American Queen Summer 2012: End of cruise

Old-timey planes whizz overhead. Daredevil parachutists breeze through the famed St. Louis Arch. Dazzling fireworks illuminate the sky. Seems like a fitting end to our American Queen cruise. All too quickly, the boat is docked at St. Louis and our journey from Memphis is coming to a close. Major waterfront celebrations are going on in St. Louis and we have the perfect front-porch seat to view it all from the American Queen. Never in my wildest dreams …

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Shore Excursion: St. Louis Arch offers journey to the top

The woman next to me described it as climbing into a gigantic clothes dryer and slamming the door shut. She had a point. In fact, visitors have been known to balk when it came time to scrunch into the space-capsule-looking gadget. Some prospective riders have turned and walked away when faced with the claustrophobic prospect. So why do it? For what lies at the end of the ride. The way to get to the top of the …

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Shore Excursion: Cape Girardeau, Missouri

Choices, choices! When the American Queen docked in Cape Girardeau, the shore excursion choices were many. And they all sounded interesting to me. However, our time in the Missouri town was limited. The River Times newsletter left on my cabin bed the night before noted that we would arrive in Cape Girardeau at noon and have to back on board at 4:30 for a 5 p.m. departure. On the free Steam cruiser options,  we could visit the …

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Shore Excursion: National Quilt Museum in Paducah, Kentucky

Yep, the name is funny. And these gals certainly have a fun time. But they are really serious about what they are doing and why. The famous Yo-Yo Club was sitting at The National Quilt Museum when the American Queen docked in Paducah, Kentucky. I watched as the four club members made yo-yos and discussed the age-old art of quilting. “We’re not talking about the little round toys that go up and down on a string,” member …

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Shore Excursion: Paducah, Kentucky- Floodwall highlights local history

Walking ashore at Paducah,Kentucky, I saw a bittersweet image. There on the floodwall is a beautiful painting of the three sister riverboats – the Delta Queen,  Queen and the American Queen. The mural depicts an actual event.  On a historic July day in1996, all three of the mighty steamboats docked at Paducah at the same time. The painting commemorates that gathering as local townsfolks welcome the queens and passengers. As a many-times cruiser on all three boats, the painting …

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Recipe for American Queen’s Butter Biscuits

Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. And the delicious breakfasts served on the American Queen make is easier to roll out of a comfy bed each morning on the river. To create memorable menus for the American Queen, the smart new owners chose chef Regina Charboneau to be the steamboat’s culinary director. A native of historical Natchez, Regina draws inspiration from America’ heartland and her own Mississippi River roots. “My vision is to re-create many …

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Longtime ‘riverlorian’ happy to be back on American Queen

When the three sister steamboats – the Delta Queen, the Mississippi Queen and the American Queen – stopped cruising, Karen “Toots” Maloy not only lost her beloved job, she also lost a piece of her heart. “I didn’t quit the Delta Queen and she didn’t quit me,” Toots said. “It was Majestic America Line. I thought the Delta Queen would outlast me, I really did.” As “riverlorian” – a historian specializing in the nation’s rivers and riverboats …

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‘Steamcoaches” add to American Queen shore stop excursions

Here comes the American Queen Steamcoach rolling down the road. The road? Yep, the popular riverboat now has three personalized steamcoaches decorated to look like their namesake. And they sure are getting second looks whenever they pass by. The colorful motorcoaches are painted to closely resemble the exterior of the American Queen, complete with the big red paddlewheel and “passengers” waving from the decks. People stop and stare at the unusual touring vehicle. It certainly is easy …

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American Queen presents Mark Twain to its passengers

When Lewis Hankins dons his white suit to take the stage as Mark Twain, he has a long- time routine. Before greeting his audience, Hankins says a simple prayer. “I say, ‘David, this is for you. Daddy has never forgotten you.’” How Hankins came to be on stage as his favorite author seems to be an act of destiny. The retired Kentucky state policeman grew up reading Twain’s works. He delved deeply into the life of the …

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Captain Joe Jamison returns to pilot American Queen steamboat

A self-proclaimed “river rat,” Captain Joe Jamison has been working on the nation’s waterways since he was 18 years old. “I don’t have the river in my blood. It is my blood,” Captain Joe said with a laugh. Now he has one of the best jobs in the world – captain of the beautiful American Queen.  “It is very exciting to have her on the river again,” he said. “Seeing the smiles on the faces of people …

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