American Duchess Cruise: Admiring my Loft Suite and meeting my River Butler

His name is W. Gerard Williams. He is my River Butler and he seems to be everywhere.

When I checked into my Loft Suite aboard the American Duchess, Gerard was there to show me the cabin’s light switches, in-room safe, mini-fridge stocked with complimentary water and sodas, Keurig coffee maker with eight one-cup coffee pods, TV controls, two telephones (one upstairs and one downstairs), balcony door lock, thermostat and other grand features of my amazing stateroom.

My Loft Suite is roomy with an upstairs bedroom and bathroom.

On the dining room table with its lovely live orchid, he pointed out a copy of the River Times, the daily newsletter with all the activities, meals, shore excursions, musical programs and other information for each day’s cruise.

He indicated the many storage places and the ironing board and iron – very unusual for any boat or ship – and the hairdryers in the bathrooms, plus the fluffy bathrobes and slippers in the upstairs closet.

All that Gerard was showing me, I could have figured out on my own. But it was the floor-to-ceiling mechanical drapes that would have stumped me without his help.

Remote controlled drapes

Located by the downstairs large flat-screen TV (there is also a large flat-screen TV in the upstairs bedroom) were two remote controls.  One was obviously for the TV. But I had no idea what function the other one provided – until Gerald showed me.

Large windows keep the river within easy view – upstairs and downstairs.

The second remote control opens and closes the custom draperies and sheer curtains on the tall, wide windows. I could open the drapes or close them by pressing a button. I also could open the sheers or close them by touching another button.

I’m a window person so I know these window coverings will be open during my entire cruise. In fact, when my cabin attendant Francis closed the curtains while I was at dinner the first night – he also turned down my bed, left a River Times newsletter, created a cute towel puppy and placed two chocolates on my pillows – I used the remote to open the draperies again before I went to

Loft Suites are a first on America’s rivers.


I want to see the mighty Mississippi when I go to sleep and when I wake in the morning. The constantly changing riverscape always fascinates me.

An all-suites riverboat

As for my Loft Suite, it is huge – 550 square feet. I’ve been on many boats and ships and this is definitely the largest room I have ever seen. The three-deck, all -suites American Duchess has four Loft Suites (the first on America’s rivers) with private balconies, three top-of-the-line Owner’s Suites with private balconies, two Deluxe Suites with private balconies, 44 Veranda Suites with private balconies and 30 Interior Staterooms.

I’m a shower-type person and I’m happy that my Loft Suite has two showers – a walk-in shower in the lower level bathroom and a shower/tub combo on the upper level. Both bathrooms are filled with toiletries by William Roam.

Passengers in the Loft Suites and Owner’s Suites have what the American Queen Steamboat Company calls “Commodore Services” and the River Butler. Perks include pre-boarding, a bottle of wine and basket of fruit upon arrival, preferred seating in the Grand Dining Room, reserved seating in the Show Lounge and an invitation to dine with the boat’s senior officers.

My River Butler will unpack and pack my clothes, do my laundry and pressing, deliver afternoon tea in my suite, serve breakfast and dinner on my balcony by request, bring pre-dinner canapes and post-dinner sweets and escort me to evening shows.

Lovely tile and a round wash basin are in the upstairs bathroom.

Gerard also is arranging for me to tour the captain’s pilot house and the engine room. He is a gracious man who speaks in a soft low voice and seems to glide when he walks. A very smooth fella.

American Duchess already popular with passengers

On my cruise, the 166-passenger American Duchess has 152 passengers and 87 crew members. My cruise has five solo passengers so the boat is pretty well filled to capacity. The two states for the most passengers on my cruise are Louisiana and Tennessee.

“Easy driving distance,” says purser Liz. “But we do get passengers from all over the United States and the world.”

A private balcony is a great viewing spot.

Originally built as a gaming boat, the American Duchess underwent an $80 million makeover to create a luxury cruising vessel which was launched in August 2017. With lots of open space, the airy design features a contemporary décor with minimum clutter.

The signature gold, blue and beige carpet was designed by David Kelly. The queen size bed – which can be pushed apart for two twin beds – has a cushioned brown headboard with plenty of closet space behind brown paneling. Four pillows and a downy white comforter look mighty inviting.

Later, I will write more about the rest of the American Duchess, as well as its dining options, shore excursions and musical programs. Glad to have that River Times daily schedule so I can keep track of so much fun and adventure.

2 thoughts on “American Duchess Cruise: Admiring my Loft Suite and meeting my River Butler”

  1. I’m glad you enjoyed your cruise, however, it is definitely not an iconic steamboat. If you like sleek modern accomodations this is the boat to choose. But if you’re a true’river rat,’the American Queen is the way to see Mark Twain’s rivers.


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