If you’re traveling on a Mississippi River cruise, you’re pretty much guaranteed to hear “Proud Mary” at least half a dozen times throughout the trip. In this context, it’s practically an anthem. By the end of our week aboard the American Queen, my son and I found ourselves humming the melody as it popped unbidden into our heads at random moments, anchoring a personal soundtrack for the whole adventure.
The nostalgic allure of the big wheel that keeps on turnin’ was what drew us to the experience. However, steamboat travel has evolved since the 19th century. The American Queen, a luxury leisure vessel built in 1995, augments its iconic steam-powered red paddle wheel with diesel-electric propellers.
And while modern amenities abound, the boat’s period-authentic details and exemplary service create a sense of stepping back in time to a gentler era when bespoke boats plied the waterways, transporting passengers in high style.