Review of American Countess Cruise: Varied Entertainment from Morning to Night

The timing is perfect. After a leisurely dinner, we can sit in The Grand Lobby and have a cocktail. Then, when the doors open, we head into The Theater for the evening’s entertainment that kicks off at 8:15 p.m.

The American Countess Ensemble on our cruise is Emma Harper, Nick McCarthy and Michael Nicholas. Emma also is the cruise director and her husband Nick is the riverlorian. Must keep them both very busy.

Nick McCarthy

The trio present three shows on our American Countess cruise. On the other nights, we have a guest comedian and two guest singers.

On the first cruise night, the show is “All Hands on Deck” with the American Countess Ensemble singing and dancing to a talented backup band. Band musicians include bandleader Manny Chester on piano, Fran Smith on bass, Tim Whalen on woodwinds and Wyatt Gardner playing drums.

The American Countess Ensemble playbill

My favorite show was the following night’s “Riversong” celebrating some of the vibrant songs inspired by America’s rivers. The trio also returned on the sixth night of our cruise to present “Country in Concert,” celebrating the best of country music from the Grand Ole Opry to Garth Brooks and more.

Michael Nicholas with band leader Manny Chester

Third night entertainment was comedian Mark Klein. For the fourth night, guest vocalist Michaelyn Oby took the stage for a “Feeling Good” evening of jazz, blues and soul. Michaelyn also returned on the last night of our cruise to present “Lady Sings Ms. Ross,” a tribute to the legendary Diana Ross.

Michaelyn Oby

Emmy-nominated singer/songwriter Terry Mike Jeffrey joined for an evening of iconic music ranging from Elvis to the Beatles and more. Terry Mike first began singing on stage when he was three years old. In 1997, he was nominated for an Emmy for his songwriting on the TV series “Sesame Street.”

Terry Mike Jeffrey

After the evening shows, the band shares late night entertainment in The Grand Lobby which is a very pleasant way to relax even more before retiring for the day.

Daily Voyage Newsletter a Wealth of Info

Every night when the beds in our staterooms are turned down, we get a Daily Voyage two-page schedule with such valuable information as what time we will arrive in our next stop and when we will depart it.

The Daily Voyage also includes the next day’s daily weather report, some highlights of upcoming shore excursions, hours of operation for ship dining and drinking, plus hours and telephone numbers for various ship services such as the purser’s office and the shore excursions desk.

Daily activity listings are many and varied. For example, our huge Theater also showed popular movies during the day including “Elvis,” “Field of Dreams,” “Where the Crawdads Sing,” and “Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice.”

Other activities included trivia games, Name That Tune, bingo, Match Game and puzzle party. Pilot house tours were offered several times. The Art of Mixology was when bartenders would share secrets behind some popular drinks.

Riverlorian Nick would present interesting programs about the rivers and boats traveling them. He also offered little tidbits such as one of the tales for why cabins on riverboats are called staterooms – because the old Mississippi riverboats did not have numbers on their cabins. Cabins were named for different states and the term staterooms was coined and stuck.

Before dinner, passengers also were invited to a port review that gave information about the next stop for the American Countess.

Watching the River Flow

For entertainment, there also was the main star of every riverboat cruise – the river itself. Going through a lock never failed to draw passengers to watch. An elevator for boats, a lock lifts a boat up or down to the next level on the river. Riverboats have a snug fit in a lock so it is amazing what riverboat pilots and crew can do when steering into such tight quarters.

Going through a lock.

Then there are the beautiful sunrises and sunsets over the water as well as the changing scenery as we cruise along. The American Countess has white rocking chairs on deck for passengers to see the sights.

For me, the river is never boring and one of the great pleasures of cruising with American Queen Voyages.

Sunset from my balcony

Bottom Line: American Countess entertainment is varied and wonderful. It is a great way to end the day. Seats are comfortable in The Theater and offer good visibility. The movies are a thoughtful option for passengers who might not want to take a shore excursion during the day. I had already seen it but heard the new “Elvis” movie was so popular that it was shown twice on our cruise. Again, American Queen Voyages pays attention to what makes passengers happy and tries to please us all. I think they did an excellent job.

Photos by Jackie Sheckler Finch

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