Monday, 5 November 2012

Queen of the Mississippi, Part One

We’re sailing the Mississippi aboard the brand new Queen of the Mississippi of American Cruise Lines. Follow along with us as we go from St Louis to Memphis…

It’s embarkation day on Queen of the Mississippi and it is immediately clear this is unlike any cruise we have done before. Our taxi drops us dockside along this recreated stern-wheel paddle-steamer and there is no photographer or welcoming committee. In fact, there is no embarkation fuss of any kind.

Assistant cruise director Theo walks up the short pathway to greet us and check us off on his clipboard, then we just follow him along the traditional bow gangplank and we’re all aboard. It’s that simple.

He shows us to our cabin on Deck 4 and, in no time at all, we’re settled into our balcony cabin with masses of room for a seven-day voyage. Unlike most river-cruise ships, where cabins tend to be stylish but functional, with only minimal room and a balcony that is usually a token effort, this sports genuine big-ship verandah style, with the cabin itself boasting 300sq ft of space, with a balcony to match.

There is ample closet and drawer space (although a closet door would be nice), a generous-sized bathroom with a huge shower (by most ship standards) and, while it wouldn’t live up to a genuine deluxe rating, there are some classy touches, like the individual Keurig coffee-maker, Judith Jackson Spa bathroom products and free wi-fi.

A quick tour of the ship (and, at just 295ft long over five decks, three of which are mainly accommodation, it IS a quick tour!), reveals some sumptuous public rooms and lounges, the one main dining room and a generous helping of coffee-making facilities, along with free fruit, snacks and soft drinks, throughout the vessel.

This immediately looks like a cosy and comfortable way to travel for at least a week (while we find some on board who have signed up for the full three-week journey from Minneapolis to New Orleans), and the friendliness of the crew is evident everywhere with smiling faces and inquries of “Can I help?”

No, we don’t need any help to start with. This is an extremely promising first impression, and we have seriously high hopes of a memorable seven days travelling in the 19th century wake of Mark Twain, so you’ll have to excuse us while we unpack and get properly settled, especially as it will soon be time for lunch…! 
NB: For bookings in the UK, call 0808 101 2713; in the US, call 1800 460 4518.