For information about cruises on its three steamboats, contact your travel agent or the Delta Queen Steamboat Company at 800-543-1949, or try the Web site www.deltaqueen.com . If you select a trip leaving from New Orleans, consider spending at least a day there; Delta Queen offers pre- and post-cruise packages. Booking on my own, I probably found the last hotel room left in the city’s French Quarter—in the more than twelve-hundred- room Marriott, which was mobbed with conventioneers but smoothly enough run to keep that from mattering at breakfast or checkout. It also has a spectacular river view from the restaurant and bar on the forty-first floor. As for accommodations on the American Queen (and the Mississippi Queen ), keep in mind that many cabins open onto wrap-around decks, as they did in the early days of steamboating. Lounging on deck near occupants of neighboring cabins allows friendships to spring up quickly, but it also means that all the sounds of conviviality come wafting right into your cabin. One does get used to this, but you may wish to book rooms on the cabin deck, which opens onto an interior hallway.
Many of this year’s cruises on the three Queens have themes, including the Civil War, Big Bands, and Cajun Culture. “Gardens of the River” will have three American Queen departures in May.