Saturday, August 19, 2006

Blue Water vs. Brown Water

Before working on the Seven Seas Voyager I was employed for a number of years by the Delta Queen Steamboat Company on the Mississippi Queen as a featured entertainer. DQSC has the distinction of being America's oldest cruiseline but rather than ships they operate authentic paddlewheel steamboats and feature an itinerary of the inland waterways of America: the Mississippi, Ohio, Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers. (

While the product was packaged differently than the "blue water" cruiselines, DQSC operated much the same way. After a few weeks on the Voyager similarities and differences between the two jobs became apparent to me and I made note of some of these in an email I sent home to my old cast mates from the Mississippi Queen. Here is an excerpt:

I have noticed...a surprising number of similarities with the job I'm working now to life on the MQ, but just as many differences, too. Here are just a few observations I've made:

Difference: We do a full sound check one hour before every performance.
Similarity: No matter how many sound checks we do, the sound always sucks.

Similarity: The only time your cruiseship suction toilet ceases to flush is after you've taken a huge, especially stinky poop.
Difference: They are reasonably quick about repairing the situation here.

Similarity: The crew mess food is crap.
Difference: With our international galley staff the food is not only crap but often FOREIGN crap such as fish balls or pork knuckles. Seriously.

Difference: There are lots of regular and well attended social functions for the crew. For example, since I've been here they've had a toga party, a masquerade party, a pizza night in the crew bar, wine and cheese night and crew karaoke.
Similarity: No matter what they do for the crew everyone complains that they are mistreated.

Similarity: Everyone thinks they have the best band in the business.
Difference. We were actually right about that on the MQ.

Below is a photo of the Mississippi Queen with the city of Memphis in the background and a shot of the Seven Seas Voyager off the coast of Sicily.

Since Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans which is the home of Delta Queen Steamboat Company, the company has suffered a series of setbacks including the elimination of their in-house entertainment department which is now sub-contracted out to a separate company specializing in that kind of product.

In May of this year Delta Queen was sold to American West Steamboat Company (, a company which operates riverboat cruises in the Pacific Northwest. Together the two companies will form the Majestic American Line. I wish Delta Queen much success under their new ownership and many more happy years of cruising.



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