In 2020 our flagship vessel celebrates her 25th anniversary, so why not join us aboard the largest and most opulent steamboat in the world in this landmark year and discover why the American Queen is a true icon of North American riverboat cruising.
Built in 1995 to recapture the décor and design of the romantic steamboats of the 1870s and 1880s, the American Queen is a faithful interpretation of the era, but what makes her so exceptional is that she was never meant to be a perfect recreation.
If this sounds odd, let me explain.
Travelling by river today is infinitely safer than it was 150 years ago, but to be an absolute recreation of the 19th century era, the American Queen would need to stay completely true to every part of those original riverboat designs, eschewing all modern conveniences and safety features in favour of total facsimile.
For the designers of the American Queen back in 1994, it was unthinkable to build a modern riverboat without ensuring that every available safety feature, from modern lifesaving equipment and satellite navigation to fire-suppression systems and contemporary communications capabilities, weren’t fully equipped right across the vessel.
A full recreation would also have required the same 19th century engines, meaning that the American Queen wouldn’t have been able to provide electrical lighting for passengers, been able to cope with flat-screen televisions and plug-in devices, or have air-conditioning. And as for accommodation, by the elegant standards of the staterooms aboard the American Queen today, even the most luxurious staterooms of the 1870s or 1880s would appear small and crude to modern passengers.
It’s true that back then the best accommodation on the biggest boats featured a wondrously gilded spacious social hall, but on smaller boats it would have been a much more basic open area. In either case, this shared space served as a lounge, bar and dining room, and was usually ringed by what were known as cabins but which were, in fact, tiny sleeping compartments without any toilet facilities whatsoever. When nature called, it was a communal affair, attended to in shared bathrooms.
Lower decks would have been used for transporting freight, workers and the disadvantaged, all of whom had to share with livestock, so it was not uncommon for pigs, cows, chickens and other farm animals to end up stepping over the bedding of deck passengers as they tried to find a spot to rest between bales of cotton.
By contrast, there are no deck passengers on the American Queen. The food is exceptional, the bedding first-rate and, of course, it goes without saying that every stateroom, cabin or suite has its own en suite bathroom. Stroll the decks and you won’t find any errant cows or clucking chickens. Nor will you have to step over a bale of cotton. Instead, you can just settle back in a rocking chair sipping a Mint Julep as the scenery glides past and you await your dinner in the elegant, air-conditioned dining room.
As you can see, a cruise aboard the American Queen is infinitely more comfortable than it would have been during the era that inspired her, but we assure you that by making these compromises and upping the standards of our comfort and safety to the best possible modern amenities, the American Queen hasn’t sacrificed any of the authentic style and atmosphere that makes a riverboat voyage such a magical experience.
The same goes aboard all our other riverboats as well of course, because every cruise with the American Queen Steamboat Company is nostalgia re-imagined.
Our featured cruise aboard the American Queen is booking now with dates currently available from September 2019 through to December 2020. For more information click here.