Review of American Countess Cruise: Boarding the Paddlewheeler in Louisville

It’s almost like Christmas morning. People are excited and chatting about what surprises might be in store, what treasures we might find on our American Countess cruise.

We’ve come down to a bountiful breakfast in the Crystal Ballroom of The Brown Hotel in Louisville. Our luggage has been picked up, we already have our ship boarding passes, had our photos taken and will soon board the American Queen Voyages motorcoach for a short ride to the riverfront where the American Countess is waiting.

A hospitality desk crewed by American Queen Voyages staff is available to answer any questions or to watch our backpacks and carry-on luggage if we want to take one last stroll around Louisville.

When we arrive at the Louisville waterfront, our beautiful American Countess is waiting for us. So is lunch.

Beautiful Combo of Historic & Modern

The ship is quite impressive, sort of a combination of historic paddlewheeler and modern-day luxury. Christened in March 2021, the 245-passenger American Countess looks on the exterior like the riverboats from the Mark Twain era.

The Grand Lobby

The four-deck vessel resembles a gigantic wedding cake, its beautiful white trimmed in red and festooned with gingerbread trim. A fully functional red paddlewheel churns through the water with its rhythmic rolling.

At the bow of the ship are two large booms that can sway back and forth holding walkways called “stages.” The stages can be lowered in place when the American Countess docks so passengers can walk off to the shore.

Using the stages, the American Countess can dock almost anyplace along the river. All the ship needs is an open space to tie up and lower the stage for passengers. One of our stops on the cruise – Dover, Tennessee – on the Cumberland River will be where the ship nestles close to the shore in a tree-shaded spot.

The Grand Dining Room

Inside the ship, however, is a different story. A contemporary décor that is classy and comfortable. The main gathering place is the Grand Lobby with its long bar on one side and wall of glass on the other. After all, the star of this show is the river and passengers are treated to expansive glass views around the ship.

Located just off the Grand Lobby is the Grand Dining Room where passengers eat most of our meals. It is open seating but passengers quickly discover their favorite tables and tend to return to the same table and serving staff.

The Theater

Also off the Grand Lobby is The Theater, a lovely large room with plush seats and drink tables. On Deck 2, The Library offers books, plenty of windows and a fireplace. The Game Room has board games, Sudoku, crosswords, playing cards and colorful puzzles spread on tables for passengers to help complete. A small workout room has some treadmills, exercise bikes and other equipment.

The workout room

The Library

The Chart Room is a good place to find out more about the river. The River Grill is a more informal, self-service dining spot open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Off the Grand Lobby, Perks is for round-the-clock snacks – popcorn, cookies, coffee, tea and ice cream.

The Card Room

My Stateroom Home for Eight Days

Then there is my stateroom. So glorious. Roomy with a sofa, desk chair, desk, large flat screen TV mounted on the wall opposite the bed, coffee maker, small fridge. Balcony with two chairs and a table. Good-sized bathroom with glass-doored shower with strong water pressure and plenty of hot water. Four tubes of Modern Apothecary toiletries are arranged on the wide sink counter.

My stateroom

Importantly, my room has electric outlets built right into the side tables on each side of the bed – three U.S. style electric outlets and two USB outlets. The desk across from the bed has four more outlets and two USB outlets. Two complimentary water bottles sitting by the ice bucket can be refilled at water machines around the ship. The bottles are ours to take home at cruise end.

Complimentary water bottles to use and take home

On each side of the bed are lamps, plus those little spotlight lamps on the wall that you can direct for reading or writing in bed. Nice consideration.

Stateroom balcony

Storage space works for me but might be a bit of a problem for big packers. I travel with only a carry-on suitcase and back pack so had room to hang what needed to be on a hanger.

American Countess Captain Richard Bryant keeps an eye on the river from his pilot house perch.

On my eight-day cruise, we will be going from Louisville to Nashville with stops in Brandenburg, Owensboro, Henderson and Paducah in Kentucky, then Dover and Clarksville in Tennessee. We will dock in Clarksville and disembark there rather than in Nashville.

Big wheels keep on turning

I’ll write more later about the crew, shore excursions and shipboard entertainment but now I’m headed to the Grand Dining Room. Will let you know what I discover about the cuisine but, from experience, I know that American Queen Voyages serves up a mighty delectable meal.

Bottom Line: I have heard the word “Wow!” so many times since boarding the American Countess. And that word of astonishment is well deserved. The Countess is glorious with the best of both worlds – an historic exterior and modern-day interior. Designed for comfort and luxury, the riverboat is lovely. Never forgetting that the river is the star of the cruise, the American Countess makes maximum use of large, long windows for hypnotizing river views. I can tell that the white rocking chairs on the outside deck are going to be one of my favorite river-watching spots.


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