Look Ma! I’m on TV!
One of the onboard enhancements this season on the American Queen is AQTV – our own onboard TV station and the Entertainment Team has its own spotlight! We have the opportunity to give our guests in depth information about all of the days activities and entertainment offerings. I’m very excited to be back this season and not just because we have AQTV but because I’m ON AQTV! Starting tomorrow for our very first day of our first cruise I will be serving as one of the 3 Cruise Directors working on rotation this season.
We are ready to lock and load early tomorrow morning when we greet over 350 guests for the beginning of the 2013 season. Anchors Aweigh!
Archive for the ‘American Queen’ Category
Look Ma! I’m on TV!
Not long after I wrote my last post about the Tug and the sand bar near Oak Alley, we had to call on the assistance of yet another Tug…called Buffalo Gal. It seemed that the poor AQ had some maintenance issues that we had repaired not long before yet a larger problem emerged, a stress fracture in our beautiful Paddlewheel. After closer inspection it was determined that we would no longer be able to use the steam driven wheel which is our primary source of power. So here comes the Buffalo Gal to our rescue! Other than changing one port and the added noise in the hold (my crew cabin is on the port side where the Tug is pushing from) there isn’t anything real noticeable. The engineers have already begin the tedious task of removing the bucketboards (thats for all you trivia players out there!) and have chained the frame in place. This has definitely been a very exciting end to our inaugural season, and hopefully over our layup period next month they will begin the work to replace our beautiful wheel to her original glory!
How many times do I need to say it…seriously now, the Mississippi River is at record low levels on the guages. Just a few days ago in Oak Alley, the river dropped during our time at the landing. We released the lines and picked up the stage at our departure time, and as the Captain began to gently maneuver the boat away from the rivers edge we got caught up on a sand bar just beneath the water. Just hours before we glided over it unnoticed but that drop in the river level over that time was just enough to get us caught up. He tried for a bit of time to work us off of it unsuccessfully before calling out on the radio for a hand. It took about an hour for the nearest available Tug to come to our aid, and they were happy with our gift of AQ hats from the gift shop. They tied up along our starboard side and literally 3 minutes later we were off the sand bar and they were off of us!
Ok…so maybe the wheel isn’t backwards, but it does turn backwards! Here is the Yazoo Diversion Canal that the American Queen steams in forward to the Vicksburg, Mississippi landing but then has to literally back out to the Mississippi River. This ‘backwards’ journey takes about 30 minutes!
This is the view looking back once we’ve backed in to the Mississippi and begin moving forward once again! We make this trip traveling both directions on the River, keeping our River Pilot on his toes!
When I worked out on the “blue seas” it was not uncommon to be docked alongside a large cruise liner, dwarfing our 216 passenger ship. Humbling in some ways, but mostly making me thankful that I wasn’t entertaining thousands but just a few hundred instead. Out here on the Mississippi we rarely see passenger boats – most commonly tugs and barges. However, when we are in New Orleans we have the distinct experience of docking with the big ones, just like I was used to on the ocean. It’s very different for most of my crew, many of whom this is their first experience on a boat or ship of any kind at all! It’s a great reminder of why I love the small boats and ships, where I can make personal connections with our guests and see them all throughout the week too.
Ok, so saying that we are “nowhere” isn’t really a fair statement. Of course we are “somewhere!” It just so happens that where the AQ stage has landed opens up to a parking lot connected to a road. We are literally just tied up to a tree at a boat landing.
We were scheduled to dock across the river in St Francisville, Louisiana but the river is unfortunately just too low there. Now how many times have I said THAT this season! This poor river is thirsty! So here we are at this “somewhere” which my handy maps app shows to be the town of New Roads.
As part of the cruise experience we’ve got “steam coaches” (they really do run on gasoline but thinking too deeply about this takes the fun out of it) that follow the AQ up and down the river. They are part of the guests fare to ride these buses as hop on hop off rides through the local towns we visit. Pretty smart I think – especially on a day like today when we’re across the river from where we are supposed to be! No worries, our guests still got the same experience and still got to visit St Francisville. Sad to say though…the crew had to stay aboard
I’ve mentioned in the past how the local residents from the river towns will come to the river bank to greet the American Queen as she comes into the bank to land. This was our first and only stop in Wabasha, MN for the entire season, and I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen so many people along the river bank just to see us. When I look at this picture, with the National Eagle Center behind me and a bald eagle sighting soaring alongside the boat earlier, I can see why so many people walked down to see us. It truly was a gorgeous day and a beautiful sight! Even the daily paper announced our arrival today with the words “Welcome American Queen!” at the top. We were the towns celebrities for the day and it was a great place to visit!
I feel like all of a sudden, the seasons have changed! We had a few days of true “fall” weather – and trust me, I remember because it is my favorite time of year! Now it just feels like winter with fall colors on the trees! This unseasonably cold weather is especially challenging for our crew that works outdoors for hours at a time and for the rest of us who have to go on main deck “above the water line” to make a phone call! So don’t be fooled…the sunshine in LaCrosse has some chilly air all around it!
P.S. I have more pictures on Instagram! Look for me: singingsailor
When we see murals in river towns – especially when they are depicting scenes of the river – they are usually, well…along the river! However in Red Wing, MN this mural was tucked in town, against the parking lot for Red Wing boots, and instead of having a rubber soled specialty painted along side, it was the beautiful Mississippi Queen!
The Mississippi Queen was the second of three boats (the American Queen being the third in 1995) that complimented the Delta Queen Steamboat Company. All three of these functioning ‘steamers’ have been visiting these ports for years, bringing a rich tradition and history of riverboat cruising with them.
The Delta Queen is now a ‘floating hotel’ in Chattanooga, TN check out this website to see her today. Unlike the DQ, unfortunately, the Mississippi Queen is a only a memory like in photographs and paintings such as this. There is a pretty good story and description of the Mississippi Queen’s final journey as a boat here where you can see some pictures of her as well. With all this Paddlewheel history, I’m sure you can see why traveling on the American Queen is so special to people today!
By request, I am blogging this shot-and since I’ve been slacking a bit keeping you all up to date, I should share! This is my home for half the year (well, this year anyway!) and most of the time I share views from the inside looking out, so why not from the outside looking in!
Our beautiful stern wheeler spent the day at English Park in Owensboro, Kentucky. This park is actually a repurposed lock and dam where now the locals come down to launch their boats into the Ohio River. Since today is Sunday, most businesses are closed, and the weather is absolutely beautiful. This combination made for a very busy day on the river! Just one look at this sky and I’m sure you can imagine a day warm in the sun, cool in the shade, and a slight breeze to keep it just right! That was our day in Owensboro.