November 14-22, 2021

Our journey to The Big Easy begins in:



Luxe is grand, refined, bold, intimate, calm, exotic, cool, treasured

The Vacayans are hard at work planning each and every detail of this amazing cruise. And of course, we’re super excited to share many of those details with you along the way. As we have new information to share, you’ll find it here.

We’ll also house an email archive on this page, too. This archive will feature all the trip-specific communications we have with you throughout your pre-cruise experience with us. That way, if you happen to lose a general email somewhere along the way, you’ll be able to find it right here.

And from party themes and entertainment previews to those incredibly valuable cruise line booking numbers, VACAYA’s mission is to give you everything you need with plenty of time to ensure a totally stress-free experience. Get ready for your vacaya!

We’re often asked, “What should we expect from a VACAYA Luxe experience?” Our Luxe vacations are an unapologetically exclusive celebration of the wonders of our planet – welcoming to all, of course, but built for discerning travelers seeking intimate experiences, splendid accommodations, and unparalleled service. They’ll reach the far corners of the globe – giving VACAYA guests an opportunity to expand their horizons in completely new ways.

The VACAYA Luxe rhythm is… Bold. Refined. Intimate. Exotic. Treasured. Calm. Cool. Grand. A chance to live life to the absolute fullest.



American Duchess is equipped with several conveniences for guests requiring special assistance. Elevators provide access to most decks. Should you require the use of a wheelchair onboard the ship, we encourage you to bring your own. The wheelchairs carried onboard are not available for consistent guest use. The crew will provide any needed assistance to move guests to and from the motorcoaches; however, staff are not available to assist guests simply moving about the ship or while on excursions. Guests requiring assistance for general mobility should have a travel companion to assist them during the voyage and excursions.


Housekeeping attendants are on duty each morning and evening and will provide full make-up and turn down services each day. Apart from cleaning your room, they’ll also provide items such as extra towels and fulfill special requests to ensure your comfort.


As a VACAYA guest, special airfare discounts are available to you for flights to/from New Orleans, LA (MSY) on Delta Air Lines, Delta Connection, and codeshare flights with Delta partners (must be Delta designated). The discounts are as follows:

For US and Canada flights to/from Reykjavík:

  • Receive 10% off F, J, C, D, Y, P, and I class tickets
  • Receive 5% off B, M, H, Q, K, and L class tickets
  • Receive 2% off U, T, V, and X class tickets

International flights, not including Asia/Australia:

  • Receive 10% off J, C, D, W, Y, B, and M class tickets
  • Receive 5% off I, Z, H, Q, K, L, and U class tickets
  • Receive 3% off T class tickets

International Transpacific flights from Asia/Australia:

  • Receive 20% off J, C, W, and Y class tickets
  • Receive 10% off D, I, B, M, H, Q, and K class tickets
  • Receive 5% off Z, L, U, and T class tickets
  • Receive 3% off X and V class tickets

International Transpacific flights from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport (HND):

  • Receive 25% off J, C, W, and Y class tickets
  • Receive 15% off D, I, B, M, H, Q, and K class tickets
  • Receive 10% off Z, L, U, and T class tickets
  • Receive 8% off X and V class tickets

To make an online reservation with Delta, click BOOK NOW just below:

You can also call Delta at 800.328.1111 (Monday-Friday, 7am-7:30pm Central Time). Be sure to use Meeting Code NMUKW when making your flight bookings via phone. Please note there is no ticketing charge for working with a live Delta agent to book your flights.


Each guest is responsible for getting themselves from New Orleans’ MSY Airport to our pre-cruise hotel, the Hilton Riverside. If you’d like to purchase a transfer to the airport from the ship at the end of our cruise, you can do that directly with AQSC onboard. Taxis and Uber are also readily available both at the airport and at the dock.


While enjoying the unique, pristine attractions ashore, please be thoughtful and kind to the fragile environment. Do not discard any refuse that may spoil the quality of the experience for others. Please do not collect or destroy anything. That way, the next visitor can enjoy it as well. Please be responsible. Leave only your footprints. Come away with only cherished memories and your photographs. We want to ensure that the magical environment we share with you on our cruise is the same for the next visitors and for future generations.


Bicycles are available to guests for check out in each port and are issued on a first come, first served basis once the “bicycle use agreement” has been signed. Please contact the Purser’s Office by dialing 00 from your in-room phone for more information regarding the check-out process. Approximately 12 bikes are available on American Duchess.


The people of New Orleans have their own language. Its tone, lilt, and slang are indigenous to this city and reflect its ethnic history and tradition. New Orleans is part of the deep south, but you won’t find much of a stereotypical southern drawl; in fact, there are several distinctive dialects. One of the most surprising is a Brooklynese style heard in the 9th Ward, Irish Channel, and Chalmette sections of New Orleans. Little or no French is spoken by the majority of folks in New Orleans, but common parlance isn’t without French influence. Aside from having everyday words and expressions that aren’t used elsewhere in the States, New Orleanians throughout the city give meaning to and pronounce certain words their own way. Sound like a N’Awlins native by starting HERE.


AQSC will test EVERY guest for Covid-19 before boarding the ship. This test will take place at the Hilton Riverside. A lab will be on-site to conduct the rapid test and results are usually available between 4-5 hours. You will schedule your test online as we get closer to our sail date. Testing will be available late afternoon/early evening on November 14 and early morning on November 15.

To board American Duchess, you must test negative on this AQSC rapid test. If you test positive, you’ll be unable to board. In addition, based on current policies and for the safety of all cruisers, everyone in your stateroom will also be denied boarding. In those rare circumstances (we hope no one is faced with that reality), you’ll receive a full refund for your cruise. It’ll take just a bit of time to process the refund, but we’ll get it to you as quickly as humanly possible once the cruise is over.

For those who test positive, the Hilton will provide one additional night of accommodations so you have time to make all necessary arrangements. Ultimately it will be up to you to handle your return home or your further quarantine in New Orleans. And because we just can’t say this enough… please protect your hard-earned vacation investment with travel insurance. In these uncertain times, having that extra bit of assurance really helps ease the mind.


River Times, American Duchess’s daily program, will be delivered to your room each evening. It will provide a comprehensive schedule of the next day’s activities, including meal times, shore excursion departure times, port arrival time, lectures, movies, entertainment, parties, and special activities planned by The Vacayans.

DAYS 1 & 2 - NOVEMBER 14 & 15, 2021

Check in at the Hilton Riverside is at 4pm on Nov 14.

General boarding of American Duchess is at 3:15pm on Nov 15.

Please find a schedule of events for our first day together (Nov 14) and instructions/timeline for embarking the ship on Nov 15 HERE.


With adequate advance notice, special diet requests can usually be accommodated. Please inform VACAYA @ prior to October 14, 2021 and we’ll submit those requests to AQSC on your behalf. Because we have open seating and you’ll be served by different waiters throughout your voyage, please be sure to discuss and confirm all restrictions with your maître d’ and server.

Please note there are both vegan and vegetarian options available on the menu for each meal. AQSC’s menus also show which dishes contain dairy, egg, fish, gluten, peanuts, seafood, soy, and tree nuts. So if your dietary requirements fall under any of those categories, know that you’ll be able to navigate eating onboard easily without any advance notice to VACAYA.


Although times may shift slightly from day-to-day (and you can see the day’s schedule in the daily River Times, which you’ll receive nightly in your stateroom for the following day), the general dining times are as follows:

7-9am Grand Dining Room
7-9:30am River Club & Terrace

11am-1:30pm River Club & Terrace
11:30am-1pm Grand Dining Room

6-8pm Grand Dining Room

Seating for all meals is open during the times indicated, meaning you can eat when and with whom you’d like. For Solo Travelers/Singles, we’ll have a designated table (or 2, if necessary) in the Grand Dining Room for each meal. That’ll give you the chance to mix, mingle, and share a meal with other Solo Travelers/Singles.

Perks Snack Bar, located on Deck 2 Forward, is open 24×7. Perks offers an array of items, including a European coffee bar, fresh fruits, popcorn, ice cream, and freshly baked cookies/pastries.

Room Service is also available to you 24×7. Dishes from the Grand Dining Room may be ordered during lunch and dinner service. Simply dial 01 from your in-room phone to order. Typically, it takes around 45 minutes for delivery, so plan accordingly. For in-room continental breakfast, simply fill out your breakfast card (located in the Guest Services Directory on your desk) and hang outside your door by 11pm.

Room Service’s “always available” menu* includes:

Caesar Salad
Steamboat House Salad
Soup of the Day
Steaming Hot Chicken Broth
Cheese Plate with Fruit
Charcuterie Board
3-Egg Omelet
Grilled Chicken Sandwich
Certified Black Angus Hamburger/Cheeseburger
Pan-Seared Crab Cake
Classic BLT
Steak-and-Cheese Quesadilla
Plant-Based Burger
Avocado Toast
Fresh Fruit
Crisp Fries
Potato Chips
Ice Cream
Cheesecake with Berries
Crème Brûlée
Chocolate Cake


*Subject to change, of course.



The exact time of arrival in New Orleans on November 22 depends on navigational conditions of the river; expected time of arrival and disembarkation will be printed in the River Times. A full breakfast will be available in the Grand Dining Room from 6-8am on the morning of disembarkation.

An informative disembarkation talk will be given on Saturday, November 20 to provide further details regarding checkout, luggage handling, ground transportation, and other matters. Please consult the River Times for the location and time of that important discussion.

Because your bags must be placed outside your room the night before disembarkation, you may wish to have a small carry-on bag with you. We ask that all guests settle their onboard accounts and disembark by 9am on November 22. American Duchess’s porters will be able to assist you with your luggage, and taxi/Uber service is readily available at the dock.


American Duchess does NOT have plastic-bottled water available onboard. Instead, each room comes with two water thermoses that are yours to use and keep. Filtered water-filling stations are available around the ship.



American Duchess is equipped with 110-volt, 60-cycle alternating current (AC) outlets. Electric razors and toothbrushes will operate from bathroom outlets. Each bathroom includes a hair dryer. Irons and ironing boards are available upon request. Other small appliances not exceeding 1500 watts (110 volts) may be used in room outlets. Please check with the crew before using any other appliance.


All emails to our Booked Guests will be available here.

July 15, 2021 – Open Bar Now Included!

July 16, 2021 – 120 Days Before the Cruise – Party Themes Announced!

August 22, 2021 – Entertainment Preview

September 13, 2021 – Post-Hurricane Update

October 13, 2021 – The Final Countdown! (Covid Testing, Day 1 & 2 Schedule, Excursions)


We’re so excited to welcome the following entertainers on our 2021 New Orleans Cruise. To read more about them, simply click on their photo.


We encourage all of our guests to follow our entertainers on all the various social channels. Their social handles can be found in the lower right-hand corner of each artist’s photo.


AQSC’s signature Hop-On/Hop-Off excursions are included in your fare and are available to you in nearly all our ports of call. In addition, there are some wonderful optional excursions you can purchase, as well. To learn more about those options and to book them in advance, go HERE. While you’ll reserve your spots in advance, you’ll pay for the tours onboard at the end of the cruise.

When booking, you’ll enter your name, email address, phone number, and cabin number. Although the system asks for your Cruise Reservation ID, simply check the “Unknown” box.

If you’re looking for a great experience between check out from the Hilton and boarding American Duchess (which begins at 3:15pm), we highly recommend the optional World War II Museum tour available from AQSC. That tour starts at 10am on Nov 15 and ends at the ship at 3:30pm. New Orleans’ WWII Museum is consistently ranked among the world’s very best.


American Duchess’s Fitness Center – located on Deck 2 Forward – is open 24×7 and offers a variety of cardio equipment and free weights (up to 50 lbs). Please note this venue is unsupervised.


The American Duchess crew works very hard to ensure that every aspect of your voyage meets the highest standards. That includes crew members who serve you directly, such as wait staff, beverage servers, housekeepers, and many others who support their efforts, whom you may never meet. Your gratuities to these hard-working crew members have already been paid on your behalf.

Beyond the free-flowing house drinks, a 15% Beverage Service Charge is automatically added to bar charges and dining room purchases of premium spirits, premium beers, and premium wines. These charges are paid entirely to American Queen Steamboat Company crew members.

In ports of call and on shore excursions, we suggest that you extend gratuities according to the following guidelines:

Half-Day Tours – $5 per person
Full-Day Tours – $10 per person

And of course if anyone goes our of their way to provide outstanding service to you in any role (for example, a room service attendant or porter), a few extra dollars thrown their way as a token of appreciation is always welcome.


Our pre-cruise hotel is the Hilton New Orleans Riverside:

2 Poydras St.
New Orleans, LA 70130


American Duchess will be docked at the following landing:

990 Port of New Orleans Place
New Orleans, LA 70130


Standard drinks are included for all guests. That’s house cocktails, beer, select wines by the glass, sodas, juices, and specialty coffee drinks.

AQSC sells a premium beverage package onboard that gives guests access to ALL available top-shelf alcohols. That’s $149 per person and can be purchased from any bartender on Day 1.


Your room has been outfitted with adult Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs). Please make a note of their location.

Instruction cards are mounted on the back of your room door showing how the devices are to be worn.

In the event of an emergency or upon hearing the general alarm, proceed immediately to your room and don your life vest. Wait there for further instructions from the Captain. The muster stations are listed on the inside of your room door or inside of the closet door.

Muster Stations
The location of your muster station will be identified on the emergency card in your room. The ship is often near land at any given time. Should it become necessary for the safety of the vessel and our guests, the Captain would likely maneuver the vessel to shore if feasible.

Guest Safety Briefing
On the day of departure, a mandatory safety briefing will be held by the Captain. All guests are required to participate. The briefing will acquaint all guests with life vest donning instructions, muster station locations, and emergency procedures.

It is very important all guests participate in the safety briefing and that all instructions are followed carefully.

Safety Information
American Duchess’s officers and crew are trained in key areas related to the safety of the vessel and our guests, and they conduct ongoing safety drills and inspections. The Captain and crew are pleased to answer questions you may have on the subject.

Safety and Security
Our river ports are regulated by the federal government. For your protection, Homeland Security regulations require AQSC to randomly screen baggage brought aboard the vessel. As part
of that process, some bags are opened and physically inspected. Please unlock your bags before they’re taken to the vessel. To board, you must present a government-issued photo ID. In addition, you may be asked to participate in random screenings during your river voyage.


Please notify the Purser’s Office (Deck 1 Forward) immediately of any items lost or found, and then submit a lost-and-found form online at


It’s imperative that your luggage be clearly identified with American Queen Steamboat Company luggage tags. You’ll get those from the AQSC Hospitality Desk at our host hotel, the Hilton Riverside. Please ensure that your luggage tags are correctly filled out and attached to your luggage prior at our pre-cruise hotel and before arrival at the vessel. That will expedite delivery of your luggage to your room onboard. Your luggage will be transported to your room after it clears mandatory security screening at the landing.

Baggage taken onto the vessel is limited to two pieces per guest at a maximum weight of 50 pounds each. Airlines and other transportation providers have their own rules and limitations; be sure you’re in compliance with your airline or other transportation provider’s requirements.

Your luggage may be searched or X-rayed during airport or vessel check-in. We recommend placing all film in your carry-on luggage, which typically passes through less powerful screening machines.

Guests are urged to obtain travel protection to cover their baggage in the event of possible en-route loss or damage.

Luggage Storage
To maximize the enjoyment of your room, they’ve been designed to fit most suitcases under your bed. Each room has wardrobe(s) for the hanging of garments and storage of shoes and smaller items.


If you’re taking any medications, or require the use of oxygen, please be sure to bring an adequate supply for the entire cruise, as it may not be possible to refill your prescriptions at ports
of call.

Several of AQSC’s crew members are trained in providing emergency first aid for injuries or sudden illness requiring immediate attention or cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Because the vessel is never far from shore, we’re always within relatively close proximity to emergency medical facilities.

If you have specific medical or physical limitations, please email VACAYA at and we’ll alert the American Duchess crew in advance.


Our brand promise is to provide your Party Themes a full 120 days before each of our events. Our 2021 New Orleans Cruise is no exception. The parties on our smaller Luxe adventures are more of the cocktail variety, but it’s still fun to throw on a little something something to add to the festivities. So without any further ado, here are your party themes…


Monday, November 15 – Proud Mary. Proud, Mary. 

We’re rolling down the river tonight and it’s time to show your hometown and LGBT+ pride as we set sail up the Mighty Mississippi!



Tuesday, November 16 – Mardi Gras!

It’s (Low)Fat Tuesday, so Purple, Gold, and Green are the colors of the day and night as we celebrate Mardi Gras just a little early. Join us on the Terrace after tonight’s mainstage show for an evening of music, friends, fun, and frivolity!



Wednesday, November 17 – It’s Voodoo, Doll

The ancient spirits of this most haunted region of America inspire today’s V-Dance. Join us on the Terrace in your Marie Laveau best from 4-6pm.



Thursday, November 18 – Bathrobes After Dark

It’s Bathrobe Night, a VACAYA Luxe tradition! Throw on your bathrobe when the sun sets and spend the entire evening – pre-dinner drinks, dinner, the show, and our piano bar cocktails – in your bathrobe! Every room comes with 2. If you need an extra one, just ask your room attendant. 



Saturday, November 20 – Rouge

Tonight, as we leave Red Stick (that’s Baton Rouge, y’all), the night turns crimson! Throw on something scarlet, maroon, cherry, burgundy, or fire engine red and let’s turn up the heat on the back Terrace after the show!


Our parties are outdoor events, so they’re weather dependent and are subject to change/cancellation.


At each port, you’ll have the chance to learn firsthand about its culture – past and present. Included excursions generally consist of a guided Hop-On Hop-Off motorcoach tour of the town, allowing you freedom to explore as many, or as few, of the included attractions as you wish. Some ports offer a more structured guided tour of one or more points of interest.

All excursions and tour times are dependent upon navigational conditions of the river, over which we have no control, and therefore are subject to occasional change with short notice.

Premium Experiences
Premium experiences on your voyage are optional, in-depth excursions designed to satisfy your specific interests, and are offered at an additional cost. Information on available tours is included in your river cruise documents package, which you’ll receive upon check in. Premium experiences require advance reservations, which you can do at check-in, and are capacity-controlled to provide an intimate and excellent experience. Activity levels vary.

Purchase of Goods and Services Onboard

American Duchess operates on a cashless basis for your convenience. Your boarding card/room key doubles as your onboard charge card. Each time you make a purchase, this will be added to your room account.

All of your onboard purchases – including gift shop purchases, premium shore excursions, and premium bar and wine tabs – will be handled in that way.

Your account must be settled with the purser prior to disembarking the ship. MasterCard, Visa, Discover, American Express, Diners Club, and cash are all accepted.


When checking in, you’ll receive your boarding card, which also serves as your room key. Your boarding card will identify you as a guest when you’re re-boarding, and functions as a charge card that’ll keep track of your onboard purchases to be billed to your room account. You’ll want to carry that multipurpose card with you at all times. You will need your boarding card to embark or disembark the vessel. Upon boarding, VACAYA will provide you with a lanyard to help keep your room key secure.


Updated 10.06.2021

You can explore American Queen Steamboat Company’s return-to-service SAFECRUISE protocols HERE.

ALL GUESTS are required to show their Vaccination Card (or a photo of it) when checking-in with AQSC. In addition, showing your Vax Card is required at ALL public venues (restaurants, bars, the hotel, etc.) in and around New Orleans. So have your physical card or a photo of it readily available as you work you way around town.

Standard indoor mask policies – like those we’ve all grown accustomed to – are in effect around New Orleans and onboard America Duchess throughout our cruise. Please mask up at all times when not eating or drinking. That helps keep both you and all your fellow cruisers safe. We’ll talk more about the specific onboard policies on Nov 15.


Smoking, including e-cigarettes or vaping, is expressly forbidden in all of American Duchess’s accommodations and public areas, as well as on balconies and verandas. Smoking is permitted only in the designated outdoor area on the Terrace (near the paddlewheel) on the port side of the ship. Please dispose of smoking materials responsibly. The most common cause of fire is a hot or smoldering cigarette thrown into a wastebasket. You should never throw any cigarette stub (lit or unlit) overboard because it may fall onto the decks below or harm the environment. Use only ashtrays to dispose of smoking materials.

When the ship is refueling in port, all smoking onboard is temporarily suspended. The Captain will announce both the start and end of this ban.


Your room is equipped with a telephone you can use to call throughout the vessel. Follow the directions on your in-room telephone to make calls or to program a wakeup call.

Depending on your service provider’s network coverage area, your cellular phone may operate during your river cruise. Check with your provider for its network coverage information and the possibility of incurring any roaming charges.

If you’re having trouble making a call, contact the Purser’s Office or any crew member for assistance.


American Duchess has a state-of-the-art marine sanitation sewage treatment plant that exceeds US Coast Guard standards and helps us preserve the pristine waters through which we cruise. To assure it can properly do its job, we need your full cooperation.

  • Only use the biodegradable toilet tissue provided.
  • Do not flush facial tissues, sanitary wipes, feminine hygiene products, condoms, cigarettes (you shouldn’t be smoking in your bathroom anyway), or any other materials, as they can affect the entire system and may cause embarrassing backups in your suite AND in your neighbors’ suites.
  • Keep the toilet lid closed when not in use, and be careful not to drop towels, wash cloths, or personal grooming articles (including floss and Q-tips) into the toilet while flushing.

Duchess will be docked very close to the Hilton, but she’s in a secure area of the dock. While you can walk through the Riverwalk Mall to get to the ship on your own starting at 3:15pm, to avoid any challenges navigating through security, we encourage everyone to take one of the shuttle busses. The shuttles will leave from Hilton at 3:15pm and 3:45pm. You can pick up shuttle passes from the AQSC Hospitality Desk on Nov 14 or Nov 15. Like with all public transportation, masks are required aboard the shuttle.


New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell recently issued a city-wide vaccination mandate for all public venues – restaurants, bars, music halls, etc. This extra layer of protection is incredibly appreciated. So be prepared to show your Vax Card along the way!

Read the AP Article, which details the new vaccine mandate.


Neither VACAYA nor AQSC are responsible for valuables left in your room. Each room has a personal safe that will secure your valuables to give you peace of mind during the cruise. We recommend securing money, small electronics, and important documents in your safe when not in the room.


Although there are many advantages to a smaller vessel, there are a few limitations, including the amount of fresh water that is stowed on board. Therefore, please be thoughtful and conservative when using water. When you’ve finished showering, please make sure the water tap is completely turned off. Also, when brushing your teeth, please don’t leave the water running.


Weather in this region can be all over the map, so layers are key. Although it’s November and the average high temperature is usually around 72°/22.2° with the average low around 53°/11.6°. But don’t let that fool you, because temps can climb as high as the mid-90s during November heat waves or drop as low as the 40s if an early Arctic blast hits the region. It’s super important to check the forecast just before pulling your outfits together. That way you’ll know exactly what you’ll need to stay comfy and warm/cool.


Daytime dress is casual. Be sure to bring comfortable, non-slip walking shoes for ports of call and shore excursions. Slacks and shorts are acceptable in all public areas of the vessel and ashore.

For evenings, we suggest country-club-casual attire. We kindly request guests do not wear shorts to dinner in the main dining room.

American Duchess is climate-controlled, but we recommend that you pack a sweater or light jacket if you run cooler than most. November weather in this region can be incredibly unpredictable with highs sometimes reaching 90+ or as low as the upper 50s. Be sure to check the forecast before packing and pack accordingly and bring some rain gear, as well, just in case.


If you’re in need of a mobility device (wheelchair or scooter), American Queen Steamboat Company works with a rental company called Special Needs at Sea. They can be reached at +1.800.513.4515. Any rented device can be delivered either to our hotel or to the ship, depending on your specific need.


Complimentary WiFi is included onboard American Duchess. Given the nature of riverboat travel and satellite WiFi, however, access is certainly slower than home internet service (it’s akin to dial up) and may be sporadic at times.

To connect to the ship’s WiFi, select “Guest Internet” from your device. A password isn’t required. Read and accept the Internet use agreement terms. After 15 minutes of inactivity, the service will automatically disconnect to free up bandwidth for your fellow guests. You’ll be required to accept the use agreement each time you connect to the service.

Computers with Internet service are available for use in the Business Center – Deck 1 Forward. A printer is also provided so that you may print airline boarding passes, emails, and other important documents while onboard. If you have questions or require assistance, please contact the Purser’s Office by dialing 00 from your in-room phone.