American Queen - Memphis, TN
We received word before departing Dallas for Memphis that American Queen would be departing from Mud Island due to the low levels on the Mississippi River.[end] The flight on AA from DFW to Memphis was uneventful, albeit delayed. Upon arrival at Memphis airport we grabbed a taxi to the Marriott hotel where American Queen Steamboat asks guests to gather prior to embarkation. A taxi ride to the Marriott will set you back about $30 plus tip, so be prepared.

Upon arrival at the Marriott, we entered the lobby and followed the large signs leading to the American Queen Check-In desk. After showing our ID, credit card and having a security photo taken, we were instructed to meet back in the lobby by 2:45 for the 3:00pm coach ride to the boat. Most guests received their boarding cards at check-in, but we did not. More on that later.

Check-in at Downtown Marriott

We dropped our luggage with tags attached (so they would be delivered directly to our cabin on the boat) and decided to look for a place to have lunch. The Memphis Trolley stops right next to the Marriott, so within a few minutes we were headed toward the famous Beale Street. The trolley only cost 25 cents per person and the ride to Beale Street took less than 10 minutes.

Memphis Trolley

Beale Street is lined with honky tonks and juke joints. A lot of famous musicians have played these venues over the years. Having been here a few years ago, I can honestly say it is more interesting to see at night than during the day. There's not much going on here during the day. Nevertheless, most of the bars and joints are open for lunch, so we were drawn to the menu at the Rum Boogie Cafe. While the place has loads of "character", the food is mediocre at best. I am sure there are better options.

Rum Boogie Cafe stage

After lunch, we started to walk around and do some sightseeing, but honestly, it was just too hot and humid to really enjoy it. So, we headed back to the Marriott to wait for the coach ride to the boat.

Just as planned, the immediately recognizable American Queen motor coach pulled up to the Marriott at 2:45 and we began boarding. The entire motor coach has been "wrapped" in a printed vinyl to represent the river boat. The interior of the coach is comfortable, too. Within 10 minutes after we boarded the bus, the American Queen came into view anchored along the shores of the Mississippi River.

American Queen anchored outside Memphis

Since we did not receive our boarding cards at the hotel, we were instructed to visit the tented check-in desk. At this time, we learned that our assigned room has been changed and that is why we did not receive our cards at the hotel. We made our way down the long boat launch ramp and onto the bow of American Queen.

Step aboard American Queen

Once we stepped on board, American Queen became familiar. We sailed on her a few years back, before she was taken out of service. You do get the sense that you are stepping back in history, a uniquely American history.

Corridor on Deck 3

Tomorrow will be a day of Steamboatin', so we look forward to re-acquainting ourselves with American Queen!