012: 10-night voyage between Chattanooga, Tenn. and Vicksburg, Miss.  Ports include Decatur, Ala.; Florence, Ala.; Savannah, Tenn. (Shiloh National Military Park); Paducah, Ky.; Ashport Landing, Tenn.; Memphis, Tenn.; and Vicksburg, Miss.

Civil War – August 30-September 7, 2012: Eight-night voyage between Vicksburg, Miss. and Louisville, Ky.  Ports include Helena, Ark.; Memphis, Ten.; Henderson, Ky.; and Louisville, Ky.

River Cruising in the Heartland of America

Many thanks to the Great American Steamboat Company for hosting a very nice training breakfast for local travel agents this morning here in Columbus, Ohio.   I got a chance to hear again about this great new “homegrown” cruise product.  Cruises begin in April.  With the recent surge in popularity of river cruising in Europe, it will be really nice to have a USA river cruise option, visiting such historic ports as New Orleans, Natchez, Vicksburg, Baton Rouge, Louisville, Memphis, and even a sailing featuring the Kentucky Derby .

The Great American Queen is the only authentic overnight paddlewheel steamboat in America and the largest steamboat ever built.

I can see this is going to be a first-class product all the way:

  • Multiple specialty dining options, all at no additional charge
  • Complimentary bottled water and soft drinks
  • Complimentary wine and beer at dinner
  • Complimentary shore excursions
  • Complimentary overnight pre-cruise stay in a select luxury hotel, including breakfast, taxes, and transfers to the ship
  • Complimentary hot and cold canapes at cocktail hour every evening
  • In-room coffee brewers with Starbucks coffee
  • Gracious, friendly service from professionally-trained all-American staff
  • Daily lectures by the Riverlorian, the onboard river historian
  • Professional showboat-style entertainment and dancing nightly (groups scheduled to appear include the Glenn Miller Orchestra, Harry James Orchestra, B.J. Thomas, the Lovin’ Spoonful, the Platters, Bill Haley’s Comets, Annie Moses Band, the Rat Pack Show, and more

Great American Steamboat Company

For more information on cruise fares, itineraries, and sailing dates contact Island Time Travel.  View a brochure here.

Related: Steamboating Through America’s Heartland is Back on the American Queen
Related: Love to cruise but hate to fly?
Also see: American Cruise Lines to Build Third New Riverboat
Also see: Riverboats make a comeback, especially on the Mississippi

All inclusive alcohol on cruises?


This post updated February 27, 2015.

An “all-inclusive” trend for alcoholic beverages is underway in the cruise industry.  Here is a summary of which cruise lines include beverages or offer all-you-can-drink alcohol packages.  This post will be a “work-in-progress”–check back often.

A-Rosa: all inclusive–cruise fare includes complimentary air, transfers, taxes, gratuities, open dining & bar, free wi-fi

Azamara: cruise fare includes house beer and wine, but no additional packages are offered.

Carnival:  offers an unlimited soda program for $4.50 per day for children 17 years of age and younger or $6.00 for adults; they also offer “Cruise the Vineyards” wine packages which allow you to drink your favorite wine at a discounted price or to explore new wines from the wide assortment of wines offered in these packages.  UPDATE: August 2012: Carnival is testing a drinks package on the Victory and the Splendor.  The “My Awesome Bar Program” package lets guests drink wine, beer, spirits, sodas, and non-alcoholic frozen cocktails during the cruise at a flat rate of $42.95 per person per day, plus a 15% gratuity.  All wines by the glass, beer and individual cocktails priced $10 and lower are available in the program. Full bottles of wine and champagne, as well as wines by the glass, beers and individual cocktails priced above $10, are available at a 25 percent discount.

Celebrity: offers a wide variety of optional beverage packages; Soda Package, Classic Non-Alcoholic Package, Premium Non-Alcoholic Package, Classic Package, Premium Package, and Wine Packages, ranging from $7 –$54 per night.  Celebrity’s soda package even includes canned soda if you prefer canned over fountain.

Compagnie du Ponant:  all-inclusive; all meals, open bar, stocked mini-bars in all staterooms and suites, and a welcome-aboard cocktail party.  Gratuities and port charges – even taxes and fees, are now included in the pricing.

Crystal: all-inclusive; cruise fare includes bottled water, soft drinks, fine wines, and premium spirits.

Great American Steamboat Company: cruise fare includes soft drinks, bottled water, beer and wine with dinner.

Oceania: cruise fare includes soft drinks, bottled water, and specialty coffees and teas; will offer “all-you-can-drink” cocktail packages beginning on January 3 (Insignia and Marina), January 6 (Regatta), and January 26 (Nautica); two options: 1) $29.95 per person, per day, includes house wine and beer with dinner and lunch, 2) $49.95 per person, per day, includes beer and premium house wine (from a selection of red and white vintages that change daily), all beverages on the bar menu (except Remy Martin Louis XIII cognac) and room service beverages (but not mini-bar selections).

MSC: MSC offers 5 optional drink packages ranging in price from $13 – $61 per day, depending on the passenger’s age and other factors, e.g., unlimited drinks anytime or drinks only included during meals.

Paul Gauguin: All shipboard meals in your choice of venues, complimentary 24-hour room service, complimentary beverages, including select wines and spirits, drinks, bottled water, and hot beverages served throughout the ship, refrigerator replenished daily with soft drinks, beer, and bottled water, all shipboard entertainment, all onboard gratuities included for room stewards and dining staff, complimentary kayaking, windsurfing, and paddleboarding

Royal Caribbean:  Update December 14, 2012 (source/credit: Gene Sloan, USA Today) RCCL is adding “all-you-can-drink” alcohol plans across its fleet.  They will offer two new drinks packages that give buyers access to nearly unlimited wine, beer, and in some cases alcohol-containing cocktails while on board ships, as well as sodas and non-alcoholic cocktails: 1) The Classic Beverage Package includes beer and house wines by the glass, as well as all non-alcoholic cocktails, fountain soda, and juices. It costs $45 per person, per day, including gratuities. 2)  The Premium Beverage Package includes beer, house wines by the glass, frozen alcoholic drinks, and all alcoholic cocktails including premium brands, as well as all non-alcoholic cocktails, fountain soda and juices. It costs $55 per person, per day, including gratuities.  The packages will be available on all Royal Caribbean sailings of seven nights or longer by early 2013. Passengers must be 21 years old or older to buy one of the packages and must make the purchase on the first day of a sailing.  A caveat: If one passenger in a cabin buys one of the packages, each additional passenger age 21 years and over in the same cabin also must buy the package — a rule presumably enacted to prevent cabin mates from sharing a package.  Thanks again to USA Today for this info.  Read their full article here.

SeaDream Yacht Club:  all-inclusive; open bar with selected premium brands, daily selection of wines to accompany lunch and dinner, mini bar in your stateroom, 24 hour room service from the “Small Bites” menu

Seabourn: all-inclusive; fine wines poured at lunch and dinner, and open bars throughout the ship, a range of dining venues that are all complimentary.  Complimentary welcome champagne and in-suite bar stocked with your preferences of soft drinks, beer, and mineral water, complete glassware, and your favorite wines or spirits.

Scenic Cruises: all-inclusive all the time, not just at meals; all shore excursions and sightseeing with expert local guides, along with gratuities onboard and on land.

Silversea: all-inclusive; fine wines and spirits are served not only with meals, but also throughout the ship.  Even champagne flows freely.  Silversea cruise fares also include a butler, onboard gratuities, in-room bar and refrigerator stocked with your preferred beverage selections, complimentary 24-hour room service and in-suite dining, complimentary shoreside events on select voyages, complimentary guided excursions ashore on Silversea Expeditions aboard the Silver Explorer, and complimentary transportation into town in most ports of call. Silversea is the only cruise line to offer butler service in every suite fleetwide.

Uniworld: all meals onboard include complimentary European wines, draft beer, and soft drinks during dinner; also included are shore excursions hosted by the best local guides in the industry, airport transfers on arrival and departure days.  Beginning with their 2014 Europe sailings, Uniworld will become more all-inclusive and will include unlimited wine, beer, and spirits (not just at lunch and dinner) as well as gratuities.

Related: River Cruising is Booming
Related: Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Related: Cruising to Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Bahamas, St. Maarten, or Cozumel? Get a Day Pass to an All Inclusive Resort

Love to cruise but hate to fly?

American QueenLove to cruise, but hate to fly?  Avoid the hassles of sky-high airfares, full flights, missed connections, and lost baggage.  If you love to cruise, and live within driving distance of these cities, below are some options for you.

Did you know that 50% of the USA is within a 5-hour drive to a Carnival Cruise Line departure port?

Baltimore:  American Cruise Line, Carnival, Royal Caribbean
Boston:  Carnival, Holland America, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean
Charleston SC:  American Cruise Line, Carnival
Chattanooga:  Great American Steamboat Company
Chicago: Travel Dynamics (Yorktown)
Cincinnati:  American Cruise Line, Great American Steamboat Company
Clarkston, Washington: American Cruise Line
Detroit: Travel Dynamics (Yorktown)
Duluth: Travel Dynamics (Yorktown)
Fort Lauderdale:  Carnival, Celebrity, Holland America, Princess, Royal Caribbean
Galveston:  Carnival, Disney, Princess, Royal Caribbean
Jacksonville: American Cruise Line, Carnival
Juneau: American Cruise Line
Long Beach: Carnival
Los Angeles:  Carnival, Disney, Holland America, Norwegian, Princess
Louisville:  Great American Steamboat Company
Memphis:  American Cruise Line, Great American Steamboat Company
Miami:  Celebrity, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean
Nashville: American Cruise Line
New Orleans:  American Cruise Line, Carnival, Great American Steamboat Company, Royal Caribbean, Blount, Norwegian, Travel Dynamics
New York City:  American Cruise Line, Celebrity, Disney, Holland America, Norwegian, Princess, Royal Caribbean
Norfolk:  Carnival
Philadelphia: American Cruise Line
Pittsburgh:  American Cruise Line, Great American Steamboat Company
Port Canaveral/Orlando:  Carnival, Disney, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean
Portland, Maine:  American Cruise Line
Portland, Oregon:  American Cruise Line, American Queen Steamboat Co.
Providence, Rhode Island: American Cruise Line
San Diego:  Carnival, Celebrity, Holland America
San Francisco:  Holland America, Princess
Seattle:  Carnival, Celebrity, Disney, Holland America, Norwegian, Princess, Royal Caribbean
Seward:  Celebrity, Holland America, Royal Caribbean
St. Louis:  American Cruise Line, Great American Steamboat Company
St. Paul:  American Cruise Line, Great American Steamboat Company
Tampa: Carnival
Celebrity, Disney, Princess
  Great American Steamboat Company
Washington, DC: American Cruise Line

Contact us to book!

Related: River Cruising in the Heartland of America
Related: Steamboating Through America’s Heartland is Back on the American Queen
Related: Carnival Cruise Lines New Fun Ship 2.0 Initiative
Related: NCL’s Newest Ship: Norwegian Breakaway
Also see: Riverboats make a comeback, especially on the Mississippi