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Any Suggestions to Improve the Steamboatin' Experience

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    Any Suggestions to Improve the Steamboatin' Experience

    We all know that MAL's Seattle office turned a deaf ear to any suggestions offered to improve their product. Also known is their rapid demise. Hopefully, the principals at The Great American Steamboat Co. will appreciate ideas to make their cruises the best offered anywhere. I have great hopes for the new enterprise. New dining venues have already been announced; one being a fine food service area on the roof. Does anyone else have other ideas or suggestions to improve what's offered?

    My one suggestion is to remodel the Engine Room Bar. Paint the bulkheads so it doesn't feel so dingy and claustrophobic. The room is not aesthetically pleasing, in my humble opinion. And get rid of the cheap chrome and plastic stackable chairs that showed up there at the end of her first life. Enclose the open guards on either side with mullioned windows to enlarge the space. The current open air guards were little used due to the noise from the props and poor air movement, so it was hot and noisy in these spaces. Having more indoor sitting space could increase drink sales and improve how passengers interact in the area too.

    #2
    Embarkation Ports

    Take a page from the blue water crowd. Home port the boat in one place and do 7-day round trips. The Greene Line Kentucky Lake trips of yore come to mind. Then tramp to the next base and start again.

    Wesley

    Comment


      #3
      I've never been aboard the AQ so I can't make any suggestions about the interior spaces. Exterior-wise, I'd replace those big oversize "iron crowns" atop the stacks with smaller ones. I always liked the stack tops on Cap. Cooley's "America" cotton packet and that design was much copied. Several years ago when the AQ was in Marietta, Keith and I were admiring her and we agreed that the fancy work around the stanchions could have been a bit smaller and more delicate looking. Of course all of that would cost lotsa bucks. If nothing else, repaint the boat all white, as shown in the publicity photo. And put a big 'ol whistle on her that'll knock everyones socks off!

      Comment


        #4
        ERB

        Hi Frank,

        From one who had the pleasure of looking at the ERB from the stage on a nightly basis, I wouldn't change a thing. It's the Engine Room Bar, the walls are supposed to look that way. Make it bigger? Nope. For two reasons. First, those open air areas are a great place to get away from it all, second they are the smoking area. But there is a more compelling reason. To me, the ERB is the perfect size just the way it is. There's a lot to be said for the energy a crowded room helps the entertainer to create. It feeds on itself because the audience subconsciously looks around at the crowd and thinks, "Wow there must be something special going on here tonight". I cannot tell you how much easier that makes my job. Also, when it's quiet in there, the closeness of the audience to the stage invites an intimacy that can overcome the lack of bodies in the room. In a larger room, people have a tendency to escape to areas as far away from the stage as possible and the room takes on the feeling of a warehouse. So, I would not change a thing in what was once, and maybe will be again, my office.

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          #5
          Paul, it's good to see you on here again. Was getting a little worried not seeing you post. I agree with Paul. The Texas Happy Ladies spent much time in the ERB and it was definitely the place to be. It was cozy and comfortable and everyone felt like they were a part of the action. I for one can't wait to get back onboard the great AQ.

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            #6
            Shore stops...
            Some were great in my 25 DQ trips in 26 years time, and some were not...many shore stops had business districts which were non-existant or way too far for walking unless there was a shuttle...and even then, fair at best.

            maybe with Google earth the shore stop people can now see what is in a destination or not..

            Comment


              #7
              *RE: Improving the experience.*

              Hi, Pete & Steamboating colleagues:
              All of the above collective suggestions on the mark. When you serve the public you serve the toughest task master of all. 'Disposable income' demands high standards, full attention to service from the officers, crew. The Queen City Club here in town has a telling sign posted over the kitchen doors prominent for waiters, bar tenders etc. to see when entering the main dining room, lounge: "Be attentive. Look sharp. Service is all we have to sell." This followed by a long list of do's and dont's for the employees. One is, "No tobacco smell on hands or uniforms when serving." Another, "The club member is your employer--keep that distance between in mind."

              Capt. Tom Greene and his family focused always on the required basics first with cleaniliness, food, 'home' atmosphere important. His 1st order was, "Hot foods HOT; cold foods COLD." He'd joke at the end of trips on the GORDON and DQ, "If you had a good time then tell all your friends about it. If you didn't, then for heaven sakes keep your big mouth shut!" The dining room would roar with laughter.

              Some years before her death Letha Greene and I talked by phone, as usual. "The steamboat business one of the hardest you can be in. You have a full marine operation, food, beverage, hotel, entertainment, crew--and I inherited ALL of it." Well, what do I know?

              R. Dale Flick
              Coal Haven Landing, Ohio River, Cincinnati.

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by Wesley Paulson View Post
                Take a page from the blue water crowd. Home port the boat in one place and do 7-day round trips. The Greene Line Kentucky Lake trips of yore come to mind. Then tramp to the next base and start again.

                Wesley
                Thats what we did for the first year and a half I was on the MQ, 7day round trips to Vicksburg and back....Saturday to saturday.

                Comment


                  #9
                  I know that the ERB was supposed to look that way. I guess it's some misguided interior designer's idea of how an engineroom looks. It's not a pleasant room to be in. Brighten it up. Paint the bulkheads, so the room has an open and airy feeling. Make it cheerful. Dingy and dirty does not make the room that a passenger wants to visit. As far as a steamboat's engineroom being a greasy dirty space, if you could, ask the crew of the Str. OMAR what hell there was to pay when her Chief Engineer found a carelessly discarded cigarette butt on his deck.

                  Think how successful a room the Paddlewheel Bar was on the MQ. It was airy, with a lot of natural light, and the river view was excellent anywhere in the room. Or consider the Texas Bar on the DQ. Once again it was an inviting room with comfortable seating, and a river view. Even without a scheduled activity occuring these rooms would have people using the space to read, play cards, relax, and maybe even nod off.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by Frank X. Prudent View Post
                    Think how successful a room the Paddlewheel Bar was on the MQ. It was airy, with a lot of natural light, and the river view was excellent anywhere in the room. Or consider the Texas Bar on the DQ. Once again it was an inviting room with comfortable seating, and a river view. Even without a scheduled activity occuring these rooms would have people using the space to read, play cards, relax, and maybe even nod off.
                    Yup, I agree that the Paddlewheel was a warm, inviting place. And I do remember seeing people nodding off in the ERB. Unfortunately it was while I was working. <rim shot>

                    Comment


                      #11
                      *RE: 7 Day trips/The experience.*

                      Steamboating colleagues:
                      You all make fine points above. Wesley's focus on the former '7 Day trips out of Cincinnati' on the mark. In the old days, when the DQ was based here, all trips were R/Ts in/out of Cincinnati linking with rail, bus, air and car for passengers. I recall some locals here riding the bus down from town with luggage or a cab from the suburbs. Those 7 Day trips, along with 10 day runs to Pittsburgh and Reelfoot Lake were winners along the line of today's blue water cruise ship itineraries. Betty Blake often said, "The 7 days are money makers. I could fill this boat also with shorter three day balanced with four day trips." Meaning down to Louisville or below; up above Cincinnati. Betty and the company also caught horrendous flak in later years here with the City of Cincinnati, City Council being blamed for "letting the DQ get away from us." Not the case entirely.

                      The move to New Orleans came about when travel specialist came in as consultants to revamp the cruise schedules, up the prevailing rates $$ with more 'Tramping.' Many passengers faced with flying in one city, flying out of another. Today, as you all know, air fares up and up in addition to many air carriers cutting or eliminating many flights with connections and transfers along with new luggage restrictions. It worked well then but I'm not so sure now. Who knows? I'll be curious to see how ACL and the revived AQ cruise businesses handle it. Some lines have an air desk to help with flights or 'group movements' by reserved air seats. New Orleans, as an air gateway city, held many charms. Mardi Gras trips to NOLA then were three weeks leaving often in near winter in the north with possible headaches with the river and navigation. The DQ returned to lay up here on/around Thanksgiving to repair, rehab all with vacations for crew before Mardi Gras. In the old days the DQ usually laid in here a good 24 hours plus before the next trip. Today the big blue water babies dock, unload passengers, load up again between early morning and late afternoon or evening for a quick turnaround. Saves docking, longshore wages. The boats can't make money if they aren't moving. Well, what do I know?

                      R. Dale Flick
                      Coal Haven Landing, Ohio River, Cincinnati.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Since it appears as if the AQ is taking another step in her return to service, I'm bumping this thread up. What are changes that could improve taking a trip on a paddlewheel steamboat? What should be returned that was removed from the experience when M.A.L. attempted to run the boat?

                        I still maintain that the Engineroom Bar is not very inviting and that the AQ's new management should contemplate changes to the space such as enlarging it to include the boiler deck guards or painting the bulkheads a cheery color, and adding new furniture and lighting.

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                          #13
                          For my part they could remove the flat screen tv's. I have no desire when I'm on a riverboat to watch tv. I like to be transported backl to a simpler time. Then they could get rid of that ugly blue paint. But, hey that's just one persons opinion.

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                            #14
                            I'll second the removal of the blue paint idea.
                            -JH

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                              #15
                              Blue Paint Hoodoo

                              Indeed, please get rid of that blue paint and return her to what a steamboat is traditionally painted - WHITE! During her last season I watched the AQ depart one afternoon from Natchez-Under-The-Hill. She looked so dreadfully drab in all that blue.

                              Also, according to river legend, it is BAD LUCK to paint a steamboat blue! In the early 1970's the BECKY THATCHER (formerly the Str. MISSISSIPPI) was painted blue at St. Louis. Shortly thereafter, the bank foreclosed upon the owners and the boat sat idle for a year before being sold to the Ohio Showboat Drama at Marietta, Ohio. After she took up residence over here on the Ohio, they continued the BLUE paint scheme and the BAD luck continued with financial woes, a sinking (1984) and other problems that eventually led to the boat being sold and her ultimate demise in 2010.

                              Regardless of whether the foregoing is fact or fiction, I fervently hope the AQ will be painted WHITE again!

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