Mark Twain Itinerary on American Queen Announced

May 14th, 2015 Franz Posted in American Queen Steamboat Company Comments Off on Mark Twain Itinerary on American Queen Announced

The American Queen Steamboat Company has announced details for one of its best-selling itineraries around American author, Mark Twain. Taking place between Aug. 22-30, the nine-day voyage includes a tour of Twain’s hometown in Hannibal, Mo., onboard lectures from esteemed historians and special appearances by Mark Twain tribute artist, Lewis Hankins.

“The Mississippi River played a major influence in Twain’s work from his days as a riverboat pilot to stories like The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,” shares American Queen Steamboat Company President and COO Ted Sykes. “We can’t think of a more compelling way to explore his life than by offering a voyage complete with top-of-the-line entertainment and programming.”

Highlights of the trip include:

· Included pre-cruise hotel stay in St. Louis, Mo.

· Onboard presentations from Cindy Lovell, executive director of the Mark Twain House and Museum in Hartford, Ct. and Henry Sweets, executive director of Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum, Hannibal, Mo. including:

– Life on the Mississippi, an interactive session including highlights of Twain’s time on the river, a special reading from the book and a “lightning round” of Mississippi River Jeopardy

– Mark Twain Today: His Relevance and Reach, a discussion on what recently made Smithsonian magazine dub Mark Twain as the number one influence in pop culture

– An Evening with Mr. Clemens, an evening performance by Lewis Hankins, bringing Mark Twain to life

– Hannibal: Portrait of a River Town, a glimpse back to the founding of Hannibal in 1819 up to 1860, which encompasses Mark Twain’s boyhood years

– Tom Sawyer: Also Known as Samuel Clemens, a lecture introducing the people, places and events from Twain’s childhood that made their way into his classic novel, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

– Q&A with Cindy Lovell, Henry Sweets and Lewis Hankins

– A Day at the Mark Twain Museum, a lecture from Henry Sweets on the unusual inquiries, famous visitors and frustrated genealogists who visit Twain’s boyhood home

· Included tour of Hannibal, Mo. aboard the “Twainland Express” with stops to the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum

· Musical matinee by the American Queen ensemble cast evoking “Life on the Mississippi”

Offering the most inclusive river cruise experience in North America, the nine-day Mark Twain Itinerary fares begin at $2,699 per person based on double occupancy. All journeys include a one-night pre-voyage hotel stay, shore tours in all ports, complimentary wine and beer with dinner and a host of other amenities.

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American Queen Steamboat Company Enters Fourth Season with Key Refurbishments

March 2nd, 2015 Franz Posted in American Queen Steamboat Company Comments Off on American Queen Steamboat Company Enters Fourth Season with Key Refurbishments

The American Queen Steamboat Company has announced refurbishment details of the American Queen as part of a six-week annual layup at New Orleans’ Boland Marine Shipyards. A number of engineering and cosmetic upgrades such as a new yacht white polymer paint finish on the exterior refinished decks, new and upgraded mahogany accents and brand new paddlewheel are evident to guests that boarded for the launch of her fourth season on Feb. 21, 2015.

“In 2014, we enjoyed another banner year, bringing the pleasure of river cruising to a record number of guests,” explains American Queen Steamboat Company President and COO Ted Sykes. “With significant upgrades and attention to detail, we’re delighted to have the 2015 season underway in style and comfort.”

Refurbishment highlights onboard the American Queen include:

  • Two-part polymer and high gloss exterior paint finish
  • Refinished mahogany doors and added handrails
  • New carpeting and wallpaper in public areas as well as select staterooms
  • Refinished grey decks
  • New wall of double-glass mirrors in the dining room
  • New brass kick plates
  • Newly varnished interiors including the grand staircase
  • Rebuilt and repainted paddlewheel
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American Queen Steamboat Company Reveals 2016 Season, Celebrating “Uniquely American River Cruises”

December 3rd, 2014 Franz Posted in American Queen Steamboat Company Comments Off on American Queen Steamboat Company Reveals 2016 Season, Celebrating “Uniquely American River Cruises”

The American Queen Steamboat Company has announced its 2016 sailing schedule. Featuring the most sailings in company history, the two-vessel fleet will explore the heartland of the United States and Pacific Northwest with a combined 82 sailings. For the first time, the American Queen will sail the length of the Mississippi River from St. Paul, Minn. to New Orleans on two epic itineraries available to book in their entirety or as individual segments. The American Empress season features 36 sailings between Vancouver, Wash. to Clarkston, Wash. showcasing the majestic landscapes along the Columbia and Snake Rivers.

“Guests cruising with us continue to plan their next sailing before departing their current cruise and 2016 is already on many minds,” shares American Queen Steamboat Company President & COO Ted Sykes. “From wine tasting in Oregon to more Lower Mississippi River voyages than ever before, our crew looks forward to providing another exciting year of American river cruising at its best.”

American Queen

The American Queen will begin her 2016 season Feb. 21 with a New Orleans round-trip followed by the first of 28 voyages between her homeport of Memphis and the “Crescent City” throughout the year. In response to continued demand for Lower Mississippi River itineraries, the American Queen will sail 31 total voyages on this stretch between the two cities or New Orleans round-trip. The full-length Mississippi River voyage will begin in St. Paul on August 7 and conclude in New Orleans on Sept. 5 followed by the same itinerary up river. The American Queen will feature eight Upper Mississippi River voyage between St. Louis and St. Paul as well as a return to the Cumberland River with two cruises including Nashville, Tenn. The Ohio River and sailings including Cincinnati will put the Ohio River on center stage with itineraries between the Queen City and St. Louis with a stop in the favorite river city of Paducah, Ky.

American Empress

The third season of the American Empress sails through stunning backdrops of the Columbia and Snake rivers, serving as a floating boutique hotel. Beginning March 19 through Nov. 27, the 223-guest riverboat features nine-day journeys immersing guests in the splendor of the Columbia and Snake Rivers. The 223-guest American Empress sails between Vancouver and Clarkston. Featured stops include some of the region’s most celebrated ports including Astoria, Ore.; Stevenson, Wash.; The Dalles, Ore.; and Richland, Wash. Complimentary shore excursions will be available in every port and include the cultural and historical landmarks that signify the living legacy of the region’s first settlers. Travelers with specific interests are encouraged to enjoy the variety of premium experience excursions such as the Walla Walla Wine Trail or a journey to the volcanic crater of Mount St. Helens. Daily lectures are also provided by the Riverlorian, an onboard history and culture expert.

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American Queen Salutes River Traditions with Upcoming Themed Sailings

October 9th, 2014 Franz Posted in American Queen Steamboat Company Comments Off on American Queen Salutes River Traditions with Upcoming Themed Sailings

The American Queen Steamboat Company has announced a lineup of themed voyages celebrating the heartland’s waterways and vibrant culture.  With an array of options to choose from, the company invites guests to follow their passion with exclusive tours, personalities and entertainment geared towards each focal point.

“Uniquely themed voyages are an integral part of what separate our river cruise product from any other,” shares American Queen Steamboat Company President and COO Ted Sykes. “From Bourbon & Bluegrass and Baseball Legends to Old-Fashioned Holidays and Elvis, the possibilities allow our guests to have a wonderfully different experience on each itinerary.” Themed voyage highlights include:

Country Music (Oct. 24-Nov. 1, 2014)

As one of the American Queen’s inaugural visits to Nashville, the nine-day cruise includes tours to the Grand Ole Opry and historic Ryman Auditorium before sailing the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers to Dover, Tenn.; Paducah, Ky.; Savannah, Tenn.; and Florence and Decatur, Ala.

Civil War (Oct. 31-Nov. 8, 2014)

The nine-day sailing from Chattanooga to Memphis, Tenn. exposes guests to the military and political strategies that shaped the events of the American Civil War.  Enlightening lectures from the nation’s top Civil War historians and period music set the stage for shore excursions like the Lloyd Tilghman House & Civil War Museum in Paducah, Ky.

Elvis® (Dec. 5-13, 2014)

Elvis Presley is known internationally as the King of Rock n’ Roll.  This nine-day voyage allows guests to immerse themselves in southern musical landmarks including tours to Elvis’ beloved Graceland Mansion, Sun Studio and The Peabody Hotel in Memphis, Tenn.  Highlights include onboard appearances by renowned tribute artists along with Elvis’ movie co-stars Marlyn Mason, Chris Noel and personal bodyguard, Sam Thompson.

Old Fashioned Holidays (Nov. 28-Dec. 6, Dec. 12-20, Dec. 19-27)

These voyages feature the Lower Mississippi and offer guests authentic holiday experiences including the old Louisiana tradition of bonfires on the levees, special Christmas shows in the Grand Saloon, door-decorating contests and woodcarver Jim Moore creating a Victorian Santa from a block of basswood. Seasonal culinary delights and decadent desserts include a Creole Réveillon Christmas Dinner.

Bourbon & Bluegrass (July 4-12, 2015)

Spanning the length of the Kentucky Bourbon trail, the Bourbon & Bluegrass itineraries feature distilleries from the makers of Jim Beam, Buffalo Trace and Heaven Hill.  Famous bourbon makers will be joined onboard by the sweet sounds of award-winning Bluegrass acts.

Offering the most inclusive river cruise experience in North America, fares on the American Queen begin at   $1,599 per person based on double occupancy.  All journeys include a one-night pre-voyage hotel stay, shore tours in all ports, complimentary wine and beer with dinner and a host of other amenities.

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American Queen Steamboat Company Launches New Website

August 21st, 2014 Franz Posted in American Queen Steamboat Company Comments Off on American Queen Steamboat Company Launches New Website

The American Queen Steamboat Companyhas announce the launch of its new website showcasing sailings through America’s heartland and the Pacific Northwest.  Highlighting the American Queen and American Empress experience online, the website was designed with digital advertising partner, Fuseidas.  The new webpage boasts a fresh look with more interactive components than ever before, allowing future guests and travel agents to seamlessly research and request their next river cruise.

“Fuseideas was pleased to partner with American Queen Steamboat Company to design and construct a modern website using advanced Content Management tools and technology to not only assist staff in updating itineraries and general site content, but also ensuring it serves a valuable marketing tool to grow their business.” shares Fuseideas CEO Dennis Franczak.

Of the many enhancements, users will most enjoy the improved search function with more query options and faster results.  Voyage content includes expanded information on themes and special events.  Vessel details are more comprehensive than ever, with new videos for the American Queen and American Empress highlighting the brand’s onboard hospitality and hop-on, hop-off shore excursions.  Enhanced stateroom descriptions combine deck plans, images and other useful information neatly one page.  Additionally, a list of special offers encourages users to take full advantage of value cruises and sign up for monthly newsletters.  The Travel Agent section of the website has received an upgrade as well, with increased access to marketing materials and sales support.

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American Queen Steamboat Company Kicks Off Ohio River Season with Paducah Arrival

June 18th, 2014 Franz Posted in American Queen Steamboat Company Comments Off on American Queen Steamboat Company Kicks Off Ohio River Season with Paducah Arrival

On June 16th, the historically quaint river town of Paducah and American Queen Steamboat Company celebrated the arrival of the American Queen at the Port of Paducah. The call in Paducah marked the 436-passenger riverboat’s entrance into the Ohio River for the summer season.

Residents, visitors and government officials greeted the full boat of passengers, who toured the National Quilt Museum, the River Discovery Center, artist galleries and shops, and even sampled the many dining options in the historic downtown. Paducah, a creatively vibrant city due in part to its successful Artist Relocation and Artist-in-Residence programs, is a popular stop for the American Queen and has a rich history derived from its river trade.

“As we embark on the summer season exploring the many cities of the Ohio River including Louisville, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, Paducah is a fine example of an elegantly restored river town that draws our guests to river travel,” shared American Queen Steamboat Company President & COO Ted Sykes. “Yesterday’s arrival was exciting and we look forward to our many stops in Paducah for years to come.”

The American Queen visits Paducah on seven occasions in 2014 including a special Bourbon & Bluegrass itinerary Aug. 29and Sept. 5 between St. Louis, Mo. and Cincinnati, Oh., featuring whiskey distillers Jim Beam, Buffalo Trace, and Heaven Hill. Famous bourbon makers will also be joined onboard by award-winning Bluegrass acts headlined by Rhonda Vincent and the Rage, Chris Jones and the Night Drivers and several acclaimed regional bands. Each voyage on the Ohio River highlights the region’s kaleidoscope of large cities and small river towns exemplified by Paducah.

“Located at the confluence of the Ohio and Tennessee rivers, and within a few miles of the Cumberland and Mississippi rivers, Paducah lies at the heart of the river industry and has a very rich river history,” says Julie Harris, Executive Director of the River Discovery Center in Paducah. “We are a perfect stop for all of the paddlewheel steamboats that travel our inland waterways, and we love when the American Queen stops at our port and enjoy sharing Paducah with its passengers.”

Founded in 1827, Paducah served as a major stop along the riparian trade route linking the Upper Midwest with the Southeast during the Age of Steam. The charming 19th-century architecture lining the streets of the historic downtown reflects the wealth accrued in this vital inland port during this era. This year marks the sesquicentennial of the Battle of Paducah, signaling the hotly contested town’s strategic role in connecting the Upper and Deep South during the American Civil War.

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Bill Diebenow Joins American Queen Steamboat Company As Senior Vice President of Sales

June 14th, 2014 Franz Posted in American Queen Steamboat Company, River Cruise News Comments Off on Bill Diebenow Joins American Queen Steamboat Company As Senior Vice President of Sales

The American Queen Steamboat Company has announced that J. William Diebenow has joined the line’s management team as senior vice president of sales. In his role, Diebenow replaces recently retired Jeff Drew to oversee all aspects of agency sales, distribution channels and lead the company’s regional sales directors.

“The American Queen Steamboat Company is thrilled to have Bill Diebenow join our team for the wealth of experience he brings to our brand,” shares American Queen Steamboat Company President & COO Ted Sykes. “A fixture in the industry and favorite among our travel partners, we look forward to his contributions sharing our passion for U.S. river cruising as it continues to grow.”

Diebenow joins American Queen Steamboat Company’s executive team with over 20 years of senior sales and marketing experience, most recently leading business development as vice president with Preferred Hotel Group and Optriant. Prior, he led High Country Passage and the World Leaders Symposium, creating extraordinary educational events with celebrated personalities including Tom Brokaw, Madeleine Albright, and President George H.W. Bush. His background also includes directing sales and marketing for Intrav/Clipper Cruise Line.

“I am delighted to join the American Queen Steamboat Company team as the American Queen and American Empress deliver a truly unique river cruising experience,” shared Diebenow. “It is an exciting time in the U.S. river cruising industry and I’m humbled to play a role in its growth.”

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American Queen Steamboat Company Unveils 2015 Season in New Brochure

June 11th, 2014 Franz Posted in American Queen Steamboat Company, River Cruise News Comments Off on American Queen Steamboat Company Unveils 2015 Season in New Brochure

The American Queen Steamboat Company has announced its new brochure for the 2015 season. The 68-page brochure showcases shore excursions, onboard entertainment and themed voyages aboard the American Queen and the newly christened American Empress of the Pacific Northwest.

The cruise line states that thanks to its growing popularity, the company will feature expanded Premium Shore Excursions in 2015 along with Post-Voyage City Stays for those who want to experience more time in cities such as Memphis, Tenn.; New Orleans; Nashville, Tenn.; Portland, Ore.; and Spokane, Wash.

“As we enter the summer season, it has already been a banner year for our company with the launch of the American Empress and continued success of the American Queen,” shares American Queen Steamboat Company President & COO Ted Sykes. “From wine tasting in Oregon to country music tours in Nashville, Tenn., we look forward to providing another exciting year of cultured voyages in 2015.”

The brochure features new photography from the American Empress’ inaugural season, capturing her backdrops, dining venues, dynamic public spaces and opulent decor. The 223-guest riverboat’s itineraries for 2015 include compelling stops along the Columbia and Snake Rivers such as Multnomah Falls, Mt. St. Helens, the Walla Walla Wine trail and much more. A total of 32 nine-day voyages allow guests to experience the natural splendor of Pacific Northwest and historical landmarks that signify the living legacy of the regions first settlers.

A celebration of America’s cultural quilt will take place onboard the American Queen’s Ohio, Tennessee and Cumberland River cruises, featuring six total itineraries in 2015. Historic ports of call include Cincinnati, Ohio; Paducah, Ky.; St. Louis, Mo.; and the line’s newest destination and Country Music Mecca: Nashville, Tenn. There, guests will enjoy tours of the stately Grand Ole Opry, Country Music Hall of Fame and an exclusive tour of President Andrew Jackson’s home.

Featuring 12 Upper Mississippi voyages, the American Queen will continue to call on favorite ports, including Mark Twain’s hometown of Hannibal, Mo., and Red Wing, Min., as shesails between St. Louis and St. Paul. A variety of themed cruises characterize the Lower Mississippi itineraries that encapsulate Southern Culture, Gardens of the River and Old-Fashioned Holidays.

Offering the most inclusive river cruise experience in North America, fares on the American Queen begin at $1,599 per person based on double occupancy and $3,795 on the American Empress. All journeys include a one-night pre-voyage hotel stay, shore tours in all ports, complimentary wine and beer with dinner and a host of other amenities.

To order a brochure, request additional information and make reservations, contact the American Queen Steamboat Company at 888-749-5280, visit online at www.AQSC.com or contact a professional travel agent. Guests who book early can save up to $600 per stateroom on all 2015 voyages.

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American Empress Cusine Puts Spotlight on Pacific Northwest

April 29th, 2014 Franz Posted in American Queen Steamboat Company, River Cruise News Comments Off on American Empress Cusine Puts Spotlight on Pacific Northwest

The American Queen Steamboat Company has  introduced a new culinary program onboard the American Empress, which began her inaugural season April 5, 2014. Staying true to her Pacific Northwest surroundings, the culinary team is taking full advantage of the region’s freshest seafood and produce including sustainable fish, free-range chicken and artisan cheeses along with seasonal fruits and vegetables.  In addition, guests have the opportunity to taste the top local beers, wines and liquors as the vessel passes through the majestic scenery of the Columbia and Snake Rivers.

“The farms and rivers of Washington and Oregon are home to a diverse bounty of ingredients unlike any other area of the country.” said American Queen Steamboat Company President and COO Ted Sykes. “We pride ourselves in sourcing local from the community the American Empress calls home and the menus continue to receive rave reviews from our guests.”

Menu highlights include:

  • Marinated Dungeness Crab Salad with Asparagus-Dill Mousse; Chilled marinated crab with a classic asparagus-dill mousse
  • Split Pea and Smoked Tomato Soup; topped with toasted rye croutons
  • Pepper Crusted Quail with Applewood Smoked Bacon; Semi-boneless quail, crisp applewood bacon, greens, corn pudding and red wine demi-glace
  • Washington Apple and Ripe Pear Salad; Mixed greens julienne apple and sliced pear with candied walnuts, celery and raspberry vinaigrette
  • “Cold Smoked” Salmon; Sliced applewood smoked salmon, capers, cream cheese, red onion, hard cooked egg and crostini
  • Wild Forrest Mushroom Crepe; Sautéed wild harvested local mushrooms wrapped in a delicate crepe, served with pinot noir reduction
  • Oregon Trail Beef Brisket Sandwich; Sliced beef brisket smothered in rich sauce and served on a soft roll with trail beans, day pickles and horseradish sauce

Regional beer includes:

  • Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA, Full Sail Amber, Deschutes Black Butte Porter, Deschutes Red Chair Northwest Pale Ale, Pyramid Hefeweizen, Pyramid Apricot Ale, Deschutes River Ale

Regional wine by the glass in addition to tastings with 40 different wineries include:

  • Firesteed Pinot Noir and Riesling, Waterbrook Merlot, Expedition Pinot Gris and Maryhill Pinot Gris

In addition to the elegant Astoria Dining Room, the River Grille has quickly become a favorite location for guests to dine and take in the majestic scenery. Offering a more casual setting with both indoor and al fresco dining, menu highlights include local smoked and grilled salmon, Dungeness crab and freshly cut steaks.

Featuring nine-day journeys immersing guests in the splendor of the Columbia and Snake Rivers, the American Empress sails between Vancouver U.S.A. and Clarkston, Wash. Featured stops include some of the region’s most celebrated ports including Astoria, Ore.; Stevenson, Wash.; The Dalles, Ore.; and Sacajawea State Park, Wash. Complimentary shore excursions will be available in every port and include the cultural and historical landmarks that signify the living legacy of the region’s first settlers.  Travelers with specific interests are encouraged to enjoy the variety of premium experience excursions such as the Walla Walla Wine Trail or a journey to the volcanic crater of Mount St. Helens. Daily lectures are also provided by the Riverlorian, an onboard history and culture expert.

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American Empress Christened by Godmother Claudette Waggoner

April 6th, 2014 Franz Posted in American Queen Steamboat Company Comments Off on American Empress Christened by Godmother Claudette Waggoner

American Queen Steamboat Company’s American Empress has been christened in downtown Portland, OR. The 223-guest riverboat, the largest west of the Mississippi River,  officially joins the company’s fleet with the Memphis-based American Queen. Claudette Waggoner, wife of chairman and CEO John Waggoner, is the godmother of the American Empress and broke a bottle of local sparkling wine on the boat’s hull culminating the ceremonial festivities. Former Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, longtime leader for the U.S. maritime industry and champion of U.S. river cruising expansion, served as the ceremony’s keynote speaker.

“This is a celebration of public-private partnership and the American dream being lived today right here in Portland.” shared former Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood.

During the ceremony 13th Coast Guard District Commander Rear Admiral Richard T. Gromlich presented the official certificate of inspection and remarks were made by Ted Sykes, American Queen Steamboat Company president and COO; Terry MacRae, Hornblower Cruises and Events chairman and CEO; and Acting Maritime Administrator Paul “Chip” Jaenichen. Sam Robinson of the Chinook Nation blessed the 223-guest American Empress and the ceremony concluded with a wine presentation by Willamette Valley Vineyards to celebrate the line’s partnership with over 40 local wineries.

“The overnight cruise business has been a dream of John’s and he is the most passionate man I know,” shared American Empress Godmother Claudette Waggoner. “It is an honor to serve as the American Empress godmother and share his dream of this majestic vessel with all of you as she sails the Pacfic Northwest.”

The U.S.-flagged American Empress was built in 2003 and operated by Majestic America Line from 2003 to 2008, sailing Alaska’s Inside Passage and the Pacific Northwest. The American Queen Steamboat Company purchased the riverboat from the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) and has had a team onboard preparing for her launch on the Columbia and Snake Rivers since May 2013. Formerly the Empress of the North, the American Empress delivers opulence on a grand scale, following in the pedigree of the line’s namesake riverboat American Queen.

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