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Published: June 29th 2019
I thought at first that the American Queen wasn’t an actual steamboat with a real paddle wheel as its only means of propulsion but it turns out I was wrong. It is all of those things.
It is called a boat not a ship because it was built for the river with a flat bottom and very little freeboard. Built in 1995 it is 418’ long, 95’ wide, weighs 3500 tons which makes it the largest steamboat in the world.
The interior design imitates the old 1930s boat Delta Queen with a Ladies Parlour (great for doing my blog as it is quiet and has a bay window looking out over the river) designed around an old fireplace. Opposite is a Gentleman’s Card Room full of stuffed animal heads.
These lead into the Mark Twain Lounge, frequented often because it has the coffee machine in it. Tiffany lamps are a feature as well as deep leather chairs and couches. Tiffany stained glass windows decorate one of the Roman Catholic Churches we have seen. I’ll tell you more about that later.
The Grand Saloon and sweeping staircase to the dining room also follow the Delta Queen design.
We’re able to go down to the engine room and have a look. It’s best when we’re not moving as it’s very hot and noisy. I’ve had a couple of swims in rather small swimming pool, but good to freshen up. I feel like a goldfish swimming round and round in it.
At each sailing the Steam Calliope is played by one of the musicians. Steam is forced through large whistles affixed to the stern. Passengers are encouraged to have a go. You only have to play 5 notes and you get a certificate!
There was great excitement this morning as the stacks were lowered while we went under a bridge. Normally they stand 99’ from river level when raised. The Pilot House can also be lowered if necessary. It’s like a giant elevator which can descend one third into the boat.
Deck 4 can be a walking track, 6 times around equals a mile. Only done it once - not a very good record given the amount of food we have eaten. A hamburger for lunch yesterday. Soft serve ice cream on tap is hard to resist but we are trying. Not to mention four course
dinners. I’ve cut out one of those.
The shows are very good with lots of country music and jazz played by excellent musicians. Even the captain plays - a guitar made from a single piece of wood from a paddle wheel. He had us chanting “we’re going to get to Red Wing” during his introductory talk as I think there was some doubt as to whether we would actually set off for it. Apparently during the last big flood in 2011 the boat got stuck up there between two bridges for three weeks while waiting for the river to subside. I think everyone has their fingers and toes crossed this time. Including us.
It is a very relaxing way to holiday, just watching the river glide past. We have new table companions, Alison and Lance from, guess where? Yes, Howick! It’s a small world. There are about 7 NZ couples on board and a sprinkling of Aussies.
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