Haunted Hotels

OK maybe I am weird, but I love the thought of staying at a haunted hotel. Of all the eerie places around the world (and there are a lot) there's something extra spooky about haunted hotels. Maybe it's the influence of so many movies and TV shows, but things going "bump" in the night seem to be even bumpier in a hall packed with sleeping strangers. Having said that, those same haunted hotels can also be extremely luxurious, with more than just urban legends to get your heart thumping. Whether they're castles in Ireland or top resorts worldwide, check out these hotels that all have a little... extra spirit.


Built in 1888 to encourage Western tourism and to sell train tickets, this chateau-style hotel sits pretty by the Rocky Mountains in Banff National Park. But the Fairmont gets a tad more Gothic once you get inside—and we aren't talking about the architecture. Several ghosts have been reported as regulars, including a bride who supposedly fell down the stone staircase during her wedding. But there’s a less tragic spirit, too: Sam the bellman, who worked at the hotel until 1975 and claimed he’d come back to haunt the joint. His spirit supposedly pulls shifts helping people with their bags before disappearing.


You've never met ghosts as famous as the ones that haunt the Hollywood Roosevelt. The first Academy Awards were held at this oft-filmed hotel back in 1929, and movies stars tended to live there for long stretches of time. Today, there have been reports that Marilyn Monroe's spirit hangs out in one room's mirror, while Montgomery Clift's voice echoes throughout his old suite. Even if you're not a fan of bygone film legends, you can still get goosebumps from the hotel's high-drama lobby and views of the Hollywood sign.


This marvel of architecture was built on Sunset Mountain by Edwin Wiley Grove in 1913—a soda pop heir from Tennessee attempting to cure his chronic hiccups. One of the hotel's most famous guests was F. Scott Fitzgerald, who checked in while Zelda spent some time at a nearby sanatorium. You won't be running into any Fitzgeralds during your stay today, but you could catch a glimpse of another 1920s figure: The Pink Lady, a guest who met her end on the floor of the atrium after falling two floors from her room. The pastel mists you see—and chills you feel—will give her away.


Situated next to the scenic Clwydian Range in North Wales, Ruthin Castle has had many renowned tenants since its 1277 construction, including King Henry VII and his daughter Mary (aka Bloody Mary). The castle was also briefly inhabited by Lady Jane Grey, Henry VII's great-granddaughter and so-called “Nine Days' Queen” of England. Lady Jane was eventually executed for high treason in London in 1554, but her spirit is said to have wandered back to Ruthin Castle to wander the banquet hall and castle battlements. Even if you miss a run-in with the Lady's ghost, you can still explore the castle's objectively creepy dungeons, whipping pit, and drowning pool.


Often considered one of the most haunted sites in England, The Mermaid Inn has a history dating back to the 1100s, although the structure you see today was the result of a renovation in the 1600s. Among the spooky stories and ghost sightings are figures walking through bedroom walls, rocking chairs moving on their own, rooms turning cold, and the spirit of a former chambermaid appearing throughout the property. All part of the experience, we say.


Located in an 18th-century Arab fortress overlooking the Andalusian landscape, Parador de Jaén has a few spooky stories hiding behind its imposing walls. According to the hotel's website, a guest in Room 22 was rudely awakened one night by sounds of a women crying and someone knocking on the door. A team of paranormal investigators was called in to check the room out in the 1980s, and they concluded that the room was, in fact, haunted by the spirit of a young woman who had died of heartbreak in the fortress several centuries ago. The room has been quiet since the investigation, but that's not the only ghost story 'round these parts. The hotel is also said to be haunted by the spirit of "Terrible Lizard," the nickname of a prisoner who died of hunger while locked up in the fortress.


This castle is what you imagine of a 16th-century Irish homestead—red ivy snaking up the walls, deep copper tubs, a library stocked with first-edition novels, afternoon tea overlooking 1,000 wooded and lake-spotted acres. Indeed, the secluded country hotel makes you feel like you're the only person in Ireland—unless you run into a Leslie family member's ghost, of course. Luckily, all reported ghost sightings have been pleasant, like catching sight of Norman Leslie shuffling papers in the hotel's Red Room. Hey, with accommodations like these, we're more than willing to encounter a non-threatening ghost or two.


Taj Mahal Palace is a five-star hotel located in the heart of Mumbai, consistently voted one of the best hotels in India by our readers. Along with amazing views and interiors fit for a royal, one of the property's more macabre claims to fame is its aura of mystery. According to legend, the building's architect jumped to his death from the fifth floor after discovering the hotel was facing the wrong direction. His spirit now allegedly (and harmlessly) roams the halls, running into guests in the hallways and walking around the roof.


Aside from a brief stint as a war ship in World War II, the RMS Queen Mary served as a luxury ocean liner from 1936 to 1967. During that time, it was the site of at least one murder—a sailor being crushed to death by a door in the engine room—and drownings in the pool. The city of Long Beach purchased the ship in 1967 and turned it into a hotel, and it still serves that purpose today—although the reported ghosts of the deceased passengers get to stay for free. (For an extra dose of spine-tingling experiences, see if you can visit the ship's engine room, which is considered by many to be a hotbed of paranormal activity.)


A hunting club for wealthy northerners in 1888, Jekyll Island Club was considered one of the most exclusive resorts in the world by the beginning of the 20th century. Members included such bigwigs as William Vanderbilt and William Rockefeller, and Jekyll Island Club was the site of the first transcontinental phone call to Alexander Graham Bell in 1915. Casual, right? Unfortunately, the resort fell upon hard times during the Great Depression and WWII, and eventually became a hotel in the 1980s. For the past few decades, guests have reported encounters with some spirits as historic as the hotel itself. Railroad magnate Samuel Spencer has been spotted reading the Wall Street Journal, while others catch whiffs of J.P. Morgan's cigar smoke seeping out of the financier's former rooms.


Located in France's extremely scenic Loire Valley, Chateau de Marcay is a 15th-century castle that was converted into a hotel in 1973. The turreted chateau looks like something from a fairy tale—but as well all know, fairy tales usually have a bad guy or two. As the urban myth goes, one of the ladies of the Chateau de Marcay was actually a werewolf, and a farmer shot her by mistake after she transformed one night. The lady decided to stick around, apparently, as guests and staff alike have reported encounters with a ghostly woman dressed in white.


South Africa might be most famous for its game reserves, but it has its fair share of charming—and haunted—hotels. One such place is Lord Milner Hotel, located on the edge of the remote Great Karoo in Matjiesfontein Village. The town served as command headquarters during the South African War, as well as site of subsequent (and controversial) war crimes hearings. No surprise, then, that the Lord Milner Hotel has some paranormal activity going on. According to the hotel, there are a couple of ghostly guests who never seemed to check out, including "Lucy," a negligee-wearing specter who makes noises behind closed doors from time to time.


Known as the Grand Dame of Dublin, the Shelbourne has hosted the likes of Princess Grace of Monaco and drips with luxury: think sparkling chandeliers and afternoon tea services. With all that opulence, you probably won't even notice the ghosts. According to some tabloids (they never lie, right?), one hotel room in particular gets frequent reports of paranormal activity, like water faucets turning on by themselves and a seven-year-old girl appearing out of nowhere. Actress Lily Collins had an eerie experience herself when she stayed at the Shelbourne back in 2013, which she recounted on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon.


Originally built as a private home in 1700, Hotel Meson de Jobito served brief tenures as a market and horse stable before opening as a public hotel in 1993. The original colonial architecture still remains—along with some original locals. Visitors have reported images of miners showing up to look for gold, as well as the sound of horses walking. Apparently, most of those sighting and sounds occur around 4 a.m., but you'll probably be too busy sleeping in your air-conditioned room to really notice.


Overlooking downtown Kalamazoo, the 1895-established Henderson Castle is as famous for its arsenal of ghost stories as its exquisite Queen Anne-style architecture. The 25-room house was the creation of Kalamazoo resident Frank Henderson, who spent the better part of a decade working with surveyors, engineers, and landscape architects to build his dream home. Sadly, he only got to live in the finished mansion for four years before passing away. That clearly wasn't enough time for old Frank—his ghost has reportedly been spotted in and around the property by several visitors. The Henderson Castle opened to the public in 2011, leaning into its history with ghost-themed cocktails at its Spirits Lounge and monthly murder mystery dinners.


One of Santa Fe’s oldest and most elegant places to stay is also one of its most famously haunted. La Posada de Santa Fe Resort was originally a mansion built in 1882 by entrepreneur Abraham Staab for his wife, Julia, who loved the premises so much she may have never left. Today’s guests can stay quietly in one of the surrounding studios, or in the original main house. But for those who lodge in Julia’s former bedroom, now suite 100, be sure to greet her pleasantly like the staff do. To stay in her good graces, you may even want to compliment her gorgeous home.


The spirits are so active at this 153-year-old hotel, they drove out several English national team cricket players back in 2014, who cited sudden heat and lights, and an unexplained presence during the night. Ghosts have long been associated with the tony hotel, says Visit Britain, and it's thought to house elite spirits such as former resident Emperor Louis Napoleon III and a German prince who jumped to his death from his upper-level window.


With a history dating back 300 years, New Orleans is a city with plenty of ghosts, many of them connected to hotels. The French Quarter’s elegant Bourbon Orleans is one of the most famous haunted spots, thanks to its multi-purpose past as a ballroom, theater, and, for many decades, a convent and orphanage. People say ghosts from different eras appear in the hallways or lobby, as well as one lonely dancer who spends some nights swaying under the ballroom’s crystal chandelier. This year, the Bourbon Orleans is really embracing its ghostly reputation with some seasonal perks celebrating the iconic 1984 film Ghostbusters. On Halloween night, the movie's iconic Ectomobile will be parked outside the hotel for some spooky photo ops, and the in-house bar will serve a signature “Slimer Cocktail”—a ghoulish take on an apple martini.


The Stanley Hotel's stately Georgian architecture and world-renowned whiskey bar have lured travelers to Estes Park since opening in 1909. But the hotel reached new levels of fame after inspiring Stephen King to create the fictional Overlook Hotel from The Shining. That eerie association aside, many other ghost sightings and mysterious piano music have been connected to the hotel. The Stanley Hotel leans into its reputation quite cleverly, offering nightly ghost tours and psychic consultations from the in-house Madame Vera.


Since its construction in 1886, the Crescent Hotel has served several purposes: luxury resort, conservatory for young women, junior college. But the strangest mark on its history came in 1937 when it got a new owner, Norman G. Baker. Baker was a millionaire inventor who decided to pose as a doctor (despite having no medical training) and turn the hotel into a hospital that could "cure" cancer. He was eventually found out and run out of town, although reports say that his spirit found its way back to the site and found some otherworldly company, too. The now-operating Crescent Hotel is said to be haunted by at least eight ghosts, ranging from a five-year-old girl to a bearded man wearing Victorian clothing.


Originally opened in 1872, The Read House is one of the premier historic hotels in downtown Chattanooga. Aside from its recent $28 million renovation, the hotel is perhaps most famous for Room 311, the room where a woman named Annalisa Netherly was allegedly beheaded in the bathtub by a jealous lover. Several guests have reported paranormal activity in the room over the years, including unexplained noises, flickering lights, running water, and shadowy figures. The Read House decided to leave Room 311 unmodified during the hotel's renovation, complete with vintage claw foot tub and an AM radio that doesn't work. For guests who prefer scares over sleep, the hotel even offers a "Room 311 Experience" package: overnight accommodations, a decanter of "bathtub gin", cocktails at the bar, $100 dining credit, and breakfast service (should you make it until morning). The starting cost? $666.

Whether in 2021 you want to stay at a haunted hotel or not, give me a call and I can make your future trip memorable 1-800-903-5750

Strangest Places On Earth

I am always intrigued by the amount of strange and wild places to visit on this earth. Thought I would give you a short list of some of the most unusual ones:


Spotted Lake has long been revered by the native Okanagan (Syilx) people and it’s easy to see why they think of it as sacred. In the summer the water of the lake evaporates and small mineral pools are left behind, each one different in colour to the next. The unique lake can be viewed on Highway 3, northwest of the small town of Osoyoos, although visitors are asked not to trespass on tribal land.


In rough conditions at Thor’s Well, also known as Spouting Horn, the surf rushes into the gaping sinkhole and then shoots upwards with great force. It can be viewed by taking the Captain Cook Trail from the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area visitor centre – but for your own safety stay well back, especially at high tide or during winter storms.


A remarkable UNESCO World Heritage Site in southwest Turkey, a visit to Pamukkale (Cotton Palace) also takes in the ancient ruins of Hierapolis, the once great city that was built around it. Water cascades from natural springs and down the white travertine terraces and forms stunning thermal pools perfect for a quick dip.


This remarkable lake was discovered in 1802 on the largest of the islands in Western Australia’s Recherche Archipelago. The lake keeps its deep pink colour year-round, which some scientists say is down to high salinity combined with the presence of a salt-loving algae species known as Dunaliella salina and pink bacteria known as halobacteria.


Found in the northwest of Hunan Province in China, these staggering limestone pinnacles are covered in lush greenery and often shrouded in mist. A cable car goes as far as Huangshi village and from here there are plenty of trails to take in the breathtaking views of Tianzi (‘son of heaven’); unsurprisingly the inspiration for the floating mountains in the blockbuster movie Avatar.


The animal figures and geometric shapes etched by the ancient Nasca into Peru’s barren Pampa de San José are one of South America’s great mysteries. Visible only from the air or from a metal viewing tower beside the highway, some of the unexplained shapes are up to 200m in length and each one is executed in a single continuous line.


Very cool and very weird, this beach is covered in a type of seaweed called Sueda, which turns bright red in autumn. Thirty kilometres southwest of Panjin, these tidal wetlands are an important nature reserve for migrating birds. Only a small section of the beach is open to the public, but it can be explored via a wooden walkway that stretches out to sea.


This glittering sea glass beach in California is a remarkable side effect of years of rubbish being dumped on the beach; it wasn’t until the 1960s that this was stopped and by then the sea was full of everything from electrical appliances to bottles and cans. Over time, the waves broke everything down into colourful pebbles and the beach became a major tourist attraction – now ironically under threat because visitors are taking home the glass.


The deeply creepy catacombs are a network of old quarry tunnels beneath Paris and the final resting place of around six million Parisians. Most are anonymous, skulls and bones taken from the city’s overcrowded graveyards during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; it wasn’t until the authorities realized its potential as a tourist attraction that the bones were arranged in the macabre displays seen today.


This otherworldly geyser is on private land on the edge of Black Rock Desert in Nevada. Created accidentally in 1964 after an energy company drilled down into geothermal waters, today a scalding fountain erupts up to five feet high and the resulting mineral build up means the cone is growing by several inches each year. The brilliant hues of red and green are down to thermophilic algae.


A short ferry ride from Japan’s east coast, Tashirojima has a population of one hundred humans who are vastly outnumbered by their furry friends. Originally the cats were encouraged as the island produced silk and mice are a natural predator of silkworms. Local fishermen regarded them as good luck and the island even has a cat shrine, along with newly built cat shaped cabins for tourists to stay in. It goes without saying that there are no dogs allowed.


Shrouded in myth, megalithic stone jars are scattered across Xieng Khouang Province in groups from one to one hundred. A working theory is that the huge cylindrical jars were used in ancient funeral ceremonies, though local legend has it that the jars were used to brew rice wine for giants. In the 1960s Northern Laos was subject to a massive aerial bombardment by the USA and it’s only been relatively recently that some areas have been cleared and declared safe for visitors.


Chilean sculptor Mario Irarrázabal is responsible for this very weird work of art rising out of the sand in the middle of Chile’s Atacama desert, 46 miles south of the city of Antofagasta. Irarrázabal is known for his works associated with human suffering and this huge unnerving sculpture captures a feeling of loneliness, exacerbated by its desolate and secluded location.

Hope you enjoyed these! Please leave a comment if you have the time and if you have a place you would like me to write about, drop me a line at francine@grandexplorer.com

Arctic vs Antarctica

Staying at home during Covid has given me more time to research this beautiful planet we live on. As such I found that people were confused about the differences between the Arctic and Antarctica (some thought they were both the same!) so I thought it would be cool (pardon the pun) to post about their differences. 

Though both are snow filled areas, there is a difference between Arctic and Antarctic. The Arctic and the Antarctic show differences in their environment, weather, animal and plant life, human activity, and the like. It is important to note that Antarctica is a continent surrounded by the world’s stormiest seas whereas the Arctic is an ocean with the masses of other lands in the circle. A belt of floating mass of ice debris called the ice pack surrounds the continent of Antarctica. In other words, Arctic and Antarctic can be defined as regions related to North and South poles. It is interesting to note that the Arctic region was found long before the Antarctic region was found.

What is the Arctic?

When you look at the globe, Arctic is the region on the top-most corner of the world. The Arctic is characterized by the blowing of mild winds. Also, while the Antarctic region is covered with snow all thorough the year, the Arctic lands generally have a summer, free from ice and snow.

Arctic and Antarctic differ a lot when it comes to the human activity and animal and plant life existent on them. The Arctic region has towns and other living places. It has indigenous people such as Inuits, Indians and Siberians. Arctic is characterized by the presence of the Eskimos and the Igloos. When it comes to animal behavior, you would find fierce animals in the Arctic region. Polar bears are seen in plenty in the arctic region. Not only Polar bears, other terrestrial animals or land animals such as wolves, foxes, hares, reindeer, lemmings and oxen can also be seen in the Arctic region. Other than polar bears, there are other marine mammals such as whales, seals and walrus in the artic.

The Arctic region is also characterized by the presence of trees such as Tundra and flowering plants. Also, the region is devoid of masses of algae.

What is Antarctica?

When you look at the globe, Antarctica is the region on the bottom-most corner of the world. Antarctica is characterized by the blowing of strong winds. This is the reason why the Antarctic region is considered colder and windier than the Arctic region. Antarctica is covered by ice throughout the year, less than 5% of Antarctica is free of ice.

Antarctica has remained an unpopulated area throughout history. It is devoid of towns and living places. It does not have indigenous people nor have any large land animals. But, the Antarctica region is qualified by the presence of marine mammals such as penguins, whales and seals. It is interesting to note the difference in the behavior of animals of the Arctic and the Antarctica regions. Animals found on the Antarctica region are calm in nature. Also the Antarctic region has no trees. But, masses of algae can be found in the Antarctic region. However, nowadays, scientists have impermanent camps in Antarctica.

What is the difference between the Arctic and Antarctica?

• The Arctic is the region on the top-most corner of the globe while Antarctica is at the bottom most corner. That is Arctic is at the North pole and Antarctica is at the South pole.

• Antarctica is a continent surrounded by the world’s stormiest seas. Also, a belt of floating mass of ice debris called the ice pack surrounds the continent of Antarctica.

• On the other hand, the Arctic is an ocean with the masses of other lands in the circle. It is surrounded by Greenland, Canada, and Russia.

• The Arctic has indigenous people such as Inuits, Indians and Siberians, but Antarctica remains unpopulated. Nowadays, scientists have impermanent camps in Antarctica.

• Arctic has a large range of marine and terrestrial animals such as whales, polar bears, wolves, etc., but Antarctica does not have any large land animals.

• However, the Antarctica region is qualified by the presence of marine mammals such as penguins, whales and seals.

• Arctic area has trees while Antarctic does not.

Antarctica & Patagonia Expedition

If you want your future travel to be something very different and exhilarating then you will be thrilled with a cruise to Antarctica & Patagonia with Seabourn!

Mere words cannot describe its majesty, and even the most striking photos fall short of conveying the immense scale and otherworldly beauty of this remote destination.

It lay undetected for most of recorded time, beyond the margins of the known world. Even after someone stumbled on it, its isolation and the necessary rigors of the journey kept all but the most intrepid away. Those who did return ran short of superlatives to describe its magnificence. We now go to Antarctica in a style undreamed by those ardent early pioneers. But what awaits you there – the snowy, sentinel mountain ranges, teeming penguin colonies and stately parades of monumental icebergs; the sight of an albatross effortlessly gliding across an ink-blue sea and the unexpected rainbow of mist arising from a breaching whale – all of that is virtually unchanged from the time before its discovery.

That is the magic of Antarctica, its timeless majesty and pristine beauty. Those who have seen it claim it’s impossible to adequately describe, that you have to go yourself. We believe that is an excellent suggestion, and one we can assist travelers in accomplishing. Guests will be accompanied by a veteran Expedition Team, who in many cases have made Antarctica the focus of their life’s work. They’ll tell you what they know, point out what they think you ought to see, and step ashore with you to share the profound experience of adventure and discovery that brings them back year after year. And when guests gather at day’s end in the luxury of their elegant resort at sea, they can try to find the words to describe it for themselves.

When you cruise with Seabourn, we promise a voyage that is nothing short of magical. Each cruise to Antarctica and Patagonia includes the following exclusive amenities and activities designed to enhance every moment:

* Inclusive zodiac tours and landings

* Digital photography workshops

* Complimentary Seabourn expedition-grade parka and day pack

* Opportunities for frequent wildlife sightings from the ship and on shore

* Onboard Expedition team providing narration & insight to the experience

* Inspiring Enrichment Program and special guest speakers on board

During their Antarctica Expeditions, all guests will have the opportunity to partake in their complimentary zodiac expeditions, each day.  You will find yourself walking around penguin colonies enjoying the views of not only these gracious birds, but also many other avian species as well as seals and the plethora of wildlife that makes Antarctica so unique.  At other times you will be enjoying a zodiac tour as you cruise around massive icebergs searching for whales, birds and seals in the midst of a surreal ice-scape. Some other days you may end up doing both, a landing plus a zodiac tour, and there is also the possibility to book an optional kayak tour, which provides a unique vantage point and a sense of oneness with Antarctica’s exuberant nature that words cannot describe.  Optional Kayaking tours in Antarctica may well be the highlight of the best journey of your life!


Your experienced Seabourn Expedition Team is a select group of academics, scientists and general naturalists who share your passion for exploring and learning about some of the world's remote regions. On board, they provide expert insights into the bio-diversity, ecosystems, physical science, history and culture of the place you visits, both in formal Seabourn Conversations presentations and casual discussion through the ship. They also guide your off-ship expeditions to enhance and enrich your interaction and engagement with destinations.

29 November 2021

Ultimate Antarctica & Patagonia

Santiago, Chile to Buenos Aires, Argentina

21 Days - Seabourn Quest

With their unmatched sense of style, elegance and grace, Seabourn luxury cruise ships beckon you to travel beyond the bounds of the imagination. On board Seabourn, every desire is met promptly and with a welcoming smile. Whether it's a warm blanket and a cup of gourmet hot chocolate as you drift on a small ship cruise along the Fjords or a relaxing neck massage poolside, you'll feel that you're a member of a very exclusive club when sailing on these luxury cruise ships.

Step aboard any one of our ships and you'll enjoy a sophisticated and luxurious small ship cruise like no other. You will feel as though you’ve been invited to sail on a private yacht.

Each small ship cruise offers all ocean-front suites, luxuriously appointed accommodations, an open-bar policy serving premium wine, champagne and spirits, and a world-class dining experience, further enhanced through a culinary partnership with Chef Thomas Keller.

Seabourn Quest is the third iteration of the vessel design that has  been called "a game-changer for the luxury segment." True to her Seabourn  bloodlines, wherever she sails around the world, Seabourn Quest carries with  her a bevy of award-winning dining venues that are comparable to the finest  restaurants to be found anywhere.

   Enjoy your beautiful veranda cabin 

For more information on this vacation you can call me at 1-800-903-5750

Cruise the USA!

One of the cruise options I have wanted to do for years is to cruise the Mississippi on a paddle-wheeler ship! Any travel product which evokes nostalgia and a time gone by seems so romantic and fascinating to me. 

If you want to stay closer to home on your next vacation, this is the perfect option. You can cruise the legendary Mississippi River aboard the newest riverboats in the region and enjoy perfect comfort and modern amenities as you travel to each historical destination. 

The fabric of the region is brought to life through delicious regional cuisine, live onboard music, and customized excursions. You can choose from 10 amazing Mississippi River itineraries including the Lower Mississippi River Cruise traveling from festive New Orleans to soulful Memphis, the Upper Mississippi River Cruise which explores from fascinating St. Louis to welcoming St. Paul, MN, or the Complete Mississippi River Cruise which traverses the entire length of this amazing and historic river.

Here is one of these cruises which I have wanted to personally experience:


Explore unique sites and attractions along the Mississippi River and admire the beauty of the world around you on a roundtrip river cruise from New Orleans. Uncover the treasures of Lower Mississippi River cities as you indulge in iconic Louisiana cuisine spiced with the cultural flavors of the region’s past. Beginning and ending in one of America’s iconic cities, a roundtrip New Orleans journey offers a sample of the South with stops in stunning port cities like St. Francisville, Natchez and Vicksburg.


Enjoy your complimentary stay at the pre-cruise hotel. The evening is yours to become acquainted with the city. The cruise Hospitality Desk will be located in the hotel, and their friendly staff can assist with everything from general questions about your upcoming voyage to reserving premium experiences. Both American Queen Steamboat Company and local representatives will be readily available to provide you with dining, entertainment and sightseeing options to maximize your time here.


New Orleans’s Creole, Cajun and other diverse residents blended to develop art, cuisine, music and general culture unlike any other in the United States. Uncover the treasures of the city as you indulge in iconic cuisine spiced with the cultural flavors of the city’s past, explore the unique sites and attractions lining the historic streets as seen in the famous French Quarter or admire the beauty in the stunning Garden District or City Park. 


Watch small river towns and lush landscapes slowly become lost in the horizon as sunlight plays upon the deck. Take hold of a literary classic, curl up on a plush chair in a cozy corner and relish in the moment of tranquility. Experience the fulfillment that river cruising offers.


St. Francisville today is a testament to the lifestyle of a bygone era, with its plethora of charming antebellum-period homes and striking architecture. With over 140 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, beautiful plantation homes nestled in the rolling countryside and bustling Main Street shops, this quaint town situated on the bluffs of the Mississippi River has a style all its own. 


It seems as if history fell asleep and awoke unscathed by the changing of times in this magical port. This charming river town was founded in 1716, making it the oldest city on the Mississippi River. It’s known for its elegance, hospitality and impressive preservation of history – found on every street corner. Enjoy the unique shops, restaurants, museums and historic homes, all of which inspired Hugh Bayless to include Natchez in his book “The 100 Best Towns in America.” 


Vicksburg perfectly blends Southern culture and heritage with exciting modern attractions. As a major battle site during the Civil War, this Southern town carries a history unlike any other. Learn about the historic conflicts of the city, taste its cuisine, visit the many museums and pick out the perfect souvenir. 


Baton Rouge grants a strikingly different experience from those of the small-town stops throughout the journey. In this energetic port, history-facing museums and landmarks fraternize with forward-looking art and industry to offer a personalized encounter to each visitor. Allow the flowing, carefree words of denizens to dance through the eardrums during a meander through the city streets. Choose to hop on one of our deluxe motor-coaches and explore the diversity this city has to offer, or take a walk down the river path alongside the boat.  


American Queen Steamboat Company features an exclusive port at Nottoway. While the boat is docked, visit the sugarcane estate – the largest standing antebellum mansion in the South. Nottoway is an intricate building with impressive detail. Original furnishings mingle with era-appropriate antiques to create an atmosphere that does justice to the home’s original ambiance. It is fascinating history and luxurious aesthetic packaged in Southern hospitality – an experience that you will not want to pass up. 


As the journey concludes, there are other opportunities for you to take in the town. Enjoy the city at your leisure, stay some extra nights or return to airport.


The largest steamboat ever built, the grand American Queen is a gracious and elegant triumph of American ingenuity. This flagship paddlewheeler is a gentle soul packaged within the ornate detailing that embellishes her exterior. Any traveler who chooses to cruise on this iconic riverboat will soon find that her steady heart beats to the rhythm of music and discourse that resound within her walls.

Embark on a river cruise on the American Queen, the wondrous steamboat that introduces her riders to the waters that she calls home – the great rivers that have sustained towns, wildlife and memories throughout history.


Inspired by America’s heartland and the Southern heritage, the menus showcase the varied cultural and culinary influences of the USA. In the elegant J.M. White dining room, any meal will keep you savoring the memory of the flavors and sharing your excitement for the excellent service – even after you leave the boat. If you are looking for a more casual atmosphere, the Front Porch Café is for you. Meals there feature favorite main dishes, such as roast prime rib alongside irresistible sides – roasted new potatoes, classic mac-and-cheese and fresh salads.


One of the many reasons I love this boat are the cabins. I find it incredible to be able to sail the river with furnishings evoking a glamourous bygone era, this only adds to the experience of living in the time of "Gone With The Wind".


Open French doors and step out onto your veranda to unwind on your amply furnished patio. Adorned with 11- foot vaulted ceilings, overhead lighting and a cozy interior lounging area with a sofa-bed and cocktail tables, these expansive suites can accommodate up to three guests, and epitomize luxurious river cruising. Relish the many exclusive benefits of the Commodore Services while your personal River Butler attends to your every need. 

* 348 sq. ft. with 690-sq.-ft. exclusive veranda
* Queen bed
* Full bathroom with standard tub/shower combination
* Lounging area with sofa-bed
* Dressing area with granite vanity and mirror
* Flat-screen TV
* Coffee maker and mini refrigerator
* French doors open to exclusive veranda
* Furnished patio with sofa, two chairs and a coffee table
* Interior and exterior access
* Promenade Deck
* Commodore Services, including a River Butler


These spacious, elegant suites are furnished to provide the warm ambiance of a fine Southern estate. Open your French doors and delight in sweeping river views as you sip a beverage and share conversation in your cozy sitting area. With two configurations to choose from – either one large room with a private veranda or two adjoining rooms with an open veranda – these suites are the ideal choice for family and friends vacationing together. 

* 353-363 sq. ft. with private or open veranda
* Queen bed or two single beds
* Full bathroom with tub and shower or standard tub/shower combination
* Sitting area with sofa-bed
* Vanity, mirror and desk
* Flat-screen TV
* Coffee maker and mini refrigerator
* French doors open to deck or veranda
* Interior and exterior access
* Promenade and Texas Decks
* Commodore Services, including a River Butler


You will feel right at home on the river in these magnificent suites. Indulge in a soothing soak in your tub, then retire to your cozy armchair or sofa, prop your feet up on the ottoman and read through the River Times – the daily program – to discover the delights that await. 

* 230 sq. ft. with open veranda 
* Queen bed or two single beds 
* Full bathroom with standard tub/shower combination 
* Sitting area with sofa-bed
* Vanity and mirror
* Flat-screen TV
* French doors open to deck
* Interior and/or exterior access
* Promenade Deck 
* Commodore Services (excludes River Butler)


Settle into your sitting area, open the French doors to the deck, and greet the day as the banks of the river majestically slip by. Some staterooms in this category offer a view of the paddlewheel, while others provide expansive views of America’s heartland. 

* 210 sq. ft. with open veranda
* Queen bed or two single beds
* Full bathroom with standard tub/shower combination
* Flat-screen TV
* Sitting area
* Vanity and mirror
* French doors open to deck
* Interior and/or exterior access
* Promenade and Observation Decks
* Preferred dining arrangements


These spacious retreats offer unmatched views, each with a 6-foot-square viewing window that overlooks the paddlewheel, for a truly authentic steamboating experience. It is important to note that while some guests are enamored with the allure of the more traditional experience, others may find the turning of the paddlewheel to produce more sound and vibration than they like at times.  

* Stateroom 383: 342 sq. ft.  
* Staterooms 385 and 386: 302 sq. ft.
* Traditional paddlewheel experience
* Queen bed or two single beds 
* Full bathroom with standard tub/shower combination  
* Flat-screen TV  
* Sitting area with sofa-bed  
* 6-foot-square picture window overlooking the paddlewheel  
* Vanity, mirror and desk 
* Interior access 
* Texas Deck 


With a private veranda, these staterooms are so enjoyable that you might decide to extend your journey. Relax in a cozy armchair and enjoy the view as you anticipate the activities of the day.

* 190 sq. ft. with 40-sq.-ft. private veranda
* Queen bed or two single beds
* Full bathroom with standard tub/shower combination
* Flat-screen TV
* French doors open to private veranda
* Interior access


Can you imagine opening French doors to a sweeping river vista and the sweet scent of magnolia trees? Sit on the deck outside your stateroom and greet early-morning strollers, relax in bed with your favorite book or soak in a hot bath. 

* 190-205 sq. ft. with open veranda
* Queen bed or two single beds
* Full bathroom with standard tub/shower combination
* Flat-screen TV
* French doors open to deck
* Interior and/or exterior access
* Observation Deck


An expansive bay window overlooking the scenery of America’s heartland is the main draw of this spacious category. Curl up in front of the window with a new novel, and savor a moment that belongs to only you. 

* 190 sq. ft. with bay window
* Queen bed or two single beds
* Full bathroom with standard tub/shower combination
* Flat-screen TV
* Interior access
* Cabin Deck


The rhythm of the river is slow as a southern drawl that invites us all to take a deep breath and enjoy the simple moments. Take in the sunrise with a cup of coffee as you sit on the white rocking chairs of the Front Porch of America, or have a drink at the River Grill as you watch the paddlewheel turn and listen to the sound of the calliope. Or admire the rich mahogany furniture of the Mark Twain Gallery as the space invites you grab a freshly baked cookie and curl up with a good book.


If you would like to receive a brochure of this wonderful way of cruising or just want to ask a question with of course no obligation simply contact me either by phone at 1-800-903-5750 or email: francine@grandexplorer.com