by a forty times+ repeater of Delta Queen
The weather onshore was excruciatingly hot and humid (about the worst I have ever experienced, even for the Ohio River Valley in summer – almost enough to melt the soles off your shoes). However, the air on the steamboat was delightfully cool, the beer was cold, the food variable but overall decent, the waiters fine, and the bourbon like velvet!
I must admit to being pleasantly surprised. The new operators are doing a pretty good job of gettng up to speed (as it were) and although there still are some rough edges, they are trying very hard. There are a few former DQ (etc.)people on board, including the gift shop lady, two bartenders and one of the lounge entertainers, but they are trying to find out how everything works and getting back the old steamboat "experience". The breakfast and lunch buffets were very good, the dinners somewhat less so, but with high ups and some less-than-high downs. (Avoid beef on the dinner menu, no matter in what form, as it is sure to be cooked to a painful death regardless of assurances otherwise.)
The entertainment was decent, although the barren and sound-blasting engineroom bar can never replace the intimacy and acoustics of the Texas Lounge on DQ. Everything gets swallowed up in a huge cacophony as they have bared and polished the floors and removed all of the old sound-dampening features.
They tried on our trip to revive the old repeaters’ party, and even though the act was not yet together for libations, entertainment, prizes, etc., they are trying and say they will work on it. They have found and just recently hired Jeremiah Boone, the guy who ran the PSSOA for the old DQSBCo, and they are trying to get things going again for repeaters’ rewards as soon as possible. The trouble is that Majestic trashed the old repeat passenger data base and all of the pins, rewards, etc., that the old management used to give out. About 25 people came to the "PSSOA meeting" ( nobody had anywhere near the number of trips Bill and I do) but as I was wearing all my old multi-trip pins to make up for the 50-trip pin I never got (thanks to Majestic). and the new people had never seen them, they photographed all my pins so they can have new ones made to continue the tradition.
All the crew were tremendously accommodating, and none of them would ever pass by you without a cheery greeting, matter what their position.
As we told them, they need to get the new pilots on board, however, to the steamboat tradition. Not even once did I hear that huge bell tapped on departure, and there seemed to be a huge reluctance to ever blow the chimed steam whistles – which sound great, albeit nothing like DQ. They never once answered a salute from towns along the shore, despite the fact that this was the first trip of a steamboat up the Upper Ohio in four years! We told the "ambassadors" about that - I am not sure they understood the importance of making a loud statement wherever the boat goes to attract interest – and ticket sales.
The inside cabins were just fine. Comfy and no problem since we were seldom in them except for naps or at night. And even though they do not bring ice to the cabins each day as in the past, they readily produced a mini-fridge for my cabin to keep my insulin supply cold (far better than keeping it in an ice bucket!)
One stumble was the "riverlorian" (the name is back but not the expertise) who never once made an announcement when we were passing points of significant interest. His role seemed limited to talks in the theatre. And there were none of the usual handouts of mileage charts re locks, towns, etc., along the way. Just silence. Oh- except for the annoying canned music playing on deck and in the corridors all day and well past midnight each night – readily audible inside the staterooms.
Overall, pretty good, and bound to get better. Just hope they listen to comments….
Information about American Queen.