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Visit historic St. Louis

St. Louis to Memphis

Example 9 Day Cruise aboard American Queen
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Your 9-day voyage on the American Queen promises a multitude of enlightening encounters and memories, from the legacies that line the Mississippi River to the nooks of creative genius along the Ohio. Explore the seismic wonders of New Madrid and the St. Louis Gateway Arch. Along the way, discover stories about Paducah's artists and the man who made Popeye the Sailor Man.
united StatesCruise the Mississippi River on your small ship cruiseSt. Louis' iconic arch at nightVisit the striking Gateway ArchLearn about the Civil Rights Movement in Memphis, TennesseeVisit historic St. Louis
Highlights
  • Listen to the famous music of Memphis, from blues to rock'n'roll.
  • Explore the seismic wonders of New Madrid.
  • Admire historic handicraft at the National Quilt Museum.
  • Explore the parks and museums of St. Louis, Missouri.
Activities
Activity Level: Relaxed
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Full Itinerary

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Day 1: St. Louis

Enjoy your complimentary stay at the pre-cruise hotel. The evening is yours to become acquainted with the city. Our Hospitality Desk will be located in the hotel, and our 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.

Day 2: Alton, IL | Embark

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Dinner
Part of the Metro-East region of the Greater St. Louis metropolitan area, Alton is located on the Mississippi River about 18 miles north of St. Louis. The area was home to Native Americans for thousands of years before being settled by European Americans. An important river town, at one time, Alton was even growing faster than nearby St. Louis. Its fluctuating wealth in the early days was largely dependent on river traffic, manufacturing and shipping, and agriculture. During the Civil War, Alton was an important base for abolitionists, with Illinois as a free state across the river from the slave state of Missouri, and it served as the site of the final debate between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas in October of 1858. Among other noteworthy historical facts, Robert Wadlow, the world’s tallest man, was born and raised in Alton, as was the legendary jazz musician Miles Davis. Alton is also reputed to be one of the most haunted cities in the U.S. Depending on the length of your port call, enjoy a round of golf on two championship courses, play some tennis, take in one of three historic districts on a leisurely stroll, or discover a local attraction. Popular places of interest include Jacoby Arts Center, Alton Little Theater, Alton Museum of History and Art, Elijah P. Lovejoy Monument, Alton Marina, Alton Amphitheater, National Great Rivers Research and Education Center, Melvin Price Locks and Dam, Meeting of the Great Rivers Scenic Byway, and a variety of other educational and recreational institutions. 

Day 3: Alton

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Part of the Metro-East region of the Greater St. Louis metropolitan area, Alton is located on the Mississippi River about 18 miles north of St. Louis. The area was home to Native Americans for thousands of years before being settled by European Americans. An important river town, at one time, Alton was even growing faster than nearby St. Louis. Its fluctuating wealth in the early days was largely dependent on river traffic, manufacturing and shipping, and agriculture. During the Civil War, Alton was an important base for abolitionists, with Illinois as a free state across the river from the slave state of Missouri, and it served as the site of the final debate between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas in October of 1858. Among other noteworthy historical facts, Robert Wadlow, the world’s tallest man, was born and raised in Alton, as was the legendary jazz musician Miles Davis. Alton is also reputed to be one of the most haunted cities in the U.S. Depending on the length of your port call, enjoy a round of golf on two championship courses, play some tennis, take in one of three historic districts on a leisurely stroll, or discover a local attraction. Popular places of interest include Jacoby Arts Center, Alton Little Theater, Alton Museum of History and Art, Elijah P. Lovejoy Monument, Alton Marina, Alton Amphitheater, National Great Rivers Research and Education Center, Melvin Price Locks and Dam, Meeting of the Great Rivers Scenic Byway, and a variety of other educational and recreational institutions. 

Day 4: Chester, IL

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Samuel Smith is considered the town’s “official” founder because he built the first home here, started a ferry system, and began construction of a mill in 1829. The town was named after Chester, the city in England where his wife Jane Smith was from. The first business in Chester was a general store that opened in 1830 along with a castor oil press established by R. B. Servant. The H.C. Cole Milling Company was founded by Nathan Cole in 1839. It started out as a small sawmill with a corn-grinding attachment which encouraged the townspeople to plant grains, and in a short time the first Cole flour mill was built. In 1916, four investors developed the International Shoe Company in the center of town. At its peak it had more than 1000 employees and was producing thousands of children’s shoes. In 1925, the Prim Hosiery Mill began operations with 50 employees and grew to employ more than 275 people with annual payroll exceeding $700,000. The mill closed in the late 1960s. Elzie C. Segar might as well be Chester’s “unofficial” founder. The Chester native is the brains behind the Popeye the Sailor Man cartoon. Today, Chester is known as the “Home of Popeye” and a 6-foot, 900-pound bronze statue of Popeye stands in a park that bears Segar’s name. Chester not only groomed Segar’s creative talent, but also acted as a muse, providing character inspiration in the form of its own residents. So, enjoy the origin of this childhood classic. 

Day 5: Cape Girardeau, MO

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Nestled along the western banks of the mighty Mississippi River, you’ll find Cape Girardeau, Missouri – a community rich in history and heritage. For more than 250 years, people have been drawn to Cape Girardeau and the river on which it lies. As you stroll along the riverfront, pause for a moment... you’ll feel the passion that led Mark Twain to write so eloquently about Cape Girardeau in Life on the Mississippi, the inspiration that Gen. Ulysses S. Grant used to lead with firm conviction as he took command of the Union Army in the historic downtown and the warmth and hospitality that community founder Louis Lorimier extended to Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, while on the journey of a lifetime as they set forth to explore the Louisiana Purchase on their Corps of Discovery. Cape Girardeau, which has shown hospitality to the likes of Twain, Lewis and Clark, and General Grant, greets today’s guests in the same vein. Whether pedaling along the bike lanes that strip along the city streets, hiking through a state park, walking across one of many covered bridges, shopping for antiques, visiting area wineries, viewing murals that stretch the entire length of the downtown area, or stepping back in time at any number of historic sites, the Show Me State does not disappoint. Peeking through the long-standing architecture and handsome panoramas are moments that will mature into golden memories. Take time to embrace legends, discover a simpler time and relive the wonders of the past. 

Day 6: Paducah, Kentucky

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Paducah’s significant American heritage can be traced to the city’s strategic location at the confluence of the Ohio and Tennessee rivers. Paducah, originally known as Pekin, was settled around 1815 in McCracken County. The community was inhabited by a mix of Native Americans and Europeans who lived harmoniously, trading goods and services. In 1827, William Clark, of Lewis and Clark fame, arrived in Pekin with a title deed to the land he now owned. The town was platted out and named in honor of the largest nation of Native Americans that ever roamed North America, the Padouca Indians. Lewis and Clark had made acquaintance with many of them on their trek west. Discover how Paducah played a pivotal role in American history from rivers to railroad transportation, the Civil War to civil rights. Museums and riverfront “Wall to Wall” murals by the Dafford Murals Team weave the story of Paducah’s past and guide viewers to experiences and landmarks throughout the town, where historical markers detail the significance and cultural heritage. In the hands of artists, modern Paducah was thrown into form. Fingertips muddied with passion and eased by the vision of river water glided along the surface to pull up the community and create the National Quilt Museum. Residents backstitch past into present, then bind appreciation for culture – ensuring that the seams of history will not soon come undone. The people of Paducah have taken great care to orchestrate every crevice of its community into a symphony of craft and color. 

Day 7: New Madrid, MO

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
New Madrid is famous for being the site of a series of more than 1,000 earthquakes in 1811 and 1812, caused by the New Madrid Seismic Zone. During your visit to this port, explore the history of earthquakes in addition to Native American artifacts and Civil War artifacts. Located on the river in the former Kendall Saloon at the foot of Main Street, the New Madrid Historical Museum reflects the history of the town from the Mississippian period up through the early 20th century. The Native American culture known as The Mississippian rose in the Mississippi Valley around 700 AD and lasted until approximately 1400 AD. The primary site of the Mississippians was near present-day St. Louis. The main settlement in the New Madrid area has come to be known as the Lilburn Fortified Village Site. The Museum is fortunate to have hundreds of items from this period from pottery to jewelry to stone tools and points. The Great Quakes of 1811-12 are also well documented in the Museum’s collections as is the potential for future seismic activity. The Great New Madrid earthquakes began on December 16th, 1811. On that day three quakes estimated to have been anywhere from 6.5 to 7.7 in magnitude struck the region in a natural disaster that would impact a huge chunk of North America. Almost 2,000 earthquakes hit in a three-month period and caused upheaval that lasted for years. The New Madrid area still experiences regular shakes and is at risk for large quakes in the future. 

Day 8: Ashport Landing, TN

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Ashport Landing is situated southwest of Golddust and northeast of Ashport Revetment, a levee with an elevation of 223 feet. Ripley, the county seat, lies 14 miles to the east and Memphis is 40 miles north. Strategically placed above our boat’s docking area on the Chickasaw Bluffs is Fort Pillow, built by Confederate Brigadier General Gideon Johnson Pillow in early 1862 and used by both sides during the war. Fort Pillow is rich in both historic and archaeological significance. One of the most controversial battles of the Civil War occurred here. The Battle of Fort Pillow – also known as the Fort Pillow massacre – was fought on April 12, 1864. The battle ended with a massacre of 221 Union soldiers (many of them blacks) attempting to surrender. Military historian David Eicher concluded: “Fort Pillow marked one of the bleakest, saddest events of American military history.” Today, at Fort Pillow State Historic Park, among the restored fortifications, you can study cannons and other artifacts along the 20 miles of trails.

Day 9: Memphis, TN | Disembark

  • 1 Breakfast
As the journey concludes, there are other opportunities for you to take in the town. Enjoy the city at your leisure, or consider an airport transfer.

Ship/Hotel

American Queen

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American Queen1
American Queen Relaxation

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Per person starting at
$2,599
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Category E
Surrounded by wonderful period details, accompanied by every modern convenience, these cozy havens will make your cares disappear. Ample shelving and storage spaces keep necessities out of the way yet easily accessible. Has 132 sq. ft..
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Category SI
These intimate cabins with ample storage space are slightly scaled down to accommodate the independent traveler, and feature a single bed. Has 80 sq. ft.
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Category D
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. Has 190 sq. ft. with bay window.
American Queen
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Category C
Open your French doors, and enjoy the fresh air. Sit on the deck outside your stateroom, and take in the gently changing views of the landscape, or indulge in a leisurely morning in bed with room service Has 140-160 sq. ft. with open veranda.
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Category B
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. Has 190-205 sq. ft. with open veranda.
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Category A
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. Has 190 sq. ft. with 40-sq.-ft. private veranda.
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Category SD
Greet the day in your cozy stateroom, relaxing before breakfast, or simply enjoy a leisurely morning in bed with room service. Has 140 sq. ft.
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Category JS
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. Has 210 sq. ft. with open veranda.
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Category PS
These spacious retreats offer unmatched views, each with a 6-foot-square viewing window that overlooks the paddlewheel, for a truly authentic steam boating experience. Stateroom 383: 342 sq. ft. Staterooms 385 and 386: 302 sq. ft.
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Category DS
You will feel right at home on the river in our 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 – our daily program – to discover the delights that await. Has 230 sq. ft. with open veranda.
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Category LS
Our 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. These suites are the ideal choice for family and friends vacationing together. 353-363 sq. ft. with private or open veranda
American Queen
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Category OS
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. 348 sq. ft. with 690-sq.-ft. exclusive veranda
Included
  • 8 Breakfasts, 6 Lunches, 7 Dinners
  • 8 Nights Accommodations
  • Accommodations as listed
  • Ground transportation as listed
  • Excursions and activities as listed
  • Meals as listed
  • Beverages
  • Unlimited Free Wifi
  • One Night Pre-Cruise Hotel
  • Open Bars and Lounges
  • All-Day In-Room Dining
  • Bicycles & Hiking Sticks equipment if needed
  • Live, Daily Onboard Entertainment & Enrichment
  • Unlimited Included Expedition Adventures by Zodiac or Kayak (For Expedition Cruises Only)
Excluded
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal Expenses
  • Flight costs (please request a quote)
  • Fuel and transportation surcharges (when applicable)
  • Arrival & Departure Transfers
  • Port Fees
  • Optional Premium Shore Excursions - highly recommend booking these in advance. If interested, ask us for a detailed list of premium excursions for your cruise as these vary depending on your departure date.
  • Mandatory Gratuities

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Everything was amazing! The planning with Adventure Life went smoothly. The actual trip was fantastic! One of the best trips I have experienced. The cruise staff members were knowledgeable and attentive. I will be writing more about this on the blog!
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